A retrospective on Dan and Phil’s YouTube journey following their recent return

By Riley Dauber

Lifestyle Editor

Followers were surprised when YouTubers Dan Howell and Phil Lester posted a new video titled “Saying Goodbye Forever” to their gaming channel DanAndPhilGAMES on Oct. 15, since the pair stopped posting in 2018.

The video shows Howell and Lester attending a funeral, with Howell saying, “No more hiatus, just dead.” From the looks of it, the two are saying goodbye to the channel that many fans enjoyed over the years.

“For many people, this was comfort content, parasocially watching two domestic nerds laugh, bicker, [and] scream,” the priest, played by gaming YouTuber Jacksepticeye, said over old clips of Howell and Lester playing different games.

Just when the two are finally saying goodbye, with Lester placing the save data on top of the casket, the two hear an odd but familiar voice. The casket pops open to reveal a life-like version of their self-created Sim, Dil Howlter — a combination of the pair’s name.

While Howell and Lester played many different games on the channel, they were known for their Sims 4 series, which followed the aforementioned Sim as he moved into a new neighborhood, became a mixologist and scientist, and started a family.

As Howell and Lester scream and cower in fear, text pops up on the screen announcing the gaming channel’s return.

This video was positively received by fans, even after the channel’s five-year-long hiatus.

“This channel is living proof that any YouTuber can go on hiatus [for] how long and will always be welcomed back by their community,” YouTube user @LonelySandwich commented.

After this initial announcement, Howell and Lester posted their first return-to-form video by playing Heart Throb, a teen dating board game. The two played the game right before their hiatus, and its return not only creates a full-circle moment for the channel, but also represents the pair’s recent coming-out journeys.

While Howell and Lester have their own individual channels, their collaborations were more popular within the fandom because viewers could see the two interacting. Fans were notorious for picking apart phrases and gestures, claiming the video contained evidence that the pair was in a romantic relationship.

Despite neither Howell nor Lester publicly announcing their sexuality or relationship status, viewers theorized the pair’s romantic feelings for one another, referring to the relationship as “Phan.”

According to Diggit Magazine, “The theories surrounding Dan and Phil’s sexuality emerged at a time they were not ready to address these rumors for themselves.”

Many fans also wrote fanfiction or drew fanart of the two, ranging in severity in terms of sexual content. The fact that Howell and Lester are real people with real feelings and lives did not seem to faze some fans who theorized the relationship.

According to Diggit Magazine, “Posts with the most engagement become the voice of the community. Combined with the thrill of spectacle, this has further normalized the romantic suggestion of the two creators.”

These theories culminated in Howell and Lester coming out as gay in separate videos, according to Diggit Magazine.

On June 13, 2019, Howell posted a 40-minute video titled “Basically I’m Gay,” where he highlighted his experience growing up and coming to terms with his sexuality.

At the end of the month, on June 30, Lester posted a shorter video titled “Coming Out To You” where he discussed his coming-out experience.

While Lester continued to post regular videos on his channel after coming out, Howell took a longer hiatus to focus on his mental health and healing process.

“As you know, I have clearly taken a break from regular YouTube uploads. This was an emotional and spiritual and personal growth journey that I chose to be on, that, you know…the gay video, everything else, I really felt like I hadn’t really had time to ask: ‘Who am I? What do I want? What am I doing? Why?’ And I’m in that period,” Howell said in a video for Lester’s channel.

The pair’s separate coming out journeys played a large factor in the gaming channel’s hiatus. However, since announcing their return, Howell and Lester continued to post videos on the gaming channel.

On Oct. 22, they posted a new Sims 4 video explaining the series’ return. Then, on the days leading up to Halloween, they posted videos of them playing different horror games. Before the hiatus, their “Spooky Week” series was a staple of the channel, so to see its return this year was a nostalgic feeling for fans.

“Spooky Week has to be the greatest way to revive [DanAndPhilGAMES],” YouTube user @brie commented on one of the horror games videos.

The return of DanAndPhilGAMES is a great comfort for many of the channel’s fans who grew up watching and loving the pair’s videos. While the hiatus was long and full of doubts of a future return, the recent return means new content from fans’ favorite creators.

Photo by Riley Dauber.

Photo Caption: Howell and Lester started posting gaming videos in 2014, and the channel has since amassed over two million subscribers despite their recent hiatus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *