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"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 is a comedic video essay series on Polygon, hosted by Brian David Gilbert, where he digs into (and sometimes fabricates) the lore behind some of the most beloved video game franchises, while also slowly going insane.


     Episodes of the series 

Unraveled provides examples of:

  • 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."
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Brian laughs when his mother says that his work has "little meaning".
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: 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 pointed out it seemed to be an (albeit simplified) reference to reversal of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
  • And I Must Scream: BDG claims that he only keeps making Unraveled videos because he's cursed to do so.
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  • 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 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 (is 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.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: 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!
  • 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.
  • A Simple Plan: From the outset, BDG wanted to see how the concept of the monomyth 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.
  • 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!" WHAT?
  • 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.
  • The Cast Show Off: Yes, BDG has a musical theatre background. He is lying to you when he says he does not, before putting it to use for the Perfect Pokérap. Fortunately Patrick is there to completely undermine him.
  • 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.
  • Cold Ham: Patrick Gill keeps a completely straight face during the Dream Ballet section of the Perfect Pokérap.
  • 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 also Kirby's phone number.
    Brian: I know he is real, where are you hiding him?
  • 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. Hard Man can do ground leveling, but so can a steamroller.
  • Critical Research Failure: Invoked in the Kingdom Hearts episode, where BDG is completely ignorant to the numerous side games and has to be corrected on them by Patrick stepping in.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sonic robots to be "an affront to nature," and worse than robots designed specifically for murder.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
      • While not as bad, the "attempt" at fruitcake resulted in something akin to a burger patty.
  • Humans Are Bastards: His conclusion towards the end of the Mega Man video.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kudzu Plot: The Kingdom Hearts episode is BDG's attempt to use classical literary analysis methods (particularly the Monomyth) 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 Perfect Pokerap, of course.
  • 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 Pokerap 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.
  • 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."
    • 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 17 million dollars 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 designed to be a fighting arena.
  • 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!).
  • 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.
  • 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: When he puts up a picture of "Garbage Man", he cheerfully declares "It's me!"
  • 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 
  • 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". As he puts a blazer on over it, the text gets partially cut off and now reads "I LOVE EATING ASS".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: The Castlevania episode ends with BDG walking into the ocean.
  • Superpowered Robot Meter Maids: A lot of the jokes in the Mega Man episode come from "who would 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), 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 Monomyth 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 Monomyth 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.
  • 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!
  • Taking the Bullet: Petey Piranha's father took a bullet for Bowser in the Korean War.
  • 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!
  • Unusual Euphemism: A not-insignificant portion of the Perfect Pokérap is just Brian listing Pokemon whose names can also refer to weed.
  • 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!
  • 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 range on values from less than 1 to several quintillion, and admits his formula is bad.

"God has cursed me for my hubris, and my work is never finished."

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