The Operator is a character in the MarbleHornets ARG and a major focus of the story. Unlike many other ARG's, he is the major antagonist, whereas in most ARG's the main antagonist is someone he's working through.
Differences from Slender Man
The Operator came about before the contemporary mythos and his depiction has helped shape the mythos, but he has multiple differences in attitude and behavior compared to the Slender Man.
- He does not have any tentacles or tentacle like powers. (at least none shown so far)
- He rarely seems to move on camera.
- His appearance causes extreme physical debilitation and audio/video destruction of electronics.
- He can wipe extensive periods of memory from victims.
- He does not seem to have any limitations in movement.
- His behavior is a mix of animalistic and sapient, making him highly unpredictable.
- He seems to cause odd behavioral changes in people, such as Alex becoming aggressive, Hoody running about trying to kill Alex, and Tim's shifts between Masky and himself.
The Operator is based on Slender Man, as one can see from the appearance, however due to its very extreme and different depiction against the classic depiction of Slender Man, it has been debated over whether or not the Operator is another name for Slender Man or another being altogether. The Operator and Slender Man have been influenced by each other, and it may be in part due to the Operator since Slender Man has some of the traits the Operator has been observed with.
Additionally, since MarbleHornets has never attributed the term "Proxy", entities like Masky and Hoody are hard to define. In addition, the MH producers have stated The Operator is a completely separate entity from Slender Man, since the two do not use the same methods or have the same goals.
For a complete account of his actions, see here
The Operator is suspected to have many abilities.
Teleportation is one of the major abilities demonstrated by the Operator regularly. This seems to be used in two ways. The first is, as teleportation does, to place his presence into a specific location by unknown means. The second way he uses it almost seems to be short movements forward, as if his teleportation ability is hampered once he is in the presence of a target. The Operator doesn't seem to have any limitations to his teleportation, but it is extremely important to note the Operator is very rarely ever seen physically moving in any way. The Operator can teleport people other than itself, taking people to other places and once sending Jay on a looping door run in a hallway.
Electronic interference is an important one. Unlike Slender Man, who is stated to be radioactive (Sigma), the Operator may or may not be. Instead, this is not explained, and why he does it is not explored, or even if he has control over it, although in some videos the effect is active and in others it's delayed, so it's possible that he can selectively use it. Whether this is the same ability that causes issues with his victims or is a separate ability is also unknown. The effect seems to cause severe distortion, often blowing out the audio of the video entirely, causing video tearing, ruining the video quality, causing severe tone and tint issues, over-blowing the brightness on the video until everything is bleeding together, or causing the electronic to freeze or stop recording for extremely long periods. These are most likely not selective.
The electronic interference seems to consistently correspond to what the Operator is doing, and the severity seems to change based on if the Operator is being observed by the camera or not. The Operator teleporting off-camera seems to cause a visual tear, as seen in Entry #14. Teleporting on-camera produces much more extreme effects. Several times, extreme audio distortion has occurred without any visible powers. Likewise, a much quieter much more constant high-pitched static effect has been observed a couple of times, most notably in Entry #23 when Jay (and his camera) was brought to the Maintenance Building. The black-and-white static effect was seen in Entry #72 and #76, for once making the picture more visible than it would have been otherwise. Assuming the effects are consistent, the Operator was trying to do the same thing to Jay and Tim as it did to Jessica. More recently, it seems that audio distortion can happen when someone gets extremely angry -- Alex did this first, but Jay has done it recently, too.
The mind control is to be noted not the same as being a Proxy. Whereas proxies can basically be described as Slenderman's soldiers or his minions in very loose terms, the alliance between the victims and The Operator is random at best. To date there are several known such people:
- Masky: Who for all intents and purposes appears to sometimes be helping Jay and sometimes not, but clearly dislikes Alex.
- Hoody: Who appears to be fully against the Operator and Alex, and his alliance with Masky is extremely shaky since he clearly doesn't trust Tim or at least doesn't want Jay to do so, and has been physically assaulted by Alex.
- Alex: Who appears to be allied with the Operator in some way, although his alliance is incredibly unexplained and vague, so why he is working alongside the Operator and why the two are never on camera simultaneously is a big question. Additionally, Alex doesn't seem to be fulfilling any sort of "agenda" or objectives in any form of the word other than trying to kill Jay.
Interestingly, Hoody and Masky and Jay all showed resistance to and/or recovery from the ill mental effects of the Operator if they stayed dosed with a certain anti-seizure medication. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Given the Operator's ill effects on electronics--as would be seen by a strong electromagnetic field--it's likely that his ability to make people sick, cloud their minds, and control them is the one and the same power as his ability to harm electronics. Likewise, whatever is in the medication would counteract this effect, reducing the potency--as seen when Tim, the person who was actually prescribed the medication, remained standing--albeit painfully--and confronted the Operator.
The Operator also possesses one bizarre ability shown in Entry #72, which has yet to be explained. When Tim and Jay entered Alex's old house, it was broad daylight, however, upon entering and exiting the basement, it was pitch dark outside, as if several hours had instantly passed in the few seconds upon entering the basement. There was no explanation and no theories offered up by Jay or Tim, since the Operator chased them out of the basement immediately after them noticing the time of day. It's possible this is part and parcel of the Operator's ability to teleport through its own private dimension--it may have shunted Tim and Jay through its world and made them come out several hours later.
The Operator has been revealed in Entry #86 by Alex to spread in power and appearance by effectively "infecting" individuals with his presence. These individuals, whom Tim called "Source(s)", are essentially individuals whom have seen or been stalked by The Operator. As a result, they begin carrying his presence with them, causing anyone who comes in contact with them to become a potential new victim and, thus, new sources.
Alex states the only way to contain his spread is for all sources to be killed. Tim states this is impossible, since it is physically impossible to locate and contain every possible source, and that there is no possible way to be certain that every 'infected' individual would be either visibly infected, or even know it.
While the Operator's origin is unknown, Alex tells Jay a tale in Entry #38 which may be linked to his existence. Alex says that in an area of what is now Rosswood Park, the flora, particularly the trees, would grow abnormally fast. As punishment, the locals would string up criminals from the trees and let them grow, misshaping the criminals. After the criminals died of dehydration, the locals would burn down the trees, body and all. The practice was suspended when a missing child was found dismembered in the trees.
- The name "The Operator" has thus far never been used in the series (except once on a scribbled sheet drawn by Alex, and in several Totheark videos); the name was ascribed to the character in interviews by series creators Troy Wagner and Joseph DeLage.
- In an interview, Troy and Joseph were questioned about who plays as the Operator. However, they did not give an answer, stating that they would wait until the series was over to reveal the method they used.