Sanders Sides is a YouTube web series created by Thomas Sanders, first released on October 19, 2016, which now he writes and produces alongside Joan S. and the Foster Dawg Team. On the series, Thomas is a young actor and YouTuber who has the ability to project all the different aspects of his personality into different entities called Sides. With them, he sustains conversations to try and help him find a solution for the different troubles and existential issues Thomas faces in his life.
Note: In the Recap section there are more detailed tropes grouped episode by episode.
WARNING: Untagged spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.
- Aborted Arc: Thomas and the Sanders Sides travel to a new "Mind Palace" created by Patton and Roman as the new setting for the show. However, in the following episode, they quickly go back to Thomas' apartment and never come back to the Mind Palace, and only one single passing mention is made of it at the beginning of season 2.note
- Actually Pretty Funny: Thomas and the other Sides (besides Logan) actually laugh at Patton's favorite dad jokes in the "Personality Q&A" video.
- Alternate Continuity: Anything that happened in the Vines or in the Sanders Shorts, as well as any personality trait shown by the Sides' counterparts there, did not happen in Sanders Sides unless it was specifically seen in Sanders Sides, and vice versa.
- Alternate Universe: The Sides' rooms are alternate versions of Thomas' apartment (or wherever Thomas is standing if he decides to enter a Side's room from another physical location) located inside Thomas' mind, where the Sides reside when they're not with him.
- As Himself: Lilly Singh, Butch Hartman and Tara Strong all play fictionalized versions of themselves that interact with Thomas. The same happens with Joan, Dominic, Kyle and Derionna.note
- Be Careful What You Wish For: For most of season one, Thomas expresses verbally how he wishes there was some way of getting rid of his anxiety. His wish comes true when Virgil decides to quit as Thomas' anxiety, and this causes unexpected and unwanted side effects on Thomas he hadn't seen coming.
- Black Bug Room / Haunted House: Virgil's room is this. And it's even full of spider webs.
- Break the Cutie: The "Moving On" two-parter (but especially Part 2) is significantly more emotional and somber than most other videos in the series, mostly due to the plot revolving around a devastating event in Thomas' life.
- Canon Discontinuity: In "The Dark Side of Disney", Virgil rises up like the other Sides instead of just appearing, and he is not affected at all. In "Moving On: Part 2", Virgil rises up when returning from Patton's room, and he feels dizzy and lightheaded, remarks he never did rise up before and asks how the others do it in every episode.
- Cast Full of Writers: Thomas and Joan are the main writers of Sanders Sides. Thomas is the main star and Joan has had many appearances too.
- Cerebus Syndrome: During the first half of season one, stories were light and comedic, with self-conclusive episodes. After episode 8, when Joan joined in as co-writer, characters and storylines started to include more dramatic and suspenseful elements, though never leaving comedy as the basis of the series, and long complex story arcs replaced the earlier self-conclusive episodes.
- Chain of Corrections: It's a kind of gag that makes some appearances from time to time.Thomas: I've become sentimental.
Logan: You're always sentimental.
Thomas: More sentimental than on... average!
Roman: [overlapping] ...average!
Patton: [overlapping] ...avalanche! [...]
Patton: Oh, so that's why I'm feeling more confused than beverage!
Patton: No, I'm not!
- Character Focus:
- Each of the Sides has had at least one episode focused on them. Certain focus episodes have led to a Side revealing his real name; see Given Name Reveal below.
- There have also been some episodes which focus on the interactions between two particular Sides. Examples include "The Dark Side of Disney" (Roman and Virgil), "The Mind vs. The Heart" (Logan and Patton), "My Negative Thinking" (Logan and Virgil) and "Why Do We Get Out of Bed in the Morning?" (Logan and Roman). Patton and Virgil's father-son relationship has been developed as a background story arc in multiple episodes, although they did not have a specific focus episode just for them.
- Character Title: The title is Sanders Sides and the main characters are... well, the Sanders Sides.
- Darker and Edgier: As the series goes on, it takes darker turns and discusses more mature themes, even with all of the jokes and humor present. Deceit and especially Remus reinforce this.
- Double Vision: At first, interactions between characters always happened using different shots and building up the conversations during editing. But since the end of season 1, it is becoming more common to use this effect and have two or more characters on the same shot speaking at the same time, sometimes using Split Screen and sometimes using Chroma Key.
- Dreamland: In the show, it is called with several names: Dream scenarios, the Mind Palace, Dream Spaces, or the Sides' rooms. In all cases it is an alternate dimension made up from Thomas' dreams and fantasy where he and the Sides retreat to reproduce different situations to deal with Thomas' issues.
- Enforced Plug:
- Invoked by Logan and lampshaded by Thomas and Roman midway through "Fitting In (Hogwarts Houses!)".Logan: Okay, look, fantasy is not my jam. My jam of choice is Crofter's. [brings out a Crofter's jam jar] And this video isn't even sponsored. I'm just a fan. Crofter's: The only jelly I will put in my belly.
Thomas: What... was that??
Roman: [pulls out his own Crofter's jam jar and a spoonful of it] Yeah, I mean, I love me a good spoonful of Crofter's, but that was a little out of left field, Logan. [he eats his spoonful munching loudly on the metal]
Thomas: [yelling confused] What is happening!?
- While the above example is Played for Laughs, "Crofters - The MUSICAL!" plays this trope much straighter, since Thomas actually got a partnership with Crofter's Organic.
- Invoked by Logan and lampshaded by Thomas and Roman midway through "Fitting In (Hogwarts Houses!)".
- Evil Aunt: Thomas has in most of his works, the Vines, Shorts and even "Sanders Sides", an aunt named Patty. She appears or is mentioned from time to time. Though probably not evil herself, she is a symbol of evil, as she is always related to ominous, unpleasant or unsettling circumstances happening to Thomas, whether directly or in a jinxy way.Roman: May visions of sugar plums dance in your head and hopefully not visions of your naked aunt Patty... [disgusted] Ugh!
Thomas: [ironically] Okay, thanks, Roman, for that unpleasant side comment!
Roman: Yeah, sorry, I don't know where that came from!
Logan: Let's say that you fancy cars and your aunt Patty gifted you a Lamborghini. [...]
Roman: If you've been gifted this shiny car, rims of gold, windshield of diamond...
Logan: Windshield of diamond?
[The car starts out in Thomas' dreams and loudly crashes off-screen, only a wheel survives, bouncing away]
Thomas: [disappointed] Oh...
- Evil Me Scares Me: In "Why Do We Get Out of Bed in the Morning?", Thomas was absolutely terrified by the appearance of Deceit. He also had a similar feeling towards Virgil in the beginning, and he got truly petrified when he saw Remus creepily emerging from behind the TV set.
- Fantastic Comedy: Though not exactly a Sitcom per se, "Sanders Sides" has some elements of a sitcom and also several elements of fantasy.
- Finale Season: It has been announced that Sanders Sides will end after the third season.
- Flipping the Bird: Since the arrival of the Dark Sides, it has been becoming a common occurrence, and not only performed by the Dark Sides themselves. All of the times it is censored with black bars, though.
- Deceit briefly appears in "Why Do We Get Out Of Bed in the Morning?" and does this as Thomas kicks him out.
- Roman, who controls Thomas' left arm, forces Thomas to give one to Logan in the courtoom, and Thomas has to hold his hand with his right arm to stop it.
- Remus, while impersonating Joan, uses a chopped hand to do the gesture, and Thomas remarks that that is something Joan would do.
- Foreshadowing: Are you all caught up? Good! Now re-watch the series from the beginning, and this time take note every time a Side says something about lying (especially if the Side in question is Virgil) or every time one of the Sides claps a hand over his own mouth.
- A Glass of Chianti: Played for Laughs in one of Thomas Sanders' Snapchat stories, later re-released on his Twitter account, where Virgil sits in a bathtub fully clothed with a cup of Gatorade that looks suspiciously like wine.note
- Hilarious Outtakes: Three blooper reels have been released, two of them dedicated exclusively to Sanders Sides bloops, and another one also featuring Cartoon Therapy and other YouTube works.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: There are a few facts on the story that now are basic common knowledge but that were the main story arcs at the time and constitute spoilers for anyone who doesn't know anything about the show.
- The Sanders Sides have names, they were revealed one by one during season 1, and now everybody uses them, in and out of universe.
- Despite being an important plot twist at the end of season one, now everybody knows there are other Sides apart from the four main Sides and they're known as the Dark Sides. Only the exact amount of them is to be known yet as well as their real names, but both Deceit and Remus are at this point as common knowledge as the core main Sides.
- Literal Split Personality: Basically, the whole core premise of "Sanders Sides" relies on this trope.
- Loads and Loads of Roles: Thomas Sanders is playing not one, or two, or three, or four... but five! characters at the same time, and we're not even counting the Dark Sides.Joan: You've got to get sick of playing all the characters... every once in a while.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The Sides' rooms have a startling potential for this. The longer they're in Virgil's room, the more anxious and hysterical Roman, Logan, and Patton all become. In Patton's room, everyone but Logan succumbs to the siren song of the nostalgia it inspires, at least initially. Thomas even says he doesn't know why Patton would want to leave.
- Mental World: Each of the Sides has their own part of Thomas' mind, or "room", that they reside in when they're not in Thomas' apartment.
- The Musical: Season 1 had a full song in episode four... and then nothing other than brief Musicalis Interruptus moments by Roman for the rest of the season. However, in season 2, we have as of today four musical numbers. Not all of the episodes are musical based or musical at all but as a whole, the series has musical numbers enough to be considered a proper musical as a whole at this point.
- Running Gag:
- Patton calling the process of becoming an adult "adultery."
- Serious people wear neckties.
- Logan is learning contemporary slang words using flash cards. He doesn't always use them correctly.
- Logan misused the word "infinitesimal" in one video. Patton doesn't let him forget it.
- Self-Insert Fic: The main character of the story is a fictional version of the creator of the series, Thomas Sanders.
- Sequel Episode:
- "Growing Up" is a sequel to "Way Too Adult".
- "Why Do We Get Out Of Bed in the Morning?" can be seen as a sequel to "Losing My Motivation". It's even lampshaded by Logan and Thomas early on in the former video.
- "Putting Others First" is a sequel to "Selfishness v. Selflessness".
- Shown Their Work: Thomas and Joan make lots and lots of work on research about a topic before writing an episode, and they make sure what they have learnt reaches the audience, usually via Logan's exposition.Logan: The relationship between anxiety and performance can be expressed by this curve, the Yerkes-Dodson curve. It's named after psychologists R.M. Yerkes and J.D. Dodson. They...
Roman: Get on with it, Calculator Watch!
- Small, Secluded World: Though not isolated from the outside world, roughly 80% of the onscreen action of the series takes place in the same room, Thomas' living room in his own apartment, and the other 20% usually takes place in settings imagined by Thomas while in reality he still hasn't moved an inch away from his living room.
- Solo Duet: Almost every song in the series, as a result of everyone being the same person.
- Stop and Go: Every time there is a comedy gag, the background music stops abruptly, then resumes when the dialogue goes on. This also happens sometimes when something dramatic or surprising suddenly happens.
- The Tag: In every episode of the series, after Thomas says his ending catching phrase, "take it easy, guys, gals and non binary pals, peace out!", there's an additional mini scene featured on the end card alongside the "previous videos" and "featured fander" tags, usually starring the Sides who perform a little comedy skit related to the episode, occasionally featuring an entire extra scene that further advances the plot of the series, and sometimes featuring real-life Thomas Sanders addressing something real-world related about the series to the viewers, like new merch or shoutouts to special guest cast and crew members.
- Talking to Themself: Self explanatory, after all it's the basic premise of the whole series.
- All the Sides engage in this when they enter or leave Thomas' apartment. Most of them rise up from the bottom of the screen when they enter, and sink down when they leave. Virgil and Deceit's method of entry is to simply appear in their place, usually surprising everyone who isn't used to it, though they leave like everybody else. Thomas only uses this method of teleportation when entering or getting out of one of the Sides' rooms. The one time Virgil did emerge like everyone else, when he came out of Patton's room back to the apartment, he felt dizzy and light headed, and asked how everyone else did it every episode.
- Other forms of teleportation include Thomas traveling into his mind to Lilly Singh's apartment, with the help of Roman, and also the different trips he and the Sides take to the Mind Palace or its theater, the Dream Spaces or the Sides' rooms.
- Temporarily a Villain: Downplayed but some videos will have one of the Sides serving as the main source of conflict. Examples include Logan in "Learning New Things About Ourselves" and Patton in "Putting Others First".
- Two-Part Episode: "Accepting Anxiety", "Moving On", and "Selfishness vs. Selflessness".