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Folding Ideas is a YouTube media analysis show hosted and written by Dan Olson (aka Foldable Human). His style is relatively analytical among other internet reviewers, mostly observing works within their cultural context rather than from a fan's point of view. Originally, Dan used 'Foldy,' a puppet talking box, to serve as the host of the show, with Foldy acting as the channel's icon. Over time Dan began filming himself in front of the camera more and more, to the point where it became the standard and Foldy was more a curious historical note. Similarly the channel's focus also evolved from relatively short videos using individual media to discuss various elements of filmaking, fandom, or pop culture, to long form videos on various topics such as internet cooking videos, conspiracy theories, NFTs, internet grifts, among others.

His videos are found on his Youtube channel. His videos were formerly hosted on his own website and the now defunct Chez Apocalypse.

When he is not working on his own material, Dan has frequently contributed to Lindsay Ellis' post-Nostalgia Chick work, including filming and co-writing several episodes. He also played a large role in managing H.Bomberguy's 101% charity stream, particularly with regards to the guests who appeared during the stream.

Folding Ideas presents and discusses the following tropes:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: He discusses a prototypical version of this that pervades Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings, in which as both a creative and cost-saving decision, the movie mixes and matches its media, flipping between rotoscoped animation, squash-and-stretch animation, colorized footage of live actors, and everything in between. Sometimes it looks impressive, and other times it looks ridiculous, but he finds that the flaws and the ambition are part of the film's appeal.
  • Accidental Truth: His opinion of "Comfortably Dumb". He regards it as Doug accidentally letting it slip that he finds The Wall too challenging of a movie and too complex of an experience. He doesn't want to engage with it in the ways and in the level the movie actually demands of its audience and is comfortable taking the low brow route and making his review a silly, shallow affair. He regards the song as being way more honest about the review itself and Doug's own skills as a reviewer than he intended.
    "It's not really about The Wall, but it's kind of about Doug's relationship to The Wall, and to media in general, and it's probably the most honest song he put in the project, almost certainly not on purpose. [...] I don't know if it works as self-deprecating humor, because I don't think it's comedically true, it's just true."
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In his first video on Fifty Shades of Grey, he points out how the best moments of the adaptation are the ones that adjust from the flaws of the original source material, including moments where it calls itself out for laughs. In specific, he points to an early scene where Ana drunkenly calls out Christian's inconsistently possessive behavior. During his summary of Fifty Shades Freed, he admits to liking the joke about Ana admitting to having something to restrain Jack Hyde, noting that it was "funny on purpose".
  • Adaptation Decay:
  • Adaptation Distillation: He discusses the concept at the start of his Earthsea video. That changes in adaptations aren't necessarily bad and the transition between medium can either demand changes, or make certain things easier, such as setting mood of a scene instantly via color, camera angle and music, while a book may need several paragraphs of dedicated text to do the same. He points to works like the musical version of Les Misérables and Spielberg's Jurassic Park as adaptations that succeed at this and surpass their book counterparts.
  • Advertised Extra: Plushy made it to the opening credits for a while back in season 3 but barely features even in the videos it's in.
  • Ambiguous Ending: invokedIn "Annihilation and Decoding Metaphor", Dan goes over the general purpose of this trope before decoding the example from the film, that is to force the audience to engage the work from a thematic viewpoint rather than a literal one (and often times, the diegetic ending in turn becomes obvious from this route). Rejecting a thematic approach in this scenario will likely just result in nonsensical circles that miss the point, as most online reviewers tend to do.
  • Ambiguously Evil:
    • In his Legend of Chun-Li video, he points out that the movie never really seems to know what Bison's whole goal or scheme is, and that, at face level and disregarding his private use of Black Magic, he's mostly just engaging in gentrification of poor neighborhoods, with the story element of him obtaining the "White Rose" — discussed and implied to be some kind of Secret Weapon — not gelling at all with his rather mundane real estate plot. Dan sums Bison up as a villain that's too confusing to take seriously as a Big Bad since the stakes are so vague.
    • He points out in his review of CATS that Macavity's exact level of villainy isn't entirely clear.
    "The winner is a cat that everyone hates, for reasons I was unable to parse. I guess at some point in the past she teamed up with local villain Macavity, who is either a prankster or a serial killer."
  • Anachronic Order: In "Man of Steel Redux", Dan discusses the film's use of this as how not to do this trope, as not only do the transitions between flashback and present day not always link up or make thematic sense, but the overall arc the style entails is messed up, the most egregious instance being the presenting of a young Clark Kent's internal dilemma of how he should use his powers after a scene of adult Clark putting them to use, essentially resolving its questions and themes before the film even properly asks about them.
  • Appeal to Inherent Nature: Discussed as it applies to entire fictional works, typically ones rife with Unfortunate Implications. Dan notes an increasing use of what he calls the "Thermian Argument" to deflect criticism, namely by justifying elements problematic in the real world with an in-universe explanation (summed up, "You cannot criticize the world because that's just the way the world is"). He argues that it's fallacious since the rules of the fiction are ultimately the will of the creator(s), and trying to analyze an imaginary fiction as a valid, unchanging reality without acknowledging whatever real-world influences and implications they're responding to is absurd.
  • Applicability: invoked Played With. He says part of the problem with The Cremaster Cycle is that it has no metaphor to comment on what it's supposed to be about other than extremely vague ones or made-up symbols which you have to buy Matthew Barney's books or go to his website to understand, yet the creator doesn't let people have other interpretations of his work outside of his own.
  • April Fools' Day: On April 1st, 2019, the channel released "Folding Ideas Pivots To Fortnite" (since titled "Manufactured Discontent and Fortnite"), beginning with Dan announcing that he's moving onto the game as a platform and performing his essay in-game. It's a little downplayed, as despite this, the rest of the video is still a legitimate essay discussing Fortnite's existence as a "games as a service" platform.
  • The Artifact:
    • In his discussion of the Fifty Shades of Gray franchise, he names a number of things to be this from its origin as The Twilight Saga fanfiction, with special attention paid to José. José is a character who is strangely prominent early on, almost date-rapes Anna at one point but is rebuked, and then sticks around in a reduced role being treated as a possible secondary love interest, with his arc going nowhere and Anna never cutting contact with a guy who attempted to rape her. So why is he still in the story? Well, because in the fanfiction that became Fifty Shades, José was that world's equivalent character to Jacob. When doing a Transplanted Character Fic, it's common for the author to keep up with what various characters we know from the original are doing in the new setting, even if they don't play any real role in the story. Jacob was the most prominent character in the original novels outside of Edward and Bella, so writing him out of the story entirely would piss off his fans, and therefore he keeps making perfunctory appearances—and when Fifty Shades became its own thing, those perfunctory appearances result in a character whose role in the story makes no sense and serves no purpose, demonstrated by how the film largely wrote him out after that point and changed little.
    • A major point in "Why It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft" is that World of Warcraft's fairly extensive cosmetic mod support is something the designers probably wished they'd never added. At the time of its launch, modding techniques were nowhere near as advanced and consisted of minor tweaks or interface reworkings. In the modern day, mods can be far more extensive, to the point that some mods essentially tell players how to fight a boss in real time—giving those players a massive concrete advantage over those who don't use mods, and forcing Blizzard to design raids around the assumption that the top-level players are using said mods. Any attempt by Blizzard to curtail the resulting arms race and lockout of less experienced players has resulted in near-universal backlash, as the mods have simply become the established best way to play the game. He notes that while the game's mod scene isn't entirely negative, providing things like accessibility tweaks, it also shows why no other modern competitive online games feature this level of mod support.
    • The channel's name and logo both are based around "Foldy", a cardboard and wood puppet Dan used to employ as an Author Avatar when the channel started. As of 2023 Foldy hasn't been used in a video in 7 years (and his last appearance was a reposted video) despite remaining so prevalent a part of the channel's identity.
  • Ascended Fanficinvoked: Discussed as it pertains to Fifty Shades of Grey, with the intro of his video on the first film extensively discussing its origins and the resulting feedback loops on platforms like FanFiction.Net and e-readers that escalated it into becoming a cultural phenomenon. Dan remains positive on fanfiction throughout the series, but there's recurring discussion of how Fifty Shades nature as a former fanfic left it as a weak and meandering narrative, as well as how Erika Mitchell was given numerous opportunities to fix the series via editing, adaptation, and eventually retelling the first book, but refused to change anything about the series.
  • Asshole Victim: Deconstructed in This is Financial Advice. He admits that the Apes don't seem like good people and lists reasons why so (they're conspiratorially minded to the point of verging into antisemitism, they're planning to crash the global economy with no thought about what will be the damages normal people might suffer, and regularly confess to lying to their spouses and families about the state of their shared finances due to a gambling addiction), that being said, he argues that nobody deserves to be so grifted and brainwashed that the only way forward is to become a grifter themselves.
  • Audience Surrogate:
    • He discusses the trope in his Earthsea video. Talking about the necessity of the trope and how when done badly you end up with a character who seemingly knows nothing about their own world. He points to Jurassic Park as an example of it being done well - characters trade the role around so each one can explain their area of expertise (Paelontology, Paleobotany, Genetics, Chaos Theory, etc...).
    • He also discusses the lack of one in The Chronicles of Riddick, declaring this as a bit of a "noble flaw". It makes the world feel more real, lived in and believable, but at the same time it makes it easy for the audience to feel alienated and detached because nothing is explained, requiring more effort from the audience.
  • Author Avatar:
    • Foldy served as one to Dan before he was phased out. Interestingly, Foldy sometimes appeared in videos with the real Dan and conversing with himself; as Dan explained, this choice allowed him to better illustrate when he has mixed, contradicting opinions on certain topics that he could project onto multiple voices.
    • invokedIn part 3 of his series on Fifty Shades of Grey, he brings up how Fifty Shades's rare "rough draft" Twilight fic Safe Haven is from Edward's POV rather than Bella's, signifying that the self-insert character of Fifty Shades isn't Ana, but Christian. Dan even directly correlates how both he and E.L. James in real life are "controlling, demanding, petty, and easily angered."
  • Bad Bossinvoked: In early videos where Foldy was the main host, he tended to frame him as this to... himself. An example from his episode on Earthsea:
    Foldy: I know it's been a long time coming, but it's all Dan's fault!
    Dan: [slumped and lying in bed] I don't feel so good...
    Foldy: Oh, quit your whinging.
    Dan: [vomits into a bag]
    Foldy: Eugh!
    Dan: My heart hurts... I think I'm dying...
    Foldy: Please don't! Who will edit?
  • Bait-and-Switch: The prologue and first part of "In Search Of A Flat Earth" focus on flat-Earth conspiracy theories, how the curvature of the Earth can be easily proven (highlighting a self-run experiment with Lake Minnewanka, which is further covered in this companion video) and how the Earth being flat is ultimately and paradoxically the least important part of said theories. The second part pivots to QAnon: how it came about, how it swallowed up the oxygen from other conspiracy theories like Flat Earth, and the dangers that the conspiracy theory and its believers pose. The alternate "clickbait title" acknowledges this: "The Twist at 37 Minutes Will Make You Believe We Live in Hell".
  • Became Their Own Antithesis:
    • In regards to Decentraland, he points out that its creators, Ordano and Meilich, originally intended that the virtual space could allow a more democratic space in which its "citizens" could have more power than in the real world to exist, which is the complete opposite of the patent reality of Decentraland in which real power is held by whales through the DAO or by the Foundation, in other words, an oligarchy.
    • In "Line Goes Up", Dan begins by talking about the 2008 financial crisis, explaining it in detail. This allows the viewer, through the video to realize how much of Crypto, and NFT in particular, mirrors what led to the crisis, despite much of Crypto being born as a supposed answer to the crisis - without Dan needing to actually point it out. One example is how much of the crisis was built out of companies creating dummy, valueless mortgages they could then package into bonds to sell to make the line go up. Dan later mirrors this when mentioning how the original "valuable" NFTs of stuff like original reddit memes and actual high effort art were in finite supply, so crypto fans had to turn to something else to make the line go up, leading to the stuff like the Apes and other worthless procedurally generated art NFT that became the face of the concept.
  • Bile Fascinationinvoked:
    • Dan has admitted to be a proponent of this, seeking out bad content to dissect its place within art and culture at large. The ending of "An American Tail: Fievel Goes to Video Game Hell" has him detail his philosophy.
      Dan: I believe in the value of failed art, art that is driven by carelessness, unchecked and untalented ego, by spectacularly low-stakes greed. It has a tendency to be novel, to be unpredictable in a way that deliberate art never can. This is why it's so much fun to watch bad movies. No one would ever make this game on purpose[...]It is not simply a lack of time or money that produces something like An American Tail: The Video Game, but the profound lack of caring. The end product of that broken process isn't worth playing for its own merits, but it is worth playing because it's worth remembering.
    • Played for Laughs in "Cooking Food On The Internet For Fun And Profit", where during his summation of mass-produced videos of transparently faked "lifehack" content, he gets distracted twice from the sheer absurdity of some of their suggestions (like using bar soap to fill in a nail hole).
      Dan: [whispering] Whaaaaaaat... are you...? That’s not a hack... you didn’t... [back to normal] I’m sorry, I got sucked in there.
    • He discusses the idea when talking about the works of Doug Walker. Calling him Youtube's Neil Breen and Tommy Wiseau, saying that like the later two, Doug has the same "heady mix of incompetence and ego that is absolutely intoxicating to talk about". He also discusses it more specifically about the infamous "The Wall" review:
      "So much of the actual content is predicated on readings of the material that are just wildly wrong, and yet so absolutely confident in their delivery. Doug decided to accuse an eighty minute movie of being too long and padded, and then didn’t even flinch as he sandwiched that between a rant about people being mean to him on Twitter and an eight minute argument with a busty nightmare squirrel. And it’s that element, that deeply misplaced sense of confidence that really just makes Nostalgia Critic’s The Wall captivating."
    • In "This is Financial Advice", Dan points out that the Apes claim they don't understand they elicit this whenever they complain about how critics shouldn't care what the Apes do with their money.
  • Book Ends: "Line Goes Up" first and final chapters begin with "In 2008, the economy functionally collapsed". It goes to drive home the point how cryptocurrencies ended up replicating the problems with banks they set out to displace.
  • Breather Episode: In between the first 2/3rds of his series breaking down the Fifty Shades of Grey films — each episode being slightly under or over an hour in length — Dan preceded the final part with "An American Tail: Fievel Goes to Video Game Hell", a shorter and much lighter video essay briefly sharing his thoughts on the titular film before delving into its terrible licensed gameinvoked.
  • Call-Back:
    • During the explanation of NFTs, he pulls out his copy of Grey, mentioning the damage he inflicted on it at the end of his "A Lukewarm Defence of Fifty Shades of Grey" series by throwing it into a river.
    • The Future Is a Dead Mall features a ton of callbacks to earlier videos. Dan wears a Lake Minnewanka hoodie (where he filmed In Search of a Flat Earth), has a copy of his "Certified Worth Decider" certificate from the Mikkelsen Twins video on the wall and the Wind Rider pet from his first WOW video. He also brings up directly his NFT video and the Decentraland bit from that video. The fake FMV game segment has several references to the The Nostalgia Critic and The Wall video by featuring 2 Dans in the same shirt, one wearing a hat, and featuring Hat Dan's hat and finger guns in the inventory.
  • The Cameo: His miniseries on Fifty Shades features several excerpts from the original books being read by several of Dan's friends: Ana is voiced by Crystal Rhoney, Christian by Mike Rugnetta, Taylor by Mikey Neumann, Kate by Lindsay Ellis, Dr. Flynn by H.Bomberguy, and E.L. James/Erika Mitchell by Jenny Nicholson.
  • Cathartic Scream: In Part 2 of his series on Fifty Shades, he takes a few brief moments to scream into a pillow after going over Fifty Shades Darker's nightmarishly tangled mess of a plot.
    • He also starts the video "Annihilation and Decoding Metaphor" with a scream of frustration following a montage of people talking about the film on a purely surface level.
  • Clickbait Gaginvoked: Nearly every major video since late 2016 has had an alternate "Clickbait title" in the description. Just for one example, "An American Tail: Fievel Goes to Video Game Hell" has "THE WORST VIDEO GAME EVER!? [gone wild] [prank][TWIST ENDING] Frozen Elsa Spider-Man"
    • This trend was inverted with his video on Pokémon Detective Pikachu, whose main title is "Is Detective Pikachu Mathematically The Worst?!", while the "clickbait title" in the description is "A Short Review and Discussion of Detective Pikachu and The Broader Subject of Video Game Movies".
    • Played with at the start of his Fifty Shades reviews. What's the clickbait title for "A Lukewarm Defense of Fifty Shades of Grey"? "A Lukewarm Defense of Fifty Shades of Grey".
  • Clueless Aesop:invoked One of his major critiques of Nostalgia Critic's The Wall review is that Doug simply doesn't have the capacity to convey any meaningful message about the film. He suggests this to be a mixture of Doug's lack of apparent research into the film and its history, leading to a lot of mistakes that come off as Shallow Parody at best, his personal unwillingness to think or engage deeply with challenging works beyond a surface level, his Caustic Critic Accentuate the Negative style being well-suited to ripping apart low-quality kids movies but a poor fit for a deeply personal arthouse film, and the review itself being overall incoherent due to an overdose of skits and random asides. This causes the ultimate message of "I liked it fine" or the claims of it being a love letter to the band to come off as hollow.
  • Clueless Mystery: Discussed a lot as a big problem in The Snowman, which may or may not have been affected by its Troubled Productioninvoked. Dan notes how there are so many impossible feats and leaps of logic that by the end, the only suspects that could be definitively ruled out are those that are dead, and that the only reason the killer is fairly obvious has less to do with clues uncovered by the protagonists and more to do with the fact he's introduced and then otherwise doesn't do anything.
  • The Comically Serious: Dan keeps a stoic, professional tone of voice throughout his videos, so whenever he makes jokes, they come across as this, like consistently calling the teacher "Goddammit Janice" in "The Art of Storytelling and The Book of Henry" or casually dropping double entendres throughout the Fifty Shades analyses.
  • Confirmation Bias: Discussed in regards to "Ape DD" (Due Diligence). Dan explains that real Due Diligence is a thorough investigation to check the possible pros and cons of an investment: it's supposed to be as much an argument for why you shouldn't buy the asset as it is an argument why you should. But Apes have a vested interest in buying GME and convincing other people to buy it too, so their self-proclaimed "Due Diligence" is entirely a way to come up with new reasons to buy and hold GameStop while downplaying or outright ignoring reasons not to.
  • Conspiracy Theorist:
    • "In Search Of A Flat Earth" is an extensive discussion of this concept at large, beginning as an examination and retort of flat-Earthers in particular, but then delving into other, more actively hostile conspiracy movements like QAnon, the circular logic that makes them so stubborn to refute, and ultimately the self-serving authoritarian motivations that drive them.
    • This Is Financial Advice also visits the topic, specifically how the reddit Meme Stock investors devolved into this.
    • That Time Geocentrists Tricked A Bunch of Physicists covers a bunch of religious geocentrists and their beliefs and, much like the Flat Earthers (with whom they agree on the place of the Earth but not its shape) how these come from authoritarian, anti-democratic and bigoted motivations.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Invoked during his stream of Kingdom Hearts III, where he purposefully avoided playing the previous games or reading much material about the series in order to view the final installment without any context. For the most part, he actually enjoyed it, and was able to accurately figure out many of the plot points, either through dialogue clues or general knowledge of storytelling tropes.
  • Cooking Show: "Cooking Food On The Internet For Fun And Profit" is largely a discussion about the proliferation of this video genre on YouTube, what gives it its longevity, the various pros and cons of it from grassroots to corporate scale, and overall why he and many others enjoy them.
  • Cool, but Inefficient:
    • In his video on NFTs, he notes that a lot of blockchain advocates describe how things will hugely benefit from being added to the blockchain, such as medical records or social media, without actually explaining why those things are beneficial for being on the blockchain. Indeed, having all information be part of an incredibly energy-inefficient public ledger where it's near-impossible to remove anything would create a lot of problems (for instance, in the case of social media, doxxing and revenge porn would become far more of a problem to deal with). He surmises that this comes down to the fact that blockchain advocates treat the blockchain as "the way of the future", and by extension, anything going onto the chain must be an ineffable good and a step towards tomorrow, regardless of whether it actually provides any real benefits.
    • Dan points to the entire concept of the Metaverse as seen in Snow Crash and Ready Player One and other works as this in The Future is a Dead Mall - even when decoupled from how awful Decentraland's implementation of these concepts is. The idea of a contiguous virtual space that's mapping the internet like a physical space sounds cool in an abstract or as a literary device because plot devices don't need to consider the limitation and various complications real life use brings up. The more you think about it, the more you realize that such spaces are inherently worse at everything you'd want them to do than a webpage might be. From certain designs who by their very nature will block all line of sights from neighbors, the fact that humans can navigate a grid of items on a shopping site faster and more efficiently than physically navigate a virtual store filled with virtual goods or the fact that one can move between webpages faster than one can move across physical space.
      Dan: The reason it’s all so messy is because of the aforementioned gesturing towards fiction and because a lot of the people writing effluent prose about how the future is here today in the form of blockchain-based social spaces are, for the most part, salesmen. That’s not to say that they don’t believe the Metaverse could or should exist, just that most have not considered if it would actually be any good. That part they take as a given, because it’s always super cool in stories, so why even bother considering that the end result might be boring, inconvenient, and disappointing?
    • In the same video, he points VR as another example of this. VR is cool but extremely limiting due to the ease by which it can cause disorientation and all existing VR experience are a compromise between what would be cool and what the human body will tolerate. Which is why most VR experience have the player standing still in a very small footspace while the game takes charge of teleporting them from environment to environment.
      Dan: It’s a compromise that VR enthusiasts are willing to accept because the alternative is a one-way trip to the floor as your cochlea decides that being upright is no longer an option. The end result, the actuality of virtual reality, is that it’s an incredibly potent tool for an unfortunately limited number of applications.
  • Cowboy Be Bop At His Computer: Discussed. While reviewing Book Club, he points out that the characters discussing Fifty Shades of Grey speak as though Anastasia signed Grey's contract, even though large portions of said book are a result of Ana refusing to sign said contract. He believes that the screenwriters only did the barest amount of research on Fifty Shadesnote  to signal to the audience that the elderly characters aren't against discussing raunchier topics.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits for "This Is Financial Advice" first shows "u/[deleted]" before swapping in the real names.
  • invokedCreator Backlash: Dan argues that End of Evangelion was Hideaki Anno's reaction to the shallow nerd entitlement and sexual perversion of his audience.
  • Critical Backlashinvoked:
    • Discussed at great length in "A Lukewarm Defence of Fifty Shades of Grey (The Movie)", with Dan finding its narrative as being one of the worst movies of the year overblown for what is ultimately a fairly middling movie. Dan presents the movie as having far more creative care and thought than the book it's adapting, with its weaknesses stemming from it being an adaptation of highly flawed source material from which it wasn't allowed to deviate too far.
    • In his review of Postal, Foldy admits that the film is actually better than its reputation as a Uwe Boll video game movieinvoked suggests, even if it's still ultimately not a "good" film. While he still points out many glaring flaws that come down to inconsistent filmmaking, he also argues that it's surprisingly faithful towards adapting the original games' sophomoric, ultraviolent power fantasies, and there are some genuinely funny moments of black and blue humor. Foldy goes so far as to say that he doesn't think Uwe Boll is a terrible director, but "a mediocre director and a terrible producer".
  • Crossover: He did a two-part collab with Movies with Mikey for Christmas in 2020. Mikey's video, "The Trial of Christmas Movies", breaks down and analyzes miscellaneous "Christmas movies" to deduce which is the most "Christmassy", while Dan's video, "Let's Argue About Christmas Movies", breaks down the nature of defining movies as "Christmassy" itself, further discussing the various cultural and social implications of the act.
  • Cute Kitten: Dan has a cat named Amy who often features in the credits of his videos, sometimes with a link to an unlisted video solely containing footage of her. She also occasionally pops up in vlogs, where Dan is prone to succumb to Cuteness Proximity around her. She can also be seen next to Dan in The Future Is A Dead Mall.
  • Damned by Faint Praise:
    • His vlog on Justice League (2017) includes such glowing praise as "I didn't hate this movie" and "it shouldn't leave you in pain".
    • This is constantly evident in "A Lukewarm Defense of Fifty Shades of Grey"—starting with the title. Though he does point out good qualities wherever he can, he always tempers it by noting that the filmmakers were working with fundamentally bad source material, and even his highest praise of the finished product basically amounts to "they made it the fun kind of garbage, rather than just garbage."
    • In ''Line Goes Up - The Problem With NFTs", he notes that Ethereum is a net improvement over Bitcoin, which he immediately clarifies is "not hard — Bitcoin sucks".
    • This Is Financial Advice has him retroactively apply this to crypto enthusiasts compared to "Apes". While cryptocurrency enthusiasts will twist themselves into knots trying to explain why a company failing is actually a good thing (usually, that it strengthens the industry as a whole), they will at least acknowledge that the company is going bankrupt, whereas Apes will continue to insist that the company or its stock will rebound any moment now.
    • He later in the same video does the same when comparing "Apes" to gambling addicts. Gamblers at least have chance, however minuscule, to win the jackpot. "Apes" meanwhile are just throwing their money away with no chance whatsoever of a payback.
  • Deconstruction: In Search of Flat Earth and That Time Geocentrists Tricked A Bunch of Physicists are largely dedicated to unraveling Conspiracy Theorist cultures and the views people have of them. Dan posits that, while movements such as Flat-Earth and Geocentrism are largely dismissed as amusing pesudo-science beliefs, they are ultimately just masks for anti-science and hyper-religious ideology by way of denying basic facts, in turn making them pipelines to far more dangerous extremist groups like QAnon.
  • Defictionalization: Discussed in The Future Is a Dead Mall. Dan mentioned the idea that Science Fiction has a history of predicting future invention, pointing out that there's a survivorship bias there, ignoring the many more inventions based off science fiction ideas that proved silly, useless, impractical, deadly, or physically impossible.invoked
    Dan: This might come as a shock, but when a writer sits down to compose fiction, the thing that they write doesn’t need to actually work. They’re not real inventions, they’re narrative devices, and at a certain point no amount of cool factor can make up for the limitations of physical space.
  • Depending on the Writer: Discussed in "Everyone Batman Kills in BvS (and why it matters)". The point Dan makes is that the controversial decision to have Batman unambiguously and cavalierly kill isn't de facto a bad or even new decision for his highly flexible character, but that it must be accepted as a truth about the actual text before it can be appropriately evaluated as a good or poor decision, both for the text itself and its place in the larger mythos.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • In "Line Goes Up", he points out that blockchain creators appear not to have really considered the consequences of never being able to delete anything (ie, you can't delete doxxing, you can't delete harassment, you can't delete scams...).
    • He also points out that because there's no step to accept a new block in one's wallet, people can and do just drop malware in other people's wallets. Digital landmines they can't interact with or do anything about.
    • In the same video he points out that most DAOs have not considered human mortality in their operation. "What happens if someone who owns an important token dies" was never factored in.
    • In This is Financial Advice, he raises the point that the Apes' plan is clearly not fully thought through. If MOASS starts looking like it could be happening, then Apes would have collectively conspired to crash the global economy, which would be getting them in trouble with the law long before they see any of the actual earnings promised:
    "The US government wrote off the GME squeeze as a one-off viral event and let everyone off the hook, but if the Apes get their wish and really do deliberately risk collapsing the US or global economy after several years of organising - yeah I think the US federal government would sooner make that RICO filing then give u/hoplias literally billions of dollars for his shares in GameStop."
    • Really, every version of MOASS (from the same video) is this. If it happened, apes would (in theory) get almost-infinite money for their gamestop shares; enough to seriously impact or straight-up destroy the US (or even the entire world) economy. They not only think the U.S Government will just hand that money over, they think life will be easy living in a devastated economy.
  • Downer Ending: A couple of his videos end in glum conclusions.
    • "Weird Kids' Videos and Gaming the Algorithm" namedrops the trope:
      Dan: If we're honest, and if we're using the 1980's as an indicator, there's an awful lot of advertisers who are ultimately okay with their ads being bombarded onto toddlers, and plenty of creators willing to churn out low-effort content to facilitate that. (beat), that's a downer ending.
    • At the end of his Fifty Shades multi-part series, he's optimistic that the book from Christian's perspective will show more human elements to the character and have him struggling with his dark side. Then we're treated to an excerpt where Christian is fairly blasé about the fact that he's plying Anastasia with alcohol.
      Dan: (brightly) Nope!
      [throws the book across six wide shots of landscape into a river]
    • "Manufactured Discontent and Fortnite" has Dan conclude that the Marshmello concert means Fortnite is a glimpse of the future: an awful, perpetually monetised, vertically integrated, vaguely hostile future. Then his in-game avatar is gunned down.
    • "Triumph of the Will and the Cinematic Language of Propaganda," being about Nazis and propaganda, was destined to have one:
      Dan: The legacy of Triumph of the Will is muddled because it was intentionally muddled. The party was trying to inject itself into everything—into history, into art, into religion. They made their own movie and had their own critics praise it to make it important…To this day, we continue to use Triumph of the Will as our reference point for the mental construct of the Nazi regime. Which, I want you to think about that. Our idea of the Nazis is deeply informed by a propaganda film produced by the Nazis for the explicit purpose of creating that mental construct. This right here is exactly the image they wanted you to think of when you thought of them.
    • "Line Goes Up: The Problem With NFTs" ends on one of the most brutal downer endings in his entire YouTube career
      Dan: And that's the pitch; Buy in now, buy in early and you could be the high-tech future boot. Our systems are breaking or broken, straining under neglect and sabotage and our leaders seem at best complacent, willing to coast out the collapse. We need something better, but a system that turns everyone into petty digital landlords, that distills all interaction into transaction, that determines the value of something by how sellable it is and whether or not it can be gambled on as a fractional token sold at a micro-auction? That's not it. A different system does not inherently mean a better system. We replace bad systems with worse ones all the time. We replaced a bad system of work and bosses with a terrible system of apps, gigs and on demand labor. So it's not just that I oppose NFTs because the foremost of them are aesthetically vacuous representations of the dead inner lives of the tech and finance bros behind them, it's that they represent the vanguard of a worse system. The whole thing, from OpenSea fantasies for starving artists, to the buy-in for pay-to-earn games, it's the same hollow, exploitative pitch as MLMs. It's Amway, but everywhere you look, people are wearing ugly-ass ape cartoons.
    • The end of "This is Financial Advice" manages to be even bleaker, especially as Dan argues that as paranoid, selfish, resentful, impulsive, and all-around foolish as Apes are, even they don't deserve to be exploited like this.
      Dan: The grim irony of Ape culture is that it has the operative mechanisms of a gambling addiction... without actually gambling. See, if it were a gamble, if they were truly betting on something, then there would be some actual odds of winning. Apes like to talk about "high risk, high reward" as a coping mechanism, as the mismanaged companies they're betting on continue to slide out of business, but all framing devices like that assume that the thing that you're betting on can actually happen. But the weakest team in the league can, theoretically, pull out a dark-horse run and take the cup. That's a high-risk, high-reward bet. Apes, on the other hand, with their theories of MOASS, with their "Cohencidences" and Icahn secret reverse-triangle mergers, with their fundamental misunderstanding of how a short sale even works... they're sitting around a blackjack table convincing each other that there's a secret rule, that if you hit 31 the dealer has to give you their entire tray. So hit me! Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: All over the place in "Nostalgia Critic and The Wall". Dan overall argument is that Doug Walker has failed to engage with the movie and the concepts within it with any degree of good faith, emotional honesty, or contextual information. In the case of "We Need More Victimization", Doug's parody of "Another Brick in the Wall", Doug criticizes the song as whiny and full of edgy teenager angst because it is about how school sucks. Dan argues that this is not really what the song is about, and that Doug is not taking in context the differences between Doug's own suburban education in 80/90s America compared to Roger Waters education in a post-WWII era England. He is also missing the argument Waters makes about who is in charge of education, it's not just that teachers suck, but that education is an institution that is heavily influenced by what industrialists want and that attempt to shape children into workers, rather than thinking human beings.
  • Dub Personality Changeinvoked: Discussed in the follow-up video to his earlier episode on End of Evangelion. The first video was primarily Dan discussing the characterization of Shinji Ikari on a symbolic and metatextual level, specifically based around the original Japanese text, whereas in the follow-up, Dan later realized that there was a much larger breadth of interpretations in part due to cultural translations subtly but significantly affecting how said text was meant to be absorbed. He directly points out how the English dub's Shinji is still depicted as a pathetic loser, but his voicework makes him more pitiable and sympathetic than outright spiteful like in the Japanese version.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Dan expresses this to Foldy during the video on Crank: High Voltage while sharing analogies to describe how unconventional it is for its medium.
    Foldy: It'd be like looking at "Super Bass" and complaining about how poorly it would perform on the adult contemporary charts.
    Dan: No wait, I've got a better one! It's like saying the Mona Lisa is a bad music video.
    Foldy: Yeah! Or that The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a bad how-to-guide on world domination!
    Dan: ...dude. Not cool.
    (awkward silence between the two)
  • Dumbass Has a Point: While Dan points out all the holes in Apes' thinking in This is Financial Advice, he also reiterates a few times throughout the video that some of their criticisms are based in fact, just distorted beyond any use.
    The narrative that Wall Street is corrupt, reckless, and greedy is persuasive in no small part because... it isn't wrong.
  • Eaglelandinvoked: Dan examines Type 2 of this in "The People Vs. Clark Kent", finding that Man of Steelhowever unintentional — is a perfect encapsulation on 21th century American foreign policy: Supermanthe symbol for truth, justice, and the American way — marches around the globe exercising extrajudicial power in pursuit of a single terrorist cell, eschewing diplomacy or concern for collateral damage, and even if they cross the lines they're attacking their enemies for, it's excusable, because when Superman/America does it, "it's okay. It's worth the cost".
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Dan's video on Why It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft is majorly co-hosted by WoW player Choice, aka Nathan Landel, who first appeared in Line Goes Up — The Problem With NFTs.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Dan points out in at the end of This is Financial Advice that this is what makes completely dismantling Apes' arguments difficult: the stock market is full of Corrupt Corporate Executives, companies that are under-(or over-)valued compared to what they "should" be, and at the end of the day, the stock market as a whole is more about what people believe companies are worth that what they are actually worth (since that is what predicting the future is, after all). Additionally, while it's not that difficult to learn the basics of how to play the stock market or become a speculator, the kind of elaborate loopholes and systems that the ape schemes and MOASS are based on are generally so opaque that it's very easy for a person to get the wrong idea. Add in a lot of tunnel vision due to hanging out with other apes, and a tendency to dismiss sources that disagree with them as paid off (again, not the most unreasonable conclusion when dealing with Wall Street), and people can very easily argue themselves into the ludicrously untrue idea that Gamestop, a struggling company currently valued at several times more than it was in its most profitable years ever, is going to explode in value even further.
  • Escapisminvoked:
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Invoked and Discussed in his impromptu second part to his video on Source Code, "The Dark Side of Source Code", exploring why upon further examination, the "happy ending" and what it implies for the protagonist is actually deeply worrying on many existential levels.
  • Failure Gambit:
    • Dan brings up in The Future is a Dead Mall how Decentraland being so completely awful in a way works to its favor. Reviewers and media covering it tend to either avoid showing it for what it is, because it makes them look bad by covering it (in a "Why are you giving attention to such crap" kind of way), or assume that they just "don't get it". In both cases, they tend to fall back onto the marketing and promotional info given by Decentraland and its supporters. Any failure gets dismissed as this being a proof of concept of a future that is "definitely happening".
    • At another point, he notes that Decentraland's crappiness also works in its favor on its userbase: it creates a form of self-selection, winnowing out anyone who isn't completely on board with the idea. He compares the idea to a Nigerian Prince scam, a ploy so famous, debunked, and oft-mocked that only the most gullible and unaware people fall for it—which is good, when that's exactly what the scam artist wants.
  • Fetishized Abuser: Dan discusses one of the most infamous cases of this trope, Christian Grey. He points out that simply from a narrative perspective, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with having Christian be one since it creates conflict and drama that can propel a story, so long as it actually directly contributes to something. The first film's director and writer understood this and tried tweaking as much of the story they could to tone down and address Christian's monstrous behavior as part of the conflict, with Dan describing the film's Christian as "a bad, needy boyfriend," but far less volatile and frightening.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The show very broadly analyzes media and/or elements of them and how they relate to culture and politics, but there are also some instances where Dan breaks off from this, from lighthearted and unscripted side vlogs to more educational material, from explaining the 2019 Youtube/FTC COPPA deal to informing viewers on how to contact their political representatives.
  • Le Film Artistique:
    • Dan says that The Cremaster Cycle is probably what most people think of when they hear something's an art(house) film. He sees it as boring and pretentious and specifically chooses it as an example of a bad art film. It also has lots of sexual imagery and a couple of bloody moments.
    • Also discussed with "The Nostalgia Critic and The Wall"; Dan spends several minutes prefacing the video discussing that while Pink Floyd -- The Wall feels at times, dated, difficult to watch, and ambiguous, he finds the metaphorical and symbolic storytelling to be a powerful piece of art, particularly as a reflection of the trauma and overwhelming anger felt by the creators in response to WW2, the political climate of the Thatcher era, and structural trauma from schools to the music industry. This comes in strict contrast to The Nostalgia Critic who reacts to the film as if it's just another pretentious arthouse film steeped in generic symbolism to the point where his analysis of it is so shallow, petty, and just plain wrong that Dan dubs it fanfiction instead of critique.
    • Discussed briefly during his retrospective on Ralph Bakshi before delving more deeply into his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Although his style doesn't necessarily fit the conventions of the trope, Bakshi's controlling personality and single minded vision certainly does. Olson highlights Bakshi's early work (particularly Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic) as a strong artistic statement from an independent, counter-cultural viewpoint, created in response to the animation industry of the time being "safe, bright, unscary, trapped decades in the past, and slowly dying". However, Olson also comments on Bakshi's many quirks and faults as a creator, which would go on to become more evident in his later work as Bakshi's personal life became more chaotic and the pressure of juggling multiple projects made his films decline in quality until he left animation altogether.
  • Fix It in Post: In his "Art of Editing" series, Dan frequently touches upon Troubled Productioninvoked during filming that resulted in major issues down the line.
    • For Suicide Squad, due to a frenzied writing/initial filming cycle, extensive reshoots and re-edits of the film were constantly demanded, resulting in hours upon hours more of footage than the various editing houses knew what to do with. This hasty and poorly-planned development showed, resulting in a bloated, haphazardly assembled, and tonally inconsistent final product.
    • For The Snowman, they had the exact opposite issue, in that approximately 10-15% of the script was outright never filmed by the time it hit post-production. Dan notes that this absence alone demanded the removal or significant reworks of additional connected scenes now existing without context, and when combined with additional issues like needing to dub Val Kilmer's failing voice, the end product is "a complete forking mess" with a barely-coherent plot.
    • "Ralph Bakshi and The Lord of the Rings" goes into great length about its unusual, semi-planned case of this with Bakshi's complicated Rotoscoping process, with the film having to have been "filmed" twice over, once in live action, then redrawn with animation and other stylistic editing techniques. Dan concludes that the end result is very ambitious, loving, and at times brilliant, but riddled with glaring inconsistencies that leave the overall project on the "lukewarm" side of "admirable".invoked
  • Flanderization: In his character analysis of Homer Simpson, he talks about how Homer inverted the Standard '50s Father archetype. Homer became more unsympathetic, but still likable, which led to later live-action sitcoms featuring BumblingDads in imitation of him. The writers of The Simpsons then satirized the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists they helped create by making him even more unsympathetic.
  • Flashback: Dan has discussed the use and execution of this trope a few times, mostly regarding works that implement them poorly:
    • In "Man of Steel Redux", the issue has to do with thematic cohesion; in terms of the film's anachronic structure, the flashbacks are not only placed at seemingly random times and without good narrative reason, they sometimes outright harm the overall arc such a form of storytelling would provide, often presenting the setup to a thematic conflict after its resolution was shown to the audience without significant context.
    • "The Art of Editing and The Snowman" goes into greater detail of what flashbacks are and what they represent, with this film's problem being that it imparts information to the viewer that may or may not represent what the characters are actually learning (and usually in ways that don't make sense for them to learn anyway), making it difficult to assess what characters actually know and whether their actions even make sense.
  • Franchise Original Sin: invokedIn his retrospective on Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings, he surmises that Bakshi's works always had their issues and idiosyncrasies, such as meandering plots without a clear or coherent message, vast and often jarring changes in artstyle, and Bakshi's own limitations as an animator. He makes the case that these ideas worked well in Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic due to their intensely personal feel and focus on character drama over an overarching story, but saw far more divisive results with Wizards and Lord of the Rings, which are much more large-scale in their subject matter and are clearly cast as single epic narratives, meaning that they come off as confused and incoherent instead.
  • From Bad to Worse: The Apes' grasp on reality in "This is Financial Advice". They think that Gamestop or some other stock with any loose connection to it will someday trigger a short squeeze that will decimate the economy, and they'll get rich from it. As reality kicks them in the face more and more, the coping conspiracy theories get crazier and crazier.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: One of his overarching critiques in The Problem With NFTs is that Cryptocurrencies and NFTs are serving to perpetuate the same scams and power structures that led to the 2008 financial crisis and that Cryptocurrencies advocates claim they are fighting against.
  • Funny Background Event: In The Future Is a Dead Mall Dan, while discussing digital goods mirroring physical goods, picks up a World of Warcraft wind rider plush which he explains came with a matching in-game mount. His cat, Amy, who is sitting next to him, immediately perks up, stands and stares at the toy, till Dan tosses it when he's done with his explanation, prompting Amy to pounce after the plush toy.
    • The pinned comment lists timestamps for Amy activity.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Discussed with Depression Quest as a case study in how to integrate a game's Central Theme into its mechanics, citing its simple, but effective use of But Thou Must! as helping illustrate the dissonant feelings of inability and detachment found in the depression the story is based around.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Discussed in his video on "Ludonarrative Dissonance", in which he defends the term as a tool for proper descriptive criticism. He also goes into detail as to how video games in particular tend to have its elements compartmentalized rather than being treated as a whole, unlike other media (citing {Errant Signal}'s video of how "cinemanarrative dissonance" between story and cinematography in film isn't really considered a thing), and discusses the implications and potential discussions it brings for all of them.
  • Gilligan Cut: In The Future Is a Dead Mall Dan shows a clip of a man in a BBC interview who claims he wouldn't even consider selling his plot in Decentraland for less than 10 million dollars. Cut to Dan saying "He sold for 980$ a year later".
  • Gone Horribly Right: In This Is Financial Advice Dan covers the story of Keith Gill, aka DeepFuckingValue, a man who wanted to be a financial social media influencer. Keith began by making potentially reasonable predictions that GameStop had more value than the market thought it did and that there were lots of ways GameStop could fix their decline. Then January 2021 happened and GameStop's stock exploded. Keith made millions off of it, but the Apes also rallied around him as some sort of messianic figure. Keith had to go before Congress to prove he didn't do anything wrong (which Dan believes he genuinely didn't), after which he had to confront the fact that the Apes had begun to interpret anything he said or did as coded messages to their movement. This proved to be both a legal risk to his newfound wealth (as he could be accused of market manipulation if something he said caused the Apes to act en masse) and a physical risk to him and his family (Apes aren't the most stable of people and a lot of them like to talk about how they own guns), so Keith deleted all his social media accounts and walked off into the sunset.
  • Guide Dang It!: Dan discusses the concept in "Why It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft" when talking about opaque, undocumented mechanics. He takes Threat as an example. Early in WOW's existence, Threat was poorly understood, its mechanics speculated on. DPS classes chaffed against it. As Threat was understood, and the Threat meter became a common mod, Threat as a mechanic basically vanished. But he points out a side effect of that is that Threat Meters lead to Damage meters, which suddenly allowed one to see just how well everyone in a group is performing their role, leading to more instances of "Stop Having Fun" Guys.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animalinvoked: Discussed in his vlog on Cats and its inconsistency regarding this principle contributing to its surreal, uncomfortably Squicky atmosphere.
    Dan: Cats has an odd relationship with clothes; some cats wear them, others don't. It's maybe a little weird, but a fairly innocuous theatrical convention that is far from the hardest thing in this film to adjust to... at least, until those cats take their clothes off. Idris Elba's Macavity spends the majority of the film wearing a giant fur coat, and it is impossible to describe just how uncomfortable it is when he suddenly apparates wearing nothing at all. Despite the plethora of cats onscreen who aren't wearing clothes, the act of disrobing shattered the convention. It becomes nudity, and a nudity that feels so bizarrely unintentional that despite it being deliberately recorded, [...] the instinct is to politely look away in embarrassment and respect for Mr. Elba's modesty as though director Tom Hooper had somehow managed to sneak up behind him and steal his clothes.
  • The Hero's Journey: In his video on Annihilation (2018), he briefly mentions not being a fan of The Hero with a Thousand Faces due to it insisting this structure as being a flat, universal truth, though he does find some of its theories on narrative patterns valid, at least as a jumping-off point to play with, as is the case with Annihilation.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Discussed in his video on NFTs; he points out that cryptocurrency and other crypto-related thefts do not involve the kind of "hacking into the system" people think of from movies, but rather tricks like convincing people to give up their passwords. This makes it very difficult to prove theft, because fraudulent transactions made this way look exactly the same as the legit ones, and there's no real structure or set of regulations in place to help.
  • Hypocrite: In "Contrepreneurs: The Mikkelsen Twins", Dan has an entire, several minutes long montage contrasting what Christian Mikkelsen says in the pitch for the twins' course, and in his own podcast. While in the former Christian emphasizes how little effort and work and concern for quality is needed for their "method", in the podcast he espouses hard work, taking second jobs, and taking in debt to finance the success of their "method" and claims anyone who doesn't strike success didn't work "hard enough". All to emphasize that the Twins will say anything that gets one to buy in their scam.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
  • Insult to Rocks: A couple of times in This is financial advice, Dan notes that Apes are managing to lose money to "the random noise" of Wall Street. And at another, he points out that making money on the stock market isn't that difficult, since a goldfish is able to do it.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Discussed in This Is Financial Advice. Dan compares the Apes to crypto enthusiasts (a group he himself had described in Line Goes Up and The Future is a Dead Mall as having a poor understanding of reality). Both groups share a profound hostility to any kind of bad news or push back ("FUD" as they call it). But he points out that Apes are even worse, because they refuse to acknowledge events that are actually happening altogether in their refusal to face reality, instead basically living in their own made up reality.
    Dan: Even crypto, a product wholly at the mercy of sentiment, is more tolerant of bad news than Apes because they are nominally willing to engage with reality as it exists. They’ll spin bad news like the collapse of FTX as good for the ecosystem as a whole, pretending that it’s culling out bad actors, but they don’t deny that FTX has gone sour.
  • I Want to Be a Real Man: Discussed at great length in the on Fight Club. Dan explains Jack's motives for starting a fight club and rebelling against society as a means of proving himself as a "real man", then analyzing the film's deconstruction of this notion by showing how it manifests as abrasive, toxic behavior, from implicit misogyny to outright sociopathic misanthropy.
  • Identical Stranger: In "What is Vsauce?", Dan briefly acknowledges that he looks similar to Michael Stevens, although he's unable to replicate his signature Fascinating Eyebrow.
  • Inferred Holocaustinvoked: His minisode on "The Endings of Bloodborne" discusses this, it being the reason why he argues the game's "happy" ending is also simultaneously its most depressing. Sure, leaving the literal realm of nightmares appears as a much more sensible option than remaining and being enslaved by it, but the game also points out by doing so, you will forget everything you learned in it, including the fact that humanity is at the whim of a destructive Cosmic Horror Story, one that's very likely not going to end well for humanity, even in the "best" ending where you become a Great One yourself. That said, Tropes Are Tools, and this sense of ambiguous futility is what makes the game, as well as other Cosmic Horror Stories so effectively haunting.
  • Informed Attribute: One of his main issues with The Book of Henry. He notes that the creators describe Henry as a kid with a lot of emotional intelligence, more than just being a TV Genius, even though Henry is an almost textbook example of that very thing: far from emotionally intelligent, he spends most of the film as a classic Insufferable Genius, and he doesn't seem to have any friends. Furthermore, when he does have to show his intelligence beyond offscreen feats like managing the stock market, it's in his plan, which makes no sense—it seems to assume that a gun store would allow a young boy to purchase a high-powered rifle, and that a shallow creek would be enough to sweep away a grown man's body. On the other hand, his mother, whom the film treats as a highly neglectful and lazy parent, seems to have no deeper flaws than enjoying video games and taking time out for herself on occasion.
  • Inherent in the System: His opinion of cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the likes is that, ultimately, they simply can't solve the problems with the modern economic system, as these problems ultimately stem from "what people are doing to others, not that the building they're doing it in has the word Bank on it".
  • In the Style of: "What is Vsauce?" imitates several characteristics and formatting of the subject channel, from Dan speaking and acting in Michael Stevens' signature mannerisms, to the identifiable but somewhat free-form video structure and editing style.
  • Isn't It Ironic?invoked: "10 Love Songs (That Aren't Really Love Songs)" lists a bunch of "love songs" that people tend to assume are Silly Love Songs that Dan's been requested to use in the wedding videos he used to edit, but really aren't, at least in a happy way. Among the most baffling is Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", whose chorus repeatedly contains the words "I don't want to fall in love", which his clients believed to be ironic.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: Invoked in both of his World Of Warcraft videos where he discussed the often held belief that an old game is a better game, and the belief that old World of Warcraft was "harder" is what made it better than modern WOW. He argues it wasn't. It was merely more a question of requiring more patience, and the fact that the exact systems the game used were not as fully known, explored, documented and that info easily disseminated to players. The second video brings up how players revolted and regarded certain rewards as illegitimate when Blizzard over-corrected in making them easier to obtain. It also mentions how the predictions from the first video about Classic failing to meet the expectations of difficulties turned out to be correct, and that players clearing Classic content at an absurd rate has led to its own set of issues.
  • Joke and Receive: In the video "Ludonarrative Dissonance", Dan brings up a clip of {Errant Signal} dismissing the concept of ludonarrative dissonance as incoherent by comparing it to film criticism, where nobody ever speaks of "cinemanarrative dissonance". Dan responds that Errant has inadvertently invented a legitimately useful critical conceptinvoked, and proceeds to discuss Transformers as an example of "cinemanarrative dissonance".
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: In "In Search of a Flat Earth", he describes how a lot of people, having left the Flat Earth for QAnon, then leave QAnon for worse groups he describes as "hardcore accelerationists," i.e. doomsday cults who believe it's not their job to wait for doomsday but to cause it.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All:
    • He discusses this regularly in terms of crypto and blockchain advocates. In his view, understanding how crypto and the blockchain and the many adjacent technologies are supposed to work is quite difficult, and many people can struggle to get the full picture beyond the basics. However, this means that people who do understand crypto have a tendency to assume their intelligence there will transfer to intelligence everywhere else, since understanding a complicated thing must mean that presumably less complicated things are therefore child's play. This leads to a lot of advocates bragging about how the blockchain will solve any given problem, while demonstrating a lack of even basic knowledge regarding that problem—for instance, claiming that crypto is the perfect answer to fraud, since it's less susceptible to money being hacked out of your account, ignoring that this method of fraud already has layers of protection against it and isn't considered a real problem by banks outside of movies.
    • "This is Financial Advice" discusses the tendency among meme stock investors to put together long and inaccurate "informational" posts about how the stock market actually works, usually from people who will openly admit in the posts that they don't know much about the stock market, but nevertheless think they're helping the community by attempting to parse a complicated topic for them. In particular, he singles out an overreliance on analogy and decoding techniques; essentially, Apes reading anything complex about securities trading will tend to find something, anything that they can understand, and will attempt to use that as a Rosetta Stone to parse the rest of the material.
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Parodied in his vlog review of Pokémon Detective Pikachu, where he forms a rubric to "objectively" score a movie from 0-100 based on four factors rated from 0-5 and weighting them each for a total sum. "Laughs" is scaled by x0.6, "adventure" is scaled by x0.6, "feels" is scaled by x0.8, while "Haunter" (a Pokémon who isn't even in the movie) is scaled by x18.
    • Some commenters pointed out that technically, the inclusion of the "Haunter" category and weighting it so highly made the review incredibly "objective," which is what Dan set out to do— after all, any person, regardless of preferences, could watch the movie and count the number of Haunters that appear (zero) and arrive at the same score. Where this falls flat is that, obviously, the presence or absence of Haunter has virtually no bearing on whether a person would like the movie, making the final score objective, but useless. And for further oddity, Dan gave the film a 1 because it does briefly feature a Gengar (Haunter's evolved form), and suggests he'd have given a 2/5 for a Gastly and a Gengar.
  • Living Prop: Dan cites Christina from "The Book of Henry" as a textbook example of a Prop Character. She only has half a dozen lines in the movie, no one empowers her, nor is she involved into the plot to ostensibly rescue her. Dan points out that really it's a plot to kill Glenn, and rescuing Christina is just the excuse to kill Glenn. But Christina is so uninvolved that she could be replaced with a sack of jewels and the plan would've played out almost identically.
  • Looping Linesinvoked:
  • Lost Aesopinvoked: "Man of Steel Redux" is devoted primarily to discussing how the film greatly jumbles up its many potentially compelling and occasionally well-established themes, mishandling how they're meant to be presented and failing to give them proper development and closure.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: invokedIn his discussion of Decentraland, a chunk of the video is dedicated to the odd gap between the large amounts of attention drawn to it by even mainstream news media, and the actual active userbase of the game—which, even at its most judicious guess, is unlikely to be over a few thousand people.
  • Male Gaze:
    • He discusses the academic definition (that works are made through the lens of a predominantly male audience) with an interesting twist. Although he thinks Male Gaze's relationship with women and queer culture is important, he instead discusses how straight men are portrayed through the male gaze in "She's Out of Control" and "Sam Witwicky".
    • In part 2 of his miniseries on Fifty Shades of Grey, Dan notes how despite the similar aesthetics and tone, Shades of Grey and Darker make it clear through how they film Christian's body in sexual contexts which was made by women and which by men. Shades of Grey maintains focus on Christian's dynamic body to say "this man is coming to f### you," while Darker is visibly uncomfortable with showing male nudity, focusing more on what he's doing (in the example scene, him working out) than his body.
  • Metaphorgotten: In his video essay about Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings, Dan goes on a tangent about one of the most infamously inane debates in popular fiction: does the Balrog monster have wings or not? The longer he goes on, the deeper he gets sucked into the decades-long argument as the music and visuals get increasingly manic.
    Dan: And anyway, if Balrog have wings, why couldn't they just fly the ring to Mordor?
  • Music Is Politicsinvoked: Conversed in "The Man Who Fell to Earth" and "Noosehead". He interprets The Man Who Fell to Earth as being a metaphor about creativity and the music industry, while the Noosehead arc of Sam & Fuzzy has a plot which directly involve the music industry and the idea that True Art Is Angsty and artists must be too.
  • Narm:
    • Discussed in his video on The Snowman (2017). He points out that the serial killer's calling card, a frowny snowman, is faintly ridiculous (adding that it is probably intentional as author Jo Nesbø is known to like to skirt the line of parody in his criminal thrillers), and the movie's attempt to play this element as straight frightening just makes it even sillier.
    • During his review of Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings, he's upfront with how its unique animation style manages to be impressive at times, but far less so in others, specifically citing its version of the Balrog — very clearly a man in a goofily-proportioned costume trying to mime enormous size by moving slowly — as an unfortunately silly failure. He also points out how many of the characters are gesticulating all the time — an evident result of inexperienced stand-in actors not knowing what to do with their hands that the rotoscoped animation was forced to preserve.
    • Probably one of his most memorable example is from The Book of Henry, where Henry (a 14 year old boy) bursts into his principal's office, clearly enraged exclaiming "GODDAMNIT JANICE!". Dan makes fun of this line both in the review proper and the Vlog he made after seeing the movie, comparing Henry's entrance to a cop on the edge coming to confront Da Chief.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Briefly touched upon in "Everyone Batman Kills in BvS (and why it matters)", where despite the film trying to avoid this in the final battle with Batman luring Doomsday to an abandoned shore, Dan still counts him as "responsible through negligence for the deaths of an unknown number of security guards, homeless and transient people in the area, because 'abandoned' doesn't mean empty."
  • No True Scotsman: The concept is brought up by Dan indirectly when discussing the Metaverse. That proponents of the Metaverse refuse to see the concept as inherently flawed or inefficient and instead will declared failed implementations as just being that. "The metaverse cannot fail, you can only fail to make the metaverse." And the mechanic through which they do that is by not having a fixed definition of what the Metaverse is. If it doesn't work, then clearly it wasn't the Metaverse.
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be: "A Christmas Story: A Tale of Technological Nostalgia" discusses how the film indulges in highly rose-tinted nostalgia, and how it evokes material objects to invoke responses of an innocent and warm childhood of Christmas memories that is likely a completely fictional construct.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description:
    • At one point when discussing the Satellite City crossover in the Nostalgia Critic review of The Wall, he notes that Fennah attempts to critique the monsters in "The Trial" for being underdeveloped and coming out of nowhere, existing just for spectacle. He refutes this by pointing out that most of the monsters in question are pretty obviously just symbolic versions of already-introduced-and-developed characters in the film, but notes that the description is actually dead-on for the crossover itself, where the monsters are underdeveloped characters that come out of nowhere and serve no real purpose other than to look weird.
    • He makes a similar remark about Doug's song "comfortably dumb", saying that while Doug means it to be about the film's pacing, Dan notes most if it applies literally to Doug's relationship with media general and his unwillingness to engage properly with it. He calls it the most honest song in the review, almost entirely by mistake.
    Doug: (Singing to the tune of Comfortably Numb) I have become Comfortably Dumb.
    Dan: And, you know what, I'm not going to disagree. You said it, man.
  • Once Original, Now Common: invoked Briefly brought up in his video on the Nostalgia Critic's review of The Wall, when discussing the film itself Dan notes that, after decades of other works that explored similar themes as The Wall, or made use of similar aesthetics directly inspired by its imagery, it can look quite "juvenile" in its use of abstract symbolism by comparison.
  • The Oner: "I Can't Stop Watching Contagion" is an almost 16-minute single shot of Dan laying on a couch staring blankly at the camera while footage, mostly from the film in question, is projected onto him.note 
  • Opinion Myopiainvoked: Personally averted and discussed at length during the first video on Fifty Shades of Grey, with Dan specifically dissecting the odd dichotomy of backlash and genuine support within Fifty Shades' phenomenon status. In doing so, he lays out the side of widespread criticisms against it (some valid, some notably less so) but he also explores the reasons for why it ended up getting sincere fans and success in the first place.
    Dan: That may seem unbelievable because the writing is so often just painful, but what do we benefit critically for pretending that no one could sincerely enjoy the material?
  • Original Position Fallacy: Discussed as one of the key flaws of the crypto and NFT community in "Line Goes Up", the support of the coded-in deflation of the coins, the widespread financialization or the lack of meaningful regulations by their users is done under the assumptions that they will get to benefit from them in case the technology becomes widespread, not realising that those features will and are being exploited by corporations in detriment to them and everyone else.
    Dan: Rules must always be evaluated for their power to oppress. This is a blind spot to crypto enthusiasts because they just assume they're the early adopters, they're the ones who will have power, they are the ones who will get to set the rules, and they are the ones who will do the oppressing.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: This is the conclusion to "Line Goes Up", regarding the ideas of crypto replacing our existing system. He acknowledges that our current economic systems are, charitably speaking, incredibly flawed and in need of reform, and he blames no one for thinking they need to be reworked or replaced. However, he believes that the system that blockchain advocates espouse is, even in the best-case scenario where all the technology works, a nightmarish dystopia that fixes no major problems and creates a host of new ones.
    "We need something better. But a system that turns everyone into petty digital landlords, that distills all interaction into transaction, that determines the value of something by how sellable it is and whether or not it can be gambled on as a fractional token sold via micro-auction, that’s not it. A different system does not inherently mean a better system; we replace bad systems with worse ones all the time."
  • Overly Long Gag: Done twice in "Line Goes Up: The Problem With NFTs", where Dan spends the best part of an entire minute rattling off a colossal list of the procedurally-generated mascot NFT projects that spammed him on Discord, and again later with a list of various cryptocurrencies/blockchains, scarcely pausing for breath while cluttering the screen with examples or logos for every single one.
  • Personal Dictionary: In "This Is Financial Advice", he points out the excessive slang thrown around in the ape community, and draws special attention to their usage of the word "shill." Apes use it to refer to naysayers who tell them to maybe consider cashing out before the going gets tough, despite the fact that in most other circumstances, a shill means a person who tries to convince other people to buy into a scheme, especially if they stand to make money off those people buying in—in short, the thing apes are defined by doing.
  • Please Subscribe to Our Channel: Discussed in "The Good News of Like Share Subscribe". Dan posits that it's a necessary catch-22 many YouTubers will have to address and need to work around to grow, and later discusses the consequences/ethics of it. One suggested workaround is "suggestion through obfuscation", turning the call to "like, share, and subscribe" into a joke, creating "Go in peace, my children, in the name of like, share, and subscribe, amen." Dan uses it in its proper context in not just this video, but some future ones as well.
  • Plot Hole:
    • Invoked in "The Art of Storytelling and The Book of Henry". Dan points out that Henry initially planned to carry out the murder plot himself, without adult help—he only ends up passing it on to his mother Susan because he gets sick. However, the plan as originally conceived still relied on an illegal firearm purchase, which he'd No gun store owner will sell to a middle-schooler, no matter how many names he drops. As Dan goes on to say, the writers got tripped up by their outside knowledge of the plot: they knew from the start that Henry wouldn't actually be the one who needed the gun, so they neglected to come up with a Henry-compatible plan.
    • Another example from the same movie is the disposal of Glenn's body. Because the author knows the plan's execution will never reach that far, they don't bother to sweat the details, and handwave it as Henry planning for Glenn's body to fall into the "river" and be swept away from the crime scene. Except the "River" is a creek which is maybe a meter and half wide at most and clearly can't be much deeper than 1 foot, and thus would've never been able to just sweep Glenn's body away. Compounding the issue is that the river in question is in his own backyard so if Glenn's body was miraculously swept away and found down river, the part of said river that connects to his own home (and that of his neighbor who would've been his murderer) would literally be the first place anyone would check for evidence.
  • Pragmatic Adaptationinvoked: Discussed at great length in "A Lukewarm Defence of Fifty Shades of Grey (The Movie)". Despite the problematic source material and E.L. James' creative stranglehold on what was allowed to be changed, the filmmakers (at least of the first movie) did the best they could to make subtle but substantial changes in the framing, dialogue, and characterization that makes a decent portion of it much more compelling (as well as distilled of egregious Padding), at least until they had to reach the unalterably problematic story elements. Unfortunately, this is less applicable for its two sequels due to the changed directors and writers who became far less willing to challenge or alter the source material.
  • invoked Propaganda Piece:
    • "Triumph of the Will and the Cinematic Language of Propaganda" is a discussion of the eponymous propaganda film, the somewhat contradictory philosophy that drives it, and the artistic methods used that made it so iconic... a fact that itself was an actual product of propaganda intended to manipulate its audiences to show the supposed grandeur and power of the Nazi party. In other words, how modern audiences view it today.
    Dan: To this day, we continue to use Triumph of the Will as our reference point for the mental construct of the Nazi regime. Which, I want you to think about that: Our idea of the Nazis is deeply informed by a propaganda film produced by the Nazis for the explicit purpose of creating that mental construct. This right here is exactly the image they wanted you to think of when you thought of them.invoked
    • Discussed in relation to Capitalism in "About That Idris Elba Gold Documentary", which Dan cites as being the primary failing of the film. Dan argues that gold and its impact on culture across the world is a subject that is interesting and expansive enough to warrant a documentary. Because Gold: A Journey With Idris Elba is (by The World Gold's Council's own admission) a propaganda piece made to attract and please investors, it's unwilling to actually engage with any one topic in-depth out of fear that addressing some of the more unsavory aspects of the gold industry (Gold being a significant part of India's unlawful dowry system, pit lakes and the impact gold mining has on the environment, etc) might make their product unappealing to potential buyers. What is left is ultimately a painfully boring slog that exists primarily to sell a product, rather than say anything insightful about its subject matter.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality:invoked
  • Protection from Editors:invoked Mentioned throughout his series on Fifty Shades as a persistent hindrance with the films, with E.L. James' death grip on adaptational changes (threatening to encourage a fan boycott if it strayed too far) preventing the films from improving beyond the flaws of their source material. After the first film's writer and director left, frustrated with this constant interference, their replacements were hired specifically to be agreeable with James, essentially making them mere proxies while she herself ran the show.
  • Network Decay: Dan discusses the concept obliquely in What Is Vsauce?, contrasting the concept as it traditionally applies to TV Channels vs Youtube Channels. TV, with distinct shows and programing allows for a more noticeable and visible shift when the programing changes. While Youtube, lacking such a structure, lends itself to far more gradual changes that are no less severe, but make it harder to pin down a channel's identity. At the same time the ability to go back to earlier video lets you better keep track of a channel's history. Dan takes V Sauce's various shifts as an example, a channel that started as very crude game humor, evolving through various "phases" to lavishly produced production documentary, the at the time current "Mind Field".)
  • Random Events Plotinvoked: In his series on Fifty Shades of Grey, he describes the original "Master of the Universe Part 2" to be this, mainly due to it being a serial fanfic by an author who became more interested in maintaining online status (i.e. posting a meandering Filler chapter just to show the fic isn't dead) than its actual content and plot. This ended up massively affecting the book and film adaptations as almost none of the redundancies were edited out and reformatted into something more structurally digestible and pragmatic, either because they weren't allowed to, or the creators simply didn't care.
  • Re-Cut: In "The Snyder Cut Does (Not) Exist", Dan discusses the nature of how modern, effects-heavy films are made and shipped in relation to the long-rumored "Snyder Cut" of Justice League (2017), and why, if it really does exist, it would be visibly incomplete and likely not truly representative of what would've made it to theatres if not for Zack Snyder's departure and supposed Executive Meddling — at least not without a significant amount of further investment. Dan ended up being right about this when it came to light that the eventual director's cut (officially known as Zack Snyder's Justice League) needed several months of work and over $70 million to complete, which was much higher than his own financial estimate of around $40 million.invoked
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: "Manufactured Discontent and Fortnite" breaks down the various mechanisms Fortnite in particular uses in the name of a "games as a service" model, as well as the many tried-and-true and ethically-dubious psychological tricks that make them work.
  • Reviewer Standard Comparisons: Played for Laughs in "Language of Editing: Basic Cuts", where while discussing Match Cuts and how they can imply metaphorical meaning, Dan gets quietly and uncomfortably pestered by a small devil puppet to remind him of the famous example from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    Puppet: Do you know about that one shot? They do that in 2001. You know, that shot with the bone? And the bone becomes a missile platform? You know about that shot, right?
    Dan: [flatly] Yeah, I know about that shot.
    Puppet: ...okay. [whispering] JUST CHECKING. [leaves]
  • Running Gag:
    • invokedIn "End of Evangelion and the Audience Author Membrane", repeatedly reminding the audience that Shinji masturbates to completion over Asuka's comatose body. Dan says this not just for humor, but because he wants to emphasize just how overtly and intentionally disgusting the moment is, an extension of his point on how End of Evangelion is a condemnation of the objectifying and possessive mega-fans comprising much of its audience.
    • invokedHe does a similar tactic throughout the first two videos of his miniseries on Fifty Shades of Grey, pointing out a line where Christian describes his mom as "the crack whore. My birth mother." Here, Dan constantly brings it up to properly distill how bitter and mean-spirited the books are, a point he can't get across merely by explaining it.
    • In the full The Book of Henry analysis video, he only refers to the principal as "Goddammit Janice" because of an over-the-top scene where Henry barges into her office and says it, sounding like a kid imitating a Cowboy Cop.
    • In "What is Vsauce?", Dan pops into the frame from offscreen for every single live shot.
    • In "Folding Ideas Pivots Into Fortnite", Dan's avatar tries to pontificate, only to be murdered by another player. Because he's standing around talking while a Fortnite match is running.
    • In "This is Financial Advice", he keeps referring to the supposed massive amounts of money the Apes would make as "wife-changing money". This is later specified to be a in-joke with the community itself and a nod to the fact that maybe these people aren't that happy in their relationships.
  • Satireinvoked: Discussed in "Asian Girlz", along with Parody Retcon. His opinion is that satire when done well provides an alternative POV to what it's criticizing or makes it out to be ridiculous. But a lot of people will use the satire label to rebut any and all criticism without doing either of those things.
  • The Scapegoat: The crux of Jamie Oliver's War on Nuggets; in shaming kids for eating chicken nuggets, he argues that Oliver ignores the fact that, coming from largely working class families, cheap, unhealthy food is likely all their parents can afford. Likewise his plan for healthy, freshly made school lunches would drain most school cafeteria's budgets in a month. Intentionally or not, all Oliver does is perpetuate the narrative that poor people choose to be poor.
  • Scenery Porn: The footage he filmed of Lake Minnewanka for his video "In Search of a Flat Earth" is stunning.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: Discussed in "Why It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft" as what essentially happened to WOW Classic. It was intended to be a break from all the regimented play of WOW but unlike when WOW was new, Classic's areas, itemization, and play have long been figured out and optimized. Meaning players are, even more than in modern WOW, pushed towards speed running and pro-play strategies because doing anything but is deliberately playing "wrong" because it's ignoring all the info that's been available for more than a decade. Players brought back instrumental play to Classic and made it worse.
    Nathan: As players, the push for Classic was in the name of recapturing an essence of the game that was lost, and Blizzard played their part - they gave us the executable file. But it ultimately failed, because we brought the bug back with us. We brought back the paratext industry that sells solutions, we brought back the practices that trivialized content, and when we had nothing to do, we made a leaderboard out of our day to day experiences.
  • Sequel Escalation: Most of Dan's videos normally run somewhere between 5-20 minutes in length, with his much more comprehensive "Art of X" videos ranging around 30-40 minutes. "A Lukewarm Defence of Fifty Shades of Grey (The Movie)" is a little over an hour, and that's just for a video on the first movie, with the second movie's video being 51 minutes and the third being 46. His video "Line Goes Up - The Problem with NFTs" runs for over 2 hours.
  • Serial Escalation: Discussed regarding Crank: High Voltage, a movie so high-octane that rather than experiencing rises and falls in tension like most Hollywood movies, it simply just keeps getting more extreme and over-the-top in a straight line. Foldy argues that this (likely unintentionallyinvoked) parallels storytelling found in video games where conflict, tension, and pace is generally dictated by the accomplishments and failures of the player, but without the player. In his words, it's "less like a story and more like a speedrun of Quake."
  • Sex Starts, Story Stops:
  • Shadow Government: Dan points out that, in regards to Decentraland, the real power behind the DAO is not even its whale users but rather the Decentraland Foundation that humours the decisions of the DAO when it suits them but also does stuff to Decentraland on its own.
  • Shirtless Scene: Dan has one in his video on Fifty Shades Freed while demonstrating Christian Grey's unfortunate choice of swimwear.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "The Art of Storytelling and The Book of Henry" and discussing how the genre beat of "Child Prodigy helps the family overcome financial poverty" doesn't make sense in the film because the family's doing just fine, Dan awkwardly prattles off "They're fine. They're fine. They're fine," à la Lindsay Ellis and ContraPoints.
    • In "The Art Of Editing and Suicide Squad", Dan describes the poor editing by saying that "Like ogres, the issue has layers." Possibly also a Shout-Out to Hbomberguy, who used the same analogy in his Climate Denial: A Measured Response video.
    • In "Line Goes Up", he briefly jokes about the fact that NFT project often don't promise what kind of business they'll start to use to expand the collection, but rather, just promise the idea that they'll plan something by naming one of the possibilities a "bi-monthly curated box of snacks", this is a reference to Bojack Horseman, where an episode sees Todd's crazy ideas turn a movie into an increasingly surreal and artistic project until it becomes exactly that.
  • Show, Don't Tell: He brings this up in his video on Fifty Shades of Grey, regarding how the fumbled conflict of Film!Christian Grey's admission of not doing things such as dates and lovemaking isn't actually backed up by anything in the film.
    Dan: There's a lot of nuanced argument over the idea of "Show, Don't Tell," like, we can come up with all kinds of examples where just telling the audience what's going on is actually pretty effective, and then we could get into further debate over whether or not those examples are still supported or themselves support visual or environmental evidence that shows the thing we were being told, and thus it's all a combination of showing and telling, but this... right here: Christian Grey just saying it's a big deal that he's never had sex in his sleeping bed instead of his sex bed. This right here is the poster child for the kind of limp storytelling that leads to getting your writing back from the editor with "SHOW DON'T TELL" written in big red letters in the margin. We are told that this is a conflict, that this is all outside Christian's comfort zone, but that conflict is supported by absolutely nothing else.
  • Slut-Shaminginvoked: "A Lukewarm Defence of Fifty Shades of Grey (The Movie)" briefly touches on this. Dan argues that while there are definitely many valid criticisms regarding the source material, a significant portion of the hatedom mostly uses them as a springboard to dunk on the idea of "mommy porn," or the very concept of erotica that didn't fall into commonly male-perceived views of female sexuality. He theorizes this ironically could've contributed to a portion of Fifty Shades' success, with some of its female fans collectively embracing the novel as a public stance on sexual liberation and defiant pushback of this idea.
  • Small Reference Poolsinvoked: In the description of his Decentraland video, he mentions how many of the Metaverse salespeople seem completely ignorant about the medium of videogames. One of the implicit criticisms in the video itself is that this ignorance explains why so many of them seem unaware of how inferior the Metaverse efforts look and feel in comparison to even older videogames like Second Life.
    The metaverse salespeople have a weird fixation with Animal Crossing, in specific. The number of times we saw New Horizons specifically cited as an example of the metaverse was bizarre, like it was their first time experiencing a multiplayer game that wasn't CoD and it melted their brains.
  • So Okay, It's Averageinvoked: Discussed in his video on Gamer as, somewhat paradoxically, its biggest flaw. Foldy deems the movie technically competent, perfectly watchable, and lacks any definitive singular problems on its own, but it suffers very broadly from its lack of ambition, both in making the story more efficient and exploring the potential themes of its own world (namely the use of video games to control actual people).
  • Sound-Effect Bleep:
    • In his Decentraland video, Dan reports on the results of a vote on "Should we address the voting power distribution in the DAO?" where a single wallet cast the majority of the votes (and if you can believe it, said "No, we should not change the system").
    But whether guest60fd is a real user or not is irrelevant, because one wallet lapped the competition. One wallet told the DAO to go just [modem sounds] itself. Just really, just [extended modem sounds]. And the DAO politely complied.
    • In his Mikkelsen twin videos, he at first bleeps "Stoicism for Pussies", "69 Sex Secrets Every Man Needs to Know" and "How to Make Your Wildest Sex Fantasies Come True" with a modem sound because the Mikkelsen blurred the cover of the books. He then goes to look up the actual books and then just says their titles while showing the covers.
  • Stealth Pun: The final chapter of This is Financial Advice, in which Dan discusses Bed Bath and Beyond's bankruptcy, is the eleventh chapter in the video. As in, Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • The Stoic: Dan generally narrates his scripted videos in a professional, descriptive, and somewhat dry voice 90% of the time. This makes the times where it's briefly Played for Laughs or his composition falters outright all the more notable.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: Invoked in "Why It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft" that the various social norms that have evolved among World of Warcraft's players all descend from professional and speedrunning plays. A side effect of their wide adoption, are practices like muting the game's sound, meaning that players avoid experiencing the game's soundtrack, or the vocal performances of the various voice actor. Worse, the mods that have become basically ubiquitous replace that soundtrack with a cacophony of loud, unpleasant sounds that don't fit the atmosphere, and fill the UI and game world with trash that makes the game look awful. On top of that, as is indicated in the video's title, the same social norms mean that playing in a manner deemed "suboptimal" because you personally happen to find that fun is ground to receive backlash, criticism, harassments or just being ostracized from group play.
  • Stylistic Suck: The brief scene featuring Hat Dan at the near end of The Nostalgia Critic and The Wall mimics the usual quality of Nostalgia Critic in-between skit with poorly composed green screen and invokedbad special effects.
  • Subverted Kids' Showinvoked: "Weird Kids' Videos and Gaming the Algorithm" discusses the abundance of bizarre, often very Squick-y YouTube videos supposedly meant for very little kids, as well as explaining the rather shady reasons why such videos exist and are allowed to remain on the site despite the fact said children likely do watch them. Notably, unlike most examples of this trope, these videos weren't designed for the purpose of deceiving the audience; the ultimate purpose of these videos seems to be for ad revenue with only a vague care of subject matter, and Dan posits that either there's serious Values Dissonance going on, or they simply don't care.
  • Take That!: As someone who tries to maintain a professional and detached tone in most of his work, Dan often is willing to give fans and creators the benefit of the doubt, but will openly or subtly criticize those that are willfully ignorant, spread disinformation widely, or those who are actively abrasive and abusive.
    • In "Annihilation and Decoding Metaphor", Dan criticizes the Anti-Intellectualism in film criticism that analyzes a movie solely from the literalist view point and ignores metaphor. As he puts it, "the loudest voices in film discussion are incurious, proudly ignorant, and approach plot as a problem to be unpacked and solved." This is immediately followed by a CinemaSins clip.
    • In "Cooking Food on the Internet For Fun and Profit", he mentions that cooking channels are seen as a safe bet PR-wise because it's unlikely that, for instance, the Bon Appetit crew would pay people on Fiverr to hold up anti-Semitic signs (referring to Pewdiepie) or post a video of a dead body (referring to Logan Paul).
    • In "The Nostalgia Critic and The Wall", Dan flatly calls Honey a "data harvesting scam", and Doug Walker's ad for it "uncomfortably overacted".
    • Having invokedonce affiliated with Channel Awesome, Dan's assessment of Doug himself is particularly brutal:
      "Doug wants to be a filmmaker, he wants to make art, but he can't, because he's a fundamentally incurious person who isn't much interested in what other people think or feel and all his ideas boil down to 'What if Batman met Mario?'"
  • Take That, Audience!: Discussed at length in his video on The End of Evangelion, analyzed as series creator/director Hideaki Anno airing out all of his grievances towards the increasingly hostile and entitled fanbase the series had built up, with the film's bleak and nihilistic tone made as a deliberate jab at those who missed the point of the original series, especially with recharacterizing Audience Surrogate Shinji Ikari as a self-loathing, mean-spirited pervert who only enables his suffering with his stubborn refusal to change.
  • Technology Marches Oninvoked: Discussed towards the end of "Bakshi and the Ring", where Dan makes the case that Ralph Bakshi's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings is like a 2010s blockbuster movie made with 1970s technology; all these years later, countless effects-heavy movies paint over live actors and place their performances in an animated world.
  • The Gambling Addict: Much of Dan's output from Line Goes Up onwards has been about the psychological similarities between gambling addicts and various primarily-online finance types:
    • At one point in Line Goes Up, Dan refers to cryptocurrency as "the hobbyhorse of a few thousand gambling addicts", and later, he discusses an attempt to make a crypto funded casino, whose white paper proudly opens "Welcome to the white paper, fellow gamblers!"
    • In The Future Is A Dead Mall, Dan observes that the only part of Decentraland to get any amount of regular traffic is a single poker table at a casino, and then points out that the rest of the many, many casinos therein were similarly well-attended before all the games were shut down due to a combination of bugs that made them regularly eat inputs and running afoul of real world gambling laws.
    • At the end of This Is Financial Advice, Dan explicitly describes the points in common between GME Apes and gambling addicts: a singleminded obsession with their hobby and spending all their time not engaged with it talking about how eager they are to get more money with which to engage it with, fantasizing about what they'll do when they finally hit it big and especially of lording their success over everyone who told them to stop, deep-seated resentment of the people in their lives judging them for their addiction, and stealing from their family to fund their hobby. Despite all this, Dan ultimately ends on the conclusion that Apes aren't gambling addicts ... because "gambling" implies the odds of success are above zero.
  • The Teaser: Dan usually does a cold open before his title screen, which is recursively called out in "The Art of Editing and The Snowman":
    Dan: So in the script, I wrote this in a bullet point as "cold open" because I couldn't think of anything in specific, and that's what I do when I script; if I hit a point where I'm not quite sure what to do, I try to just write a sentence or two outside the voice of the script literally describing what needs to happen to join where the script is at to the point that's following it. It's a very utilitarian method, but it helps me get around writer’s block and minimize problems where different ideas will make unstated logical leaps in between. Then the longer I stared at it, the more absurd it became, because, y'know, it’s the cold open to "The Art of Editing and The Snowman", and it just sat there, taunting me, practically begging for a joke or some setup for a pun that would make Joel Schumacher cringe into his seat... and now after building it up, really hyping the hell out of this idea, just like The Snowman, I'm now going to drop this entire bit and never reference it again.
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: Discussed. This is applied to the anonymity of certain Image Boards, with people tending to favor an assumption of white, straight, cis-male default persona. Anyone outside that demographic who identifies themselves as such is seen by the majority as being a demand for attention and consequently "no true gamer", not part of the assumed default. This in turn fuels a sense that their space is being invaded by "others" who cannot be accepted as enjoying the hobby on their own terms.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: The main topic of discussion in his Vsauce video is how the Vsauce that started the channel (A fairly cringey variety series that covered gaming where Michael wasn't even the primary host) bared so little resemblance to the then-current incarnation of Vsauce (The lavishly produced Mind Field as a flagship show surrounded by many spin-off channels) to the point where it's almost irrational to call them the same channel, but that the change between individual versions of the channel was so gradual that many people didn't even notice.
  • They Called Me Mad!: In regards to the Apes in This is Financial Advice. He considers what moves them to be, at least partly, a belief that once everything goes through, they will finally prove wrong everyone who side-eyed or called them crazy for believing Gamestop's shares would give them incomparable riches and power.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!invoked: Discussed exhaustively in "World of Warcraft Classic And What We Left Behind", exploring the various dimensions of how World of Warcraft originally began, how it continuously developed, what the 2019 Classic relaunch highlights, and the ways players have responded to it all, with Dan giving focus on those giving this reaction.
  • This Is Reality: Dan sums up that this is the core flaw behind the concept of Decentraland and the Metaverse as a whole: No matter how much it boasts that it can replace reality in the future or pretends that it can be another state within the internet, neither can change the fact that they are both limited to what the code of the program allows and the fact that people cannot engrave their bodies in the web. For all their pretensions, Decentraland can't be anything more than a game and the Metaverse cannot supplant the real world.
  • This Loser Is You:
    • Discusses the use of Shinji as an Audience Surrogate, and how he represents Anno's attitude toward his audience. In the show, he used Shinji to share a journey of healing, while in End of Evangelion, he portrays him as a self-loathing pervert incapable of meaningful action, and who in the end refuses to change.
    • He discusses Sam Witwicky and the implications of Women Are Wiser combined with Male Gaze, more specifically how a lot of movies and shows enforce the idea that this is how men see themselves and how they're supposed to see people like Sam as relatable.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: The brief first impression video on Cats starts with Dan silently walking out of the theatre with a despondent look on his face. It stays there as he walks through the parking garage to his car, and finally as he drives home.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriouslyinvoked: Regarding Fifty Shades of Grey, Dan believes this to be the case with not only actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, but pretty much everyone working on the film including director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel. Unfortunately, in spite of of its highlights of good-to-brilliant changes and technical presentation, it's still marred by the flaws of the source material that E.L. James refused to allow to be changed, resulting in a whole that's less than the sum of its parts. After Johnson and Marcel's departure, with the sequels instead being led more-or-less by James' proxies, the amount of creative talent and effort dropped significantly.
  • Updated Re-release: Nearly 7 years after the original, Dan made a second version of his episode on Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, updating the original script, fixing some of the technical issues of the original, and overall giving it a facelift to the standards and formatting of the show in 2019.
  • Unfortunate Implicationsinvoked:
    • Discussed extensively throughout his 3-part series on Fifty Shades of Grey, picking apart all the harmful and potentially deadly implications it reinforces regarding power dynamics in relationships and kink lifestyles. Dan makes it a point that many of the various ethical issues raised of Romanticized Abuse and Questionable Consent are not strictly invalid as fiction and that there is potential for a decent story should they be part of the drama, with the problem coming down to the author refusing to acknowledge them as problematic, handling them in a way that's "not merely controversial, but disingenuous and even dangerous."
    • Also discussed in "Minecraft, Sandboxes, and Colonialism". It starts with Dan pointing out how the most efficient way to get villagers to live where you want them to closely resembles human trafficking, then branches out into examining colonialist patterns in sandbox games as a whole. Dan also points out that this isn't itself a moral failing of the games, but rather an awkward consequence of games simulating real-world logistics in a way that unintentionally enables certain practices in the name of progress that would end up trampling over certain moral lines and be far less ethically acceptable.
  • Unknown Rival: Brought up in This is Financial Advice, pointing out that Apes believe themselves to be fighting cabals of finianciers who see them as rivals or enemies, constantly struggling against the perseverance of the Apes, when in truth most of them don't know anything about them, and that's when the Apes are even operating under the same system as them due to their disconnect from reality. Later in the video he points out those who know of them can leverage them because Apes are so predictable.
    Dan: This entire genre of post is profoundly sad, not merely because of the implication that a willingness to wander in circles for hours clicking on virtual plants is somehow a transferable skill to playing the stock market, but because they all presume a very high degree of symmetry and intentionality. They are based in the belief that, like in a video game, both sides are knowingly engaged in a matched competition. But when you back up and evaluate the whole picture, their opponents aren’t aware of the game at all, assuming the ape is even talking about a group that actually exists. On their forums they are winning epic battles against automated trading algorithms specifically tuned to drive GameStop out of business, they are in a war with the “hedgies” who are always, every single day, “getting desperate” and “running out of ammo”. In reality Apes are shadow boxing the random noise of the market (Beat) ...and losing.
  • Unwitting Pawn: It is brought up in This is Financial Advice that Apes' single-minded obsession with fighting Wall Street and the hedge funds combined with their lack of critical analysis have ironically made their behaviour very predictable and easy to exploit by Wall Street, such as when Ryan Cohen artificially increased his shares in Gamestop and sold them off when Apes massively bought in, or when Hudson Bay Capital struck a deal with Bed Bath and Beyond which let them heavily dilute the stock via death spiral financing, turning a massive profit when Apes still held on and continued buying:
    Dan: Apes’ diamond-handed buy-at-any-cost irrationality, their stubbornness, the very thing that Apes tout as their secret weapon against the hedgies, is the exact thing Hudson was counting on to turn their profit. The grim irony that Apes are so predictably irrational in their made up war against hedge funds and short sellers that it leaves them open to all manner of unique and awful exploitation at the hands of hedge funds and short sellers. The irony is so deep you could drown in it.
  • invokedVideo Game Movies Suck:
  • Video Games and Fate: Discussed a few times not just as a story element, but as a functioning mechanic and tool used in various ways which may serve for or against player interaction and narrative construction.
  • Viewer Pronunciation Confusion: invoked In "The Art of Editing and The Snowman", Dan takes a moment early on to discuss the pronunciation of the main character's name, Harry Hole, and how rather than pronouncing it in the same way as in its original Norwegian ("Hole" spoken closer to "hoo-leh") or translating "Hole" to its English meaning, "Hill", the film completely transliterates it to sound like "hairy hole".
    Dan: I don't really have a point here, but it is very funny.
  • Vindicated by Cableinvoked:
    • Discussed in his video on Book Club, specifically mentioning this as being the proponent of how low-budget/quality movies like Book Club make a quick buck. He also brings up Catwoman (2004), which bombed, but ironically still makes money long after its theatrical release because it bombed, making it cheap enough to be easily sold to any station that needs to fill a time slot.
    • He brings this on his video about A Christmas Story only this time in a much more sinister tone. The movie itself never was successful, but due to Turner Entertainment coming to own the movie's right, and corporate shenanigans lead to this movie being very cheap to license and the movie winding up constantly on reruns on TV led to the movie becoming a "Christmas classic" because it never was successful (Successful Christmas movies like Home Alone or Die Hard having much higher licensing costs). The movie aired all the time as cheap filler for kids, and when those kids grew up, the movie was aired even more because they remembered seeing it in their childhood, starting the tradition of it being aired as a 24h marathon. This leads to point that while A Christmas Story is about nostalgia for a type of Christmas celebration that never really existed because it was a corporate stunt, A Christmas Story itself has become to people fake nostalgia as a holiday touchstone it never was because its omnipresence was itself, a corporate stunt.
    "So, a movie that saw middling reception with its release in 1983 gained new life in 1986 as the functionally free holiday filler for Turner Broadcasting, but didn't really gain true popularity until the maturation of a generation of children who had seen it as children. And those people had seen it as children because it was on TV, where it was a filler movie that stations could readily license, and this synergistic surge in popularity was then capitalized on by TBS, who could afford to air the movie as many times as they wanted, because they owned it. The "tradition" of A Christmas Story, its true roots as a phenomenon of the season, the history of the 24-hour marathon isn't a deep-rooted cultural practice; it's a corporate stunt that's younger than Men in Black."
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: invokedSatirized in "The Matrix Reloaded Revolutions", where Foldy recounts the trilogy as being the story of Link, Zee, Niobe and The Kid. In his summary, he makes the observation that just on its own, their character arc throughout the trilogy are ultimately more compelling and emotionally gratifying than the "boring subplot" with Neo and Trinity.
  • Watsonian vs. Doylist: He details his opposition to what he calls "the Thermian Argument", which is essentially the act of providing Watsonian answers to Doylist questions.
  • Wham Line:
    • "In Search Of A Flat Earth":
      • Dan reacts to his footage from "The Minnewanka Curve Experiment," in which he shows objects on the far shore of Lake Minnewanka disappearing and reappearing behind the horizon, thus demonstrating the curvature of the Earth, using nothing more than a boom shot:
      Dan: ...getting home and, and seeing it in, in this... detail, like this level of clarity, it's... honestly it's kind of affecting me. You know, you can see this just with the naked eye when you're out there on the beach. You can pick a thing on the far shore and just kinda look at it and then like, crouch down and get, like, really close to the water's surface and you see it get, get occluded but, but... Seeing it at this magnitude, it... it feels... profound.
      [another example of the effect is shown]
      Dan: It's a shame it's not enough.
      • The lighthearted but thoughtful critique of the Flat Earth movement suddenly takes a dark turn as Dan crosses over into the second half of the video:
      Dan: "The bottom line is that Flat Earth has been slowly bleeding support for the last several years. Because they're all going to QAnon."
    • In "Contrepreneurs: The Mikkelsen Twins", Dan decides to test out the ghostwriting process at the heart of the grift he's covering, both by trying the writing himself and by using The Urban Writers, the same service used by the scam. Dan's own attempt required an output of 1,000 words per day to keep on schedule, something he found grueling, and yet was just a "self-inflicted" feat. After breaking down what the same process would mean financially for someone actually employed to do it, calculating that they make about 1 cent per word, Dan ends with this:
      Dan: The Urban Writers don't just need to do 1,000 words per day in order to make something even resembling a living, they need to do 1,000 words per hour.
  • World of Badass:
  • World of Symbolism: "Annihilation and Decoding Metaphor" greatly discusses the film's nature as this, going over its heavily ambiguous nature as a call to engage with thematic metaphor. At the start of the video, Dan vents frustration at how most online discussion surrounding the film seeks to actively reject this and question it on a solely literal level, which he argues is completely missing the point.