YouTube Originals Dies, But Goes Out With a Final, Fantastic Show

YouTube Originals, an offshoot of YouTube that allowed content creators to produce bigger shows with a studio budget, put out one of its final projects in the form of “In Space with Markiplier.”

thumbnail for in space with markiplier; the youtube originals show

Bobby Liming, Sandscript Editor

Anyone who was watching YouTube regularly in the latter half of the 2010s will likely recognize the term “YouTube Originals.” This subcategory of the YouTube company was an incredibly innovative program, which was meant to support the platform’s most popular creators by giving them the budget to create fully fleshed out, near-tv-quality shows. The productions undertaken by YouTube Originals were originally paygated, working under the now-defunct subscription program YouTube Red. With the discontinuation of that, however, there was a much smaller incentive for YouTube to continue this program, without being able to continue a steady form of profit. The end result was an announcement in January of 2022, stating that the company was officially disbanding the production team behind Originals. 


With this, though, was clarity that their already-promised shows would continue in development. One of these, and one of, if not their absolute last show, was the highly anticipated addition to a collection of choose-your-own-adventure stories; In Space with Markiplier. YouTuber Mark Fischback, who started his channel almost exactly a decade ago, as of the time of writing, has proven to be one of the most celebrated creators on the platform to date. Through his massive success on YouTube, he has continued to attempt to branch out creatively, sometimes even fully without regard for profit. Fischbach has explored this in many ways, such as the now-inaccessible YouTube channel Unus Annus, where he and another content creator, CrankGameplays (real name Ethan Nestor), created videos every day for a year, with the intention of deleting the entire channel after the year was up.


In an even longer-stretching example of this, Fischbach has also continued to create several renditions of comedy, choose-your-own-adventure stories by utilizing YouTube features. Since YouTube allows creators to use “end cards,” which can link to specific or algorithmically-chosen videos by the same creator, he used this feature to allow for different videos to stem off from the original, giving the viewer the ability to choose their own paths to take. Since his first attempt at this kind of storytelling, which was released back in 2017, Markiplier has continuously portrayed his many series comedically (either by making fun of the campiness of his show, himself, or the absurdity of situations the player finds themselves in), while also being able to take himself and his show seriously at other points. 


This also isn’t Fishbach’s first time working on an installment with YouTube Originals. 2019’s A Heist with Markiplier (the majority of these stories are different iterations of the same title) saw the YouTuber heavily expand on his unique comedy, budget, and directing capabilities in the three-year gap between his first and second editions of the series. As stated before, Fishbach also is the sole writer and director of the shows he worked on, which allows for his style to bleed through everything he works on in an incredibly positive way. After two editions of the core series, and two more, non-core choose-your-own-adventures (without the same naming motif) in 2021, Markiplier announced his final project with YouTube Originals, In Space with Markiplier.


The rest of the article contains light spoilers for In Space with Markiplier; which is a free-to-watch show accessible through YouTube.


Easily the most expansive of the series, the show, split into two-parts, uses its length to intentionally disorient, confuse, and give the player the feeling of being stuck. The story, which deals heavily with themes of time loops, multiverses, and the like, plays and commentates on the choose-your-own-adventure style itself. The player must attempt to make the correct decisions in order to stop a time loop they, as well as everyone else on the spaceship they’re the captain of, seem to be stuck in. The problem that arises is that, with each mistake that is made, that universe was affected by that mistake. 


Despite having an incredible premise on its own, it does arrive at some problems that affect the continuity of the story as a whole, and can make it hard for viewers to fully grasp the story without needing to search the internet trying to understand something that was missed. The story dives almost too heavily into these multiverse ideas, such as the concept that, even if the viewer isn’t making specifically bad choices, there are still other timelines where they are anyway, and therefore the viewer is responsible for and guilty of every possible decision, even if they don’t know what that specific decision is. When confusing concepts like this are combined with a style of choose-your-own-adventure stories that continues the story by restarting under completely new circumstances with different options, even after reaching a fail point, it creates an incredibly confusing narrative for the first half of the story. 


Despite the confusing narrative, though, both parts of the story are filled with hilarious and memorable moments. Almost every joke lands perfectly, while also sometimes directly contributing to the story as a whole. There are universes being used that directly parallel or make reference to other things outside of the story. For example, there is an entire naur-themed section of the show, parodies of games like The Stanley Parable, meant to pay homage to yet another choose-your-own-adventure story, and so much more. This theme continues into the second part of the story as well, only this time electing to make fun of Markiplier’s series itself. Many of the timelines here are alternate plays on “(blank) with Markiplier” trope, again, with nearly all of them landing comedically. 


Even with the substantial increase in budget from the first edition back in 2017, the jokes about the show’s budget continue to land. Even with the massive size of the show, it still is clearly nowhere near something that would be made for a high-level studio, and Fishbach’s writing isn’t afraid to make that clear. Either through lines that directly reference the budget, or ending sections being portrayed through narration and image frames rather than full-scale acting, the humor of the show making fun of itself continues to land. 


And, even with the gripes I did have about the continuity of the story, the plot itself is still incredibly engaging and grabs the attention of the viewer. Even if it can take ages to have a confident understanding of the plot, finally being able to understand is what makes the narrative as rewarding as it is. 

In Space with Markiplier is a massive passion-project that both fans of his obscure and niche content, as well as new viewers, will all find to be incredibly fun. The acting is fantastic, humor is great, and has a narrative that’s incredibly worthwhile. The show was a huge undertaking for everybody involved, and it paid off perfectly.