Red vs. Blue, often abbreviated as RvB, is a machinima series created by Rooster Teeth Productions. The story centers around two opposing teams of soldiers fighting a perpetual civil war. The series is primarily produced using the machinima technique of synchronizing video footage from a game to pre-recorded dialogue and other audio. Footage is mostly from the multiplayer modes of Halo: Combat Evolved, and its sequels, Halo 2, Halo 3, and its prequel, Halo: Reach, with the most recent seasons using Halo 4.
The series is published by Rooster Teeth Productions, originally available for download per episode at their site and later released on DVD. Praised for its originality, the series has won a total of four awards from the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences. Although mainly a satirical and absurdist comedy, the show often touches on deeper philosophy about the meaning of war when it comes down to individual soldiers; as well as other more serious themes such as human morals in the face of extinction and the humanity of artificial intelligence. The characters occasionally question the validity of their mission and whether or not it accomplishes anything, a common theme in commentary about the ethics of war.
- Main article: List of Characters
The show's cast divides into four segments: the Red Army, the Blue Army, the Freelancer program, and unaffiliated parties that interact with the core cast. Despite the enmity the Red and Blue Team members are supposed to harbor for one another, this usually does not apply personally to the enemy soldiers, who often engage in one-on-one conversation.
The Blood Gulch Chronicles
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (Season 1)
The Blood Gulch Chronicles begins with the introduction of two rookies on the Red and Blue teams, also getting a jeep and a tank respectively. The Red recruit, Donut, is sent on a fool's errand by his fellow soldiers, only to accidentally steal the enemy flag when he believed it to be the store (and the Blue rookie Caboose believing Donut to be the General foretold in the fool's errand of his own). The weeks of reconnaissance and intelligence gathering breaks down into chaos and (poorly constructed) offenses.
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (Season 2)
Several months after the first season, a medical officer arrives to check on the wounded soldier Blue team reported. He had come months afterward, so by the time he got there, the wounded soldier (Tex) had already died. Almost immediately after his arrival the Red team attacks. Red team salvages their failed attack by getting Doc as an exchange for Blue team's surrender (although he was ordered to go to Red team anyway). Doc's added involvement in the canyon, combined with a rampant AI infecting Caboose will force the two opposing teams to do the unthinkable.
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (Season 3)
The Reds and Blues believe to have found themselves in the future. They have stumbled upon a prophecy which says a blue being will destroy a large "temple." They try to defend from an attack from O'Malley when this "Great Destroyer" arrives.
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (Season 4)
Following a distress signal back to Blood Gulch, the Red team experiences a falling out with one of their soldiers. Tucker, Tex, Caboose, and the alien go on quest to save the alien's race. Tex does not return to Blood Gulch with the rest of Blue team, and Tucker becomes seriously ill.
Out of Mind
- Main article: Red vs Blue: Out of Mind
Out of Mind is a mini-series that took place in-between Season 4 and Season 5. It is a narrative from Tex's point of view, told in a much more serious tone. Its events precede both Season 5 and Recovery One.
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (Season 5)
A ship from Earth has crash-landed in the middle of the canyon, bringing a new soldier. Red team experiences a major crisis in their chain of command and Blue team welcomes a new addition to the family. Church tries to stop O'Malley once and for all.
The series finale was distributed with three alternate endings; the ending which was shown to a viewer depended on which link in Burnie's post they followed to watch the episode. An additional three endings were included in the special features of the Season 5 DVD.
- Main article: Red vs Blue: Recovery One
Recovery One was a Red vs Blue miniseries distributed via Xbox Live and the internet that takes place after Out of Mind as well as before and during Season 5. Its plot revolves around Agent Washington, also known as Recovery One, who is a Freelancer like Tex, Wyoming, and York. Washington's job is to recover all Freelancer AI constructs of freelancers killed in action.
- Main article: Red vs Blue: Reconstruction
Reconstruction is the direct sequel to the Blood Gulch Chronicles, exploring the causality of events from both The Blood Gulch Chronicles and Recovery One. It continues to follow Recovery Agent Washington's journey tracking down a mysterious enemy called the Meta, who is killing Freelancers and taking their armor enhancements and AIs. First, Wash has to find the people with the knowledge and experience to help him; the former occupants of Blood Gulch. With Project Freelancer under government investigation, Washington soon begins to realize what Church really is, and the nature of his role in the project.
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: Relocated
Relocated is a 4-part mini-series following the Red Team, now on Valhalla, struggling to do the usual nothing, and Caboose's strange action's at Blue Base drawing further attention to himself.
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: Recreation
Recreation is a direct sequel to Reconstruction. As the Reds continue to try and figure out what Caboose is up to and wake up a comatose Donut, Caboose continues trying to make a new best friend. He finds the Reds holo-room, with help from Donut, and Epsilon tells him about Tucker and a mysterious energy reading in the desert. Grif and Sarge agree to come, and they meet a strange man at the desert. The stranger claims to be a member of a team working with aliens to uncover a relic for the military. Tucker returns and informs Caboose, Grif, and Sarge that his team was killed and the rest of the group were impostors planning to sell the relic to the highest bidder. Tucker was sent along with Junior (apparently alive and well yet still unseen in the new series) where they acted as ambassadors along with the official military teams searching for the relic because "They were sorta in between..." It appears Wash lived through the events of Reconstructions as well. Now imprisoned by the military, Wash decides to bargain the location of Epsilon for his freedom. Knowing Wash, he probably has much deeper plans, and the Meta pays an unexpected visit to the remaining members of red team in Valhalla...
- Main article: Red vs. Blue: Revelation
Revelation is a direct sequel to Red vs. Blue Recreation. The first episode made its debut April 1, 2010. Agent Washington and the Meta have teamed up to find the missing Epsilon AI, Caboose and Epsilon explore an old Freelancer base in search of a familiar frenemy, and the Reds work to get the Blues back into Command's database so they can "defeat them" legitimately. In a cruel twist, it is revealed both Red and Blue teams have been culled from the worst of the UNSC to act as training fodder for project Freelancer (retconning several outlandish situations the team has dealt with over the years as mere simulation stimuli). With Wash and the Meta closing in, Tex sets an ambush to discover the purpose of her creation.
After a vicious battle, Tex is "captured" by the Meta in an AI storage unit, betraying his partner Wash and leaving him badly wounded. Answering the question of, "why are we here?" Sarge, Tucker, Griff and Simmons fight the re-powered Meta head on. Taking advantage of each of their strengths, the teams are able to send Meta plummeting to his death. During the fight, the memory storage unit containing Tex was damaged. Church enters the device to try to save Tex... and fails to emerge before the machine shuts down. The UNSC later secured the battle site, congratulating the "simulation" troopers on their improbable victory. The teams are granted the use of their old bases as a reward. Wash, grateful to the teams for saving his life and giving him a second chance, joins the Blues as their new leader. Inside the storage unit, Church searches for Tex in a virtual reality recreation of Blood Gulch, content to continue living within a good memory.
- Main article: Season 9
The ninth season of Red vs Blue has two independent plots. One is in machinima style following Epsilon Church after the finale of Revelation and the other is entirely CGI-rendered and chronologically preceding the Blood Gulch Chronicles following the events of Project Freelancer, several years in the past. Throughout the season, the Freelancers compete to prove their worth to the project's Director by engaging in high risk training and combat missions against UNSC Insurrectionists. In the season's conclusion, Church is rescued from Epsilon by the previously thought deceased Agent Carolina. Leading the Red and Blue teams, she declares her intention to hunt down the mysterious "Director" of Project Freelancer and kill him.
- Main article: Season 10
Following the format of season 9, season 10 has two separate plots. The machinima version following Agent Carolina with the reds and the blues searching for "the Director". And the CGI version following the Freelancers battling the insurrectionists, with Agent Connecticut (CT) having betrayed the team.
- Main article: Season 11
After being pardoned by the UNSC, the Reds and Blues are to be transported back home on a large ship; however, an accident (or multiple) causes the ship to crash on an unknown planet, where they set up the new bases. As Tensions between the Red and Blue escalate, both teams almost begin another conflict until they're interrupted by the supposed rescue team, Donut with Doc. They were then approached by a mercenary, named Felix, telling them that they're being hunted. Soon, the Federal Army of Chorus begin their "attack" on the Reds and Blues and were eventually overwhelmed. Sarge, Donut, Lopez, and Washington were left behind as the New Republic arrived late and managed to get Grif, Simmons, Caboose, and Tucker out of the canyon. The season ends within the New Republic base with the now remnants of the Reds and Blues, taking command of their own squad in hopes to rescue the leftover teammates.
- Main article: Season 12
Continuing the story after the events of Season 11, with their friends captured by the Federal Army, Tucker, Grif, Simmons, and Caboose train with the New Republic in order to not only rescue them, but save the planet of Chorus in the process. However, they soon learn that there is more to the war and its combatants then they initially thought. As they reunite with Sarge, Donut, Lopez, and Wash, they reveal that the New Republic and the Federal Army of Chorus aren't who they seem and inform each other on the events they have experienced over the past few weeks. They are suddenly trained by laser sights by a factions of mercenaries with Locus. Felix jumps in but reveals that he's working with Locus. The duo reveals that the plan to execute every inhabitant on the planet. Along with Doctor Emily Grey, the crew are saved by Carolina and are teleported to a unknown location. There, they plot on how to stop the mercenaries and end their genocidal plan. As the crew acted upon Tucker's plan, they manage to halt the mercenaries' plan and made them retreat. The Reds and Blues were deemed "heroes" by the UNSC. Epsilon finally manages to decrypt the manifest he and Carolina taken earlier and reveal that "Charon Industries" hired the mercenaries and it's lead by the Chairman Malcom Hargrove. The Blood Gulch Crew then confidently inform the Chairman that they, the Federal Army, and the New Republic will join forces and accept his declaration of war. In a post-credits scene, the Chairman verified to F.I.L.S.S. if the crate that he had sent to Locus' delivery. F.I.L.S.S. assures him that the crate was delivered. It is then revealed that the crate encases the helmet of the Meta.
Public Service Announcements
- RvB has made several PSAs over the years, several on holidays, others being based on Halo celebration days like Bungie Day or an anniversary. Some are based as advice like arguments and counter-arguments and few on safety like their fire safety PSA or even the movie based PSA on how to act in a movie theater, one even based on Zombies. RvB has also done a PSA, based off the Halo: Global Championship.
- Rooster Teeth has done miniseries with the characters previewing Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach and Halo 4.
- The episode of Halo 3: ODST was to showcase the pre-order bonus of a playable Sgt. Johnson for Firefight.
- The episode of Halo 4 was to promote the reveal of the release date for Halo 4. One video was made for US audiences while the other was made for international audiences.
The writing process for the series has changed over time. Early in season 1, Burns wrote the episode scripts from week to week, with what appeared to be minimal planning in advance; major plot events seemed to have been conceived shortly before they were filmed. For the second season, Matt Hullum became a main writer. A rough plot outline is now written before a season begins, although the actual content of an individual episode is still decided on a more short-term basis. However, contradictory to this, Burnie claims that the major plot ideas were decided by episode 6, the episodes just didn't contain much information - they originally went for comedy rather than depth. Because Red vs. Blue is loosely based on the Halo universe, Rooster Teeth encountered some difficulties when trying to synchronize events in the series with the release of Halo 2.
Aside from a few scenes created using Marathon Infinity, Marathon 2, and the PC version of Halo, Red vs. Blue is mostly filmed with interconnected Xbox consoles. As the series title suggests, the videos are largely set in the Halo map Blood Gulch and its Halo 2 counterpart, Coagulation. However, some episodes have been filmed on other maps, including Sidewinder from Halo and Zanzibar from Halo 2. Within a multiplayer game session, the people controlling the avatars "puppet" their characters, moving them around, firing weapons, and performing other actions as dictated by the script, and in synchronization with the episode's dialogue, which is recorded ahead of time.
The "camera" is simply another player, whose first-person perspective is recorded raw to a computer. As the recording occurs within the game, a few different bugs and post-production techniques have been exploited in order to achieve desired visual effects. In particular, Adobe Premiere Pro is used to edit the audio and video together, impose letterboxing to hide the camera player's head-up display, add the titles and fade-to-black screens, and create some visual effects that cannot be accomplished in-game.
Impact on Machinima
Red vs. Blue is widely credited with attracting public attention to machinima. Although examples had existed since the 1990s, Clive Thompson credits Red vs. Blue as "the first to break out of the underground". Tavares, Gil, and Roque call it machinima's "first big success". Thompson notes that "Microsoft has been so strangely solicitous that when it was developing the sequel to Halo last year, the designers actually inserted a special command — a joystick button that makes a soldier lower his weapon — designed solely to make it easier for Rooster Teeth to do dialogue." The series has inspired other machinima productions, including The Codex, Fire Team Charlie, and This Spartan Life.
- Red vs. Blue, was originally intended to last only six installments, but its popularity led to the production of 100 episodes of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, several stand-alone special videos, three miniseries, another three full-length series and another full length series like Blood Gulch, which was situated in Forge World; mainly Hemorrhage.
- Some of the voice actors from Red vs Blue were featured in the level Crow's Nest in Halo 3, as two Marines arguing over a password. The voices vary depending on difficulty. This indicates the overwhelming popularity of the series, even among Bungie and Microsoft. For more information, see Password-Lacking Marine.
- Red vs. Blue was featured on Discovery Channel's documentary, Rise of the Video Game, which included an interview with Red vs. Blue's creator and original cast.
- The popular Double EXP Weekend game type "Grifball" is based on Red vs Blue, specifically episode 59.
- Rooster Teeth made two Red vs Blue PSA (Public service announcements) videos for Xbox Live's partnership with Rock the Vote in late-summer 2008, for the United States Presidential election.
- On Halo 2's multiplayer map Turf, two easter eggs can be found. They are both found on vending machines - one in the warehouse, and another near the makeshift camp. One has the silhouette of a rooster, and the other of teeth. This is homage to Rooster Teeth.
- The Halo 3 Mythic map Sandbox features a full sized Grifball court.
- In Halo: Reach it is possible to have a Militia/Marine NPC whose name is "PVT G. Ramsey", with a service tag that reads: "GEOF". This is a reference to Geoff Ramsey, the voice actor of Grif in the popular web series, Red vs Blue. Other cast members appear as well, such as PVT M. Hullum (Sarge, Doc, O'Malley, Wyoming), PVT B. Burns (Church, Lopez, Vic (Jr.), Red Zealot) and PVT J. Heyman (Caboose).
- Ironically, Grif in the Red vs Blue PSA "Deja View" is colored a shade of yellow, despite him constantly claiming that his is orange.
- In a PSA for Season 9, Caboose visits the campaign of Halo: Reach, after being mistaken for Noble Six.
- Nightmare Armor was mentioned in the audio commentary of Season 2.
- In Halo 3, if a player were to recreate each of the Red and Blue Teams' members, they would need various shades of red and blue as colors and different helmets.
- For Sarge, one would need everything default and red as their two color choices.
- For Grif, everything default and orange as their two color choices.
- For Donut, everything default and pink as their two color choices.
- For Simmons, everything default and maroon as their two color choices.
- For Church, everything default and cobalt as their two color choices (White as their two color choices if they want to recreate Church as a ghost).
- For Caboose, Mark V helmet, everything else default and blue as their two color choices (Default helmet if they want to recreate Caboose in the Halo 2 engine).
- For Tucker, everything default and teal or aqua as their two color choices, he was worn both (Steel as their two color choices if they want to recreate Tucker after he exits the teleporter).
- For Washington, everything default and cobalt as their primary color and yellow as their secondary (Steel as their primary color if they want to recreate Wash when he was in the Freelancer Program).
- In Halo: Reach, the options are basically the same, but there are some changes.
- For Sarge, one would need Mark VI helmet, default or FJ/PARA shoulders, Gold visor color and red as their two color choices.
- For Grif, everything the same as Sarge, except their two color choices would be orange.
- For Donut, everything the same as Sarge, except their two color choices would be pink.
- For Simmons, everything the same as Sarge, except their two color choices would be maroon.
- For Church, everything the same as Sarge, except their two color choices would be cobalt.
- For Caboose, everything the same as Sarge, except their helmet would be Mark V and their two color choices would be blue.
- For Tucker, everything the same as Sarge, except their two color choices would be teal or aqua, he has worn both.
- In Halo 4, there are some changes to the character.
- For all the characters, the armor colors are the same except they use the Mark VI armor variant, with a stalker chestplate.
- In Halo: Reach, the options are basically the same, but there are some changes.
- On Bungie.net, look at a service record with the Flag Kill medal, scroll over the flag symbol and it will say "It's right next to the headlight fluid". This is a reference to episodes 3 and 4 of Blood Gulch Chronicles where the new recruit, Donut is sent on a fool's errand to fetch "headlight fluid" and "elbow grease". Instead, he mistakenly goes to Blue Base and takes their flag.
- There is a rare line on the level Outskirts, in Halo 2, where when under attack, a marine will yell "I'll pull your skull right out of your head and beat you to death with it!" This is a reference to a line in season 1 episode 10, where Church tells Tucker and Caboose a story that involved Tex beating a marine, Jimmy, to death with his own skull. This was followed by a "That doesn't seem physically possible" by Tucker.
- In episode 100 of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, when Tex takes off in the Pelican, the word "Marathon" is partially obscured on the underside. This is an obvious reference to Bungie's previous game series, Marathon, in appreciation from Rooster Teeth.
- There is a reference to Red vs Blue in Gears of War. Within the game there is an achievement called “Is It a Spider?”. To obtain it, you are required to kill 100 enemies in ranked matches with a grenade tag, referencing episodes 11 and 57.
- In the Red vs Blue: ODST episodes Church says that he heard a rumor that Sgt. Maj. Johnson can't be killed. This is an obvious reference to how in the games he is a plot critical character and is invincible. Church also heard Johnson could shoot lasers from his eyes, though did not believe the rumor. This ended badly for him.
- If one were to look closely at the tires of a Warthog, the word "Puma" can be seen at the top/bottom. This is a reference to episode 2 when Grif thinks the Warthog looks more like a Puma.
- In the Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare DLC, a Chupacabra can be found and killed for an achievement called 'Chupathingy'. This is another reference to Season 1 Episode 2.
- As a running gag in The Blood Gulch Chronicles, whenever a character dies, the last words they say are "Hurk! Blah...". A couple of exceptions are the Grunts from episodes 39 and 40, and an alternate ending to episode 100, in which the phrase "Son of a bitch!" is substituted.
- When either Grif or Simmons yells "Shotgun!", the other will yell "Shotgun!" right after, only to say "fuck!" when they realize they're too late. If you have the IWHBYD Skull on and you're playing Tsavo Highway, two Marines will mimic this, substituting "fuck!" with "damn".
- Caboose team-killed Church, though Caboose would sometimes randomly blame Tucker. In an episode of Reconstruction, Agent Washington even says that command has a shortcut on the keyboard for Caboose's team killing, as Caboose said it, Ctrl F U.
- When red team tricks someone and steals something by surprise, they would say "Yoink!" This was even made into a medal in Halo: Reach. When ever someone is performing an assassination and their target dies, whoever killed him gets the medal "Yoink!"
- Most of the character names can be found in Halo: Combat Evolved's Temporary Profile feature. Out of the randomly generated names, Caboose, Church, Donut, Simmons, and Doc are commonly found. It is possible Rooster Teeth named their characters using this feature. This feature is continued in Halo 3, with names like Caboose and Donut showing up as temporary profiles.
- Church always carries around a Sniper Rifle, and yet he is utterly incapable of hitting anything with it, even when the target is standing still. This is also shown in Reconstruction when he fails to hit an enemy at point blank range with an entire magazine of pistol ammo. However, he is shown in one episode to be a crack shot when shooting allies, hitting Caboose in the foot from several yards away with the pistol. For some reason, he can't kill at close range. The Rocket Launcher is an exception to this, as shown in Reconstruction.
- Whenever a character is blown up or launched by an explosion, any characters nearby often exclaim "Son of a bitch!" in response. Lopez has even participated in this gag, his variant being "Madre de dios!" or "Mother of God!", which was still subtitled as meaning "son of a bitch."
- Characters will sometimes state that something "doesn't seem physically possible". Examples include when Private Jimmy is bashed to death with his own skull, when Grif discovers the makeshift surgery that has been performed on him, when Tex manages to flip Sheila, and when Church got his old body back and Tex beats him with the Monitor, his old "body".
- Tucker never gets to use a Sniper Rifle except in episodes 94, 98 and 99.
- A big running gag and catch-phrase in Red vs Blue is "Why are we here?" this saying is used in the first episode of season one and the last episode of that season, as well as the last episode of Season Five and Episode 18 of Revelation. usually when someone says it, the person they say it to will say something big and meaningful and the other will say that they just meant something much less important. At the end of season one Simmons says it to Grif and he cuts him off saying he doesn't, and in Revelation 18, Sarge asks if they ever wonder why they're here, meaning why they're still in the army unit. Another time 2 soldiers were talking in Season 10 and asked "Why are we here?" before behind scared to death from the freelancers.
- Whenever Tucker hears anything perverted, he will say "Bow Chicka Bow Wow."
- Sarge puts down Grif on many occasions, there are only a few episodes that he doesn't. One in particular is an episode in season five when he asks Simmons, Donut, and Grif what is that when he's looking at a computer screen. He congratulates Simmons and Donut but then when Grif gets in Sarge says "another incredible observation from the stating the obvious department, thanks for nothing numb nuts."
- When Caboose angers Church, mostly through friendly fire, he quickly yells "Tucker did it!"
- Caboose is an extremely dangerous character to be around when it comes to his teammates. For instance, in an early episode of Reconstruction, he ends killing one of his new team's members, Jones, when Jones was attempting to bring Caboose out of the prison cell to see Agent Washington. Another episode of Reconstruction featured another Freelancer, Agent South (Dakota). When Washington orders Church to not allow her to get away, Church simply turns to Caboose and says "Hey Caboose, that lady is on our side. You should help her." Immediately, Caboose yells out "Okay!" and shoots her right away. He turns back to Church and says "Um, she kind of got in the way when I was helping her."
- In Season 6, Caboose attempts to throw a Spike Grenade but is extremely unsuccessful; Wash responds by saying, "That was the worst throw...ever. Of all time." The "Of All Time" gag has since been used in several ways: in the Season 8 finale when Wash almost fell of a cliff and was narrowly saved by Doc ("That was the second worst throw...ever. Of all time."), by Tucker and Caboose in Season 10 ("Man, you're like the worst wingman ever!" "Of all time."), and in the tagline for Season 10 ("The Biggest Season Ever. Of All Time."), among others.