Daniel Howell, previously known under the username danisnotonfire, is a British YouTuber.
Dan's videos span a lot of different topics and formats, though he rarely does straight-forward vlogging. He makes videos describing his past failures and other embarrassing or weird experiences, discusses topics he finds relevant/interesting, and has the Internet Support Group series, where he gives advice to fans sending their questions to him. Most of his humor is deadpan or sarcastic/ironic in delivery, and he frequently references memes in a similar way. He often uses a skit format when relating experiences, which makes sense due to his experience in theater and aspirations of being an actor. Oddly, he was getting a law degree before he decided that University probably wasn't for him.
In 2018, his presence on YouTube significantly reduced, partially explained by a large video he was making. At first, it was just his main channel, but since December 2018, all of his ongoing collaborative series with Phil were ended or put on indefinite hiatus for the time being, leaving his direction on the platform unclear. He has alluded to one or multiple projects in the works, and later confirmed he had been spending his time off writing a book. In the summer of 2019, he came out on YouTube with a video titled "Basically I'm Gay". In 2021, his book about mental health, You Will Get Through This Night, was released. In 2022, Dan released a video documenting the Development Hell going on during his time away from YouTube which put him off creation, but declared a commitment to returning to online content and announced a world tour.
In celebration of getting a million followers, he was set on fire.
Tropes used by Daniel Howell:
- Actually Pretty Funny: He and Phil made a video carving self-portrait jack-o-lanterns. When Dan starts discussing the eyebrows on his pumpkin, Phil jokes that he's "danisnotonfleek". Dan admits that the joke is too good to be annoyed at.
- An Aesop: Dan has several major lessons in "Basically I'm Gay" that derive from his personal experience coming to terms his sexuality while internet famous:
- Dan has gone against his more obsessive fans before, but in this video, mentions that his online following felt threatening to him once they started speculating about his sexuality, and only made him feel more insecure. He says that digging through someone's life and tracking down their details just to fulfil your narrative about them or answer your petty questions is unhealthy and scary.
- Dan says he feels comfortable without the need for labels, but makes it clear that the ever-growing list of identities and sexualities being declared can be genuinely very helpful to somebody who just needs a term that connects with them to help them accept themselves. While some people may not feel the need for labels, others do, and Dan thinks that's okay.
- Dan thinks it's awful to reduce their struggle to come out by saying "we knew" after they do so, even if you had suspicions about someone's non-heterosexuality. It doesn't validate the person who has been scared to bring it up, and it sounds objectifying and selfish because you're treating their struggle like a game that you've won.
- The last lesson offered in the video is that coming out is far more difficult than others might think, and shouldn't be a source of pressure. A person's sexuality shouldn't be their defining quality, so let them come out naturally and on their own terms. Dan also notes that stereotyping, while sometimes accurate, is still a problem as well as self-oppression.
- all lowercase letters: He types like this, evident in his onscreen editing comments and social media activity.
- Animal Motif: Llamas, which feature in some video titles, his clothing, and even in the games he plays (they buy a llama hedge in The Sims.) This motif was one of the things he requested to be left behind with his old username.
- The Anti-Nihilist: In his "Existential Crisis" video, his stance is that neither the world nor the universe cares about you and they won't stop for your problems or stop because of your problems. The greatest thing you can do is be self-empowered in order to address that universal indifference yourself .
- Armored Closet Gay: Dan's sexuality was a mystery for many years, with several instances of him showing attraction to male and female figures, and Dan himself eventually started making jokes about it, like in his "Roast Yourself" rap: "So your celebrity crush was J-Law, but now it's Evan P.? What the fuck even is your sexuality?" in 2019, Dan came out with a long discussion video about his struggle coming out. Dan confirmed his sexuality and explained why he was uncomfortable with coming out. He then explained that he identified with the labels "gay" and "queer" and he did not want his sexuality to be his defining trait.
- Artifact Title: As of 2017, he changed his name on his social media accounts to Daniel Howell for many reasons he explains in this video, allowing this trope to be played straight with his old username.
- Ascended Fanboy: Dan spent years watching YouTuber Phil Lester, until eventually becoming friends (and later, roommates) with Phil through incessant tweeting and video commenting (an unlikely turn-of-events that he would later parody in a mock how-to video). Dan told Phil that he'd always wanted to make videos on YouTube, but just didn't think he would be any good. With Phil's encouragement, Dan gave it a go anyway and the rest, as they say, is history.
- Atomic F-Bomb: Dan lets these out a lot in his startled and incredulous reactions, and even uses them when relating stories about such instances.
- Berserk Button:
- His first video. He claims that he can't be in the same room when it's playing, and Phil will act it out or his friends will play it near him just to rile him up because he cringes so hard about it. Phil even says, in response to a "Phil is Not on Fire" prompt, that he would lock Dan in a room full of moths with the video on loop to torture him. Dan, for his part, considers this the most sadistic answer Phil could have come up with.
- Big Eater: Dan shows his enthusiasm for food quite frequently in his videos, having orgasmic reactions to eating successful baking projects and showing some worshipful texts he sent to Phil about a parfait he had.
- Bishōnen: Dan is aware of this aspect of his appearance, and has occasionally joked about people mistaking him for a woman.
- Butt-Monkey: Dan views himself as one to the universe as a whole, and many of his videos are about sharing his humiliating, shameful experiences. When in videos with Phil, however, he likes to make Phil out to be such (to the point where the two have had to clarify that they're truly friends having banter).
- Call-Back: In his Photobooth challenge with Phil, they use the moon backdrop and Dan trips over his bed. Phil remarks "Dan just fell off the moon," which was one of the options in their "Would You Rather" video that happened over two years prior.
- Catchphrase: Dan has had several, many of which rotate with online trends.
- "Hello, internet!", his greeting.
- "Smooth moves, Dan."
- "Every time..."
- "Oh my God, Becky.", when using generic female characters in his storytelling. This is from "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot.
- For a time, when a video got weird or awkward or an Epic Fail happened, he responded with the memetic "delet this".
- As Phil puts it, Dan has a tendency to "put Jesus on objects", saying phrases like "Christ on a bike" or "Jesus on a boat", etc. as an expression of alarm.
- Celeb Crush: (and character crushes) Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, Albus Potter, Dylan O'Brien, Oberyn Martell, Thom Yorke... he also has a pillow of Haru from Free!
- Chuunibyou: Discussed in "How not to survive school". Dan explains that his secondary school in south west England consisted of "Middle-class white kids that like to think they're drug dealing rappers" and Dan was an outcast because he was nice guy and actually tried to be polite to other people. Future videos also revealed that Dan was horrifically bullied due to his nonconformity by these kids for homophobic reasons despite their personas being visibly forced and, in some cases as it would turn out, a cover for their own homosexuality.
- Cluster F-Bomb: In "How To Speak Internet", the Harries twins troll him with this after finding out that he will be bleeping the swear words.
- Cosmic Plaything: He views himself as this in his "Near-Death Experience" video and believes that God is trying to get revenge on him after he accidentally set fire to a Bible.
- Crossdresser: When he is playing female characters.
- Dan and Phil, being roommates, have collaborated on so many videos on each other's channels that it became commonplace. After several years, the two began joking about it with Phil trying to play Dan up as a "surprise guest" in his videos, with both knowing it's not a remotely surprising collaboration to any of their viewers. They've also been involved with BBC Radio with their own show, created a joint gaming channel called DanAndPhilGAMES (2014-), and a side channel called The Super Amazing Project (2011-2012).
- Dan has also appeared in videos with several other YouTubers, as is the form for popular channels.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially in contrast to hyperactive Keet Phil.
- Delayed "Oh, Crap!": When he is recounting how he almost accidentally got killed by a speargun while swimming on holiday in "OMG WTF ASDFGHJKL", this was his reaction in his head:Dan: Now, you may be wondering why the video is called what it is, but, I can't really articulate everything I felt in that moment. So I was like: "Heh, oh, right, there's a guy with a speargun. WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!?"
- Discredited Meme: In 2017, he officially discredited llamas, Maltesers, placenta, and Delia Smith as jokes/interests that represent him.
- Double Entendre: In contrast to Phil's near-constant cases of That Came Out Wrong embarrassing Dan, Dan enjoys making things weird for Phil on purpose, either through ironic use of cringeworthy sexual words, or by using entendres in the conversation to create uncomfortable phrasing. One example is this exchange in a video on their gaming channel:Phil: If we can get five [correct charades quesses], we get Indian takeaway tonight. I want a samosa and I want a peshwari naan *gestures at mouth* in this hole.Dan: You don't have to justify things, Phil. If you want to put a peshwari naan in your hole, then just do it-Phil (simultaneous): No, I need to earn it! I just need to earn it!Dan: Look, just stuff your holes with naan-Phil: Stop.Dan (still talking):-whenever you get the mood.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Dan often pokes fun at how he looks very feminine.
- In "Personal Space": "Oh my god, Becky, I just saw the tallest lesbian ever and she was such a pervert!"
- Meet Carly Rae Howell.◊
- Epic Fail: Dan had a series of videos called "Reasons why Dan's a Fail!" describing his various and massive errors.
- What got him fired from his old job. He knew there would occasionally be "test kids" who would try to buy restricted tools, and that refusing sale was the proper practice. One day, Dan didn't care enough, and sold the kid the tool, which led to his getting fired.
- Falling out of his chair during multiple livestreams and gaming videos.
- Dan and Phil's trip to Australia is a disaster, since, after Dan decides to film a video instead of packing, his rush to get ready results in him spraying aerosol deodorant into his eye.
- Everybody Knew Already: Deconstructed in his coming out video. Dan stated that his friends already had an idea that Dan was gay but Dan himself never felt comforted by it. He explains how he felt more scared to come out because he was trying to keep his sexuality a secret and only felt terrified by the shipping narrative from his fandom.
- Existential Horror: Dan has discussed frequent "existential crises", moments visually represented by him lying face-down on something while questioning fate and reality. He came to the conclusion that the universe is pretty much a blank canvas; the world and the universe won't stop for or because of your problems. He acknowledges the terror of being responsible for oneself, but encourages the viewer to take it as encouragement to act.
- Freak Out: Dan dramatizes one he apparently had when feeling like he no longer wanted to be in university while an exam resit was looming in "College Dropout." Dan's trying to study for his exam while Phil plays some video games, and then, all of a sudden...Dan: AAAAAAAGH! I'M NOT DOING IT!
Dan: I'm not gonna do it!
Dan: No one can make me do it!
Phil: Dan, what are you on about?
Dan: That's it! I'm not going!
Dan: I've had enough! I don't care anymore!
Phil: What aren't you going to?
Dan: My exam.
Phil: What do you mean?
Dan: I'm not going.
Phil: Dan, you have to go to your resit.
Dan: (throwing his book to the ground) NOT IF I DON'T GIVE A FUCKING FUCK ANYMORE, I DON'T!
(Beat. Dan bursts into tears.)
Five minutes later...
(Cut to Dan hugging his knees on the kitchen floor.)
- Freudian Excuse: Discussed in "My Evil Piano Teacher." As far as Dan can tell, the teacher in question didn't have one; she was just a massive bitch. Though Young!Dan in the flashbacks has some rather... squirrelly... theories.Young!Dan: (snooping through his teacher's things) Your son was killed by a piano...? NO! Your husband was a piano, and he died—NO! You wanted to be a piano, but you were born as a human instead...
- Fun with Subtitles: In "How to Befriend Your Favourite Internet Stars", the subtitles for each step and piece of advice are rather...different from what he actually says.
- Gay Aesop: In his coming out video, he explained why he felt the need to oppress himself because of fear and how people treated him in the past. The lesson he implores everyone to learn is to respect a person's sexual identity and don't let it solely define them as a person. Objectively, it shouldn't really matter because not everyone wants to be venerated because of their sexuality or because they're part of a minority group. The video also sees Dan identifying himself as "queer" and accepting the label of "gay" to make a definite statment of this identity to his audience for the first time.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Dan has said in numerous videos that his jealousy and envy are his worst traits.
- The Hero Dies: This happens in "Phil's Christmas Adventure.".
- Hikikomori: Dan prefers isolating himself with media to social interaction and has discussed that he feels one bad day away from being agoraphobic.
- I Am Not Shazam: One of the reasons he changed his online usernames to his actual name in 2017, since he was often referred to by the "danisnotonfire" name rather than it being considered the name of his content.
- I Am Very British: Dan insists against commentators that he doesn't have a posh accent. He's just articulate.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: His go-to response to some of the worse questions in the "Internet Support Group" series.
- Internet Safety Aesop:
- In his coming out video, he explained how he embraced and explored sexuality online because he suffered horribly from homophobia while growing up. However, his bullies found the posts about his sexuality and proceeded to torture him to the point where he contemplated and even attempted suicide.
- In "Why I Quit YouTube", he explained how the benefits of being a YouTuber are overexaggerated because people will blame you for anything that goes wrong, not appeasing the masses, or just because. Internet fame is not worth the hype because you have to chase clout, do stuff you wouldn't normally do for money, and everything turns into a chore rather than a hobby.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Dan invokes this attitude at the end of "Why I Quit YouTube". After documenting a painful, emotionally draining and depressing time the company put him through by wasting his time and making him jump through hoops for a series that ultimately got shelved, Dan admits he still loves YouTube as a platform, thinks it's the best space available for making a creative name for oneself, and declares a reinvigorated outlook on making content for the platform, promising a return rather than confirming a departure.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: He had a phase sporting this look with what may be considered a stereotypically emo hairstyle (long and straight). In "Basically I'm Gay", he discusses how part of this emo vibe was because emos were associated with cool bisexuality and this was more a comfortable middle ground for him, between being out as gay or closeted and bullied. He cut the hair short later, which kept, and in 2017, he embraced its natural curl and stopped straightening it.
- Lovable Nerd: Dan's fanbase tends to perceive him as an endearing socially awkward nerd, though Dan has discussed how aspects like social awkwardness and nerdy reclusiveness have made his life harder and aren't as charming as they seem.
- Mood Whiplash: The "Internet Support Group" videos tend to be this, mainly consisting of ridiculous or otherwise amusing questions and comically terrible advice from Dan, but every now and then actually having a sincere question that Dan will answer with some genuinely good advice.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Dan has had some moments of quick self-realization upon doing something embarrassing or shameful, with many being in and resulting from the events in his videos.
- Nerd Glasses: He wears a pair in the News segments for his and Phil's Super Amazing Project videos. Might also put them on for comedic purposes whenever he's making a "deep point" about something, as seen in his video "Psycho Thoughts".
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: Some of the questions he receives in the Internet Support Group videos garner this reaction. Notably, his only response to a girl who had a crush on her teacher was a very stern, "No."
- No Social Skills: Lampshades this frequently. Whenever he's with friend and fellow YouTuber Louise Pentland, their combined awkwardness invariably ends in disaster.
- Oh, Crap!: In "Sexy Internet Dating", he and Phil have one when they realize that one of their prank victims lives in their building, and in "Sexy Internet Dating - London", Dan has one (which Phil soon echoes) upon realizing that he just sent their location to the person they were chatting with.
- Old Shame: Subverted. While Dan is definitely uncomfortable and embarrassed watching his older videos, he can appreciate them as a part of his creative development through the cringing.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: He and Phil sometimes try to do American accents when fans ask them to. However, Dan is terrible at it as he sounds about as American as Queen Elizabeth. His Valley Girl accent is impeccable though.
- Painful Body Waxing: He gets Louise to wax his legs after he promised a video of it. It's already bad enough due to the method of hair removal, but Louise's relative inexperience doesn't help.
- Precision F-Strike:
- All the time. Sometimes, he bleeps them out but only if he thinks it's necessary.
- Used for dramatic effect in "I Nearly Blinded Myself", when Dan takes his only chance to have things go his way after a truly disastrous day.
- The Problem with Pen Island: His old username was also problematic in that it could cause this, i.e., "Dani Snot on Fire", and he, Phil, and fans have since made jokes about this.
- Phanfiction, Phandom... basically anything with the word "fan" in it is replaced with "phan" as short-hand for a fan matters associated with Dan and/or Phil.
- Dan ends the seventh episode of Internet Support group with "I'm out", which is a goodbye, but also the result of discovering that he has run out of alcoholic coffee to get him through any more emails.
- Rapid-Fire "No!": His response to the last question in "Internet Support Group 7," from a kid who has a crush on his cousin.
- Real Person Shipping: Dan/Phil, otherwise known as Phan, is pretty popular in the fandom and Dan knows. He even has a video where he discusses shipping and he and Phil act-out part of a phanfic.
- Running Gag:
- Dan and Phil drawing cat whiskers on their faces in the Phil Is Not On Fire series.
- When Dan states something and something in the room falls to reveal something that contradicts what he said.
- When things need to be blocked out for graphic content, the black box reads "unbelievably censored".
- Having to break out the wine bottle once an "Internet Support Group" video gets weird or stupid. By the fifth episode, it's out at the start.
- Dan's existential crises, which are represented by him flopping face down onto the floor, sofa, or bed.
- Dan frequently has exaggerated foodgasms at the end of the Dan And Phil baking videos when they taste their creations. Or even on Rosanna Pansino's baking show!
- An oddly specific and completely unintentional one is Dan falling out of his chair in several videos, which has been triggered both by clumsiness and jumpscares.
- When Dan is particularly annoyed with Phil, he tends to address him as "you [X]" or "you absolute [x]", with the bizarre address nouns having included "spork", "dildo", and "turnip".
- Sadist Teacher: "My Evil Piano Teacher" discusses the titular piano teacher who terrorized Dan as a child.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Dan's screams are very high-pitched and shrill, and he's come to acknowledge the effect on listeners with headphones and tried to work against it in 2019.
- Self-Deprecation: Dan's videos largely relate unfortunate and embarrassing experiences, which Dan partially does to relate to the audience and assure them that they aren't the only ones with experiences like his.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Dan, having been accused of using pretentious long words, has mentioned that there is a difference between having a good vocabulary and being a waffly twat.
- Shirtless Scene: Dan sleeps shirtless, so this carries into some of the reenactments he does when he is shown in his bed.
- Shout-Out: Many, from many aspects of pop culture. A more subtle one is done in "My Evil Piano Teacher", when he says he went on to play freely and learn songs he liked, he plays "Mia and Sebastian's Theme" without naming the piece in his video.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Nary a video goes without Dan cursing. Phil usually bleeps them out whenever they're doing a video together, but sometimes he agrees with the intent and leaves the cursing uncensored.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Dan himself talks often about this in the context how he presents himself and the kind of content he wants to put out.
- Spell My Name with an S: Yet another reason for his username change: he was tired of news outlets referring to his handle with more conventional formatting (i.e. "DanIsNotOnFire" or "Dan Is Not On Fire"), as opposed to how he styled it (with no spacing or caps.) This peeve is mentioned before the actual name change in Internet Support Group 7, and the intent to change the username is brought up with it.
- Stalker Without A Crush: Shown in "How to Befriend Your Favourite Internet Stars" with him obsessing over Phil in a parody of how he befriended him. Discussed more seriously in his "Basically I'm Gay" video, where he explains his discomfort and distaste for obsessive fans who developed an unhealthy determination to violate his privacy.
- Straight Man: Dan usually takes this role opposite Phil, playing the weary and superior voice pointing out the weirdness of what Phil does or says. Sometimes, the opposite is true.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: His mockup of his psycho piano teacher's ad includes the qualification "definitely not a witch".
- Take That, Audience!: Dan is not afraid to criticize his fans for blind obsession or creepy behavior, and seems to be genuinely less appreciative of the extreme sides of his fandom. He's at his most serious about it during his coming-out video, making clear that digging through someone's life to support your shipping narrative is unhealthy and scary, and saying that shipping and speculation online made him feel threatened and even more scared to come out.
- Taking the Heat: Dan tells one story of accidentally pressing the panic alarm at an old job and not confessing when his boss tried to figure out what happened. When an elderly cleaning employee owned up to the crime, Dan let her to save his own skin. Because this is Dan, after all, it didn't take long for another incident to finally get him fired.
- That Came Out Wrong: While Phil is more known for saying things that come out weird, Dan's had some instances of his own.
- "If you've enjoyed this video, please thumb me."
- "Who needs friends when you've got whipped cream and Lara Croft?"
- "Equal amount of exercise with both arms."
- In the Monster Pops baking video, Phil tells him he isn't spooky enough without his horned hood up, so Dan puts it on, accidentally saying "Now I'm hornyyyy...."
- masculine ideas about what that "something" was, confusing Dan. Turns out, that "something" was originally going to be a memetic reference to Dan eating ass, which he changed because he thought it sounded more like a serious crude admission, but the replacement wasn't much better, being so suggestive in itself that it distracted some viewers from the message of the video. In "Trying To Live My Truth", which was otherwise meant to be a contemplative and genuine video, Dan jokes about how all three of his main pleasures (laughter, food, and sex) are similar in that they involve things going in and out of his mouth, and ends the video with a continuation of the joke, listing plans to satisfy each, vaguely saying he'll put "something" in his mouth for sex. People soon had
- When trying to broach the topic of his depression in "The Top Dan Memes of 2017", he refers to the looming concept as the "big black D in the room", meaning the threatening initial starting the word "depression", before instantly realizing what it sounded like.
- Those Two Guys: With Dan. Contrary to most Youtube duos, they originally weren't a double-act and rose to fame on their own respective channels. However, it gradually became rarer to see one without the other: they live together, very frequently appear in each other's videos, have created three collaborative side channels, got their own radio show on BBC1, were offered a dual cameo by Disney in the UK version of Big Hero 6, hosted award shows together, and would side by side for interviews or conventions. Perhaps the epitome of this is that they've also won a 'Best Vlogger' award despite it usually only being won by one vlogger.
jimmy0010: Dan and Phil are nice!  The thing with Dan and Phil is they just keep to themselves. They just do their thing.
- By all accounts, this is also how they are known in real life.
- Transparent Closet: In his coming-out video, Dan acknowledges that pretty much nobody thought he was straight, and even cuts to some moments where he joked about his unclear sexuality. However, he also makes it clear that reactions like "we already knew" or "I was right" are rude and selfish and reduce the value of a person's struggle to come out.
- Trauma Button: Partially played for laughs with whisks, a result of watching a particularly horrifying video involving one while testing the boundaries of Rule 34 with Tyler Oakley. Dan has since appeared to grow tired of the joke as he has with those listed above.
- Troll: 12-year-old Dan unintentionally does this to himself when, years later, adult Dan checks out his old childhood website. Said website includes a link that creates a long chain of pop-ups and a Screamer Prank, both of which he falls for and hates himself for adding in the first place.
- Unluckily Lucky: Dan has noted that he often escapes his bad luck by random chance. For example, he unintentionally set off a panic alarm at his first job and was on the verge of a verbal beatdown from his boss. Fortunately for him, an elderly woman wandered into the scene and claimed responsibility without repercussions.
- Weirdness Magnet: While not as much as Phil, he's met his fair share and discussed them, and they're a bit more unnerving. He had a fake French teacher who stole mugs and hid them in his cabinets, kept his clothes at school, and ate dog treats, was met face-to-face with a spear hunter while swimming, and had an evil piano teacher who kept nothing but meat in her refrigerator.
- Wham Line: Quite a few in his coming out video, including the admission to himself that he is gay.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He admits to having a fear darkness (which is commonly called nyctophobia). He's afraid of the dark because he scares himself with his overactive imagination and he takes a lot of precautions with walking down dark corridors.