|“||If we had to shut down the town for every mysterious event that at least one death could be attributed to, we'd never have time to do anything, right?||”|
From the perspective of the listener, Night Vale appears to be a fertile source of bizarre and inexplicable phenomena, worthy of study. However, apart from the scientists, most Night Vale residents take little notice.
Carlos and his team of scientists are making huge efforts to explain the town's irregular phenomena, but they often fail. Yet characters without any scientific record such as Simone Rigadeau (the transient who lives in NVCC Earth Science Building) manage to explain some occurrences.
Existence, while a relatively simple concept most places—usually, you can apply the simple test of seeing if a thing is there—the concept of existence can be tricky in Night Vale.
For instance, there is a house in the housing development of Desert Creek that does not exist. It seems like it exists, like it is just right there when you look at it, and it is between two other identical houses, so it would make more sense for it to be there than not. But experiments have shown that it does not exist.
On the other hand, the $23 million Night Vale Clock Tower does, in fact, exist, despite no one ever having seen it or even knowing where it is at any given moment, on account of the basic architectural realities that the Clock Tower is invisible and constantly teleporting.
However, although the Clock Tower can be confidently said to exist, it cannot be said to be real, as even the world itself may not actually be real. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that nothing is actually real, and although it is definitely true that some things exist and some things do not, it is often difficult to tell which is which without rigorous scientific tests.
Denial of Existence
It is widely common in Night Vale, whether it is by City Council, Sheriff's Secret Police or by the residents themselves, to deny the existence of things that seem natural for the listener and for braver residents, who dare to admit some of these things exist.
Despite the fact that existence is a slippery concept in Night Vale, or perhaps because of this, most citizens will fiercely cling to their own views of what exists and what does not, and will violently suppress any information that contradicts their limited understanding of the world. For example, until March 2013, Cecil Palmer and his fellow staffers at Night Vale Community Radio did not accept the existence of mountains, and so rabidly denounced known "mountain believers" and burned them in effigy within the station's bloodstone circle, insisting that "it is flat all the way round". Cecil only recanted his belief when one of his friends drove him to a mountain, and so he was forced to acknowledge that at least one mountain exists. However, he still wasn't ready to accept the existence of multiple mountains.
Angels, although said to exist by Cecil, at the beginning implicitly but eventually openly, did not legally exist in Night Vale for a very long time, and recognition of their existence is strictly prohibited. Despite having such a problematic legal status, or more accurately- the absence of such status, the angels have a large effect on the town. Apart from helping Old Woman Josie in her private life, as well as in the reopening of Old Night Vale Opera House, they also purchased StrexCorp and helped Night Vale in its rebellion against the corporation. Acknowledgment of angels was made legal in "Matryoshka".
The End of the World
- Main article: 1983
Simone Rigadeau, the transient living in the Night Vale Community College's abandoned Earth Sciences building, firmly argues the world has ended in 1983 and repeats her claim every opportunity. She wrote on a Subway sandwich wrapper: "The world ended three or four decades ago. I don't know what this thing is that we're living in, but it's not the world. Scientists won't investigate it because they're not real. Turkey with extra Swiss." Although Rigadeau's claims seem to be nonsensical and are mostly ignored by Cecil, there is evidence supporting her theory, and her explanations of many of Night Vale's weirdest phenomena has proven to be very rarely wrong.
Time and causality
- Main article: Weird Time
The passage of time and the fundamental principle of causality are constants of reality in most towns, but both concepts can be tricky in Night Vale. Time sometimes passes at different rates in Night Vale than it does elsewhere in the world. Carlos the scientist observed that during a period of 10,080 minutes in Night Vale, 11,783 minutes elapsed everywhere else in the world. The problem was only compounded upon Carlos's discovery that most clocks in Night Vale aren't real, and are either devoid of any interior components or only contain gelatinous gray lumps with hair and teeth. Carlos later determined that time "isn't real."
Danger and fatality
Astronomy and outer space
"Nobody cares about astronomy," says Sarah Sultan, president of Night Vale Community College. However, many Night Vale residents express an interest in space, if only by pointing at the empty sky and shouting in terror.
The Night Vale School District has decreed that elementary school astronomy classes may conduct stargazing sessions only with blindfolds on each participant, in order to protect them from the existential terror of the void. Also, Pluto has been declared imaginary.
Cecil once admitted to not knowing what the moon is, why it's there and there and then not, or whether it is watching us. Later, however, he was able to describe the sun, rather scornfully, as "a ball of highly compacted gas that sustains life through mere proximity," perhaps a sign of Carlos's influence.
Examples by episode
- "Pilot": Carlos and his team of scientist notice a house in Desert Creek that technically does not exist; and the town is ravaged by devastating earthquakes which nobody can feel.
- "Station Management": Books in Night Vale "stopped working."
- "The Lights in Radon Canyon": Strange lights are emitted from Radon Canyon.
- "Wheat & Wheat By-Products": Night Vale received $1.5 billion for disaster relief after the occurrence of the earthquakes that nobody felt.
- "The Candidate": Sky of Night Vale that can only be heard in old town.
- "The Whispering Forest": Dense, piny woods have grown to the east of Night Vale in only a couple of days, and are encroaching quickly on the town. Botanists from Night Vale Community College warn that it should not be approached.
- "One Year Later": The scientists are offering $5 to anyone willing to go up to the house that doesn't exist and ring the doorbell.
- "First Date": Carlos saves the town from the mysterious shadow energy and buzzing shadow creatures.
- "Dana": Carlos and the other scientists continue to investigate the house in the Desert Creek housing development that doesn't exist.
- "Lazy Day": The world grows sluggish, losing energy, vitality, and motivation.
- "Orange Grove": John Peters—you know, the farmer?—had a huge, healthy orange crop this year. But Carlos grows skeptical about a sudden orange grove in the desert.
- "The Heist, Part 3": Carlos is working on a doorless fridge, which he wants to create using intangibility gel that would allow people to reach into their fridge without opening it.
- Episode 1 "Pilot"
- Episode 6 "The Drawbridge"
- Episode 16 "The Phone Call"
- Episode 38 "Orange Grove"
- Live show "Condos"
- Episode 18 "The Traveler"
- Episode 103 "Ash Beach"
- Episode 21 "A Memory of Europe"
- Episode 49B "Old Oak Doors Part B"
- Episode 50 "Capital Campaign"
- Episode 27 "First Date"
- Episode 5 "The Shape in Grove Park"
- Episode 49A "Old Oak Doors Part A"