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You should have brought your passport, Gordon.
"This isn't a video game anymore. This is an absurdist improv comedy about the last sane man trying to keep three lemmings and a god alive in a world gone mad."
A comment on Act 1: Part 1

Hello, Gordon!

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Gordon Freeman weren't alone during the events of Half-Life? What if, instead, he were accompanied by a small band of AI-controlled survivors of the Resonance Cascade, and had to shepherd them through the dangers infesting Black Mesa? Now what if those survivors suddenly developed eccentric, frantic, and downright moronic personalities? It turns out, the end of the world becomes a lot sillier.

Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware is a roleplay Machinima series by WayneRadioTV and other members of Radio TV Solutions. All episodes are almost pure improv, performed live through the medium of Garry's Mod with minimal scripting and preparation. Wayne takes the role of Gordon Freeman, with his friends playing the roles of his NPC compatriots. The core cast is comprised of Benry, a standoffish security guard obsessed with passports; Tommy, a childlike scientist with a surprising acumen for nuclear engineering; Bubby, a long-suffering particle physicist who brings his problems on himself; and the ever-babbling Dr. Coomer, whose AI appears to be just a bit broken. Only through teamwork will they be able to survive alien invaders and government assassins, if they can go five minutes without killing each other or themselves first!

The first Act was streamed onto Wayne's Twitch channel on March 5th, 2020 with the fourth and final Act being streamed on April 9th. Edited versions of the streams were then uploaded to Wayne's YouTube channel between March 13th and April 19th of 2020.

More VR but the AI is Self-Aware projects and series have sprouted since, including:

  • AI-Crushes-All-Banks Justice Drive (2020): A charity stream to raise relief money for anti-Police Brutality protests where the Science Team, through PAYDAY 2 VR, make good on their promises to rob a bank. Streamed May 31st 2020, no official edited version.
  • Half-Life: Alyx but the Gnome is Too Aware (2021-2023): Wayne attempts to do the "Gnome Vault of My Own" achievement in Half-Life: Alyx, only to realize that the Gnome is sentient, being forced to take care of him and his ramblings while trying to survive. First streamed November 12th 2021, last streamed February 4th 2023. First edited video released November 25th 2021, last edited video released October 12th 2023.
  • Breaking Bad VR but the AI is Self-Aware (2023): Initially teased as a proper continuation of HLVRAI, BBVRAI is a heavily abridged version of Breaking Bad with all the improv and insanity from HLVRAI. Streamed December 16th, with an edited video planned. Ended with a trailer for...
  • Half-Life 2 VR but the AI is Self-Aware (2024/2025): Some unknown amount of time after the end of the first series, things have changed in the world of Half-Life and for the Science Team in the wake of Gordon's absence, as the Combine have taken over. Scheduled for a 2024/2025 release window.


Look Gordon! Tropes!

  • Adaptational Name Change: Without outside knowledge of the game's lore, the party ends up giving different names to a few Xen monsters.
    • Houndeyes are called "peeper puppies".
    • Barnacles are called "ropes" by Dr. Coomer, though when he is not compelled by his Artificial Stupidity, he actually does call them "barnacles".
    • Bullsquids are simply called "creatures" or "beasts", and are claimed to be not aliens but genetically-engineered waste disposal beasts of burden. Bubby chides Gordon for calling them "bullsquids" as nomenclature is nothing to play with.
    • The party doesn't know what to call vortigaunts, though Dr. Coomer suggests they remind him of his ex-wife. Gordon declares they are not calling them "ex-wives". Later on, they occasionally call them "Vonneguts."
    • The Gargantua is dubbed the Black Mesa Golem Ape by Tommy, who wrote a Wikipedia article for it.
    • Tommy also calls the manta ray-like alien aircrafts "Dactars".
  • Adaptational Villainy: Black Mesa is actually responsible for some of the monsters in the game among other horrors, though this is assuming that the other cast members are telling the truth.
  • Adapted Out: Benry replaces Nihilanth as the Final Boss of the journey.
  • Alternate History: This adaptation of Half-Life seems to take place in the late-00s, with Gordon wanting to be a streamer for at-the-time relevant justin.tv and Benry rambling about Heavenly Sword on the Play Station 3. Gabe Newell is also referenced to just be a famous knife collector, though Dr. Coomer seems to know him for different reasons.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Nobody is exactly sure on what year it is. When Gordon asks about it, he thinks it's 1998, Bubby guesses it's "2000-and-something", and Coomer ominously says "2020". Most of the older things mentioned to set the series in the recent past are from around 2007, but then there's Gordon's favorite game being Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days from 2010. It's probably not worth worrying about.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Gordon gets his right arm chopped off in the middle of Benry and Bubby's coup.
  • Arm Cannon: Some time after losing his right hand, when the group arrives at Darnold's lab they're able to give him a replacement: the minigun from Unreal Tournament, which apparently shoots fingernails.
  • Armies Are Evil: The HECU, who are both just as evil as they were in the original source material, and much dumber. Dr. Coomer claims that they get their funding and equipment through Black Mesa, which makes it seem like a suicidal move to attack Black Mesa.
  • Back to the Early Installment: Gordon has to travel back in time, thanks to a portal gun Bubby found, to before the experiment that caused the Resonance Cascade to find his passport in his locker so he can destroy it in order to defeat Benry.
  • Badass Boast: "Don't fuck with the Science Team!" is a favorite of Doctor Coomer's.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Gordon is essentially this for most of the series as he's constantly having to keep everyone else out of trouble.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A few days before, Wayne uploaded a vague teaser video for an upcoming stream that was clearly Half-Life themed. The stream itself was Breaking Bad VR but the AI is Self-Aware, as opposed to anything related to Half-Life VR as many expected. Then the stinger of BBVRAI has Jesse show Walt the real announcement trailer for Half-Life 2 VR but the AI is Self-Aware.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • Black Mesa runs Wikipedia, and uses the donations for Wikipedia to provide the budget for the experiments they run. Later, Dr. Coomer claims that Black Mesa also uses Wikipedia to fund the U.S. Military, who they provide with weapons in exchange for being allowed to conduct their deranged experiments.
    • Discussed by Dr. Coomer and Gordon when he asks if Black Mesa invented the nuclear bomb after coming across a missile silo that Coomer claims contains "ᴛʜᴇ ʙɪɢ ᴏɴᴇ".
      Gordon: [Black Mesa] invented the nukes- the World War II nukes, didn't we?
      Dr. Coomer: Gordon, I'm not at liberty to say. But we did totally do that.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality:
    • Benry and the Science Team, sans Gordon and, to a lesser extent than Gordon, Tommy. They are more than comfortable with murdering other scientists and each other based on the smallest of whims, yet chastise Gordon for vandalism and for not saving scientists they killed, amongst other things. Benry in particular has no qualms with killing every NPC they happen upon or luring Gordon to the HECU and instructing them to cut off his arm, but is deeply offended by Gordon's lack of a passport and seems to consider it more important than anything else.
    • In Tommy's case, while he is the most "human" of the three and generally reacts to situations as a normal person would (such as when he begins panicking and freaking out as Gordon's arm is forcibly cut off), he is seen on more than one occasion participating in the random violence (more often against other Science Team members than others, though). In addition, although he is shown to be very caring toward Gordon in particular, he has no qualms threatening him with a gun when Gordon suggests that he cut down on the soda (though given Tommy's lack of knowledge on firearm safety and Reckless Gun Usage, it's possible this wasn't actually a threat).
  • Broken Record: Benry's passport lists his name multiple times, to the point where the text cannot be contained by the paper itself and just hangs it off the side.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Parodied; Dr. Coomer repeatedly offers PlayCoin transactions in order to grant Gordon enhanced abilities or vital services.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Gordon's "Spin Move!" and a non-attack example, "Gordon Sprint!"
  • Canis Major: Sunkist is as tall as an adult man while seated. He's also a two-dimensional image, but Tommy loves him all the same.
  • Catchphrase: "Another day, another dollar" is Black Mesa's, according to Doctor Coomer.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: After Gordon’s arm is cut off at the beginning of Act 3, the series takes on a far darker tone. While there is still a lot of jokes, some things, like Gordon's declining mental state and Dr. Coomer's realization that the world is fake, are played entirely seriously.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
    • The passports. The science team needs to destroy their passports in order to defeat Benry.
    • During the boss battle, Dr Coomer says that they're stuck in a big pit, and they have to use ropes to get out of it.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the second half of Act 1, Coomer cheerily reminds Gordon that he can use the SuperPlayer feature if he's stuck in a bad spot. The ability later gets used on Coomer to help combat Benry on Xen.
  • Chromosome Casting: All of the characters are male, though Dr. Coomer is played by a woman, and no female characters are even referenced except for Dr. Coomer's "ex-wife" (if she even existed at all, which, given that this is Dr. Coomer we're talking about, is entirely up for debate.
  • Classified Information: The purpose behind the Frozen Goods Department as well as the existence of headcrab zombies were kept from most Black Mesa employees prior to the Resonance Cascade, though Dr. Coomer appears to have been briefed on them.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: In Act One, Gordon is horrified by his murdering people, shown through his killing three people through an elevator and being shaken by it. But as the series goes on, he becomes more and more desensitized to murder and traumatized by the horrors around him. While in Act One he killed three people and was clearly shaken and horrified, in Act Four he kills three people on purpose to test the gun arm, and while Darnold, who has been fairly isolated from the events of the Resonance Cascade, is shocked and horrified by this, Gordon isn't.
  • Dance Party Ending: The ending of Half-Life 1 has all the characters dancing and celebrating at Tommy's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's.
  • Darkest Hour: The party is trapped in a hopeless fight with Benry on Xen, though they destroyed their own passports. Bubby uses a gun he found in Darnold's lab that sends Gordon back in time to before the Resonance Cascade test, where the giant Benry still chases him down. He goes and destroys his passport, but needs to go back to Xen. So he begs a pre-sentience Dr. Coomer to let him give him his Playcoins to him, begs him to remember anything, as Benry slowly closes in.
  • Deadly Prank: When Bubby crashes the Cadillac, causing it to explode, Gordon can't get out of the car and gets caught in the explosion, because Benry somehow put glue on his seat. The others find it hilarious.
  • Death from Above: Gordon's Finishing Move on Benry is to bring a hammer-fist down on him from high up.
  • Deconstruction: In a roundabout way, the series serves as one for Gameplay and Story Segregation in a coop multiplayer game. The four companions, with their goofy antics, itchy-trigger fingers, and general trolling, wouldn't seem out of place as a random group of friends going for a romp through the game with a handful of cheat codes turned on (which of course is not so far from the truth). Poor Gordon meanwhile, as the Only Sane Man, is stuck inside the fourth wall and treats life-and-death dangers and the loss of human life as Serious Business, and quickly becomes unhinged when he's the only one doing so.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The HECU use all of their resources on utterly ridiculous and impractical tactics. They're so inane that they get most of their men killed, eventually causing their entire attack on Black Mesa to fall apart.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Happens when the party come across a Dr. Coomer clone.
    Benry: Hey man, I saw you at lunch earlier. You owe me... three dollars.
    Gordon: You have the three dollars? (Benry aims his revolver at the clone) You're really gonna kill him over- you've killed for less, haven't you?
    (Beat)
    Benry: Never mind, we're friends.
    (Bubby shoots him)
    Bubby: He owed me five!
  • Dream Apocalypse: Dr. Coomer asks Gordon to transfer his and the other AI's code to another game in hopes of averting this. Judging by dialogue during ACAB, Gordon has indeed done this, bringing their code over to Payday 2.
    • Ultimately a Defied Trope as Coomer explicitly states in the sequel's trailer that the game never shut off, it kept persisting even when Gordon stopped playing.
  • Driven to Suicide: At several points in the series, Gordon either expresses suicidal intent, or actively tries to kill himself.
    • In Act 3 Part 1, after going through very deep water, Gordon says when he surfaces that he absolutely doesn't wanna do that even again, and that he will shoot himself if they have to do that again, turning his gun on his head as he does. And that's before Gordon even gets his arm cut off. Even before the lowest point in the whole series, Gordon was already suicidal. And once he has been betrayed, it gets so much worse.
    • In Act 3 Part 2, Gordon, who has been betrayed by his team, lost his arm, and is actively being attacked by one of his friends, yells that he's just gonna kill himself and attempts to swim into blades of a fan.
    • In Act 4, Gordon says that a portal is probably "a painless way to die" before stepping into it.
    • During a chaotic moment in the boss fight, Gordon yells "Fuck it, just get it over with, kill me, please!"
  • Dungeon Bypass: Various parts of Half-Life are skipped through a combination of god mode to bypass obstacles that are meant to kill you, or by having someone trigger map scripts to open doors to before from the other end. Occasionally the group will teleport past segments, or just skip them between videos, either when a mazelike area causes them to become completely lost or if they won't work in VR/multiplayer.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: A lot of these were pointed out by the crew in the Act 1 commentary stream.
    • The stream notifications and mediashares were left in the Act 1 highlight videos, since no one was expecting the series to blow up as hard as it did. This leads to a lot of immersion-breaking moments such as Morshu suddenly popping up in the middle of the screen, or a Russian cooking video playing over an otherwise tense scene. Starting with Act 2, Wayne made the notifications smaller and less obtrusive, put strict rules in place as to what could be requested through mediashare, and recorded the audio separately for the highlight videos.
    • During Tommy's first appearance, Gordon is noticeably disturbed by him and calls him a freak. Compare this to the later parts, where Tommy is the only Science Team member he fully trusts and the one he gets exasperated with the least.
    • In Act 1, Gordon claims the baby photo in his locker is of his son, Joshua. This receives a Call-Back near the end of the act, but after that there are no other mentions of Gordon being a father. Gir theorizes that the photo just came with the picture frame and Gordon was too embarrassed to admit he never removed it.
    • During Act 1, Coomer would get Benry's name wrong every time he mentioned him (his actor, Holly, assumed they were doing a Running Gag about nobody remembering his name). From Act 2 onwards, this is no longer an issue.
    • It took until Act 3 before the series implemented a custom model for passports, which meant that before then, everyone was forced to make do with what they had. This led to moments such as Benry calling his Pulse Rifle a "passport" and Gordon trying to present a toolgun as his during Act 1.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the hell Gordon and the scientists go through to navigate Black Mesa and kill Benry, the G-Man rewards them by taking them all to Chuck E Cheese's for Tommy's birthday.
  • Elvis Lives: Averted in AI Crushes All Banks, where Elvis’s ghost shows up.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Some of the lines from the scientists either aren't very clear, or plain nonsensical, leading to this. Usually, even the actors don't know what they were saying.
    Dr. Coomer:: Never fear, Gordon! My limb enhancers will keep the pendulums (?)... Stick. (???)
  • Evil, Inc.: Between the human experimentation, the mutant animals running loose, and the company concealing a potential Zombie Apocalypse from its own staff, this version of Black Mesa is far more obviously sinister than its canon counterpart.
  • Exposition Fairy: Dr. Coomer acts like one of these with a heaping helping of Artificial Stupidity.
  • Faux Horrific: The moths, which the entire party opens fire on.
    Dr. Coomer: Watch out, Gordon! There's a dangerous moth up ahead!
  • Flanderization: ACAB jettisons Benry's Lawful Stupid traits in favor of playing up his incompetence, childishness, and delusional view of the world.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At the end of ACT 3, Benry is suddenly able to see the skeleton and asks for its passport. It shows it to him, and he accepts it. If you examine the passport closely, you can see that the name on it is "YOU". In the finale, the skeleton is revealed to be either Benry's true form or some kind of extension of him.
    • When Gordon first meets Benry, he innocuously crouches down in front of him. This was actually Benry's player, scorpy, planting the seeds for Gordon's supposed dick slip.
    • Also during the first act, Gordon warns Benry not to go into the test chamber, to which the guard responds that it's okay since he's not human. He's right in more ways than one.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In Act 1: Part 1, as Gordon is sprinting towards the door at around 4:50, you can see a scientist dancing on a ledge on the other side of it. He was put there as a small gag by Holly, and the scientist is given a nod in the Dance Party Ending where some of the cast bust a move in that same awkward pose.
    • At 5:49 in Act 1: Part 2, while Benry is shooting the pigeons, you can see Father Grigori standing in the corridor for a split second.
    • At the end of Act 1: Part 2, after the Science Team gun down the skeleton, you can see a Pikachu holding a crowbar appear behind Dr. Coomer.
      • In the commentary for Act 1 it was revealed that this appearance was their stagehand photobombing them.
  • Freudian Slip: Gordon delivers one of these seconds before the HECU starts shooting at the party.
    Gordon: We are... scientists. We cum in pies... we come in peace... WHOA SH-!
  • Funny Background Event: At 19:02 in Final Act: Part 1, Benry can be seen dancing in the background while Gordon is trying to talk to Tommy.
  • Fun with Acronyms: AI-Crushes-All-Banks seems like an unwieldy title until you realize the acronym is ACAB, or All Cops Are Bastards.
  • Fun with Subtitles: All over the place, from Coomer's dialogue swapping from complete sentences to being cut off at the last second, to "*hog noise*" and a picture of a Smoker zombie being used to subtitle the slurping noises the scientists make when drinking soda.
  • Gray-and-Black Morality: The Science Team are a bunch of psychotic and dangerous murderers who intentionally or accidentally kill any civilians they come across, but they have redeeming qualities and they're leagues better than the aliens and military, who slaughter everyone they come across and are even more of a threat than the Science Team could ever hope to be.
  • Harmless Villain: Forzen fails at pretty much everything he does, and when he winds up in a position of authority, he starts making nonsensical and petty demands to the Science Team even after it becomes clear he has no leverage over them since Sunkist is Immune to Bullets.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The unflappable, otherworldly G-Man becomes noticeably nervous and startled when Benry No Sells his Time Stop, interrupting his private conversation with Gordon to butt in with an unrelated about his Playstation.
  • Hulking Out: Coomer when Gordon spends a Play Coin to activate Super Player Mode, complete with deepened voice.
  • Human Resources: Black Mesa's Frozen Goods Department deals with the flash-freezing of human meat for unspecified reasons. The process gives the meat dangerous properties.
    Gordon: What are we doing with meat?!
  • Immortality: Tommy claims his dog Sunkist is immortal. It turns out he was telling the truth.
  • Implied Death Threat:
    • Dr. Coomer has a way of making NPC-like chatter into a charged threat, mostly owing to pointing his revolver at Gordon when he does it.
    • Gordon accuses Benry of this often, but Benry's motives are never quite clear...
  • Injured Player Character Stage: At the end of Act 3 Part 1, Gordon has his right hand cut off, leaving him defenseless and forcing him to rely on the rest of the party to protect him.
  • Insistent Terminology: Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Never just Wikipedia.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Halfway into the story, Gordon expresses interest in streaming videogames on Justin.tv. Everyone else is dismissive of the idea, saying that nobody would want to watch another person saying games.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Occasionally done by the scientists, less as a joke for the viewers and more for Wayne's benefit. A good example is Bubby saying that the Helicopter Heap "probably wasn't in God's plan", which is Gir trying to get across that it was caused by a freak map glitch that nobody saw coming, without breaking character.
  • "Let's Watch Our Show" Plot: After Tommy's birthday bash, the part 1 commentary starts when the G-Man forces Gordon to accompany him and the science team to watch a movie... which, to Gordon's confusion, is the commentary footage. As usual, no one else questions what they're watching. The openers for the succeeding commentary videos continue building off of part 1's.
  • Lightmare Fuel: Benry after his reveal as the Xen God that caused the resonance cascade. He's treated as the Eldritch Abomination that he is, but he's still an Almighty Idiot and a Psychopathic Manchild who acts as his usual goofy self.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In Act 3 it is revealed that Tommy gave himself the last name "Coolatta" after seeing it on the menu at a Dunkin' Donuts.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In the finale, Gordon learns that the G-Man is Tommy's father.
  • MacGuffin: Passports, which apparently hold some sort of great power. Benry's Pulse Rifle is a passport (until the point where actual passports are obtained by the cast), and the final battle is focused around Gordon and the science team seeking out everyone's passports to destroy them and deprive Benry of his powers.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Black Mesa's projects are all either insanely dangerous, like the Peeper Puppies and the Pita Cutter, or completely nonsensical, like replacing the fluoride in water with blue Powerade.
    • Darnold, in spite of being the most stable member of the cast, is definitely one of these, since he makes regenerative potions that cause Gordon to grow a Hand Cannon that shoots fingernails where his hand used to be.
  • Magic Music: The Black Mesa Sweet Voice is something along these lines, allowing the user to write on thin air and even control minds. Tommy is fluent in the meanings of the various colors and often translates them in rhyming phrases. Benry's skeletal minions use the Sweet Voice to hinder the science team during the final battle.
  • Manchild: Despite being in his late 30s, the rest of the team believe Tommy is 5.
  • Mechanical Abomination: The "regenerating helicopter"/Helicopter Heap. It's this out-of-universe too, due to it being a fuckup with the map that infinitely spawned helicopters rather than an intentional creation.
    Bubby: Gordon, if I was to talk to a God, I would say... that probably wasn't in his plan.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: One of the biggest perks of the series being in VR is allowing Gordon to punctuate his dialogue with wild hand gestures.
  • Motive Rant: Parodied. In the final confrontation, Benry rants about why he's fighting the group, and everything that isn't flat-out untrue is just complete nonsense.
  • Mythology Gag: The videos have plenty of references to Wayne's past streams and in-jokes between the members of Radio TV Solutions:
    • Gordon's locker contains a baby photo, which he claims is of his son Joshua. "Joshua" was the name the crew gave to a weird text-to-speech voice they made via a machine learning service, declared to be Wayne's "son" and would torment him with onstream.
    • The reason Dr. Coomer starts reciting the Wikipedia article on chairs in Act 2 is because Holly, who played him, memorised it back in the early 2010s to annoy her friends. It's not the reason why everyone kept namedropping Wikipedia throughout the act (that was because they were joking about the infamous cock and ball torture article prior to the stream), but there was a mutual understanding between them that it was only a matter of time before Holly used it as an excuse to do the chair bit.
    • During Benry's Motive Rant he talks about using "YouTube Yownloader", a typo that has been a long-standing in-joke between the group. In the Act 4 commentary stream they note that Scorpy, who works as a professional video editor, once managed to sneak "youtubeyownloader.bat" into a commercial he did for a major brand.
    • Gordon and the G-Man's debate over whether or not Chuck E. Cheese's is a restaurant is directly based off of a similar debate that Wayne and his friends had during a stream of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
    • One Wayne admits they included purely for themselves is the clip of Tommy sitting on Vin Diesel's lap like he's a mall Santa during the credits, calling back to an old series of GMod videos Scorpy made for their movie nights in which Vin Diesel would interview various characters via text-to-speech.
  • Negative Continuity: Due to the series running on the law of "whatever's funniest at the moment," plot details are continuously forgotten or contradicted (Early-Installment Weirdness lists a few). Just roll with it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Benry claims that all of this happened because of a rude conversation Gordon had with him ages before the cascade. Gordon doesn't remember the exchange at all.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Gordon is trapped in a dark room and has the shit beaten out of him when Benry and Bubby turn against him. He loses his right hand in the process.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Averted. The entire facility is built to-code. It is all OSHA-approved. The US lets them do this.
  • Non Sequitur: The final battle is over, Earth is saved, Gordon is presented with his final choice... and he immediately gets into an argument with G-Man about whether Chuck E. Cheese's is a restaurant or a family entertainment center.
  • Not His Sled: A few things happen differently in this version of Half-Life. For example, after being clobbered unconscious and left for dead in a trash compactor, Gordon wakes up to find out he's on the outside of the smashing pistons, so he was never in danger of being crushed.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: The party can sometimes see the skeleton, and sometimes cannot. And then sometimes only certain party members can see it. Gordon wastes no time shooting it in any event.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: While Gordon is running away from some orbital strikes, Coomer manages to punch off the top of a tank.
    Coomer: "Yes you do!"
  • Oh, Crap!: After facing the terror of the Helicopter Heap, Gordon attempts to climb a ladder. However, thanks to the poorly-interacting combo of GoldSource era ladder physics (or lack thereof), the VR game's methods of climbing ladders, and the fact that the ladder has about six inches of foot space at the bottom before the cliff edge, Gordon falls off the cliff and is left clinging on for dear life.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: In AI Crushes All Banks the ghost of Elvis Presley is able to phase through people and mind control them with his dancing.
  • Painting the Medium: The subtitles for each member of the Science Team come in different fonts, reflecting their different personalities:
    • Dr. Coomer speaks in a typeface that wouldn't look out of place on a computer from the 80s, indicative of how his A.I. Is a Crapshoot even compared to the other scientists.
    • Tommy's subtitles are written in a font reminiscent of crude handwriting, which is fitting for the Manchild of the group.
    • Discussed in the commentary for Act 3, G-Man and Benry have a white glow around their text to symbolize their status as Reality Warpers.
  • Present-Day Past: The series is seemingly set in the late 2000s, with topical mentions of Heavenly Sword, The Irate Gamer, and Justin.tv. This adheres to the original lore of Half-Life, being set in 200X. However, there are a few anachronistic mentions from the year 2010, including Kane And Lynch 2: Dog Days, Despicable Me, and Playstation Plus subscriptions. In one of his bouts of "seriousness", Coomer answers a question of what year they're in with "ᴛᴡᴇɴᴛʏ-ᴛᴡᴇɴᴛʏ".
  • Punched Across the Room: Gordon's Arm Cannon also doubles as a very effective bludgeon, allowing him to smash things even harder and - more crucially for him - finally attack Benry with some sort of tactile feedback.
  • Rainbow Speak: In the Youtube highlights. Benry is blue with a white glow, Tommy is yellow, Dr. Coomer is green and darker green when he gets serious, Bubby is cyan, HECU soldiers are grey and glowing green, and starting in Act 3, Half-Life NPCs with important speaking roles are white. The G-Man speaks in black text with a white glow.
    • Benry lapses into a red glow once during a puzzle in the Lambda Labs when he lets his more menacing nature shine through and again during the final boss battle. Dr. Coomer also slips into this mixed with his "serious" dark green during his bout of madness in Act 3, but replaces it with his default color and a blue outline when Gordon uses all his playcoins to activate the Super Player feature.
  • Red Herring: In one of the G-Man's first appearances, he requests that Gordon take care of his "progeny". Initially, one might assume the G-Man is referring to Benry from his similarly supernatural powers and intentionally similar speech fonts (in the edited releases), but he's actually talking about Tommy.
  • Running Gag:
  • Running Gagged: The running gag of Wikipedia being called "the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit" whenever Gordon mentions it ends when his companions destroy the site's server room. Unlike most examples, though, it gets to go out on a high note, with Gordon calling them out for destroying Wikipedia, to which Dr. Coomer immediately chimes in "The free online encyclopedia that no one will ever edit again!"
  • Senseless Sacrifice: In Act 1, Benry dies when he holds up a closing blast door, while everyone could easily have run through, and said guard refuses to move out of the way of the door.
    Coomer: It's very sad, but it had to happen, Gordon.
  • Sensory Abuse: The sound made by the Helicopter Heap, to the point that the Youtube highlight includes an onscreen warning right before its appearance.
    Bubby: I hear [God usually does have a plan.] I don't think regenerating helicopters was in it.
  • Sequel Hook: The Stinger for Act 4 has Dr. Coomer ask Gordon/Wayne to save the scientists' data somewhere else before closing the game for good, possibly hinting at future adventures.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the commentary streams, Holly mentions that the SuperPlayer Feature was based on the "Super Guide" from Donkey Kong Country Returns, where you can have a white-furred "Super Kong" complete a level for you if you die too many times on it.
    • Super Player Mode Coomer bellows out "TRAIN AND FIGHT, GORDON!" before charging into battle in reference to the popular Tumblr inspirational blog warriormale.
    • When Dr. Coomer activates SuperPlayerMode, it's accompanied by the Super Saiyan power-up sound.
    • Gordon makes a pretty subtle one to this Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comic in Act 2: Part 2.
    • Tommy's favorite TV show is Invitation to Love.
    • Whenever Bubby says "oh yes" he always says it with the same inflection as Bob Page in the intro to Deus Ex. Gir has confirmed this was intentional, and was a reference to his favourite part of "Deus Ex: The Recut".
    • Coomer gleefully tells Gordon he was "thinking with portals" when he was able to solve the teleportation puzzle on his own.
    • In the middle of Gordon's big break down after Coomer makes his surprise attack, Gordon pleads for Tommy to kill Coomer because "he can't keep getting away with it".
    • In the final act, Tommy wails that "[they're] not in Kansas anymore" when they're up against aliens.
    • "[Gordon] knows how to suck and he does it well" is a Mega64 reference.
    • The time stop effect that heralds and shows out the G-Man is intentionally based off of The World's time freeze effect as shown in the David Production adaptation.
    • Gordon's gatling arm shooting out fingernails is an intentional reference to Steel Ball Run, as its protagonist Johnny Joestar uses his fingernails as a weapon in conjunction with his Stand Tusk.
    • The G-Man decides to surprise Tommy with poorly-made mascots of Despicable Me's Minions during the birthday party.
    • Benry excitedly cheering out "Road Trip!" during the car sequence recalls similar phrasing from the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! skit of the same name.
    • In the commentary, Holly says "I know people who use subtext and they're all cowards."
    • "I can do anything I want, but I choose to rotate!" references the webcomic Super Mega, but the line is changed from "to oscillate".
    • The enthusiastic "We have to JUMP!" Bubby says in Coomer's passport room on Xen is an unintentional one to Dangeresque.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Sometimes the chat chooses what Background Music plays, which means this chaos can be accompanied by such songs as "La Marseillaise", "Soul Bossa Nova", or "A Cruel Angel's Thesis".
  • Super Mode:
    • After gaining a minigun hand, Gordon is told that he can "PRESS ALL BUTTONS TO ACTIVATE DEVIL GUN MODE!" Not knowing what that means, he attempts to clench all of his muscles at once, accomplishing nothing, and is later informed that "IF YOUR BODY IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ACTIVATE DEVIL GUN MODE!" He finally manages it upon reaching Xen; the mode temporarily gives his arm a significantly higher rate of fire but requires a cooldown afterwards.
    • In the final battle against Benry, Gordon gives Dr. Coomer all of his Playcoins to activate "Super Player Mode," which causes Coomer to Hulk Out.
      Vox: Attention. Doctor. Coomer. You. Are. Permitted. To. Use. The. Forbidden. Science.
  • Surrealism: Alternates between the Surreal Humor and Surreal Horror, and sometimes does both at the same time.
  • Take That!:
    • By indirect means, in that Forzen is very insistent that The Irate Gamer most definitely did not rip off The Angry Video Game Nerd, yelling that this is not the case multiple times and getting very angry with anyone who disagrees.
    • Gordon is incredulous that Tommy's last name is Coolatta, not only because it sounds ridiculous, but also because he (and by extension, Wayne) hates Coolattas and finds them to be lame, sugary junk.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: In the G-Man's final conversation with Gordon, he mentions that knowledge of Benry's origins are on a "need-to-know" basis between the former and his "employers". Gordon, unsprisingly, doesn't need to know, nor does he want to.
  • True Final Boss: Benry turns out to be the Science Team's ultimate foe.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Gordon quickly gets used to his companions dying and coming back, save for the occasional Plotline Death. And even those don't often stick.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In spite of Black Mesa providing the U.S. Military with the majority of its funding and equipment, the military still tries to murder everyone in Black Mesa for no reason.
  • Virtual Pet: Dr. Coomer occasionally speaks as though he's one of these, with hunger, thirst and bathroom needs.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: A cartoon cymbal crash plays whenever a party member takes fall damage or falls unconscious.
  • Wham Episode: Act Three winds up being a whole string of these.
    • Act Three: Part One: Benry and Bubby, who've obviously been plotting behind Gordon's back during the entire episode, trap him in a pitch-black room as HECU soldiers start beating the shit out of him, before ultimately severing his right arm. Dr. Coomer does nothing to stop this because Gordon is out of Playcoins™, and Tommy is the only one genuinely concerned about Gordon. Then he's captured by the military...
    • Act Three: Part two is even crazier. Gordon wakes up missing his arm, traumatized beyond belief, and barely able to function... then he discovers an army of Dr. Coomer clones, revealing that Dr. Coomer is aware he's in a artificial world and that there's a world inside Gordon's dreams.
    • Act Three: Part Three: The events of the last few episodes have clearly gotten to Gordon's head, putting his Only Sane Man status into serious question. G-Man at one point shows up (and he seems to be a self-aware NPC as well), and at the end of his usual schtick, he reveals that he has a child. And then at the very end of the episode, the skeleton shows up, and it's implied that he's been controlling Benry all along. Oh, and Gordon drinks the soda.
  • Wham Line:
    G-Man: Oh, and make sure no harm comes to my... progeny, will you?
    Benry: Hey, where'd... why are we here? ...What happened to your arm?
    • "And we're BAAACK!" The "wham" here is that Benry's Rainbow Speak suddenly goes from navy to navy with a red outline.
      Bubby: [To Gordon] RUN! Run, you're gonna get crushed [by the reactor portal puzzle]!
      Benry: [in navy-outlined-with-red subtitles] Finally.
    • In the PAYDAY 2 stream for charity:
  • Wham Shot: When the party arrives at the surface, they find the military is bombing the place. Then we see the skeleton running around, and so disappears the last vestiges of normalacy in Gordon's life.
    • In Act Three: Part Three, Benry can see the skeleton, and it has a passport. If you look closely at it, its name is "You."
    • When the party gets to Xen, Benry is suddenly floating in the air and way bigger than he used to be.
  • What the Hell, Player?: In the earlier stages, the scientists are quick to admonish Gordon whenever one of the regular scientist NPCs die. Regardless of whether Gordon was actually at fault, or if the NPC was in fact killed by a collapsing bridge, being executed by the AI themselves, or inexplicably swelling in size then igniting and burning to death.
    Dr. Coomer: You could've helped him, Gordon!
  • World Gone Mad: For Gordon, there's no Gameplay and Story Segregation; the various Good Bad Bugs invoked and Black Comedy jokes made by his comrades are taken totally at face value, and are terrifying to him.
  • World of Jerkass: Pretty much everyone is a murderous psycho, a stupid murderous psycho, or a murderous psycho who's even more dangerous, cruel, and violent than the rest. Even Gordon and Tommy, the nicest and most moral characters in the series, have their moments of cruelty, although it's usually unintentional.
  • World of Badass: Yes. Pretty much everyone who isn’t a Red Shirt is some sort of Eldritch Abomination or a Badass Normal, both of whom are able to fight their way through numerous highly dangerous threats, such as mutants, aliens, and the U.S. Military.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: One of Science Team's passports is being protected by Benry in a Mokujin robot. However, its shoddy construction causes it to explode after a couple seconds of gunfire without attacking once.


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HLVRAI

I'm not an officer, what are you talking about? *turns around, shows SECURITY in big letters on his back*

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