In the late 2000s, on the SomethingAwful forums, user VictorSurge created a monster for the internet age. A tall, literally-white-skinned, faceless, suit-wearing creature known as the Slenderman was born out of a horror Photoshop contest. It didn't take long for the rest of the site to catch wind of it, and start making their own things with him.
Troy Wagner, Tim Sutton, and Joseph DeLage III were one of the first groups to make anything major using the brand-new monster. They changed the lore a bit, giving the creature new abilities and a new name: The Operator. Originally intended to be called The Slender Tapes, Marble Hornets was created practically out of thin air. The first video uploaded to the channel was a rehash of the same introduction they had used for their main character on the forum, and the majority of season one was only partially planned. Still, it drew people in, creating a huge fanbase in its wake.
Marble Hornets lasted from 2009 to 2014, spanning 132 videos between two channels over the course of 3 seasons; the main channel had 94 videos while totheark had 38. Primarily, the series was found-footage, but a decent chunk of the videos were "current day". The series jumped around in time a lot due to the found-footage nature as "old" tapes were found and uploaded. The series had a staple of white-text-on-black-screens throughout many entries, as a way for whichever character uploaded the video--either Jay or Tim--to make commentary.
The series also had a fair share of ARG elements, mostly through codes and cyphers used on the totheark channel. While some of the puzzles were solved pretty easily, others took much longer; in fact, there was one code within a TTA video that took until well after the series ended to be solved. There was also plenty of character-audience interaction, mostly in the form of Jay interacting with people on other social medias.
It also had an associated Twitter account. Due to it being hacked last year, none of the tweets have the right date. However, it was thanks to the fandom's efforts in collecting the tweets that allowed them to even be reposted in the first place.
While the final entry, 87, was a solid enough ending, there has been a sequel comic set after the fact published through the official merch store. It features Jessica, a character from season two, suddenly becoming dragged back into the Operator mess. The comics also feature Skully, a concept teased at during season one but ultimately scrapped in seasons two and three.
Jay Merrick is the main protagonist throughout most of Marble Hornets. He's the one who started this all, after remembering the bag of tapes his former friend Alex gave him before up and leaving without much else. It was Jay that poked the bear so to speak and brought everybody back into the Operator mess. During the filming of Alex's student film, Jay was the "script supervisor", which meant he really didn't do much at all. In flashback tapes, the most we see Jay doing is helping Alex find places to film, and only once helping with the filming itself. His involvement in the original project was his cover story at first, as multiple times he used the guise of finishing the film to get his answers.
Jay seemingly views himself as a completely reliable narrator, but it's obvious right off the bat that he is anything but. He claims he plans to only post bits of tapes that seem important, through whatever thought process he has. Who knows how much else was on those tapes that he only shared small parts of? However, it does go without saying that he did post incredibly important parts of the tapes, even from the very first entry. He is clearly very apt in technology, especially when it comes to digitizing the old tapes, as well as having decent video editing abilities.
He is also wildly impulsive, acting on ideas he has with very little extra thought. Breaking into Brian's house, posting every little thing he can, following Alex at any given oppurtunity. Other characters call him out on this--including one instance where Tim basically just decks him in the face--but throughout the whole series, his impulsive nature never changes. It's this impulsiveness that lead him to his death.
Jay was supposed to have a persona much like Hoodie or Masky, dubbed "Skully" by the fanbase due to skulls seemingly being the motif whent the concept was teased in the series. However, this was dropped after season one, and Skully did not return as a concept until after the series ended with the post-canon comic.
First Appearance: Introduction (as the one writing the text/posting the video); Entry #12 (First on-screen appearance)
Last Appearance: Entry #80
Tim Wright is the secondary protagonist for the majority of the series before taking over as primary protagonist after Entry #80. He is a troubled man, having dealt with multiple mental health issues since childhood. He didn't even know Alex before the original filming, as he was a friend of Brian's who got roped into all of this. After the cast disbanded, he tried to live his own life, but Jay's investigation dragged him right back in. This caused a continuous strain on any relationship the two tried to have. After getting fully dragged in, Tim gains a convinction to see this through, no matter what.
Throughout the series, Tim has a smoking problem, as well as being heavily dependant on whatever medication his therapist put him on. This medicine proved useful though, as it somehow keeps the Operator's influence away--not the creature itself, though, just what it does to the mind and body. It's also shown that Tim has horrible seizures when he doesn't take it when he's supposed to, seen when Hoodie steals his medication during one entry. It is completely unknown how that works, but multiple characters including Brian and Jay are aware of the effects.
He believed the Operator was his fault, believing that because he had seen the monster as a child, somehow his presence brought the Operator along with him. However, Tim has proved he is not entirely afraid of the Operator, even once trying to stand up against it quite literally. He isn't so much scared of it as he is absolutely sick of its existence.
Tim has an alternate persona of sorts in the form of Masky, identified by the black and white full-face mask he wears. While being Masky, Tim does not talk, and is seemingly more prone to the Operator's influence. This isn't to say every time he's Masky it's because of the Operator--there are multiple times where it seems the monster had nothing to do with Tim's condition. He never remembers what happens when he is Masky. There have even been times where he assumedly was in that headspace for a long time, as he mentions in Entry #47. Masky is occasionally the third member of totheark, but that status changed a few different times.
Ultimately, Tim is the one to put a stop to everything, killing Alex and putting everything behind him with one last message. Everything is fine.
First Appearance: Entry #9
Last Appearance: Entry #87
Alex Kralie is the primary human antagonist throughout the entire series, and is basically the entire reason why the series happened in the first place. A film major in college, his student film--literally called Marble Hornets in-universe--was what brought the original group together. He was an alright director at first, but due to the Operator's influence over him, he started acting out more. He was becoming quite an asshole, as most people who knew him at the time came to realize. Eventually he scrapped the entire project, gave the tapes he had to Jay, and left town.
The Operator did quite a number on Alex. He became paranoid during the filming to the point of down-right obsession over the monster, filming himself doing anything and everything, scribbling on dozens of pages about the creature plaguing him. He seemingly was some kind of puppet at one point or another, taking people to the Operator (as shown when he takes Seth to an abadoned location to do so). It is unclear if the Operator always had some level of control over Alex after the filming, as it seemed he was living a somewhat normal life after dropping out of college and moving, but once Jay brought everyone back into the fray it had control over him again.
During season two, Alex was strangely nice to Jay throughout the tapes. While he's not exactly the nicest, it was certainly strange how almost helpful he was. All of that turned out to just be a cover-up for his ultimate plan of killing Jay and Jessica, but he was stopped by Tim (as Masky). After that, Alex seemed to officially be off the deep end. Having already burned down Jay's apartment at one point, he goes so far as to set fire to Tim's house as well.
Ultimately he does kill Jay, shooting him in the basement of the abandoned college he was using as a hideout. He was waiting for Jay, still clearly knowing what Jay planned to do, thanks to him posting practically everything on the YouTube channel. In turn, only a few entries later, Alex meets his own end at the hands of Tim.
First Appearance: Entry #3
Last Appearance: Entry #86
Brian Thomas is one of two primary side characters for the majority of the series, a status he shares with Jessica. Brian was Alex's friend in college, leading to his involvement with the student film project. He seemed like he really cared about the film, or at least put an air of caring on, best shown by the fact that when nobody else showed for auditions, he brought Tim. In some of the tapes from the filming, he genuinedly seemed to care about what Alex was trying to make. All in all, Brian was a pretty decent guy.
Unfortunately, of the entire group, Brian seemed to be the other one most affected by the Operator's influence. For the majority of the series, Brian isn't himself--he takes on the persona known as Hoodie, due to the pale yellow sweatshirt he always wears. Hoodie is a strange walking contradiction at times. One time he appears he's working against Jay or Tim--such as when he flat out steals Tim's medication--and the next he'll be working to help them against Alex. That's one of the key differences between Brian and Hoodie--as Hoodie, he seemingly hates Alex entirely.
Brian is one of the two (occasionally three) members of totheark, alongside an unknown third party. As totheark, he continued his back and forth of being antagonistic towards Jay one video and helpful to Jay but antagonistic to Alex the next. Considering how TTA's videos tend to be, it's obvious Brian has some ability in editing. He also tends to go back and forth on how he feels about Tim/Masky, sometimes working with him, other times calling him out for various things on TTA.
Brian unfortunately did not make it out of the series alive, falling to his death in the same abandoned college Alex and Jay died in. It was only after his death that Hoodie was revealed to have been Brian the whole time.
First Appearance: Entry #7
Last Appearance: Entry #86
Despite only being a major character during season two, Jessica Locke is the other main side character. She was roommates with Amy, Alex's girlfriend, at some point in the past. She was the only other person in the part of the hotel Jay woke up in at the start of the season, and she was just as confused as he was. Come to find out, she had been involved in all of this due to the fact she was Amy's roommate, thanks to Jay trying to get in touch with Amy--who had since gone missing.
She saw through Jay's lies quickly, as she realized pretty soon that he had told her multiple different reasons he was even at the hotel in the first place. However, even with that little blip, the two managed a semi-decent relationship throughout, even after Alex tried to kill the both of them--why Jessica was included, who knows. She'd never had anything to do with it, she was a bystander in the grand scheme of things, even if she was Amy's roommate. That same fact could also be used to question why the Operator was effecting her as well, even including the memory loss.
After season two, it was pretty much unknown what became of Jessica. After escaping with Jay from Alex's attempt to kill them, and a few entries of her interacting with Jay after the two suffered their memory loss, her room was empty and she was never seen again. She was completely absent from season three, aside from possible references to her by totheark. The only indiciation that she was remotely okay was the conversation Tim has in Entry #87 with her, wherein he claims Jay had moved out of state in order to cover for the fact he died.
However, the post-canon comic features her as a main character, years after the fact.
First Appearance: Entry #28
Last Appearance: Entry #52
I discovered Marble Hornets first when I was a sophomore in high school, so rougly 2017-2018. Yes, I know, I was incredibly late to the party. I'd found it by chance, to tell the truth. I'd gotten Night Mind's Marble Hornets Explained series suggested to me on YouTube, although I don't entirely remember why, and it sucked me in. Although to be honest, when I was first getting into all of this, I liked everymanHYBRID better than I liked Marble Hornets.
I was also, ironically enough, really afraid of the Slenderman at first. MH literally made me so paranoid of this one window I could see out of in my old bedroom that I once waited until I could hear my mom getting ready for work to go to sleep. But it still somehow had a grip on me, and it quickly became one of my special interests. I was the Slenderverse mutual in my friend group.
Since then, MH has been one of my major special interests and comfort medias. Rewatching it now, despite how much it used to actually scare me, brings me a lot of comfort. Hell, I even selfship with Tim, and he's a massive comfort character for me. There's something about how genuine the characters feel, I suppose. I've also dragged quite a few of my friends into it, leading to a grand total of four people in my primary friend group who all selfship with Tim. Four of us. And the other three of them also F/O other Marble Hornets characters.
I also realized a year or so ago that I was kin with the main character, Jay, and while that has lead to some returning paranoia--you will never catch me in the woods at night, I'll tell you that much--I actually kind of like being kin with him...in however way someone who can't chose their kins can like being kin with someone, I suppose. He became a main ID pretty much immediately after I realized I was kin with him, because I really liked the idea of being called Jay.
For Christmas 2020 my best friend got me signed copies of the DVDs off the merch store, and they are literally some of my prized possessions. I'd been wanting the DVDs for a really long time but could never justify it to myself because they were kind of expensive, and I could just watch the series on YouTube for free. But the DVDs have commentary, so I wanted them. I also have an Operator sign t-shirt, but it's been out of commission for a little while due to a hole that hasn't been fixed. I also own the Masky plushie from the Makeship campaign!
Here is a random assortment of my various favorite things from/about Marble Hornets.
Entry #76: Masky carrying Jessica like a goddamn sack of bricks makes me feel a lot of things.
Entry #72: Because Tim standing up against the Operator makes me feel things. Also this entry inspired a really dumb fic I wrote ages ago.
Entry #66: Because despite the fact he's going through like, all five stages of grief in the span of less than twenty minutes, Tim looks really good in this entry. That's...pretty much it, not gonna lie.
Entry #58: ...again, I only really like this entry that much because Tim looks really, really good in it. He's really pretty. Sue me.
Entry #47: Jay getting decked in the face for being a dumbass is funny. That's all I got.
Favorite Behind-the-Scenes Facts:
During Alex's death scene in Entry #86, they used an entire bottle of fake blood.
The climbing-the-tower part of Entry #21 was not filmed by Troy, who actually played Jay; I believe it was Joseph who filmed the scene, since Troy didn't want to actually climb it.
In real life, Brian rarely played Hoodie. In order to keep the surprise of who was behind that mask, the others would play Hoodie during some entries to keep the fans from figuring it out based on body types.
The MH guys actually worked on Slender: The Arrival!
Marble Hornets isn't the only Slenderverse thing that Tim Sutton (who played Tim Wright) did; in a set of tapes that were part of the endgame of everymanHYBRID, he was a side character interviewed by the tapes' iteration of Vinny.