Follow TV Tropes


Web Video / Video Game High School

Go To

"Do you wanna hear about how the real world's the place for me?
Things looking out there won't look better on the TV screen.
Is there a better way?
I don't care what you say,
I just want to play!
We all just want to play!
Things will be alright,
soon as I get back to school!"
— The opening theme in seasons 2 and 3, performed by the Protomen

Video Game High School is an action dramedy web series, and the first feature-length project from YouTube star Freddie Wong and his production company Rocket Jump.

In a World… where video games have become the most popular spectator sport, the only way to catch up to the improbably skilled professional players is to graduate from the eponymous Video Game High School. The story starts when young Brian D. finds himself catapulted into infamy when the next big star, known only as The Law, loses to him in a pub-stomp gone wrong. Now Brian has to put up with the pressures of high school, as well as the constant threat that any defeat could leave him expelled.

The series ran for three seasons from 2012 to 2014, with episodes being released on RocketJump's site and on their YouTube channel. Each season was made with the help of crowdfunding; Seasons 1 and 2 with Kickstarter, Season 3 with Indiegogo.

The entire series is now on Netflix.

This series provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Freddie Wong is very mean to Ted. He actually hates Ted due to the fact that he reminds him of his wife. To the point where he leaves Ted to be by himself in a house to live in at the age of 10. Also, in his will, Freddie gave away all of his money and guitars to a person he hasn't even met. Ted gets his microphone.
    • Mary Matrix is one to Jenny, but more in a harsh, neglectful way.
    • Brian's mom is a minor example. She's mostly a neglectful (and seemingly comatose) parent, except that one time for a parent-teacher conference; she sent a cat in her place.
  • The Ace: The Law, captain of the varsity FPS team, in season 1. In season 2, it's Shane Pizza, who's captain of the RTS team, head RA and the person who framed Law for aimbotting. In season 3, Calhoun himself gets shown off as easily one of the best players in the school despite his age.
  • Act Break: Season 3 episode 2 is split into acts that contain different subplots.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The specialty of the Alliterator. However, after Mrs. Matrix cuts him from the team, he starts speaking regularly.
  • Alliterative Family: The Swans - Ki's father and mother are Ken and Karen, respectively.
  • Almost Kiss: Brian and Jenny in episode 8.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jenny subverts this: She's known as one of the best gamers in the school, she's extremely popular, judging by the fact that nearly everyone in school shows up to one of her parties, and she dates The Law, VGHS's equivalent to the popular Jerk Jock. At first glance, everything about her screams haughty Alpha Bitch. However, she's actually one of the only students to show Brian the slightest bit of kindness or respect during his early days at VGHS.
  • An Aesop: Season 3 episode 2: underage drinking and driving is bad.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: The Law is an Arrogant (Virtual) Gun Fu Guy.
  • Arc Words: "Nobody cool goes to prom" in season 3 episode 2.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In season 3 episode 1:
    Ki has just accidentally insulted the social gamers by saying that they weren't playing "real games".
    O'Doyle: Fruit Tune Farms may not have fancy graphics or take lightning-fast reflexes, but it takes dedication and care to tend these crops. We love it, and it brings us together. So I ask you, Ki Swan, isn't that what gaming's all about?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: [[spoiler: Brian gets expelled for, in Calhoun's words: assaulting a student, inciting a brawl, and stealing a hat.
  • Artistic License – University Admissions: Brian D. gets accepted to the school after he surprisingly defeats their star student "The Law" in an online match.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Averted with Ted; despite being the RA, he apparently frequently gets picked on. His very first appearance is him getting pushed around, in fact.
    • Played straight with The Law, who is the varsity FPS team captain and the best player in the school. Until Season 2 that is...
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Leetmas holiday, which is a combination of all holidays, is very unwieldly and Brian struggles with it.
  • Badass Baritone: In Jenny's dream in season 3 episode 2, she owns a unicorn named Summ'rwynd who has a very deep voice.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • Season 3 episode 3: Big Bads Shane and Ashley Barnstormer succeed in winning the election for VGHS student council president and defeating the VGHS FPS team respectively.
    • Season 3 episode 5: The Barnstormer brothers successfully buyout the school and plan to convert it into a mega-mall, getting their revenge on Calhoun.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Beware the Nice Ones / Beware the Silly Ones:
    • Brian and Ted may be a little out of it, but don't doubt their skill. Brian manages to kill The Law in Field of Fire and has shown decent skill in other games, and Ted is rather good at racing games. Plus, in Ted's case, it's heavily implied that he's at least almost equal in skill to Drift King.
    • Ki Swan as well. She's generally rather kind, but don't insult her friends.
      [after Ki and a teacher played a fighting game, which Ki won]
      Ki: [cheerfully] Let's play again!
      Teacher: [chuckling] No thanks, I think I've made myself enough of a Brian D today...
      [Ki becomes angered on Brian's behalf]
      Ki: [determinedly] Let's play again.
      [starts the game again and launches an attack that instantly reduces the teacher to half health]
  • Big Bad: The Law in season 1. As season 2 goes on, Shane Pizza is built as one, but season 3 reveals Shane's actually The Mole for his brother Ashley Barnstormer, the head of Naplam Energy Drink High School.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Ashley and Shane Barnstomer.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Just as Brian is about to deliberately lose a game against Games Dean and get himself expelled, Jenny joins the game on Brian's team, bails him out, gives him a Rousing Speech telling him Do Not Go Gentle, and convinces him to actually fight back and stay at the school.
    • In episode 7, Ki convinces the Drift King and his followers to help Brian and Ted after they get in a fight with The Law and his thugs.
      Drift King: TO WAR!
  • Big "NEVER!": Law, when Games Dean catches him in a bathrobe and underpants and suggests that he put some clothes on.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Law lets out one just as Shotbot destroys the dunk tank that the Law's in to save him, even though the water will kill him.
    • Jumping Jax and Brian share a very prolonged one when Jax (the hostage) is killed mere inches away from victory, and has to return all the way back to the cell in the enemy's base.
    • Jax after Calhoun is killed in the series finale battle, after having gone on a pretty awesome killing spree. This gets Jax killed, causing Jenny and Brian to facepalm.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The last episode of the series is mostly a textbook Happily Ever After. VGHS is reclaimed back into capable hands, Shane and Ashley can never again bother the school or its inhabitants, The Law and New Law have found new best friends in each other as well as The Law once again attending VGHS, and most of main crew get to finally relax and play some video games with each other, even outside of school. Most of them, because Jenny leaves to pursue her dream of joining a professional FPS team in Paris, and despite how hopeful it might seem, she doesn't make any last minute I Choose to Stay decisions. Brian doesn't do too good a job of hiding how much he misses her.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Just for the games. For example, they don't play Battlefield, they play Field of Fire.
    • Strange case for DanceDanceRevolution clone Dance Ex Machina, the arcade cabinet actually has Konami branding on it.
  • Bookcase Passage: The Drift Racing team has one in their club space. It is behind a bookshelf that slides open when pulling a book from the shelf, which is the only book on the shelf, titled "How To Install A Secret Passage."
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: The Law uses custom gold-plated pistols.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: On the VGHS JV FPS team. Jenny is the blonde, Rapwnzel the brunette and Moriarty the redhead.
  • Book Ends:
    • For Season 1: In Episode 1 Brian killed The Law once in Field of Fire and got into VGHS due to a failed pub-stomp involving a grenade on his head. In Episode 9 Brian kills The Law using an extension of the same pub-stomp fiasco that got him into VGHS, except against an army of 6, and ends with The Law getting killed by 2 shots to the leg and a grenade planted on his chest.
    • For the series: At the start of the first episode, we see Brian getting harassed by a couple of RTS players. At the end of the final episode, we see Brian happily chatting with the same RTS players.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The Swan family contract.
    Swan Family Contract
    Whereas the Swan family will not be held responsible for any accidents, incidents, loss of gaming equipment, life, or limb
  • Break the Cutie: Losing the election (as well as cheating) really affected Ki, if her appearance in season 3 episode 5 is anything to go by. Everything about her screams "emo", from her clothing to the fact that her preferred reading includes Nihilism 101.
  • Brick Joke / Call-Back:
    • In Season 1, Ted asks Ki what her favorite Romance Language is. She says it's C++. Then in Season 2, Ted impresses her by speaking C++.
      Ki: Oh, Ted! You learned C++, kind of!
    • The start of season 3 episode 1 completes a Brick Joke going back all the way to the very first episode. In that first episode, a news flash about Brian's fragging of The Law interrupts a news report about the missing United States President. In S3E1, the reality show "America's Next Top President" gets disrupted by said US President returning with an urgent message for the American people... which is again interrupted by another news flash about a VGHS FPS team victory.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ted spent an entire episode having his pedestal slowly crumble after his dad's death. By the end, it's in a collapsed heap.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Brian, Brian, Brian.
    • Ted as well, with his father issues. While it's treated comically at first, it becomes way more serious later on.
  • Button Mashing:
    • Judging by episode 2, reloading a gun is quite complicated in Field of Fire.
    • Averted in Episode 1: The close-ups on Brian's hands correspond to the correct key presses to pull off his move. First, he presses D to back up and cause the grenade on his head to drop (assuming he uses ESDF controls rather than WASD), then hits the space bar to trigger his melee attack, punching the grenade away. Finally, he mouses up (possibly because he plays using Inverted Mouse controls?) to aim at the grenade, then presses the Mouse 1 button to fire.
    • Seeing as Brian spins and drops into a crouch in order to dodge the bullet from Law's personalised Desert Eagle, his camera could have been thrown off-centre by the movements required to do so. As well as activating iron-sights, the raising of his assault rifle could easily be explained by "looking" upward in order to level himself out, as the "lookspring" mechanic of snapping the viewpoint back to a floor-parallel/straight ahead state has been phased out of multiplayer FPS games. This could be an alternative explanation as to why he moved the mouse up before firing, as opposed to an inverted Y-axis setting.
  • The Cameo:
    • iJustine appears as a co-host of the IRL show in the first episode.
    • Burnie and Joel of Rooster Teeth fame appears in the start of season two as one of Calhoun's bosses.
    • Also in season two, the King of Cameos himself: Stan Lee!
    • As well as The Nerdist Podcast's Chris Hardwick as a newsreader.
    • And Cliffy B as one of the jurors at Law's trial.
    • Season 3 episode 1 features cameos from skater Tony Hawk (as one of the competitiors on America's Next Top President) as well as Conan O'Brien and DeStorm Power as two of the reporters commenting on VGHS's latest FPS team victory. Conan's cameo was even filmed when Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold appeared on his show.
  • Casting Gag: Freddie Wong as Ted Wong's father. Jimmy and Freddie Wong are real life brothers, both YouTubers that frequently receive comments about their resemblance to each other.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Ted's youth is initially Played for Laughs as a Hilariously Abusive Childhood. Come the Darker and Edgier third season, it gets treated far more seriously, with everything reaching a peak when Freddie dies.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The wacky high school comedy hijinks pretty much end after Episode 5, as that's when Brian gets his ass kicked by The Law in the scrimmage match and is on the verge of expulsion. Not to mention at this point Ted and Ki are also forced to start dealing with their own personal problems.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: In season 3 episode 3, Ki realizes that her chances of winning student president are very slim, so she ends up having to stuff the ballot when no one's watching in order to win. She holds the presidency for about a minute before she cracks and admits what she's done to both her team and Calhoun, making it so that Shane is the president.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The copy of Dance Ex Machina that Brian threw out his window with a note to Jenny in it. Games Dean finds it and taunts Brian with it, pushing the kid a bit too far.
    • The flagpole with Tetris blocks in front of it finally gets used in Episode 7.
    • Multiple times in S2E5 Law talks about working his thighs. It seems like Law's usual boasting until near the end of the episode he is precariously over a pit of water holding on only by his amazing freaking quads.
    • The "Best Friends" badges that Brian gets for himself and Ted; in the final episode of season 2, Ted finds Brian's badge abandoned in the janitor's closet while he goes off to hang out with Jenny, making him realize they're drifting apart.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander:
    • Ted normally, but Brian sometimes takes this.
    • The Law may beat them both, his harassment of Brian frequently segueing into hilarious insanity. His out-of-nowhere moustache, for instance.
  • Cliffhanger: The end of season 2. Brian and Jenny are finally dating (and with Mary Matrix's approval no less) and Ki has decided to run for student body president against Shane Pizza. But Law jumps ship to a rival school, and Ted moves out of his dorm with Brian after taking Brian calling him needy to heart.
  • College Is "High School, Part 2": Inverted. VGHS is a high school with similarities to University life. For example, each floor has an RA and students can earn scholarships. When Brian's scholarship is canceled, he stays by taking a work/study position as the school's janitor.
  • Color Wash: In season 2, Deep-Immersion Gaming scenes are shot at 48 FPS, whereas scenes out-of-game are recorded at 24 FPS.
  • Continuity Nod: The series finale has one that goes all the way back to the series premiere, with Brian choosing Law as the final person on VGHS' team since, through the failed pubstomp, he was the reason why Brian got into VGHS in the first place.
  • Contrast Montage: Season 2 episode 6 has this for Ki and Ted as they're down against their challenges to Ronin and Drift King, respectively. Rethinking the Armor-Piercing Question Ronin asked her earlier, Ki finds inspiration from every moment she's helped countless students going all the way back to where she helped Brian in season 1, and finds the Heroic Second Wind needed to defeat Ronin. At the same time, after spinning out in his race, Ted recalls Brian seemingly drifting away from him as a friend, culminating with Brian berating him for being needy in the previous episode. In his anger, he takes an offroad shortcut that allows him to overtake and beat Drift King.
  • Cool Loser: Brian is skilled, funny, and becomes famous seemingly worldwide in the span of what appears to be no more than a couple of days. Yet, at VGHS, he gets picked on by pretty much everyone. Possibly justified: he has a huge rep after killing Law, and almost everyone is convinced that it was a flash-in-the-pan moment. They're not interested in being friends with Brian, they're interested in being the one that kicks his ass, as a kind of surrogate butt-kicking to the Law. They can't beat the Law, but they can beat Brian, who beat the Law, and that's almost as good.
  • Comfort Food:
    • After being found guilty of hacking and becoming Brian's roommate, The Law seems to be seeking solace in various foods such as Taco Bell products, cereal, and popcorn. The Law indulges in disgusting or unsanitary ways, prompting several students to report that he is being gross in the common area.
    • It's implied that in the course of Brian comforting Jenny over her lack of a relaationship with her mom several small tubs of ice cream were consumed.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Freddie Wong is mentioned as being Ted's father. The actor who plays Ted is Freddie's younger brother. He also features lightly in Season 1, and has occasional cameos in Seasons 2 and 3, as one of the VGHS teachers. As something of a partial (if somewhat distant) callback, he teaches classes centering around a Guitar Hero-esque rhythm game.
    • Brandon Laatsch appears as an unnamed member of the Junior Varsity FPS team. The credits list him as Rico, which is a Shout-Out to several of their previous YouTube shorts.
    • Matt Arnold briefly appears as the PA telling Brian it’s time to go in episode 1.
    • Producer Dez Dolly and a co-writer appear as Shane’s goons in season 2 episode 5.
    • the voice of Shot Bot is Will Campos, co creator and writer of the show.
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • The Law turns every single game he deigns to join into this with insulting ease.
    • Ki does this to a teacher, scoring a perfect win after a 4016-hit combo.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 3 is a lot of this.
    • Episode 1 has Brian and Ted getting into a physical fight that ends with Ted slamming his face into a countertop and bleeding quite a lot.
    • Episode 2 takes this to the extreme. This episode has noticeably mixed reviews on YouTube because both the characters and the plot of the episode as a whole are severely out of character with the lighthearted antics of the previous two seasons.
      • Ki's minisode has her working as a detective in a Film Noir-style mystery plot (with the directors themselves even stating the cinematography of this episode was intentionally choreographed to be darker than usual), ending with the revelation that Wendell stole Brian's cat in order to maim the image of Ki's election rival. Afterwards, Ki fires Wendell as her running mate, disgusted by his foul play.
      • The second minisode has Jenny shooting a unicorn she befriended that represents her childhood and turns into Brian in an illness-induced dream in order to fulfill her dream of joining the greatest FPS team in existence.
      • The third has Brian and the FPS team leaving the prom to go to Games Dean's brother's college party... With beer. Actual beer. After being turned away they find a barcycle and all enjoy beers. Brian doesn't drink until he does it to avoid answering questions about his noticeably suffering friendship with Ted. They try to ride the barcycle back to VGHS and get stopped and arrested by cops, leading to a jail sequence.
      • Finally, Ted's minisode has the drift team going to an erotic arcade and stealing a game machine. Thugs in the arcade/bar attempt to shoot and kill Ted. Ted plays the game, which features Ted naked on a jet ski, as DK drives Freddy's car (that Ted stole). The episode ends with Ted almost dying when the machine they steal crashes and then walking away into the sunrise when his father chews him out for having such a wild night. Meanwhile, Ki is trying to reach him, as he is missing prom night, and Brian arrives in his dorm room and gets sick in a trash can, all of this to a song that makes the scenes all the more epic and emotional.
    • Episode 3 of the season is probably the darkest episode in the entire show. Law is fired and replaced, the VGHS team loses their match against Napalm, Brian finds out about Jenny's intention to move to Paris and breaks up with her, Jenny's hopes of joining a pro team have effectively been ruined, Ki resorts to stuffing the ballot to win the election and finds out Ted blackmailed the MMO Guild to vote for her. Ted gets caught having allowed the blackmail-ee's Tomowachi to die at the same time. Ki resigns her position, allowing Shane to become president, and she leaves the school. In short, all four main characters' lives are falling apart.
    • Episode 4 has Freddie Wong dying in a motorcycle accident. Besides Shotbot, this is the first actual death of a character in the series.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • Name-dropped by DK when talking about how the Duchess of Kart and her posse have gone after the drift racing team.
    • The penultimate episode's ending and the final episode's beginning, depicting NDHS making everyone in VGHS move out as they turn the property into a mega mall.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
  • Death by Irony: Freddie had always constantly been discouraging Ted from playing racing games so he would be under his shadow forever. In Season 3, Freddie is killed in a motorcycle accident.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming:
    • The show is built on this.
    • Played for Laughs when Brian goes AFK or his keys get stuck and it's obvious his mouth isn't communicating with his character's body. His in-game expression remains entirely neutral even while being mauled by his pet cat in the real world.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Of sorts. Law and New Law befriend at the end of the finale after the final battle after having spent most of the battle trying to headshot Ki, with the situation culminating in both Laws being killed.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: When we see how Wendell caused Cheeto to go missing and framed Shane for it in season 3 episode 2.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The third and fourth episodes of season three.
    • The third episode: Jenny costs her team the game against Napalm, Brian breaks up with her immediately after, Jenny ends up attacking Ashley in front of her mom and Jacques (the leader of Jenny's dream FPS team), Ted's attempts to blackmail the MMO Guild into voting for Ki catch up to him, and Ki has to cheat in order to win, even though she turns herself in shortly after and subsequently leaves the school.
    • The fourth episode: Freddie dies, and Ted spends the whole episode torn between grief and anger due to how much of an asshole his dad was.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Ki gets bored of everything eventually because of her incredible talent. This trope is realized when someone asks Ki what she wakes up for everyday.
  • Determinator:
    • Jenny tells a story about how her pregnant mother went into labour in the middle of an important game. She stayed there and continued playing, and won, before finally giving birth to Jenny.
    • Ted spent 84 hours in Overdrift: Purgatorionote  before finally beating the game.
    • Wendell gets this too for playing Ki's nihilist game for almost 24 hours straight. The game in question is merely holding down the arrow key to make your character walk across the screen, and she dies the moment you let go.
  • Didn't Think This Through: A positive example shows up in the series finale when the Barnstormers' mother berates them on having already produced and shipped millions of humongous cans of energy drink declaring them the champions of their own bowl. Since they lost, the cans are worthless and the company lost too much on printing cans and hiring the Napalm team for her to think they could run a mega mall.
  • Disney Villain Death: Ki inflicts this upon Shane in the final battle.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • After getting killed once by Brian in a random game, The Law makes it his personal mission to make Brian's life at VGHS as miserable as possible, both in and out of the game.
    • Ted breaking up with Ki over her switching their ID cards. Can someone say "harsh"?
    • Inverted when Brian gets let back into school for beating someone in a video game, even though the reason he was expelled was for physical assault.
    • The Barnstormer brothers got rejected from VGHS because they were too young, and were permanently banned when they attempted to bribe Calhoun. Their response? Buy out the entire school and make plans to convert it into a mall.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": In season 2 episode 3, Law has this moment with a pixelated reflection of himself that calls him by his real name, Lawrence Pemperton.
    Law: Never say THAT NAME TO ME! [Law punches the mirror]
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Jenny gives a speech of this kind to Brian while the latter is trying to "leave of his own accord", convincing him to fight back.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • VGHS students chug energy drinks when they party.
    • In a particular scenario, Law is preparing to confront a potential enemy, only to burst into the next door over, interrupting whatever that student was doing and causing him to gratuitously apologize.
    • Brian's mom is an games, that is.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Season 1 Episode 5. Because Brian goes after The Law instead of following Jenny's orders, Brian suffers embarrassing kill after kill, until the game ends. What really makes this a downer is the somber music after the game is over, Brian's team all but passing him by without a word (especially Jenny), Ki Swan handing her bet over and leaving with Ted, Brian's score becoming dangerously close to the expulsion mark, and the episode ending with The Law mock-shooting Brian with his fingers.
    • Season 1 Episode 7. Brian's expelled from VGHS after a fight with the Law, Freddie tells Ted he never wants to see him again, Ted breaks up with Ki, Ki is signed up for Freddie's class instead of Fighting Games, Jenny is not promoted to Varsity FPS and blames Brian for it, and the episode ends as she calls him an "asshole".
    • Season 2 Episode 6, as well as Season 2 overall: Although in general everything seems to be looking up for the protagonists, Brian and Ted's friendship is in shambles, and the episode ends with Brian realising that Ted has moved out, leaving only the Best Friend badge behind.
    • Season 3 Episode 3 is a downer for all the main characters. Shane beats Ki and becomes student council president (Ki actually won, but only by stuffing the ballot, and turned herself in), Jenny costs the VGHS team the game against Napalm, Brian breaks up with Jenny, Ted's misdeeds finally catch up to him, and Ki has an existential crisis and leaves the school.
  • Dress Hits Floor: In a particular scene, Jenny shows up at Brian's room wearing a trenchcoat. She takes it off, and the subsequent shot and Brian's reaction makes it appear that she's not wearing anything underneath, but it then cuts to her in pajamas.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Mary Matrix qualifies. The regimen she puts her players through seems more like athletics training than gaming. It is athletic training, which is justified by Mary with the philosophy that healthy bodies lead to healthy minds, which improves game skills.
  • Due to the Dead: After the heroic sacrifice performed by Shot Bot, The Law "closes" his electronic eyes. He then asks if anyone in the crowd will honor Shot Bot's efforts as a journalist by opening the flash drive containing evidence of The Law's framing: the last story Shot Bot investigated.
  • The Eeyore: Ki turns into one after losing the election.
  • Embarrassing First Name: It's revealed in Season 2 Episode 2 that The Law's real name is Lawrence.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Shane Stuffed-Crust Pizza. Worth the whole season for that joke. Subverted in that it's not his real name...
  • Epic Fail:
    • In season 3 episode 1, Jenny has an interview in which she is asked to rank her favorite races. She interprets this as actual human races. It goes about as well as you'd expect it to.
    • In season 3 episode 4, Ted absentmindedly ends up telling Ki about the relationship that he formerly established with Jenny, even going as far as mentioning that they kissed three times.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • Being loaded with references to video games, people at VGHS aren't called by their names. They go by their in-game handles, which sometimes refer to which games they play and/or their skill in said games; e.g., Drift King, The Law, Games Dean, Jumping Jax, Alliterator.
    • Freshman at VGHS will either arrive at the school with their moniker or go by their given name.
    • Brian is also an example of His Name Really Is "Barkeep" with his username BrianD. Even more-so with Games Dean, when episode 2 of season 3 reveals that to be his full legal name (he has an identical older cousin named 'Sames Dean').
    • The FPS Fundamentals teacher, Ace (which could be his real name, but the nickname theme still holds).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: It turns out that the Law was framed for cheating.
  • Evil Laugh: Shane near the end of S3E5 after buying VGHS.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Agreement Corner consists of four people who present a topic, have one state an opinion, and then have the others all agree with that one person. They seem to agree very... passionately.
  • Faking the Dead: Shane pretended to get lost at sea as part of his strategy to overtake VGHS.
  • Fictional Holiday: L33tmas, the VGHS-student-created holiday being celebrated in season 2 episode 5. As the song on the radio in Brian's room describes it:
    "Well, screw you, Calhoun," the students did say,
    "We'll just come up with our own holiday
    With the best parts of Christmas, Earth Day, Halloween
    Cinco de Mayo and all in-between
    We'll carol 'til sundown and party 'til morn'"
    And with a chug of sweet noobnog, L33tmas was born...
  • Femme Fatale: Played With with The Duchess of Kart. She has the look, and her first appearance sees her kiss Ted and steal Drift King's key. However, she seems more like she just has a crush on Ted than anything malicious.
  • Fever Dream Episode: Jenny's segment of the S3E2 anthology involves a rather surreal internal conflict between her personal life and her career ambitions (in the form of fantasy unicorn realm Jenny vs modern battlefield warfare Jenny).
  • Final Boss: Season 1's is The Law.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Discussed by Ki in season 3 when she tells Brian and Jenny how to help Ted cope with Freddie's death.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • The Law as he joins Napalm Energy Drink High School at the end of season 2.
    • Jenny as she leaves class after being teased by the Duchess of Kart about losing the big FPS match and the breakup between her and Brian. She does it on both hands, no less.
  • Foreshadowing: At the end of Season 2 Episode 5, as Ted is heading off to get Brian a soda, the light on his "Best Friends" badge goes out; this happens when the badge gets too far away from Brian's own badge. Guess what happens in the next episode, only with people instead of badges...
  • For the Evulz: In season 1 episode 7:
    Brian: Why are you doing this? You already proved you're better than me.
    Law:'s because I can. Because, well, it's fun.
  • From Bad to Worse: In season 3 episode 3. The "bad" part: Jenny costing her team a big game against Napalm. The "worse" part: Jenny lashing out on Ashley only to be seen by her mom and Jacques Latournote .
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The engraving on the side of The Law's signature gold-plated pistols can very briefly be seen to read "The Long Arm."
  • Freudian Excuse: Freddie is actually divorced from his wife, and he constantly mistreats Ted because he serves as a reminder of her.
  • Freudian Trio: Ted, Brian, and Ki as The Id, The Ego, and The Superego, respectively.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Ted feels this way when he realizes Brian is spending all his time with Jenny. A variation occurs in that, rather than Ted confronting Jenny about it to try and get Brian back, he just leaves Brian and Jenny is never aware of this happening.
  • Fun with Subtitles: When The Law's verdict is being handed down on TV, the bottom of the screen has a spot labeled "Breaking" presumably for breaking news. But what's written there is "The Law, Guilty". So it ends up reading "Breaking The Law".
  • Funny Background Event: While Drift King talks to Ted in episode 6, Brian is in the background trying to get a bag of chips that has become stuck in the vending machine.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Two on the "Purgatorio" driving simulator. The first was actually billed as a "feature"; the machine closes up around the player when they start playing, and only opens if they win a race. There's an urban legend that someone died because of this (Drift King implies it's untrue), which is why the game was discontinued and so hard to get ahold of. The second is one of the virtual opponents in the game. Normally, if the player wins a race, they are able to claim a toy version of that car and leave the sim. However, one of the cars was deliberately bugged so that when the player tries to claim it, the game resets. Ted discovers that it actually has a different "win" condition; the car just wants to play, like a kid, and it lets Ted claim it after they mess around driving together for several hours.
  • Genius Ditz: Ki is very smart in her field of studies, but isn't as good in dealing with social situations.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Ki and O'Doyle sport some during the final battle.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Scott Slanders whips off his glasses dramatically during the FPS tryouts.
  • Graceful Loser: Zigzagged with The Law. At first he seems to be perfectly fine with Brian besting him and even proud of him...only for it to turn out this is just an act and he now harbors a deep hatred towards Brian. Later, he plays this trope straight when he and Brian go head-to-head in Dance Ex Machina, where Brian loses but becomes the life of the party (see The Runner-Up Takes It All below). He's just trying to save face, but still.
  • Grand Finale: "The N64", primarily since it's centered around the Final Battle between VGHS and Napalm.
  • Groin Attack: In episode 7 during the fight scene, a girl has her arms locked around Brian as Law prepares to punch him. Brian slips out just in time, making the Law accidentally punch the girl, and uppercuts his groin. The audience's reaction says it all.
  • Hannibal Lecture: The Law's speech to Brian in episode 9 enters this territory.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Games Dean, after losing to Brian, stands up for him in episode 9 when other players are picking on him.
  • Heel Realization: Mary eventually realizes that she's a "shitty person" for being a champion who's abusive, neglectful, and broken inside with no social skills, having minimally raised her daughter the same way. Emphasis on eventually, though; Freddy's abuse to Ted in his last will gave Jenny the insight she needed to call her mother out.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At the climax of season 2 episode 5, Shot Bot destroys the dunk tank Law's trapped in to save him, but dies due to the exposure of water.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Brian and Ted always have each other's backs.
  • He's Back!: The Law, after an entire season of humiliation and self pity, returns to being a badass.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Ted, at first; by the third season, the abuse Freddie put him through gets treated far more seriously.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The Law repeatedly; every time he lost to Brian it was down to his own over-confidence and need to show off, causing him to go for the most trickiest, humiliating ways to kill him. Had he not done so, he'd have likely creamed Brian just as easily as he usually would.
    • Ultimately, this is also how Shane and Ashley Barnstormer are defeated, on three points. One: Choosing to make Team VGHS fight instead of forfeit the 32-V-32 N64 Championship match after they couldn't make up enough players for their team (instead, choosing to force them to fight with only seven players to make the resulting Curb-Stomp Battle all the more humiliating), they actively force them to compete; had they let them forfeit, they could have had their humiliating defeat, instead of losing like they did. Two: Recruiting high-profile professional players to Team Napalm ends up being enough to bring Calhourn out of retirement, causing him to give a Rousing Speech that calls all the student body to fight back, allowing Team VGHS to make up their missing teammates. Three: Ordering as many of their Championship cans to be made and shipped before the game even happened due to their confidence that they'd win ends up sinking their stock prices, prompting their mother to take away their company and cancel their plans to buy out VGHS. Basically, if any aesop can be taken from the show, its that if you have the chance to win something, don't opt to go with the most flashiest move, just go with whatever wins.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs:
    • Brian says he has wanted to play on a VGHS team since he was "E For Everyone".
    • Nearly everything Calhoun says is laced with this.
      Brian: Are you joking?
    • When the Law gets the fingers on his left hand broken, he screams "My wasd's!"
  • Hollywood Game Design: Ki Swan can bash out simple games over the course of a conversation.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Ki is freakishly skilled at pretty much every kind of game, and can even make new ones over the span of a short conversation, but she takes on a support role, letting Brian and Ted take the limelight. Deconstructed in the last episode of Season 2: it's pointed out that she takes very little enjoyment from anything and gets bored with games quickly because she can beat them so easily.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Ki in season 2 episode 6, when she decides to take care of Brian's cat Cheetoh, violating her own "no animals" rule. Wendell does catch her in the act and call her out on it.
    • Later in the episode, Ki finds Cheetoh outside after having thrown him out earlier. When Shane picks Cheetoh up, Ki stuns him with silly string—breaking her "no silly string" rule.
    • This reaches a breaking point when Ki fires Wendell for framing Shane with cat-napping only to rig the election right before the results are announced. She quits school out of self-loathing.
  • I Am the Noun: In Season 1 Law tells Brian that he is VGHS.
    The Law: Welcome to me!
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Wendell's explanation for how he framed Shane for stealing Cheetoh.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: A good portion of the season 3 episodes are named after quotes from the episodes.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: After a team practice Coach Matrix asks Jenny what she thinks about Brian, to which she responds, "I think he's still in the room, Mom."
  • Interrupted Intimacy: In season 3 episode 4, Ki walks in on Brian and Jenny making out.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Brian's night out with the rest of the FPS team, minus Jenny, in season 3 episode 2. He does abstain from drinking for a bit until caving in to avoid answering questions about his friendship troubles with Ted.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Dean Calhoun points out a couple of times to Brian that "it's all about the game." He even has a plaque on his desk of it. In episode 9, Brian says "it's all about the game" to Calhoun, convincing him to let Brian play one final game with the JV FPS team when Calhoun was trying to stop him because he was expelled.
    • Another one happens immediately after that, with Ace. Played With in that Rule Number 1 was not what Brian quotes it to be.
      Ace: Showin' up late again, huh, Brian? You just never seem to learn, do you?
      Brian: Rule Number One, Ace: Never give up.
      Ace: Rule Number 271: Never quote my rules back at me. Now sit your punk ass down and best of luck to you, son.
  • Jerkass:
    • Both the Law and Freddie Wong. The Law goes out of his way to try and ruin Brian's life just because he can and admits that he doesn't think much of Jenny. Meanwhile, Freddie manipulates Ted into sticking with rhythm games, knowing that he's terrible at them, because he always wants his son to live in his shadow. Also, Games Dean qualifies in Season 1. In Episode 2, he steals Brian's hat. In Episode 4, he finds Brian's cake and takes credit for it. Last of all, in episode 5, he challenges Brian VERY SMUGLY after Brian is told to leave the school. Upon being defeated, Games spreads a rumor that he saw Brian and Jenny making out.
    • Freddie Wong takes new levels in Season 2 when he refuses to give Ki homework despite her desire to learn, and he won't kick her out of his class either and purposely looks for an excuse to give her a failing grade. All of this is done purely out of spite.
    • In addition to all the other crap he puts Ted through, it's revealed that he convinced Ted (his son) that "child support" meant Ted had to pay him $5000 a month.
    • And when he died, he verbally abused Ted in his will and gave his entire fortune to someone he had never even met while Ted got a broken microphone. Ted pretty much lost all respect for him at this point.
    • Games Dean does get better later, when he and Brian are on the same team in Episode 9. When two other teammates chew out Brian, thinking he's going to screw everyone else over, Games defends him with a reference to Episode 6.
      Games: Hey. I've seen these two cats meow. It's about to be a fancy feast tonight. [to Brian] You plan on bringing the thunder?
      Brian: You know it.
      Games: Good enough for me.
    • Shane and Ashley Barnstormer are definite examples. Not only are they the Big Bads of the series, but they're generally assholes to pretty much everybody and are the typical rich, entitled jerks used to getting their way and are not afraid to use underhanded methods. Even Calhoun sees them for who they are and outright calls them terrible people.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Coach Matrix says having an ace coach is more important than having an ace player or an ace team. Sounds pretty egotistical... but guess who came up with the play that won Season 2's climactic match? If it weren't for the "Special Delivery" things would likely have turned out more poorly for Brian.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Drift King, despite being presented as a minor antagonist to Ted, doesn't actually seem that bad and appears to just want to get Ted into racing games. It's his two followers that seem to be the real problems.
    • Games Dean in Episode 9. When one of Brian's teammates calls him out for being expelled and says he has no chance on their team, Games Dean defends Brian, despite mocking him in Episode 6 and spreading a rumor about Brian and Jenny in Episode 7.
    • Calhoun also ends up being this. Despite how much he outwardly dislikes Brian, he ends up acting as a sort of surrogate father figure for Brian, giving him important advice when he really needs it. Calhoun especially begins softening up at the end of season 3.
  • Kill It with Water: The Shotbot dies when he breaks a dunk tank and the water spills all over him.
  • Lady in Red: Ki dresses herself up pretty well in season 3 episode 2.
  • Lame Comeback: In season 3 episode 5.
    Jenny: You're terrible at [parenting].
    Mrs. Matrix: Yeah? Well, your..boyfriend dumped you.
  • Large Ham:
    • The Law. All the way.
    • Drift King even more so. It's likely that he calls Ted "Theodore" just as an excuse to have more syllables to shout.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Brian D pulls this throughout the series in FPS season matches. Jenny even weaponizes this in Season 2 by tasking him to disarm a bomb in the final match, despite him having spent the last 24 hours fucking up most of his practice attempts.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Season Two opens with the Law on trial for hacking and making a total fool of himself at his press conference—which is on national television. After going through some rather humiliating hijinks and becoming a better person, he experiences the rare positive variant at the end of the season when the word gets out that he was framed.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: New Law tells the older Law he "look[s] like a thirty year old man" but he just laughs it off.
  • Leg Focus: One shot in season 3 episode 2 features a nice horizontal-moving shot of Jenny's legs while foxy music plays in the background. The music stops immediately when we see Jenny loudly coughing and sniffling into a tissue.
  • Le Parkour: The specialty of the "platform speedrunners".
  • Little Miss Badass: The little Asian girl known as "Sushi_Princess" that completely kicks Jenny's ass in-game and proceeds to criticize her and give her some harsh life advice IRL.
  • The Load: Jumpin' Jax is seemingly this for the JV FPS team.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Because Brian signed up for the try outs before he was expelled, his name is still in the system, technically meaning he could play. Dean Calhoun almost stops the abuse, however, before Brian pulls out the Ironic Echo.
    • Done in Season 2, Episode 1. Ki reads all the school's rule books to find a loophole that will let her be given homework again, but fails to find one. However, this gives her enough knowledge of the rules that she can use a different loophole: When the Varsity team is no longer allowed to compete in the nationals, she determines that the Junior Varsity team can take their place.
    • In season 3, after Napalm buys out VGHS, Calhoun decides to join the VGHS team for the final battle, saying that since he never graduated from VGHS, he is still technically a student. A bit ironic, in that he uses an administrative error to get into the match just like Brian did in Season 1.
  • Manchild: Ashley and Shane break down into a fit of crying and whining when their mom forbids them to open the Napalm Mega Mall.
  • Match Cut: In episode 7 after the fight scene and Brian's reobtaining his ID from the flagpole, Calhoun yells his name, to which Brian puts on Games' hat and says, "Yes, Calhoun?", setting up a perfect cut to Calhoun's office, where Brian is informed that he is expelled.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • In season 1 episode 7, Freddie essentially tells Ted to get out of his face forever after Ted accidentally signs Ki up for his class. A few moments later, Ted breaks up with Ki and then tells her the same thing.
    • Ki begins season 3 episode 2 by saying "there are good kids, and there are bad kids." When she finishes solving the case of Cheetoh going missing, she restates the sentence.
    • When Ted is framed for slingshotting a wad of gum into Calhoun's hair, he is told to "grow the hell up". Ted then uses this statement towards DK later on.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • In episode 2, Brian defeats Annihilist and the crowd is cheering. That is, until the rankings change and Annihilist is revealed to have been automatically expelled. The scene becomes very quiet and sad when that is revealed.
    • A much bigger example in episode 7: Brian gets a moment of awesome by beating up Law in a fistfight, getting his stolen ID back by jumping and grabbing it from a flagpole, and stealing Games Dean's hat back. Meanwhile, Ted, Ki, and Drift King (and his cronies) help fight off a bunch of Law's followers trying to stop Brian from getting his ID back. This is instantly followed by Brian being expelled for "assaulting a student, inciting a brawl, and stealing a hat."
    • Used once again in season 3 episode 2: Jenny has a fever dream in which she has to kill her unicorn friend to get into her favorite pro gaming team. She shoots the unicorn only to realize she's killed Brian who says, "I love you" before he dies. Balloons shoot out of nowhere and Jenny celebrates, which freaks her out upon waking up.
  • Mook Horror Show: Calhoun throws one during the finale. At one point it simply cuts to bodies flying through the air as most of the violence takes place offscreen.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • The entire premise of the show is based on society entirely revolving around video games.
    • Calhoun also takes his job too seriously.
    • The scene with Law and Ki trashing Brian and Ted's room is not only overly dramatic, but set to operatic music.
  • My Card: Upon naming Ki as the replacement RA for the Frag Floor, head RA Shane Pizza hands her one of his business cards. It's even got a response for pointing out his name is dumb: "You're dumb."
  • Narration Echo: In one of Ki's private eye monologues during season 3 episode 2:
    Narration: Brian has a point.
    Ki: Good point.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Brian is asked to run through "the pit" in Episode 3. He takes only 2 grenades and his tomahawk to do so, and nearly makes it through with clever grenade tossing and a fist to the face of one of the projections. Then he tosses his tomahawk at the last projection, and turns away, sure that he won... Brian misses his mark and hits the wall, which leads to the tomahawk bouncing off and falling on Brian's head, killing him.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer portrayed the series in a very dramatic light, almost like some kind of epic feature film. In actuality, until the final season the series is mostly comedic, with its few dramatic moments being so peppered with funny moments it's nigh-impossible to take them seriously. That's because most of the scenes in the trailer are from the latter half of the series, after the Cerebus Syndrome has kicked in.
  • Nice Guy: Subverted with The Law. When Brian is having trouble tossing out his more sentimental gear, The Law comes up to him and gives him a very friendly pep talk—before promptly destroying Brian's old gear and screaming that he is VGHS.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • It's very likely that Ted making the Brianpalooza posters is what caused most of the school to hate Brian, thinking he made them and was self-centered.
    • Brian trying to go after Law rather than follow Jenny's orders during the scrimmage match arguably is what causes their team to lose the game. Jenny does imply that she had been setting Brian up to get ambushed, though, so he was doomed either way.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Brian has a very strange one in season 1 episode 3, culminating with Law opening his mouth to have Cheetoh emerge and touch Brian's nose.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Brian gives Law quite the epic one at the climax of season 1 episode 7.
    • He also gives an in-game one to an opposing mook in the series finale. From the sounds of it, he broke the guy's arm before repeatedly stabbing him with his own knife. Then the camera pans over to show Jenny leaning against a wall and watching appreciatively.
  • Noir Episode: The "RA Confidential" act in season 3 episode 2. The detective is Ki, the case is that Brian's cat Cheetoh has gone missing. It's initially believed that it was Shane, but it turns out to have been Wendell.
  • Non-Indicative Name: It's actually more of a Video Game College. See College Is "High School, Part 2" above.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Brian stands up to The Law and beats him. Afterwards, he is expelled for assaulting a student, inciting a brawl, and stealing a hat.
  • No Title: The episodes were never given names when they were uploaded to YouTube, but do have somewhat official titles when listed on Wikipedia and Netflix.
  • No, You: Ki in Season 3 Episode 4.
    Jenny: [about Ki's little laugh track robot Audie] Is this, like, a cry for help?
    Ki: You're a cry for help!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In S2E5, Calhoun, who until that point always treated Brian as his personal Butt-Monkey, confronts him and actually gives him comfort and advice after an incident, even telling him to take the next day off. He quickly goes back to berating Brian when others enter the scene for the sake of keeping up appearances. Of course, it could all just be in the Spirit of L33tmas...
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We never see how well Ki and Ted do in their tryouts. All we know is that Ted did well enough to get onto the drift team and Ki was good enough at rhythm games to earn Freddie Wong's grudging respect and a spot on his team.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In Episode 1: The Law when he realizes Brian is about to kill him in Field of Fire. Also, the other players when they realize The Law has entered their game.
    • Everybody's faces at the end of season 2 episode 1, when a disgraced Law shows up as Brian's new roommate.
    • Calhoun's face when Shane reveals his master plan to him. He and Ashley even take a picture of it.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Brian's loss to The Law in the scrimmage match. It gets so bad that his name becomes an in-universe meme for failure.
  • The Oner: Used in the final episode as Brian, Jenny and Ki make their way through the map to plant the bomb.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most of the side and minor characters, such as Annihilist and Games Dean's crew.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Jenny when she's around. Brian when she's not.
    • Ki is the only one who breaks the façade in the Season 1 arcade sequence when everyone else acts like Brian's been gone from VGHS for years instead of a day.
    • Shane "Stuffed-Crust" Pizza can't accept that his goons and Law can't tell that Law's "hot new transfer-student girlfriend" is actually ShotBot in an obvious wig.
  • The Opposing Team Are Cheating Bastards: In every Field of Fire match, the opposing teams always seem to have more players and resources than the VGHS team. A particularly egregious example is one game where the VGHS team gets a pair of ATVs, and the other team gets A TANK.
  • Pass the Popcorn: When Ki finishes calling out Wendell as the culprit of the case they were investigating (Cheetoh going missing), it cuts to Shane, who was enjoying a plastic container of popcorn the whole time.
  • Parental Neglect: Only the back of Brian's mom's head is seen as she plays an MMO, and she is implied to be so detached that she relies on Brian to fill her snack bowl. Her existence isn't brought up again until season 2 episode 3; Brian composes an email introducing himself as "your irl son" and wondering when she might come to visit.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Shot Bot's disguise as "Rebecca Barbara" in season 2 episode 5. The Law is fooled by it and even falls for the disguise whereas Shane Pizza immediately sees through it and drops the reveal on an unbelieving Law halfway through the episode.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite being a jerk to pretty much everyone, Calhoun has a moment where he advises Brian after Brian has snapped and yelled at Ki, Jenny, and Ted.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Toward the end of season 2 episode 3, Law finally beat's Ki's new game after spending the entire episode struggling to do so. He celebrates on top of the dorms dressed in a bathrobe and his underpants, and Games Dean unfortunately gets an eyeful of the visual:
    Games Dean: Aw dude, Law, put some pants on man! Make an effort! Do something!
    The Law: NEVER!
  • Power Walk:
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • The Law to Brian in episode 7, referring to Jenny trying to get on the Varsity team since her boyfriend runs the team:
      The Law: Her boyfriend doesn't give a shit.
    • Jenny to Brian at the end of episode 7.
      Jenny: You're an asshole.
    • The Law gets another one in Season 2:
      The Law: [after signing a contract with a rival team] Shitheads!
    • Mary in Season 3:
      Jenny: Okay, mom. Here's your chance. "Parent" me.
      Mary: [gasping for breath] Well, shit! I don't know!
    • Another moment with Mary and Jenny in the same scene:
      Mary: You're not a shitty person.
    • Calhoun in Season 3:
      [Shane and Ashley have just revealed their master plan to Calhoun.]
      Shane: You really should have taken that check.context 
      Calhoun: [Beat] FUCK!
  • Product Placement: Quite a bit in Season 2. Season 2's production was partially funded by the car brand Dodge, with its Dart model of cars as the presenter of the season's episodes and a Dart showing up as the car Ted races against in Purgatorio in S2E4. A number of Razer game peripherals also show up during the second season, most notably the Razer Edge tablet being the preferred platform for Ki's game-within-a-show in the 3rd episode. Season 3 continues this, with Towerfall being played in the background of one scene and Brian using Kaboom cleaner to clean Ted's blood out of his carpet.
  • Punch a Wall: Law punches and breaks a mirror when he imagines his reflection is mocking him.
  • Purple Prose: Drift King speaks this way.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Law is in the throes of a Villainous BSoD, and sees an 8-bit version of himself in the mirror which claims to represent the best version of himself that ever existed (basically, him from Season 1). It mocks him by calling him by his real name, Lawrence Pemberton, causing him to punch and break the mirror in a rage.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Jenny gives a powerful one to her mom in season 2 episode 3.
    • In season 2 episode 5, Brian has a meltdown over all that he's done for his friends and for his lover for L33tmas with what little he requested in return. He ends up revealing his secret relationship with Jenny, and when Ted asks about this, Brian responds with a simple sentence that was probably one of the things that hurt Ted most on the show: "Be more needy."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Throughout the whole series, Ted and Brian, as well as Brian and Jenny. In the early episodes, Brian and Ki. In the later episodes, Ted and Ki.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Brian and Jenny get together at the end of the third episode of Season 2.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Scott Slanders views Shot Bot 2.0 in-universe as this, saying that he hates him and rejecting the latter's offer of friendship.
  • Robosexual: Beautifully averted between The Law and ShotBot in Season 2 Episode 5.
    Law: I didn't love you because of your smoldering good looks. I loved you because you were rad!
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All:
    • Played with; when Brian and The Law battle each other in Dance Ex Machina, Law wins flawlessly while Brian does mediocre at best. Halfway through, realizing this, Brian gives up on dancing to the game and just starts doing disco dancing for the crowd. This results in him losing, but he becomes the life of the party, whereas Law's victory is pretty much ignored.
    • When Ted and Drift King race for possession of Ki Swan's game prototype, Ted loses, but DK gives back her game anyway.
  • Saying Too Much: During Brian's meltdown in season 2 episode 5, he says that he can't be seen in public with Jenny but refers to her as his girlfriend, revealing to Ted and Ki that they've been secretly dating.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Co-creator Freddie Wong stars as the father of Ted Wong. He's neglectful, borderline-abusive, in fact hates his son, and acts quite a lot like High Expectations Asian Father, to such a degree that it would be Unfortunate Implications otherwise.
    • Jenny does some very non-comedic variants on this in season 3 episode 5, bluntly stating to her mom that she not only lacks real friends and has just ruined her relationship with Brian, but she's also a sociopath that prioritizes games over people.
  • Sequel Hook: The first season ends right when Brian makes the JV team, and hasn't even gone though his first year of VGHS yet. The end of Season 2 has the VGHS FPS team about to enter the playoffs, Brian and Ted's friendship slowly drifting apart, Ki deciding to run for student council president, and Law regaining his skills but ditching VGHS to join a rival school.
  • Serious Business: Video games are serious business in the VGHS-verse. Losing a game at VGHS can get you expelled from the school. Hacking or cheating is considered a criminal offense.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • After Games Dean taunts Brian once more when the latter is in danger of being expelled, Brian gets pissed, yells at Games Dean, and then challenges him to a game of Field of Fire. Though, it turns out Brian was planning on losing the game and getting himself expelled. Thankfully, Jenny saves him.
    • In season 2 episode 2, after hours of negotiation and begging, Ki still isn't able to change the Law, and casually punches him in the face.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Season 3 Episode 4 features a "laugh-bot", which adds laugh tracks in appropiate occasions the same way it would in a regular sitcom. It is turned off once everyone's hit with the news that Freddie has died.
  • Shout-Out: See here.
  • Showy Invincible Hero: The Law thinks he's one of these — and he's right to a ridiculous degree. He seems to have absolute battlefield awareness, to the point of dodging a locked missile fired at him at point-blank range from behind, has a virtually 100% hit rate despite never bothering to actually aim, and no one seems capable of actually hitting him or don't even bother to shoot at him, regardless of his apparent disdain for cover. This has led some people to believe that Law might not be so highly ranked due to skill alone, and is actually cheating. The premiere of Season 2 shows Law indicted and convicted for using an aimbot. Later episodes in the second season exonerate Law, showing him to have been framed for aimbotting and demonstrating in the season finale that he really is that damn good a shot, once he gets a little warm-up done.
  • Smash Cut: In the finale, we see Law working at a video game store. Then a customer asks to buy a Napalm, and the can that he gets has New Law on the cover. Understandably, this presses Law's Berserk Button. He takes a yellow Nintendo 64 controller and starts swinging it around him, devolving into utter insanity as the customer cowers in fear. Brian, who just so happens to be a bystander, watches in horror...and then it cuts to a completely different scene. We never know how that scene resolved itself, or what happened to that customer.
  • Spoiler Opening: Inverted in Season 3. The closing credits don't change between episodes, so attentive viewers will notice that Nathan Kress plays "New Law" as early as Season 3 Episode 1.
  • Stealth Pun: Twice during the first season, we can see The Law's gold-plated handgun has a name engraved on the side — in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, it can be clearly seen as "The Long Arm".
  • Straw Nihilist: Ki turns into one following her failure to win the election. Hell, she even considers Nihilism 101 to be among her preferred reading.
  • Stylistic Suck: Games Dean's "The Daily Dean" show, where he talks about the game he lost to Brian and Jenny and clan try-outs, complete with bad editing and poorly placed special effects for the sake of looking cool.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence:
    • Annihilist challenges Brian D to a game because he's a noob (freshman). His own in-school score is so low that losing automatically gets him expelled. He was apparently so certain of his own victory, he never even considered what would happen if he lost.
    • However, if the VGHS ranking system was based on the Elo system, like some online competitive gaming ladders, Annihilist's challenge to Brian D could be considered a last-ditch gambit to save himself from expulsion. By taking on a player who vastly outclassed him, a victory — regardless of how remote the possibility — would grant him enough points to avoid expulsion and also provide him with a decent points "buffer" to avoid an identical situation for some time. The only drawback was that Brian was on-form.
  • Swapped Roles: Jenny and Brian, as of the second half of the final season. At the beginning, he was a social pariah, disliked for getting into the school by beating Law, eliminating a player on his first day, and a number of embarrassing losses, while Jenny was a popular, well-liked and respected gamer who everyone looked up to with admiration. By the third season, however, Brian had mostly became respected among the school, including developing a close relationship with the JV team, thanks in part to a lot of successful victories earning him their admiration, while Jenny ends up sinking her reputation and popularity when she loses the game to Napalm High thanks to unintentionally distracting Brian and missing the final shot. At this point, Jenny ends up being picked on by most of the school, taunted in class, and subject to lots of ridicule. She doesn't take this situation particularly well, to say the least.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After being the Butt-Monkey for five straight episodes, Brian finally catches a break in episode six: Jenny pulls Big Damn Heroes to save him from expulsion and snaps him out of his fatalism, he kicks Games Dean's ass in Field of Fire, and he appears to actually be friends with Jenny now rather than just looking like some obsessed fanboy.
  • Time Skip: Played for Laughs. The entire arcade sequence takes place just a day after Brian leaves, but everyone except Ki treats it like he's been gone for a long time.
    Brian: Ted? How long has it been? 20? 24 hours?
    Ted: You haven't aged a day!
    Brian: So, Ki, it's been a while.
    Ki: It's been one day, Brian.
    Brian: Yeah, okay.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In Episode 7, in order to help Brian, Ted attacks The Law's thugs and does a good job of beating them down.
  • Totally Radical: Characters have been known to use outdated expressions like "rad." Likely appears both because of the "Eighties high school drama" atmosphere and because Freddie Wong (and many other Rocket Jump personalities) use the same expressions.
  • Toxic Friend Influence:
    • Drift King and his gang may have Ted's back, but they're also terrible role models. They use peer pressure to goad Ted into taking reckless and dangerous actions.
    • Games Dean and his friends are this for Brian. The first day they become friends in S3E2 ends in Brian getting arrested for underage drinking, brought upon by Games Dean and his friends pressuring him to drink. They are still friends afterwards, however.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Everyone drinks Monster, constantly.
    • Subverted once with Ted, though, who gets a can out of a vending machine, opens it, and pulls out a pizza. Of course, Pizza is shown to be a pretty popular food item among the cast too, and it's seen being eaten constantly.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • We knew thanks to the trailer that Brian would be refused from the VGHS team, at least temporarily.
    • Also, judging by Brian and Jenny's interactions in the trailer, we knew they'd become friends at some point, as well as learning ahead of time that Jenny was The Law's girlfriend.
    • The opening titles for Season 2 spoil The Law's return to VGHS.
  • Training from Hell: Courtesy of Mary Matrix. By gaming standards at least.
  • Troperiffic: It's the standard high school drama as it's existed since the eighties... but with games!
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Literally the only difference from the VGHS world and our world is that video games offer next-level Deep-Immersion Gaming and are an extremely popular spectator sport. Season 2 has Ted working on a paper, showing the current year to be 2018—but VGHS has been around for forty years.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The writers said that Seasons 2 and 3 are this, even before the Sequel Hook in Season 2. Freddie said in the Season 2 Kickstarter that this was because he didn't like half-seasons.
  • Unflinching Walk:
    • Brian's final showdown against Law.
    • Law does this in season two while in nothing but his underwear after Shot Bot dies saving him from the dunk tank, but not without managing to reveal the evidence proving that Law was framed for cheating to the world.
  • Verbal Tic: Alliterator always adds annoying alliteration—he enjoys rhyming the beginning of his words. And he's part of the Jerk Jock varsity team. Brian's probably right that most people hate him. He finally drops it for a line in Season 2's first episode after being cut from the Varsity FPS team (the tic annoyed the new coach). "Well, it was fun while it lasted; goodbye everybody!"
  • Villain Decay: Very intentionally invoked with The Law. After being the first season's Big Bad, he takes losing again to Brian and being convicted of aimbotting very poorly. He's reduced to being an annoying pain in everybody's ass.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After the final battle, when Shane and Ashley's mother finds out they wasted millions investing in a failed product, she decides to cancel the school buyout and grounds them. The brothers then finally show their true colors as the spoiled brats they are as they are pulled away by their ears crying and whining like babies.
  • Voiceover Letter: Subverted with The Law's complaint letter to Ki in Season 2 Episode 2: It starts out like this, but then it turns out he's been standing there reciting it as she reads.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: At the end of season 3 episode 2, Brian comes back to his room after a long night of drinking and quickly reaches for the nearby trash can, but his head is too close to the can for us to actually see him vomiting.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The Law pukes repeatedly in one instance where he is placed into a game.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Ted constantly tries to improve at rhythm games despite the fact that he's terrible at them, all in an effort to impress his dad. He's so obssessed with this mission that he actively tries to avoid the game genre he actually is good at: racing games.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Season 1 Episode 7. See Downer Ending above.
    • Season 3 episode 3. See Downer Ending above.
    • Season 3 episode 4, "Video Game Home Schooling". Yee-ouch. It starts off parodying canned laugh-track sitcoms, then comes to a screeching halt to deal with all the pent up drama and angst that's been building up over the season. All tipped off by the Wham Line mentioned below.
  • Wham Line:
    • In season 1 episode 7:
      • When the Dean calls Brian into his office.
        Brian: I'm expelled?!
      • When Ki signs Ted up for racing against his wishes.
        Ted: We're through, Ki.
    • In Season 2 Episode 3, Jenny is forced to give a speech to present an award to her mom and breaks down on realizing she has no fond childhood memories of her. She somehow comes up with a heartwarming speech, and at the end her mother comes onstage and they hug.
      Mary Matrix: Was that so hard?
    • Season 2 Episode 4 reveals The Law has a big board titled "Who Framed The Law?", strongly implying that he really wasn't aimbotting.
    • Season 2 Episode 6 has a surprising amount of these:
      • When Ted loses to everyone in the Drift club.
        Ted: [to Drift King] I haven't lost to you yet.
      • When a girl shows up at school looking for the random named TacoBoy14 she fought in a pub, wanting revenge and refusing to leave until she gets it.
        Wendell: I'm TacoBoy14!
      • A few scenes after Jenny tells her mom that she and Brian are dating, and gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
        Mary Matrix: Brian, Jenny, you're on point.
      • In response to Shane Pizza declaring he is running for student body president.
        Ki: And so am I!
      • At the very end, when the Law is offered a contract by a rival team.
        The Law: Yes. I won't sign any contract. Except yours.
      • And perhaps predictably, at the very end.
        Jenny: [to Brian] I love you.
    • Parodied in Season 3 Episode 1:
      Brother Hotline: Please say the name of the biological brother you wish to speak to.
      Shane Pizza: Ashley... Barnstormer.
      Brother Hotline: You said "Ashley Barnstormer." Is this your name: "Shane Pizza"?
      Shane Pizza: [menacingly] Yes.
      Brother Hotline: Your real name is Shane Barnstormer; brother of Ashley Barnstormer.
    • Season 3 Episode 3:
      • At the end of the match:
        Brian: Well then, let me make it easy for you [Jenny], okay? We're done.
      • And at the very end of the episode, when Ted shows up at Brian's door.
        Ted: Ki left school. She's gone.
    • Season 3 Episode 4:
      Jenny: Um... Freddie died.
    • Season 3 Episode 6:
      • When the VGHS team is short on players.
        Calhoun: I never graduated.
      • When they almost have enough players.
        Brian: I know who our last player's gonna be. [...] He's the reason why I got into this school.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Brian's room, minus all of Ted's possessions, in Season 2 Episode 6.
    • Season 3 Episode 5 shows the VGHS sign being taken down and replaced with a poster that says "Future Home of Napalm Energy Drink Mega Mall".
  • Wish-Fulfillment: This is a show about a guy who gets to go to a high school for video games, is the most popular kid in his circle of friends, is famous for playing FPS, and the most popular girl in the school (and the girlfriend of his bully) takes an immediate interest in him. .... Yeah. That said, Brian is a massive Butt-Monkey throughout the series, he's despised by a lot of his classmates, which he often brings on himself by letting his feelings get the best of him, in the first season he's constantly on the verge of being kicked out due to having such a low score while also dealing with a nemesis who won't give him a break, and after that he does various jobs as the school janitor to pay for tuition, so he at least avoids having a too-perfect life. Lampshaded in season 3 episode 3, when Games says that Brian is living every sixteen year-old's dream. "You go to a video game high school. Your smoking hot girlfriend wants to have sex with you, and for some reason her mom is cool with it." Unfortunately, he's wrong.
  • Work Off the Debt: Brian loses his scholarship because of The Law's hacking fiasco. He owes over 100 thousand dollars and is made to become a janitor to pay his way through school.
  • World of Jerkass: Almost every person in and out of Video Game High School is impulsive and rude, save for some of the main characters.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever:
    • Before BrianD's domination of gaming champ The Law hit the news cycle, the current top story was the unknown whereabouts of the President of the United States. Perhaps there're a lot of things going wrong in the world, and that's why there's so much societal focus on gaming (also why there's the entirely non-critical show, Agreement Corner).
    • Happens again in Season 3 Episode 1: The president comes back - and he's been in a warzone. He's cut off by Brian's pwnage right before he can warn AMERICA of whatever ripped apart his clothes.
  • Writing Lines: While doing janitor work, Brian finds Ted in detention writing "I WILL GROW THE HELL UP" over and over.context 
  • You Bastard!: In season 3 episode 5, there's a math-centric FPS game where you must solve equations correctly to progress. Jenny puts the wrong answer in, causing the screen to explode and the words "EVERYONE DIED" to show up.
  • You Don't Look Like You: An odd meta example: between season 1 and season 2, Jenny Matrix went from having bangs and a slight tan to straightened hair and pale skin. This was enough of a change that when photos from the filming of season 2 were posted online, some fans were under the mistaken impression that Jenny had been re-cast. According to behind-the-scenes footage, some fans still thought that by the end of the series.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • After Brian loses to The Law in the scrimmage match, the school "kindly" asks him to deliberately lose a game and get himself expelled since they believe they overestimated his potential.
    • The Law joins Napalm, only to be fired after he signs his butt to Ashley Barnstormer. No really, he literally signed his butt to them. They give that back but keep the trademarks and account to give to New Law.