When Red vs. Blue first premiered, sporting an introductory music video with all the major characters and the distinct angular graphics of the original Xbox, it was hard to say what the show was even about.
With the structure of a multiplayer deathmatch and the outlook of Waiting for Godot, Red vs. Blue made an early impression with its broad-stroke humor and irreverent plotting. But it felt like it was playing in a sitcom’s sandbox where nothing mattered outside of these looming rock walls, while Red Team’s Sarge, Simmons, and Grif scheming over how to kill Blue Team’s Church, Tucker, and Caboose felt as serious as Wile E. Coyote’s master plans.
The PSAs and special minisodes that production house Rooster Teeth released further highlighted the kinetic dynamic between the two factions, but didn’t expand the bounds of the world around them. It could’ve lived in those Blood Gulch outposts for as long as they had jokes to tell.
With fourteen seasons in the rearview mirror, it’s impossible to imagine the show still standing on that little map. Now, actual worlds away from Blood Gulch and multiple CGI upgrades later, Red vs. Blue has expanded into a sprawling sci-fi epic while keeping the same loud and brash characters that once fought over a few miles of desert and a sentient tank named Sheila. Evil government programs have been uncovered, A.I.’s have been passed around like a bad cold, and swarms of intergalactic mercenaries have been thrown into the world, all through the lens of a little CGI wizardry and the show’s iconic machinima style.
Some things, however, have remained constant throughout the show’s wild journey. The sun-soaked guitar of Trocadero’s theme song has become as synonymous with Red vs. Blue as the Halo games it films in, and echoes of their original soundtrack crop up in composer Jeff Williams’ scores for the later seasons. But perhaps the most impressive mainstay over the show’s many years is its humor, which has remained true to its roots even in the darkest of plots. Characters often fall into circular logic trains and stream of conscious sidetracks, giving it the livewire feel of a team chat during a panicked round of King of the Hill. It’s a testament to the strength of Burnie Burns’ original concept, and the continued work of the team at Rooster Teeth, that the show continues to feel true to its origins while rocketing beyond its original constraints.
Now rolling into its fifteenth season, Red vs. Blue continues to expand its already textured universe. As they rev up their fifth major arc (not including the extended-universe anthology format of season fourteen), Rooster Teeth are still finding new dynamic production tricks to employ and more plot threads to explore, with the new season offering a different point of view on the actions in the Red vs. Blue universe. While they may not have stayed in Blood Gulch, Red vs. Blue is an epic worth following for as long as they’ve got jokes to tell.