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"There are beautiful, wondrous worlds, full of intelligent beings with stories to tell... and I'm gonna interview them, put my interviews online and make a bunch of money, and suck my dick!"
Clancy (to his sister while asking her for money)
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From Pendleton Ward, the mastermind behind Adventure Time, and comedian Duncan Trussell comes The Midnight Gospel, a psychedelic Netflix animated series concerning the exploits of Clancy (voiced by Trussell), a space podcaster who uses a VR multiverse simulator to interview beings living in other worlds, many of which are on the brink of catastrophe. The show is more or less an Animated Adaptation of Duncan Trussell's podcast Duncan Trussell Family Hour, with the episodes using real audio from said podcast.

Like Ward's previous work, it's one hell of a trip (if not more so). However, if you've read the above quote, you'll know that it's most definitely not for kids.

Released on April 20th, 2020, the teaser can be viewed HERE. The full trailer can be seen here.


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Tropes:

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Clancy spends the first few minutes of the penultimate episode believing himself to have achieved true enlightenment when he's actually just on another ego trip.
  • An Aesop:
    • Your issues can't be solved by entheogens, one meditation session, or enlightening conversation. It takes real work to confront and work through your problems, and staying in denial will only hurt yourself and the others around you. Many of the characters talk a good game about meditation and enlightenment, but haven't actually put the effort into becoming better people.
    • Escapism isn't the same thing as the pursuit of enlightenment. You shouldn't use spiritual pursuits as an escape from real life.
  • As Himself:
    • Spiritual teacher Ram Dass makes an appearance in the season finale aboard the bus.
    • Inverted with the other guest stars, as they were interviewed by Duncan for his podcast while the show wrote characters and scenarios based around them. So in a strange way, each guest star is still technically voicing themselves.
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  • Afterlife Express: The bus Clancy boards in the final episode is full of dead characters from the series.
  • Alien Geometries: When not exploring simulations, Clancy lives on the Ribbon, a stretch of land that resembles a twisting ribbon winding into space.
  • Alternet: Clancy's spacecast is on some unnamed internet equivalent that can broadcast and teleport objects to other parts of the multiverse.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Most of the characters, including our protagonist, are colored in bright, unnatural shades.
  • Ambiguous Ending: While it looks like Clancy dies in the Season 1 finale as a result of his multiverse simulator exploding, but since this doesn't match up with the prophecy Death gave him in a previous episode that he'll die on his swivel chair we can't be sure.
  • Animated Adaptation: A very, very bizarre adaptation of The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.
  • Apocalypse How: Of the planetary variety, at least within the multiverse simulator. This is because Clancy has been neglecting to take care of his computer, resulting in various Eldritch Abominations being summoned to real life.
  • Baleful Polymorph:
    • Every time Clancy travels around the multiverse with the simulator, his physical appearance changes.
    • In "Officers and Wolves", Clancy unwittingly infects the computer with a virus after downloading an emoji set. This causes his next avatar to look like a man with a chicken head, a morning star for a right arm, a tentacle for a left arm, and snakes for feet.
  • Beary Friendly: In the finale episode, Clancy's mother is accompanied by living teddy bear doctors. Other teddy bears are also spotted throughout the episode.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Than Pen Ward's previous work. Episodes frequently feature gun battles and carnage.
  • Blow That Horn: Clancy can exit a simulation by blowing on a shofar, after which a third eye appears on his forehead and he is transported back to the Ribbon.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Just as the police are about to shoot Clancy for illegal simulation practices, he is saved by his dog and is sucked into the Simulator, which then explodes, killing the cops and destroying the surrounding area. Clancy then appears in another Escher-esque void boarding an infinitely long train with all of the dead characters he met in the simulation as fellow passengers. Clancy asks one of the passengers if he has died and the passenger basically just tells him cryptically to just enjoy the ride. Since Clancy dying would contradict the prophecy of Death, who he interviewed, it's unclear if he really is dead or not.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: John in "Annihilation of Joy" looks directly into the camera as he mentions people viewing himself and Clancy.
    • And a particularly heartbreaking case: Clancy meets his mother, who is also his voice actor's mother who died from cancer three weeks after she was first interviewed in 2013. She even refers to him as "Duncan" throughout their interaction.
  • Brick Joke: Ram Dass is mentioned in the second episode and cameos during the closing minutes of the finale.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The show runs on this trope. Much of the dialogue comes from interviews on "The Duncan Trussell Family Hour" podcast. Clancy and his friends discuss mindfulness, meditation, Buddhism, Jesus, psychedelics, and the search for enlightenment while having bizarre and fast-paced adventures inside a multiverse simulator.
  • Crapsack World: Most of the worlds around the multiverse are on the verge of dying. And they're the target of Clancy's rise to fame.
  • Critical Research Failure: An In-Universe example; in "Hunters Without a Home", Darryl the Fish claims the line "In the beginning was the Word... and the Word was God" is from "the first chapter of The Bible" as a way of illustrating the meaning and significance of oral tradition. It's not - it's the first line of the Book of John, the last of The Four Gospels.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Forgiveness" as far as Trudy is concerned, is something you say you're giving to people you don't like before you kill them.
  • Death Is Cheap: Well, depending on the world. In some, death is permanent and plentiful, in others, the inhabitants don't seem all that fazed by it. Clancy himself is mortally injured as an avatar several times, but returns to real life without a scratch (except that time his computer made it so he could die for real to "experience the ecstasy of death").
    Clancynote : Haha! That's fucked. Never do that again.
  • Deranged Animation: And how!
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Trudy defeating the demon in episode 4 inexplicably causes it to melt the entire planet she's on.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The entire show is one long psychedelic animation sequence.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Whenever Clancy exits a simulation, the planet he just visited explodes.
  • Epiphanic Prison: The protagonist of the fifth episode is Bob, a violent criminal trapped in an "Esoteric Prison".
  • Foreshadowing: "Hey, why do all these planets have Xs on 'em?" "Because they are dying. As I am dying."
  • The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: Creatures from worlds that don't resemble Earth in any way reference our culture. For example, giant deer-dogs on Clown World talks about Christianity, India, and Ram Dass. A fish-cyborg on a water world talks at length about Thelema magic and Aleister Crowley. Of course, since all these beings were created by a multiverse simulator, it's easy to assume that the simulator deliberately created worlds with elements of the real universe to ensure similar cultural lexicons.
  • Hammerspace:
    • Clancy carries around a messenger bag that contains, among other things, a pyramid, an ancient Greek temple, a Rubik's Cube, and a pool stick.
    • Glasses Man stashes billiard balls and weapons in his dog's fur. In later episodes, viewers see that the dog's fur contains a parallel universe.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The multiverse simulator is more virtual reality with the user sticking their head in and controlling a chosen avatar though objects and living creatures from the simulated worlds may be brought out of it.
  • Judgement of the Dead: "Annihilation of Joy" has Bob have his heart weighed on a scale every time he dies, and is sent back to the prison to relive his experience when deemed guilty. This is a reference to Egyptian mythology, where a dead soul's heart is weighed against a feather, and if it's heavier, it is devoured by Ammit.
  • Manchild:
    • Clancy, for how eloquent he seems to be, proves to be horrifically self-centered and immature when things don't immediately go his way.
    • In "Taste of the King", Glasses Man talks about lofty ideas, but treats his assistant like a peon, plays pool and sips coffee while zombies are ravaging his country, and seems oblivious to the gravity of the situation.
    • In "Hunters Without a Home", Darryl's hyperfocus on spirituality doesn't stop him from being selfish and petty. He shoves the rock creatures out of the way so that he can get to the front of the line to enter the sleeping giant's brain. Later, Barry accuses Darryl of sleeping with his wife and destroying his marriage while he and Darryl have a childish brawl. Their brawl is so violent that it cracks the planet's crust, destroying it.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: "Turtles of the Eclipse" has the Grim Reaper talk about the "Death Industrial Complex" wherein Civil War embalmers propagated the notion that preserving a dead body for funerals/wakes was an absolute necessity so they could stay in business even in peacetime.
  • Mr. Seahorse: In the last episode, Clancy suddenly gets pregnant and soon after gives birth to his own mother.
  • Monster Clown: In the second episode Clancy goes to a clown world, to his computer's chagrin. The computer is right to be apprehensive, as the clowns are actually monstrous creatures with spider like limbs that secretly puppeteer human bodies like parasites.
  • Never Trust a Title: Every episode (including the series' title) is something that you'd expect to see but it's not there.
    • For example, the episode, Taste of the King. There is no royal highness.
    • In,"Officers and Wolves, a police officer is nowhere to be seen, and the creatures Clancy interviews are two deer-dog hybrids, no wolves.
  • Older Than They Look: Clancy is 44 years old, but he looks like a teenage boy.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Glasses Man, a diminutive, gun-totting, charismatic President of an alternate United States of America.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Unlike a lot of other animated shows, the characters stutter, talk over one another, and trail off with realistic diction (as the clips are taken from Duncan's podcast).
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The teddy bears who show up in the final episode.
  • Running Gag:
    • Clancy encounters beings who say lofty things about enlightenment, but whose actions reveal them to be selfish and short-sighted.
    • Clancy wears different kinds of shoes during his simulation adventures and brings them back home.
    • After Clancy exits a simulation, the planet he just visited explodes behind him.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: A lot of it.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: One of Clancy's secondary guests, a Jewish man from America, travelled all the way to India to find a guru. Upon meeting a very learned one, he asked for tips on how to meditate and achieve inner peace. The guru blithely inquired if the guest had ever heard of Jesus Christ, because he's a fantastic example of forgiveness, empathy, and serenity to emulate especially when you imagine how hard it was to embody all of these while being crucified.
  • Shout-Out: The cylindrical heads and faces of the clowns in "Officers and Wolves" resemble the Billy Roll, a type of lunchmeat sold in Ireland. The Billy Roll has been nicknamed "meat clown", and the parasitic creatures in "Officers and Wolves" are clowns with a meat theme.
  • Skewed Priorities: The protesters at the beginning of the first episode, who continue angrily mobbing outside the White House in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • An obvious one to The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, given how each episode is written around actual audio from the podcast.
    • The series is also considered this to Waking Life, due to their trippy animation and ad-libbed philosophical themes.
  • The Stoner: Clancy has had extensive experience with drugs, including alcohol, benzos, and psychedelics.
  • Take That, Us: Duncan Trussel plays a selfish, pretentious, and very much failed podcaster (in contrast to his own success) with delusions of grandeur.
  • Tarot Motifs: Clancy encounters several prominent figures and set pieces from typical tarot decks during the seventh episode as he chases "The Fool" stand-in to get his watering hose back. Strangely enough, he meets Death and Judgement first.
  • Third Eye: When Clancy wishes to exit a simulation, he blows on a shofar, after which a third eye appears on his forehead and he is transported back to the Ribbon.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Most of the characters we see never seem to react much in response to the bizarre and violent happenings in the world(s). Of course, Clancy spends all his time surfing virtual reality, so maybe he's used to it, but nearly all the conversations he has are completely unrelated to what's happening in front of him.
  • Unusual User Interface: The multiverse simulator is basically a vagina-shaped virtual reality helmet.
  • Very Special Episode: Episode 8, which is a podcast between Clancy and his deceased mother, goes from show's usual abstract philosophical ramblings into a frank and eventually tearful discussion on the grieving process.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Bob has a beautiful singing voice that also happens to be female.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Clancy drunkenly pukes on the cursed rose he snagged from the Dark Fantasy world.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Clancy typically goes around shirtless. Played less for fanservice and more to emphasize his status as a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Widget Series: Adventure Time was already weird on its own way, but The Midnight Gospel takes the weirdness Up to Eleven and beyond.

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