Asuna: Oh my God, you're insufferable!
Sword Art Online Abridged is an Abridged Series of Sword Art Online, made by Something Witty Entertainment. It currently has seventeen episodes — the first eleven covering the first arc of the original show, and the twelfth onward covering the second.
It has the same basic premise as the original, centering around the titular Virtual Reality MMORPG and its launch-day players, who become trapped in the game by its creator, Akihiko Kayaba, and must reach the top floor and beat the game to escape- and if they die, they die in the real world. The series stars a Jerkass version of Kirito, who, along with other characters and the rest of the unfortunate players, work their way up to the top of Castle Aincrad... as if it was in a typical internet fashion. Hilarity Ensues as Kirito meets a variety of wacky characters, encounters the game’s many glitches and design flaws, and tries to live out his personal fantasies of being a god amongst foolish mortals, only to encounter events that force him to grow and change as a person.
Season 2 follows the Fairy Dance arc, in which Kirito, having escaped the death game, must enter yet another virtual MMO, ALfheim Online, to save the comatose Asuna from Noboyuki Sugou, her predatory fiancé, while navigating both a role-playing community caught up in a "race war" and his tumultuous relationship with his abusive little sister, Suguha.
While mostly still a parody, Sword Art Online Abridged is noted for not hesitating to play some of the original show's dramatic and emotional scenes completely straight, and even trying to ADD weight to them in some cases. There are also Fix Fic elements, with some plot points being rewritten purely to remove perceived plot holes and characterization inconsistencies. In addition, the in-universe game setting is used to not only parody the source material, but to satirize the video game industry itself and its many questionable practices.
Contains examples of:
- Abilene Paradox: How Kirito and Asuna end up engaged. Kirito proposes to her in a moment of sheer (internal) panic, and Asuna says yes while equally panicked (internally). They're both freaking out, but both convinced it's what the other wants.
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Played for Laughs. A normal cat, Fluffles, dons a Nerve Gear, creates a character (don't ask how it typed its name), becomes a player, then keeps reappearing as a mafia boss, a member of the Knights of the Blood Oath and finally a leader of the rebels on floor 74.
- Adaptational Heroism: Diabel is truly good guy who helps the less competent players instead of a greedy Manipulative Bastard in the original.
- Adaptational Sympathy:
- While still the Big Bad, Kayaba admits that everything happened because he spent 3 weeks straight coding in a desperate attempt to meet deadlines, causing him to go crazy due to sleep deprivation. The "you die in the game, you die for real" thing was a bug, and him trapping everyone inside the game was him panicking and doubling/tripling/quadrupling down on what happened while still under sleep deprivation so severe, he thought the government was taken over by Mole Men, and now he's pretty much stuck trying to make it look like some sort of master plan instead of an uncontrolled, ever-spiraling disaster. For reference, 3 weeks of sleep deprivation would kill an actual person. Also, his reason for becoming Heathcliff was to guide and organize the players to survive the game, as opposed to the original where it was a wish fulfillment power fantasy. That said, he could have ended things at any point but didn't because he cared more about trying to come up with a way to fix things while avoiding prosecution instead of taking responsibility and keeping even more people from dying.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- Downplayed with Kirito. Yes, he's more of an asshole than his unabridged counterpart, but he still shares some of his virtues. Even if he has a higher kill count than in the original series. He starts mellowing out though.
- While Grimlock wasn't a good guy to begin with, his backstory was a bit more tragic than the Abridged version, with the fear of the game and his wife becoming more and more of a Blood Knight and no longer resembling the woman he fell in love with driving him to insanity. The Abridged version manages to make him even more of a villain by turning the backstory into him murdering Griselda simply because she failed to make dinner for him one evening as she was busy planning a raid with the girls.
- In a truly terrifying manner, Asuna. While the real one was Silk Hiding Steel, this one is an Ax-Crazy Yandere Stalker with a Crush Jerkass who has zero problems with murder and arson to keep Kirito to herself.
- Agil in the original series was an Uncle Pennybags who used the profits from his store to support the low-level players. Tiffany, his abridged counterpart, is a Con Man who intentionally sells completely overpriced bad gear to players. To be fair, he started out decent, but slipped down the slope to cynicism after witnessing the average intellect of the player base (he jokingly calls Kirito "my least favorite customer" for this reason).
- Keita is a Manipulative Bastard who put his guild into the mortal danger while staying safely away himself, and him taking the tutorial NPC with him to bolster his guild's roster has probably gotten a fair number of newbies killed.
- Suguha goes from a nice younger sister to being what episode 12 implies to be Kirito's main reason for hating the human race. She's physically and verbally abusive, beats Kirito without mercy during their sparing match, and brutally mocks him for showing emotions towards his wife being in a coma.
- Adapted Out: The anti-teleportation fields from the original anime don't exist here, first shown when Gary is able to teleport out of the trap the Black Cats guild walks into. Later instances of players not teleporting to safety is explained as the crystals simply not working, one of the many potentially fatal glitches the game has.
- The fishing arc from the original show is reduced from half an episode to a single throwaway joke.
- An Aesop: Even when you have a deadline to meet, take care of yourself. You'll create more problems if you're sleep deprived. Also, nasty bugs like the kind that populate Sword Art Online are why crunch is bad for everyone involved.
- Aesop Amnesia:
- Played for Laughs in Episode 3:Kirito: Wow, Sachi, you've really opened my eyes. I've been such a jerk. Well, no more! You're looking at a whole new Kirito. From now on I'm gonna be nicer, and show people the compassion they deserve.
Sachi: So, can we talk about my problem now?
Kirito: Ugh, no one cares!
- More seriously, after finding himself unable to do anything about "the multi-headed dick hydra that is now my life" back in the real world and having been all but tortured by Suguha for a few months, Kirito is relapsing into his desire for his Power Fantasy of being a "videogame badass" again.
- Played for Laughs in Episode 3:
- Affably Evil: Kayaba Akihiko, who is able to wish a random player happy birthday while trapping over ten thousand people in his video game under threat of Your Head Asplode.Kayaba: Ah, they grow up so fast. Cherish these moments, Steven. Cherish these moments.
- In fact, by episode 11 Kayaba is more affable than evil. Turns out that he never intended anyone to die for real. In his rush to finish the game before its launch date, he missed the bug that was actually responsible for killing the players when they die. Sleep deprived and panicking, all Kayaba could think of was the bad reviews he would receive on Metacritic due to the game actually killing people, and trapped everyone as a sort of ad hoc hostage plot.
- Furthermore, Kayaba didn't expect players to die as easily as they did. When 2,000 players died in the first month alone (caused at least in part by Keita stealing the tutorial NPC for his guild and making it impossible for anyone to actually complete said tutorial), he formed the Knights of the Blood Oath in an attempt to organize the player base and keep them alive longer.
- Subverted, when you realize he could have let everyone go at any time, but instead selfishly held everyone hostage to try and come up with a way to fix the issues without getting arrested, pointlessly endangering thousands and derailing their lives and the lives of their loved ones because he refused to accept responsibility for his screwups.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted with Kirito. While he does win the affections of Asuna, Lisbeth and Silica more or less by accident, his jerkass personality and Asuna's Yandere tendencies eventually drive all but Asuna away.
- And I Must Scream:
- In episode 13, Yui reveals that her "death" was just a joke she was playing on Asuna and Kirito, and she planned to spawn right in front of them when they left the area, but when Kirito turned her into an item to save her from dying, she became trapped inside of it, fully conscious, unable to communicate with either of them and being forced to watch for months as her parents moved on without her.
- In episode 15, Yui very briefly does something similar to this to Leafa to force her to "cooperate", temporarily deleting her face and her capacity to speak, leaving nothing but the muffled sound of her trying to scream without a mouth.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: That mystery item that is said to be able to rez players? Well, in the words of Kirito:Kirito: It's a hat. It's a god. Damn. Hat.
- To add insult to injury, it's a copy of Keita's charisma-boosting hat which Kirito already despised, and which was partially responsible for the death that Kirito was hoping to undo.
- On the flip side, he was quite satisfied with this loot when he killed the first boss.Player: You're not better than us!
Kirito: [equips new outfit] My sweet-ass coat begs to differ.
Player: Dammit, he's got us there.
- Another rare drop from the first boss (to an unnamed player) are "soiled pants".
- The story of Kirito getting a hold of an S-Class ingredient is summed up with him throwing a knife at a rabbit. That's it.
- Discussed. The moment of Kirito talking Kayaba into having in the finale battle on Floor 75, is lampshaded by Kayaba who points out how the idea of cutting things 25 floors early comes across as rather sudden and arbitrary.
- Anti-Climax Boss: In-Universe. After being built up as an epic encounter, the boss of Floor 75 randomly dies on its own due to a glitch.
- Anti Poop-Socking: The tutorial NPC companion uses a common MMO method, which is unfortunately not applicable since Kayaba trapped all the players in the game.Tutorial NPC: You have been playing for, Four Thousand, Six Hundred, And Eight, hours. Maybe you should take a break?
Keita: I WOULD IF I COULD, "MOM!" BUT THAT'S NOT REALLY AN OPTION, NOW IS IT!?!?
- Armor-Piercing Question: A strange variant in Episode 8, as there's one done by Kirito to himself:Kirito: Why am I doing this? It makes no sense! I don't even know these people! Why am I fighting a giant fucking goat demon for them?! This is stupid, why should I care about what happens to any of them? They're all a bunch of stupid sheep that let Corvatz herd them off a cliff! They knew exactly what they were walking into... Which just begs the question: WHY AM I STILL HERE?! (flashes back to Sachi) DAMNIIIIIIIIIT!!
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- Both Kirito and Grimlock are subjected to being broken by talking. Both crack at the last, and most trivial, insult (sounding like a girl and his hat making him look like a hipster respectively).
- Heathcliff escaping from the King of Ashes and getting him to make peace involved "rounds of torture, gladiatorial combat and Pictionary, oddly enough"
- Artifact Title: The early episodes are indeed pretty short, as the "abridged" subtitle suggests, but by the end they're the length of normal episodes, and the finale of season 1 is a whopping 35 minutes. It is downplayed a bit in that, despite the length, it is put together from two episodes of the show proper.
- Artificial Stupidity: The NPC Companions that make up the bulk of the Moonlit Black Cats guild in Episode 3. Two are from quests that Keita never finished so they would stick with him and do most of the work for him, and one is from the tutorial. They tend to spout dialogue from their specific quests that loops every few minutes or so, and act just as problematic as most A.I. 'bots in other games. Only in SAO, the consequences of their stupidity result in the death of the only human player on the guild besides Kirito and Keita, Sachi. In Episode 11, it's revealed that the kidnapping of the tutorial NPC resulted in many players missing vital information and dying early on as a result.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!:Corvatz: My men don't even know the meaning of the word "surrender".
Soldier: But we're willing to learn!
- Also, the Running Gag of a strategy against floor bosses: Group up, and hit it till it dies!
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Happens a lot with the background characters/random players. Crosses over with Too Dumb to Live a lot of the time.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Kirito and Asuna. As Yui puts it:"Everything I knew about human relationships told me that one of you would eventually kill the other. And yet, no matter how often you fought, your bond only seemed to grow stronger."
- Babies Make Everything Better: Spoofed with Asuna and Kirito adopting Yui, then one-upping each other with suggesting to adopt ever more kids, just because they're hoping the other one will "blink first" and break off the marriage.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Discussed during Episode 11. Kirito mentions during his movie quote quiz that the line about dry land, while real, was never in Waterworld despite being attributed to it. Kayaba is impressed.
- Becoming the Mask: Kirito and Asuna only play along with Yui considering them mommy and daddy because they're both hoping the other will freak out and call off their marriage, while Yui only did it to find out what makes their relationship tick. But their feelings are real enough by the end of the episode.
- Beleaguered Boss:
- Heathcliff is the leader of the most powerful guild in the game. Unfortunately, most players are extremely representative of the worst stereotypes of MMO players (the protagonist included), causing him no end of headaches. Their idiocy plays a part in his Villainous Breakdown, although Kirito points out that someone who plays a multiplayer game with permanent invulnerability has no place criticizing others dying stupid deaths.Heathcliff: Christ, it's like herding cats with you people!
- Diabel, the leader of the first guild made a valiant attempt at defeating a boss by calling out instructions to the other players. Unfortunately, most of them didn't care, didn't know what "flanking" means, or were playing Bejeweled. And one is a cat.
- Heathcliff is the leader of the most powerful guild in the game. Unfortunately, most players are extremely representative of the worst stereotypes of MMO players (the protagonist included), causing him no end of headaches. Their idiocy plays a part in his Villainous Breakdown, although Kirito points out that someone who plays a multiplayer game with permanent invulnerability has no place criticizing others dying stupid deaths.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Kirito and Asuna's relationship. Even if they don't spend nearly as much time denying their feelings for each other as is common for this trope, that doesn't stop the belligerence.Yui: I gradually fell into despair. But then, all of that changed when I found you two. [...] The most broken, sociopathic players I'd ever laid eyes on. Less people than a loose collection of character defects. [...] But somehow, together, you were happy. Everything I knew about human relationships told me that one would eventually kill the other. And yet, no matter how often you fought, your bond only seemed to grow stronger.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: The 'fisherman' in Episode 11 wasn't wearing pants when Asuna and Kirito met him, and is credited as "Nishida the Fish Fucker."
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- After an episode of emotional trauma followed by failing to revive Pina, the previously timid Silica snaps and goes on a rampage that leaves Kirito gobsmacked.
- Having to put up with Kirito and Asuna's pissing contest for at least an hour and nearly losing her orphanage because of it, Sasha erupts into a screaming fit when Kirito realizes he doesn't know her name.
- Birds of a Feather: Kirito and Asuna are, as Yui puts it, "The most broken, sociopathic players I had ever laid eyes on. Less people than a loose collection of character defects", and yet, Belligerent Sexual Tension aside, they're happy with each other.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: Especially rampant in the Alfheim arc:
Sakuya: The Cait-Sith may be delicious, but they are a powerful and succulent ally!
- Mentioned multiple times during the Sylph peace talks in episode 16.
- Asuna casually mentions eating Sugou's Mooks in Episode 16 as a way to deter their research into mind control.
- The Blank: A temporary example in Episode 15, when Leafa refuses to belive that Kirito's mission to rescue Asuna isn't some sort of prank at her expense, and Yui demonstrates just what she can do with her admin privileges, giving Leafa several seconds to try to scream when her eyes, nose and mouth are deleted from her avatar.
- Body Horror: A player used a teleport crystal that glitched, which turned him into a mess of twisted limbs and other mislocated body parts.
- Bond One-Liner: From Kirito when Corvatz dies. Surprisingly, it isn't played for comedy or badassery, but as a futile attempt by Kirito to keep up his uncaring attitude towards the deaths of other players.
- Break the Cutie: Let's just say episode 4 was not kind to Silica...
- Break Them by Talking: Seems to be (or have been) Rosalia's method of choice, using what Kirito aptly described as "first-year psych-student bullshit" to try and get inside her opponents' heads and psych them out, breaking them until they're a "gibbering mess" so that her Titan's Hand goons can finish the job. Needless to say, this comes back to bite her when she pushes Kirito too far.
- Brick Joke:
- One of the first lines from Kirito is that he's going to burn this place to the ground. In Episode 9, Kirito notes that the game has a real arson problem, since several locations ended up getting razed.
- "Group up, and hit it 'til it dies!"
- In episode 2, we learn that Asuna doesn't know how to open the menu. By the end of the episode, Kirito uses this knowledge against her.
- The "meat toboggan" comment from Episode 5 comes back in 6.
- Rosalia's last taunt to Kirito, "Enjoy this while you can. It's the deepest you'll ever be in a woman..." In episode 9 Kirito drops a "AH! Suck it, Rosalia!" while having sex with Asuna, which she's a bit ticked off by.
- The riot after Heathcliff's anticlimactic duel with Kirito keeps popping up, and getting worse.
- The "recruitment" and subsequent death of the tutorial NPC in episode 3 leads to one of the laundry list of game problems mentioned in episode 11 ("kidnapping of NPCs/tutorial NPC has gone missing").
- Turns out that Kayaba really did keep that video clip from Scanners tabbed which helps when Kirito exposes him as Heathcliff and the players still don't get it.
- Kirito struggling to get his usual username is given an explanation in Episode 16. All the Spriggans were named after Kirito and were victims of a genocide.
- Bring My Brown Pants: During the fight with «Illfang the Kobold Lord».Illfang: [massive roar]
[pop-up appears: "Bonus Item: Soiled Pants"]
Random Player: Hey! Rare drop.
- Call-Back: Episodes 9 and beyond featured a plethora of them.
Kirito: Eww... inverted controls? As the default?! Ugh, can we fix that?
- Lisbeth noting how her shop had been burned down by Asuna back in Episode 7.
- Kirito's taste buds still haven't recovered from Asuna's S-class meal in Episode 8.
- The cat from Episode 2 (and 4) is now a sitting member of the High Council of the Knights of the Blood Oath, along with being a mafia leader.
- Kirito tells Rosalia to "suck it" while having sex with Asuna; retaliation to her last jab at him that he'll never get laid.
- Kibaou, a obnoxious minor character in episode 2, is referred to in episode 10 as the leader of a powerful faction of the ALF.
- In Episode 11, Schmitt complains about how "players can kidnap NPCs (Keita's tactic for filling out his guild, Ep. 3), the crafting system is seizure-inducing (Lisbeth forging Kirito's sword, Ep. 7) and half the time, our teleport crystals (which is our only lifeline) DO NOTHING (Lisbeth failing to teleport herself and Kirito out of a pit in Ep. 7, the ALF's teleport crystals failing to save them from The Gleam Eyes in Ep. 8)."
- Both he and a Mafia enforcer are present in the final battle. Rather than just being background characters, their specific roles are brought up (Butt-Monkey and Asshole Victim respectively).
- Kirito's mention of TRON makes Heathcliff unintentionally break his cover when he says "So NOW you've seen TRON!" Kayaba had mentioned the film in Episode 1, and nobody got it then, much to his annoyance.
- After Heathcliff's identity is revealed, the random bystander's "WHAT?" from episode 1 returns. As does the Your Head A-Splode clip.
- When Asuna asks why Kirito would want to leave the game, the latter has a Flash Back to Rosalia's Hannibal Lecture.
- As Kayaba explains the circumstances that led to the players' predicaments, he also mentions his tutorial NPC going missing.
- In Episode 11, Kirito tells Tiffany that should he die, he should tell Lisbeth that he did not call "it" the "Piece of Shit". Kirito implied it is what he'd call the sword forged from dragon crap in Episode 7.
- In Episode 6 Yolko comments on the difficulty of using the menu. Kirito starts to laugh and Asuna gets mad.
- In Episode 13, the very first thing Kirito does after logging into ALO is to freak out about the menu. It doesn't last, but not for the reason you think.
- In Episode 14, Kirito takes a bite of food in ALO and responds with "yep, tastes like (shit)", a reference to when he and Asuna Flowers for Algernon'd their taste buds.
- Catchphrase: Kirito's "For you see..."
- Cerebus Retcon: Remember that gag back in Episode 3 where Kirito was compelled to obey commands because of Keita's +50 Charisma Hat? Nearly six real-life years later in Episode 14 Sugou reveals his plot is to harness exactly that skill. Adding to that a seemingly one-off joke in episode 2 is that the real life abilities of the gamers were translated into their stats when Diabel sadly realizes when the party he gathered is exhausted just getting to the boss room due to being one too many stairs. Sugou's plan is based on inverting this so the stats in the game affect real life.
- The Chain of Harm: In Season 2, it is shown that Kirito's Jerkass behavior towards everyone around him arose from his Little Sister Bully, Suguha. In turn, Episode 17 reveals her issues came from her sexist grandfather forcing her through Training from Hell to get her to quit kendo, because he was only ever interested in Kazuto taking on the bamboo sword.
- Character Development: As the series has progressed, Kirito has gone from a complete dick, to a Jerkass, to caring for others, to becoming a ruthless, emotionless killer who murdered a player who, although tried to harm or even kill him, wasn't even capable of harming him. He reverts back to his normal self with the help of Silica, and is arguably even better after his time with Asuna. Lampshaded in episode 12:Kirito: You're not the same scared little boy who retreated into video games! You've had a whole character arc and shit!
- Christmas Episode: Double Subverted in Episode 3. The episode is given a Framing Device of a man named Sir Jack Dapper reading a holiday story, but at first said story has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. The tail end of it then becomes Christmas related when Kirito fights a Santa Claus-esque monster during a snowy night.
- Christmas Rushed: In-Universe. It's hinted at in earlier episodes, but Episode 11 outright confirms that Sword Art Online was rushed so that it could meet its release date which, combined with Kayaba being sleep deprived for three weeks, led to accidentally creating a glitch that kills the real world player when their avatar dies. Still sleep deprived, the best plan Kayaba could come up with was to pretend it was All According to Plan.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Played with. While Kirito normally only cares about people's problems as a source of amusement, the mental scars from Sachi's death have given him an actual syndrome compelling him to help if the words "your fault" are mentioned.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The bulk of Suguha's Oh, Crap! rant when she realizes she was flirting with her brother.Suguha: Son of a horse-dick-fucking-shit-weaseal-fucking-bitch-whore...ASS! What is that fucking cock-sampler doing in MY GAME!? Oh, jesus-fuck, I said my brother had sweet patootey! (Sobs uncontrollably)
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: What Schmitt's more... "verbose" commenters have threatened to inflict on him for his video-game reviews back in the real world. Nothing out of the ordinary, given the rule of G.I.F.T, but the nature of the Death Game within Aincrad leaves him Properly Paranoid that they might find him and make good on their threats. Using his spine as a pitching wedge and hacking off all of his limbs to ride him "like some kind of meat toboggan" are just two of the inventive ways they've threatened him in the past.Kirito: [For the Lulz] You hear that, Asuna? "Meat toboggan." Yeah, try gettin' that one out of your head. Grippin' his entrails like the reins of Santa's sleigh [The sound of sleigh-bells can be heard], streaking through the fresh morning snow on a trail of bile and gore, as his eyes beg the same question as the horrified children in his wake: "Why?"
Schmitt: [understandably freaked] OH GOD!
- Compelling Voice: Keita's +50 Charisma hat makes him very a convincing person able to get Kirito to agree to things he otherwise wouldn't.
Kirito: We really need to take that hat away from him.
- Turns out to be a massive plot point when Sugou reveals his plot. Anyone with high enough Charisma could control and compel as many people as wanted, as deeply as wanted.
- Compensating for Something: When explaining the difference between a Talwar and an Ōdachi, Kirito says the Talwar was made for cavalry while the Ōdachi was "mainly used for dick-measuring".
- Conservation of Competence: In episode 4, some members of the Titan's Hand guild seem to realize pretty quick that Kirito may be a major threat before they even attack, with one commenting:Mook 1: Um, Boss? A thought occurs. This guy thought he was going up against Laughing Coffin note , but he still just brought himself and a small child. Are we sure we want to mess with this guy?
- When Kirito tells them he will let them attack first, another responds to their boss with:Mook 2: Boss, I think this might be a trap.
- Rosalia proceeds to ignore her henchmen's rather well-thought out, and well-founded reservations on fighting Kirito. Which makes these two unnamed Mooks smarter than their named leader.
- Corvatz's men seem a bit more aware of what a General Failure he is than the Small Name, Big Ego himself. They still foolishly follow him though.
- When Kirito tells them he will let them attack first, another responds to their boss with:
- Contempt Crossfire: In episode 12, we're introduced to Asuna's father, who's decided to marry her off to one of his employees as an alternative to keeping her comatose body in the hospital. However, it quickly becomes apparent that for all the disdain he shows Kirito he couldn't care less about the guy either, not even bothering to get his name even slightly right.Asuna's father: Ah, good, you're here! Allow me to introduce you to my daughter's fiancé! Kazuto (Kirito's RL name), Versace. Versace, Kazuto.Sugou: (exasperated) Ah ha ha, sir, that's not my name. That was the brand of briefcase I put all the money in.Asuna's father: You're sure? It's a pretty cool name. Maybe you should go with it. All classy and Italian, like Ferrari! Ooh, I haven't bought one of those in forever! Excuse me, gentlemen, I need to go call my Ferrari guy!
- Continuity Nod: Kirito's taste buds still haven't recovered by episode 14, as he notes the pie he eats "tastes like shirt" with an unsurprised tone.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot:
- After spending the entirety of Episode 10 in a Snowball Lie, the "death" of Yui shakes Kirito and Asuna up enough to be honest with each other about how they really feel about their marriage. They quickly realize that they could have done this in the first place and avoided the charade.
- In Episode 11, it's pointed out that Kayaba didn't need to trap all of the players in the game to cover his hide about the bug that kills people, and there were a number of more logical and reasonable solutions to go with if he had just thought things through and wasn't operating on over 500 hours of uninterrupted consciousness.
- Conveniently Timed Distraction:Klein: So, you and Asuna, huh? What's the story there. Plan on showing her your sword skills, if you know what I mean?
Asuna: Yeah, Kirito. I think we'd all like to hear the answer to that.
Kirito: Ehhhhh... [notices approaching ALF soldiers] Hey, look! Literally anything else! Let's pay attention to it.
- Creative Closing Credits: The end of the Aincrad arc had all the cast members listed as if in a high score list.
- Cry Laughing:
- Lisbeth in episode 7, when she realizes the guys she'd developed a crush on but was spoken for by Asuna actually is as much of a Jerkass as she first thought.
- Asuna and Kirito while kissing in episode 10, trying to pretend their marriage wasn't a horrible idea.
- Asuna in episode 11, trying not to fall into the same Inelegant Blubbering Kirito at the thought that they might die and lose each other forever.
- Kirito in episode 13 when he's reuninted with Yui.
- Curse Cut Short: Sir Jack Dapper in episode 3.
- Damned by Faint Praise: Corvatz isn't kidding when he says he is one of the greatest minds the A.L.F. has ever known.
- Darkest Hour: Episode 17 is painted this way. Kirito and Yui are on their own to rescue Asuna by mere hours before the night of the wedding, with no support from the rest of ALfheim players who are too busy fighting against each other to care about rescuing Asuna. On top of that, Kirito ended up alienating his sister, the only one who was willing to help him, who reveals that she's resentful for abandoning her and kendo over programming before shutting him down. The episode ends with Kirito in a very bad spot, with multiple issues to deal with and very little time to deal with them all.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kirito constantly makes snide comments and jokes, or is just sarcastic towards others.
- Death by Adaptation: Several villains of the week, such as Rosalia and Grimlock, are executed instead of being sent to jail like in the source material.
- Death Glare: From Asuna and Kirito when Juriel threatens Yui.
- Deconstruction Fic: The abridged series brings up the many consequences and implications glossed over or barely touched upon in the original work. However, it doesn't mean that reality has to be a killjoy.
- Yeah Kirito, you really should've checked for an IV or a catheter before trying to limp out the door when you woke up...
- Much of the humor comes from illustrating what would actually happen if one were to take the kind of people who play MMOs, mainly the idiotic and vitriolic kind that wield Hanlon's Razor like a machete, and trap them in a game until they complete it. For one, it explains why two thousand people died in the first month.
- The rest of the humor comes from numerous bugs and horrible game design impeding the players as much as their stupidity. Episode 11 reveals that the game was Christmas Rushed as a NerveGear launch title and the only reason anyone is still playing is because they're forced to. Even the whole "death game" was the result of a glitch.
- Episode 12 demonstrates just what kind of family produces people such as Kirito and Asuna. Kirito suffers at the mercy of Suguha, while Asuna's father would pull her off life support if it weren't for legal issues, on top of marrying her off to Sugou.
- In episode 12, Sugou briefly mentions in his Motive Rant to Kirito that Kayaba's actions "deep sixed" the VR industry, and that Sugou bought the SAO servers so that they wouldn't be shut down.
- In episode 13, when trying to sign up for Alfheim Online, Kirito finds that he can't actually use his old name from SAO since someone else took it. It takes him several hours of going through different variations of it to find one that was available.
- Princess Leafa/Suguha Kirigaya quickly finds out Kirito's identity due to his username. She is infuriated by the unwitting invasion of her privacy (especially since she's very promiscuous online) and horrified by the sudden realisation that she was actually flirting with her oblivious brother.
- Sugou quickly finds out Asuna won't be toeing his line once he gets Caught Monologuing, as she immediately attempts a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on [ALO]'s admins the moment he turns his back on her.
- After dying for the second time ever in a NerveGear game, Kirito laments that the single skill of "being good at video games" only worked once in Aincrad, and even then, pretty much everyone in Aincrad only liked him because of that skill, and not for actually being someone they enjoyed the company of.
- Episode 17 reveals what happens when someone is so fixated on achieving a specific goal that they become oblivious to the needs of others around them. Kirito's obsessiveness alienated his sister Suguha, first when he abandoned kendo after mastering it to work on programming, then after focusing everything on recovering Asuna in ALfheim.
- Defiant to the End:
- Even at Kuradeel's mercy, paralyzed and being repeatedly stabbed, Kirito won't stop making fun of his would-be murderer.Kirito: Hey... if I gotta die anyway... least I can do is make sure you don't get to enjoy it.
- Rosalia's last act as she is dying is to spite Kirito as a pathetic virgin.
- Even at Kuradeel's mercy, paralyzed and being repeatedly stabbed, Kirito won't stop making fun of his would-be murderer.
- Demanding Their Head: Kirito does something offscreen to upset the King of Ashes, right after Heathcliff spent a long time in peace talks to get their permission to pass through.King of Ashes: BRING ME THE HEAD OF KIRITO!
Subordinate: But it will shatter, sire!
King of Ashes: THEN BRING ME THE SHAAAARDS!
Kirito: Heh, I mean, he could be talking about anybody...
- Developer's Foresight: Played for Laughs with the sound effects and music snippets that Kayaba apparently programmed into the game, like comedy circus music for the Curb-Stomp Battle between Kirito and Kuradeel, or Goofy's wooping scream when Kirito fails to wallrun out of a pit and falls from a great height.Kirito: Ugh... Were the sound effects really necessary, Kayaba? [Sad Trombone music plays] Oh, fuck you!
- Didn't Think This Through:
- To get revenge on Kirito for breaking her sword, Lisbeth sends him on a quest to get a rare material to make a replacement. The problem is that the material requires a master blacksmith (read: Lisbeth) present for it to spawn, which she only realizes while she's in the middle of telling him. She's a shut-in that doesn't want to leave her house, so she's basically cornering herself into going outside for her attempted revenge.
- Kayaba's plan of locking everyone in the game and holding them hostage was not well-thought out. Even he admits it, and only came with the idea after spending three weeks straight programming without sleep to meet deadlines, and was in a completely delusional state which included him being convinced the government was being run by "Flubar, King of the Mole-Men."
- Disappointed by the Motive:
- The Grimlock encounter from the first season is played about the same as in canon, but Grimlock's motive is changed to something even more petty - he was upset that his wife missed making him dinner, once, while planning a raid with their guildmates. Kirito is unexpectedly disgusted with how petty this is; Asuna is more preoccupied that Grimlock's hat makes him look like a hipster. Grimlock's guild decides to serve him some justice behind a nearby tree. The sounds of Grimlock being beaten to death can be heard in the background while Kirito and Asuna have a serious conversation.
- At the end of the first season, when Kirito asks Kayaba why he imprisoned ten thousand people in a death game, at first he gives his canonical response ("I don't even remember anymore"), which gets a "are you fucking serious?!" out of Kirito. Then Kayaba admits he's just messing with him and gives his real motive - the "players die when their characters die" angle was a glitch that came up when Kayaba spent three weeks working without sleep to finish the game. In a panic, he locked everyone in SAO and presented himself as an evil mastermind because he thought the game would review better on Metacritic if its lethality was a feature and not a bug. Kirito and Asuna are just as incredulous to his motive.Kirito: So, you thought that critics would be harsher on a game that killed a few people by accident, than one that killed thousands on purpose?
Kayaba: That was my thought process, yes.
Asuna: What the fuck is wrong with you?!
- Disappointing Last Level: Kirito considers the World Tree in Alfheim Online to be this, quite angry that it only consists of a single massive room with only an endless enemy rush to challenge players from reaching the top.Kirito: Wait, is this it? Are you kidding me?! Is the final dungeon of this gosh-forsaken game seriously just a giant empty tomb?! Ugh, suppose I should always commend them for creating a Speedruner's wet dream.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Kayaba kills a player just because he pointed out that Kayaba wasn't completely blameless for the moronic player base's misfortunes.
- The Ditz: Yolko ... doesn't think things through, to say the least.
- Dramedy: Uniquely for an abridged series, while it's mostly a comedic show, Kirito actually grows and develops over the series and many of its key dramatic scenes are played straight, such as the deaths of Sachi and Yui, the battle against Gleam Eyes (and Kirito's demonstration of his character development), and even the development of Asuna and Kirito's relationship. Sachi's death in particular is notable for leaving an even bigger impact on Kirito than it did in the original, as his failure to save her continually haunts him. The final scene of the first season is played as much for poignancy as we learn how tragic the Big Bad Kayaba's story really is and see Kirito and Asuna share a final, heartfelt moment before leaving the in-universe game for good.
- The Dreaded: Asuna to Lisbeth and Tiffany.Asuna: [walking in] Hey Kirito, the commander wants to...
Lisbeth: AAAAIIIII!!!! I didn't say anything [to Kirito], I swear! [sound of breaking glass]
Tiffany: Wait for me, I know a shortcut! [more breaking glass]
Kirito: [alone in the room] So... you were saying?
- Double Take: Heathcliff to Kirito.Kirito: You're the only one I've ever met in this game who makes as many movie references as I do.
Heathcliff: Ah yes.. I guess I should've known that would — Wait, you get my references?!
- Driven to Suicide:
- The sheer stupidity of the other players cause Diabel to refuse the health potion, leading to his death.
- In Episode 3, Keita jumps off a cliff because his entire guild died on top of him owning money to a local mob that he can't pay back.
- Downer Ending:
- The 'Christmas' episode ends with Kirito getting his heart broken from seeing his entire guild die, resulting in him abandoning Klein in an even worse place than before. This is followed by the narrator berating the audience for expecting a happy ending, then breaking down over his own failed marriage.
- Episode 17 ends with Kirito all alone. He failed to rescue Asuna, and ended up alienating Suhuga upon learning that his decision of abandoning kendo in favor of programming resulted in Suguha resenting him. There's even Silent Credits for the episode as Kirito stands in front of Suguha's door, not moving, contemplating the weight of what he's done.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Kirito was not amused by Yui's faked death.Kirito: Okay, sweetie? I'm gonna let you in on a little-known secret of comedy: bad things aren't funny when they happen to Daddy!Yui: What about mommy?
- Dude, Not Ironic: Episode 10 has Yulier proclaim that the situation that Thinker ended up in was ironic, only for Yui to correct her, including explaining to her the proper definition of irony, and why Thinker's situation doesn't qualify, but his name might.
- Dysfunction Junction:
- Kirito and Asuna's relationship. Yui describes them as "the most broken, sociopathic players I'd ever laid eyes on. Less people than a loose collection of character defects."
- SAO players in general are this, as this is an MMORPG and a parody. Idiotic Leeroy Jenkins-es, some husband with a murderous level Stay in the Kitchen attitude to his wife, Cloud Cuckoolander assassin, a cat that somehow managed to claw his way to one of the most feared players in the game, etc.
- Embarrassing Cover Up: Shoji, one of the two slug monster security guards working for Sugou, gets threatened by a captive Asuna into releasing her. Just as he's about to comply, his friend comes back into the room and freaks out that Shoji was seemingly about to let Asuna go. Shoji tries to cover his tracks...by claiming he was planning to molest her.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Poor Klein. His character's name is «BallsDeep69». The jokes practically write themselves. Kirito usually refers to him as either "Balls" or "Ballsy," much to his chagrin and despite his insistence that Kirito use his new name.
- Escort Distraction: Heathcliff sends the recently-married Kirito and Asuna off to an isolated floor while he's conducting negotiations with the King of Ashes for safe passage to the final boss, out of fear that Kirito will pull an "Ass" in Ambassador and rekindle hostilities, a sentiment Asuna agrees with (he tells them to think of it as a honeymoon). It's all for naught anyway, as Kirito manages to piss off the King offscreen.Kirito: Ohhh, I see, so you need me at the table, cracking jokes and breaking the ice. I gotcha.
Heathcliff: HA HA HA—No!! God no! I need to hide you under the biggest rock I can find!
Kirito: Excuse me?
Heathcliff: Hmm, how do I put this delicately... [smacks lips] Ah. I'm afraid you'll piss someone off and kill thousands.
Asuna: Yeah, I could see that.
Asuna: I'm sorry, honey. If it means avoiding the deaths of innocent players, I think the least you can do is sit this one out.
Heathcliff: I'm also going to need you to stay behind and guard him, Asuna.
Asuna: Oh, screw that noise! I'm coming too!
- Escort Mission: Kirito considers partying up with Lisbeth one. He's not exactly wrong.
- Everyone Can See It: Exaggerated; Yulier and Thinker are not subtle at all when it comes to their painfully obvious feelings for each other. Nobody feels the need to even comment on this.
- Everyone Has Standards: Even Kirito has a few lines he won't cross.
- Upon entering SAO on launch day and discovering tons of ads everywhere, he is outright disgusted. And it only goes downhill from there.Kirito: [upon seeing the ads] AH! Come on, really? That's just disgusting. Activate ad-blocker.
[Popup appears: "SAO STORE: Purchase "Ad-Blocker" DLC for $29.99?"]
Kirito: Heh, heh, heh... Ah, I'm going to burn this f**ker to the ground.
- He also lapses into a Tranquil Fury state again in Episode 3, after the mystery rare item that is said to be able to resurrect players turns out to be "A goddamn hat."
- He's also disgusted that Grimlock would kill his own wife just because she wouldn't Stay in the Kitchen.
- Asuna's use of Jive Turkey language to talk to Tiffany is very blatantly racist, but she feels like she's crossed the line when she asks Tiffany if he has cotton in his ears.
- After drawing whiskers on Asuna's face, Asuna asks him if he did anything else to her while she was asleep. Kirito seems genuinely confused as to what Asuna could mean, suggesting that the thought of groping Asuna without her consent didn't even cross his mind.
- Upon entering SAO on launch day and discovering tons of ads everywhere, he is outright disgusted. And it only goes downhill from there.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Kirito, in the early episodes. At the start of his Character Development, he didn't even comprehend himself becoming (sorta) good. Case in point; when he experiences grief over other people's deaths he is unable to comprehend the emotion and confused to what caused it.Kirito: I've been having this weird pain in my chest. I was hoping this rare item might be able to fix it.
Klein: Well, that's odd. What do you think caused it.
Kirito: I guess it started right after I watched my entire guild get slaughtered. But I mean, I didn't take any damage, so that can't be it.
Klein: (Beat) Oh my god!
- Evil Is Petty: Shoji, one of the higher-level employees of Sugou, who not only is complicit in imprisoning Asuna and torturing numerous innocent people, he also steals the medicated yogurt of a wheelchair-bound coworker with special dietary needs. His efforts to play dumb about not knowing it was hers gets called out by his coworker. He also messes with her in other ways.
- Evil Laugh:
- Kirito does one at the end of Episode 2.
- He does this again in Episode 4, after devolving into Laughing Mad after Rosalia hits his Berserk Buttons.
- And again in Episode 5, when he mauls Gary to death as vengeance for his stupidity that led to the deaths of the rest of the Moonlit Black Cats.
- Kuradeel has a very Large Ham version after paralyzing Kirito and Godfree.
- The King of Ashes when he's ordering boiling oil for his prisoners.
- Exhaustion-Induced Idiocy: The reason for Kayaba's whole plot. He spent three weeks without sleep to finish Sword Art Online, and in that state, he accidentally made a glitch that killed players when their avatars died. He notes that any sane person would have just shut off the servers to avoid anyone else getting hurt, but he was so delusional and sleep-deprived that he was more worried about the game's Metacritic score. So, he thought it would be better to be seen as evil and competent rather than lethally-incompetent. Especially when he thought "Flubar, King of the Mole Men" was running the government in his sleepless state. He realizes how stupid it was when he finally catches up on his sleep and has a clearer head.Kirito: So, you thought that critics would be harsher on a game that killed a few people by accident, than one that killed thousands on purpose?
Kayaba: [clearly embarrassed] That was my thought process, yes.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
- What happens during the fight with Illfang during the second episode when it brings out an ōdachi instead of the talwar listed in the beta-tester's guide book. Instead of outright saying why it's bad that the weapon's an ōdachi instead of a talwar, Kirito proceeds to give a small lecture over the history of both weapons first, only getting to the point after Diabel is mortally wounded.Kirito: I was trying to say an ōdachi's a little bit longer than a talwar, so it'll have more reach, and do a bit more damage.
Diabel: And why couldn't you say that first?
Kirito: [fishing for a potion in his inventory] I like to think of myself as a teacher.
- As Lisbeth is angrily trying to goad Kirito into going on a dangerous quest to obtain a rare metal, she suddenly realizes that in order to obtain said metal Kirito needs to be in a party with a Master Blacksmith, such as herself.Lisbeth: Oh no...
- Kirito tries explains to Klein that he's not going to go help Corvatz and his men, only to realize that he's using the phrase "your fault", which triggers his Chronic Hero Syndrome.Kirito: Whatever happens to them, it's not our... [Beat] DAMMIT! [Rushes in to help.]
- Also how Asuna realizes that eating the Impossibly Delicious Food has ruined her and Kirito's ability to enjoy any other food.
- And then there's this gem:Asuna: Jesus Christ, what the hell are you doing?!
Kirito: Well, clearly I'm stabbing myself with this sword to see if it kills me— Oh god, what am I doing?
- In Episode 11, Kayaba starts to explain why Asuna's suggestion of blaming everything on an anonymous hacker group wouldn't work, only for his expression to change when it dawns on him that the only thing wrong with it was him not thinking of it two years ago. After realizing this, he wants to be left alone to scream into the uncaring void for a bit.
- Kirito realizes midway through Episode 13 why his imported inventory readout being bugged is a bad thing.Kirito: I mean, all I'm losing are my swords, a couple of armors, and MY DAUGHTER!!
- In Episode 14, Sugou discussing the NerveGear's true potential with Asuna:Sugou: Well, I just think it's fascinating, is all. Increase your Strength stat, and even a child could wield the mightiest weapons. Increase Dexterity, and you could move with the grace of a world-class gymnast. Increase Charisma...
Asuna: Yeah, yeah, it would let you... ohhhh. Oh no...
Sugou: By Jove, I think she's got it!
- What happens during the fight with Illfang during the second episode when it brings out an ōdachi instead of the talwar listed in the beta-tester's guide book. Instead of outright saying why it's bad that the weapon's an ōdachi instead of a talwar, Kirito proceeds to give a small lecture over the history of both weapons first, only getting to the point after Diabel is mortally wounded.
- External Retcon: Gives a few explanations for a number of plot holes established in the original:
- The crux of the mystery explored in Episodes 5 and 6 is changed from one type of animation being somehow mistaken for another despite looking nothing alike, to an obscure but documented glitch in which, under very specific circumstances, the game itself uses the wrong animation.
- Kirito's sudden hacking prowess in Episode 10 is changed to him having brief access to an open console and admin privileges that someone else unlocked.
- Face Doodling: Kirito does this to Asuna while she sleeps in Episode 5.Asuna: Tell me what you did - right now - and you may live.Kirito: *scared out his mind* IDREWWHISKERSONYOURFACE!Asuan: ...wut?Kirito: I drew cat whiskers on you because I thought it'd be funny and it was!
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: More specifically, facing the sword:Rosalia: Enjoy this while you can. It's the deepest you'll ever be in a woman...
- Fan Boy: Kuradeel is one to Laughing Coffin, rather than an actual member. He's pissed at Kirito for giving them advice to sell out, which got most of them arrested.
- Fantastic Racism: Played for Laughs. The roleplayers who rediscovered Alfheim Online decided to use a race war between fairies as a premise for their campaign. This rapidly grew way out of control and the players developed genuine racism towards other races, complete with slurs, racial violence, and people hunting other races for sport.
- Female Gaze:
- Yuriel has it bad for Thinker, and she is none too subtle about why.
- Lisbeth towards Kirito, until she snaps herself out of it.
- Fix Fic: Obviously not the main purpose, but the abridged series does change a few of the less popular elements of the original series.
- Asuna's minor Distress Ball around Kuradeel goes away entirely. She is the one who kills Kuradeel, not Kirito.
- Kirito's zig-zagging status of being an antisocial loner is replaced with him being a general Jerkass at least at first. note
- Changing the "I forgot" explanation from Kayaba as to why he made SAO into a death game.
- It also works to fix some aspects of the In-Universe Sword Art Online game that would make it nigh-unplayable in real life, while also exploiting other aspects for the sake of humor.
- In the Fairy Dance arc, the entire nature of the 'incest' arc is scrapped; instead, focus is on the relationship between Kazuto and Suguha as siblings, and the fact that Kazuto no longer aspires to be like his sister due to his experiences in SAO.
- Instead of the race-based open-world Pv P that defined ALO in the original game, which would be unplayable in a real game due to the racial traits variously making certain races better and worse at fighting than other races, the Hashtag Race War is instead explained as a Role-Playing campaign gone horribly out of control.
- Sugou is no longer an Orcus on His Throne but is researching how one weaponizes the Charisma stat as a form of improvised mind-control.
- Similarly Asuna isn't simply waiting for Kirito to come save her, but is actively attempting to break out of Sugou's program (and traumatizing his scientists and guards as well).
- Fluffy the Terrible:
- Sheeptar the Sheep King: Who would expect such a stupid boss to climb walls and shoot out acid ... and kill twelve players?
- Don Fluffles (a cat who learned to play the game) was the Don of the in-game mafia. Later he became a council member of the Knights of the Blood Oath, before betraying them and allying with the King of Ashes, despite being a seemingly ordinary cat ... named Fluffles.
- Forced to Watch: How Yui describes what happened to her after the game began. Even Kirito is disgusted.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- After Kirito logs in and discovers all the ads, one of them is a poster for Alfheim Online.
- When the players finally face Illfang, one of the boss' minions has a pop-up error.Error: Sentinel_Shriek.wav not found.
- When Kirito accidentally touches Asuna's boob, she hurls him until he hits a wall. The popup message (which was originally "Immortal Object") is changed to "Distance: 15 m / New Record!"
- When Kirito tries to deny he has anything to do with the King of Ashes breaking the truce, he swipes away a message screen with as subject line "I will flay your fucking soul!!!"
- When Kayaba shows the clip of the man's head exploding from Scanners in Episode 11, it's on YouTube, with the video's real URL, and with additional tabs showing Metacritic, Dolph Lundgren's IMDB page and Game Design for Dummies.
- Reading the full text on the back of ALO's box reveals that whoever wrote it included a rant about his failed marriage and his opinion on the game, which was printed along with the rest of his half-assed blurb.
- The text that scrolls by within Yui's eyes in Episode 13 isn't random gibberish, but a log of her actions and analysis that includes information that hasn't been revealed in the show yet.
- In episode 15, an error message pops up that says "Skybox Runtime Error: Please stand by". The sky glitches out for the rest of the scene.
- Yui's psych grid for Leafa/Suguha reads as:The patient displays classic narcissistic and borderline sociopathic behaviour, especially when engaging with her brother, Kazuto Kirigaya (aka Kirito aka xVx_K1r1t0_xVx_KILLME aka Daddy). This appears to stem from deeply held feelings of resentment, as well as internalised self-hatred regarding her own femininity, most likely originating from an as-yet-unknown event in the siblings' early childhood. The lifelong repression of these feelings seems to have bled out into her other relationships as well, causing her to lash out at those she perceives to be weaker than herself. This behaviour is most evident when interacting with her 'friend' Recon, who she CLEARLY has romantic feelings for, yet takes every opportunity to belittle and keep at emotional distance, even though we can all tell what's going on and she should just admit that she likes him and treat that poor, sweet, boy with the love and compassion he deserves! In short, I believe someone or something has caused her to view any display of more traditionally feminine traits as something to be ashamed of, and seems to lay the blame solely on her brother. As for why this is the case, further investigation shall be needed.Player Interaction ParametersFamiliarity: 3Kindness: 1 -> 5Aggression: 6Caution: 7 -> 2Respect: 5 -> 0
- Near the end of the first arc, when Heathcliff assumes Kirito angered the King of Ashes, you can see Kirito close a message that reads, in mirror text, “I WILL FLAY YOUR FUCKING SOUL!!!” just before he admonishes Heathcliff for making the (presumably correct) assumption.
- The error message that pops up on one of the first boss's minions, and other glitches, suggest that SAO is still a work in progress.
- Heathcliff sharing Kayaba Akihiko's habit of making references to films that no one else gets. This also ends up the key to Kirito Spotting the Thread.
- Heathcliff's defense is so impregnable it earned him the characteristic-of-the-internet title 'Cheating Haxxor Faggot'. Whoever called him that was actually right. His defense is so impregnable because he really is cheating - he's Kayaba and he's using godmode to protect himself.
- Kayaba calls deciding to lead a guild himself the worst mistake of his life, then amends that by saying "Well, second." At the end, he reveals that the whole players-dying-for-real thing was never part of a masterplan, but a Game-Breaking Bug.
- Pina speaking Dovahzul and referring to Silica as 'Dovahkiin' turns out to be a pretty big clue Sword Art Online is a Bethesda game.
- There are several other tidbits hinting at the identity of SAO's publisher. When Tiffany jokingly refers to Kirito as The Chosen One in Episode 9, he adds "as was foretold by the scrolls", a line often used in The Elder Scrolls games.
- Keita "kidnapping" NPCs by not finishing their quests is an often used tactic in The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. Likewise, him getting trapped by the NPCs blocking a door is a very well known problem in many of Bethesda's games.
- In a meta sense, SWE's handling of Diabel's character Episode 2 hints at how they're going to handle Kayaba's, particularly his time as Heathcliff. Both go from a scheming, Manipulative Bastard to a generally nice person stuck in a horrible situation making a genuine effort to organize and help other players, but find their plans constantly waylaid by the rampant stupidity of most of SAO's player base. And both feel a kinship with Kirito, seeing him as the only other sane one in the game.
- When Lisbeth is angry that Kirito broke a sword that she tried to sell him, he counters that it could have killed him had he actually been in combat. When fighting Heathcliff, Kirito is nearly killed when the sword Lisbeth makes for him breaks on Heathcliff's shield. Only Asuna's Heroic Sacrifice saved him.
- Combined with Freeze-Frame Bonus, there are moments in the second season that hint at Kayaba's fate. When Kazuto is flaming Sugou on Twitter, also on his computer screen is a post from a bot suggesting that Kayaba is still playing video games. And the next episode, when Yui is scanning the server to find Asuna, she detects that "Heathcliff" is one of the three accounts transferred from SAO to ALO.
- In Episode 13, Suguha spends a moment on the porch humming "I'm Flying" from Barbie Fairytopia before she catches herself. A few minutes later, when Kazuto logs into Alfheim Online for the first time, the same music is played in the background of the game's virtual lobby as he's working his way through the character creation process.
- Sugou's Evil Plan to institute More than Mind Control and making everyone his charmed puppet is foreshadowed a couple times:
- From his very first appearance, his most notable action was to puppeeter Asuna which Kirito found disgusting.
- And in Episode 13, it is shown that the game has a modified profanity filter, which changes any curse words to innocuous words, without the speaker's knowledge. Could be justified as a reason for its rating for children, but after Sugou reveals his Evil Plan...
- From Nobody to Nightmare: It is hinted at the end of episode 2 that Jeffrey may have started the Laughing Coffin Player Killing guild just because his hallucination of Jesus told him to "Kill Them All." The Stinger is the Laughing Coffin symbol with "Jesus Loves Me'' playing in the background.
- And indeed, in Episode 6 Jeffrey reappears as the leader of Laughing Coffin, quoting the Bible in a gravelly voice while swinging a cleaver and sporting a partially obscured scarred face. He's still hallucinating Jesus, though.
- The Cat from Episode 2 becomes The Don of the game's mob.
- Kayaba goes from a game and VR designer working on behalf of Bethesda to one of the most wanted men on the planet for trapping 10,000 players in his game and forcing them to clear the game if they want to live, resulting in the deaths of 4000 players during the 2 years, all of which was due to a horrible coding error and the handling of it snowballing completely out of his control.
- Funny Background Event:
- While Kirito and Asuna are having a heart-to-heart at the end of Episode 6, Grimlock being beaten and killed by the hands of his former guild members can be faintly heard in the background.
- The clouds in episode 15 are glitching out like crazy.
- Fun with Subtitles: There is a lot of extra amusing content hidden in the subtitles. For context, the following lines are exactly what the subtitles say (names and all):Silica: Aren't you gonna ask me what's wrong?
Smart Kirito: Yeah, I'm not pullin' the pin on that grenade.
Silica: You're right, I'm sorry. This isn't your fault.
(Sachi PTSD flashback)
Emotionally Traumatized Kirito: WHAT'S WRONG, LITTLE GIRL?!
- The Gadfly: Kirito has shades of this.
- Game-Breaking Bug: Sword Art Online is in Obvious Beta, so there's a lot of In-Universe examples, along with more minor bugs like a specific set of circumstances making the 'teleport' animation look like the 'death' animation. Examples:
- It is possible to make quest NPCs follow you forever by never completing the quest they're associated with. This even works on the Tutorial NPC. Keita uses this tactic to fill out his guild's number, though it also leads to their downfall due to Artificial Stupidity.
- glitches out and dies shortly into the battle without opening up the exit for them. Tiffany almost name-drops the trope (calling it a 'game-breaking glitch') when the Skull Reaper
- Some of the side characters reveal that not only do the teleport crystals sometimes fail to activate, they sometimes have their users end up in a horribly mangled mess.
- The thing about players dying when their avatars die? It was a bug accidentally created by Kayaba in the midst of sleep deprivation and panic in the face of a deadline. He was trying to play it all off as an intended feature while also using it to buy time in the real world to try and make his escape.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In-Universe: While Sugura's character talks like a Damsel in Distress, she keeps holding a combat pose like an Action Girl. Her "assailants" complain about her bad roleplaying.
- Genre-Killer: In-Universe, the virtual reality MMO Sword Art Online sank virtual reality gaming in general (or as Sugou puts it, "deep-sixed an entire industry"), since no one wants to have anything to do with a technology responsible for killing thousands as SAO did.
- A God Am I:
- Kirito lapses into this after Rosalia intentionally pushes all three of his Berserk Buttons, and he reveals that his level is so high that his wounds "heal faster than [they] can make them."Kirito: We could do this all day, and you would not be any closer to beating me, not that it wouldn't be fun. But, I've got good news. You see, there's no need to wonder where your god is! Cause he's right here! [lowers voice to a hissing whisper] And he's fresh out of mercy!
[In the background, a random Mook begins crying in despair.]
- Kayaba outright calls himself "The god of this game".
- Kirito lapses into this after Rosalia intentionally pushes all three of his Berserk Buttons, and he reveals that his level is so high that his wounds "heal faster than [they] can make them."
- Gone Horribly Right:
- Well, Rosalia did want to break Kirito's resolve with her limited understanding of human psychology. Too bad it worked a little too well, and ended up with Kirito going full Ax-Crazy on her and killing her.
- Asuna makes food so good that anything less will taste horrible by comparison.
- Good Bad Bugs: In-Universe: When Kirito finds out his new Alfheim Online character has the godlike stats from his SAO character.Kirito: This game is completely broken… IN MY FAVOR! 10 out of 10, game of the year!
- Good News, Bad News:
- Keita tries to break it to the Black Cats gently:Keita: The good news is... we're in debt to the mob! No, wait, that's the bad news. Also, there is no good news!
- Suguha asks Kirito what he would have said if she'd choked to death on a muffin:Kirito: (quietly) Hey, mom, I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, we've finally got some room for that jacuzzi you wanted.
- Keita tries to break it to the Black Cats gently:
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In the Alfheim arc, the fact that the game is supposed to be for children means that anytime a character tries to say a curse word, it's replaced with something else.
- Gratuitous Japanese: Kirito says "itadakimasu" as he bites into a sandwich, despite the fact that all the other Japanese is straight-up replaced with English. The Cait Sith introduced in Episode 16 have this as their entire gimmick, to the extent that they're nearly unintelligible because of how many Japanese and English words they mix together.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Corvatz, the leader of the Aincrad Liberation Front, speaks with a thick Spanish accent, employs some gratuitous Spanish, and even has his own Spanish guitar-flavored theme music. Lampshaded, as he's portrayed as a stock-Japanese player from Nagano who just happened to find a rare item that added the Spanish Guitar accents when he speaks, so he's playing it up for show — as commented upon by Asuna and a random ALF member.
- Hanlon's Razor: EVERYONE trapped in SAO holds the Idiot Ball multiple times, even Akihiko Kayaba, whose sleep-deprived brain thought it would be a GREAT idea to hold everyone hostage to cover up a lethally Game-Breaking Bug.
- Haute Cuisine Is Weird: Sugou orders his wedding cake to come with a layer of foie gras, which is bizarre enough to make the chef cry.
- He Panned It, Now He Sucks!: In-Universe: Why Schmitt is such a nervous wreck.Kains: Oh my god, Schmitt is not the killer! [...] So then why the hell were you apologizing to Griselda?
Schmitt: Hey, people threatened to kill me for giving Pokemon V&R a 7 out of 10. At this point, I've learned to just assume the position.
- Heel Realization: Episode 17 has Suguha realize that the antagonistic relationship she has with Kirito is largely her own fault from letting her once-justified resentment bleed out into every facet of her life.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath:
- Kirito is this, big time, to the point that Klein straight up calls him a sociopath in the third episode.
- Asuna as well, if burning down Lisbeth's shop is any indication.
- Heroic BSoD: As in the original, Kirito after Asuna's Heroic Sacrifice. The Big Bad is disappointed that he's no longer putting up a decent fight.
- Heroic RRoD: In Episode 8, Kirito fights the 74th Floor's boss with his undiscovered dual wielding ability. After fighting the giant goat demon while screaming about how much he hates the human race at the top of his lungs, he falls back and passes out, waking up to find Asuna worried about him.
- Hero of Another Story: Invoked in episode 11. When Klein and Tiffany allude to an adventure where they find an axe, Kirito announces that he doesn't remember that.
- Hidden Depths: Kirito gives a rather touching speech about the value of a loved one in episode 6. He admits that he pulled it from a very deep place within him, where the emotions there scare and confuse him.
- His comment about the Raguu Rabbit Stew "Flowers for Algernon"-ing his and Asuna's taste buds, as well as his pop culture references hints at his actual intellect.
- Holiday Mode: Word of God have stated that the Kandy Kane Kavern location in ALfheim Online is actually a Holiday Event that the administrators, in their usual laziness and lack of care about the game, has simply forgotten to turn off.
- Hollywood Board Games: The King of Ashes is so Ax-Crazy, most of his lines are comprised of violent, incoherent screaming. Yet, he is a fan of Pictionary. Those are some very surprising Hidden Depths. In fact, that's how Big Good Heathcliff negotiates safe passage through Floor 75 in the eleventh episode. Among rounds of torture and gladiator combat, they play ''Pictionary''. Unfortunately, the King's insanity renders it all moot and orders his mooks to attack the intruders, aka Heathcliff's guild.
- Homage Derailment: The scene of the Big Bad Kayaba revealing how he no longer remembers his motive from the original is at first played straight... until Kirito points out how stupid it actually is, to which Kayaba reveals he's just playing with him.Kayaba: "You know, it's funny... I don't even remember anymore..."Kirito: "Are you FUCKING SERIOUS?!"Kayaba: "Haha! Oh my god, no! Could you imagine? Two years and that's what I give you?! MAN, that'd be unsatisfying!"
- Honest John's Dealership: Tiffany's shop. It's apparently become as much as a byword for poor quality and dishonest salesmanship in the world of SAO as used-car salesmen are in ours.Laughing Coffin ad: Boss won't get of your back? Girlfriend won't stop nagging you? Did that fuckstick Tiffany sell you a bullshit dagger that broke almost immediately despite that you spend almost half your goddamn Col on it?! Have you considered... Murder?
- Hopeless with Tech: Asuna, in the beginning. She doesn't even know how to open the menu, which is literally a matter of life or death given that most of the interactions within SAO are done through the menu. How she managed to survive the first month is nothing short of a miracle, and the ending of episode two shows she still has no idea how to open the damn thing. Also, while she is a competent fighter and strategist, she obviously hasn't played MMOs before, having no idea what "XP" stands for, and thinking that "DPS" has something to do with sex. She eventually gets over it by Episode 5, in which she's shown leading the raid on Sheeptar.
- How Do I Shot Web?:
- Again, Asuna. She gets better, but at first her problems aren't with the game's combat engine, but with opening the menu. The most basic requirement for doing literally anything in the world of SAO, or any VMMORPG out there. Best evidenced in a flashback to where she tries to eat a bread loaf.Asuna: [exasperated] ...HOW DO I EAT YOU?!?!
- Klein also has shades of this in the first episode, but this is justified in both that it's his first time using Nerve Gear, and that they're just discovering the "logout" button doesn't exist. Or, as he himself put it:Klein: C'mon man, it's Nerve Gear. I can't ALT+F4 this sh*t.
- Kirito has a brief moment of this where he's unable to open the menu for the very first time in Alfheim Online. This provides him a moment of panic (and likely flashbacks to Aincrad), until he realizes he had to use his other hand to do so, as the controls are set as Inverted by default. He later has another moment because he skipped any tutorials on flying on his own.
- Again, Asuna. She gets better, but at first her problems aren't with the game's combat engine, but with opening the menu. The most basic requirement for doing literally anything in the world of SAO, or any VMMORPG out there. Best evidenced in a flashback to where she tries to eat a bread loaf.
- I Can See My House from Here: Asuna notes this toward the end as the levels of Aincrad are sluffing away.
- Identically Named Group: Apparently every Spriggan player in Alfeim Online named themselves after Kirito, accounting for why it took the main Kirito so long to find one that works.
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Deconstructed for laughs. Kirito's entire experience in dating and sex seems to come from dating sims, so after he has sex with Asuna, his Internal Monologue is him freaking out over the fact that he has no idea what to do now since dating sims usually go to the credits after sex.
- Idiot Plot: In-Universe, Kirito says the only reason that Yolko and Kains' ridiculous and convoluted plan note worked (at first) was because Schmitt's an idiot. Even Kains acknowledged that anyone with common sense would see right through it.
- I Like Those Odds:
- Rosalia shows up with 7 mooks to try and rob Kirito and Silica of an item they just collected. Kirito confidently offers to let the mooks take the first hit. The mooks appeal to Rosalia that it's probably a trap, but Rosalia sends her 7 level 45 mooks to attack anyway. Cue Kirito displaying his level 78 stats and revealing that he's wearing enough HP-regenerating equipment that his health is regenerating faster than the mooks can damage him.
- Kirito is on the receiving end of this when he challenges Heathcliff to a dual. When Asuna points out that his health has never been reduced to yellow status (IE, below half), Kirito completely brushes her off. It doesn't end well for him.
- I'm a Humanitarian: During one of her rampages in episode 15 while trying to escape the World Tree and bring Oberon's plans for world domination to a grinding halt, one can hear a lot of what sounds like biting and tearing sounds. Come episode 16, we learn that Asuna's running plan to that point had been eat the guards until they're too scared to come into work.
- Apparently according to the game lore of the RP server in Alfheim that Kirito ended up in, the members of the Cat Sith race are regarded as food. While it's unknown if this has been acted upon by anyone as of yet, Suguha has very explicitly threatened to eat one.
- I Meant to Do That: Kayaba admits upfront to Kirito and Asuna that a great deal of his plans were completely cobbled together on the spot to make himself look like an evil mastermind, instead of someone who went completely crazy due to sleep deprivation and panicked by doubling/tripling/quadrupling down on what was happening.
- Implausible Deniability: Kirito acts offended when Heathcliff immediately accuses him of being the reason the King of Ashes went berserk again... even as the King is screaming for the head of Kirito.Kirito: I mean, he could be talking about anyone.
- If you look closely just as Kirito is about to reply, you can see him close a message in mirror text that reads “I WILL FLAY YOUR FUCKING SOUL!!!”
- Impossibly Delicious Food: In Episode 8, Kirito obtains an extremely rare ingredient, and Asuna uses her max-level cooking skill to prepare a meal with it. The combination ends up producing "literally the tastiest thing you could ever eat". As a result, every other food tasted terrible even if its flavour was still the same.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: The narrator in episode 3, as the story keeps getting darker.Narrator: Eh... Christmas! Nobody kills themselves on Christmas, hehehe... Christ, I need more bourbon.
- Inelegant Blubbering
- Schmitt after witnessing Yolko's apparent death by what he thinks is Griselda's ghost—Schmitt: Soon [Griselda] will ride my bloated corpse up the river Styx and escape to the world of the living! And then, THERE'LL BE NO STOPPING HER! ''(hysterical sobbing of a broken man)''
- Asuna after saving Kirito from Kuradeel—Asuna: I freaking hate you![...] You can't keep doing this to me! This is, like, the second time you almost died this week! You ever stop to think about how I feel? Maybe I almost wanna die once in a while?!? Make you cry! Ugggh, I'm such a girl!
Kirito: Anyone ever tell you, you cry like a surly drunk?
- Klein, after Kirito expresses that he regrets never joining his guild.Klein: [completely unintelligible crying noises]
Kirito: "Lehflehfleh" indeed, buddy. "Lehflehfleh" indeed.
- And finally, Kirito when the world of SAO ends and it's ambiguous whether he or Asuna will survive.
- Schmitt after witnessing Yolko's apparent death by what he thinks is Griselda's ghost—
- Infinity +1 Sword: Kirito's superpowerful sword, the "Piece of Shit... Dragon Shit that is!" (he didn't really call it that) took fighting a giant dragon for its Solid Gold Poop crystal, and having a master smith forge it.
- Insane Troll Logic: Kayaba explains that the reason for the events of the story is he didn't want to get bad reviews from Metacritic. Kirito points out that he's more likely to get worse reviews from a game where people are killed deliberately rather than as a bug. Kayaba himself acknowledges the insanity, pointing out at the time he was sleep deprived enough that he believed that Mole Men ran the government, so he actually wasn't quite sane at the time.
- Insult Friendly Fire: Though it's probably intentional, he calls Titan's Hand terrifying for people who think slimes are scary. Silica then exclaims "Have you seen their eyes? They have no soul!"
- Interface Spoiler: Rosalia's ambush is foiled, because the nametag floating above her character is wider than the tree she's hiding behind.Kirito: Do mine eyes deceive me? Tis the fabled Word Tree of Gamagorath! Font of human knowledge, and devourer of souls. Quickly, child, we must spirit away before — Oh, my god, will you just come out already?!
- Internal Reveal: Episode 17 contains a few of them for various characters. The audience knew everything beforehand, but the episode contains several moments where the characters themselves learn the truth.
- Up until this episode, Suguha underwent some Motive Misidentification for Kirito, assuming he was in ALfheim to mess with her and/or get blackmail on her. Despite Yui's insistence that Kirito wanted to save his girlfriend and that's it, Suguha/Leafa was still skeptical. However, in this episode, Suguha sees Asuna's unconscious body in the hospital, as well as Kirito kneeling by her bedside with her hand in his, proving that he wasn't making it up. This causes Suguha some grief, as she realizes that she's been pressing her brother on a deep emotional scar.
- Later in the same episode, there's also the internal reveal to Kirito that Princess Leafa is being played by his sister Suguha. She ends up Saying Too Much with an Anguished Outburst, and doing so makes her realize that she gave up the ghost.
- Ironic Echo Cut: In episode 4, Silica decides to form her own guild. It does not go well.Silica: Screw this! I don't need you! I'll form my own party. It's just gonna be me and Pina and it's gonna be awesome!
[Cut to Silica fighting some monsters]
Silica: This is not awesome! This is the opposite of awesome!
- It Makes Sense in Context:
- Just before Rosalia dies, she basically tells Kirito that he will die a virgin. Kirito doesn't tell Asuna about this when they hook up, making their first time very awkward.Kirito: [when climaxing] AH! Suck it, Rosalia!
Asuna: I love you, too Kiri... Wait, what?! WHO THE FUCK IS ROSALIA?!
- Kirito tells Lizbeth that he named the awesome one-of-a-kind sword she made for him "the Piece of Shit" (since it was made from dragon shit). Later, this gets mentioned to Tiffany with no context.Kirito: Hey, uh, Tiffany?
Tiffany: Yeah, man?
Kirito: If you don't mind, tell Liz I didn't actually call it the Piece of Shit.
Tiffany: 'kay, I'm gonna need a little more info to go on that...
Kirito: And Klein?
Tiffany: [offscreen] Oh okay, I guess we're just done here.
- Just before Rosalia dies, she basically tells Kirito that he will die a virgin. Kirito doesn't tell Asuna about this when they hook up, making their first time very awkward.
- It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: In-Universe. Kuradeel's rant about Laughing Coffin "selling out" sounds exactly like someone ranting about their favourite underground band making it big. Of course, Kuradeel does have a bit more reason to complain, because becoming famous and widely recognized is not very smart when you're a band of murderers whom everyone hates.
- Jerkass: Kirito.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Episode 11 reveals that Rosalia's accusation of Kirito being an Internet Jerk did actually get to him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kirito became this after having an all night talk with Sachi. However...
- Subverted when Kirito found the final part of him that could care, and killed it forever after Sachi and the rest of his guild died. Though this is again subverted, once Silica reminds him that, without emotions, he cannot feel "the sweet taste of revenge!" Even though that's not what she had in mind when telling him that he needs to feel emotions.
- Begins being played painfully straight in later episodes, when his traumatic Sachi-related PTSD starts guilting him into saving people from themselves. He even calls it out particularly well in episode 8.Kirito: You know something? I really hate people. They're selfish, ignorant, loud, obnoxious pricks, with basically no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I mean, really, look at all they've achieved: Genocide, global warming, reality TV; It's just a never-ending parade of failures and fuck-ups. They are, without question, a complete write-off as a species, and HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME CARE ABOUT THEM!!
- Jive Turkey: This is how Asuna always talks to Tiffany in an apparent attempt to bond with him. A miserably failed attempt, because Tiffany, quite realistically, despises it and by extension her.
- Killed Mid-Sentence:Godfree: I mean, sure, this looks bad now. But given time, I think we'll all look back at this and— LAAAAAAAHHHH!
Kuradeel: He he he he! What do you know? He was right! I'm laughing already.
- Killer Rabbit: Sheeptar the Sheep King, who apparently managed to kill 12 players, yet everyone agrees it's a stupid boss.
- Kindness Button: In the aftermath of Episode 3, Kirito has developed a particularly nasty emotional trigger that causes him to lapse from his Jerkass persona into actually caring about someone else' problems for a fraction of a second before relapsing, in the form of the phrase "Not your fault," or just "your fault."
- Knight in Sour Armour: Kirito by the end of episode 8. As much as he HATES other people, he'll still fight to protect them.
- Last Episode Theme Reprise: In Episode 11, which is the final episode of the Aincrad arc, Thirty Seconds to Mars' "This Is War" (the main theme of the arc) plays during Kirito and Heathcliff's final duel.
- Laughing Mad:
- Kirito goes utterly nuts after one too many jabs from Rosalia. He repeats this with Gary, when he resurfaces in Episode 5.
- Kuradeel after poisoning Kirito and Godfree, right before stabbing the latter in the chest.
- Asuna ends up going into a similar state in episode 10 after Kirito corrects her on a grammar mistake, though that was more because she realized how badly she'd screwed up by agreeing to marry him.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Par for the course, with SAO being an MMO and all. A lot of the background characters tend to fall into this category under duress.Diabel: All right men, form up an—
Random Player: EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!!
[Zerg Rush ensues]
Diabel: What?! NO! GOD DAMN IT GUYS!
- Gets a namedrop in Episode 11.Kayaba: Do you know how many of you have died screaming "Leeroy Jenkins!"? More than zero. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is grounds for exterminate the species!
- Gets a namedrop in Episode 11.
- Lethal Joke Character: Sheeptar the Sheepking.Klein: If that thing hadn't already killed 7 of us, I'd say this was a really stupid boss.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Kirito and Asuna mutually agree that seeing Griselda's real ghost in Episode 6 never happened, as they both made fools of themselves by freaking out when they saw her.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Kirito and Asuna. Even during boss battles.
- Literally Shattered Lives: When players die, their bodies shatter into pieces.
- Literal-Minded: Yui manages to give a harsh rebuke of Thinker's pacifist tendencies without ever directly attacking him, mostly by pointing out how his situation isn't "ironic".
- Lost Food Grievance:
Kirito: [distraught] My sandwich... [falls to his knees] It was innocent!
- When Asuna explodes at Kirito after he says that he figured the entire mystery out hours ago, he accidentally drops the sandwich she made for him and it instantly disintegrates upon touching the floor, leaving Kirito to grieve the loss of his meal.
Asuna: [concerned] Kirito, are you gonna—
Kirito: [still staring at the ground] SSHH! I must grieve.
- Shoji and Kyle (two guys Sugou entrusts with his torture setup) have avatars of tentacled slug monsters instead of the usual attractive fairy people. When Shoji gripes asking why that is, Kyle points out that Shoji keeps stealing the modeler's yogurt. Which is medicated for her special dietary needs.
- Love Makes You Stupid: Yuriel's infatuation with Thinker leaves her a bit, shall we say, biased when it comes to evaluating his qualities.
- Made a Slave: In exchange for his business advice, Laughing Coffin decides to spare Yolko, Schmitt, and Kains by giving them to Kirito as slaves. He's pretty happy about it; they aren't.
- Malaproper: Before the Skull Reaper fight:Player: Waaaaaait. What if, this is like, one of those metamorphosis things the Commander was talking about? Like, the real boss is the demons within ourselves?
- Mama Bear: Asuna becomes extremely protective of her adoptive daughter Yui, threatening to kill Thinker if Yulier does anything to her.
- Magical Incantation: In ALO, players can cast spells by reciting lines from books, like "Dick and Jane" or "The Raven"
- Magical Profanity Filter:
- Played with in the first episode. There was a profanity filter for Sword Art Online, but it gets turned off in an attempt to make everything seem like reality.
- Kirito notices shortly after logging into Alfheim Online that his swearing is being censored into non-offensive language. He tries to ask Leafa about it, and she gives a Hand Wave that there's a magical spell cast on the land that prevents swearing. When Kirito presses her further for an actual explanation, she finally breaks character and just tells him that, as a kids' game, Alfheim Online has a profanity filter.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: In-Universe. An Alfheim Online player sighs that after a hard day of working at a soup kitchen, he just wants to unwind by roleplaying a Card-Carrying Villain with a penchant for sex offending. When he drops character, he does praise his "victim" when she starts roleplaying a better Damsel in Distress.
- Medium-Shift Gag:
- There's a cut to an in-universe YouTube video of "Subject Theta" (a real person, not animated) in Episode 1.
- Episode 3 starts with a live action section about a person named Sir Jack Dapper, who is a guest narrator for the episode. There are occasional cuts to him throughout the rest of the episode for various jokes.
- From episode 3:Sir Jack Dapper: And in time, Kirito found that he could almost tolerate [the Moonlit Black Cats], much like a fat man tolerates the tapeworms in his intestines. And like those tapeworms, that guild burrowed deep into his innards, and gorged themselves on his leftovers, until they began causing abdominal pain and diarrhea. I realize the metaphor is breaking down a bit here, but Granny Dapper didn't raise no quitters.
- From episode 5, Kirito's Angrish during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the NPC that teleported out of the trap without the rest of the guild.Kirito: This is for Sachi! Choke on it! Choke on my vengeance! How does it taste?!
- From episode 7:Lisbeth: Sir, either tell me your order, or I'll assume it's a knuckle ... sandwich ... with, like, a sword in it....
Kirito: ... What?
Lisbeth: I don't know: when I said "order", I started to think "restaurant", but then I remembered I run a blacksmith shop, and by then it was past the point of no return.... Can I help you?
Kirito: Um, yes?
- AndKirito: [to Lisbeth] What race gives you pink hair and freckles anyway? Did, like, your Irish dad get his dick stuck in a cotton candy machine? Truly, theirs was a love that could never be. I'd see that movie... Sorry, what was I talking about?
- From episode 3:
- Mook Horror Show: In Episode 15, when Kirito worries about Asuna, we get a Description Cut to a scene right out of the Alien franchise, a dropped walkie-talkie beneath a flickering light fixture in a dark corridor. A conversation between Oberon and Asuna shows this is far from the first time it's happened, and Asuna has become The Dreaded amongst the guards to the point where their therapy bills are beginning to pile up.Voice on Radio: Bravo, come in! Do you have visual on the prisoner?! I repeat, do you... oh lord... IT'S IN THE VENTS!!
- Mugging the Monster: In Episode 4, where it's even Lampshaded by a Titan's Hand member that messing with Kirito may not be such a good idea.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Apparently, SAO's blacksmithing requires playing a rhythm game, Space Invaders, and a fighting game all at once!
- So awesome in fact, that Man at Arms used the clip when they recreated Asuna's Rapier.
- Murder by Inaction: Kirito sincerely considers this when he sees Suguha choking on a muffin. Subverted when he, without realizing he was doing so, hands her some "life-saving juice."
- My Eyes Are Up Here: Parodied.Keita: Let me assure you, we could certainly use someone with your... [gazing at Kirito's Level 40 stat block] assets... mmhhhhmmm.
Kirito: Hey! Hey! My eyes are down here!
- My Greatest Failure: Kirito is very emotionally scarred when his guild, who were also the first friends he made here, is killed in front of him. Depending on the context, bringing it up either causes him to be on the verge of tears or it hits his Berserk Button.
- My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: As Kirito so aptly puts it after the Titan's Hand mooks can't land a scratch on him.Random Mook: I don't understand! We threw everything we had at him, how is he still standing?!
Kirito: "How"?! Well, it's quite simple really. You see [to Rosalia], "Girlie," you may think ya got me all figured out, but there's one thing, you didn't account for: my numbers [unveils Level 78 stats] are bigger than yours!
- Mythology Gag: In episode 11, Kayaba said he went three weeks without sleep to finish the game and mistook Reki, the night janitor, for God. For those that are unfamiliar with the source material, Reki Kawahara is the name of the creator of SAO.
- Narrative Profanity Filter:
- In Episode 1, the first half has profanity bleeped out. Just as Kayaba exits after initiating the death game, he says that he disabled the profanity filter, meaning that those bleeps were In-Universe.
- Since Alfheim Online is (allegedly) meant to be a kid's game, any time someone swears it comes out as a more innocuous sounding word, like "gee willikers" or "Oh my codfish!" Naturally, after coming from a game that had no swear filternote , Kirito doesn't take it well.Kirito: I wanna go home.
- It could also be an early test of VR mind-changing capabilities since it makes player say something they didn't meant to instead of changing the resulting sound or just bleeping it.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sachi silently reminding Kirito about his promise to be less of an asshole when he's about to insult Keita's plan, making Kirito do a Last-Second Word Swap and literal Teeth-Clenched Teamwork instead. Unfortunately, Keita's plan really was stupid and ends up getting Sachi killed. Speaking of which...
- With her Last Words, Sachi tries to reassure Kirito, saying "It's not your fault". But because of her bad internet connection, her words are distorted, and the "your fault" part gets looped in a terrifying Voice of the Legion. Naturally, this has a rather different effect on Kirito than intended.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Laughing Coffin brought about its own doom when they sent their address to every single player in the game as part of Kirito's advice for PR campaign.
- No Indoor Voice: The King of Ashes has less than half a dozen lines, and he screams each and every last one of them. Even his text based messages are in ALL CAPS.
- No One Could Survive That!: Kirito fought Don Fluffles at some point off-screen and apparently sent him over a cliff. When he sees that Fluffles is alive and a member of the Blood Knight council he claims no one could've survived that fall. Fluffles answers with a meow, and Kirito admits he never would've thought of that.
- No-Sell: The Titan's Hand guild couldn't outdamage Kirito's Regenerating Health, even when Kirito was just standing still and taking all their attacks.
- Yui and Kayaba shrug off attacks due to being defined as Immortal Objects; the former because she's an integral game AI and the latter due to being the GM.
- Oblivious to Love:
- Kirito in episode 8 in response to Asuna's friendly greeting, though it's only partly Oblivious, partly incredulous.
- Yui didn't seem to have noticed that Kirito and Asuna accepting her as their daughter went from an act to try and scare the other away to genuine affection. Even as she "dies" she tells them they don't have to pretend to love her anymore.
- Obvious Beta: In-universe. SAO has numerous glitches like being able to take guest NPCs out of their quest area, teleport crystals that sometimes Tele-Frag the user, and bosses that can kill themselves. It's also implied at several points that the game is widely unbalanced due to a general lack of play testing. Even the real life deaths were due to a glitch, which the creator claimed was intentional because at the time, he would rather be seen as the Big Bad than as incompetent.
- Only Sane Man: Kirito mainly, given that most of the other background/random players are complete idiots. Diabel also qualified, before his untimely demise, being the only one with any real drive to try and clear the boss room, rally the other players, and try to come up with workable strategies that wouldn't result in all of them getting brutally slaughtered. His exasperated order-barking during the battle with Illfang was not unlike that of a Raid leader trying to rein in a party of n00bs, with the same amount of success.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Kirito is highly suspicious when Asuna gives him a friendly welcome when he visits her house in episode 8.Kirito: This... thing you're doing where you seem genuinely pleased to see me. I was half expecting a suspiciously soundproofed warehouse on the outskirts of town with a shallow grave out back. But somehow, this is more unsettling.
- Also, Asuna does not mock Kirito as he gives his "No More Holding Back" Speech to Kayaba, sincerely stating she was proud of Kirito's Character Development.
- Papa Wolf: Kirito lets Asuna do the threatening, but he has the same Death Glare expression as her.
- Pass the Popcorn: Cited nigh word for word by Asuna, describing Kirito's usual response to human suffering.
- Perfection Is Addictive: When Supreme Chef Asuna prepares a meal using an S-class ingredient Kirito brings her, the result is so impossibly delicious that both Kirito and Asuna think normal food tastes like garbage in comparison.
- Periphery Demographic: In-Universe, Alfheim Online underwent this. The game is marketed (badly) to children, but exploded in popularity when older gamers found out about its slick flying mechanics. Now, despite the cutesy tutorial, the game is populated by hardcore players for its aerial combat and, apparently, roleplaying guilds who act out some... disturbing scenarios.
- Pet the Dog:
- Even though Kirito threatens Lisbeth and makes fun of her for wearing a skirt in a mountain, Kirito gives her a cloak to keep her warm.
- Before his duel with Kayaba, as part of his "If I don't make it..." speech, he asks Tiffany to tell Lisbeth he didn't actually named her sword "The piece of shit".
- Kayaba intervening in the game after two thousand people died before clearing the first floor is because of this.
- Power Fantasy: This frequent accusation of the Original is turned into a plot point: Kirito is an Internet Jerk who is frequently bullied in the real world, and relishes the opportunity to have his gaming skills translate into actual power.
- While he grew out of that somewhat by the end of the second season, he seems to be relapsing from being powerless to help Asuna and stop Sugura bullying him. As the group of roleplayers who were acting out a I Have You Now, My Pretty scenario found out when Kirito offers to help the Distressed Damsel, then immediately tears through the "villains".Kirito: Ah, it's good to be back!
- While he grew out of that somewhat by the end of the second season, he seems to be relapsing from being powerless to help Asuna and stop Sugura bullying him. As the group of roleplayers who were acting out a I Have You Now, My Pretty scenario found out when Kirito offers to help the Distressed Damsel, then immediately tears through the "villains".
- The Power of Love:
- Defied by Kirito after they get batted around by the Fatal Scythe.Kirito: The power of love is bullshit! The power of swords and violence is where the money is.
- After Asuna's Heroic Sacrifice despite supposedly being paralyzedKayaba: Huh. How did she—? [bemused] There's not supposed to be any way to break out of admin-paralysis. Heh, gonna have to add that one to the log. "Power of Love might cause paralysis to fail". Heh, it's the damnest thing, somehow that never came up in beta-testing.
- Defied by Kirito after they get batted around by the Fatal Scythe.
- Precision F-Strike: Made possible by Kayaba disabling the profanity filter following his speech in the first episode. Given that this is the Internet and an MMO though, this was bound to happen regardless of whether or not it was bleeped out.
- In fact, the very first words said after Kayaba disables the profanity filter are "We're fucked!"
- Psmith Psyndrome: The city of Kandy Kane Kapital can tell when someone pronounces it with C's instead of K's, and is programmed to seal the front gates in response.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: When the Titan's Hand thugs are slashing at Kirito, he giggles madly with each strike they land on him.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When Kirito says that if Tiff wants some of the rabbit he caught, he'd have to come by Asuna's place, Tiff's response was to claim it wasn't fair in increasing intensity, leading to this as Kirito and Asuna leave his shop.
- Rage-Breaking Point: After about an hour of being caught between Kirito and Asuna's pissing contest, almost losing her orphanage when they spontaneously decide that they own it, and not being able to get a word in edgewise throughout the whole thing, Sasha erupts into a screaming fit when Kirito decides to ask for her opinion. Also, he didn't know her name.
- Kayaba reaches it after getting frustrated with the other players.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When Shoji is forced by Asuna into declaring he was trying to molest her, Kyle buys it and is disgusted by his colleague's behavior, telling him that he is going to have to log an official complaint about him and uninvites him from his son's christening.
- Rapid-Fire "No!": Kirito does this once he realizes what Lisbeth meant when she said she "had a guild."Lisbeth: Honestly, I haven't had this much fun since my... guild.
Kirito: You have a guild? then why don't you hang out with them instead of going all cabin-fever in your shop all day.
Lisbeth: I... had a guild.
Kirito: What do you mean you—! Oh no. No no no no no no no—
[Lisbeth starts telling Kirito about what happened while he keeps saying "no" through all of her narration.]
- Read the Freaking Manual: In-Universe: When Tiffany learns no one read the strategy guide written by the beta testers.Tiffany: Did none of you read it?! It is literally a matter of life and death!
- However, it turns out the manual is full of bad advice, especially for a death game. However, in fairness, most of the bad advice was written before there was actually any danger, making it more of a case of griefing.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: When Kirito has gone full crazy, his face darkens and his eyes glow an ominous red. You have a brief window of time to back off though, when his eyes shrink to the size of pinpricks in rage. It signals the start of nerd rage-driven madness.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Kirito delivers an epic one to all of humanity in episode 8. See Jerk with a Heart of Gold for said speech.
- Heathcliff later gives one himself after he is exposed as Kayaba Akihiko and basically calls out all the players for their suicidal tendencies and general stupidity.Heathcliff: FUCK! ALL YA'LL! (...) Do you have any idea what it has been like trying to lead you people?! You ignore all my strategies, you adamantly refuse to work together, and then you blame me for all of your problems! (...) I tried, you know. Lord knows I tried. But there's just no helping you people! It's like you crave death, but not just any death, nooooo! You fuckers seem to have some sort of pool going to see who can end their existence in the dumbest, most avoidable way possible! And you just keep one-upping each other! Do you know how many of you have died screaming "Leeroy Jenkins"? More than zero! Which, as far as I'm concerned, is grounds to exterminate the species!
- Kirito delivers a heartwrenching one to himself in episode 17.Kirito: You think you're a big shot? You think you don't have asthma? Well I got a reality check for you, nerdo. You're just a kid who's good at video games and that was useful exactly once. There was only one place on Earth where you had the social leverage to make anyone like you, and it's gone.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Done by Heathcliff during the peace talks with the King of Ashes.Kirito: Oh, I get it! You need me at the table, cracking jokes and breaking the ice? I got ya!
Heathcliff: HA HA HA—No. God, no! I need to hide you under the biggest rock I can find!
- Reference Overdosed: Not only are there plenty of references per episode, but most are done In-Universe by some of the characters, particularly Kirito and Heathcliff. This eventually helps Kirito figure out that Heathcliff is really Kayaba.Kirito: You're the only one here who makes as many references as me.
- Revenge: Kirito is not the kind of hero who will refrain from taking bloody revenge, as an NPC learns when he leaves Kirito and some of his friends to die.Kirito: [among sounds of blade slicing] CHOKE ON IT! Choke on my vengeance. How does it taste?
- Rewatch Bonus: Kayaba's speech and his early technical difficulties gets funnier and makes more sense when you remember why he was making such a speech. He only just discovered the glitch that kills players when their avatars die, and was so sleep-deprived that he just went along with it until he could find a solution and evade the authorities.
- Rhythm Game: Forging equipment is done through this.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons:
- In episode 4, Rosalia attempts to give Kirito a Breaking Speech, calling him out for being an Internet Jerk. Technically she is correct, but given the fact that they are stuck in the game, Kirito very much can lord his stats over everyone.
- In episode 5 Kirito tries to argue against sacrificing NPCs, only to spot the very NPC who left him and Sachi in a trap. The sight of Kirito's Roaring Rampage of Revenge is sufficiently gruesome that his fellow players agree anyway that it's really uncomfortable watching NPCs get brutally murdered.
- Right in Front of Me: In Episode 11 the players start slagging SAO as a horribly designed game, which makes Heathcliff a.k.a. Kayaba suspiciously defensive and frustrated, leading to the latter's slip up and The Reveal.
- The Roleplayer:
- Godfree acts this way while playing Sword Art Online in the first season. When his life gets threatened at swordpoint, Godfree promptly drops the act. Doesn't save him, though. Godfree still gets Killed Mid-Sentence.
- Everyone in Alfheim Online does this to varying degrees. While the game is marketed and aimed at young children, it's populated by a lot of older players who like its roleplaying and flight mechanics. However, that leads to a lot of perfectly ordinary people roleplaying as depraved villains. Kirito is rather unimpressed with all of it.
- Rousing Speech: Kirito gets a pretty fantastic one in Episode 8 when he realizes that he's actually starting to care about people despite his misanthropy and near-sociopathy towards them beforehand. It winds up backfiring on him when the rest of the players start to see him as The Hero when at best he is a Nominal Hero and doesn't want the attention.Kirito: You know something? I really hate people! They're selfish, ignorant, loud obnoxious pricks, with basically no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I mean really, look at all they've achieved! Genocide, global warming, reality TV, and just a never ending parade of failures and fuck ups! They are, without question, a complete write-off of a species, and how dare you make me care about them!
- Running Gag:
- The best strategy people have is "Group up, and hit it till it dies."
- Kirito's awareness to the number of women who tend to cry around him.
- Kirito's tendency to punctuate The Summation with "For you see!"
- The "arson problem" that SAO suffers from, as addressed by Kirito in Episode 9. Comes back in Episode 16.
- The menu problem in SAO and Alfheim.
- Sanity Slippage: Five hundred hours without sleep would certainly convince anyone that Mole Men control the government, the janitor is actually God, and that it's a good idea to pretend that a glitch that results in player death was actually all a part of your nefarious plan. Right, Kayaba?
- Santabomination: Kirito fights a giant evil Santa called Nicholas the Renegade for the Christmas event, following a rumor that it drops an item that can resurrect a dead player. It's a hat.
- Satire: In addition to parodying the source material, the series also satirizes the video game industry and its questionable practices. For example, the very first joke in the series mocks game companies that aggressively force adverts in players' faces and use micro-transactions to extort money for features that should be in the game from the beginning (such as, in this case, removing the ads). The titular game itself is shown to be an Obvious Beta with many Game Breaking Bugs that occurred because it was Christmas Rushed, paralleling real games like Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) that fell to the same fate. It also attacks "crunch time" and overworking developers by showing that this led to many of the bugs plaguing the game. In addition, real companies like Bethesda and Ubisoft are made into targets of ridicule by being the publishers who are responsible in-universe for the games releasing in their terrible state, as well as fostering toxic work environments that overwork their best developers (Akihiko Kayaba) and allow sexual predators to do as they please (Noboyuki Sugou).
- Schizo Tech: Alfheim Online is an otherwise stock fantasy setting that also contains modern cars as rare epic-level mounts.Leafa: I hear at the top of The World Tree, there's mounts like that as far as the eye can see. Like some majestic used car dealership of the gods.
- Sequel Hook: A meta-version. The end credits of the last episode of the Aincrad arc roll on an old fashioned video arcade with a Sword Art Online Abridged label on it. At the end of the credits, it shows a "Continue?" text and a countdown. The screen fades to black with only a few seconds left... and then the sound of a coin being inserted can be heard.
- Sexophone: In episode 7, a sultry sax riff plays during the scene where Lisbeth fantasizes about Kirito.
- Sexual Karma:
- Both Asuna and Kirito are morally gray jerks in this adaptation and the first time they have sex reflects that. Asuna aggressively wanted to have sex as soon as they finished dinner and Kirito yelled out the wrong name mid-sex. Once they start developing as characters, the second time they have sex has them being more intimate with each other.
- Kirito's sister, Suguha, is depicted as his callous bully. Suguha is shown to be very promiscuous online as she openly flirts with other players, apparently giving one player oral sex as "part of a quest". When she realises that Kirito is playing the same game as her, she's enraged and then suddenly recoils in horror when she realises she said he had a "sweet patootie".
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: The timer on Pina's heart runs out just as Silica tries to resurrect him.
- Lisbeth's Character Development is for naught, due to the Trauma Conga Line she ends up suffering.
- Shaped Like Itself: "Always remember: To jump, jump!"
- Shooting Superman: After The Reveal of Kayaba's identity, that started with an "Immortal Object" message showing up when Kirito attacked him, another player attacks him and gets paralyzed immediately.Kayaba: You see, this right here is just a perfect little microcosm of the last two years. This fucking mastermind here, not two minutes ago, saw you try the exact same thing to no effect. Yet, by some Herculean leap in logic that we mere mortals may never hope to comprehend, he figured it'd totally work out if he did it.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Kirito delivers a particularly awesome one to Rosalia before he kills her. Doubles as a Pre Mortem Oneliner as well.Kirito: [to Rosalia] I'm gettin' real tired of your first-year psych student bullshit.
- Simple Solution Won't Work: Kayaba starts to explain why Asuna's idea to blame an anonymous hacker group for everything going wrong wouldn't have worked, only to grimly realize the only thing wrong with it was him not realizing he could have done that when it would have still been plausible.
- Kirito justifies recklessly chalenging the World Tree solo instead of at least getting together more players for a raid with the excuse that not only do they only have today since Sugou moved up the wedding to tonight, but he's afraid that someone might notice the admin card is missing and change the codes, so time is of the essence.
- Silicon Snarker: One of the characters in the show, Yui is an artificial intelligence responsible for providing psychiatric treatment for any player of Sword Art Online who may need it. She can also sometimes be rather sarcastic on occasion. One example of this trait is when Yulier calls Thinker one of the most brilliant men she's ever known, Yui responds that it says more about Yulier than it does Thinker.
- Single-Attempt Game: As people die in real life if they lose, so they only have one attempt.
- Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Level 2. Most characters have very different personalities and motivations, major plot-points are completely changed, characters often live when they died in the original or die when they lived in the original, and by and large there's a completely different tone and message to the series than the original anime. That said, ultimately, it does ultimately still follow the same story as the original Sword Art Online in very Broad Strokes.
- Smug Super: Basically Kirito's M.O. throughout the series. He's a dick, and he's too high level for anyone to do anything about it.
- Rosalia thought she was delivering this, having apparently taken a single year of psychology (or read the equivalent books) and using it to break Kirito. It didn't end well for her.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat:
- Almost every interaction between Kirito and Asuna involves them being snarky to each other.
- Kirito and Kayaba make snide jabs at each other prior to their final duel.
- Snowball Lie:
- Episode 10 has Kirito and Asuna both playing off each other with neither willing to admit that their marriage was a mistake. Not only do they keep lying to Yui that they're her parents, it escalates to the point that they end up buying an orphanage, all because they don't want to be the one to "blink" first.
- Episode 11 reveals the whole plot happened because Kayaba was just trying to cover up a mistake. Due to sleep deprivation while trying to meet the game's release deadline, he accidentally programmed in a bug that caused players to die if their avatar was killed. Kayaba, still deeply delusional from the aforementioned sleep deprivation, tried to pass this mistake off as completely intentional to save face. Him taking the players hostage and declaring the Death Game was an attempt to buy himself more time to come up with a better plan. Ultimately though, he failed to come up with anything, and the situation completely spiraled out of his control.
- The Sociopath: Subverted. Although he is often called one in-universe and is callous, merciless and pitiless, Kirito ultimately DOES have a conscience and does care about other people. No matter how much he might not WANT to."[People] are, without question, a complete write-off of a species, and HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME CARE ABOUT THEM!!"
- Asuna is a closer example, but it is again subverted as it's shown she does genuinely love Kirito, felt honest remorse at the fact she had used Yui as a pawn, and felt honest grief at her death. Sociopaths are incapable of those things.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The moment Kuradeel's Badass Boast at the start of his duel with Kirito finishes, Kayaba overlays the battle with... Thunder and Blazes. This is lampshaded by Kirito, who comments that "even Kayaba thinks [the duel] is a clownshow."
- Space Whale Aesop: Funny enough, Kayaba's ordeal manages to show the dangers of crunch time in the game industry. Overworked developers often face extreme amounts of overtime without proper compensation to meet deadlines. While none of those games could result in a bug that ends up killing people, the damage to one's physical and mental health are fully on display. The toll on Kayaba's mental state was astronomical and not only ended up getting people hurt, but also made him think it was a good idea to pass off a lethal glitch as an intended game-mechanic while locking everyone in, causing even more deaths.
- Spared by the Adaptation: One of the Black Cats members manages to survive... only to get killed two episodes later.
- Episode 12 also subtly reveals that Kayaba also survived his canonical death in the season finale, presumably serving as a way of addressing the issue of his sudden appearance as a "virtual ghost" in the second arc.
- Spoofed with Their Own Words: Multiple:
- Lisbeth's Totally Radical dub line about the Elucidator being the "gnarliest sword you can get from a monster drop" is riffed on:Kirito: Did you just say "gnarliest"?
- Kirito's request to Kayaba to prevent Asuna from killing herself should he lose their duel, is kept intact... but then:Asuna: Pfft! You think I would kill myself over you!? Oh, go suck a dick!
- Kayaba's motivation for starting the Death Game in the first place, or rather his complete lack of any motivation, is also hung out to dry:Kirito: Now that you mention it, that was the one part of this I was never able to figure out. What exactly were your plans?
Kayaba: Heheh, you know, it's funny. I don't even remember anymore...
Kirito: ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!
Kayaba: Hahahaha, oh my god, no! Could you imagine, two years and that's what I give you? Man, that'd be unsatisfying!
- Lisbeth's Totally Radical dub line about the Elucidator being the "gnarliest sword you can get from a monster drop" is riffed on:
- Spotting the Thread: When Kirito references TRON in Episode 11, an already frustrated Heathcliff blurts out "Oh, now you've seen TRON!" Kirito notices the "now" in that statement and remembers who else referred to TRON and was annoyed that no one seemed to recognize it.
- Stating the Simple Solution: Asuna asks why Kayaba didn't blame everything that went wrong on a hacker group that appropriated his image. Kayaba points out that he hadn't thought about that and wished he had.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Exaggerated. Grimlock killed Griselda just because she didn't have dinner ready for him once, and he thinks this is a completely valid and sane reason for murder. Even Kirito is disgusted by this.
- Stock Scream: One of the A.L.F. members getting crushed by Gleam Eyes lets out a Wilhelm's scream.
- Stylistic Suck: One of the main sources of humor comes from taking the design flaws present in the in-universe MMORPGs from the original series (stemming from Reki Kawahara's admitted inexperience with video games) and using them to portray the games as horribly designed Obvious Betas.
- The titular Sword Art Online has a tedious-to-navigate interface with several nested drop-down menus, bland dungeons, repetitive quests like gathering 50 of a certain item, an unhelpful tutorial that doesn't tell players which button does what, a “seizure-inducing” crafting system that combines a rythym minigame with Space Invaders and a mecha-fighter, non-existent Player versus Player balancing that lets players become functionally invincible if they level up enough, a plethora of immersion-breaking ads that players have to pay $30 to get rid of, and glitches around every corner, including game-breaking ones and the “die in the game, die for real” that serves as the conflict of the season.
- Even from the back of the Alfheim Online box (or at least its left side) it's clear that it makes Sword Art Online look miles better by comparison. While not quite the broken mess its predecessor was, it does have the sense of being slapped together with as little effort as possible, what with a confused marketing scheme that seems to want you to make it think it's an Edutainment Game and an aerial combat simulator, a patronizing tutorial that quickly annoys Kirito beyond all reason, insultingly easy math problems like “2 + 2”, drugs as usable items despite trying to teach that Drugs Are Bad, a toxic roleplaying community that takes everything way too seriously (ran by a group of people who let their personal issues bleed into the game), and uPlay being the provider of services, much to Kirito's horror.
- Surrounded by Idiots:
- Pretty much the reason why Kirito is a solo player and a heartless bastard.
- Tiffany becomes clued in on this in Episode 2 after he discovers how few people have read the manual for the game even after it becomes a matter of life and death, leading him to take advantage of the players' stupidity by selling them faulty weapons. A reason why he becomes one of Kirito's few friends is that the latter is one of the only people not dumb enough to fall for the scam.
- Kayaba also believes this, which is why when he's exposed as Heathcliff, he takes the opportunity to give the other players a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, and is one of the reasons he can relate to Kirito.
- Take That!:
- An In-Universe example - The eponymous Sword Art Online that the show takes place in is mocked on several occasions for not being that great of a game outside of its tech demo aspects.
- Kayaba's introductory speech in Episode 1 mocks World of Warcraft, general MMO players, and EverQuest.Kayaba: Much like the World of Warcraft, none of you are here by choice anymore. Unlike WOW, however, you're being held here by me, not by your need to escape your empty f*cking lives.
Random Player: When was the last time you heard of someone beating EverQuest?
Kayaba: When was the last time you heard of someone playing EverQuest?
Random Player: ... That's fair.
- Later shown in the list of acceptable losses to be sacrificed to defeat the first boss, Illfang the Kobold Lord, as listed in the guide book written by the beta-testers:"Good rule of thumb, if a player asks you for gold two seconds after meeting you, front lines. If they hijack conversations to rant about their political views, front lines. If they ask female players for pics of their boobs, front lines."
- In Episode 3, the stupidity of the NPC Companions that Keita roped into the Moonlit Black Cats by not finishing their respective quests seems to be a stab at the short-comings of A.I. characters and 'bots in gaming, and the tendencies for their programming to either hinder progress or outright derail the gameplay and end in everyone getting killed.
- Episode 4 seems to be one to people who think that learning a small amount of psychology (or any kind of "important" knowledge for that matter) automatically makes them an expert at it, and that it applies to real-life situations with little to no repercussions on their part. This takes the form of Rosalia, whose "first-year psych student bullshit" ends up being her undoing when she tries to use it to break Kirito.
- Silica's quest to revive her pet involving a ludicrous amount of steps to complete (collect fifty flowers to trade for a gem back in town, which they'd give to a gate-keeper, which would unlock a dungeon where they would fight a series of bosses in order to get the real flower) is a jab at the repetitive nature of questing in MMORPGs and games in general.Silica: That's insane! Who would design a game this way?!
Kirito: You don't play a lot of RPGs, do you?
- In Episode 11, it's revealed that player death is actually a glitch but despite Kayaba asking for an extension on the release date to fix it, the publisher insists that no one would notice a few glitches in a huge open world game.Kayaba: Fucking Bethesda.
- Kayaba pretends to have forgotten why he trapped everybody in the death game, then proceeds to laugh and say that would have been an unsatisfying answer to get after two years. In the original show, that's actually what happened.
- Continuing from the joke of SAO being published by Bethesda, ALO is revealed to be published by Ubisoft, who are known for rivalling if not sometimes beating Bethesda in terms of bugginess. The text on the back of the box explicitly calls ALO a "weeping anal fissure of a 'game'".Interface: Very well. Then let your magical fairy adventure begin!
Kirito: (groans) Ugh, finally...
Interface: ...Brought to you by uPlay!
Kirito: (sound of ultimate despair and madness)
- While perhaps unintentional, the cringeworthy roleplay elements in Episode 16 could be one to the Dream SMP, which had just started its fourth season when the episode aired.
- Take That, Audience!: In-Universe. Kayaba/Heathcliff to his players.Kayaba/Heathcliff: Alright, Now that I have your ears, as well as your spines, allow me to indulge myself for a moment and tell you what every content creator has always wanted to say to their audience... ahem, FUCK, ALL YA'LL!
- Talking Is a Free Action:
- Subverted, as Diabel found out when Kirito was giving him a needlessly long lecture on the boss' weapons in the middle of the boss battle.
- Rosalia also got this in episode 4 when she was trying to lecture Kirito. After getting tired of her "first-year psych student bullshit," Kirito kills her.
- Tech-Demo Game: In-Universe. The game Sword Art Online is an Obvious Beta that exists largely as a launch title to sell the Nerve Gear.
- Tele-Frag: Episode 11 reveals this will occasionally happen with teleport crystals due to a glitch.
- That's What She Said: Suguha is so eager to make fun of her brother that she nearly dies in the attempt:Kirito: Aw, crap, why'd I come in the back door?
Suguha: (shoves entire muffin into her mouth) OH! OH! THAFFS WHA SHE SEFF! (chokes on muffin, collapses)
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: When Kirito states he knows who Griselda's killer is, Asuna stamps her foot. The tremor causes Kirito's sandwich to drop and explode.Kirito: My sandwich...! [falls to his knees] It was innocent...
Asuna: [concerned] Kirito, are you gonna—
Kirito: Shh! I must grieve.
- Title Drop: The title of the original episode 7, as Liz wakes up and fantasizes about Kirito:Lisbeth: ... It was at that moment that I learned the temperature of the heart— What am I doing?! Stop it, STOP IT!
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Most players except the main characters really don't seem to be taking the game seriously enough, given its life and death stakes. This was a problem in the original series too. Here it's Played for Laughs, and often results in appropriate rebukes from whomever is holding the Sanity Ball.Kirito: I'm sorry, am I the only one in this damn game who understands how aggro works!?
- Thinker went into a peace talk in a dungeon without any weapons or a warp crystal. Even the Literal-Minded Yui points out how stupid that was.
- Lampshaded by Heathcliff; when Kirito attacks him and triggers the "Immortal Object" notice, another player quickly leaps into action hoping for different results. He is not amused.Heathcliff: I tried, you know. Lord knows I tried. But there's just no helping you people. It's like you crave death. But not just any death, nooooooo! You fuckers seem to have some kind of pool going to see who can end their existence in the dumbest, most avoidable way possible. And you just keep one-upping each other!
- Most players except the main characters really don't seem to be taking the game seriously enough, given its life and death stakes. This was a problem in the original series too. Here it's Played for Laughs, and often results in appropriate rebukes from whomever is holding the Sanity Ball.
- Tranquil Fury: Kirito can lapse into this in a more level-headed and sane mindset, though pushing one or more of his Berserk Buttons will cause him to go Laughing Mad.
- Asuna wanted half of the rare item that Kirito got, but since it's only one item, Kirito finally offers to give it to her, but Asuna is unable to accept. Why? Kirito told her to open the menu, knowing she had no idea how to do.
- In Episode 8, Kirito says to Tiffany (Agil in canon) that he can have some of the rabbit meat... if he comes over to Asuna's place. Tiffany is left to yell "That's not fair!"
- Truer to the Text: Asuna killing Kuradeel was what happened in the light novels.
- The Unfettered: Kirito declares he became this at the end of episode 3. But episode 4 already shows the first cracks in that façade, and episode 8 destroyed it.
- Unhand Them, Villain!: The (prone) Godfree asking Kuradeel (standing over him) to "put the sword down".Kuradeel: Oh, I'll put it down all right.
- Unprovoked Pervert Payback: Subverted. Kirito draws whiskers on Asuna's face with a marker while she's asleep. When Asuna wakes up, she assumes that Kirito must have groped her. Asuna prepares to draw her sword on him while saying "tell me what you did, right now, and you might live," and Kirito cops to drawing on Asuna's face. When Asuna asks if he did anything else, Kirito seems genuinely confused as to what else he might have done when she was asleep, prompting some awkward gibberish from Asuna.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Sachi runs into the bad side of this trope during their guild's ambush.Sachi : It's okay, we'll just grab one of the teleport Crystals from Gary?
Kirito: Who the fuck is Gary?!
Gary: We must save my family! [teleports out alone]
Sachi : That was Gary.
Kirito: Of course it was!
Sachi : No, no, no, it's fine! Charlie's got a bunch of health potions.
Kirito: Which one's Charlie? [a guild member dies] Nevermind, I got it.
Sachi : Well, we still— [last guild member dies]
Kirito: Oh god, STOP!
- Kirito takes the brunt of it during his fight with Heathcliff: He narrates a well-thought-out plan in his head, looks up… and is on the floor, having lost while he wasn’t paying attention.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
- Bethesda insisted that Sword Art Online be pushed out at the deadline. This led to the introduction of Game Breaking Bugs such as player death.
- Keita taking the tutorial NPC for his guild led to its fair share of player deaths since the players who did not want to indulge in the beta players' guide could not learn how to play the game.
- Varying Competency Alibi: In Episode 6, Kirito convinces Yolko and Kains that it was impossible for Schmitt to have murdered Griselda by arguing that there was no way he would have been able to defeat her in combat (being too weak to take her directly and too stupid to take her by surprise), much to the annoyance of the man he's defending.
- Verbal Tic: The NPC Companions in the Moonlit Black Cats. All they can say is dialogue from their specific quest-lines. Two are regular quests, while one is from the tutorial. Kirito identifies Gary by his in Episode 5 and proceeds to brutally kill him.Gary: We must save my family!
Charlie: The bandits are coming!
- Corvatz has a rare item that causes a Spanish guitar to accent him when he speaks.
- Vertigo Effect: A slow, relatively subtle example is used in Episode 15, when Yui wipes off Leafa's facial features. It emphasizes her Dissonant Serenity and, combined with Leafa's muffled screaming, adds to the scene's dark humor.
- Video Game Caring Potential:
- In Alfheim Online, people can give their pets names and do other nice things to beef up their friendship stats. According to Leafa, this is just so they'll be fanatically loyal to their owners and take on suicide missions on their behalf, though the sheer despair shared by the Salamanders over Squeaker would indicate they genuinely do care for their pets.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential:
- Keita takes advantage of the fact that the NPC Companions for the quests in the game have to stick with them until their specific quest is completed to basically turn them into slaves by never finishing said quests and thus making them the bulk of the Moonlit Black Cats. However, their aforementioned Artificial Stupidity ends up being the guild's undoing, as well as his own.
- Episode 4 opens with Rosalia arguing with Silica to let her skin Pina just so she can upgrade her Leatherworking skill!! Yes, apparently, you can use your pets in SAO as emergency ingredient items for boosting your own stats. Screw emotional attachments, I need dragonskin leather pants!Kirito: She's right, you know. Dragon Leather is surprisingly comfortable.
- Kirito objects to cruelty against NPCs... until he hears the voice of the NPC that left his guild to die.
- Viewer-Friendly Interface: Sometimes shows up when the game does something that it didn't do in the original.
- In episode 1, the dialog box that prompts Kirito to buy the Ad-Blocker DLC is twice as tall as him.
- Episode 4 has the game vocally announcing "Item has expired!"
- Viewers Are Goldfish: In-Universe, after Kayaba paralyses the player who tried to attack him.Kayaba: Now, I trust that the rest of you good people have enough pattern recognition not to follow in this man's footsteps. Oh, wait, no, that's goldfish. I'm thinking of goldfish! Yeah, better play it safe. (paralyzes everyone)
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Asuna can move into this territory from time to time, including going full Yandere on people if she thinks they're a threat to Kirito.
- In episode 7, Asuna sees Lisbeth flirting with Kirito, taken to an extreme with her whispered threat to Lisbeth. The Stinger of the episode is Asuna burning down Lisbeth's shop.
- In Episode 15, Sugou/Oberon reveals that he knows that Kirito has logged in, and must logically be coming to save Asuna. Once Sugou says that he intends to block Kirito's rescue at the eleventh hour to watch his hope die, Asuna threatens to have Sugou's head "mounted on a fudging pike", while her eyes start glowing red and fire burns behind her. When Sugou still doesn't get the hint, Asuna escapes and starts tearing Sugou's guards limb from limb.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Apparently, 9up has to boiled very thoroughly or else it's hella toxic, as Tiffany states to Kirito early in Episode 13; as Tiff's jukebox learns some time later, he didn't boil it thoroughly enough.
- We Have Reserves:
- The strategy suggested in the guide book for dealing with Illfang the Kobold Lord in Episode 2 is basically this. Kinda grim, given that the weaker players suggested to be used as cannon-fodder are actual people. Although, to be fair, when the guide book was written, killing the noobs was simply dickish, not outright murder. That didn't start until the game's official launch.
- Aincrad Liberation Front also has this strategy to take down a floor boss—combined with a Leeroy Jenkins attitude, and a disregard for pressing clearly tired members into battles.
- Most players have this attitude for Non Player Characters as suggested in episode 5. They planned to use NPCs as bait in battle. To be fair, the NPCs are capable of negligent homicide via Artificial Stupidity...
- Welcome to Corneria: The NPC in the Moonlit Black Cats guild. Gary even keeps repeating his "We must save my family!" line, albeit a bit more panic-y, while Kirito is enacting a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on him.
- Wham Episode: Episode 17 shakes up the status quo with some big changes the resonate with multiple characters across the series. First, there's the Internal Reveals to Suguha that Kirito wasn't making up what was happening to Asuna, along with Kirito learning that Leafa's ALFheim player is Suguha. During the ending, Suguha lays out her Freudian Excuse as to why she treats Kirito with scorn: they used to be best friends until Kirito abandoned kendo for computers. Suguha stuck with kendo both in the hope that things could be the way they once were with Kirito if he came back, and because her and Kirito's sexist grandfather considered Suguha an inferior pupil compared to Kirito and wanted her to quit and she refused to give him the satisfaction. When Kirito didn't come back, he became a Broken Pedestal to Suguha. Finally, the wedding between Asuna and Sugou/Oberon is moved up to that night, resulting in Kirito's Darkest Hour.
- Wham Line:
- When Kirito disses about how the game is extremely glitchy, almost to the point of death.Kirito: It is like, suddenly, TRON became real!
Heathcliff: Oh, so now you've seen TRON!
Kirito: Of course I've seen TRO- Wait... now?
- From a comedic standpoint, Kayaba's reveal for the company that rushed him to complete SAO, leading to the glitch that ended up killing players when they died in-game.Kayaba: Fucking Bethesda.
- In a similar vein, we have the earlier line "I did this because of Metacritic."
- Oberon revealing his masterplan in Episode 14.Oberon: For instance, the NerveGear was actually able to scan in your real life abilities, and assign your base stats accordingly, allowing one to rise up from their former self into a hero of legend.
Asuna: You don't think I know that? I was trapped in that world for 2 years!
Oberon: Well I just find it fascinating, that's all. Increase your Strength stat, and even a child could wield the mightiest weapons. Increase Dexterity, and you could move with the grace of a world-class gymnast. Increase Charisma...
Asuna: Yeah yeah, it will let you... Ooooh. Oh no.
- When Kirito disses about how the game is extremely glitchy, almost to the point of death.
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: ALfheim Online teaches kids important lessons like coloring, counting, and murdering your enemies! Episode 14 makes it more disturbing as not only is it possible to give blowjobs in the game, it might be required for certain quests.Kirito: Who is this for!?
Tiffany: My guess would be the cast of Lord of the Flies, but I doubt that's a big enough market.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Yui describes Kirito and Asuna as "the most broken, sociopathic players I'd ever laid eyes upon, less people than a loose collection of character flaws," specifically citing the fact that they used her as a pawn in their mutual attempts to get the other to admit that they had rushed their relationship because neither wanted to back down first.
- Kayaba refers to Kirito and Asuna as "the dictionary definition of 'lesser of two evils'."
- Who Writes This Crap?!: Diabel towards the beta tester's strategy guide for newbies. He could just about manage the Zerg Rush tip mentioned below, but...Diabel: Now, it goes on to say that when Illfang's health goes into the red, he's going to switch from his axe and buckler to something called a talwar. At that point we should initiate a strategy called "The Final Solution" and I'm just gonna stop reading! Jesus, who wrote this?
- Why Can't I Hate You?: Kirito towards all of humanity, and his fellow players in particular, in his epic rant in episode 8.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Or ban him. Oberon admits as the GM, he can easily ban Kirito's account and nip his plan in the bud, but decides not to, in order to torment him.
- Wrong-Name Outburst:
- Kirito calling Lisbeth by Sachi's name.
- Parodied in Episode 9, where Asuna thinks it's this when Kirito calls out "AH! Suck it, Rosalia!"* as they're having sex.
- Yandere: In episode 7, Asuna gradually shows this as she sees Lisbeth flirting with Kirito, taken to an extreme with her whispered threat.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Godfree generally speaks as if he came out of one of Shakespeare's plays as part of his persona as The Roleplayer. Kirito and Kuradeel find it irritating.
- You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Whenever Kirito calls Klein a.k.a. BallsDeep69 by the former name instead of some variation on the latter, it's a sign that he's having a heart-of-gold moment.
- You Have Researched Breathing: Judging by the way she mentions it, Lisbeth has this attitude to Kirito's Dual Wielding skill.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: And fear and disgust.Silica: I'm grateful for your help, but... you're, like, the worst person I ever met.
Kirito: Is that your play here, huh? Make me feel feelings so you can cut me down a peg? That cuts deep, kid. But I respect that.
Silica: Yeah, that's kind of the problem.
- Your Head Asplode: Kayaba's "dumbed-down" explanation for what happens if you die in the game. Even complete with video footage from Scanners! When called out for his identity, Heathcliff shows the same clip.
- You Just Ruined the Shot: Shortly after entering Alfheim Online, Kirito runs into a group of roleplayers acting out a I Have You Now, My Pretty scenario. Kirito actually asks if his help is wanted, but the "Damsel in Distress" does ask for help because she wants to stay in character (to the approval of the "assailants"). Which is all the excuse Munchkin Kirito needs to tear into the "bad guys".
- Zerg Rush: The primary strategy suggested for beating the first boss. It is also brought up in episode 8 with the Aincrad Liberation Force employing this. And apparently, according to Heathcliff/Kayaba, this is the only strategy the players of SAO are capable of.