Connecting the Dots: The Jailbird Backstory, and Pre/Early-SMP c!Quackity Analysis and Theories
Previously on the c!Quackity canon backstory analysis, we laid the conclusion that he technically has two canon backstories, which may or may not be contradictory or overlapping, depending on interpretation. [AO3] [Tumblr]
Last time, I went into the MCM backstory more, since it had a greater impact on the lore and is generally considered "hard canon" [Video summary here]. This time, however, I'll be looking specifically into the 'Jailbird' backstory, as I call it, AKA the "juvenile detention" one, which is more "soft canon" but has a surprisingly large amount of detail to it—even more than I initially thought when I made my previous post, since I started to dig through more early c!Q VODs to get more information on that initial backstory.
This post primarily serves as a summary for the information I found regarding the 'Jailbird' backstory, VOD by VOD.
So, everyone, sit back and relax, because I already did the hard work for you over the course of months. Oh, and this post refers to the characters, not content creators (unless specified otherwise).
CW: Child neglect, imprisonment, mental health/PTSD, self-neglect, substance abuse (including by a minor).
[Click here to read this analysis/theory post on AO3]
Quackity claims to have been stuck in juvenile detention, allegedly called "SMP Juvie" [B, 10:50], for a contradictory amount of time: 10 years [A, 1:35:20], 41 years [A, 1:36:40], or 43 years [A, 1:46:25], all claims in the same livestream.
However, the "41 years" one was claimed just after Tubbo said he lost ~41 levels of XP during Tommy's 'test-mugging' for the Cartel about 6 minutes previously, so I don't know if that claim is to be taken seriously or not; besides, tapping into the Duck theory, 41-43 'duck years' is about 10 'human years' anyway, so we're sticking with the "10 years" claim for this analysis.
Since we know c!Quackity is similar in age to cc!Quackity through various livestreams in Season 1, it's safe to assume that he's ~19 as of Season 1, and ~9 when he got sentenced.
The reasons behind his imprisonment have never been explicitly stated. When asking Dream to whitelist Q onto the SMP, Tommy claims this reason was because Q got into "fun juvie" for "having too much fun" [C, 0:43], but it's not confirmed whether this is a cover story for a more serious crime, a metaphorically true reason, or a complete lie in that Tommy doesn't know the 'crime' either. Some of the theories for how Q ended up there have varied, but are not confirmed in any way to be canon:
Drug-related offenses: Posited by @lasnevadaslaborunion. In one livestream, Q claimed to have "got off that shit years ago" in response to Karl giving him 'heroin' without him knowing. [E, 4:25] This "years ago" is non-specific, so it might go back a decade… and fair enough, in some countries, possession of hard drugs like heroin can land some pretty hefty prison sentences. Whatever way it goes, it still implies exposure to hard drugs as a child… yikes. (Note: This is not my personal theory on how the heroin thing happened. See below for that.)
Misadventures in other video games (e.g. Roblox, Club Penguin Island, etc.): This one is a little meta, but before his MC-related content, including the DSMP, cc!Quackity was quite infamous for raiding various video games, to the point he's part of the Trope Pantheon as an ambiguous-ranking 'deity' of the Internet Counterattack trope (yes, really). It's possible that his character counterpart did something similar at a young age… and ended up behind bars. It probably helps justify and give context to the 'imprisoned for "having too much fun"' excuse Tommy gave, as stated above. And Toontown-affiliated backstories would fit right into this category, regardless of what he did — the game's villains are fun-haters, after all.
A Disclaimer on Realism
Now, here's a little question before we dive deeper: can 9-year-olds be sentenced to juvenile detention in the first place?
The answer depends on where you live. Some countries have a minimum age for children being prosecuted. The US apparently does not, but that's an argument for another day, and one that is unrelated to Minecraft roleplay. My point here is that the aforementioned minimum age is 14 or older in several countries, and even in the US, most convicted juvenile offenders tend to be in their older teenage years. [Source]
Also, according to many articles I had to look up for this post, many juvenile offenders aren't even sent to jail, they usually have other, less severe sentences, like probation or home confinement or fostering, so the odds of a 9-year-old child ending up in juvie is actually pretty unlikely, realistically speaking, if legal at all.
…And for a sentence of 10 years or more? As stated above, the reason little!Q ended up there at all was never mentioned.
However, since that did happen in soft DSMP canon, I'd have to say… the poor lad would have basically spent most of his childhood incarcerated. I wonder if he still remembers anything about his life before that point canonically.
Environment and Trauma
Even though nothing is actually shown, there's a surprisingly large amount of descriptions of the environment in the juvenile detention centre, for lack of a better term, in the early livestreams.
When Q first joined the SMP, his first remark was on the fresh air, probably because Spawn is still a distance away from the warzone, and that he felt "alive again". [C, 3:13]
There's also this line: "I didn't have the smile in juvie", likely referring to his now-iconic :] smile. [C, 4:00] Oh, and canonically confirmed PTSD. [D, 16:40]
The interior of the prison itself is unstated, but is implied to be made of grey stone-adjacent blocks, if Q's reaction to setting his spawn in the Courthouse in the Sky is any indication. [D, 22:10] So… I'm speculating its interior either looks like the Cops and Robbers map or… this map cc!Q did in 2019 (minus the escaping), or something like that.
For whatever reason, Q seemed to have claustrophobia, and may or may not have been triggered into a panic attack and a mental breakdown and a half. [C, 11:30]
He claimed to have a lot of allergic reactions, but to what exactly, it was never mentioned. [C, 15:15]
Q might have also tried to escape on at least one occasion. At one point, he offers to show Tommy the "blueprints" for his Cartel plan [A, 1:16:40], but doesn't want others to know about them because they were "a secret where [he comes] from". And then there's this line: "If someone leaks a blueprint… things– all I'm gonna say is things don't go well for those who leak the blueprints, Tommy." Tommy did actually leak the 'blueprint' for a few seconds [A, 1:17:53], but in the context of juvenile detention, as we'll discuss in more detail later on… I'd suppose things wouldn't go well for people who leak prison blueprints, if you choose to interpret the line this way. In the same livestream, he might have tried to break out with a screwdriver, but clearly that didn't work. [A, 1:38:30]
Q recalls apparently breaking his legs like "the second night of juvie" [C, 23:04], most likely from falling, but honestly most of us are concerned how this even happened, and which incompetent nincompoop was running the place to allow children to get injured so easily. So… either the structure of the detention centre violates health and safety regulations, or the 'guards' (for lack of a better word) are shit at their jobs, or both.
In the middle of planning out their heist and preparing to 'test-mug' Tubbo, Q claimed to have been clean from 'drugs' for "30 minutes" at one point. [A, 1:25:40] If this is true, this implies somehow he managed to have access to whatever 'drugs' he was using at that point. This also possibly lines up with the 'heroin' incident mentioned above… which I theorize would be correlated to some other information I found — heroin is "used in the palliative management of bone fractures and other trauma, especially in children" [Wikipedia]. In layman's terms, it basically means heroin is sometimes used as pain relief. I think you might be able to connect the dots from here, but that's just my theory.
A final note in regards to Q in the early days — he appears to have a tendency of neglecting his personal health, which goes from him joining the DSMP all the way into the Manburg era. He walks around on low health and hunger fairly often, usually as a result of taking damage and never healing up, and even when he doesn't have food on him, he doesn't ask others to give him some so he can regen. [e.g. D, 28:50] Heck, this is how Niki got arrested just after Schlatt's election — she 'hit' Q to snap him out of a breakdown and a half and ended up killing him (non-canonically) because he was on half a heart and insufficient hunger to regen at the time. This tendency is recurring to the point one might even call it a bad habit. I don't know if his past has anything to do with this, but one might argue it is a manifestation of "reckless or self-destructive behavior" under the symptoms of PTSD.
Shared Past with TommyInnit?
Q and Tommy seemed to at least know each other and be friends even before Q's official first appearance, but how exactly is unstated.
In Q's first appearances, Tommy has claimed to only know of him as the best in the Cartel business and teamed up with him, but considering their already amicable relationship even in their 'first' canon conversation, as well as the fact that Tommy gets RL Given Name Privileges with Q [A, 1:32:15], this seems unlikely.
The two had a 'conversation' about having "met in high school". Since it was more likely than not a cover story for the Cartel, its legitimacy is doubted. [A, 1:30:00]
Tommy was apparently the one to get him out of juvenile detention, somehow. [C, 16:05]
Relationship with MCM Backstory
As cited in the previous analysis post, I raised some suspicions that the M!necraft Mondays backstory may have been retconned from the 'Jailbird' backstory as the timelines for the two don't appear to line up. However, I would like to go back and disprove this suspicion, as upon closer examination, the VODs themselves suggest that the two backstories coexist.
On his first livestream on the DSMP, Quackity mentions having met Technoblade before during MCM and claimed that Techno was scared of him (Jack didn't believe that) [D, 48:20].
Knowing what actually happened in MCM (links above), it's suggested that Q was highkey projecting his feelings in the moment, which would line up with his later behaviour.
Also in the previous analysis post, I also raised suspicions that the 'Jailbird' backstory is no longer considered canonical as a result of retcons. However, once again, I would go back and correct that this backstory is soft canon: the 'Jailbird' backstory is closely associated with the concept of the Cartel. The Phantom Membrane Cartel (PMC) was established during Q's second voice-only appearance on the server [B, 7:40], but the plans of the Cartel idea were first laid out the day prior, i.e. during Q's first voice-only appearance, and the PMC was simply a continuation of the initial Cartel plan [B, 3:35]. The PMC itself was later canonized officially as hard canon in Season 3 [F, 44:05]. As a result, the canonicity of the 'Jailbird' backstory is implied to be confirmed by association.
There are also possible hints towards the canonicity of this backstory in the first Las Nevadas stream. While passing by the minimum/moderate security holding cells on the way to visit Dream, Q makes a joke with Sam, asking if he might ever be put in one of the cells, and then saying "you know how I am" when Sam wasn't amused. [G, 1:00:50] Of course, this can just as easily be referring to Q's jokester nature, but one would wonder.
Oh, and as a bonus, Tiger the cat is implied to be canon too via association, if you interpret it that way. [B, 5:45]
Livestreams/Clips used as sources and references
A. "TommyInnit & Quackity do crimes on Dream's Minecraft Server..." (TommyVODS, 5 August 2020)
B. "TommyInnit & Quackity DO A HEIST on the Dream SMP" (TommyVODS, 6 August 2020)
C. "Quackity joins Dream SMP w/ TommyInnit" (TommyVODS, 11 August 2020)
D. "Quackity Joins The Dream SMP" (QuackityVODS, 17 August 2020)
E. "Karl And Quackity Having Love PROBLEMS! DREAM SMP" (Angry Thomas, 12/13 November 2020) — clipped from a Karl VOD from 12 November 2020
F: "Tommy Leaves Prison with Dream." (TommyVODS, 12 March 2021)
G: "Quackity Visits Dream In Prison" (QuackityVODS, 16 March 2021)
Related posts for reference
This post by @lasnevadaslaborunion, which reminded me to look into Q's backstory even more, and provides the talking point for Source G
This post by @stillnotfivefoot with additions from @marmalade-mir, which kick-started this backstory investigation in the first place
This Legal Beagle article ("What Happens at a Juvenile Detention Center?" by Hilary Ferrand, 5 February 2020) which is really helping me with a fanfic involving this backstory, and as a result, this analysis post.