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The test will gauge whether you're an informed, engaged, productive citizen of the world ... The test will last your entire life, and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions which when taken together, make your life yours. And everything— everything—will be on it.
John Green, "The Agricultural Revolution"

Crash Course is a YouTube channel hosted by the VlogBrothers Hank and John Green, which brings Edutainment Show content to web video. The two set off to give comprehensive 'courses' in subjects that they're knowledgeable about, with more staff and professional production than the video blogs that they're primarily known for.

    Subjects Covered 
by John Green

by Hank Green

by other hosts

  • Big History: Hosted by both Green brothers with Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop, this is the scientific history of the universe from the Big Bang to the present; think of it as the Crash Course version of Cosmos.
  • Astronomy: Hosted by Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy fame, this introductory course covers a variety of topics ranging from celestial bodies, astrophysics, and space exploration to the history of astronomy, stargazing, and constellations.
  • US Government & Politics: Hosted by Craig Benzine of Wheezy Waiter fame.
  • Intellectual Property: Short series hosted by longtime Crash Course producer/editor Stan Muller.
  • Kids Science: Hosted by Sabrina Cruz of Nerdy and Quirky fame, this course, covering US fifth grade science standards, includes a variety of topics from various disciplines of natural science. It was launched alongside SciShow Kids as part of YouTube Kids, a mobile app containing pre-approved, comment-less videos aimed at children.
  • Economics: Hosted by Adriene Hill (a reporter for the public radio economics program Marketplace) and Jacob Clifford (a high-school economics teacher); Hill covers the topic in its direct human element while Clifford explains the more academic aspects.
  • Physics: Hosted by Dr. Shini Somara
  • Games: Hosted by Andre Meadows
  • "Human Geography" launched in October 2016 but was put on hiatus after the pilot (which was since unpublished by the authors) to fix some major problems with the script that the viewers have immediately pointed out.
  • Mythology: Hosted by Mike Rugnetta from PBS Idea Channel, this one discusses the origin, history, and implications of many of the world's pantheons and religions, in all their ancient, confusing, and often Squicky yet no less fascinating glory.
  • Film History: Hosted by Craig Benzine of Wheezy Waiter fame, only this time looking at the history of cinema and moving pictures.
  • Film Prodution: Hosted by Lily Gladstone
  • Film Criticism: Hosted by Michael Aranda
  • Computer Science: Hosted by Carrie Anne Philbin
  • Sociology: Hosted by Nicole Sweeney
  • Study Skills: Hosted by Thomas Frank
  • Statistics: Hosted by Adriene Hill
  • Theater and Drama: Hosted by Mike Rugnetta
  • Media Literacy: Hosted by Jay Smooth
  • Engineering: Hosted by Dr. Shini Somara
  • Business Soft Skills: Hosted by Evelyn From The Internets
  • Artificial Intelligence: Hosted by Jabril
  • Business Entrepreneurship: Hosted by Anna Akana
  • Organic Chemistry: Hosted by Deboki Chakravarti
  • Linguistics: Hosted by Taylor Behnke
  • Geography: Hosted by Alizé Carrère
  • Zoology: Hosted by Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant
  • Black American History: Hosted by Clint Smith
  • Outbreak Science: Hosted by Dr. Pardis Sabeti

See also the The Cartoon History of the Universe, which covers more or less the same territory as the World History course, with a similar if different perspective.

The discussion thread is here.


  • Accidental Truth: From the Seven Years' War video:
    John: Now the Seven Years' War lasted for... how long? Anyone? Anyone?
    John From The Past: Oooh oooh Mr. Green, Mr. Green! Was it... 23 years?
    John: I hate you, Me From The Past, but you're not necessarily wrong.
  • Always Male: Historical figures being called "The Great"note .
  • American Eagle: The US Government & Politics mini-series' host Wheezy Waiter has on his desk a rubber figure of a soaring bald eagle, which he occasionally strokes or punches clean off the table (depending on whether he especially likes or dislikes a particular aspect of the US political system, respectively).
  • Arch-Enemy: Aristotle to John, as he claims so himself in the "Slavery" episode of US History. He also complains about Aristotle, for much the same reasons, in the "Atlantic Slave Trade" episode of World History, though he doesn't identify him as his arch-enemy in that case.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Encountering this in Real Life in relation to the The American Civil War was apparently what caused Me-From-The-Past to be struck speechless for the first time
    Mr. Fleming, High School History Professor: A state's rights to what, sir?
  • Artistic License Biology: In the "Big History" section, Hank mentions that bonobos are peaceful and "like hippies" because they are female-led when compared to the violent male-led chimpanzees. However, the studies Hank is referencing dealt with bonobos in captivity. Bonobos in the wild are just as violent as chimpanzees.
  • Artistic License History:
    • In the US History series, John repeatedly claims that Nathaniel Hawthorne was the only author of note in Antebellum America, completely ignoring such writers as Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, or even Washington Irving, not to mention all of the transcendentalist writers that he actually brings up in those same episodes just to mock. This is particularly strange, because not only is John a writer himself, but he also hosts Crash Course Literature.
    • Despite what is said in the Protestant Reformation video, Martin Luther didn't come up with the first vernacular Bible.
  • Black-and-White Morality: In the case of World War II, John makes it clear who was the driving force behind the Axis. He even puts a disclaimer on his video on the resource-taking side of World War II that the traditional "Good Vs Evil" narrative is not false, even if it lacks nuance.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The term "DFTBA" was apparently coined by Queen Elizabeth I.
    • Egyptian men wear make-up inspired by 80's metal bands.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In the episode discussing the Dark Ages, John finds a pair of champagne poppers in the secret compartment, but is confused as to why they are there. Later in the episode, he mentions that the Chinese invented gunpowder, leading to the development of explosives. Then he realizes why the poppers were in there.
    • At the end of US Government and Politics, Craig, whose Running Gag is to punch a small plastic eagle on his desk, gets punched out by a man in an eagle suit.
  • Butt-Monkey: John from the past suffers a lot of abuse from present John.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • A throw-away sight gag in World History #4: "DID YOU KNOW? Fish live in water."
    • "DID YOU KNOW? <name of historical figure> is dead."
  • Catchphrase:
    • John has "Best wishes!"
    • John's "As they say in my hometown, don't forget to be awesome!"
    • Unless you're, wait for it, the Mongols! *mongoltage plays*
    • And "Stupid truth, always resisting simplicity."
    • Gah, stupid history, always disappointing me!
    • In Crash Course Computer Science: "Another level of abstraction." *cue jingle*
  • Catharsis Factor: Mike discusses this idea in the Grand Guignol episode of the Theatre series, wondering why patrons would want to go to plays notorious for their bloody and grotesque imagery.
    "What do we do with this? Do we laugh? Do we scream? Do we feel purged of our pity and terror and ready to rejoin democractic society as rational and engaged citizens with absolutely no desire to stab eyeballs or sear face parts? Or do we feel just really, really bad?"
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Used here to make John feel a little better about the fact that Americans rarely deal with the problems the country faces.
  • Cultural Cringe: The US History series goes out of the way to avoid the typical Type I Eagleland style of American History taught in elementary and middle school and points out a lot of atrocities committed throughout US History or how women and minorities rarely benefited from major US events:
    "People are all like 'Why aren't you more celebratory of American History?' Well, why isn't there more to celebrate?"
  • Don't Try This at Home
    ‎"...if you were to, like, blenderize a live sea sponge and then leave the sponge smoothie to settle overnight, you'd wake up the next morning to find the surviving cells had found each other and were reforming themselves into a sea sponge again. Try doing THAT with any other animal, actually NO DO NOT TRY DOING THAT WITH ANY OTHER ANIMAL"
  • Dumbass Has a Point
    past!John: "Why do you think people know so little about Islamic history?"
    present!John: "Did you just ask an interesting, non-annoying question, me-from-the-past?"
  • Funny Background Event: Thrown in here and there in some videos. Especially the Psychology series, from Cookie Monster munching on his cookie in one video to a Corgi walking on a lamp, among other examples.
  • Fun with Subtitles: If you turn on the captions, you'll find some extra snark courtesy of Meredith the Intern. [Usually through brackets.]
  • The Ghost: Stan, the camera man who is oft-referred to, but never seen... until World History 2(07), Humans & Energy, in which Stan subs in for John. Stan then hosts the Intellectual Property series (released Spring-Summer 2015).
  • Good Name For A Rock Band: In the Mythology series the terms "Angry Mother Goddess" and "Big Bad Creator Dad" are coined, the presenter suggests trademarking them with a band name among the possible uses.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In Literature, John replaces obscenities with the names of his favourite authors (or his least-favorite politicians, in the case of John C. Calhoun). Unless he's quoting something from an actual novel. Then it's okay to swear.
  • Grandpa God: The animated segments of "Christianity from Judaism to Constantine" use God's design from the Sistine Chapel, bearded and covered in flowing red robes, with the only major difference is that the animation allows them to show God's beard constantly shaking with power. Taking from the Sistine Chapel's depiction, probably the most famous image of God, helps to immediately show visual learners what's being discussed and also prevents distracting from the lesson with any of the creator's own unique theological visions of the divine.
  • Heroic BSoD: John has a brief one in the Slavery video when he "learns" that John C. Calhoun was considered a respected statesman who achieved high office, including the Vice-Presidency, in his own time, rather than being relegated to the lunatic fringe, because of his pro-slavery views, which were extreme even by the standards of Antebellum America.
  • Hype Backlash: In-Universe. John thinks the Crusades are highly overrated.
  • I Hate Past Me: How John feels about his teenaged self.
    present!John: Look, Me-From-the-Past, it's difficult for me to isolate what I hate about you because there is so much to hate.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In the Renaissance video, John points out that with a flourishing art scene, artists painted multiple images of the Madonna over and over an over and over and ov--
    John: STAN!
  • Measuring the Marigolds: Averted with Hank's science lectures, Crash Course Biology, Ecology, Chemistry, and Psychology taking a more targeted approach at various scientific disciplines. Part of what makes it work is Hank's obvious enthusiasm.
  • My Future Self and Me: Teenage!John (aka Mefromthepast) is somehow one of Present!John's students. The latter is mostly irritated by the former's shortsightedness and stupid comments. Stan uses a similar dynamic with his past self in the Intellectual Property series.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Present!John's message to College!John (for long time VlogBrothers fans, however, it's a Call-Back):
  • Not Hyperbole: John offhandedly mentions a couple times that there are only three Shakers left today. This sounds like a joke, but it's actually not. There's only one remaining Shaker community in the world (Sabbathday Lake in Maine) and it does indeed have three members.note  Seriously. Their names are Sister June Carpenter, Brother Arnold Hadd, and Sister Frances Carr. Their church banned marriage and reproduction, with this result.
  • Oh, Crap!: John's reaction in the "Capitalism and Socialism" episode when Mefromthepast changes into....Mefromcollege!
  • Pun: Almost every episode contains one or two. Occasionally develops into a hurricane.
  • Rubber-Hose Limbs: The art style used by Thought Cafe, the studio that creates every animated segment throughout the Crash Course series.
  • Running Gag:
    • From the history videos, we have John-from-the-Past, and "unless you are the Mongols." This gag was actively set up as such in the first video:
      "By the way, over the next forty weeks you will frequently hear generalizations followed by 'Unless you are the Mongols'."
    • There's also John mispronouncing words (occasionally consulting an online pronunciation program to determine the correct pronunciations), and him making cracks about how tyrannical Vladimir Putin is, only to immediately retract them out of fear of being imprisoned.
    • The mispronunciation gag is why John claims he waited a significant amount of time before doing an episode on Russia, as he took Russian in college and therefore can't mispronounce Russian words.
    • John referring to sex as "skoodilypooping".
    • Since the episode about embryonic development, "unless you are a sea sponge" has begun to head in this direction, albeit a little less frequent than the Mongols.
    • "It's not cursing if you're talking about donkeys."
    • Whenever barbarians are involved: "BAR BAR BAR BAR BAR BAR BAR."
    • Using his college girlfriend as a picture for various unflattering things.
    • In US History, the so-called "Libertage" has essentially become this, either following any mock-patriotic comment on American history, or being used to open the episode in some way. This has also crossed over into John's mental_floss videos on occasion.
    • John's hatred of the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the philosophy of Aristotle.
    • The backstage writers switching the teleprompter script to make John 1) embarrass himself, 2) praise Canada (Thought Cafe, the company that provide the graphics, is based in Toronto).
    • The US Government ones have Craig punching or knocking from the table a small plastic bald eagle toy
      • The eagle punching continues in the series on Film.
    • In the Intellectual Property videos, Stan always refers to a Magic 8-Ball as a "liquid filled die agitator containing a die having raised indicia on the facets thereof" (a quote from its patent application).
    • In the World History videos, pointing out that historians are terrible at naming things.
    • In the Mythology series we have "Just ask (god), the (place/civilisation) God of (concept).
  • Self-Deprecation: In John's videos, there's a character called Me-From-The-Past. He's John from the past, and John puts him down and takes jabs at him every chance he gets. Stan does the same thing in the Intellectual Property series.
  • Series Mascot: The Economics series uses Easy Squeezy, an anthropomorphic bottle of lemonade. He's often used as a stand-in for the corporate world.
    • The Theatre series features Yorick, a skull typically held up with wires and often using props related to the topic of the episode.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • In the Christianity Episode, right after John talks about circumcision it shows Abraham's family and a man cutting what turns out to be a log.
    • In the War & Expansion episode, Green introduces the show by saying they would be seeing how America got its two biggest states: "Texas and ... California." Me-From-The-Past says, "Isn't the state you're looking for... Alaska?", a pun on John Green's novel "Looking for Alaska".
  • Stock Footage:
    • The shot that accompanies the "unless you are the Mongols" Running Gag is from the 1963 film Hercules Against the Mongols. In "The Mughal Empire and Historical Reputation," John mentions that the footage comes from "a racist Hercules movie from Italy in the 1950s."
    • When John dismisses the idea of the Jews building the Pyramids in the "Ancient Egypt" episode, it cuts to footage from the 1923 silent version of The Ten Commandments.
  • Synchro-Vox: Used when notable historical figures are being quoted, set over a statue, portrait or photograph.
  • Take That!: Kim Kardashian and The Situation get dissed on throughout the Alexander the Great episode. This seems to come out of John's scorn for shallow, self-centered people rather than any sense of rivalry or jealousy, however.
    • "This video may be watched in some glorious future when Kim Kardashian and The Situation have mercifully disappeared from public life...Kim Kardashian is a professional famous person who initially rose to notoriety by scoodlypooping with someone named Ray Jay, and Mike "The Situation" I-Forgot-His-Last-Name is a professional stupid person with big muscles...The Situation is really good at picking up girls (of a certain type), and Kim Kardashian is good at...Stan, what is Kim Kardashian good at?"
    • The whole "Battles of the Civil War" episode is pretty much a Take That at people who wanted more military history. John spends the whole episode listing major battles in chronological order and then declares at the end that we didn't learn anything. As some commenters have pointed out, we could have learned something if he had discussed the tactics and strategies of both sides rather than spewing a seven-minute bloc of contextless information.
    • Crash Course Astronomy got in on the act with the title card showing a picture of Bill O'Reilly holding a book titled "Crash Course Astronomy" upside down and scratching his head. The topic of that particular episode was tides, mocking O'Reilly's previous statement characterising oceanic tides as some inexplicable, mysterious phenomonon.
  • The Unintelligible: Points out that this is the real reason why barbarians get called that. BAR BAR BAR BAR BAR BAR BAR.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • "Scoodilypooping" has nothing to do with poop and everything to do with scoodling. The term comes from John and Hank's grandmother.
      John Green: What? I call it scoodilypooping, I'm not going to apologize.
    • A running gag on the US History course involves John invoking John C. Calhoun's name as a swear.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Although they're obviously teaching the stuff (so the audience therefore doesn't know it), they still assume that you're all very smart and can handle university level information. The fact the YouTube videos can be paused and rewatched at will means they go pretty fast, with the knowledge that their students can review if they feel lost. Hank's videos especially invokes this, as they end with him reviewing what he had previously talked about and providing links to sections of the video if you do want to go back.
  • War Is Hell: In the History courses, almost every time war is mentioned it's accompanied by an image of guns or swords squaring off against empty, pleading hands and slaughtering them.
  • Written by the Winners: Discussed for the Vikings, as the Old Norsemen themselves had a very limited literal culture, and their reputation as brutal and bloodthirsty is based in part on accounts by victims of their raids, usually Christian monks who was very well-versed in writing things down.
    John Green: So history isn't always written by the winners, but when it's written by the losers, they're really bitter about the winners.