‘Unus Annus’ passes away after its year of promised content

This story was originally published in the third edition of The Lion’s Tale (December 9, 2020).

By the time you are reading this, the YouTube channel formerly known as ‘Unus Annus’ has been deleted, including every single video on it. Although illegal reuploads exist, it’s recommended to respect the wishes of the channel’s creators and not view them.

“We live our lives taking each second for granted. But what would you do if you knew how much time you had left? Unus Annus. One year. This channel – much like all of you – has a limited amount of time. And every day we march ever closer to this channel’s inevitable doom. That means we’ll be uploading every single day until the clock strikes zero. And then… it’s game over. Bye bye. Finito. Finished. Curtains. Gone gone. Night night. Dead. Forever… Make no mistake. That doesn’t mean we’ll just stop uploading. When time runs out, we will be deleting this channel and every single video on it. And you’ll never be able to see them again. Because much like death, you can’t take it with you. And all we’ll have is the memories that we make along the way.”

So are the first statements made by Youtube creators Mark Fischbach and Ethan Nestor – commonly known as Markiplier and CrankGameplays respectfully – on the now deceased ‘Unus Annus’. Set in motion on November 15th, 2019, Fischbach and Nestor launched the channel as a year-long project in which they’d be dedicating themselves to uploading one video every day, for 365 days, up till the end; in which they would then set it all ablaze and delete the entirety of the channel, no exceptions. Many fans were sceptical of the channel’s end, asking if the two were actually willing to toss a year of content away with the click of a button. Theories started popping up regarding the true nature of the channel, exploring themes and characters – such as Nestor and Fischbach’s occasional roles as ‘Unus’ and ‘Annus’, two beings seemingly in charge with running the channel while also digging it’s grave and preparing the funeral. Secret codes and hidden messages were leaked into the editing of various episodes describing a third, unnamed character attempting to stop or reverse the omnipresent clock which ticked every video in and every video out. Fans grew desperate looking for clues that the channel would live past the final second, attempting to pull red strings together in hopes to find some message left only for the truly dedicated to uncover, a message that the channel would stay and live. Although Fischbach and Nestor remained adamant on the channel’s incoming and permanent conclusion, many viewers continuously denied the statements, inspecting anything they could to dig up the ‘secret lore’ that must have existed somewhere within the videos. 

On November 13th, 2020, Fischbach and Nestor held a 12 hour long live stream on YouTube leading up to the channel’s death. And when the clock struck zero, they deleted the channel, and every single video on it. 

“It all started with a what if. What if we made a self-destructing channel? What if after one year, we set everything to rest? This is where Unus Annus was born. Born from the idea that everything is temporary. Born from the belief that you should never take time for granted, and you should live everyday like there’s no tomorrow.” Nestor positively laments. “We took each day on as a new adventure, an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to step out of our comfort zones. Whether it was being pepper sprayed, making breakfast with the unlikeliest of tools, or painting each other naked, we took every chance we got to experience something to it’s fullest. This is what defined Unus Annus.” 

Unus Annus was an experience; from video to video, viewers got to live something new alongside Nestor and Fischbach. Each day would bring a new compacted journey, a microcosm of life, regardless if they were learning horseback archery, attempting to create a tornado, or hunt ghosts in abandoned houses. From starting their own summer camp to uncovering the lost city of Atlantis. From trying the most disgusting foods to learning how to salsa dance. From destroying Mark’s van to producing a song about it. From collecting toys for needy children to spreading awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. From attempting to shatter glass with their voices to playing children’s games in total darkness, there were no limitations, no idea too mad to pass on, no feat too far to at least try. 365 days of content where all they did was live, and have fun doing so, even if they were in udder pain or facing their greatest fears. Unus Annus offered something never seen before on YouTube, and will likely never be seen in the same way ever again. Exploring various forms of therapy, expericencing the pain of child labor, becoming cryptids, just watching a comet fly across an unpolluted night sky. Goat yoga, exploring dead websites, swimming in the open ocean, summoning demons, eating fire, making pillow forts, going coffin shopping, searching for a needle in a haystack, burying time capsules, torturing themselves in a sauna, doing an escape room, even just going on a long and ridiculous car ride. This was Unus Annus, some of the most simple, outlandish, stupid, and or funny ideas they could conjure up and film. 

This year of chaos accumulated with that aforementioned 12 hour live stream, a simple show where Fischbach and Nestor, accompanied by their team behind the camera, sat in an open space decorated with the truest of Unus Annus decorations. There, for those 12 hours, they explored channel memes, rewatched favorite videos, cherished fan art, viewed compilations their editors produced, and just talked, soaking in the year’s weight they carried up till that moment. The live stream was a peaceful epilogue per se, the obituary, the whole funeral even, for this channel, all while the clock loomed in the background, ticking down to the last second. After recreating every video, discussing unfulfilled ideas, reflecting on their friendship, calling every guest who appeared on the channel, even revisiting the concept of their first video, this 12 hour long live stream was set to lay Unus Annus down in it’s grave. Mark received a top hat, Ethan got a tattoo of the clock, the two along with Fischbach’s girlfriend Amy took moments inside their specially designed coffin split down the middle black and white. And in the end, together, the three of them hit delete on the channel; Ethan witnessing the clock countdown to zero, Amy watching the mouse hover over the delete button, and Mark smiling at the one million viewers. 

The channel may be gone, but Markiplier and Crankgameplays live on, continuing their channels and their own careers, Fischbach already announcing plans for future projects coming next year. And even in the death of the channel, compilations of some of the best moments remain – as allowed by Nestor and Fischbach – to give those who were there from the beginning, or from the end, or even from after it’s death, a chance to relive what this momentous channel was.

This ‘unus annus’ has been a beautifully gorgeous era which has helped me so much, and so many others. For anyone that wasn’t there, let me tell you it was an incredible year, an incredible 12 hours, all the way down to the last second. From 365 to 000, we were all here, no matter when we arrived. I remember the night before the live stream, there was this edit on Twitter which compiled a screenshot from every video with the clock overlaid, each day going down with each screenshot. I just started crying; although I had understood the one rule set for this channel, even though I knew this channel would die, it didn’t hit me till the night before, and – even though it may be stupid to cry over a YouTube channel – it was painful to fully relize that a year’s worth of memories were going to die, not end, die. ‘What a year’ I kept telling myself after the stream cut off and the channel was wiped from existence. If you weren’t there, just know you would have loved it. 

In the end, the message rings true. Live your life, stay alive, relish in every memory you gain, and recognize that you will die one day. Live incredible lives. Die incredible deaths. Memento Mori.