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It's like Game Theory with more String Theory.note 

"I love The Legend of Zelda series. But the canonical timeline doesn't make any sense! Perhaps it would make more sense if someone tried to put every piece of Zelda media, canonical and non-canonical, into one timeline. Someone should try to do that."
Brian David Gilbert, starting something he will regret

Unraveled: Absurdly Comprehensive Game Lore was a comedic video essay series on Polygon, hosted by Brian David Gilbert, where he dug into (and sometimes fabricates) the lore behind some of the most beloved video game franchises, while also slowly going insane. After finishing work on Season 3 after two years of working on the series, Brian announced his departure from Polygon and an end to the series, out of a desire to move on and make new forms of content.

     Episodes of the series 

Season 1



Season 2



Season 3




Unraveled provides examples of:


  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: While attempting to fit both Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories into the Hero's Journey chart for Kingdom Hearts, Brian creates the "Hero's Memories of the Hero's Journey Double X Oblong", or the "H.M.H.J.X.X.O."
  • A Simple Plan:
    • From the outset, BDG wanted to see how the concept of The Hero's Journey applied to the Kingdom Hearts franchise in order to predict how the third game would play out. This plan promptly falls apart when he tries to add "Historical Background" to the monomyth, under the assumption that the events of Kingdom Hearts χ naturally bled into the first game.
    • It didn't dawn on Brian how long making 78 recipes would take until it took them 1 hour and thirty minutes to make just nine of them.
  • Accidental Aesop: invoked The main takeaway Brian and Adam take away from making and consuming 78 of the recipes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? "Never improve."
  • Accidental Innuendoinvoked: BDG comes across a few in the Mega Man episode:
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Brian laughs when his mother says that his work has "little meaning".
  • Aesop Amnesia: The Kirby episode has Brian conclude that some things are simple and don't require obsessive analysis. Not only does Brian create several more episodes after this overanalyzing video game lore as usual, but he immediately starts analyzing Diddy Kong after giving up on Kirby.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Several In-Universe examples pop up:
  • And I Must Scream: BDG claims that he only keeps making Unraveled videos because he's cursed to do so.
    "...because God has cursed for my hubris and my work is never finished."
  • An Ice Person: In the Mega Man episode, BDG notes that many of the most useful Robot Masters have an ice theme. The reason is largely practical; ice-powered people can survive and work in environments humans can't, and often their powers involve either altering the climate or messing with energy in potentially useful ways. On the other hand, Cold Man (a refrigerator), Tundra Man (got bored of monitoring arctic environments and became an ice skater), and Frost Man (designed to kill people) didn't end up as lucky.
  • Applicabilityinvoked: The episode on Kirby sees BDG trying to find some kind of ulterior theme or meaning behind the existence of Kirby, which by the end turns out to be a desperate and ultimately futile struggle. After some soul searching, he comes to the conclusion that not everything needs to be a grand metaphor or statement on humanity, nature, or the universe, and that some things can simply be.
  • Artifact Title: The subtitle of "Absurdly Comprehensive Game Lore" made sense in the context of the first few videos analyzing common game lore analysis topics, but became a relic as BDG started pursuing more unconventional topics.
  • Asymmetric Dilemma: In "Smash Bros. owes millions of dollars in OSHA violations", Brian points out that the "means of egress" regulations require stages to have exit signs... and also exits, and Bottomless Pits don't count.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Twice. At the beginning of season two, he shows up with a short-haired and very Dodgy Toupee and a glue-on Pornstache, before announcing that of course he hasn't changed his hairstyle as it would disappoint his friends. But then he pulls off the wig to reveal even shorter hair and a real mustache, clarifying that the viewer has no choice over how he dresses because he and the viewer are not friends.
  • Big "WHAT?!":
    • BDG's reaction to the fact that Skyrim has 337 books, excluding journals and diaries, that add nothing to the gameplay and are simply world building.
      Brian: I had two reactions to this. My first reaction was, "Wow. This is an incredible amount of world building. To write 300,000 words that could essentially be skipped over while still having the the full Skyrim experience, it's amazing. And it's a level of world building that could only exist in an interactive medium. And for that, I commend you, Bethesda." My second reaction to this, was "What the fuck?" Hey, Todd?! WHAT THE FU-"
    • He also has this reaction to explaining Bounce Man's originally-intended purpose: a crash test dummy.
      Brian: Some asshole thought, "Hey, you know that thing that we throw against a wall many miles per hour, every single day, multiple times a day? You know what would make that better? If it could feel pain! (Beat) WHAT?
  • Blatant Lies: The only thing wrong with modern Fallout is the music. Just that, nothing else. Everything's fine.
  • Bones Do Not Belong There: Conversed in the video on Bowser's military hierarchy. Brian is confused about the skeletal nature of the Bone Pirahna Plant, remarking, "Why do Piranha Plant have bone in it?"
  • Book Ends: BDG wears the same suit in the first and last Unraveled.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The Five C's of Good Leadership in the Dark Souls episode are Clear Vision, Consistent Feedback, Cherishes Employees, Compassionate Leadership, and Can Really Just Go To Town On A Motherfucker.
    BDG: Slices! Dices! Big ol' crunchers!
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early on in "I fixed Fallout's music by creating a totally new genre", BDG admits that "Pop Goes the Weasel" makes him cry, and he has no idea why that is. Later on, when discussing how music can be used for events or traditions:
      BDG: This can range from singing "Auld Lang Syne" on New Years to playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" whenever one of your pet weasels died when you were a kid. ... THAT'S why!
    • BDG debuted his mustache at the beginning of Season 2 in the Dark Souls Bosses video, and has been clearly growing it out through the whole season. In the epic season finale "Waluigi, Unraveled", BDG uses the mustache as part of the reason why he's perfect to play Waluigi in a full-motion video game, and when he comes to the heartbreaking realization that he is far more of a Luigi than a Waluigi at the climax of the episode, BDG finally rids himself of the mustache.
  • The Cameo:
    • Patrick Gill occasionally can be seen or heard as one of the show's producers. Video editor Clayton Ashley is also seen and referred to sometimes, but less frequently than Patrick.
    • In Season 2, fellow producer Jenna Stoeber appears in BDG's Kojima episode and as "Plato" in his Fire Emblem video.
    • What is essentially the entire staff of Polygon appears in the music video at the end of BDG's video on Bowser's military.
  • Cats Are Mean: Double Subversion in the Pet HP video. Zuko, his roommate's cat, is first introduced clawing at BDG's hand when he goes in for a pat. Later, there's a montage where he and Zuko are interacting positively, while Brian talks about how, while he was Stat Grinding Zuko's HP, Zuko was restoring Brian's own. Finally, he's shown hugging Zuko while talking about how much they love each other... and Zuko starts clawing again.
  • Charity Motivation Song: Parodied at the end of "Bowser's military hierarchy," when Brian and the other Polygon employees sing a "We are the World" parody imploring Mario and Bowser to end their ongoing war.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • At the start of the Bowser's Military episode, BDG says that he read the entire Geneva Conventions to learn about their definitions of armed conflict before learning that what he was looking for had been summarized in a much shorter paper and he wasted his time. Until the end of the episode, where he realizes Mario is a war criminal and applies the Conventions to him.
    • Among the musical genres BDG deals on at the start of the video concerning Fallout's musical genres is third-wave ska.
  • Closest Thing We Got: While setting to create new Fallout music, one of the stated objectives of the new music will be to make people *move*, so a dance is needed. But to avoid copyright infringement it cannot be a dance already represented by a Fortnite emote.
    Brian: For the sake of originality, I had my research assistant find all the dances NOT included in Fortnite yet. (beat) It's just a Regency Era Quadrille and Skanking. We will make it work.
  • Cold Ham: Patrick Gill keeps a completely straight face during the Dream Ballet section of the Perfect Pokérap.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When playing "Surferball", Brian is not above taking cheap shots to win, leaving the field to grab a ball and scoring a hit on Kofie.
  • Commedia dell'Arte: The framing device for examining Fire Emblem characters, though it starts going off the rails when BDG starts combining categories in the aims of simplifying things.
  • Comically Small Demand: After determining that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate racked up over 17 million dollars in OSHA fines, BDG tacks on a portion of the video meant solely for Masahiro Sakurai himself: in exchange for keeping quiet, BDG demands $50 just to get him through the month, and/or Kirby's phone number (the phrasing is ambiguous as to whether he wants both or would accept just one).
    Brian: I know he is real, where are you hiding him?
  • Continuity Nod: In the intro to "When can Mario Retire?," Brian references how Mario has gotten away with several war crimes which he discovered in "Bowser's Military Hierarchy." There's even a YouTube annotation as he mentions it titled "Don't get that reference?" which links to said video.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: He places Robot Masters meant for construction purposes in their own category, below "The Ones That Are Good", because he believes that while they're certainly useful, their jobs can be done just as well by a regular person with proper equipment without the added risk of them being reprogrammed into committing a robot uprising. Hard Man can do ground leveling, but so can a steamroller.
  • Cult: The Sonic episode ends with BDG forming a cult around the Sonic the Hedgehog Bible. And then really ends as a Very Special Episode style message about the problems of biblical literalism.
  • Crossover: Brian sometimes reaches out to other content creators from Polygon's sister-sitesnote , such as Adam Moussa from Eater for the video about Breath of the Wild's recipes and Kofie Yeboah, from Secret Base, a sports-themed site for the episode about... uhm, sports.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • Brian reaches this in the live episode when, having already been forced to sacrifice his plan for a four-hour-and-thirty-minute "perfect" Pokérap, he realizes that he will not be able to include all 812 Pokémon names in the abridged version, meaning he will be killed by security; he ends up collapsing to the floor in utter despair. Fortunately, with the help of the crowd, he realizes that while one person can't say the remaining 400 names, three hundred people absolutely can.
    • In the Castlevania episode, after having re-recorded a very boring video twice and edited it into something terrible, BDG reached the epiphany that he should throw himself into the sea, though his coworkers talked him out of it until the end of the video.
    • Brian's quest to figure out what Kirby is leads him to lose his mind and live amongst nature, though it does lead to him reaching his conclusion.
    • In When Can Mario Retire? his final calculation has him plug his own details in just as a random assumption, and then realises that since Mario under those circumstances can't retire until 88, neither could he...at which point he goes out and starts boozing.
  • Dark Horse Victory: The scientifically-calculated game of the year for 2018 turns out to be none other than Fortnite. Upon revealing this, Brian immediately declares that that can't be right. One Smash Cut to him double-checking the numbers, and yeah, it's right.
  • Deconstruction: A handful of episodes subtly break down the ideas and themes that the episode is revolving around.
    • The idea of trying to explain and categorize every single story into the pattern of The Hero's Journey is pulled apart when Brian tries to use the concept to try and simplify the very complicated story of Kingdom Hearts, only to make the Hero's Journey more complicated on its own. Long story short: not every story fits into the Hero's Journey.
    • The video where Brian explores the Sonic the Hedgehog Bible ends with Brian telling the viewer that seeing a story through the lens of biblical literalism can lead to issues.
    • The Legend of Zelda timeline video displays the pointlessness and confusion that arises when trying to create a full and cohesive timeline with multiple pieces of conflicting media.
  • Delusion Conclusion: Mocked in “Pokémon Edibility,” in which he points out that any fictional story can have a “the protagonist subconsciously made it all up” theory applied to it, because somebody DID make it all up; the writer to be exact.
  • Dem Bonesinvoked: In "Bowser's military hierarchy", he categorizes the many skeleton and ghost enemies into a specialized "Spectral Unit"/"Dry Corps". While discussing this, Brian takes the moment to express concern surrounding the concept, particularly of their naming conventions.
    Brian: When I die, will I become "Dry Brian"? Is a living Bowser "Wet Bowser"? ...Why do Piranha Plant have bone in it?
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • His position on a lot of the Robot Masters is that they were either so overkill or poorly designed for their purpose, so frivolously given intelligence, or given such bad jobs that people really shouldn't be surprised that they keep going rogue or getting stolen and weaponized. Torch Man (fire safety mascot who is constantly on fire), Centaur Man, Blade Man, and Dynamo Man (glorified tour guides), or Bounce Man (entire life is just being put into car crashes every single day) get notably called out.
    • While each individual component of his Game of the Year formula is alright in theory (except for Frames Per Game Per Gamer where even he doesn't know if it's reasoning is sound) combining them together the way he did ends up massively favouring not only big Triple-A releases that people broadly like (with the curious exception of Red Dead Redemption 2 which only managed point one BDG) it also vastly favours games with long play times but aren't too expensive. All of this PLUS the fact that Free To Play games are treated as only costing one cent led to Fortnite winning with over 19 trillion BDG!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Apparently, the standard PAX contract includes a clause that if he fails to fulfill any of the parts of his promised panel, he will be neutralized by the enforcers viewing his panel. While this likely means that the panel will be stopped if he goes too far off track, BDG chooses to believe that the enforcers will kill him should he fail to say the names of all 812 Pokémon.
  • Doorstopper: In his video on rating all the books in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the sole reason he omits The Lusty Argonian Maid from being among the best because it's seven acts long (approximately 5.5 hours if performed), an unfeasible length for maintaining erotic tension.
  • Downer Ending: The conclusion of the Mario retirement video: Mario can never retire, and neither can BDG.
  • Dream Ballet: BDG settles on this as the best way to work the Legendary, Mythical and Ultra Beast Pokémon into his perfect PokéRap, and performs it with Pat's help.
  • Driven to Suicide: After recording two very boring videos on the Castlevania monsters, BDG comes to the conclusion that he should just throw himself into the sea. His coworkers talk him out of it until the end of the video.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Unraveled" refers both to BDG picking apart the lore of the games at the seams, and the lore picking him apart at the seams.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The Zelda episode has some quirks not carried over to later episodes, including the lighting getting darker over time and BDG having not previously cut out the labels and doing so while talking. The Zelda and Mega Man episodes also include counters every time he says "technically" and "specifically" respectively, but this was dropped afterwards.
    • The first four episodes also have BDG phrase the intro as a topic that needs answering and then saying "someone should do that"; this was dropped after the Castlevania episode as the episode topics began straying from video game lore analysis into more unconventional analysis.
  • Ear Worm: Catchy music is discussed as one of the 10 purposes of music, under #4: Jingles. Brian declares that the world of Fallout's music should be "catchy to the point of propaganda".
  • Embarrassing Slide: In "The Perfect Pokérap," Brian claims he isn't well versed in musical theater and had to do a lot of research to create his new Pokérap. The slideshow, manned by Brian's coworker Patrick Gill, changes to an old photo of Brian in a high school play, captioned "He is lying. - Pat". Brian claims that slide wasn't in rehearsal and tries to downplay his history in theater, but Patrick keeps pulling up many more photos of Brian performing in costume, as well as photos from his days in an a capella group and a madrigal choir.
    Brian: I'm not even on Facebook anymore, did my mom send you these?!
  • Epic Rocking: Brian's Perfect PokéRap is an eight-and-a-half minute long epic that incorporates elements of hip hop, musical theatre, and interpretive dance.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: BDG is mostly just baffled at the description of Freeze Man's ability to divide temperatures into hot and cold to create clean energies. People in the comments section have pointed out that this method seems to be a reference to the real concept of Maxwell's Demon.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In the Kingdom Hearts episode, Brian creates a monomyth for Kingdom Hearts to predict the events of Kingdom Hearts III. However, even after accounting for the complexities introduced into the overall narrative by the subsequent games (to the point where he is forced to set Dream Drop Distance aside), he still has no functioning formula by the 11-minute mark of the video. He then recalls his earlier references to Xehanort and realizes he overlooked said villain's side of the story, so he creates a second monomyth dedicated to Xehanort and uses it to work out what will happen in III: Xehanort will successfully "nort" Sora.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Invoked in his Kirby video, where, upon concluding that Kirby makes no sense as an actual creature, he attempts to interpret Kirby through the lens of being a metaphor. However, he fails to nail down what, exactly, Kirby could represent, discarding the Seven Deadly Sins, nature, and capitalism.
  • Expanded Universe: The Halo video explores this and ultimately how irrelevant it is to understanding the games.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    • Towards the end of trying to categorize Bowser's military hierarchy, Brian admits that some enemies, like the Koopa Troopas in 64, seem impossible to place, since their actions are so unusual they're more like civilians than soldiers. And then, horrified, he realizes the obvious implication of that — they are civilians. Which makes Mario, who attacks them indiscriminately, a war criminal.
    • The entire video about inventing a new music genre perfect for the Fallout series being the explanation, ending with:
      BDG: Did I just make ska again?
    • Throughout all of Waluigi, Unraveled, BDG has been making the case for Nintendo to cast hims as Waluigi in a standalone game. But after that, he continues to tug at the thread of the nature of Luigi and Waluigi's relationship, culminating in this epic speech.
      BDG: Luigi and Waluigi are the same person. It's so simple. Luigi is just manifesting his own repressed desires as an alternate personality, a shocking twist that no one's ever done in media before. Waluigi is just the exaggerated form of Luigi's deepest desires. The want to be skilled! The want to be respected! The want to PARTY! Waluigi is everything Luigi wishes he could be, but could never be, under the famous gaze of his famous brother. What an amazing twist. What an amazing truth! What an amazing role... for me... as Waluigi! Think of the accolades! The game awards! The respect! As someone who wished to be Waluigi for so many years...! As someone... who wished...
    • Happens again when trying to calculate the age at which Mario can retire. After plugging in some "random" numbers to the retirement age equation (which all just happen to be quite similar to Brian's own economic situation), he see that with those numbers he would be able to retire at 88 years old.
      BDG: Are you fucking kidding me?!? No no nono that can't be right. Because if Mario can't retire, then that would mean I wou-
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: In "Calculate your pet's HP", Brian looks into the original definition of a Hit Point, which was how many hits from a 14-inch artillery shell a unit could take. Based on this, he declares that every living creature is one hit point and briefly rolls the end card, before popping back in to admit that this isn't the modern understanding of hit points and continue the video based on that.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: In-Universe: In the Sonic episode, BDG proclaims literally every Sonic game non-canon because none of them follow the story of the original outline written for the series.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: In-Universe: Brian is not fond of people thinking the "if you read the halo novels youd know the space suit automatically jacks master chief off" dril tweet is actual canon, particularly since the truth is almost exactly the opposite (the novels actually establish that the Spartan-II biological augmentations destroy their libidos).
  • Fate Worse than Death: BDG says that Bounce Man was built not just to be crashed into walls over and over, but to also feel the pain of being crashed into walls over and over.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: BDG considers the existence of the Roboticized Masters to be "an affront to nature," and worse than robots designed specifically for murder.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Brian breezily addresses Doug Bowser, president of Nintendo of America, as simply "Doug" throughout "Waluigi Unraveled."
    • In "I read all 337 books in Skyrim so you don't have to" video, Brian calls out the game dev Todd Howard by asking "Hey Todd? What the fuck?"
  • Foreshadowing: The script for the Fallout episode is littered with sneaky ska references, foreshadowing Brian's realization at the end that he's just invented ska again.
    Brian: Any cultural step that goes one step beyond current accepted standards risks alienating its audience by being too challenging.
  • Formula for the Unformulable: "Scientifically calculating the game of the year" attempts to objectively calculate which game was the best of 2018, despite this obviously being a largely subjective criteria. Brian realizes his mistake when his formula outputs Fortnite as the winner due to its massive popularity completely obliterating all the other criteria the formula attempted to account for.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Brian puts a lot of little notes in the videos for only a frame or two. Sometimes they're jokes, but sometimes they're also clarifications. For example:
    • In the "Waluigi Unraveled" video, every time Brian addresses Doug Bowser, a photo of Doug comes up with a caption reading "Doug Bowser (You)" describing him as the President of Nintendo of America and something else that changes every time (i.e. when Brian says "Wait a second, Doug," it reads "the guy who is about to wait a second").
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • To scientifically calculate the 2018 game of the year, Brian invents a hypercomplicated equation, then a new unit (normalized by making Celeste equal to one of the new unit) called the "Big Determinant of Game". One might recall his declaration earlier in the video of wanting a new unit of measurement named after himself...
    • The first game of Surferball is hosted on "Polygon Invitational Surferball Series"
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Brian encounters one in his Sims 4 episode, during the fourth trial of his apartment simulation. While using a Game Mod, he accidentally speeds up the pace of the game too much when the Sim of himself is about to die, and this somehow prevented Death from spawning, leaving Sim Brian to writhe on the floor alone for a long period of time until Brian finally quit the game and started the next trial.
  • Genre Shift: The Perfect Pokérap, over the course of the song. It goes from modern triplet rap to 90s educational rap (with a brief and jarring message about the Opioid crisis) before going into a musical-theater-esque anthem where he lists the final Pokémon, a Dream Ballet, and capping it off with a memorial for Terry.
  • Getting Sick Deliberately: In "Calculate your pet's HP with my 100% legitimate formula," Polygon won't let Brian take a three-year leave of absence to stay home and scientifically observe his cat, so Brian eats bad bodega sushi to take a sick day.
  • Glad I Thought of It: In the video where he creates a new genre of music for the Fallout universe, he states how ludicrous it would be if humanity's only musical framework in 150 years time were hits from the 90's, specifically highlighting Third Wave Ska. He himself sounds almost angry that he ends up re-inventing it.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: According to BDG, Bowser's military must follow the Geneva Conventions, because Nintendo wouldn't create a war criminal and then allow him to ride in a go-kart with a baby.
  • Gone Horribly Right: His sponsored Valorant video. Right at the outset, Brian confirmed the developer's claim that any old computer can play Valorant, as demonstrated by the computer he pulled out of the closet. However, since he was being paid by the developers, Brian decided to use that money to improve upon his play area. What follows is the ideology "killing two birds with one stone" being worked to death, the lengths one will go to stream video games, and spilled milk.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong:
    • It took three tries for Brian to do a serviceable-length video concerning Castlevania monsters, the first two tries resulting in several hours of video recording. In fact, he ran out of time for the first attempt, and had to do the second after hours.
    • As a result of the time crunch, Brian and Adam had to take some liberties in regards to some of the 78 recipes from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so quality tended to vary at points, but there is no greater example of a dish going so completely awry than with the egg pudding, which due to time constraints became scrambled eggs and sugar. They wisely decide to forgo trying it. Later, their attempt at fruitcake resulted in something that resembled a burger patty.
  • Grand Finale: According to BDG himself, "Pokémon Edibility" was chosen as the topic for the series finale specifically to invoke this trope.
    Brian: [Pokémon edibility] was one topic I swore I would never cover... but it's my final day at Polygon, and my final "Unraveled", and I would never know rest unless I tackled this topic, no matter the cost.
  • The Hero's Journey: Analyzed in his Kingdom Hearts video. To break it down:
    1. Using the formula from Chirstopher Volger's seven-page Disney memo on the subject, Brian fits the first game into a dodecagon of twelve defined steps: "Introduction in Ordinary World", "Call to Adventure", "Refusal of the Call", "Meeting with the Mentor", "Crossing the Threshold", "Tests, Allies, Enemies", "Reaching the Innermost Cave", "Enduring the Supreme Ordeal", "Seizing the Sword", "The Road Back", "Resurrection", and "Return with the Elixir".
    2. Brian adds an extra step representing Kingdom Hearts χ, "Historical Background". Since this doesn't really matter to Sora's journey, it's posted adjacent to the wheel, letting the history bleed into the journey.
    3. After Pat interrupts to bring up Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Brian creates the Ventus Diagram, which is three intersecting circles representing the hero journeys of Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. Since Ventus has the most bearing on Sora's journey among the three, his circle intersects with the main story wheel as step 0.5: "Baby's Heart Saves Another Hero".
    4. Brian now recontexualizes the monomyth to represent Kingdom Hearts as a whole, so steps 0.5 through 5 now represent the first game.
    5. Pat interrupts again, leading Brian to create a "Hero's Journey Redux" (representing Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories) and step 4.5 Remix (representing Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days). Because of how Xion factors into these games, they cross through the main story wheel twice via the "Hero's Memories of the Hero's Journey Double Cross Oblong".
    6. To illustrate Roxas' side of Kingdom Hearts II, Brian creates "The Antihero's Cradle", which is a line adjacent to steps five through eight of the main story wheel.
    7. After Pet interrupts for the third time, Brian creates a data cube representing Kingdom Hearts coded, adjacent to step 9 of the main story wheel. He also tries to place Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] next to step 9 as well, but realizing the game's Dream Walker premise makes things too convoluted, he just tosses it into the "Dream Drop Bucket".
    8. Finally realizing he neglected to look into Xehanort, Brian presents a tridecagon dedicated to the villain. The steps here are "Be Contacted By Future Version of Yourself", "Gain the Ability to Time Travel", "Learn About Great Power", "Nort a Boy", "Get Really Into Unethical Science", "Use Yourself As a Guinea Pig", "Create Two Versions of Yourself", "Nort Boy Redux", "Fail", "Develop an Organization to Trick Young Boy into Committing Heartless Genocide in Order to Create a New Pseudo Version of That Great Power", "Fail Again", "Just Do the 10th Step Again But This Time Fill the Organization with 13 Versions of Yourself", and "The Villain's Variable". Steps 2 and 12 are connected with each other, and step 13 leads back to the main story wheel between steps 9 and 10.
  • Humans Are Bastards: His conclusion towards the end of the Mega Man video, mostly around the decision to give robots like Bounce Man, originally made as a crash-test dummy, human-level intelligence and the capacity to feel pain.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The Perfect Pokérap, especially the "educational rap" section,".
  • I Have This Friend: Towards the end of "When can Mario retire?" Brian claims to throw in random numbers into the Mario retirement calculation "just for fun" but based on the variables he inputs he is clearly trying to determine his own retirement age.
  • I'm Not Doing That Again:
    • After discovering that the whole of the mainline Fire Emblem games have nearly 600 total playable characters, BDG bluntly states he knows now that individually describing that amount of separate entities would be a mistake.
    • This tropes is how BDG concludes Solving the Zelda Timeline in 15 Minutes and resolving the entire split timeline converging into Breath of the Wild through Legend of Zelda Monopoly.
      Brian: Don't ask me to do this again.
    • This is guest host Adam Moussa's sentiment after helping BDG cook and taste 78 Breath of the Wild recipes in one day.
      Adam: ...Please don't ever ask me to do this again.
  • Important Haircut: A facial hair variation at the end of the Waluigi Unraveled. After setting up how he would be the best choice to play Waluigi, making special note of his own crooked mustache, Brian has a "Eureka!" Moment that Waluigi is likely a Split Personality representing Luigi's greatest desires. When Brian realizes that, as a coward who aspires to be Waluigi, he thus is more analogous to Luigi than Waluigi, leading to a breakdown where he shaves off his mustache.
  • In-Game Novel: In "I read all 337 books in Skyrim so you don't have to", BDG considers this the best style of in-game literary worldbuilding, greatly preferring it to the mostly dry and expository historical or instructional documents. The books he rates the highest from Skyrim aren't just well-written and weave in elements of the surrounding world, but are also entertaining as completely standalone fiction.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: In the Zelda timeline episode, BDG uses two of these to allow for Breath of the Wild to be at the end of every timeline: Hyrule Warriors taking place outside of the main timeline allows for the "Time Break" to happen. This eventually leads to the Zelda edition of Monopoly, where Link uses his knowledge of the various timelines to converge them together with the power of real estate.
  • Insistent Terminology: Played for Laughs in the Smash Bros. OSHA video:
    Brian: Hi, I'm Brian David Gilbert, safety fan and bureaucratic wunderkind. Please address me as such.
  • Internal Deconstruction: "Kirby Unraveled," over the course of both its production and the final video, ultimately deconstructs the entire purpose of the series. Brian doesn't need to find hidden meanings in everything. Things like Kirby are allowed to just exist without a secret dark truth.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: The Kingdom Hearts episode revolves largely around Brian not actually knowing a whole lot about that game's lore.
  • It's Been Done:
    • The punchline of Brian inventing a new musical genre for Fallout is his sudden realization that he's just invented ska again.
    • This is why he hates doing the "Pokémon Edibility" video, because unlike his typically niche subject matter, eating Pokémon is such an invokedoverdone topic that's already been extensively discussed in countless forum threads, wikis, and even the games and anime themselves.
  • It's the Journey That Counts: In the Grand Finale "Pokémon Edibility," Brian explains that the fun of Unraveled and other game theories is never actually arriving upon the answers, but about the passionate thought you put into your theories and the debates you hold with others over which theory is most likely to be correct. At the end, before he reveals the most edible Pokémon, he gives the audience some time to walk away from the video so they can hold on to their own theories about the subject instead of being stuck with a definitive answer.
  • Kayfabe: The driving tension of the Perfect Pokérap episode is that Brian supposedly signed a contract stating that he would list all 812 Pokémon within the runtime of the panel or else the PAX East staff would murder him.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: One episode is about Brian trying to level up Zuko, his roommate's grouchy cat, and in the process growing a very heartfelt friendship with him.
  • Kudzu Plot: The Kingdom Hearts episode is BDG's attempt to use classical literary analysis methods (particularly The Hero's Journey) to un-complicate the infamously complicated plot of the Kingdom Hearts games. He fails.
  • Large Ham: Brian dips into this at times, but especially near the end of the Sonic episode.
    Brian: Because if a hedgehog could commune with the dead, be resurrected, run with infinite energy, and have his gospel prophecize the future, THEN EITHER SONIC IS A GOD, OR COULD KILL GOD, AND I DO NOT CARE IF THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!
  • List Song:
  • The Lost Lenore: Oddly enough, a Tangela named Terry, who Brian's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Kevin Punt demanded he trade in exchange for the Arcanine Brian needed to complete his Pokédex.
  • Monster Clown: He places Clown Man near the bottom of the Robot Masters list because "Clowns serve their purpose, they're creepy, and sometimes good, and... you know, I take that back. Clowns don't have a purpose." Clown Man, to him, should not be sentient because nobody has ever looked at a clown and thought that it'd be great if it never got tired.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The Educational Rap section of the Perfect Pokérap suddenly has a very serious message about the Opioid crisis.
    Brian: Don't lock someone up if they take a Hit-monchan
    And criminalizing addicts is a really bad plan!
    Big Pharma is the root of our country's problem
    With opiate addiction! [Beat] Golem.
    • In the same video, he deconstructs the Mood Whiplash that comes with the lyrics "Dratini, Growlithe, Mr. Mime, Cubone," in the original Pokérap, saying that the song throws in a terrifying Pokémon with three cute ones.
    • In Brian's video about perfecting his apartment with The Sims, he accidentally glitches the game into preventing the Grim Reaper from taking his body, softlocking him. He goes on about how Brian's character was severely out of touch with the outside world. The only people who noticed his death were the utility companies. Even Death had forgotten him. Sim Brian's house was tiny and isolated compared to the rest of the houses in the ga—
    Brian: And then in Trial 5 I peed myself! A LOT!
    • The Waluigi video has two instances of Brian breaking down after major realizations about Waluigi, Luigi, and he himself being more like Luigi than Waluigi. After both breakdowns, he cheerfully addresses Doug Bowser and tells him they were related to his Waluigi game idea (the first being his Waluigi audition tape and the second being one of the planned endings for the game).
  • Mundane Utility: Most of the Mega Man episode is dedicated to the Robot Masters who actually can and do use their powers for meaningful purposes in society.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Brian's reaction after he trades Terry the Tangela for the final Pokémon he needed to complete his Pokédex. Sure, he was able to complete the 'Dex, but at what cost?
  • Nepotism:
    • Bowser Jr. is only the Secretary of Transportation because he's Bowser's son.
    • Petey Piranha is a General because his father took a bullet for Bowser in Korea.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction:
    • The final described category of Robot Masters is simply "No."
    • His answer to the question "Should you read every book in Skyrim?"
    • Brian's "attempt" at an egg tart was so poorly made that he and Adam refused to eat it and gave it a negative score, for fear of actually poisoning themselves.
  • Non-Indicative Name: As BDG points out, Top Man's intended purpose is exploring other planets.
    Brian: Why the fuck is he a top?!
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Smash Bros. episode completely revolves around analysing every Smash Bros. stage for OSHA violations, which all tallied up amount to USD$17,034,078 in fines. Brian notes that the Boxing Ring stage is an aversion, meeting every OSHA guideline without a problem, and suggests that this is because it's the only stage that was explicitly and purposefully designed to be a fighting arena.
  • One-Steve Limit: In the Fire Emblem episode Brian points out that the series only repeats 3 names with its 596 characters.note 
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: When searching for Castlevania's most eligible bachelor, Brian eliminates any creature or monster that has ever been portrayed as "sexy" in any sort of mass media, thus eliminating a large swath of the series's enemy list, as well as huge sections of other enemies. The final list ended up being cut from over 600 to 69 (woo!).
  • Petty Childhood Grudge: In "The Perfect Pokérap," Brian still harbors an intense grudge towards Kevin Punt, the neighborhood brat who forced Brian to trade away his Terry the Tangela, Brian's favorite Pokémon, when they were both eight years old. Brian even insists, repeatedly, that Kevin deserves to be in jail for this behavior.
  • Phony Veteran: Morton Koopa Jr. has written books about serving but never actually was active duty, for which BDG proclaims him a valor stealing bastard.
  • Physical God: BDG's cult around the Sonic the Hedgehog Bible proclaims that either Sonic the Hedgehog is a god or could kill God.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Brian mentions that many of the mercenary characters in the Fire Emblem series actually join your party for free, making them "by definition not a mercenary."
  • Recursive Acronym: The "M.O.M." in the M.O.M. Variable mentioned in "Scientifically calculating the game of the year" refers to "My Own Mother".
  • Sanity Slippage: BDG usually starts the episode very calm and collected (excluding the Castlevania episode, because the episode we see was the third version recorded, the first two being multiple hours long) before slowly going insane by the end. That being said, the episode on the Sonic Bible is currently the ultimate example of this.
  • Self-Deprecation:
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • BDG's journey in trying to invent a new musical genre for the Fallout universe... ends with him re-inventing ska.
    • His attempt to categorise all 596 Fire Emblem characters leads to him deciding that they're basically interchangeable and that any attempt to distinguish between them is fruitless. It's lampshaded a second afterwards.
    Brian: What was this Unraveled about again...?
  • Sharp-Dressed Man:
    • BDG wears a stylish tweed or floral suit in every episode. Most episodes involve him slowly stripping it off as his Sanity Slippage progresses, though.
    • Subverted in the E3 Presentation episode, where his jacket only manages to abbreviate his "gamer shirt" to be significantly more ridiculous.
  • Shown Their Work: While primarily a comedic show, BDG does genuinely put a lot of effort into Unraveled, often drawing from his education in creative writing when discussing such varied topics as global mythology, literary constructions, and his knowledge of feet. note  Or taking an entire year to read every single Halo novel so he can give book reports on each one.
  • Signs of Disrepair: A variant. During BDG's fake E3 presentation, he starts the show with a "gamer shirt" that says "I LOVE EATING JUNK FOOD AND PLAYING CLASSIC GAMES, DO U?". As he puts a blazer on over it, the text gets partially cut off and now reads "I LOVE EATING ASS, DO U?".
  • Simple, yet Awesome:
    • From his Breath of the Wild recipes video, the best regarded recipe turned out to be simple bread, which they made as frybread due to only being able to use wheat, salt and cooking oil and no yeast. It was the only food they actually willingly ate all of.
    • Brian's literal description of Kirby in the moustached half of the Kirby episode.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Kevin Punt, from the Perfect Pokérap episode, who BDG believes deserves to be in jail for demanding he trade his beloved Tangela, Terry.
  • Snicket Warning Label: "Pokémon Edibility" ends with Brian explaining why, despite knowing the "most delicious Pokémon", he doesn't believe he would be doing the viewers a favor to tell them, because that would deprive them of the experience of researching it themselves. However, as he's still contractually obligated to answer the question posed by the video, he first pauses for several seconds to give everyone a chance to leave without that knowledge.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The Skyrim Book Report's intro switches straight from musing on the use of books in worldbuilding for video games to yelling "HEY TODD, WHAT THE FU-"
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: His "titrations" joke in the Mega Man episode would have no comedy value at all if it didn't immediately kill the background music and leave him standing there grinning at his own terrible line.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Kirby Unraveled acts as one for Waluigi Unraveled in that both are about over analyzing a character designed for kids to get to a deeper meaning. But where as Waluigi ends on the dramatic note the Waluigi is Luigi's manifested darkness, Kirby ends with realizing that not everyone has a deeper meaning.
  • Stealth Insult: From Brian's mother. Brian doesn't mind.
    BDG's mom: This is a lot of research into things that really have very little meaning.
  • String Theory: The episodes analysing the Zelda timeline and the Kingdom Hearts plot devolve into a mess of string on a massive corkboard connecting games and/or plot points semi-coherently.
  • Suddenly Shouting: BDG can go from relatively mellow educational tone to bombastic shouting in a matter of seconds to ham it up for comedic effect. Especially pronounced in the Sonic episode as he becomes increasingly obsessed with the Cult he's forming around Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Suicide by Sea: Played for Laughs. The Castlevania episode begins with BDG contemplating doing this after his original idea plummeting, and the episode ends with BDG walking into the ocean anyway. Because the water is cold, he instantly regrets this and rushes back to land.
  • Superpowered Robot Meter Maids: A lot of the jokes in the Mega Man episode come from "why would anyone make that a sentient, functional, well-armed robot?" Particularly silly callouts are given to Sword Man (was built to hold a sword), Shade Man (animatronic robot they decided to make autonomous), and of course, Bounce Man (crash test dummy).
  • Take That!:
    • BDG says he wanted Bowser's military to emulate a somewhat bloated, overly antagonistic, and massively overfunded one. But he couldn't find a real life example of that, so he "loosely" based it on the United States Military.
    • After taking a moment to try to place Dream Drop Distance into The Hero's Journey of Kingdom Hearts, Brian instead decides that it goes in the "Dream Drop Bucket" (a trash can), which is "where you put the Dream Drop Distance until you need it later, and hopefully you won't".
      • In a more subtle way, the numerous diversions BDG has to add to make the Hero's Journey theory fit Kingdom Hearts ends up being a demonstration of both the theory's flaws more than its strengths, and the flaws of Kingdom Hearts' narrative as a whole.
    • From the "Perfect PokéRap" episode: "...there is a line that rhymes Horsea with Weepinbell, a slant rhyme so terrible that even Emily Dickinson would vomit."
    • When discussing about why games are art and mathematically proving what art is during the game of the year episode, BDG runs out of space on his whiteboard and admits it's not that important and just moves on.
    • His reaction of utter horror to the Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) poster in the Sonic episode.
    • When bringing up time signatures in music, he briefly brings up the odd signatures used for Math Rock, saying that they and the genre belong "in the garbage".
    • When discussing Fire Emblem, BDG starts with the aim of making all the characters distinguishable by their archetype, but ends up concluding that they're all anime characters with a singular personality trait and a penchant for violence and that they cannot be distinguished. Before then, he makes a separate category for "Actually Pretty Interesting," and proceeds to put only two characters into it.note 
    • Throughout his Waluigi video, BDG repeatedly mocks Luigi for his cowardice and pathetic nature.
    • In "Pokemon Edibility", BDG deconstructs and mocks the common theory that invokeda story was dreamed or imagined in its entirety by a character.
      Guess what, you can say that about every single fictional story, because someone HAS imagined it. They're called THE WRITER OF THE STORY!
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • BDG makes a point at the start of his OSHA video to give a shout out to the particular Youtube commentator that requested this video.
    BDG: (increasingly mad) And thanks, nshady16, for making me read 684 pages of OSHA regulations, you piece of GARBAGE!
    • His video on ranking Pokémon edibility constantly chews his audience out for constantly requesting the subject of the episode. He spends most of the video explaining why the question doesn't work for Unraveled, leading to a discussion on why he made Unraveled to begin with.
  • Taking the Bullet: Petey Piranha's father took a bullet for Bowser in the Korean War.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The climax of "Waluigi, Unraveled" pulls a double-whammy example. BDG comes to the realization that Waluigi and Luigi are the same person, with Waluigi being merely a manifestation of all the virtues and dreams Luigi seeks to achieve. However, as BDG begins marvelling at the prospect of being the star of a game exploring this character study, he realizes in his desire to be loved through it, he ultimately doesn't represent the satisfied hedonist Waluigi, but the weak, cowardly, and pitiful Luigi. And then his purple shirt is revealed to be green.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Kevin Punt apparently demanded BDG trade him his beloved Tangela, Terry, in exchange for the Arcanine he needed to complete his Pokédex, because he "wanted me to give up something I loved".
    BDG: Which is legitimately a wild thing for an eight-year-old to request!
  • Unfortunate Search Results: In the episode "When can Mario retire?", BDG tries to figure out the economy of the Mushroom Kingdom. Part of this included him Googling "Mario hyperinflation" after determining the inflation rate for the Mushroom Kingdom is an alarmingly high 15%.
    BDG: I got some exciting search results, that were ultimately unhelpful.
  • Unusual Euphemism: A not-insignificant portion of the Perfect Pokérap is just Brian listing Pokémon whose names can also refer to weed.
  • Verbed Title: Also a Double-Meaning Title: "Unraveled" refers both to BDG picking apart the lore of the games at the seams, and the lore picking him apart at the seams.
  • Was It Really Worth It?:
    • The burning question that haunts BDG as he realizes the terrible price of completing his Pokédex: trading his favorite Pokémon Terry the Tangela to Kevin Punt.
    • Happens when he tries to explain the Kingdom Hearts lore through the Monomyth but keeps being reminded by his production assistant that he skipped over a supplementary game he didn't know about.
    Brian: All right assholes, I ran out of space so I made you a data cube. ARE YOU HAPPY?
  • Waxing Lyrical: In his video on Bowser's military hierarchy, BDG leans into this while describing the naval troops, complete with a disco beat gradually fading in:
  • Wham Line:
    • In his video on the Sonic the Hedgehog Bible, right as he starts ranting about making a religion out of it near the end, he drops this bombshell:
      BDG: I've never played a Sonic game! Never in my life! I only tell you this now, because you've already made it this far into the video, and the Sunk Cost Fallacy states that if you feel like you've invested something, then you're going to see it through to the end!
    • Near the conclusion of his video on Bowser's military hierarchy (done in order to ensure that Bowser honors The Laws and Customs of War), BDG lists a few enemies that didn't fit any typical classification, especially noting how the Koopa Troopas in Super Mario 64 aren't even aggressive, and in fact act more like civilians.
      BDG: ...oh my god, they're civilians.
    • The epic that is "Waluigi, Unraveled" has several wham lines:
      BDG: Luigi and Waluigi are the same person.
      BDG: I'm not a Waluigi... I'mma Luigi!
  • Wham Shot: Brian shaving off the mustache he had since the beginning of Season 2 during his mental breakdown in the Waluigi episode.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Invoked for humor. BDG hadn't been in a pure math course in over 5 years at time of trying to scientifically calculate the game of the year, and ends up contacting his old roommate, an astrophysics grad student at MIT for help understanding the process of making a formula. BDG then proceeded to make increasingly strange units and finds out the results of his formula range from less than 1 to several quintillion, eventually being forced to admit it's basically useless.

"I am going to throw myself into the sea."

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Uh-Oh, John

Reach will be fine. Totally.

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