Follow TV Tropes


Web Video / Philosophy Tube

Go To

Abigail Thorn (born April 24, 1993) is a British philosopher, actor, and leftist YouTuber best known as the creator of the channel Philosophy Tube.

She created the channel in 2013 in the wake of the 2012 British tuition increase to, in her own words, "give away my MA in philosophy free to people who don't have the opportunities for learning I've had".

Philosophy Tube makes heavy use of Socratic exercises, often inviting the viewer to approach the subject of the video from the subject's standpoint and providing insights into the philosophical arguments for and against, as well as occasions where the logic of those arguments do not necessarily follow, as well as a recommended reading list and episode sources in the description box beneath the video.

In her current incarnation, Abigail also makes heavy use of comedy through taking up roles and viewpoints through fictional characters: these characters tend to either be an Affectionate Parody of existing people, or outright roles instead of identities (such as "The Cosmonaut", "Yer Dad" or "The Arsonist").

During the channel's early history, Abigail operated using a standard "talking head" format using a simple web camera and microphone to discuss topics of philosophy, often by tying the works of a famous philosopher to another topic (such as video games, certain shows, and the nature of things like fanservice), gradually entering more into the domains of political philosophy and current events during 2015 and onwards. Beginning in 2018, Abigail began experimenting with making more long-form thinkpieces with sketch/comedy interludes from an actual studio, akin to similar YouTubers ContraPoints and H.Bomberguy. These long-form videos come out monthly and represent most of her current output.

Abigail publicly came out as a transgender woman in an early 2021 video, though she had transitioned off-camera for some time beforehand, continuing her older male persona online for that time.

Abigail has also had various acting roles and has written and starred in The Prince, an Off West End Play.

Some tropes you'll find in her videos include:

  • Affectionate Parody: The character Ian Drivel, a parody of Australian Youtuber Marcus Dibble, who ends up making an internet callout to Immanuel Kant for being a huge racist. Abigail’s first act once she exits the character is to apologize both to Marcus and to the entire nation of Australia for her atrocious accent.
  • All There in the Manual: The closed captions over the credits contain notes from Abigail about the episode, often ruminating on the process of making it or giving more context for parts of the script.
  • Answer Cut: In the Steve Bannon video, although it is easy to miss the first time around. After Abigail asks if anyone smells gasoline, we get a shot to the arsonist reading a paper.
  • April Fools' Day: The Philosophy of Anime video was done for the occasion in 2019, which analyzes Tenchi Muyo! and at times uses Insane Troll Logic to go on bizarre tangents.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • According to her Marxism and Witchcraft video, Abigail doesn't believe in God. Or magic. Or astrology. Cue Gasp! and booing.
    "Do not '@' me, astrology twitter; this is the pettiest hill I will die on!"
    • The content warning for the Men. Abuse. Trauma. video says that it will contain discussion of "Suicide, Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Shrek".
  • Author Appeal: During the HBO's Chernobyl and Personal Responsibility episode, she goes into a digression about how she thinks the casting of the HBO Chernobyl series is fantastic and how subtly effective its actors are. As an actress herself, Abigail has a lot of both professional and personal interest in the craft of it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In Climate Grief she comments (referencing a hot take about hormone replacement therapy that went memetic in 2019) that trans people may find it hard-going After the End, because of the lack of synthetic... music and flannel shirts.
  • Blatant Lies: "Islamophobia" opens with the character of Natasha, in a heavy Russian accent, inviting the viewer to join her, a "normal British woman", for some "normal British refreshments". (For bonus points, an ushanka is on the table right next to her.) A few seconds later she reveals she can actually do a perfect British accent—she's just trying to be obvious because people don't take Russian spies as seriously as they used to, and thus she's bored out of her skull with nothing to do.
  • Blue Blood: Zig-Zagged. She’s apparently descended from one of Charles II of England's (many) illegitimate daughters, but part of the point in her discussion of the British monarchy is that Blue Blood does not, in fact, make her any more or less special than anyone else.
  • Brain Uploading: Discussed Trope in "Can you upload your mind into a computer?"
  • Brains and Bondage: She has made jokes about the handcuffs used in "Youtube: Art or Reality?" having been used for sex, which she later confirmed in a livestream, and she holds up BDSM gear as a joke in "Steve Bannon or: Why Do We Build the Wall?"
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Adelaide Sweetley-Schmitz and her brother Ivan Schmitz, a.k.a. the Traveling Salesman/the Arsonist.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: A unique variant, possibly crossing over into Casting Gag. Abigail as Tom Gently claims that "the left" has never in its history quoted a black feminist, never goes the extra mile. But the sole exception to him is "Philosophy Tube... but [she] won't come on my show, [she] won't debate me."
  • Call-Back:
    • In the video "Brexit: What is Democracy?", Abigail is wearing what appears to be the same suit and tie she wore in "Why Does Britain Still Have A Queen?", only burnt, torn and disheveled.
    • Abi's first video on the channel was on the subject of Descartes and his statement of absolute certainty that "I think, therefore I am". This video, and Descartes' statement, tends to receive callbacks frequently, especially in videos about trans issues, queerness, and mental health as a way to identify the root of issues.
  • The Cameo: She frequently makes use of fellow Youtubers as voiceovers or walk-on cameos, or references their work (and is used by them in return). Natalie Wynn and H.Bomberguy are the two most common ones (the latter frequently showing up to co-host her mail streams), but other guests include Mike Rugnetta, Maria Watanbe, Mexie and Peter Coffin.
  • Carpet of Virility: She had one pre-transition, as seen in shirtless scenes.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: The cosmonaut outfit Abigail wears in Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth comes across as a fun costume added for theatrical purposes, until she reveals that she imagines herself as a cosmonaut whenever she is considering self-harm or suicide.
  • Continuity Nod: The Arsonist shows up in Charles Darwin vs Karl Marx to represent the everyday fascist eugenicist.
  • Country Matters: In Is Philosophy Just White Guys J3rk!ng Off? the characters make multiple insinuations that Kant was a cunt for his racism without ever actually saying the word. Mostly by Abigail taking some creative liberty with how the characters pronounce Kant's name.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: When discussing Jordan Peterson, she describes "12 Rules for Life" as "a popular self-help book", and "Maps of Meaning" as... "also a book".
  • Democracy Is Flawed: "Brexit: What is Democracy" is devoted to deconstructing the philosophy behind democracy and its flaws before ending on a note of reconstruction, adding that knowing the flaws of the system can be important in order to understand what it gets right.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Inverted with The Arsonist. The entire point of the character is to gradually show the viewer how fascist talking points can be hidden in plain sight while slowly gaining the trust of its target audience.
    "So, fire is a metaphor for fascism, obvs — the point of the Travelling Salesman is to show that villains like him aren't always obvious. All the techniques I talk about in the video, he then uses — he's very charming, he makes you feel special, (...) he appeals to traditional values like trust and freedom — and all the while he is the arsonist."
  • Domestic Abuse: Discussed in the "Men. Abuse. Trauma" video, alongside the accompanying trope of Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male and the difficulty some men have with speaking up about their abuse.
  • English Rose: While Abi is English and generally understated, it was invoked in her coming out statement and video. In her post mortem stream she stated she worked hard to act like the BBC archetype of English femininity in order to persuade the English media to be softer on trans people.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: A subtle one in "The Social Contract". Mephistopheles, who presents half the video, is a lawyer at the firm of Beelzebub, Beelzebub, and Jones. While she's perfectly courteous, she is, after all, Mephistopheles.
    Mephistopheles, about to explain a philosophical concept: As a demon I have forever, but as a lawyer I charge by the hour, so I'll give you the broad strokes.
  • Exact Words: In "Antisemitism: An Analysis", she stated the video would contain no crossdressing of any kind, then reappear as Mademoiselle Y. Six months later, she would come out as a trans woman (and likely was identifying as such at the time.)
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Subverted in "Jordan Peterson's Ideology", Adelaide complains about how it's unfair that people are wary of her brother for smoking...and always somehow being around fires...and repeatedly having giant barrels of flammable chemicals and leaving them in suspicious places... She becomes visibly disturbed as she goes down the list. However, she ultimately chooses to ignore the implications and support her brother's run for Mayor of London. And yes, he's the Arsonist.
  • Fake American: Invoked briefly in "Artists & Fandoms", where Abigail mentions "American Standard" is an accent commonly taught in British acting schools while demonstrating it. She points out that, to an American ear, the "American Standard" she was taught doesn't sound quite right, but to most British ears it's enough to signal "this character is American".
  • Fan Dumb: Also discussed in-universe in "Artists & Fandoms", when she talks about various forms of extreme fans, including those who become stalkers towards their favorite creators.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Discussed Trope on a few occasions, most notably in the "Solitary Confinement" video which includes a number of eye-watering accounts (some of them first-hand) of what months of total social deprivation can do to people.
  • Feather Boa Constrictor: Used by The Devil in the "Jordan Peterson & The Meaning of Life". Crosses over with Snakes Are Sexy.
  • Femme Fatalons: The Devil also wears vicious stiletto nails.
  • Flipping the Bird: In "Data", when the Patron demands that Ellis follow the nightclub's legally-required procedure to provide a copy of any data they hold on them, Ellis responds with one of these.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • At times there are jokes that appear briefly such as in "HBO's Chernobyl & Personal Responsibility" when an online article by an American think tank employee is shown the words "freeze frame joke" and "hidden gags" are in the titles of the other tabs.
    • Another example shown for a longer duration is in "Abortion & Ben Shapiro" where other YouTubers are referenced through the framework of showing a fictional YouTube video from the previous character Ian N Drivel with the references as suggested videos.
    • In The Trouble with the Video Game Industry in a part of the video with a returning character from Elon Musk fictional news articles appear for a few seconds.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Adeleide segment involves discussion of a pro-kerosene Firefighters group calling themselves Firefighters Against Kerosene Enforcement (or FAKE).
  • Fun with Subtitles: The YouTube subtitles are sometimes used to comic effect, including commenting on the music ("<ABSOLUTELY FERAL TRUMPETS JUST HAVING A FUN TIME OF IT>" at the end of "Men. Abuse. Trauma.", for example) or adding flavour (in "Why Does Britain Still Have A Queen?", Abigail's dialogue while playing the role of someone trying to make feeble excuses for the wealth of the monarchy eventually just devolves into "<Centrist nonsense continues>").
  • Gallows Humor: Literally. Abigail notes that the last public hanging in the UK was in 1964 at 8.30 in the morning, and observes that if she knew she were going to be hanged that day, she'd at least want a lie-in first.
  • Girlboss Feminist: Kelly Slaughter is a parody of this archetype. She graduated from Stanford with $180,000 in the bank and was hired by her parents' company, which she thinks proves her "struggle". She also tortures her employees by forcing them to work all hours of the day and night, uses slave labor, and thinks that her new dystopian facial recognition program is feminist because it has an all-female team.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: In Charles Darwin Vs Karl Marx, she explains why this does not happen in reality and also discusses why Social Darwinists and eugenicists believe this.
  • Gratuitous French: A lot in "Antisemitism: An Analysis". The episode introduces Mademoiselle Y, a French character that often spouts French phrases every now and then. This is fitting since the episode makes multiple references to French history and philosophy. The episode starts with a recapitulation of the Dreyfus affair, a French political scandal where a Jewish man was unfairly convicted and sentenced for treason, and it's one of the biggest scandals regarding antisemitism and miscarriages of justice, and later, heavily references French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's critical essay "Anti-Semite and Jew".
  • Guyliner: Used pre-transition in "Witchcraft, Gender and Marxism" and "Jordan Peterson & The Meaning of Life". Abigail was also pretty open about wearing basic foundation for her videos and has made a livestream of trying on makeup while presenting as male.
  • Hate Dumb: Brought up in-universe during "Artists & Fandoms", in which she discusses how Fan Dumb can quickly morph into this under certain circumstances, such as when obsessive fans become invested to the point of feeling personally betrayed by their creator over a Felony Misdemeanor to the point of sending death threats.
  • Hate Sink: The Arsonist, also known as the traveling salesman, is portrayed by Abigail as embodying, to her, everything wrong with modern-day ultraconservative worldviews as well as representing a cautionary tale of how vulnerable people are towards far-right and fascistic ideas. In Steve Bannon, the Arsonist is used by Abi to highlight how the far-right uses superficial charm and exploits down-to-earth rhetoric to turn people against anti-racist and anti-fascist activists and light matches (a metaphor for committing hate crimes) with the arsonist. Further videos such as Abortion & Ben Shapiro and Climate Grief reveal that the Arsonist was responsible for burning his wife to death when she had an abortion and that the Arsonist believes that draconian forms of population control directed against immigrants and refugees are totally justifiable means of fighting climate change.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: In "Elon Musk", the fake headlines about Pontius Pilate killing Jesus say "Terrorist Preacher Killed In Judea" and "Fundamentalist Cleric Preaches 'Love': His Secret Agenda of Hate!".
  • Homage: Several:
    • In The Trouble with the Video Game Industry Abigail dresses up like Jim Sterling's Jimquisition persona while blasting their theme music as a nod to how much of Jim's work she's using as sources and building upon for the video.
    • Steve Bannon introduces The Arsonist, who's based on the villainous characters from the play The Fire Raisersnote . It features a cover of "Why We Build the Wall" by Anaïs Mitchell, which puts the song in a whole new context.
    • The framing of Youtube: Art or Reality? is based on the play "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh.
    • Abigail's on-camera segment in "Identity: A Trans Coming Out Story" is a rather calculated homage to the aesthetic of BBC shows and TV presenters, as Abigail felt that introducing her new public image while connoting respected British women in intellectual fields would make her transition easier to digest and understand, especially in her home country, which has less trans acceptance.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: According to Word of God the entire "Steve Bannon" episode originally sprung forth from the fireman being "anti-fire", which in Received Pronounciation sounds exactly like "antifa".
  • Interface Screw: A particularly chilling one occurs about halfway through Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth, where Abigail's usual overlaid citations become distorted and clutter the screen, and as for what they're saying...
    [Abigail], "Talking About Your Feelings Might Help," Dr Rosencrantz
    "This Video is in Danger of Becoming Unprofessional," Mister Not Good Enough
    "No one cares no one cares no one cares no one cares." Mister Not Good Enough
  • Kill It with Fire: The villainous Arsonist in the "Steve Bannon" episode, the 'fire' here being a metaphor for fascism.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In "Darwin vs. Marx" Thomas Malthus is mentioned as noting that humans rely on the "two fs", food and...mating.
  • Literal Metaphor: Sometimes used for comedic effect. In the video "Elon Musk", for example, Abigail discusses how it is workers who create value and not capital, and follows the line "You can throw as much money as you want at a block of wood, it will not turn into a chair." with a Smash Cut to her in some woodland, hurling fistfuls of coins at a tree and yelling "INVESTMENT! INVESTMENT!".
  • Loony Fan: Discussed well in her "Artists & Fandoms" video, describing six different kinds of over-the-top fan (with illustrations) that she finds crosses a line. One that she goes into particular detail about is the Stalker with a Crush who sometimes try to lie about knowing her work on dating apps or try to sneak into her dressing room during live performances.
  • The Mentor: Abigail claims Mike Rugnetta was this to her. Not only was Abi inspired to get into Youtube by Mike, but Mike was also the one that introduced her to the works of Karl Marx.
  • Motivational Lie: Discussed as part of her "Is it Ever Okay to Lie?" video on Kantian ethics.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Pre-transition, she exploited the image of a very, very handsome man who occasionally gets his shirt off. She has said in "Artists & Fandoms" that she genuinely enjoys being desired.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The fan service definitely continues post transition- including several videos with latex outfits.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: In "Jordan Peterson's Ideology", one of the first signs that Adelaide Sweetley-Schmitz is a bad person is her describing a fire as having killed "five people and a homeless man".
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Invoked in "Violence & Protest", where Adeleide describes the cancellation of her dear friend Baroness Plantation Warrcrimes.
  • No Fourth Wall: Her YouTube: Art or Reality? video, which features two cops questioning Abigail, fully aware they are in a video made by her.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In Sex Work, she notes that her job as an actor and the job of a sex worker are, in practice, fairly similar, both being about using deliberate affect of bodily expression to evoke an intended emotional reaction in people who pay to see them do so.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the Capital Punishment video, Abi does one (actually "Oh, ssshhhhit") to reflect the reaction of the law and the public to the revelation that Timothy Evans was hung for something he hadn't done, while the man he had accused had been the guilty party all along.
  • The Oner: Abi's background in theatre has given her the skills necessary to perform lengthy scripted videos in a single take. While not the only example on her channel, "Men. Abuse. Trauma" is particularly noteworthy; it starts out with her talking about how Jean-Paul Sartre's play No Exit is written as a single, uninterrupted scene, and the video itself is not only done in a single 31 minute take, but even includes an off-camera costume change. On top of that, filming it only took two takes!
  • Percussive Therapy: Mentioned during "Men. Abuse. Trauma." After moving out of the flat she'd shared with her ex-girlfriend, Abigail ended up demolishing a wardrobe she'd built when they both moved in with her bare hands. The ex is later revealed to have been abusive, with the implication that the wardrobe story was an unconscious example of this.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: Invoked by Abigail as an explanation for some people's fascination with the British monarchy in Why Does Britain Still Have A Queen? It's more this than a Celeb Crush because while the royal family are comprised of actual people, the desire for them is more about the constructed idea of the royal family than anything else, and the only thing special about them is attributable to that construction.
    Abigail: I hate to say it, but your waifu is trash.
  • Running Gag:
    • Across multiple videos, she will attempt to read a dictionary definition of a word, only to deadpan read out something unrelated.
      • In "Confucius", she tries to read how the Oxford dictionary defines certain Chinese words, and gets letters from someone demanding a ransom for the dictionary, leading to them apologizing for stealing it.
      • In "Islamophobia", she tries to read the definition of "Islamophobia", and says "Quoting the dictionary in a video essay is for hacks! The point is to gain a greater understanding of the topic, not to regurgitate words off a page!.
      • In "Violence and Protest", she tries to read the definition of "violence", and says "Your subscription to the Oxford Online Dictionary has expired, click here to renew".
      • In "The Hidden Rules of Modern Society", she asks for a definition of "woman", and says "The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'woman' as 'Oh, no way am I touching that one, chief!' "
      • Downplayed in "A Man Plagiarised My Work: Women, Money, and the Nation", where she tries to read the definition of "misogyny" and says "The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'misogyny' as 'Why are you reading the dictionary instead of bringing me a sandwich?'"
    • Similarly, in her "Ignorance & Censorship" video, Abigail (in a library of all knowledge, including "my romantic failures, ordered alphabetically") repeatedly tries to translate the Greek roots of philosophical terms, but ends up quoting the names of her romantic failures.
    • During her "Witchcraft, Gender, & Marxism" video, Abigail will preface a statement with the opinion that "[people from left-wing associated subculture here] aren't 100% right about everything", only to immediately find herself getting phone called and embraced by a famous person from the right known for criticizing said subculture.
    • In "Confucius", she uses multiple appearances of a posh Brit historian, Sir Nigel Piss, who repeatedly states the Chinese "never had a secular enlightenment" and endlessly praises Great Britain.
    • In "Jordan Peterson's Ideology", Abigail introduces concepts of note as "very simple" before launching into a lot of confusing phrases and terminology while The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's Shooting Gallery plays, chickens cluck, and the graphics spin.
    • In "Food, Beauty, Mind", Abigail quotes certain philosophers before noting that she's choosing to credit them despite another philosopher expressing the same ideas prior. In the last example, she quotes Michel Foucault before saying with a straight face that the idea had been previously expressed by The Joker.
  • Sanity Slippage: In Elon Musk, Pontius Pilate is re-imagined as a Steve Jobs/Elon Musk-type 'comprehensive designer' who has a breakdown trying to get the blood off his hands for killing Jesus Christ (a metaphor for the inadvertent harm brought by consumer capitalism, even when used by liberal personalities).
  • Sarcasm Mode: In "The Social Contract", she describes Britain as being "very normal" during the late 1600s (which, for reference, included Oliver Cromwell running rampant over Irish people and outlawing Christmas, and everyone freaking out so much over the thought of a Catholic monarch that they brought in a Dutch prince to take over), while not-so-subtly referencing a lot of much newer instances of institutional prejudice (including the Red Scare, denial of trans rights, and the War on Drugs):
    "Now, one thing you need to know is that everyone in England hates Catholics. Don't like 'em! Why you having your religious services in Latin? Speak English, like Jesus did! Anti-Catholic suspicion is rife. Senator McCarthy has a list of Catholics in government; there is debate whether Catholics should be allowed in women's toilets; the police are stopping people in the streets like, "Is that incense?" and they're going "No, it's weed, I swear!" So everything is already really normal."
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Much like ContraPoints, whenever Abigail brings up herself or her previous work it tends to be in a jokingly unflattering light. During the "Brexit: What Is Democracy?" video she describes her last video on the subject as being made by "a spotty twink with a terrible haircut".
    • Abi also makes frequent digs at her own personal identity of a Marxist, at one point having a fake breakdown over feeling nationalistic when people say "God Save the Queen" during her video on the subject.
    • When she brings up Plato's philosopher-kings in the "Brexit: What Is Democracy?" video, she snarkily observes that Plato seems to think that all the problems in the world will be solved if everyone just listened to him...
      Abigail: You'll be starting a Youtube channel next!
    • Abigail has dunked on both Bertolt Brecht and Jean-Paul Sartre for mixing theater with philosophy, which, of course, is exactly what she does for a living.
    • When noting that comedian Stewart Lee uses a lot of Brechtian theatrical techniques as an example of Brechtian techniques being used outside a strictly Marxist framework, Abigail sheepishly adds that this is probably why a lot of struggling younger comedians trying to break into the industry try to rip him off while barely holding back giggles. Cue the inevitable clip of a younger Abigail doing exactly that.
    • In "Beauty in Ugly Times," Abi waves off attempting to do a literary analysis of Lolita because, in her words, "I am a himbo."
    • Heartwarmingly defied on her coming-out video as trans, where Abigail paraphrases Natalie Wynn's quote "I ask myself 'Do I feel like a man or a woman?' And the answer is 'I feel like shit'" by replacing the end with "I feel happy".
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: In Men. Abuse. Trauma., she starts the video in a Superman t-shirt, with her chest puffed out for most of it. When she breaks down discussing the nature of her abuse and the camera turns away to show her recording space, then turns back, she's in glasses, ill-fitting white shirt, tie, and blazer, and is sitting in a chair.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Occasionally wears suits in her videos, giving off this vibe pre-transition.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Pre-transition, she has done a couple videos with her shirt open or off, but the best sighting to date comes from Witchcraft, Gender & Marxism, in which she gradually takes off her shirt and rubs fake blood all over herself and grabs a sword to look like a barbarian while warning her viewers to not use what she is saying to justify transphobia, as discussion on the socioeconomic aspects of womanhood "can get pretty barbaric pretty fast."
    • In the Jordan Peterson video (pre-transition), she played the Devil while wearing only a crown, some horns and a pair of large black wings.
    • She has, more recently, felt more comfortable showing up nearly nude in fetish outfits, belts and fishnets, a bit of tape.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During her early videos, Abigail would consistently refer to the text box under the video as "the doobly-do".
    • The star at the end of the Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth title is a reference to David Bowie's Blackstar, an album that Abigail listened to a lot during the making of the video, which had echoes in the cosmonaut and conversations on death. The logo shown in the intro sequence of Identity: A Trans Coming Out Story is actually a colourised version of the text from the cover of Blackstar representing the word "Bowie", and the title song plays as her male persona says farewell, takes a final bow and disappears, and her true self emerges from behind a nearby door.
      Something happened on the day he died.
      Spirit rose a meter then stepped aside.
      Somebody else took his place and bravely cried:
      "I'm a black star! I'm a black star!"
    • The detectives in her YouTube: Art or Reality? video are named Ellis and Strucci, after Lindsay Ellis and Shannon Strucci, two YouTubers who had both earlier done videos on parasocial relationships (seen here and here, respectively ) .
    • During her "Steve Bannon" episode Abigail explains how Julius Evola referred to himself as "not a fascist, but a super-fascist" during a court case in 1951, before suddenly adding that "YOU'RE NOT DEALING WITH AN AVERAGE FASCIST ANYMORE, KAKAROT! I HAVE REALIZED THE LEGEND!", both lines originating in Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
    • Jordan Peterson & The Meaning of Life opens with a quotation from Mephistopheles in Marlowe's Faust.
    • She references Julius Evola's focus on "transcendentally" justifying his bigotry by mentioning that certain outfits aren't "TRANSCENDENTALLY BISEXUAL" in Queer✨.
    • The opening titles to "Identity: A Trans Coming Out Story" are done in the same visual style as the first opening titles Doctor Who had after its 2005 revival — which, incidentally, is a show about an alien who can regenerate into a new body, and who at that time was played by a woman for the first time in the show's history.
    • The Crisis in the British Health System features individuals who Abi doesn't want to name; so she refers to them as different characters from Catch-22.
    • Violence and Protest has Abigail summarize the plot of The Iliad, which abruptly and seemlessly shifts into a summary of the second half of Dragon Ball Z.
    • The infamous "!" sound from Metal Gear is used as a Running Gag whenever someone has a sudden realization about the video's topic.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
    • Given that Abigail is a professional actor (and also British) she tends to pepper her videos with Shakespeare references, even entire videos. "Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth" opens with a reference to Hamlet, and "Marxism and Witchcraft" begins with parts of the witches' incantations from Macbeth and ends with one of Prospero's speeches in The Tempest.
    • After her Men, Abuse, Trauma video, she did a weekend-long charity livestream where she, along with several collaborators, read through the entire collected works of Shakespeare, reasoning that virtually every human emotion is contained somewhere therein.
  • Skewed Priorities: In "Jordan Peterson's Ideology", Adelaide Sweetley-Schmitz completely blows past the part where an orphanage burned down to complain about how the fire singed a Union Jack and people on Twitter didn't even care.
    Adelaide: My brother said the firefighters didn't put out the flag because they were afraid of being called racist!
  • Smart People Speak the Queen's English: Abigail is actually Geordie, but speaks in RP in all her videos. This is partly because it's just plain easier to understand if you're not British, but also because the British theater scene goes back and forth between demanding and rejecting RP, depending on the director.
  • The Social Darwinist: This trope is discussed in the video "Marx vs. Darwin". Amongst other parts, the video points out that Darwin's descriptive terms for evolution in On the Origin of Species were used prescriptively by Spencer to create this trope, as well as by Galton to create the field of eugenics. She notes that Spencer's ideas actually predated Darwin's work, along with those of Thomas Malthus. Both claimed aid to the poor should be stopped as it would only cause overpopulation (Malthus added a theological side, since he was a minister). Malthus claimed this population growth would outstrip food supplies (which has been disproven). Karl Marx and other left-wing radicals who held much the opposite views also praised evolution though, feeling it vindicated their views. They all held that evolution always led to improvement (an error as well). However, she also notes that views of eugenicists varied widely, while it also still exists (contrary to popular belief-mainly used against prisoners or trans people). While she is a Marxist, Abigail also admits some Marxists endorsed eugenics as well.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: When discussing calories in "Food, Beauty, Mind", she takes a sidebar:
    Fifties Cooking Show Abi: If you were to ask an ancient Roman how many calories were in the bulls' testicles they were consuming, they would have said, "Quid dicis?" Which is Latin for "what the fuck are you talking about?"
  • Spiritual Successor: The 2021 video “Jordan Peterson’s Ideology” is a successor to the 2019 video “Steve Bannon” in many ways. They both open with Abi addressing the viewer as if they are theatre patrons, telling the audience that in the event of a fire, “the exits are on the far-left”, and speculating the subject of the video may be “in the audience tonight”. Both tackle media personalities who attract controversy, and use fire and arson as a metaphor for fascist ideology and the people who spread or cover for it. The former video is the first appearance of the recurring character of The Travelling Salesman/The Arsonist, and the latter of his sister, a newspaper columnist who shares many of his views, and makes excuses for his actions.
  • Stiff Upper Lip:
    • In contrast to Hbomberguy, Abigail prefers delivering her material in a calm, dispassionate newsreader tone. She even lampshades and partially deconstructs this trope in Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth, pointing out that a certain disaffect is part of the British national character and may not entirely be a good thing when talking about attitudes towards getting help for mental illness.
    • Invoked in Men. Abuse. Trauma. by her speaking as she does in her normal videos for about half the length of the video, then the back half is her speaking in a much more down-to-earth, calmer tone.
  • Stylistic Suck: Sir Nigel Piss has a rather dodgy costume, and after Abigail came out as trans, he got a deliberately lazy "lady imitating man" voice. He was introduced while Abigail was transitioning off-camera, so the minimal effort in playing a male character was likely intentional, and his second appearance, which was after she came out, is visible to the audience as a silly drag role played by a woman. The shoddy acting and costume, however, are also just comedically less polished than Abi's other characters, which contributes to the satire of the character.
  • Sudden Musical Ending:
    • Beginning with the Elon Musk episode, Abigail began occasionally ending episodes with musical numbers, usually covers produced by herself.
    • While it was announced, the credits of the video on Steve Bannon feature a stunning cover of Anais Mitchell's "Why We Build the Wall". Combined with the imagery, it is breathtaking.
    • The Jordan Peterson video ends with a cover of the Hoosiers "Goodbye Mister A".
  • Too Clever by Half: Invoked in Work. While travelling in New Zealand, Abigail tried to find a “clever way” around doing menial work like bartending to make money, taking a role selling door-to-door insurance, which promised she could make a couple hundred dollars a day if she was good. This backfired hard on her first shift - only two customers signed up all day (after being pressured by her colleague), she was ashamed of herself for being part of it, and since it was all done on commission, she didn’t even get paid for it.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: A common narrative device, with Abigail often using two or more characters to deliver different perspectives or storylines before weaving them together in the finale.
  • Uncanny Valley: Abigail invokes this in "Identity: A Trans Coming Out Story" by having the bulk of the presentation as a familiar Philosophy Tube video... where the host, her old male persona, is played by a different person (actor Rhys Tees) doing a very good job acting and looking like Abigail used to. This resonates with the perspective she delivers on how living as a man had been a role she played like an actor since another person can play the role just as well, and the not-quite familiarity of the performance for viewers connects to Abigail's own lack of identification with her old persona.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: "Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth", often just referred to as the Cosmonaut video. It's widely considered to be one of the best Philosophy Tube videos.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: Among the views discussed in Violence & Protest is those of Dr. Malm, who actively advocates sabotage to achieve climate-change goals. For obvious reasons, Abi makes clear that Malm's views are not the view of Philosophy Tube. The video also discusses the many instances of violence being used to achieve political goals.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The Devil in the "Jordan Peterson & The Meaning of Life".
  • Wham Line:
    • From Abigail's interview with herself in Suic!de and Ment@l He@lth.
      You have to tell them about somebody who tried to kill themselves, and who isn't insane and who is still alive. You have to tell them what that's like.
    • Another, from earlier in the video:
      Dr. Rosencrantz: Why are we talking about the Jews of Masada?
      The Cosmonaut/Abigail: Because, Dr. Rosencrantz, I don't wanna talk about myself.
    • I understand how you feel.
    • The post-credit line of the Steve Bannon video: the Antifa symbol, along with the tagline "DO NOT PLAY WITH MATCHES".
    • In "Abortion & Ben Shapiro," she describes why the "argument from disgust" doesn't work, describing in visceral detail the story of a lung transplant she had witnessed, where a young girl with a degenerative lung disease received donor lungs. She then predicts the sort of argument Ben Shapiro might make and follows it up:
      "And Ben Shapiro might say, 'Well, different kind of surgery! An abortion ends a life, whereas an operation that saves somebody is obviously beautiful.' But I didn't say that she survived."
    • In "Men, Abuse, Trauma", the first section ends with one.
      Yeah, she hit me, once. Once! But it was my fault, it was my fault!
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
    • The "Steve Bannon" video is one to the German-language Swiss play Biedermann und die Brandstifter/The Fire Raisers (and lampshaded as such in the video's intro). Both video and play use arsonists as a metaphor for something else, and how normal people can get suckered in by rhetoric into aiding and abetting.
    • The "Philosophy of Anime" video is a reference to the Lasagna Cat video "07/27/1978". Abigail pinned the comment "now where could my pipe be?" with a link to the video just to double down.
    • Abigail describes her experiences with the NHS in The Crisis in British Healthcare in what is a disturbingly accurate summary of Catch-22. She casts herself as Yossarian, with the various bureaucratic and political figures she interacts with being the various military figures from the novel.
  • Written by the Winners: A unique example is touched on in Violence & Protest, with Abigail pointing out that, while various protests movements throughout history - such as those led by Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi - have been victorious, people have a tendency to forget the violent aspects of those movements that were often integral to it achieving that victory - such as the Black Panthers and the Indian Mutiny, respectively.
    • Exaggerated with the Suffragettes. Unlike the above examples - where singular groups or events were forgotten - the very methods the Suffragettes used in their fight to get women the right to vote are forgotten. These incuded acts of vandalism and even throwing stones at Winston Churchill.


Video Example(s):


Adelaide & The Arsonist

Adelaide and Ivan are both StrawPolitical characters. Adelaide represents ostensible progressives and TERFs who would rather keep everything the way it is without having to change anything, and is being radicalized by her brother Ivan, who represents fascism and ultra-conservatism. In the analogy, Adelaide actively enables Ivan's arson attacks (an analogy for fascist violence) by lighting his cigarette for him, and the two end up romantically involved (in other words, TERFs and ostensible progressives can wind up in bed with fascists).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / VillainousIncest

Media sources: