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The entire Doom story explained

One of the first things that happens in the 2016 reboot of Doom is that the protagonist, the Doom Slayer, wakes up and gets a snippet of what kind of mess he's going to have to mop up this time. Then, not even five seconds into Samuel Hayden starting to explain things, the Slayer shoves the monitor aside, finds himself a shotgun, and cocks it to the beat of his own theme music. And yes, it's one of the most badass things to happen in a video game. And yes, nobody will blame you for thinking, "Oh, I know exactly what my objective is in this game, and it mostly involves profane things on every demon I see."

But believe it or not, there is a story to be had in Doom. And it's slightly more involved than you might think. There's still a huge debate over where exactly certain games fall on the timeline or if the protagonist is even the same guy in every game. 

And so, we have this guide to catch everybody up on what they missed in their relentless search for keycards and chainsaws. Sit right down, and let us tell you a story about a happy boy they now call the Doom Slayer.

A space lord's story - Doom (1993)

Our story begins in the distant future. Space travel is pretty much down pat. Our hero — who, right now, we'll just call The Marine — is, well, a Marine. Tough as nails, semper fi, gung ho, the whole nine. Things go awry for the poor dude's career, however, when he assaults a superior officer for ordering his men to fire on innocent civilians. The USMC ships him off to Mars to be bored out of his skull as a glorified security guard for the United Aerospace Corporation, a conglomerate that has their dirty little fingers in everything. That includes, as it turns out, secret experiments into inter-dimensional teleportation technology on Mars' moons, Phobos and Deimos. 

The experiments don't seem to be going that great even at the best of times, with people who go through the two working portals on each moon becoming physically or mentally broken. One day, though, things get exponentially worse, when Mars gets a distress call from Phobos stating, "Something fraggin' evil is coming out of the Gateways." That's exacerbated by the fact that Deimos just straight up vanishes from the sky.

The Marine and his buddies check things out on Phobos, with the Marine left guarding the perimeter. Things get awfully quiet over the radio after a while, though, leaving the Marine no choice but to take a pistol and check things out for himself. No pressure, though.

The long hard road out of Hell - Doom (1993)

As you no doubt guessed, things inside the base at Phobos suck. What humans are left are non-verbal and hostile, attempting to shoot their former squadmate on sight. They're joined by a host of snarling, disgusting demons who like to throw fire at you. Still, there's enough weaponry lying around the place for the Marine to make quick, steaming work of most things. No need to recount all that story; just imagine your average hamburger grinder, and imagine that grinder has a Marine's face. That's basically this series when it's not plot time. So let's stick to the important beats here. 

Eventually, the Marine manages to find the portal leading to Deimos, and surprise surprise, the place is crawling with demons, sacrilegious imagery, and pulsating, disgusting architecture. After fighting through the Deimos base and killing a Cyberdemon abomination that's merged with some human tech, the Marine finds out the awful truth: Deimos has been teleported to Hell itself. Thankfully, he's got some experience under his belt killing demons, so the Marine rappels down to the surface, and fights his way to the ugly sucker who plotted the invasion: the Spiderdemon.

After leaving it a bloody pile of guts and rebar, the Marine takes the portal back to Earth and lives happily ever after. Just kidding! Hell's already invaded Earth, and billions of people are dead. 

A world painted with blood - Doom 2: Hell on Earth

So, with Earth now a literal hellhole, humanity's leaders get the bright idea to take what's left of the species, launch a spaceship, go to space, and wait for this whole thing to blow over. Which is fine, except for the fact that demons have surrounded Earth's last operating spaceport with a barrier made of flame. Not a huge deal for a guy that's already killed his way through a legion of demons just to get to Earth, so the humans do manage to take off into the stratosphere.

Shortly after, however, the Marine gets a message from the human leaders stating they've found the source of the invasion: a portal in the Marine's hometown. Since there's no way to close it from the Earth side, the Marine once again takes a trek straight into Hell, and finds the source of it all: the Icon of Sin. After one of the most annoying fights imaginable, the Icon collapses, and the Marine can finally make his way back to Earth with his species and hopefully start to rebuild.

The Marine ends the story ... maybe - Doom 64

The Marine really tries to recover, but despite all the tests and treatments, he's still suffering from nightmares.

Meanwhile, back on Mars, there's still a bit of a demon problem, so the UAC decides to go scorched Mars on both Phobos and Deimos, blanketing them with apocalyptic levels of radiation. Things seem to be going well, except for the small problem that the radiation has a nasty habit of blocking the UAC's sensor equipment, which lets the literal mother of all demons slip into our dimension, and resurrect every single monster slain, stronger and nastier than ever. Thankfully, the Marine's got some serious mental issues to work out, and this little incident is just the catharsis he needs. 

After killing his way through the demonic horde, he finds himself back in Hell, face to face with the Mother Demon, a face he takes great pleasure in rearranging with every rocket he owns

After so many times facing these things, though, it's pretty obvious they aren't going to stop coming. Unless someone stops them where they live, that is. And so, the Marine makes the hard choice of closing the portal from the Hell side, and actually staying there to ensure no demon ever gets it through its thick, viscous brain meats to step foot on Earth ever again.

Walk with me in Hell - Doom (2016)

From here things get murky. The Marine's next exploits take place in Hell, recorded by demons with a flair for the dramatic. But there's a few hard facts gleaned from the codex known in-game as the Slayer's Testament

The Marine basically starts killing with extreme prejudice right away, lasting for EONS in Hell time, and he winds up earning himself a few perks. One of which, granted by a being named as a Seraphim, is "terrible power and speed," which ammounts for how the dude is ripping demons apart with his hands later. He also gains the ability to "draw strength from his fallen foes," which would explain why he's later not one for First Aid Kits either. A creature described as a "wretch" upgrades the Marine's armor with some new duds forged in Hell itself. But most importantly, he gains a most badass new moniker: the Doom Slayer. 

The testament describes demon after demon trying to step to the Doom Slayer and failing, miserably. After eons of killing, though, the Slayer was bound to make a mistake: he follows a demon into a temple where its priests were waiting to drop the entire thing on his head, incapacitating him just long enough to separate him from his suit, seal his body in a sarcophagus, and mark it with a warning to all of Hell that he should never be released.

The story begins anew - Doom (2016)

The good news is that at some point in the future, the UAC, under the new management of a cyborg named Samuel Hayden, manages to crack this teleportation business once and for all. He starts running research trips to study demons and artifacts and harness Hell's power to solve an energy crisis back on Earth. It's a real damn dumb idea, but one of those trips does result in Hayden finding the Doom Slayer's sarcophagus and bringing it to his facility on Mars.

The bad news is pretty much everything else. One of Hayden's scientists, Olivia Pierce, ends up under the demons' thrall. She opens a portal, allowing the demons to flood in en masse, killing almost everyone. In his desperation, Hayden lets the Doom Slayer off the chain, unsealing his sarcophagus and trying to give a brief rundown, but, well, Doom Slayer don't play that. The man knows exactly what he's doing.

The number of the beast - Doom (2016)

The Slayer allows for a sort of working relationship with Hayden over time, at least just enough to keep his facility from falling apart. Hayden installs a tether device on the Slayer, allowing him to travel back and forth to Hell without relying on Hell's crappy transit system. However, given a choice between priceless scientific research and things that let him tear more demons apart, our hero rightfully chooses the latter. 

After reaching Pierce's office, the full plan comes to light. Pierce has found an artifact called the Crucible, a literal Hellblade — no, not that one — capable of absorbing incredible amounts of energy, enough to slay legions of demons with a flick of the wrist or, alternately, open a permanent portal in and out of Hell. After dealing with a new and improved Cyberdemon and two Hell Guards, the Slayer manages to snag the Crucible before Pierce. After using it to destroy the power sources keeping the portals open, he returns to Hell and confronts Pierce, whose grand prize for doing Hell's bidding is apparently being turned into the next iteration of Spiderdemon. After introducing her to the business end of his BFG 9000, what should be a hero's welcome turns out to be Samuel Hayden betraying you, taking the Crucible for himself to continue his research, and using the Slayer's tether to transport him who knows where. Without a doubt, the Slayer's gonna have words for him when he gets back in Doom Eternal.

Story fragments, odds, and ends - The rest of the series

And so, the stage is set for Doom Eternal, which will be taking things back to Earth, but also getting Heaven involved. Who knows what that's going to look like. Anyway, that's it for the history of Doom, see you whe — Oh? What about Doom 3?

Well, see, despite the number, Doom 3 is a standalone reboot of the series. The story about a portal to Hell opening on Mars stays the same thanks to a real piece of work named Malcolm Betruger. Hell doesn't cotton to him much either, and he turns into a beast called Maledict that the Marine takes down at the end of the expansion Resurrection of Evil. The Marine returns to Earth, job done — and none of that is referenced by any game afterward.

There's the rub, really. Early Doom lore is a splintered thing, just id Software throwing ideas at the wall to provide some flavor to your demon-killing spree. Did you know there were two Doom RPGs that posited that not only were Doom 1, 2, and 3 connected, but also that the Marine is the grandson of BJ Blazkowicz? There's wacky details like that everywhere that don't add up. And none of that even mentions the movies.

The history presented here is probably the least confusing but still narratively gratifying version of the lore we can piece together from the details given. But, really, what else do we truly need except, "The Doom Slayer killed a lot of demons. Brutally. The end."