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Colin Gregory Palmer Grey is an American-born, UK-based educational Youtuber who produces explanatory videos on a wide variety of topics, including history, politics, geography, economics, and pop culture. He's noted for his deep and rigorous research, with later videos occasionally having follow ups where he details how topics were investigated and produced.

He first came to wide attention when his video, "The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England" went viral in 2011. As of 2021, he has surpassed five million subscribers.

His videos can be found on his YouTube channel.

Aside from his explainer videos, he's also produced narrations the works of others — such as an animated retelling of The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant — and has livestreamed gaming videos.

He also takes part in a few podcasts, most notably in Hello Internet, which is hosted alongside Brady Haran of Numberphile fame, as well as appearing on Cortex, hosted by Relay.FM owner Myke Hurley.


  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Happens multiple times.
    • In "The better boarding method airlines won't use", this happens twice.
      Grey: Let's put our monkey brains to work to tackle this queue, which is what boarding groups do: prioritizing plainly packing primates precisely... primarily. [later] This [Steffen Perfect method] maximizes pull-aways and parallels, pristinely packing people in a pinch.
    • In "The sneaky plan to subvert the Electoral College", Grey says that one outcome of the way the Electoral College works is "the states less populous produce preponderate Presidential picking power per person"
  • Advertising Disguised as News: Thankfully, only subverted in an episode of "Hello Internet" where he mentions being offered payment from an on-line currency company to do an episode on the history of virtual money, with the ending portraying them as the future of virtual currency.
  • Affably Evil: In "How to be a Pirate", the Pirate Captain is cheery and smiling throughout his description of his crew's operations ... including when he describes how he tortures captured enemy sailors to death just for fighting back.
    Pirate Captain: "But lose, and you might beg for mercy in the last and longest moments of your life! Boop!"
  • Alien Kudzu: Tumbleweed, as described in "The Trouble With Tumbleweed". They can grow enormously big and block homes, are covered in thorns to inconvenience removal, are ridiculously flammable, can plant themselves into farms and suck out all the nutrients for the crops, are an invasive species, and a single tumble can fu-pollinate itself to propagate without any immediate mates.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Discussed in "How to be a Pirate: Quartermaster Edition". When the personality index for the typical pirate is shown, the Cruelty vector is at a high level while the Aggression vector is at its maximum level.
  • And I Must Scream: The right brain in You Are Two.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Political entities such as countries and states are often represented as dress-wearing stick figures, with the entity's flag patterning the dress.
  • Anything That Moves: Noted as one of the requirements for Domestication in his video on the topic.
    Grey: Hunter-gatherers needed an animal so eager to breed, it gets it wrong sometimes.
  • Art Shift: "The Trouble with Transporters" ditches Stick Figure Animation in favor of a more standard cartoon style.
  • Author Tract: Grey will sometimes outright express frustration at things he's come across.
    • "A Crime Against Childhood", in which he rails against school administrators who are considering switching to remote learning instead of cancelling school on snow days, thus making childhoods slightly less magical.
    • "Someone Dead Ruined My Life...Again", in which he spends 18 minutes describing the frustration poor scholarship and citation can have on researchers trying to track down information.
  • Asshole Victim: The video "Death & Dynasties" has a moment of this. When Grey is talking about why key supporters plan for the replacement of a dead ruler is that a "... a Dead Ruler surprise will lead to a scramble for power at best and a bloodbath at worst", with the latter outcome represented by a triumphant revolutionary surrounded by the corpses of dead key supporters from the old dictatorial regime. Since the episode "Rules for Rulers" establishes key supporters in dictatorships as Chronic Backstabbers who overthrow benevolent dictators and screw over the people for the sake of their own enrichment, seeing them subjected to Laser-Guided Karma brings some satisfaction.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In "Ten Misconceptions Rundown", the tenth misconception that people swallow eight spiders a year while sleeping is described as ridiculous, because people's mouths are so warm and moist, so eight spiders is an underestimate.
    • "Going to the Weed Research Lab in Colorado" was released on 4/20/2020, takes place in a state where marijuana is legalized, has a greened CGP Grey logo in the thumbnail... and is actually a follow up to "The Trouble With Tumbleweed" as it details the research he made for that video.
  • Black Box: In "How Machines Learn" the bots that learn to separate images of bee from a three end up with a complex algorithm that cannot be explained by a human or the teacher and builder bots.
  • Blob Monster: In the "CGP Grey was WRONG" video, when discussing the different types of mistakes content creators make in their videos, he uses these to personify them. Glitches (for example, small animation errors like giving one of the stick characters 3 arms) and blunders (mispronunciations, wrong flags, and other minor research mistakes) were depicted as small, cute blobs that annoy Grey, but are ultimately harmless. Errors depicting video-breaking mistakes are hideous with gross slimy tentacles and have More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
  • Boring, but Practical: in "Hexagons are the Bestagons", Grey explains why hexagons are the best shape for tiling structures and why they are so common on the molecular and cellular levels.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Inverted in his video "This Video Will Hurt", listing what people believe cause allergies:
    Grey: People get sick from WiFi or windfarms or windfarms with WiFi...
  • Brown Note: He places a faintly-audible sound in "This Video Will Hurt" that will cause sickness in what he claimed to make viewers think that, so he can provide viewers with a firsthand example of the nocebo effect.
  • The Cameo: Grey has had many in other YouTuber’s videos, and some have cameoed in his own:
    • He appeared in "Favourite Numbers" and "Numbers confuse Americans" from Numberphile.
    • In an "Ask Emily" episode of The Brain Scoop, Emily answered a question he submitted about how caterpillar metamorphosis works.
    • The "You Are Two" video featured Kurzgesagt at the end, and he cameoed at the end of their sister video "What Is Something?"
  • Catchphrase: “Hello, Internet”
  • The Chains of Commanding: "The Rules for Rulers" is a rather sobering video on the idea that being the leader of a country is not all that it's cracked up to be in terms of being able to enact solutions to problems. Whether as a dictatorship or a democracy, Grey argues that most of the ruler's job is allocating enough "treasure" (straight-up cash in dictatorships, more legal favors like subsidies and tax breaks in democracies) to placate the key entities to his rule, or else face being taken out of office by ballot or bullet. Anything leftover that a ruler spends on the country as a whole (or keeps for himself) is potential money that a rival could use to entice those key entities to switch sides.
  • Civil War: In "The Sneaky Plan to Subvert the Electoral College for the Next Election", he states that should NaPoVoInterCo be enacted, states that did not join this plan (or refused to do so) would likely challenge the constitutionality of it by launching legal cases in the Supreme Court, leading to a judicial version of this as they clash with states that did enact the plan.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In his description of how pirate crews are paid in shares, the Pirate Quartermaster states that surgeons rarely have a personality matrix that predisposes them to piracy and so often the carpenter is the surgeon… much to the audience stand-in's horror.
    Quartermaster: "Shocking, I know: such flat and equal compensation is not what you'll find on empire and merchant ships."
  • The Comically Serious: The personification of the American Supreme Court almost always has a very deadpan facial expression with a neutral mouth. Even when several states are physically fighting over whether or not the Electoral College should stay or go. But there are a few instances where the Supreme Court persona has a different expression. One was on the newspaper cover supposedly explaining that faithless electors were banned, showing them angrily slamming the judicial hammer as one elector is arrested. However, Grey explains that this didn't happen. Another instance is when New York and New Jersey were arguing over who owns Staten Island, the Supreme Court persona has a more annoyed expression, but is mostly still deadpan. The video where Supreme court justices are depicted with the greatest variety of emotions is in Supreme Court Shenanigans! Here, the justices are shown happy to serve (whether out of genuine desire to serve or being influenced by the president), being annoyed that an empty justice seat is not being filled, or other similar expressions.
    • The Pirate Quartermaster is joyless and stern, only cracking a smile when contemplating the vast wealth a successful voyage will rake in.
  • Corrupt Politician: Deconstructed in "The Rules for Rulers." Politicians, whether as dictators or representatives, must placate a small cabal of supporters in order to keep power. It’s just Inherent in the System. These people don’t all necessarily go into politics planning to be corrupt and self-serving, but the idealistic ones either get defeated by less scrupulous rivals, or learn to play the game in order to stay in power.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: A blunt, Saying Sound Effects Out Loud variation happens in "The Better Boarding Method Airlines Won't Use":
    Grey: There's almost a law of the universe that solutions which are the first thing you think of and look sensible and are easy to implement are often terrible, ineffective solutions, that once implemented, will drag on civilization forever. Cough, voting systems, cough.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: On a business trip that involved traveling from San Jose, California to Moab, Utah, Grey's initial plan was to fly. Instead, he was convinced to drive a Tesla. In this situation, the sensible thing to do would be to take the Interstate to his destination (I-80 to I-15 to I-70), stopping at some of the several Tesla Supercharger stations along the way. Instead, he opted to cross Nevada on US-50, otherwise known as The Loneliest Road in America. Nearly 500 miles of rural road, with only three towns along its entire length, and not a single Supercharger. And it worked, although he did admit it was a stupid decision.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: In "How Machines Learn" the bots are only designed to separate static images of a bee from images of a three, being shown as confused by videos, upside-down images, as well as images that clearly show neither (dog in a bee costume, for example).
  • Dated History: In one Q&A session he claims human development only improves over time. Whig history such as this is widely discredited by historians and hasn't been taken seriously in nearly a century.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His personal opinion towards things he disagrees with when stating the facts. Especially with scientific misconceptions, obvious logical thinking and political actions that only look out for their interest while missing the big picture.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: According to "The Rules for Rulers", modern-day representative democracy isn't without its flaws with specific tax codes for wealthier segments, gerrymandering, and complicated election process to remain in power. On the other hand, democratic countries—specifically stable ones—tend to have a higher quality of life than dictatorships because improving the lives of voters also improve tax revenues and approval ratings.
  • Determinator: "The Race to Win Staten Island" recounts Grey's mission to find out the truth behind the dubious story of Christopher Billopp securing Staten Island for New York. In pursuit of this goal, Grey flew to New York to visit the New York Public Library to see if the crucial editions of Richmond County Gazette. After confirming that the copies really are missing, he takes a boat to Staten Island to visit the Billopp House and Dissoway's gravestone. The video ends with him laughing maniacally as he wanders through the Staten Island Cemetary in a rainstorm.
    Grey: "Ignore my emails? I might just show up!"
  • Don't Try This at Home: When discussing the law you won't be told:
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: In the "Rules For Rulers", nations that invest in their populations' welfare only do so because creative and productive citizens will create more wealth for the ruler and his cronies. This is why nations with lots of natural resources are often horrible places to live; a leader who can get wealth from the ground from a high-priced commodity doesn't have to concern himself with the welfare of the population since he can generate wealth regardless of the well-being of the population.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: While Grey is perfectly fine with physics, forces, algebra, and what have you, he Draws the line at Quantum Physics.
    Grey: Okay, look, 'whirl around' and 'spin' don't mean what you think down here, because in the land of quantum, words mean nothing, there is only math, that we’re not gonna do.
  • Excited Show Title!: The Battle For SHARKS! is an example, along with the titular art piece. SHARKS! (also known as Sharks!) is a sculpture that was the subject of a long-running dispute about planning permission. Gray notes with approval that it was consistently written as Sharks! in court documents.
  • The Faceless: On the occasions Grey appears in person in his videos, he'll point the camera at his chest rather than his face.
  • Fictional Political Party: Grey's videos about U.S. politics feature two unnamed parties represented by the colors of yellow and orange.note 
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • Once discusses Reddit.
    • His video "History of the Union Jack" has him not speak at all. This anomaly corresponds with Early-Installment Weirdness, as this is his eighth video on the channel.
    • His video "Humans Need Not Apply" about automation has an outright serious and existential tone, as well as being significantly longer than his usual videos at 15 minutes and a tad depressing.
    • He takes a similar tone in "Americapox: The Missing Plague", at 12 minutes and on the rather depressing subject of plagues (specifically, how Old World diseases decimated the people of the New World but the reverse didn't happen). Also, he intentionally slowed down his Motor Mouth habit for this video.
    • He takes this tone again in "Rules for Rulers", his longest video so far at almost 20 minutes, has a machiavellian tone on how people are supposed to get in positions of power and how they keep it.
    • He takes this tone again in "Why Die?" where he thinks the idea of accepting aging and death to be similar to having a fondness for a criminal that tortures you, and that people should fight it.
    • "The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant" is a departure from his usual art style and hard reality style in favor of Grey narrating a fable by Nick Bostrom about the wonders of human progress and the tragedy of accepting horror, with lush and detailed artwork to boot.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: A few videos have blink-and-you'll-miss-it flashes of text that viewers would have little to no chance of reading without the pause button - a good example is "Quick and Easy Voting for Normal People" (which actually has two instances - one as a gag and one as a footnote).
  • Full-Circle Revolution: In "The Rules for Rulers," he lists that these rules are precisely why revolutions so often see a ruler become even worse than his predecessor. The keys to power expect a greater cut from him, or else they would simply stamp him out, so he has little choice but to provide that larger cut at the expense of the people.
  • Funny Background Event: In "How to Become Pope", the bishop takes the cardinals' electronics away before they can vote for the new pope. One of the cardinals can be seen pocketing his phone and is later playing with it when he should be praying.
  • Girlish Pigtails: The "young" versions of U.S. states are portrayed with these. In the present day, their grown-up incarnations have the standard straight hair.
  • Gossip Evolution: In "The Race to Win Staten Island," Grey recounts how this happened with the Christopher Billopp story. Later versions of the story have Billopp using empty barrels to increase his sailing speed, but this detail does not appear in earlier versions. Also, early versions have Billopp living in the manor before the race, but later versions made it a prize for winning.
    CGP Grey: It's Ye Olde Meme!
  • Hard Truth Aesop: "The Rules For Rulers" very bluntly states that power is mainly about controlling wealth and who gets it. If you want to hold power, you have to engage and even kowtow to powerful interests by giving them a share of the "treasure". If you don't, someone offering them a share will convince them to overthrow you.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": When the Quartermaster does his presentation on how pirate ships are run in "How To Be A Pirate", he compares it to a business whose source of income is pirate booty. The recruit and captain immediately giggle like immature ten-year-olds, to which The Comically Serious Straight Man Quartermaster sighs and changes it to "treasure" for the rest of the video.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: Hexagons are the Bestagons discusses this as it applies to real life.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "The Sneaky Plan to Subvert the Electoral College for the Next Election" details some of the states that comprise the United States doing this to the Electoral College, by using the freedom granted by the College to cast their electoral votes however they want. Namely, the eponymous plan involves states committed to it to vote in line with the country's popular vote as a whole, rather than the popular vote within the state itself. This would ensure that any future president is functionally elected through the popular vote of the entire country.
  • Homage: Hank Green’s VlogBrothers video, "Apples! (CGP Grey style)" is this to C.G.P Grey’s videos.
    • Conjecture makes a parody video of V Sauce, Vlogbrothers, and CGP Grey, the latter using Grey's iconic stickman animation.
    • When discussing a hypothetical "Videocators Guild", CGP Grey in its coat of arms includes, besides his own logo, the logos of MinutePhysics, Vi Hart, and CrashCourse.
  • I Call It "Vera": For a video recapping a journey from San Jose, California through the desert of Nevada to Moab, Utah, Grey borrows an acquaintance's, Tesla Model X. He dubs it "Bailey".
  • Inherent in the System:
    • Why are governments so corrupt? Why don't they ever cater to the people and instead devote their resources to the benefit of the rich and powerful? Because according to "The Rules for Rulers," it's easier to win and maintain the support of a few key entities than it is for the masses. And any ruler who doesn't keep these key entities satisfied will lose them to a rival who will.
    • Grey has highlighted across multiple videos, most notably "The Sneaky Plan to Subvert the Electoral College for the Next Election", that due to the way the Electoral College is structured, the United States may occasionally wind up with a president that most of its citizens did not vote for.
  • Interface Screw: He inserts a brief series of fake buffers into his "Net Neutrality Explained" video to demonstrate the experience for non-"fast lane" users in a Net Neutrality-less world.
  • Jolly Roger: Discussed in "How to be a Pirate", where he says that real pirates normally don't fly the Jolly Roger, and only unveil it after sneaking up on a merchant ship that they plan to pillage.
  • Judicial Wig: The Anthropomorphic Personification of the American Supreme Court always wears a long white wig.
  • The Last DJ: Deconstructed and defied in "The Rules for Rulers". Trying to be an "honest" leader, whether in a democracy or dictatorship, means you risk losing power at the hands of several powerful interests by not giving them a share of the wealth you control. But even after explaining the harsh realities of politics, the viewer is told that while the political game is hard and brutal, not engaging means you can't change a thing.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In "Zebra vs. Horses" (about animal domestication, the follow-up to the Americapox video), the first three traits he lists for a good candidate for domestication are friendly, feedable, and fu-, er, fecund. (The fourth is family-friendly.)
  • Left the Background Music On: In "The Better Boarding Method Airlines Won't Use", Grey's lament about why the "Steffen Perfect" method won't work in real life is accompanied by mournful violin music. The circle that represents Grey in the video then looks at the top-left corner and sees two violin-playing angels. He glares at them, and they stop playing and fly away.
  • Lies to Children: There are occasional bonus videos that has Grey clarify that the method he described isn't really the best or most popular one, just the simplest. For example, the STV video and the video about bot programming. Both are complicated and unintuitive issues, so he instead opts to show the simplest way it can be done before explaining in a footnote the basics of how most people actually do it. For example, it's easier to explain how three representatives need about 33%+ of the vote eachnote  rather than 26%+ eachnote  and the difference isn't significant enough to waste time explaining.
  • Loophole Abuse: "Supreme Court Shenanigans!" details how these are used in the appointment of justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Magic Countdown: Invoked as a metaphor in his description of the debt limit of the U.S. federal government, in which it is a ticking Time Bomb set by Congress that Congress also has the ability to disarm at any time. In cases where congress and the president are at odds, they can milk the debt limit for political points by delaying "disarming" it until the last possible moment.
  • Men Are Generic, Women Are Special: Grey uses male and female stick figure designs, where the female design consists of the male design with hair and a miniskirt. Human characters (without a specific gender) are male by default. Characters representing political and geographic entities are female by default, with the design on the miniskirt signifying the entity that the character represents.
  • Mexican Standoff: In "Who Owns Antarctica?" there's a two-second scene of the Axis and Allied powers pointing guns at each other to illustrate who was threatening who (if you're wondering what that has to do with Antarctica, Argentina and Chile made claims that overlap with the UK who they believed wouldn't be able to object because of the impending World War II). America, who's looking off the right edge of the scene whistling, is apparently not paying attention to Japan.
  • Money Fetish: The Quartermaster in the "How to be a Pirate" videos smiles exactly once between both installments: when he's looking at the heaps of gold he owns.
  • Mood Whiplash: In "Metric Paper" he goes from celebrating... Metric Paper, to narrating the scale of the universe with plenty of existential dread.
  • Motor Mouth: In his United Kingdom video, he lists off about a dozen or so countries in the Commonwealth Realm at a very rapid pace. He also blurts out a very fast disclaimer in The Law You Won't Be Told.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The "Steffen Perfect" boarding method. It's just a theoretically more efficient method of boarding a commercial airline plane, but it's treated as a downright utopia.
  • Nations as People: From "How Many Countries are There?" on. In earlier videos, they are either depicted as flags or have speech bubbles on a map. Notably, nations use his female stick figure model (with Vatican City as the major exception as it is demographically at least 90% male), with the nation's (or other political units like a state) flag as her skirt.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: In the "How Many Countries are There" video, after talking about China–Taiwan relations:
    Grey: Thus, the innocent question "how many countries?" has led us straight to a big 'World War III: Press Here To Start' button which is getting depressing so let's move on to...
    [shows a map of the West Bank and Gaza]
    Grey: Ohhh, right. [sigh] No more politics.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Grey's pet peeve.
    Grey: This message has been brought to you by The Society of People Who Think That Names Should Mean Something. [from "History Lesson for the History Channel"]
    • Though his own logo is a case of this: while it depicts science and technology, and the man wanted to make videos about the two fields since he thinks that they are the most important, most of his videos are about history, politics, and nomenclature.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: In "The Battle of SHARKS!", Grey provides voices for various London-based organizations. While he uses some Britishisms, he maintains his natural accent rather than attempting to sound like a Londoner.
  • Not in My Backyard!: In "The Battle of SHARKS!", the art collective Antepavillion has had a long-running feud with the Hackney Council over their art pieces standing out in the neighborhood, including a balcony disguised as an oversized HVAC system and a massive play backdrop on the roof. SHARKS!, a collection of giant fibreglass sharks, won a contest themed around mocking Hackney's hackneyed planning rules, but a court injunction was issued at the last moment to stop the piece from being displayed in the canal next to Antepavillion's warehouse. Luckily, a nearby boat club was willing to host the piece, but has since run into trouble with their own council and the piece will soon have to move back to Antepavillion.
  • A Nuclear Error: "What is TEKOI?" reported that the Tekoi test range in Utah was a facility testing engines for the Minuteman ICBM, despite in the exploration video, Grey found documents stating that the engines were for the Trident SLBM. He documented his making the mistake in another video and uploaded a corrected version with some changed wording and an appropriate missile model.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: If Grey's speech departs from the usual Motor Mouth (i.e., he speaks more slowly and it's easier to follow what he's saying), it's a sign the video is going to be depressing and sobering - "Humans Need Not Apply" is about how robots are set to displace humans in all aspects of the labor force beyond just manual labor, the first "Americapox" video starts with the historical fact that ~90% of the population of pre-Columbian America was killed by diseases from Europe (and why the reverse didn't happen), "The Rules For Rulers" explains why politics and all the seeming backstabbing and corruption among those in power is nigh-inevitable (short answer: if you don't you won't stay in power for long). "Why Die?" dissects the ethics of mortality. "Spaceship You", released during the [[initial lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic]], discusses the importance of maintaining health while isolated from the rest of the world.
  • Orphaned Etymology: Throughout the "Who Owns The Statue of Liberty?" video, Grey refers to Liberty Island by that name, but of course, it wasn't given that name until after the Statue of Liberty was put there. In fact, the name "Liberty Island" didn't become official until the 1950s. For most of the time period discussed in the video, it was known as Bedloe's Island. And even the name "Bedloe's Island" is too new for the time period in which the English had just taken over the Dutch colony. The Dutch called it "Great Oyster Island," with Ellis Island being "Little Oyster Island." Okay, it's pretty clear by now why Grey decided to just stick with the modern names.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: In his narration for "Sharks!", Grey repeatedly says that he had to have legal consultations and that he's not taking any legal stance in order to avoid litigation from any of the parties currently suing and countersuing each other.
  • Pass the Popcorn:
    • When he's listening to a New York vs New Jersey Supreme Court case in "The Race to Win Staten Island", he brings a bucket of popcorn, finishing it right as the recording ends.
    • In "The Sneaky Plan to Subvert the Electoral College for the Next Election", when it gets to the point with states outside the compact the video describes fighting states inside the compact within the supreme court, CGP's avatar is seen looking over the chaos with a bucket of popcorn while he talks about how the conflict will be amazing to watch no matter the outcome.
  • Precision F-Strike: Describes zebra as "bastards" and "pain-in-the-ass" animals in "Zebra vs Horses: Animal Domestication". The fact that this is in the same video as the above-mentioned Last-Second Word Swap makes this even more jarring.
  • Punchclock Villain: The Pirate Quartermaster comes across as this. Unlike the Affably Evil and giddy Captain who thinks being a pirate is great, the Quartermaster states at the beginning that he's a pirate because of external forces. When he describes his duties he mentions "punishments executed for contract violations" and the accompanying image is a pirate being flogged with a cat-of-nine-tails by his shipmates.
    "The motions we choose but the sum of forces upon us. I became a pirate as the gold in this grail chose this form."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Look at Running Gag, and also used multiple times in his video about the UK's worst election ever.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Even after "The Rules for Rulers" makes it clear that structures of power and corruption go hand-in-hand, the viewer is encouraged not to turn away from politics, but to understand the rules if they ever want the power to bring the change they seek. It ends with the message that even if the viewer doesn't like the rules, better they be in power than someone else, and by knowing them, maybe they'll be different. note .
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The pirate captain and the pirate quartermaster, respectively, in the twinned videos about how to be a pirate. The captain's piece about how piracy and branding in the Age of Exploration worked is full of enthusiasm to the potential recruit, while the quartermaster is far more calm while he talks plainly about the economic forces at the time and the financial reasons that led to piracy and its far more egalitarian pay output.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The episode "The Better Boarding Method Airlines Won't Use" features a lot of rhyming.
    Grey: Let's put our monkey brains to work to tackle this queue, which is what boarding groups do: prioritizing plainly packing primates precisely... primarily. [later] The first boarding group [in the Back to Front method] walks to the back of the plane. Everything is smooth right until the first to go reaches their row and starts to stow. So slow. And for passenger two, while their seat is in view, there's nothing to do, the isle's one queue where all can not but stew stuck like glue until this guy's through. Phew! [later still] This [Steffen Perfect method] maximizes pull-aways and parallels, pristinely packing people in a pinch. [even later still] One, two, three, four: we can't ask people for more. [at the end of the video] How do we deplane? That's right; front to back, row by row, no slower could we go.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Algorithm-Bots from "How Machines Learn", to the point that many viewers wished for a plushie. Almost a year later, they got their wish.
  • Running Gag: A handful appear in videos, but some have either receded in use or become discredited.
    • The History Channel
    • Because, Empire.
    • Bigger-army diplomacy.
    • Good luck. with that.
    • If there is a photo with many people or many elements, try to watch out for a Creeper
    • Deadly, deadly nature.
    • Bitcoins as the international currency.
    • Whenever he says that someone/something is cool or popular, a pair of sunglasses come from nowhere to demonstrate it.
    • "NetMeTube" for video-sharing platforms like YouTube.
    • The Executive and Legislative branches of the US government just can't seem to get along in Grey's videos, always arguing over how laws should work and trying to out-do each-other with political shenanigans.
    • By contrast, the Judicial branch is given Reality Warper powers to sort matters out and the Supreme Court Justices are almost always depicted as The Comically Serious.
    • Grey saying that there isn't time to cover something in a video, saying that it's "a story for another time."
  • Self-Deprecation: In "The Better Boarding Method Airlines Won't Use", CGP Grey describes one person who brings three carry-on bags because he doesn't think the rules should apply to him and who also fiddles around with getting his laptop out after stowing his bags. This figure is CGP Grey himself.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: He always does rigorous research into his video topicsnote . Wherever possible, he'll show interviews with primary sources or cite secondary sources to back up his claims. Sometimes he'll release companion videos where he'll detail the research process and how far he'll go to either confirm or disprove information.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In explaining why the Perfect Steffen boarding method can't be used, one of the reasons Grey lists is that passengers would "flip the hell out" upon seeing that they were in boarding group 123.
  • Southern Gentlemen: With a name like "General Beauregard Lee" he concludes that Georgia's native groundhog seasonal predictor must be one of these, and lists off a few characteristics he assumes said groundhog must-have.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: In the Pirate videos, the Quartermaster describes the life of a law-abiding sailor as this.
    "[...] working 9 to 5 on a ship of the Empire for minimum wage, staying out of trouble and saving for retirement as banal days pass, eroding the dreams and aspirations of your younger self, leaving you at the end to wonder how it all slipped away."
  • Stern Old Judge: The personification of the American Supreme Court always has a deadpan facial expression, a Judicial Wig, and a gavel. He is also comically serious. Sometimes there are nine of them to represent the nine justices on the Supreme Court.
  • Stick Figure Animation: Humans (excluding portraits of Historical Domain Characters) are drawn as stick figures, including CGP Grey himself.
  • The Stinger: "Who Owns the Statue of Liberty?" contains one about Shooters Island, a tiny island north of Staten Island that is currently a bird sanctuary.
  • Stop Hitting Yourself:
    • Discussed in the video about the debt limit, which compares the debt limit to Congress doing this to the President.
    • "Who Owns the Statue of Liberty?" depicts New York doing this to New Jersey.
    • "The Sneaky Plan to Subvert the Electoral College for the Next Election" depicts a figure representing NaPoVoInterCo doing this to the Electoral College. Because the video features several states inflicting Hoist by His Own Petard on the Electoral College, this is fitting.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: In "How to be a Pirate", the Quartermaster and Captain respectively. The Quartermaster speaks in constant deadpan, manages the "boring business" side of the ship such as budgeting, and smiles exactly once and very slightly, at the prospect of treasure. The Captain talks like a pirate (without the accent), constantly gets distracted by his surroundings in the Quartermaster video, and almost always smiling, even when he's describing how he tortures his enemies to death if they fight and lose.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Subverted in "Las Vegas isn't Las Vegas":
    Grey: The casinos were rich enough to provide their own [essential services], notably using their security forces as de facto police - which might not sound on the up-and-up, but this was the mob running things, and, of course, they don't any more...actually, really, they don't, it's all run by about two companies now.note 
  • Talk Like a Pirate: When a personality matrix is shown in the "How to be a Pirate" videos, one of the vectors is "Yarr!". For Pirates, it's the only vector other than Aggression that's at maximum level, but for Surgeons and Empire Sailors, this vector is empty.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: The Planck Length is the smallest distance that can be meaningfully measured. In "Metric Paper," Grey describes it as "a sort of reality pixel that it's best not to think about."
  • Uranus Is Showing: Discussed in one video, where he mentions the problematic pronunciations of Uranus, i.e. "you-RAIN-us"note  and "YUR-in-us"note . In The Stinger he asks the viewers to avert this trope and pronounce it like the Greek Ouranos ("oo-RON-ohs") instead. note 
  • Visual Pun: In "How To Become Pope", when it comes time for the College of Cardinals to begin the voting process to elect a new pope, their means of communication with the outside world are confiscated. This includes electronic tablets, though people only paying attention to Grey's narration might not notice one of the cardinals has a tablet made of stone.
  • The Voice: Grey considers himself a pretty private person, so in most of his videos, he becomes this trope. When appearing as himself, however, various methods are employed to hide his identity. These include framing his face out (People Pronouncing Uranus video), or standing behind a tree in Numberphile’s "Favourite Numbers" videos.
    • In Vlogbrothers videos where he is in the frame, he is usually censored with a large black box, sometimes annotated with his name. (The same courtesy was extended to John Green's wife, "The Yeti," before she started hosting The Art Assignment.)
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Deconstructed. Grey posits in "Why Die?" that death is a degenerative disease like any other, and that accepting death as natural was a dangerous deterrent to the life-extension that he believes will be feasible, comparing resigning yourself to aging to a hostage falling in love with their kidnapper.
  • Wiki Walk: Non-internet version (sort of), he describes "The Forest of All Knowledge" like this, as a place where there are rabbit-trails galore, and walking off the path you intend to tread leads you to get lost in its depths, far away from the topic you wished to learn about.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In "Rules for Rulers", Grey notes that the leader of a successful coup will usually purge some of the supporters who helped him come to power, and will often continue to employ some of the key supporters who served the deposed ruler. This may sound like a bad idea, but it actually makes sense. Since a revolutionary leader must promise a greater share of the treasure to convince enough keys to power to switch sides, and the size of the treasury hasn’t increased in the meantime, the only way to free up enough money to pay off the most necessary keys is to identify and eliminate whichever key supporters are no longer needed. Good revolutionary supporters may not have the necessary qualities to help their master govern once in power, in which case they must be ruthlessly discarded.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: A few of Grey's videos seem like they're about to conclude when they're not anywhere close to the end of the bar. The most extreme example is "How Many Countries Are There?", where he notes counting the number of United Nations members gets you 193 ("Fastest video ever, right?") but it's only 25 seconds into a video that's over 5 minutes long.
  • Zebras Are Just Striped Horses: Notably averted in "Zebras vs Horses: Animal Domestication", in which Grey points out all the differences between horses and zebras, and how they would make zebras horrible candidates for domestication.


Video Example(s):



Grey explains how the Jolly Roger was used

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / JollyRoger

Media sources: