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"I was driven to start making videos by the same force that has driven me to do everything that I do in life:
I watched the first episode of Paramount Heathers and it was just... so bad, and I really like Heathers, so I had a lot of things to say about it..."

Sarah Z (pronounced "Sarah Zed", not "Sarah Zee") is a Canadian video essayist. From back in May 2018, she started out covering topics like films and television before later focusing more on social and artistic issues, such as the concept of authorial intent, "fast-food twitter", Tumblr history, and other aspects of Internet culture. Sarah uses she/they pronouns.

They have been compared to other so-called "BreadTube" video essayists like H.Bomberguy and Folding Ideas.

Sarah is also part of the cast of the Dungeons & Dragons Actual Play podcast Trials & Trebuchets, where she plays the half-elf bard Mira Marchand.


  • An Aesop: While her video "Tumblr's Failed Convention: The Story of Dashcon" is mostly chronicling the aforementioned event, she does deliver an additional moral in the conclusion:
    "Just because someone has the same geeky interests as you, it doesn't necessarily mean they have your best interests at heart."
  • Alpha Bitch: Uses this as an example of how a cliched trope can be used well with regards to Cordelia of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, by putting her in unusual situations that forced her to learn and grow as a character.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: invoked In her video essay on the movie Idiocracy, Sarah finds that many of the problems of the world of 2505 could be blamed less on human stupidity and more on huge corporations like Brawndo manipulating and corrupting a complacent society through buying out entire government agencies and using their wealth and power to get their way at the expense of the public good until everything is falling apart and no one is really benefitting anymore, not even the people supposedly in charge (who themselves have become just as incompetent as the rest of the populace).
  • Alternate Self Shipping: invokedDiscussed extensively in her video about the history of the Once-ler fandom, which famously had people shipping the Once-ler with AU versions of himself. Sarah explains that this came about because, while the Once-ler was a seriously popular character on Tumblr at the time and people wanted to ship him, there was no one from the source material to ship him with; Ted and Audrey are children and, as they puts it, "people weren't quite freaky enough to ship him with the Lorax yet." This, combined with the fact that the movie has the Once-ler change from a starry-eyed innocent to a greedy Corrupt Corporate Executive so quickly, it felt like two different characters, made the fandom split the character into two; the original, sweet Once-ler, and the evil version they nicknamed "the Greed-ler." Sarah then goes on to describe how this led to the creation of thousands of alternate Once-lers in the fandom, most of which bore practically no resemblance to the original character. In her analysis, Sarah suggests that part of the appeal may have been that the Once-ler was a sort of Gateway Character for sympathetic, tragic, and oddly appealing villains. Most of the fans were young teens, and he appeared in a children's movie, plus he was presented as likable from the outset and was redeemed at the end, so you didn't have to feel bad or "justify" liking him. The ship then came from people wanting to explore shipping dynamics like Foe Romance Subtext, Dating Catwoman, Mind Game Ship and Angel/Devil Shipping, but, because they were quite young, weren't familiar with media that actually contained those elements. So they did it with the Once-ler, because it was safe and familiar.
  • Angst Aversion: invoked She believes a big reason for why the film adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen failed is that it removed or altered the lighthearted moments from the original musical, which she saw as more of a Black Comedy, which made the story seem less self-aware of its outlandish concept and thus made it more explicit and uncomfortable.
  • Ascended Extra: Her co-writer Emily began her life on the channel with a small cameo reading lines from My Immortal.
  • Author Appeal: If the topic is musical theatre, expect her to bring up Into the Woods, as it is her favorite musical.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In her introduction to the video on fandom reaction to the Supernatural finale, she talks about how she used to be a fan of this show that had a main character who just wanted to be normal but was instead thrust into a world of demons and monsters and how this show was initially planned to end after five seasons with that character sacrificing themselves but ended up going on for more seasons and suffering from Seasonal Rot and issues like Bury Your Gays, an overall lack of diversity, and a questionable scene where a character suffers from finally getting a moment of true happiness... "But enough about Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians:
    • Discussed in her video on Queerbaiting, and how the term is often confused with Hide Your Lesbians (such as The Legend of Korra, where Executive Meddling prevented the confirmation that the two characters were a couple until the finale) or Ho Yay (such as Scrubs, where the characters are clearly straight and their close friendship is Played for Laughs). invoked
    • Also brought up heavily, unsurprisingly, in her video on The Johnlock Conspiracy, a group wholly convinced that the instances of this happening in Sherlock were for real.
    • Brought up too in her video on Destiel, where she talks about how Destiel wasn't just a product of fans shipping any two good-looking male characters together because Supernatural put in many suggestive lines and scenes between Dean and Castiel that could easily be read as romantic if Castiel were a woman.
    • However, she later disowned her previous video on the subject in “I was wrong about queerbaiting”, where she criticizes how the term’s usage has evolved into being used against celebrities who dabble in gender-nonconformity. Particularly because of the tendency for this usage to force celebrities to admit their sexualities in less than ideal circumstances and potentially scare people from experimenting at all.
  • Berserk Button: Usually Played for Laughs. She doesn't like the BBC Sherlock portrayal of Irene Adler, and jokes that she has a "daily Irene Adler rant" quota to fulfill.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: One of her most notable qualities is her ability to see both sides of the argument she's presenting, helped by her background in debate.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In "Bad Cinderella: An Edgy Autopsy", when talking about how fairy tales and musicals are often mashed together, Sarah states "And indeed both cross-over all the time. Whether that's in the stage musical format, the Disney animated film format, or the stage musical adaptation of a Disney animated film format."
  • Breather Episode: She describes her video about Crime Scene Kitchen as this, hoping to make a more lighthearted and fun video after her most recent videos about Homestuck, the McElroy Brothers, and the legal response to her Homestuck video became exhausting to release, and her next videonote  would examine some controversial topics. Because she doesn't want to be defined by such controversies, this time she just made a video about a weird, fun cooking show she saw.
  • Bury Your Gays: She discusses this trope in her Destiel video, saying that not all cases where a gay character dies should be automatically considered homophobic because the trope isn't just "a gay character dies" but "the only gay characters are treated as uniquely expendable or die in ways that are tied to their sexuality". That said, Castiel being sent to turbo-Hell the instant the audience learned he wasn't straight thus came across as a hilariously extreme case of this, especially when the last two episodes seemed to go out of their way to completely ignore his love confession to Dean and only gave a token mention of him having gotten out of turbo-Hell off-screen.
  • Canada, Eh?: In her Q&A, she responds to a question asking if she's Canadian by dropping "eh" and "aboot" in a stereotypical accent. The way she pronounces "about" as "aboot" naturally also fulfills the trope. While tearing apart the movie Idiocracy, she kept on referring to Soar-ry To Bother You as a better movie about a similar concept. And of course, there's her name, which, as this famous commercial for Molson Canadian beer pointed out, is pronounced "zed" in Canada, not "zee".
  • Catchphrase:
    • The word "buckwild" shows up at least once in almost every video she makes.
    • If Sarah has just explained something, expect the summary to begin with "Suffice it to say."
  • Caustic Critic: Sarah herself averts this trope, but in her video titled "Bad Media Criticism", she demonstrates how the overuse of the trope can lead to nitpicking in place of actual critique.
  • Character Name Alias: In her video on Dashcon, she did use the real names of organisers Meg, Cain, and Roxanne, but for an anonymous Australian volunteer, Sarah calls her Susan for the sake of the discussion.
  • Death of the Author: invoked Discussed extensively in their video on J. K. Rowling and authorial intent. She finds it inherently hypocritical that Rowling has been supportive of fan fiction and different interpretations of characters, but has been quick to resort of Word of God to debunk theories she doesn't like (like responding "no" to a fan asking if Sirius was gay).
  • Delusion Conclusion: invoked A major component of the JohnLock Conspiracy of Sherlock fandom, which arose from the fact that the show already had episodes focusing on Sherlock's "mind palace", and therefore large portions of the show might also take place there. Needless to say, this meant that any scene the fandom couldn't fit into the theory could take place there, and was probably rife with psychosexual symbolism in and of itself.
  • Designated Hero: invoked One of her biggest complaints about the show Insatiable is that both of the main characters are unlikeable and very hard to care for.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Despite the title of the video, Sarah concludes that the failed "All or Nothing" series wasn't a scam, but merely a case of teenagers who didn't know what they were doing getting in way over their heads and failing hard. She points out that the Indiegogo page was obviously made by people who had no idea how much money, time, and work goes into a sitcom (no real proposal, stretch goals unrelated to the actual making of the show, ridiculously low minimum goal), and that everyone behind it was too young to even have their own bank account. The project was doomed to fail because it was incredibly poorly thought out, not out of malice.
  • Die for Our Ship: invoked
    • Her TJLC video naturally goes into this, being a discussion in part of the fandom's drama and how utterly willing they were to demonize those who posed a threat to Johnlock. In particular, she brings up how Mary Watson was hated far more than any of the show's actual villains before the character was even introduced, and the Elementary version of Watson was given a similar level of hatred solely for being a female Watson, and therefore, in their eyes, much more likely to get paired with her Holmes during the height of BBC Sherlock's popularity. (Ironically, Elementary, like Sherlock, kept Holmes and Watson's relationship at Ship Tease levels at most.) Even the idea that Sherlock was aro/ace (which there was some canon evidence for) got accused of homophobia—when, as she points out, erasure of asexuality is considered a form of prejudice in and of itself.
    • Her video on Destiel and the Supernatural finale mentions how Supernatural fans used to viciously attack and create online hate clubs for any female character who dared to so much as bat an eyelash at Dean or Sam, like Jo, Bela, and Ruby. Ruby in particular was so reviled that one fan wrote a "Just Go, Demon Ho" hate poem about her. In stark contrast, when a male character (Castiel) got close to the brothers, fans immediately loved and embraced him.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay:
    • Discussed in her video on Theatre Bootlegs. She uses an example of the Heathers musical initially closing after a poor run, but developing a large following mainly through people who saw bootlegs of the show online, which led to the show being revived.
    • She also points out that theatre bootlegs are not going to harm the industry when the majority of viewers watch them because they can't afford to travel and see the show live, and that unlike film, a bootleg video is not a substitute for seeing theatre in the venue (and thus there will be people who pay to see the show if they get the opportunity).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Examined in "The Horrifying Panopticon of West Elm Caleb". Sarah discusses how a lot of public callouts online, even ones directed at genuinely harmful people, can often be wildly disproportionate, up to and including doxing and harassment. Sarah points out that in most cases, this doesn't actually help people who are harmed by such individuals, and what's more, a not insignificant number of people who perpetuate these callouts seem to be more interested in entertaining themselves than actually helping anyone.
  • Don't Shoot the Message: invoked Her video on Idiocracy accused the film of falling into a trap that a lot of left-wing Americans in the George W. Bush era (and again in the Donald Trump era) fell into in seeing their enemies as stupid or crazy and themselves as naturally more intelligent. Among other things, she thinks that this creates a sense of unbearable smugness that alienates the people they're trying to reach out to, sends the impression that it's pointless to expect things to change because "there are too many idiots running around," ignores the possibility of actual malice from bad people who know what they're doing, and prevents the people making the argument from noticing their own blind spots on various issues and complicity in problems. She cites The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher as other examples of this kind of tendency.
  • Double Standard: She talks about this in her video "Double Standards And Diverse Media", which mostly seems to relate to the fact that media that is already "woke" or progressive is held to a much higher, sometimes impossible to reach, standard, different than other media that aren't judged with the same standards, or even with the same criteria.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: She points out that Riverdale's attempts to address this with the Archie/Miss Grundy affair results in a Broken Aesop given how sexily the scenes were framed, and that it was still portrayed as forbidden love rather than a predatory adult taking advantage of a naïve teenager.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Her earlier videos were Danganronpa memes, much before she started doing video essays. And even some of her early video essays were more nitpicky complaining critiques of the Heathers TV series, 13 Reasons Why, and Riverdale.
  • End of an Age:
    • Her video on the infamous DashCon heavily involved the idea that it was, in many respects, the end of the "cringingly enthusiastic" era of Tumblr, where people talked about a "Tumblr University" as an ideal situation, created maps of all the different communities, or mashed various fandoms together to create chimeras like SuperWhoLock. After Dashcon bombed out, there was a clear shift away from that. Merged fandoms died out almost completely, and the term "hellsite" being used to describe Tumblr went into fashion, with the site taking on a notably more pessimistic tone.
    • In "The Rise and Fall of Geek Culture", she points to the Gamergate controversy of 2014 as the beginning of the end for the mainstream geek culture explosion of the late 2000s and early '10s. In her view, not only did it bring long-standing issues with misogyny and racism prevalent in geek culture to the surface and make them a dramatic fault line within various fandoms (citing the Ghostbusters reboot and the Star Wars sequel trilogy as examples), it also marked the moment when the tension between geek culture's historic self-image as bullied, put-upon outsiders and its new image as the cool kids of pop culture finally snapped, destroying the idea of there being a single, unified geek culture at all. A series of other individual controversies that followed, such as the Rick and Morty Szechuan sauce debacle, the fall from grace of various big-name figures (most notably Joss Whedon), and the oversaturation of Merchandise-Driven brands of middling quality like Loot Crate, ThinkGeek, and Funko Pop!, further took the shine off of geek culture and increasingly made it seem primarily a domain dominated by Conspicuous Consumption and invoked Pandering to the Base, with the year 2019 serving as its death rattle even as "geeky" media itself continued to flourish.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: She argues that, for all the absurd nonsense that went on in TJLC, there was a pretty convincing core to it. Sherlock did indeed feature a lot of subtext and jokes about Sherlock and John being gay, the creators were actively pushing for the idea that the show had a grand, vast, hidden narrative, and therefore connecting the two seemed pretty reasonable. At the time, it just wasn't evident that the show invoked didn't have a vast hidden narrative, and the jokes about Sherlock and John being gay were meant to deflate romantic tension rather than heighten it. She notes that, honestly, the fans were probably thinking about things much harder than the writers were.
  • False Flag Operation: A bizarre example. In "Tumblr's FAKEST Story", she comes to the conclusion that many fake Tumblr posts are themselves fake, made specifically to be mocked on other platforms for clout. There is no record of "Oppa Homeless Style" and similar posts existing anywhere besides screenshots posted to reddit. Sarah notes that many of these fake stories frame their made-up posters, usually implied to be "social justice warrior" types, as cringey, stupid liars, and by extension, also frame the real issues caricatured in such posts as hysterical, exaggerated ravings.
  • False Dichotomy: Sarah Discusses this in "Is Fanfiction Art? (It's Complicated)" Sarah thinks the two-sidedness of the fanfiction vs. books debate is silly, as is portraying "the other side" as either "pretentious snobs" or "anti-intellectual babies".
  • Filmed Stage Production: invoked Discussed in "The Weird World of Theatre Bootlegs." Sarah argues that bootleg recordings make stage productions more accessible and preserve them after their runs end, and that production companies should offer legitimate recordings to offer the same benefits without the issues that come with bootlegs.
  • For Want Of A Nail: She notes in her Destiel video that, were it not for the 2007 writers' strike that forced the show to scrap its initial plan of having Dean be rescued from Hell by Sam in season 3, Castiel and the entire Destiel ship never would have existed — and by extension, neither would have Jughead's "I'm a weirdo" speech from Riverdale (as the writer of that episode got famous enough to get her job after she wrote Ship It, a book inspired by controversial comments that Dean's actor said towards a fan who seemed to be asking about Destiel subtext).
  • Franchise Original Sininvoked: As pointed out in "Why Friday Was Made", ARK Music Factory originally made pretensions towards being a legitimate record company as opposed to a vanity label, recording pop songs that, while not great, were more or less acceptable... until "Friday" by Rebecca Black, the worst song they ever recorded, became a smash hit in 2011 on the strength of Bile Fascination. From that point forward, ARK tried to make lightning strike twice with songs that were designed to be So Bad, It's Good by copying the "Friday" formula, to diminishing returns that culminated in the label folding in 2013. Moreover, Sarah also argues that the impact of "Friday" reached beyond just music, marking a negative turning point for internet culture as a whole. The massive controversy that swirled around the song demonstrated that anger and outrage could be very effective drivers of conversation and engagement, creating a template for later companies, celebrities, and influencers that engaged in publicity stunts designed to court controversy in order to build brand awareness.
  • Franchise Zombie: invoked "A Brief History of Homestuck" ends with her saying that she really loved it while it was ongoing, but that she also thinks it should have flat-out ended. That way, people could enjoy it as a fun nostalgic thing and look back on its merits fondly, rather than constantly being jerked around with epilogues and "ambiguously canon" sequels and games trapped in Development Hell. She compares it to sand art that's gorgeous and complex, but washes away when the tide comes in—trying to keep doing something past its natural time will inevitably make it come out poorly.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Parodied in "Homestuck Sent Me A Legal Threat, And Then It Got Worse". Whenever Sarah really starts getting fed up with Andrew Hussie, she calls them "Andrew Hussington."
  • Gateway Series: invoked
    • She believes that part of the reason the Once-Ler fandom proved so durable was that it proved to be the introduction, to many of its fans, of the sort of character dynamics those stories involved. The "innocent guy/bad boy" pairing is pretty classic in fanfiction, but it sees almost no portrayal in television, and most fanworks that would explore such a pairing trended a little mature. She also argues that part of the reason it fell apart was that people realized they could get those kinds of stories in a fashion that didn't involve pairing the villain of a mediocre children's movie with a future version of himself.
    • She argues something similar about the Once-Ler himself, noting that the character has a lot of traits associated with appealing villains (a sympathetic backstory that leads to a redemption, a cool design that gets played for fanservice a few times, and the mere fact that he's a Villain Protagonist) but is still made very approachable by the narrative. They note that this was mostly the result of bad writing trying way too hard to make him sympathetic to the point of undermining the message, but that it did work, because it made him an easy introduction to the "sympathetic villain" archetype for a mostly tweenaged audience.
  • invokedGenre-Killer: In "The Rise and Fall of Teen Dystopias", she stated that, while the disappointing ends to the Hunger Games and Divergent film series killed the young adult dystopian genre, the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement in the mid-late 2010s and the election of Donald Trump as United States President in 2016 nailed the genre's coffin shut and ensured that it wouldn't receive the sorts of ten-years-later nostalgic reappraisals that The Twilight Saga did. Amidst the political climate of the late 2010s, the simplistic morality and heroic savior protagonists of many YA dystopias increasingly did not ring true to the experiences of young people engaged in activism, for whom such books became relics of a simpler, more innocent time. The genre was soon displaced on the one hand by social issue novels like The Hate U Give that more directly commented on real-world problems without cloaking them in the metaphor of a dystopian future, and on the other by YA fantasy series like A Court of Thorns and Roses that offered similar exotic worlds and romance without the ham-fisted social commentary.
  • Genre Shift: Her video essays started out being critiques of bad media like Heathers (2018), Riverdale, and Supernatural, but have shifted towards discussing social issues like the ethics of true crime podcasts, whether theatre bootlegs are a bad thing, and parasocial relationships with YouTube personalities.
  • Gilligan Cut: Done quite hilariously in "The 'Author' of My Immortal Emailed Me, and Then It Got Worse", where Sarah briefly speculates that a forum goer from This Very Wiki might be yet another one of Toby's sock puppets, but then gives a few reasons why they think it's probably not true and that the account is legit. Cut immediately to Sarah nine hours later, saying that nope, that account is absolutely Toby and she has the proof, having noticed a clue during editing and then done some digging to confirm it.
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: Invoked and Discussed in "Everyone's Into Twilight Again". Sarah notes that many of the criticisms aimed The Twilight Saga during its heyday were laced with shocking amounts of misogyny, due in large part to the franchise's target audience and heavy focus on the teen romance elements, along with homophobia, such as calling the sparkling vampires "gay" and certain characters homophobic slurs for supposedly lacking "masculinity". Much of the series' renaissance, she argues, has been a direct repudiation of this mentality.
  • Gone Horribly Right: She notes when doing "The 'Author' of My Immortal Emailed Me, and Then It Got Worse" that the most likely apparent motive was that the person wanted attention and for their story to be heard. And they did get their intentions widely broadcast... but not in the way they wanted, because Sarah pretty much poked their story full of holes and went on to reveal to the world that they had created dozens of sockpuppets writing Bible-themed poetry in an attempt to get their own attempted Troll Fic some attention.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Oddly inverted in her video on Idiocracy, where she makes the argument that the film is too willing to dismiss instances of genuine malice as simple idiocy, and has no broad thesis for why its society became dominated by uneducated louts other than "stupid people are just like that." She claims that in real life, societal dysfunction is often the result of people who do know that what they're doing is wrong, and simply don't care. Well-educated and logical people are capable of making incredibly selfish decisions, and stupid people can often have bad intentions. They contrast this with Sorry to Bother You, where CEO Steve Lift is portrayed as a pretentious, hedonistic moron, but this doesn't prevent him from being shown as evil.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: A major component of the Johnlock Conspiracy, as explained by her, was that the show's seeming insistence on "proving" that Watson was heterosexual came across as this, not helped by the fact that Irene Adler implicitly suggests at one point that interest in Holmes isn't blocked by Incompatible Orientation.
  • Here We Go Again!: In her video about the Supernatural finale, they note that a lot of the theories about Dean originally reciprocating Castiel's love confession and/or reuniting with him before invoked Executive Meddling made the writers change it sounds very similar to the Johnlock Conspiracy, and sincerely hopes that it doesn't get as out of hand and genuinely harmful as TJLC could.
  • Hypocrite: In a Freeze-Frame Bonus in "Homestuck Sent Me A Legal Threat, And Then It Got Worse", Andrew Hussie alleges a former artist sexualized an underage character. Sarah doesn't comment on whether or not she believes it to be true (there doesn't seem to be any evidence either way), but she does note in a caption that this is rather rich coming from someone who called a fifteen-year-old character "Yiffy".note 
  • Iconic Item: Her mugs.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Thanks to the gap between filming and editing, "The 'Author' of My Immortal Emailed Me, and Then It Got Worse" features a gem where Sarah thanks a poster for having already done some detective work on the whole Todd/Toby debacle in the past, "...unless you're somehow also Toby." Cue a caption flashing on the screen: "UPDATE FROM SARAH IN THE FUTURE: SHE'S FUCKING 1000% PERCENT TOBY."
  • Implausible Deniability: Invoked in her video on Sherlock and "The JohnLock Conspiracy"; she says that she is definitely not still upset about the series finale and is just engaging in professional media criticism, as she speaks increasingly faster and with more emotion, and the camera jumps to a closeup with an orange filter, before cutting back to a normal frame.
    Sarah, now calmly: I didn't like it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: They start her "Homestuck Sent Me A Legal Threat, And Then It Got Worse" video with a clip of her making a cotton candy Faygo and vodka cocktail. With a lot of vodka.
  • In Name Only: The Once-Ler fandom, in her view. The mixture of Transplanted Character Fic, an overused Fandom-Specific Plot, and a metric ton of Recurring Fanon Characters resulted in a fan community that was almost entirely unmoored from the original story.
  • I Reject Your Reality: This is a major component in her views on "The JohnLock Conspiracy." She explains that the third season premiere pretty much destroyed the idea of both a vast Myth Arc mystery plot and the possibility of JohnLock becoming canon, by way of treating fans trying to analyze Holmes's survival as weird, creepy obsessives and refusing to give a significant answer, and featuring many a Take That, Audience! to the idea that Holmes and Watson might be gay. However, fans refused to give up on the idea because they didn't want to admit that their favorite show was mocking them and didn't care about representing them, and so constructed an elaborate theory that framed the show as a hidden subversive masterpiece all along. Consequently, the pairing only became more popular, in the face of mounting evidence that it would never happen. If anything, TJLC only exploded afterward.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Her opinion of the cotton candy Faygo she drinks for her Homestuck video.
    Sarah: I feel like I'm drinking clown tears.
  • Jerk Jock: Feels like indulging in this stereotype is what results in Broken Aesops in 13 Reasons Why.
  • Jerks Are Worse Than Villains: invoked In her Homestuck video, she cites Vriska's actions as more controversial because they were more down to earth than some other evil characters' actions. While many trolls had committed gruesome acts of murder, Vriska came across as a realistic bully and even abuser in some cases, hence why she became such an infamous Base-Breaking Character.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
    • She argues this was a lot of the reason "Oncest" became a thing. In the original film, the Once-Ler's jump from "goodhearted Endearingly Dorky hipster" to "pure evil cartoonish supervillain" happens over the course of a single musical number. Because of the rather squashed development arc and his radically altered design, mannerisms, and personality, it made it seem less like he'd been corrupted by greed and more like he'd been abruptly swapped out with a different character. So that was exactly how the fandom handled it: treat them as two distinct characters. And then ship them.
    • One of her main critiques of the Johnlock Conspiracy (at least, the more toxic parts of the fandom) was how, for a lot of the big name fans, it wasn't enough to let people ship whatever they wanted, or even enough for them to also ship Johnlock. They had to ship Johnlock, actively want it to become canon, believe it would become canon, and ship the pairing in the "right" way (suggesting Sherlock was a top especially was treated as a horrifying moral failing). Shipping is normally harmless fun, making fan content and sharing theories and memes with friends, but TJLC turned it into intense bullying and outright harassment, cultish followings around a few BNFs, and some of the most insane, outlandish conspiracy theories this side of Flat Earth.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: They say that a frequent defence of The Nostalgia Critic's bad-faith criticism was that it was merely Doug Walker playing a character, and the opinions were those of a character for comedy. This defence is broken when she shows that The Nostalgia Critic's opinions would show up in Doug Walker's out-of-character reviews as well.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Points out that having this does not excuse using problematic tropes or lazy writing. She points to Cheryl mocking Betty and Veronica's gratuitous lesbian kiss in the Riverdale pilot, when the advertising still hyped it up like a Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss.
  • Literal Metaphor: In "That Time the Sherlock Fandom Invented a Character", she explains that the criticisms of Homestuck's trans content were written entirely by Emily (herself a trans woman), and she is essentially "a vessel for Emily" in that part of the video. To drive the point home, they open this segment with a part where Sarah moves her mouth but it's Emily's voice that comes out.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Discusses this and how some girls may have been pressured into growing their hair long to conform to traditional femininity, and rejecting this later in life leads to prejudice towards those who do have long hair.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: In "The Rise and Fall of Geek Culture", Sarah discusses how women in male-dominated fandoms either had to "aggressively sexualize" themselves in order to gain a little bit of acceptance, or work hard to desexualize themselves to differentiate themselves from those "fake geek girls".
  • Mainstream Obscurity: invokedHer video on Idiocracy brings up the fact that, though the film is incredibly widely discussed and its name is essentially shorthand for "our society is getting stupider", actual knowledge of the film's events, characters, jokes, and social commentary beyond the premise is very thin on the ground. They particularly note that conservatives often reference the film, ignoring that the film was mostly meant to mock Bush-era redneck conservatism and the "idiots" portrayed in the film are mostly stereotypical trailer trash.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Well, "crime" is perhaps a stretch, but the video "The 'Author' of My Immortal Emailed Me, And Then It Got Worse" is built around this. Initially, she thought it was just a random idiot, then it turned out that they were one of the people who had claimed to be the writer of My Immortal before. Then it turned out that, based on some detective work, said person had also written The Prayer Warriors and run many other accounts, including multiple ones that wrote Bible-themed poetry on FanFiction.Net.
  • Misaimed Fandom: invoked DiscussedTrope in "Is Fanfiction Art? (It’s Complicated)". Sarah points out how some people criticize The Great Gatsby's characters for being rich and morally awful, which she states was the entire point of the novel.
  • Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls: Debunks this in her video on authorial intent, pointing out that many fan fiction writers were LGBT fans interacting with media they liked in ways they could relate to. She does something similar in her video on TJLC, pointing out that, while there were absolutely straight women fetishizing male-on-male relationships, when she put out a call to former members, most of the respondents were LGBT themselves.
  • MST3K Mantrainvoked: She subscribes to this as long as the medium makes it clear that it's fantastical in nature. It's impossible for her to feel this way with one that's deliberately grounded in realism.
  • Narm Charm: invokedSarah's feelings towards Roxel, the fanon love child of Roxas and Axel, as shown in their "MorMor and Fanon" video.
    Sarah: I fuckin' love Roxel. He originated on Deviantart and I mean this in the most supportive way possible when I say you can tell.
  • No Bisexuals: Understandably, since Sarah herself is bi, this trope is frequently skewered. In particular, Sarah has more than once expressed hatred of media that dances around the subject of characters being bisexual by claiming they "don't like labels".
  • Not Like Other Girls: Discussed and deconstructed in a video with the same title, where her thoughts on the matter say that it's far from just internalised misogyny or shallow bullying, but representative of a deeper problem where society pressures girls to conform to traditionally feminine traits and both accepting or rejecting femininity can result in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: In "The Rise and Fall of Teen Dystopias", the The Hunger Games-themed Subway ad is captioned "THIS IS A REAL AD. THIS IS NOT A COMEDY SKETCH. HELP."
  • Offending the Creator's Own: invoked Discussed in her video "Double Standards and Diverse Media", which opens by explaining a story on Amelie Wen Zhao and how her planned trilogy of books as part of a series called "Blood Heir" was canceled due to heavy criticism of the first book's content on slavery (which could be interpreted as offensive by some people). She then explains that media that is made by diverse creators will often be held to higher standards due to perceptions that, because they are in the same minority they are in, they would be able to avoid making the same mistakes those from non-marginalized groups make, when that's far from the truth.
  • Offscreen Inertia:
    • She notes in her second video about My Immortal that it was Left Hanging with a notice of a brief hiatus while the author was on vacation, speculating that they remain on vacation to this day.
    • In "The Rise and Fall of Teen Dystopias", she mentions that the cancellation of the Divergent film series means that the books' infamous killing off of the main character will never happen, and Tris will remain alive forever in this continuity.
  • Once per Episode: She's known for having some sort of a beverage in her hand in all (or nearly all) of her video essays. Tea, coffee, water, wine, cotton candy Faygo with vodka...
  • Pet Homosexual: Is particularly annoyed with how Riverdale reduces Kevin to this compared to the original comics, where his sexuality was incidental and he was a rounded character. In the show, he's reduced to being a Satellite Character that only exists to give Betty relationship advice and sassy one-liners, and when he does finally get a storyline of his own, it plays into the All Gays are Promiscuous trope.
  • Poe's Law: invoked Her video on the JohnLock Conspiracy discusses this, noting that the show's attempts to cultivate an air of mystery meant that it seemed like "errors" in the show were actually put there on purpose to provide fans with clues to the resolution of the show. Part of the reason the conspiracy collapsed was that it became evident that, for instance, those gaping plotholes or continuity errors weren't meant to imply that the entire sequence never happened, but were just bad writing. In particular, the fandom immediately believed that "The Final Problem" had to be fake because it was so poorly-written that it had to take place in Sherlock's head. It didn't.
  • Real Women Never Wear Dresses: In "I'm Not Like Other Girls?", she says that a lot of women who ascribe to this trope may have done so out of a rejection of traditionally feminine values that they may have been forced to conform to, or been mocked for not being.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Fortunately, Dave, Sarah's direct superior at Standard, comes off as this in "Homestuck Sent Me a Legal Threat, and Then it Got Worse," bluntly refusing to allow What Pumpkin to bully or condescend Sarah and telling them, essentially, to either produce some actual proof of their claims, or back off. He also had Standard's legal team look into things, and confirmed that Sarah hadn't actually broken any laws or spread misinformation, and assured her that they'd stand behind her if anyone actually tried to sue.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Discussed. Sarah briefly mentions in her Homestuck video that she dislikes redemption arcs where characters do one grand gesture and then die, because she prefers redemption arcs where the character has to continuously work to be a better person.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: In "Homestuck Sent Me A Legal Threat, And Then It Got Worse," Sarah points out that in the course of backing up What Pumpkin's request that she amend her video to remove information they insisted was wrong, Andrew Hussie actually ended up confirming several claims that would otherwise have remained totally unsubstantiated (such as an artist improperly being left off the Hiveswap credits). If both parties had just ignored the video, these things likely would never have come out.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • Doesn't feel that Riverdale is bad because of it being a Darker and Edgier take on Archie Comics, saying that a dark tone could have worked. In her view it's just bad writing.
    • In her video on The Twilight Saga, she argues that the franchise does have many aspects that genuinely deserve criticism, but the problem isn't things like the vampires sparkling, it's things like the racism (for example, the classy, extraordinarily beautiful vampires are all white or extremely pale, while the Native American werewolves are portrayed as aggressive and animalistic).
  • Rule of Three: Sarah often makes snarky comments in sets of three:
    "This man is Doc from Back to the Future, but a Chad. This man has been having a mid-life crisis for thirty years straight. This man looks like Mr. Rogers if they sucked all the life out of his body and put it into his glasses."
  • Running Gag:
    • In "The 'Author' of My Immortal Emailed Me, And Then It Got Worse", every time she points out that an account associated with the various Tobys writes Bible-themed poetry, the phrase is bass boosted and accompanied with a close up to emphasize how all of these sock-puppet accounts are doing the same thing.
    • A common one across videos is referencing when the script is written or influenced by her co-writer Emily, and also Emily laughing in the script about forcing Sarah to talk about anime.
    • Saying Benedict Cumberbatch's name incorrectly (Blueberry Cornetto, Blorbo Cobblepot, etc).
  • Self-Deprecation: In "Bingewatching Is Kinda Bad For TV", Sarah discusses the fan reaction to the news of Stranger Things Season 4 having episodes exclusively be over an hour long, remarking about how they are about as long as her own videos.
  • Sequel Episode: "Does JK Rowling's Transphobia Ruin Harry Potter?" is one to their previous video "JK Rowling and Authorial Intent". The video is technically a response to Rowling's well-known bouts of transphobic behavior on Twitter getting worse and resulting in her releasing a manifesto online she nicknamed "TERF Wars", and subsequently makes another analysis about Authorial Intent and Death of the Author of how Rowling's views has influenced her writing and just saying "Hatsune Miku wrote Harry Potter" may make people forget that. The video makes multiple references to the previous video, which also referenced the behavior of fans towards Rowling's troublesome tweeting.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: At one point she goes off on a tangent about how the Gnome films are the best Shakespearean adaptations ever.
    "You cannot change my mind."
  • Shallow Parodyinvoked: In "Bad Cinderella: An Edgy Autopsy", Sarah discusses how Cinderella is prone to Darker and Edgier adaptations and the story being brought up as a shallow criticism of fairy tales. She notes that even the article about its the show's closure gets the original story wrong, stating that the show "made note of how this version of Cinderella isn’t a damsel in distress". Sarah notes that original Cinderella is actually more of a "Charlie Bucket", a "character in misfortune who has good things happen to her in a fairy tale." Sarah notes that other adaptations, such as Into the Woods, give Cinderella more agency and personality, Sarah notes that Bad Cinderella's version is just "...ruder, I guess. She talks back, she vandalizes things! But beyond those statements and the opening number, and her general attitude, Cinderella herself doesn’t really do much." Sarah notes that in trying to make Cinderella more progressive, the show made her more dependent on Prince Charming instead.
  • Shout-Out: In "Is Fanfiction Art? (It’s Complicated)" she uses bill wurtz's history of the entire world, i guess as one YouTube video she would consider art.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: In her video exploring the rise of "Doomer" culture, Sarah points out that letting oneself become so convinced that the world's problems are so terrible that they can't be fixed will only lead to the utter loss of hope and with it, the drive to try to fix those problems.
  • Sleeper Hit:invoked She merely made a ranting video complaining about Heathers, and was shocked at how many views and subscribers she got from it.
  • Sock Puppet: "The 'Author' of My Immortal Emailed Me, And Then It Got Worse" starts out with an account claiming to be a "backup account" of Tara Gilesbie's contacting Sarah... and then it quickly goes off the rails, with Sarah and another vlogger uncovering at least twenty sock puppets from the same user. Sarah outright describes the whole debacle as "Msscribe, but more Christian."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: From her video on the Homestuck fandom, she posts a long paragraph about how she was definitely not one of the kids who tried to find a real-life kismesis:
    On-Screen Text: "i definitely did not do this no siree not me i definitely did not want a sexy arch rival so we could have that moment where one of us lifts up the other person's chin with a sword and yknow what now that i'm typing this i feel like i already brought this trope up in another video but i'm definitely gonna put it here as well anyway because i definitely did NOT do this and do NOT want a sexy arch rival I can swordfight with NOT ME"
  • Sympathy for the Devil: "Devil" is a bit strong, but at the end of "The 'Author' of My Immortal Emailed Me, And Then It Got Worse," she outright says they don't have any positive feelings about Toby/Todd, seeing him as an immature pathological liar... but she also admits they feel genuinely sorry for him, noting that his behavior just screams "cry for help" and someone who is obviously very lonely. She even notes that a lot of his non-Troll Fic works (like at least some of the poetry) seem very genuine and like a kid trying to work through his feelings with creativity, and had he stuck to that instead of hiding behind irony and sock puppets, he'd probably be a much better adjusted and happier person now.
  • Take That!:
    • When going over fan community nicknames, Sarah states that "Doctor Who fans are called 'Whovians', Glee fans were called 'Gleeks', Star Trek fans are called 'Trekkies', and K-Pop fans are called 'terrifying'".
    • In her Dear Evan Hansen video, they say that it's impossible to make a grounded musical, just like how you can't make a subdued opera or a good video game music cover band.
    • In "The Rise and Fall of Geek Culture", Sarah claims that Young Sheldon is a murder mystery where Sheldon solves a new case every week. They then say “None of you can prove me wrong on that because nobody has ever watched Young Sheldon.”
    • In "Bad Cinderella: An Edgy Autopsy", she states she feels the show was "made my people who really understand stories, and where certain musical numbers should go, but are just kind of skipping from major story beat to story beat without putting a ton of effort into filling in the spaces inbetween," with 2 images portraying an angry, tired, and lazy Andrew Lloyd Webber using ChatGPT to make songs for Bad Cinderella, venting to it that his shows are just tax write-offs for his almost a billion pounds.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • In her TJLC video, she comments on how the first episode of Sherlock's third season seemed to be openly contemptuous of its viewers for trying to decipher how Sherlock could have survived his fall in the second season finale by depicting a group of people trying to do just that in-universe as annoying and deluded with the episode ultimately refusing to actually explain how Sherlock survived. This is in spite of how the showrunners had actively promoted the idea that the show's mysteries could be solved on their own by sufficiently clever viewers, making it look like they were mad at fans for doing exactly what they had encouraged them to do.
    • In her video on the Supernatural finale, she mentions that the show had a couple of episodes that poked fun at its fanbase by having the characters get weirded out when they find fanfiction and fan conventions for them. It did seem to be less mean-spirited overall than the aforementioned Sherlock example and at least acknowledged that it was fine for fans to have alternative interpretations of the show's characters and relationships even if the actors didn't agree with them, but still had the troubling implication that these fans' interpretations, especially those made by female fans, were ultimately separate from what the show was really meant to be about.
      Sarah: It always bothers me when a show that sustains itself off of the fandom of young women mocks the very people that allow it to survive.
  • Tempting Fate: Lampshaded to hell and back in "The Supernatural Finale Aired, and Then Tumblr Exploded." In her previous video, Sarah remarked that Supernatural had a mega-popular ship between two men that was queerbait and never going to happen. Not even a week later, it did... but in the most buckwild and weirdly homophobic way possible, and that was just the tip of the iceberg to how bizarre Destielgate was going to be. Cue her getting dozens and dozens of comments and messages saying things like, "I don't know how, but you did this." Sarah also notes that her videos on TJLC and the Once-ler fandom caused brief resurgences in both of those tags.
    Sarah: I need to be more responsible with what fandoms I resurrect...
  • Tinfoil Hat: Wears one for her video on The JohnLock Conspiracy, mostly during the later bits. It becomes noticeably larger the more implausible and cultish the theory becomes.
  • Unfortunate Implications:invoked A large section of their video on Idiocracy involves the film's treatment of intelligence as an unchangeable and generalized trait steeped mostly in genetics, and it crediting the ultimate downfall of society to "stupid people outbred smart people"—noting that said claims are, essentially, eugenics.
  • Unintentionally Unsympatheticinvoked: In "Bad Cinderella: An Edgy Autopsy", Sarah compares this show's version of Cinderella to the original. She notes that the original Cinderella was rewarded for being a good person despite her misfortune, while the only thing Bad Cinderella's version does is "snark, sing songs about how much she wants to be with this boy, run away from any conflict she encounters, do whatever someone tells her to do, wait around until Sebastian can finally confess to her, charge her phone, eat hot chip, and lie. She doesn’t take meaningful action, she never changes, she never learns anything." Sarah criticizes the Be Yourself aesop by comparing Cinderella to the plot of Aladdin, noting that Aladdin was likable at the beginning and still became a better person throughout the story. She states even Katie from Mean Girls, as much as she criticizes it, was nice at the beginning, while Cinderella in the show is just "kind of a mean asshole to the people around her." She theorizes that this is because the show is aiming for an audience of bullied young girls, who are supposed to project their own experiences on Cinderella and give her a character arc that isn't actually present in the show.
  • Unnecessary Makeoverinvoked: They touch on this trope and applying it to real people in "How Fans Treat Creators", and how fans can sometimes feel ownership over a person's image the same way they might over a fictional character's. In her view, this is over-stepping a boundary, as a person has the right to do whatever they want with their own appearances - relating a message they once got from a subscriber who didn't like their haircut (at thirteen no less!).
    "And I'm just sitting there like 'Sir, what do you expect me to do with this information? I'm not going to un-cut my hair'..."
  • Watched It for the Representation: invoked Invoked and discussed in "Tumblr's $6000 Scam: The Story of All Or Nothing". She explains that when she was coming to understand their own bisexuality, she would sometimes watch movies or shows just because they had two women in a relationship because she wanted so badly to see people like her, so she understands the impulse to recommend things based on representation. However, she further says that a) this isn't always helpful, because it leaves out what something's about and whether it's actually good, and b) it's a bad way to write. In their opinion, one of the biggest problems of the failed All or Nothing series was that they never came up with a real plot—"an asexual and a pansexual live together" works fine as a viral Tumblr post, but not as a whole show. By contrast, the successful series (yes, there was one) was about the transition from high school to college, Friend Versus Lover tensions, and debate club, with the character's sexualities as part of their arcs rather than the whole point of the show.
  • What Could Have Been: invoked She believes that Firefly became so popular chiefly for this reason, and that its early cancellation was the best thing that could've happened to it. Had it gone on past the feature film Serenity, she feels that it would've been remembered not as a Cult Classic for the missed opportunities presented by its first and only season, but as a rather unremarkable show and a footnote in Joss Whedon's career.
  • You Keep Using That Word:
    • Discussed in "The Horrifying Panopticon of West Elm Caleb", where Sarah notes that a lot of people who do online public callouts will use very serious and pathologizing language even in situations where it clearly doesn't apply, like using "abuser", "toxic", or "gaslighter" as catchall terms for "asshole".
    • invoked Also discussed in "I Was Wrong About Queerbaiting", wherein she describes how the term "queerbaiting" managed to devolve from "corporations using performative or outright fake expressions of queerness to draw in a queer audience then pull the rug out from under them" to "queer characters who are canonically queer but were heavily censored" to "canon queer representation that is canon and not censored but hasn't expressed its canonicity enough" to "the fandom's queer OTP/headcanon didn't turn out to be canon" to "real life celebrity behaving a certain way that could be interpreted as queer or queer-coded while ostensibly being straight or cis" to "real life queer person being closeted". Sarah ultimately concludes that the term is misused so much that at this point, it'd probably be better to just retire it altogether, especially since its misuse has caused tangible harm to real life queer people.
  • Younger Than They Look: Many viewers expressed surprise in 2021 when Sarah revealed her age to be 22, assuming she was at least a few years older.
  • Visual Pun: In her video "I'm Not Like Other Girls", they regularly switches between Tomboyish clothes (casual sweater, hair tied back) or Girly Girl (pink sweater, fuzzy bathrobe, long blonde wig) to better make her point about girls being pigeonholed into one role or the other.