pidge: keith i have a gay problem and need the help of a gay who is more experienced
keith: ok. what is it?
pidge: i like this girl but there’s no way she likes me back and i dunno what to do about it
keith: nothing. absolutely nothing. you do nothing, and then you do your best to ignore it but it’s just eating at you and it’s so hard to pretend it’s not there so then you watch ten thousand heteronormative hallmark movies but eventually you start getting daydreams about how great your life would be if you actually were dating and how much fun you’d have doing the cheesiest coupley stuff and you aren’t even paying attention to the hallmark movies anymore they’re just lights and sounds in the background of your daydreams but we’re in space so you don’t even have the hallmark movies so you just go straight to the daydreams and you get this idea in your head that if you two date you’ll finally be a happy functional person and you won’t have any more problems ever and you know that’s not true but you still wanna believe it anyway and now the crush is getting bigger and bigger and you’re even more of a mess and you talk to your friend about it since he says he’s always there if you need someone to listen so you think that’ll help a little bit but it turns out it doesn’t because your friend is an asshole and says “well why don’t you just tell him?” but if i could tell him then this wouldn’t. be a problem, shiro!
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy the thought of Harry and Draco back at Hogwarts years after they leave? If not, let me take a few moments of your time to elucidate:
Inter-house rivalry at the head table
inter-house rivalry between classes
Knowing (memorizing) each other’s schedule and casually bringing it up in conversation–with or outside of each other
Seeming like a married couple to everyone else but not realizing it themselves
Intense quidditch debates in the staff room
students like to hang around outside because they’re always loud and always hilarious (and sometimes often result in creative new insults to add to their repertoire)
Grading together in one of their quarters and snarking over ridiculous student answers
Quibbling over teaching methods to the point of pedantry just to be annoying to the other
Trying the “I’ve never been more shocked by student behaviour in my life” approach on students who misbehave, none of whom believe it because they’ve heard stories of Harry and Draco’s time at Hogwarts (usually by the other in classes, ex. Draco climbing a tree because he wanted Harry’s attention)
Patrolling the hallways over Christmas hols
“Here. This is the statue Flitwick said he’s caught kids fooling around behind. Go check it out.”
“Why do I have to go?”
“What are you, scared?”
“… Fine, you absolute tosser. …Woah, Malfoy, come check this out.”
“What? What is it?”
“Just get back here and you’ll see.”
“I’m not going to fall for your tricks, Potter. I’m not going back there.”
They end up necking behind the statue like students
the thing about Bakugou is that, in the limits that his personality allows, he’s soft for Kirishima - he calls him by name, listens to him and always answers him, tries to help him out as best as he can, accepts his help when Kirishima offers it, actively works to make him feel better when he’s down, never yells at him unless it’s an answer to Kirishima’s teasing, has no problems in complimenting him and pointing out his strength, he’s soft for Kirishima
he openly considers him a friend and treats him as such, he cares and doesn’t really try to hide it, though his inexperience in showing that sort of feelings does make him come off as awkward now and again
I guess what I mean to say is it’d be nice if the fandom could remember that, instead of writing him as angry and prickly and downright offensive and uncaring when dealing with what has been recognized by the canon as his best friend and someone he does enjoy the company of over and over again
So, a long-ass time ago, Rose and Dave had a conversation like this:
TT: After you go, what do you think will happen to me?
TT: Will I just cease to exist?
TG: i dont know
TG: i mean your whole timeline will
TT: Is there a chance it’ll continue to exist, and I’ll just be here alone forever?
TT: I’m not sure which outcome is more unsettling.
TG: the thing with time travel is
TG: you cant overthink it
TG: just roll with it and see what happens
TG: and above all try not to do anything retarded
TT: What do you think I should do?
TG: try going to sleep
TG: our dream selves kind of operate outside the normal time continuum i think
TG: so if part of you from this timelines going to persist thats probably the way to make it happen
TG: and hey you might even be able to help your past dream self wake up sooner without all that fuss you went through
TT: I think the true purpose of this game
is to see how many qualifiers we can get to precede the word “self” and
still understand what we’re talking about.
This is the most important sentence in Homestuck.
I am dead serious.
Well, OK, I mean, it’s pretty important for understanding some major
Homestuck themes and shit or something like that.
Also, I totally should have said: Pre-Retcon Doomed Timeline Non-Dreamself
Rose but ultimately about to become Dreamself Rose who semi-merged with
Pre-Retcon Alpha Timeline Rose and Doomed Timeline Dave aka Davesprite AKA
future Davepetasprite^2 or as we all call them around the office, Davepeta, had
Maybe you begin to see what I’m going to talk about here.
One of the major frustrations a lot of people had with the retcon was that
the characters we ended up with at the end weren’t the ones we’d come to love
and know throughout the story. Was it even worth it, to lose the characters we
loved to the tyranny of Game Over? The victorious kids, with the exception of
John and Roxy, were other people, with other histories, other goals, and other
Allow me to submit that that may be the whole point.
SBURB is cruel. We’ve known that for a long time. It’s cruel not as Caliborn
is cruel, but as the cosmos is cruel, as a supernova is cruel. It wants what it
wants, and doesn’t care about how that intersects with the needs of humanity.
It wants to make universes through a complex game-playing method, and drags
hapless, vulnerable adolescents along for the ride. And most of the time it
doesn’t even succeed, leaving its champions to rot in a doomed timeline or
similar! Skaia’s victory is an amoral creation myth where individual human
beings are just the carved pieces on the chessboard. (I mean, the other ones.
Not the carapacians.)
Again, let’s consider the theme of VIDEO GAMES vs. REAL LIFE.
Homestuck, let’s be real, is basically some postmodern horror timey-wimey
Jumanji. For a generation way more familiar with pixels than cute little tokens
It’s easy for teenagers and in fact, basically everyone, to fantasize about
escaping their life and slipping into some game world forever, where they get
to do awesome things and be a heroic person.
Homestuck makes that literal. Congratulations, everything you ever knew is
dead. You will never see it again, except your internet friends, who turn out
also to be your family and other important people. I mean, from a distance,
SBURB sounds like an awesome game, right? You figure out who you are and get to
wear a cool costume displaying that identity. You get to make anything you want
and enjoy this hyperflexible mythology tailored to YOUR CHOICES. HS fans talk
all the time about how cool it would be to play a real version of SBURB. That’s
a big part of the appeal of SBURB fan adventures. They put you and your friends
in the story. Or your favorite characters! It sounds like a fantasy come true.
The thing is, as fantastical as it is, it’s also really fucked up, and
ultimately you and your friends are being used. By a giant frog to let it have
its babies. By the universe. By a smug blue cloud thing that doesn’t care about
you at all.
SBURB does not care about you at all.
The funny thing, SBURB features a mythology with so many layers and nuances
and seemingly human motifs about growth and self that you might search for some
grand ultimate meaning behind it, but it’s not even human enough to have a
personality, to be something you can argue with or fight. It just is. It’s all
the cruelty and power of a god without any of the dazzling personality. It’s
empty. It just wants to make universes all day long, or fail trying. It is a
great, weird tadpole-making machine that eats children.
One of the big ways it doesn’t care about you is its attitude toward the
self. Humans and trolls and whatnot prefer not to be relentlessly duplicated.
SBURB says, oh yeah, let’s make tons of copies of the player characters and use
them for a lot of different purposes.
There’s the dreamself, an essential bifurcation of identity (you are now and
were always the dream moon princex) that sometimes gets merged into god tier
but sometimes doesn’t. There’s doomed timeline selves, who exist ultimately to
augment an Alpha timeline whose Alphaness is decided very arbitrarily and
frequently by Lord English. There’s the you who exists before a scratched
session and the you who exists afterward, who are two different people but
started as one baby in an act of ectobaby meteor duplication, your player self
and your guardian self. Dead timeline yous fill up the dreambubbles made by the
horrorterrors and get endlessly confused with each other. Any one of these
could be the you experience being at any given moment, and which one it is
entirely arbitrary. Don’t like being Dead Nepeta #47? Tough hoofbeast leavings,
To top it all off, in Terezi: Remember, we learn that every single time we
thought someone changed from one self to another, was resurrected or something
like that, it was another act of duplication. For every time someone’s died,
there’s another version of them waiting in the Dream Bubbles, surprised that
they’re not the main character anymore. And we have no way of knowing which is
which. Even John, good old everyman John, may or may not be the person who died
three or four times. It’s really impossible to say whether we’ve been following
the same person throughout our story, or just the illusion of the same person,
like a horrifying cosmic flipbook.
The retcon is a return to this same theme. Ultimately, there’s very little
new in the changes John makes to reality except that they drive the point home.
John’s friends all died. John and his friends won the game. These things are
both true at the same time, except those things may not have happened to the same
people. There was a happy ending. Hooray! For, um, some folks who may or may
not be the ones we care about. In fact, it’s very confusing, because from
Rose’s perspective, Roxy is dead but came back to life, and from Roxy’s
perspective Rose is dead but came back to life, except also she came back to
life as a weird tentacle catgirl of pure id and self –indulgence. So there’s
that. Um. Which Rose are we rooting for again?
Or wait: is it none of them, because the first Rose died in a doomed
timeline, hundreds of panels and a number of years ago?
There’s a tension here which one experiences between saying it’s okay
because it’s still the same people, and saying it’s not okay, because it’s not
the same people at all. This tension is exactly what we’re meant to wrestle
with. To put it another way, Homestuck asks if identity can work in aggregate.
Are all Johns John, all Roses Rose, and do they all share in what they
accomplish? Or are the final victors only accidents created by the whims and
needs of the frog baby machine?
What I’m saying, basically, is that the retcon, in the sense that it pointed
out our confused relationship with these characters, was already here.
In interviews and questions put to him over the years, Hussie constantly
compares HS and SBURB to other video games, particularly Mario, which he
frequently returns to as a baseline of comparison that most of his readers will
know. One answer, from a recent Hiveswap interview, is particularly revelatory.
To the question of “Why do you kill off all your characters?” Hussie replies:
[…]HS is supposedly a story that is also a game. In games, the characters
die all the time. How many times did you let Mario fall in the pit before he
saved the princess? Who weeps for these Marios. In games your characters die,
but you keep trying and trying and rebooting and resetting until finally they
make it. When you play a game this process is all very impersonal. Once you
finally win, when all is said and done those deaths didn’t “count”, only the
linear path of the final victorious version of the character is considered
“real”. Mario never actually died, did he? Except the omniscient player knows
better. HS seems to combine all the meaningless deaths of a trial-and-error
game journey with the way death is treated dramatically in other media, where
unlike our oblivious Mario, the characters are aware and afraid of the many
deaths they must experience before finally winning the game.
The big man hass the answer.
Homestuck is the story of those dead Marios.
Other works, like Undertale, have engaged with this topic as well. But one
of the major differences between Undertale and Homestuck is that in Undertale,
between “lives,” one’s consciousness is preserved. In Homestuck, it’s discontinuous,
and the value of the overall trial-error process is called into question by the
fact that you, the player, may not even get to experience the victory. What
meaning does victory hold if that is the case?
So, to put it in a nice thesis format:
One of the central themes of Homestuck is the challenge of reconciling an
arbitrary and destructive pattern of growth and victory with the death and
suffering you experienced along the way. Homestuck asks: is victory worthwhile
if you’re not you anymore? And would you be able to know?
What even is the self? Is there such a thing?
If you were left feeling somewhat disconcerted by our heroes’ tidy victory
and departure to their cosmic prize, or by how which Rose gets the spotlight is
so deeply, deeply arbitrary, there’s a good reason for that. You’re supposed to
The philosophical problem of Wacky Cat Rose is insignificant next to the
bullshit of SBURB.
And don’t forget—John and Roxy’s denizens helped them achieve the retcon.
Ultimately, the victory they achieved was mediated by the same amoral system of
SBURB, and was a victory over an enemy, Caliborn, whose power was created,
perpetuated, and ended by that same system.
Okay, so here’s where it gets contentious. There’s an argument to be made,
which I’m not sure how I feel about, that some of the character development
that could have been in post-retcon Act 6 was left out precisely to push this
feeling and play up this tension. Note that this is not the same thing as
saying that they were deliberately badly written, but that they’re deliberately
written to make us uneasy.That Hussie deliberately played with the balance
between making these retconned characters feel familiar and making them feel
eerily different to leave us feeling uneasy with the result.
I’m not sure I like that idea. It smacks a little too much of that
“everything is perfect” thinking that comes sometimes from the far Metastuck
camp. Some of the differences may also be the result of flawed writing. (See:
Jane and Jake’s character arcs, which I might talk about later.) And I want to
be able to critique those flaws. Ultimately, I think we still needed more time
and development to figure out who these new people were—even if our goal was
ultimately to compare them to their earlier selves. And again, more conscious
acknowledgement of the problem from our heroes—especially John, the linchpin in
this last and biggest act of duplication—might have helped drive this theme
Still, I think the Problem of Dead Marios is one of the most fundamental questions
of Homestuck, maybe THE biggest question. It’s essential to understand it to
understand what Hussie’s doing—or attempting to do— in the retcon and the
I don’t know that Homestuck offers us a clear answer to that question. There
are some confusions around the issue, too. Where do merged selves fit in,
exactly? Clearly they’re a big part of the discussion, because Hussie spends
some time in Act 6, especially near the end bringing the identity-merging
powers of the Sprites to the forefront. (See also: the identity-merged
nightmare that is Lord English.) Can we even come up with a clear answer
to what it means when a dead Mario returns to life grotesquely fused with Toad?
How does he beat the game? Does he tell himself that the princess is in another
castle? Or what if he merges with Peach? Are they their own princess? How do
they know if they’re in the right castle?
Interestingly, it’s not all grotesque—spritesplosions suggest that
personalities that are too different don’t stay together long, so a fusion
might rely on some inherent compatibility between the two players. Erisol’s
self-loathing, sure, but also Fefeta’s cheerfulness. Davepeta seems to be a way
of bringing out the best in their players, a way of getting Davesprite past his
angst and Nepeta past her fear. Honestly, I know a lot of people don’t like
Davepeta as the ending of these two characters’ arcs, but I can’t help but love
it. They’re the ultimate coolkid. Cool enough to know they don’t have to be
cool. Regular Dave got there, too, of course. But was his retcon assist from
John ultimately any different?
Then, of course, we come to Davepeta’s speech to Jade in one of the last few
updates before Collide. Davepeta suggests that there is such a thing as an
ultimate self beyond the many different selves one piles up throughout the
cosmos. A set of principles that describes who you are that’s larger than any
individual instance of you. Your inherent Mariohood. (Maybe this is comparable
to your Classpect identity, which attempts to describe who you are?) Davepeta
even tells Jade, strikingly, that one might learn to see beyond the barriers
between selves. Be the ur-self, in practice, rather than theory. This would be
incredible news for Jade, who wrestles with the issue of different selves
perhaps more than any other character. (There’s a lot to say about Jade.)
Honestly, I wish this ur-self idea had been developed more, and I honestly
expected it to be. It doesn’t fully come to fruition, I feel. (Same goes for
Davepeta’s character. Ohhhh, ZING!) I’m not sure it entirely makes
philosophical sense, especially with fusion—I mean, doesn’t Davepeta themself
disprove it? Or at least complicate it? Like, are they part of the ur-Dave or
the ur-Nepeta? They seem to imply they’re BOTH? Does that even work? Does that
mean that Marieach is all the Peaches and Marios at once?
(In fact, Bowser/Peach/Mario are but the three manifestations of one eternal
principle. Also, Bowser/Peach are the true power couple. Read my fanfiction
And what, say, of Dirk, who ultimately ends up rejecting aspects of his
other selves? It feels like there’s a lot more you could say here, and I wonder
if Hussie would have said more, if he’d had time. What’s weird is, none of our
victorious kids never reach an ur-self (though to their descendants, they
become archetypal to some degree), which one might have expected. They’re just
individual selves who happened to get lucky. Does that make them representative
of the whole? It feels like something’s missing here, or like something got
dropped at the last minute.
Same goes for the idea of the Ultimate Riddle. You’d be forgiven for missing
it, but there’s been this riddle in the background lore of SBURB that seems to
have something to do with personal agency in this overwhelming, overarching
system. Karkat called it predestination, saying something like “ANY HOPE YOU
HAD OF DOING THINGS OTHERWISE WAS JUST A RUSE.” But others have interpreted it
more positively. My favorite interpretation, from bladekindeyewear: the answer
to the Riddle is that YOU shape the timeline through your existence,
personality, and choices, even when it looks like it’s all predestination.
Ultimately it’s your predestination, your set of events, based deeply on your
nature, that you are creating. Someone like Caliborn can use his innate
personality to achieve power; someone like John might be able to use it to
I definitely expected something like that to be expressed more explicitly.
Like, a big ah-ha moment that helps John or Jade or whoever understand how to
escape Caliborn’s system. Something like that would have been very helpful for
a lot of our heroes, actually, who’ve been pushed around by Skaia and SBURB
together, in finding a cathartic ending. Once again, I wonder if something
was dropped or rushed because there wasn’t time to put it all in. There’s
places where you can see hints of that Answer being implied, maybe? But it’s
kind of ambiguous.
You can see how the Answer to the Ultimate Riddle ties into some of
Davepeta’s ideas. If your personality, the rules of your behavior are a
fundamental archetype that goes beyond each individual self, then the answer to
whether it matters if one self of yours makes it through to victory is an
emphatic YES. You are all of those people, and by winning one round with Skaia,
you’ve won the whole game, despite all the arbitrary challenges and deaths it
heaps upon you along the way.
This may strike some as too positive for Skaia’s brutality, or again, some
way of excusing flaws in many characters’ arcs, or unfair things that happen to
them. To be fair, I don’t know that Davepeta’s necessarily meant to be taken as
authoritative or the voice of Hussie. They may simply be offering a
Hussie not choosing to come right out and engage with the Ultimate Riddle
leaves the question of Dead Marios and what they mean for the victorious
versions of our cast very open. I like that in some ways—let the reader
decide—but I can’t help but wish we had more to work with in making that
decision. Plus, it might have brought the thematic messages of Homestuck all
the way home to tie them more closely to our characters and their
experiences—character development being one of the things most people found
most lacking in the ending.
That picture of Maui getting his finger pinched by tiny Tama has me giggling thinking about all those youtube videos of guys putting crawdads on their nips and now that's all I can think of Maui doing next.... because he doesn't learn!