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What Markiplier Was Like Before The Fame

Many fans of Let's Play videos who prowl YouTube should be somewhat familiar with Mark Edward Fischbach, better known as Markiplier. This content creator (although he prefers to put "Professional Screamer" on his resume) might not have the subscription numbers to challenge YouTubers such as PewDiePie or MrBeast, but he has plenty of content to match.

Markiplier has showcased gaming skills that have won him enviable titles such as "The King of 'Five Nights at Freddy's'," and he has also starred in/produced "Choose Your Own Adventure"-styled videos where viewers can help him pull off a heist or go on a date with him. Long story short, Markiplier has earned his fame twice over, but how did he get there in the first place, and what was he like before he received the coveted Diamond Play Button — and accidentally broke it?

Like many other professional YouTubers, Markiplier is the product of his family, hard work, and luck. While some parts of his life were difficult, others fell like dominoes to lay the foundation for his future. And, while a few aspects of Markiplier's life seem like flavor text in what is otherwise a meaty manual of backstory, would he be the same entertainer full of tongue-in-cheek machismo cheese without them? Maybe, but you still might be surprised to learn what Markiplier was like before the fame.

Come and meet the Markiplier family

Markiplier has a distinctive face, even though sometimes you might have trouble recognizing him when he shaves his beard or wears glasses. Like all of us, Markiplier can thank his parents for his looks.

Markiplier is the son of Cliffton M. Fischbach, a German American, and Sunok, a native South Korean with ties to North Korea pre-Korean War. Cliffton met Sunok while he was stationed in South Korea, and the two fell in love and eventually married. Before this union resulted in Markiplier, though, Sunok gave birth to Jason Thomas Fischbach (aka. Tom).

On June 28th, 1989 at 5:36 am, Sunok delivered Markiplier at the Tripler Army Medical Center (not an Air Force Base, as some fans think) in Honolulu, Hawaii. Some fans and online trivia quizzes erroneously claim Markiplier was born in O'ahu, Hawaii, but according to Markiplier, that is a misnomer. O'ahu is an island in the state of Hawaii, and the city of Honolulu is on that island. In Markiplier's eyes, O'ahu, Hawaii isn't a proper geographic name.

Moreover, Markiplier was born a hefty 10 pounds and three ounces — the average size of a newborn baby is anywhere between five and eight pounds. Even to this day, Markiplier likes to jokingly boast that he's a big boy. Markiplier also often claims that he has a big brain to go with his big boy body.

Welcome to Cincinnati

Before Cliffton Fischbach had children, he spent over two decades in the army. Markiplier described him as a "career army man," but after the Fischbachs had two more mouths to feed, Cliffton decided to change professions and homes. Of course, he brought his family along for the ride.

Shortly after Markiplier's birth, Cliffton retired from the army and started a new career as a book layout artist. He designed the layouts of computer and programming books (Windows 3.1 and 95, if Markiplier's memory is correct) for a company in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the family relocated there. Instead of moving into the city's urban area, the Fischbachs settled down in a house with a gigantic backyard that bled into nearby woods. Markiplier and Tom spent most of their early days exploring the forest, picking up tadpoles, swinging on vines, and other activities kids did before video games. However, they also bonded over video games on the family computer and SNES.

When Markiplier lived in Cincinnati, he developed many of his first relationships and hobbies. For instance, Tyler Scheid has been a constant face in Markiplier videos since 2016, but they first met in either the third or fourth grade (they can't agree on which). Markiplier also discovered his favorite game, "Homeworld," on the PC. He doesn't remember when he played it, just that it sparked his appreciation for orchestral pieces and outer space — and video games that utilize both.

Cincinnati wasn't just home to Cliffton's new career; it was also ground zero for many relationships that would culminate in the Markiplier we know today.

Cliffton M. Fischbach: a father and teacher rolled into one

Cliffton Fischbach never told Markiplier much about his military career. That's not surprising since Cliffton probably saw his fair share of action, but he still passed down many lessons that Markiplier took to heart.

Since Cliffton was a career army man, guns were understandably a major part of his life, even after retirement. He was a member of the NRA, built muzzleloader rifles as a hobby, and taught Markiplier how to properly handle guns from an early age. Most importantly, Cliffton taught Markiplier that guns need to be respected, which is why Mark has occasionally detoured from his usual apolitical stances to support gun control, especially when it comes to assault rifles.

Of course, Cliffton was no one-trick pony, and many of his lessons dove deeper than just gun safety. He taught Markiplier a lot about parenthood, but Cliffton's most important lesson was his mantra: Never do anything half-a**ed. Markiplier took this approach with YouTube. Cliffton even taught Markiplier lessons when neither of them realized it. While Markiplier had a good relationship with his father, he didn't work at it. He didn't know much about Cliffton, let alone try to know, especially regarding Cliffton's military career and office life. However, Markiplier doesn't regret that gap in knowledge. On the contrary, he views it as another life lesson, one he doesn't explain or codify but still uses to better himself.

You probably wouldn't recognize Markiplier as a child

You need only listen to Markiplier for five minutes to get a feel for his personality, or at least his stage persona. He's loud, proud, and boasts about his unmatched "Five Nights at Freddy's" skills. Markiplier barely resembles the child he once was, mostly because he learned a ton of lessons about himself.

When Markiplier was younger, he was introverted and shy, and he was also the token "quiet kid" in school. While Markiplier is still pretty introverted, he's kicked his shyness. Ironically, he also had (and still has) anger issues. Markiplier is very competitive and gets angry easily — but he doesn't rage every day through sheer force of will. When he was younger, he used to punch walls, stereos, and anything else he got his fists on. After he got his driver's license, Interstate 275 became one of his best coping mechanisms. If Markiplier needed to clear his head, a few laps around the highway would do it.

These problems left a permanent mark on Markiplier. While he has his anger in check, he still has a lingering fear of losing control for any reason. For instance, Markiplier once scared himself off weed by smoking way more than he should have. The resulting high knocked him on the floor, and he tried to contemplate a ceiling that, from his perspective, folded in on itself. This was not a pleasant experience because it robbed him of control over his body.

Markiplier's anger management struggles have influenced his games of choice. He doesn't make a living playing titles like "Fortnite" or "Apex Legends" because they could tip him over an edge he wants to avoid. Apparently constant jumpscares are less rage-inducing to Markiplier than being gunned down by snipers.

Sometimes marriage doesn't work out

Relationships aren't always symmetrical. Too often, fathers and mothers who love their children don't feel the same about each other. Markiplier saw this firsthand.

After the Fischbach family moved to Cincinnati, Markiplier's mom Sunok wasn't happy with her new life and often fought with Cliffton. Markiplier and Tom didn't understand why, and they tried distracting themselves with video games, but the SNES could only do so much. Parental tempers escalated, and Cliffton and Sunok eventually divorced. Cliffton kept custody of the children, but Markiplier and Tom got to visit Sunok every other weekend. This turn of events hit the Fischbachs pretty hard. Markiplier had to move to a new house, lost the woods he loved to play in, and said goodbye to his friends from private school. He also had to attend public school, and his fourth-grade advanced English teacher was far from sympathetic when the divorce affected his grades.

Eventually, life got better for Markiplier and his family, especially after Cliffton started dating again and married his second wife, Dee Fischbach. Not only was Dee kind, but she also bought Markiplier and Tom a PlayStation 2. Dee improved the moods of the Fischbachs, most notably Cliffton's, and Markiplier's grades also similarly improved.

Markiplier was (and still is) an injury magnet

Markiplier likes to face digital horrors in video games head-on. This bravado usually ends up backfiring (much to viewer delight), but if you had to deal with the kinds of devastating bruises Markiplier has faced in the past, you'd probably think you could brave anything, too.

When Markiplier was a kid, he had a penchant for accidentally injuring himself. He once held a contest with Tom to see who could jump off the highest stair and safely land on a pillow at the bottom. Markiplier won, but at the cost of a cracked skull. He also once jumped off some monkey bars with similarly bone-shattering results. Ironically, the latter injury was a blessing in disguise as it left his arm in a cast, and he needed help with scholastic tasks such as sharpening pencils. This temporary impairment let him make new friends, one of whom introduced him to the school's marching band, which opened the door for even more new friends — and Markiplier's mad trumpet skills.

Markiplier never outgrew his tendency to get injured. For instance, he was once temporarily blinded by a ballistic pickle while filming a commercial for Axe, and he recently snapped a metatarsal while walking his dog. But, some "injuries" were baked into his DNA. Markiplier explained that since he is part Korean, he can't properly break down alcohol. This deficiency is so severe that he once suffered a mild heart attack from drinking booze. His friends called an ambulance to rush him to the hospital, and he had a second heart attack en route. Because of this potentially fatal issue, some of his programs — such as Drunk Minecraft – are on permanent hiatus.

A death in the family

When life wants to ruin someone's state of mind for the next several months or years, cancer is a popular weapon. And if life is feeling extra malicious, it will use terminal cancer that forces families to watch their loved ones slowly fall apart before they die. Markiplier understands this pain.

After Cliffton Fischbach married Dee, the immediate Fischbach family experienced a new lease on life, Markiplier included. He was looking forward to college and wanted to pursue a degree in video game development. However, right before Markiplier left for college, Cliffton broke the news that he had incurable lung cancer. This bombshell devastated Markiplier. For the next year, he flip-flopped between majors, going from video game design to civil engineering, then biomedical engineering, back to engineering again, and finally circling back to video games. This went on for a year, all while Cliffton deteriorated.

Then one morning, while Markiplier and Tom were home for the summer, Dee's screams woke them up. Cliffton was dying. Markiplier held his hand, and Cliffton uttered his last words, "I love you, so much," before finally passing. Markiplier was 18 at the time and moved in with his mother Sunok shortly afterward.

Trading college for YouTube

The story of content creators dropping out of college to pursue a career on YouTube is common. PewDiePie gave higher education a try before he called it quits for YouTube, and so did Markiplier.

Markiplier was in the middle of his biomedical engineering studies at the University of Cincinnati when he discovered content creation and started uploading videos to YouTube, much to his mother's displeasure. Markiplier joked to Seth Meyers that Sunok's Korean heritage pushed her to encourage Markiplier to stay in college. In return, Markiplier lied to her on a daily basis by visiting Starbucks for four hours — Markiplier "fake jobbed her," as Meyers put it — to focus on YouTube. Markiplier didn't like lying to his mother, but he enjoyed making videos too much.

As with many cases of college competing with content creation, Markiplier eventually encountered a roadblock. He was two semesters away from graduating, and finals for a senior project were approaching. He didn't have enough time to concentrate on the finals and YouTube, so Markiplier decided to drop out. He told Larry King that was the biggest risk he ever took in his life, but it was a risk worth taking.

One can only wonder how different life would be for Markiplier had he focused on his studies instead of YouTube. But at the end of the day, he's doing what he loves, and audiences around the world love him for it.

When it rains, it pours

After Cliffton died, Markiplier entered the darkest part of his life. Granted, losing family to cancer is always a harsh blow, but for Markiplier, life kept hammering him with problems.

Markiplier was pretty far into his engineering studies when his father died. He felt trapped by the subject, and his "mind-numbing co-op jobs" didn't help matters. While Markiplier eventually met a girl he liked, "Barbara," his mother Sunok hated her. One mother/son argument later, Markiplier was kicked out of Sunok's house. He initially could afford an apartment thanks to his internship, but then he was canned three days before the job's next quarter. And, "Barbara" refused to help pay rent. It didn't take long before they split up, but that wasn't the end of Markiplier's problems.

After Markiplier and "Barbara" parted ways, he was alone in his apartment save for his thoughts...and a "suspicious pain" in his side. This pain grew and eventually forced him to visit a hospital. Turns out Markiplier had appendicitis and needed an emergency appendectomy. Then doctors told him that he had a tumor as big as a fist on his adrenal gland. While that surgery could be postponed, Markiplier still had to recover in the hospital, which gave him time to think. He realized he had only done what people expected of him, so he decided to do what he wanted for a change. After Markiplier got out of the hospital, he used tax refund money to buy a camera and eventually started making videos that paved the way to YouTube fame.

Sometimes it takes life kicking you in the ribs several times to finally reevaluate yourself and take the first steps towards happiness.

Markiplier tried everything before he became...Markiplier

Knowing what you want to do with your life and actually following through is a blessing few people experience. After all, it's hard to know what you're good at without learning what you're bad at. Just ask Markiplier.

Even though Markiplier started YouTube when he was 22, several years prior, he had no idea what he wanted to be. Before leaving for college, he thought he would find a satisfying career making video games "with guns and explosions." Even before college, Markiplier had gone through several temporary jobs. For instance, he once spent a summer as a carpenter.

While Markiplier's stay at a hospital convinced him to forge his own path, he wasn't quite sure what that path was. So, Markiplier threw everything but the kitchen sink at the wall to see what stuck. He tried writing, drawing, more biomedical school courses, and video game programming. Markiplier even took some inspiration from his brother Tom and tried to create a comic — Tom had achieved early internet fame with the webcomic "Twokinds," which is still running today. As you might have guessed, none of these attempts panned out.

Ironically, Markiplier only started YouTube videos because Tom told him about "Let's Plays," so while he didn't follow in his brother's footsteps, Tom still played an important role in what would become Markiplier's future career.

Markiplier's early days

Every newborn YouTuber needs an identity. Do they want to go down in history by getting angry at bad retro games, or would they rather be remembered for completing games to 100%, no matter the cost? Markiplier thought he would be the sketch comedy guy.

When Markiplier started posting videos in 2012, he wanted to create comedy skits where he played every character. This idea birthed the concept for his channel, but he needed a name to go with it. Tom stepped in and came up with the moniker "Markiplier," a portmanteau of "Mark" and "multiplier." The name was dumb (Markiplier's words, not ours), but it stuck. Some recurring elements of Markiplier formed during this initial conception. For instance, Markiplier's signature pink mustache originated from his first original sketch comedy character, Wilford Warfstache.

While Markiplier eventually jumped from sketches to full-time Let's Plays, his transition wasn't without growing pains. His first Let's Play was of "Amnesia: The Dark Descent," and he eventually played more horror games such as "Dead Space" and "Penumbra: Overture." However, YouTube's algorithm glitched and banned his AdSense account, which prevented him from earning money off his videos — even though they weren't monetized at the time. So, Markiplier had to create a new account, MarkiplierGAME, which is the channel most fans know. Thankfully, Markiplier quickly recovered his previous subscriber numbers and even surpassed his old account. In a few short years, he amassed enough loyal viewers  to sustain himself.

Markiplier has come a long way from his humble beginnings, especially considering that his first subscriber was a personal friend.

A long way in a short time

Today, Markiplier is just about everywhere on YouTube — and beyond. He has over 30 million subscribers and has produced videos that accrue tens if not hundreds of millions of views. It's hard to imagine a time when content creators and YouTube didn't want to partner with Markiplier for projects, mostly because that part of his career lasted a scant two years.

In 2012, when Markiplier was still small potatoes, he posted an audition tape on Soundcloud for a "Minecraft" fan series called "Hatventures." He never got the position, but the joke's on the "Hatventures" team: The channel behind the series has yet to break 1 million subscribers. The team is talented, but you can't deny the irony of content creators turning down a potential member who would eventually surpass them.

Despite some setbacks, such as having to start from scratch due to AdSense nonsense, Markiplier's popularity exploded. By 2014, he was one of the top 100 creators on YouTube. He was even big enough to join the Board of Directors of the comics group Red Giant Entertainment, and things only got bigger from there. Markiplier has gone on to produce and star in the podcast "The Edge of Sleep," as well as a cameo in "Smosh: The Movie." Most recently, Markiplier lent his vocal talents to the English version of the cartoon "Villainous" and voiced the cute blue bear 5.0.5.

Who knows what the future has in store for Markiplier, especially given his generally upward subscriber count growth. Perhaps a Wilford Warfstache animated series where Markiplier gets to voice his signature character? Only time will tell.