Is James a monster who killed his wife because he didn't feel like taking care of her anymore, an innocent man tortured by guilt, or a complex tragic character who was the instrument of Mary's assisted suicide? Or, perhaps, James is just a normal man who did a horrible thing.
Mary, for that matter, seems less a dedicated, sickly woman whose trust was betrayed than a tormented Death Seeker. As her health and beauty decline, she alienates and badgers James, using his obligation to care for her as a knife to drive into him until he relents to put her out of her misery. It's possible he's trying to perceive it that way to assuage his guilt, but it doesn't seem to work at all.
There's a fan theory that runs that Henry is in fact responsible for the murders throughout the fourth game. See the Wild Mass Guessing page for details.
Henry's dull wit and emotional detachment may be signs of sociopathy; or the natural symptoms of sleep deprivation, starvation, and dehydration. The latter could be argued, but this can be thrown out the window as Henry himself mentions in the game that he doesn't starve or need sleep while being trapped in Room 302.
Depending on how you answer Dr. K's questions and how you play as Harry, you can give the player character of Shattered Memories a different set of characteristics and motivations every time you play through.
The game itself is rife with ACIs. Dahlia becomes Harry's lover and later claims to be his wife, and Kaufmann is Cheryl's therapist. Lisa and Cybil are both largely the same, although their circumstances differ from SH1.
Everyone knows that the series is all about a troubled hero who battles his own personal demons, right? Nope. From the very beginning the series has always been about a cult known as "The Order" and the main characters attempts to stop them from bringing their God out into the real world. While there have been somegames that mix the cult and personal demons plots together, the cult has always played a part in the series. Even the games that seemingly dont have anything to do with The Order, such as Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 4, make subtle references to the cult itself note Silent Hill 4 especially makes it clear that the villain of the game, Walter Sullivan, was a part of The Order before becoming a serial killer. If anything only two games have nothing to do with The Order and focus strictly on the personal demons angle, Shattered Memories and Downpour.
Pyramid Head is exclusively a being created from the desire of James Sunderland to be punished for his sins... except he's not. Despite this being the oft-cited reason why Pyramid Head's appearances in the films and other games aren't welcome, even in Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head was an established icon that had roots in the Order's punishment rituals. Even across the franchise, his motivation as a punisher generally stays consistent, although who he punishes tends to vary, and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D goes the extra mile and brands him a protector.
It's been a common talking point in the fandom for years that the first three or so games (though this is most often used specifically in regards to 2) had Narm voice acting completely on purpose. While it could be argued that due to the heavy inspiration from David Lynch, who famously had stilted and just plain bizarre bits of dialogue in his works, Team Silent opted to use similar tactics such as long pauses in speech - there has been no clear cut answer from any of the main developers so far.
The nurses in the second and third games, especially on Hard difficulty and higher. They have long attack range and some in the third game carry guns, attack in groups so the rest will jump on you when you move in to stomp a downed nurse, and tend to respawn right in your face after you come out of a room. Worse, in SH2, James also has to protect Maria from them, or else it's Game Over.
The first game has the infamous Mumblers.note These are commonly mislabeled "Grey Children," because of the similar creatures of that name in the first movie, and because a Konami publication mistakenly used "Mumbler" for their international replacement. See Unreliable Canon, sub-entry. They appear in groups in the dark corridors of the school, sometimes right in your face when you enter, and gang up on you, with one grabbing you while the others slice and dice. Then you tend to get grabbed by another after getting free and the cycle repeats. And towards the end of the game, there's the adult variant of the Stalkers, which is transparent and harder to see.
The Crawlers in SH2 can be demonic on Hard difficulty and if you're low on health. See, for example, the basement corridor in "Born From A Wish". Get bitten by one Crawler too many, cue Critical Existence Failure.
Slurpers. They lunge at you and knock you down, then when you are getting back up, they may ram you again. Lather, rinse, repeat, throw controller.
The Abstract Daddies in the hotel. Due to the near-total darkness and very narrow hallways, it's hard to see how far away they are or dodge them, resulting in James being head-raped repeatedly.
Carrions. No matter how far away they are, they'll always get the first hit in and dole out a huge amount of pain thanks to a lightning-fast and incredibly accurate lunge. How does roadkill move so quickly?!
Scrapers in SH3, especially if you're low on ammo and/or health. In the narrow corridors, they tend to block your path, including access to spare ammo.
Raw Shocks, which makes sense, given that they are preventing Harry from realizing the truth.
Insane Cancers in the third game. Large mounds of hell that block your paths and force you to fight them. It takes an insane amount of resources to knock them down, and then once you think they're dead and go to kick them, they get right back up and take out a chunk of your health. They're also a lot faster than they look - from a distance, they can suddenly just sprint at you. The fact that these things can take eight shotgun blasts to the face and still come back laughing is far scarier than what they're meant to represent. At least you can block their attacks to minimize damage... but still.
Needlers. Able to scale walls and ceilings, move very rapidly, block most of Alex's attacks, and seek shelter when close to death.
Siams. Incredibly strong? Check. Incredibly fast? Check. Able to soak up tons of damage? Check.
Smogs. Incredibly annoying with their ability to blow noxious fumes at Alex, with insane tracking skills, and an annoying headbutt attack at close range that consistently knocks Alex flat on his butt.
Weeping Bats. Strong, fast and often cling to ceilings — and their descent from said ceilings is a nasty unblockable attack.
Difficulty Spike: The hospitals, where the nurses are much tougher than previously encountered enemies, notably in 2 and 3 on the higher difficulty levels.
Fandom Heresy: When interacting with fans of the franchise online or offline, there are some very definitive "don'ts". Don't criticise any of the games made under the Team Silent banner. Don't say that 2 isn't one of the, if not THE, best game of all time. Don't say that you preferred the Western produced games. Don't state or even imply that 3, or indeed any game in the series, is better than 2. And for Valtiel's sake, do NOT say that you liked Homecoming.
Fanfic Fuel: Many a player and/or fan of the games would write fanfics based on other types of characters who get involved with Silent Hill.
Pyramid Head had a damn good - and at the time rather brilliantly symbolic - reason for playing the role that he did in Silent Hill 2, which is what made him so terrifying and memorable. His repeated appearances as an iconic part of the fandom has led to a steadily worsening agitation towards media that features him. Established as a Shadow Archetype, Pyramid Head's motivation has changed to generally suit whatever direction his latest appearance needs, which the fandom tends not to appreciate.
A downplayed variation with the role of a Tragic Hero with a Dark and Troubled Past: it's often cited that later installments ripped off Silent Hill 2 in this regard and that re-doing it simply results in a Cliché Storm. However, Silent Hill 3also put a lot of stock in the main character's tragic history and the psychological effects it had on her, but people rarely criticize this. While James was the first iteration of this being centered on the player character, and certainly the most well-remembered, the town's hellish elements taking after the psyche of the individual sculpting it was established before his game and he was not the Original in the trope's name.
Gateway Series: Along with Resident Evil, most people get into survival horror through these games. Additionally, Akira Yamaoka's iconic soundtracks for the series have gotten many people into electronic and industrial music.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Though the series is successful enough in Japan, it's found a much, much larger audience in North America and Europe. No surprise considering that the games are deliberately made to be as Western as possible.
The Air Screamers in the first game and the Pendulums in the third. The latter often get in the way while traversing narrow pathways or stairs, take copious amounts of ammo to kill, and make a Nightmare Fuel-ing screeching sound.
And the Invincible Minor Minion Victims in part 4, which can follow you through walls. The Hummers too, which look like a cross between a literal bat and a mosquito.
Numb Bodies in Silent Hill 3, which would populate some rooms and keep bumping you. Yes, that's their attack. Bumping. GET OUT OF THE WAY!!
Iron Woobie: Alessa. She endured seven years in utter agony and could have simply broke and called Cheryl back until she came, but she wanted Cheryl/herself to experience being loved by a parent. It was only after hearing that Dahlia was still planning on birthing the god that she decided to stop her plans for good and prevented the whole world from becoming like the Otherworld by trapping herself in that dimension — if not for Harry's and Dahlia's interference.
Just Here for Godzilla: With the hard Sequelitis that began to hit the series after the transition to Western developers, most fans agreed that the soundtracks of Akira Yamaoka were still great as ever and worth the price of admission despite the decline in quality of the games themselves. Coincidentally, the first game without Yamaoka's involvement ended up being the effective Franchise Killer of the series for now.
Much of the voice acting and dialogue from the first game, particularly Harry's performance. The voice acting and dialogue does noticeably improve starting with Silent Hill 2 (and gets better from there, with the possible exception of Origins), but this trope still pops up from time to time.
Dahlia Gillespie gives us the immortal line, "It was foretold by gyromancy!". Go ahead, Wikipedia "gyromancy".
If you wear the dog suit that you can earn as a reward, the entirety of Origins can be turned into this.
Ditto Silent Hill 3 if you use the Magical Girl outfit. Add in the cheat that has Douglas in his boxers and very little else for extra fun.
What's that lurking in the distance? What's with this radio? Will this thing kill me if I touch it? Should I shoot this monster to death or run and save my ammunition? Who keeps leaving these Health Drinks in the middle of nowhere?
There's a room in the mall in 3, where there's a sign that says you need to turn off the lights because the room becomes very noticeable if you don't. Even while watching a friend play the game, when they go to turn off the lights, it's terrifying because of previous knowledge of Silent Hill games. Nothing actually happens either way, which really makes it Paranoia Fuel.
In Silent Hill 2, while wandering around in the abandoned apartments, you hear a noise coming from the north in a room you visited a few minutes before. When you go back into the previously empty room, a man you haven't seen before is sitting dead in the chair in front of the TV, which has been turned on to static and has blood all over it. And all the corpses that James runs into use the same character model look like him, except for one that looks like Harry Mason.
In Silent Hill 4, you wander through Otherworlds, which are created from Walter's memories. Every person you meet in these Otherworlds dies gruesomely, and it isn't until later that you realize it's Walter completing his ritualistic murders. That's right, the Big Bad has been seeking out each victim like a predator does its prey, meaning he's also been stalking YOU through each Otherworld the whole time. It's even worse when he comes out of hiding when you revisit these areas.
Since the second game, hints and comments by characters and the plot itself can have a player wondering if they really are fighting monsters, or if the main character is just crazy and delusional. It says something that all the main characters of the series have at least some people believing that they are hallucinating while on a mass-murder rampage.
The Silent Hill HD Collection, which was supposed to be remastered versions of Silent Hill 2 and 3 that could be played on HD consoles, has shown itself to be this. Handled by a studio who only had a couple of mobile/handheld games under their belt, and partly based on code from old beta versions of the original games as Konami had managed to misplace the finished versions; the output are both technical messes plagued with bugs that weren't there in the original versions of the games, rampant slowdown issues, poor in-game lighting, missing music tracks, and badly synced character voices. Especially glaring is the fact that several of the game's iconic fog effects are broken in several places, most notably in SH2 where it renders certain scenes downright laughable. A day-one patch which at least mitigated (and emphasis on mitigated) some of these problems was eventually put out, but was only made available for the PS3 version.
The PC version of Silent Hill 4 has for some reason limited its frames per second in gameplay to 30, which wouldn't be too bad, if wasn't for the fact that that every cutscene for some insane reason is restricted to 15 frames per second. The port also lacks six of the apartment hauntings available in the console releases.
Sacred Cow: Silent Hill 2 and to a much lesser extent Silent Hill 3 are held up as some of the greatest examples of video game art in existence, and expressing any form of negativity towards them will NOT be tolerated by the fandom.
The Scrappy: Among instalments, Homecoming is this to the fandom.
Shocking Moments: Those air screamers? Every once in a while, if you loop back, you see it walking right behind you, stalking you.
Ships That Pass in the Night: Harry/James is somewhat popular in certain circles, despite that fact that the two have only ever interacted in the decidedly non-canon UFO endings of 2 and 3. Perhaps it's due to both having wives that died young of illness, and leaving Silent Hill with a child in the "happier" endings of their respective games.
The Silent Hill fandom is notoriously vocal — particularly concerning sequels that haven't yet been released. Fans complained about the supposed overemphasis on combat in Homecoming six months before it hit the shelves. Shattered Memories, on the other hand, has no combat at all — and people still complained about that. There's also a great deal of grief being voiced over the fact that the protagonist has a touch-screen cell phone to represent the menu commands.
Any post-Team Silent entry will get flak from fans for being too "Americanized", despite the fact that a couple of the more recent dev teams originate from Britain (Climax Studios) and the Czech Republic (Vatra Games) respectively. Even Silent Hill 4, the last Team Silent game, was polarizing due to the radical gameplay changes. Still more baffling is the very accusation that the series has shifted toward "American" horror — as Word of God states, the the series was intended as an homage to American horror in the first place and draws most of its inspiration from it, hence the town's streets being named after various Western horror writers and directors.
The Silent Hill HD Collection, containing HD remakes of the second and third games, was revealed pre-release to have new voiceovers. This did not go over well with fans. Then it turned out it was far worse than that. Even setting aside bugs and glitches, many sound effects, music and other details were changed, which was not met with a warm welcome.
Since the release of the PT for Silent Hills, fans are still complaining, stating that Hideo Kojima wouldn't be able to pull off the new game, Guillermo del Toro wouldn't be able to execute the atmosphere properly (since you know, the creator of Pan's Labyrinthdoesn't know anything about horror), and even more over the fact that the teaser was shot from first person view. This stopped pretty quickly when it turned out that Kojima and del Toro wouldn't be able to pull it off after all, because Konami nuked the entire project and, as far as the fandom outside Japan is concerned, more-or-less cancelled the Silent Hill series completely.
Common fanon is restricted to the first three or four games, which were produced by Team Silent and present a more or less consistent idea of what the town is and how it works. Though SH4 continues to divide the fanbase over its experimental nature and the uninvolvement of certain prominent members of Team Silent in its production, fans overwhelmingly refuse to consider the Western-developed games canon. This is primarily because of each's vastly different iteration of the town and its workings or history, in addition to conspicuousfanservice in a franchise built on subtlety; the near-complete overhaul of development teams from KCET or even the previous game's developers; and Konami's substantial cuts to the productions' budgets and development times, starting with Origins. Since much of these outcomes seem to stem from The Problem with Licensed Games (and Silent Hill is far from their only intellectual property to have suffered them over the past decade or two), Konami has since become a public enemy of many of their franchises' fandoms.
Villain Has a Point: For as far as the town can be considered a villain (which many fans do), the overarching mythology of Silent Hill, is that in order for the town itself to send you to it's more disturbing, and supernatural layers, you have to be guilty or feel guilt about something that needs atoning for.
Acceptable Religious Targets: The cult of the games worships several dark gods, and uses the trappings of mainstream religions as a cover. Meanwhile, the cult in the movie is straight-up, puritanical Christian (though in an older script, the cult's members were Manichean, and the symbolism surrounding the cult's god in Midwich Elementary is feminine).
...Which is changed anyway in the second film when the cult is portrayed closer to the games as a pagan "Order of Valtiel" seeking to rebirth their decidedly non-Christian God. The puritanical cult may be a (still-crazy) front, may be an offshoot or different sect, or maybe we were just supposed to forget about them being that way.
Critical Dissonance: See below. While it got very poor ratings from most critics, the first movie was actually fairly well received by fans of the games and most general audiences, and if nothing else, it's considered lightyears ahead of most competitors by the standards of the genre, for effectively capturing the visuals and sinister lore of the game quite closely, especially given how faithfully (and convincingly) the monsters were done. When the second movie was released, however, no one disputed its poor critical reception.
Les Yay: Rose and Cybil have their own fanbase because of this. Made even more hilarious by the Bubble-Head Nurses being a sign of repressed sexuality.
Magnificent Bitch: Alessa Gillespie is a formidable Reality Warper, who has turned Silent Hill into her own nightmarish dimension. Once an abused girl who was burned alive by "the Brethren", Alessa pulls them into the Otherworld, creating monsters to hunt and kill them. Splitting her soul into another half, "Sharon", Alessa lures her to Silent Hill and leaves clues for her adoptive mother, heroine Rose De Silva to follow. Once Rose pieces together her story, Alessa appears to her, and convinces her to ally with her, then with Rose's help enters the church, brutally killing her tormentors, before merging her soul with Sharon's. Alessa then leaves Silent Hill with Rose, trapping her in the Otherworld with her, content that she again has a mother who loves her. Through it all, Alessa is always in control, maintaining an affable, dark charisma, and ends the film with all her goals accomplished.
Cybil: "They used to say this place was haunted." Rose: [awkwardly long pause] "I think they were right..."
So much of the second movie. Almost all of the dialogue, for starters, plus the overzealous Juggalo-esque makeup on Alessa and the epic hug battle of doom.
Signature Scene: Pyramid Head brutally killing Anna by the entrance of the church. Christabella's death inside the church may also qualify.
Strawman Has a Point: Rose's husband Christopher is supposed to be a jerk for being against going to Silent Hill and putting a hold on their credit cards. The thing is, he's absolutely right about how crazy this is. It's publicly available knowledge that the town has massive coal fires that make it too dangerous to go to, plus the additional danger made by taking a mentally-troubled child along.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Anna, considering that she's the only known resident of Silent Hill that was born in the Dark World, is also the only known offspring of the cultists, and knows virtually nothing of the outside world. This unique perspective is barely explored, as Anna is unceremoniously killed off ten minutes after her introduction, and is never mentioned again.
Unfortunate Implications: The decision to gender-flip Harry into Rose was explained by the creative team as stemming from the fact that the character's motivations felt very "feminine" to them. Many critics including Dena from Lee and Denatook issue with the change as it played into outdated gender roles and implied that a man looking for his missing child was unrealistic. Dena further noted that the executives meddled in the production to increase the importance of Christopher (Sean Bean's character) because they didn't feel that a female lead would sell.
Video Game Movies Suck: Zig-zagged. The film was panned by most critics, with a 30% Rotten Tomatoes score (5% among "Top Critics"), but was positively received by most fans and casual audiences, with a respectable 6.5 on IMDB, and even the fans that didn't like it seem to have some respect for it. It's generally agreed that, although nowhere near the level of the games, unlike most video game movies which don't even bother, the first film stuck really close to the visuals and general atmosphere of the games, and a fair amount of work was put into making it feel right. The second film, however, falls squarely into this trope, a fact which almost no one disputes.
While far from Vindicated by History, the first Silent Hill is actually well praised and respected in recent years mainly due to how well and beautiful the special effects are and the small amount of detail certain scenes have, only to be hold down due to changing of the plot.
Visual Effects of Awesome: While some of the symbolism really didn't belong, there is very little dispute that the film's visuals are a perfect representation of what a Silent Hill movie should look like.
In particular the visual effect of normal Silent Hill transforming into the dark version with all surfaces flaking away to reveal rusted metal was something the games copied afterwards.
Sadly, the sequel had about a third of the budget and looks considerably worse for the wear. The Otherworld especially is very underwhelming, often just looking like... well, night time.
Jason from Among the Damned is the most well liked protagonist in the Scott Ciencin written comics for having a good backstory note hes a soldier who returned from war and is contemplating suicide and for not being as mindless, selfish or unlikable as past protagonists in the comics.
Joe from Paint It Black, who was Ikes former roommate who has gained some popularity for being the smartest character in the comics by kicking Ike out for not paying the rent.
The surgeon monster, again from Paint It Black, which has gotten some attention for being one of, if not the only original Silent Hill monster from the comics only. With many such as Linkara praising it for its unique design and by having it be a Pyramid Head-esque figure without feeling like a blatant carbon copy like The Butcher was.
Comic wise, Sinners Reward is often looked upon as the best of the IDW written comics for having a better understanding of the games and felt it did a better job translating them into comic form than the past issues. Having a different creative team helps.
Jerkass Woobie: Attempted with Christabella. She was killed in a horrific way, but most readers hate her anyway. Sadly, at the end of Dead/Alive, where it's implied that everyone winds up where they belong, she's still an evil demoness in Silent Hill, implying that she is beyond redemption.
Any scene with Christabella in Dead/Alive is hard to take seriously when its a little girl cursing her brains out all over the place.
The Scrappy: Christabella, who is utterly loathed by everyone both in and out of universe. Doesn't help that she's a complete Creator's Pet. She was so hated that the character was completely erased when a new writer took over.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: A common complaint with the comics (mostly the Scott Ciencin penned issues) is that they took too many liberties with the games and that it felt more in tune with the Lovecraft mythos by comparison.
Christabella is a child who was murdered by The Order as a way to appease their God. Yet between her loudmouth and whiny personality combined with her constant need to swear all the time has made many readers actively advocate for her death.
Whatever sympathy Lauryn may have had to begin with was lost when its revealed that she deliberately brought her friends to Silent Hill to be selfishly sacrificed so that she could take over the titular town from her sister Christabella.
Ike Issacs, who's essentially a prisoner of the town and forced to create twisted and surreal paintings and by the end is left for dead by Cheryl (no not that one) and her Cheerleader squad. Instead of invoking sympathy, he has gained ire by many who see him as a lazy idiot who willingly chose to stay in the town (while subsequently ignoring any attempts to escape such as a state trooper who hasnt been attacked that patrols the streets regularly) and when seeing innocent bystanders he does nothing to help them.
Cheryl and her cheerleader squad arguably fare even worse than Ike, as they break into his home, redecorates said home, locks him in his closet and when hearing some of their members died, deliberately leave Ike to die out of petty revenge. Yet readers are supposed to root for them to escape.
Robert Tower is established as a state trooper ready to retire who is scolded by many for not believing that there is such superstition looming over the town. While he does have a point to not believe said superstition, his sympathy falls apart for many readers when he and his fellow officers decide to play a "prank" on the newbie taking his spot. Said prank involves the other officers beating him up while dressed as monsters because he himself believes in the supernatural and unexplained.