The Questionable Memento

On Sam and Max’s closet.

Telltale’s Sam and Max series used its episodic structure to do something that few games have been able to do — build running jokes. You’re greeted with an example at the start of most episodes in the form of the office of the Freelance Police. The office reflects the chaos that is the cornerstone of Sam and Max’s humor. A noose on the coat rack, a sinister pet goldfish in a water cooler, and an ever-expanding collection of memorabilia from previous episodes.

It starts somewhat innocently enough, with the intact blonde afro of shady lifestyle guru Brady Culture placed in the bottom of an empty closet. Then there’s the toy bear that hypnotizes talk show host Myra Stump. The third souvenir is a living, breathing man that has been bound, gagged, and stuffed in the top shelf of the closet. The man is Leonard Steakcharmer, a card shark you best while at Ted E Bear’s Mafia-Free Playground and Casino (spoiler: it’s not mafia-free). Over the next season and a half you go back to the increasingly crowded office, open the closet and say hi to your kidnapee.

In the season two finale, Sam and Max find themselves in hell, trying to get the soul of their friend Bosco back. In hell, there’s a room dedicated to the souls lost during Sam and Max’s adventures. Along with Bosco, there’s Santa, their beloved DeSoto sedan, and Leonard. A twist in the story, and the payoff for the running gag, is that the pair’s penchant for reckless destruction and casual callousness is not just dictated by cartoon logic but has had consequences. Nothing permanent, mind you. This isn’t The Walking Dead. But when Max talks up his love of indiscriminate violence, he’s saying that with a literal skeleton in his closet, among other things.

By Lucas Di Quinzio

Lucas Di Quinzio is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. You can find more of his words at Superjump or you can follow him on Twitter @lucasdiquinzio, lurking in the shadows (aka wisely not posting)

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