[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/HPL-Smiling!.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:250:A rare picture of our author [[TheUnSmile attempting to smile.]]]]

->''"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."''
-->--'''H. P. Lovecraft'''
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The best known author of the CosmicHorrorStory and the origin of the Franchise/CthulhuMythos, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 -- March 15, 1937) is considered perhaps the greatest of all horror fiction writers, rivaled only by his idol Creator/EdgarAllanPoe. An antiquarian eremite, he was [[NotGoodWithPeople more fond of books than of people]], very much like most of his protagonists. There is, however, no official record of Lovecraft ever encountering anything corporeally eldritch, as much as some fans [[BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy wish it were all true]]. To this day you can find at least a half dozen different [[{{Defictionalization}} fabrications]] of Lovecraft's wholly fictional ''[[TomeOfEldritchLore Necronomicon.]]'' He credited his night terrors[[note]]while similar to nightmares, they are actually the result of a sleep disorder[[/note]] with providing most of his inspiration; both night terrors and the filmy, oily membrane between waking and sleep factor heavily in his various works.

Although Lovecraft had a very happy childhood by his own account -- his rich grandfather, mom and aunts gave him just about everything he wanted including free run of the family library -- his early years were marked by loss. His father went insane (from syphilis) and died when Lovecraft was about eight. His grandfather died and his money was mismanaged by relatives, leaving the family penniless. Lovecraft's mother also went insane and died in a mental hospital. In his adult years he drifted in and out of poverty (mostly in), ate cold beans out of cans, lost his wife, and ended his life with [[ShootTheShaggyDog cancer of the small intestine]].

On the other hand, he was a member of the United Amateur Press Association and made many friends by correspondence, and when possible he would travel to meet them, journeying all up and down the east coast and even venturing into Canada. He was an amateur astronomer and antiquarian, a tireless walker and lover of all things ancient and strange. He was a professed atheist, but loved the gods of the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and as a child had prayed to them.

He earned most of his living as an editor and ghostwriter. He was reluctant to sell his own stories, fearing they would not be well-received, but he was a prolific correspondent with other writers of the time, including Creator/RobertEHoward and Creator/ClarkAshtonSmith (not to mention the teenage Creator/RobertBloch), and heavily rewrote many of their stories for them, inserting his own themes. Creator/LordDunsany, Creator/EdgarAllanPoe, Creator/RobertWChambers' ''Literature/TheKingInYellow'', and Creator/ArthurMachen are frequently cited as major influences on Lovecraft's work.

No summary of Lovecraft's life is complete without a mention of his passionate [[KindheartedCatLover devotion to cats]] and to his home town of Providence, Rhode Island. He only owned one cat in his lifetime, but fed and named every alley cat he found. His words ''I Am Providence'' are engraved on his tombstone.

Given his view of the world, Lovecraft might be considered a real life StrawNihilist. He also expressed racist and xenophobic views; one recorded criticism of UsefulNotes/NaziGermany was that Hitler's plans were too optimistic.[[labelnote:1]]"The crazy thing is not what Adolf wants, but the way he sees it & starts out to get it. I know he’s a clown, but by God, I like the boy!" –Letter from Lovecraft to Donald Wandrei, November 1936[[/labelnote]] Even after he married a Jewish woman, Sonia Greene, he often made anti-Semitic remarks -- in response to which she [[YouKnowImBlackRight gently reminded him]] with whom he was sleeping. Many of his early stories and poems contained overt racial slurs, mostly aimed at immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. One of the "horrors" he intended to creep out his audience was miscegenation -- racial impurity, which he considered "degenerate" -- again, a commonplace societal fear at the time, especially in the New England states where [[RealityIsUnrealistic opposition to interracial marriages was higher than in the South]]. The racial slurs are far less common in his later stories, as Lovecraft moderated his views over time.

Lovecraft's stories featured not so much fear of people of different (non-White) skin colour, but distaste aimed at "mental, moral and physical degeneration" (a concept prevalent at the time) due to in-breeding, interbreeding with non-human creatures, or even immoral acts such as cannibalism. In his stories such degeneration could afflict the lower classes ("The Horror at Red Hook") and inbred rural communities ("The Dunwich Horror", "The Shadow over Innsmouth") as well as upper class families ("Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family", "The Rats in the Walls", "The Lurking Fear"). It's interesting -- perhaps even humorous -- to note that "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" was not inspired by fears of miscegenation, but by Lovecraft's own discovery that his great-grandmother was... ''[[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotHeinous Welsh]]''.

On the third appendage, Lovecraft's stories, especially the Dreamland stories, featured protagonists with dark skin of which he speaks quite highly, and Lovecraft was a great admirer of the civilizations of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire. He differentiated between people of "noble" appearance and heritage and civilized behaviour contra "degenerate" individuals or tribes, independently of ethnicity or skin-colour. He thought that immigrants to the U.S. should keep their original language, dress and customs, not discard them and try to become "Americanized", because this made them look vulgar.

It has often been suggested that [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation he only incorporated so much racism in his stories because they stemmed from the element that proliferates all of his works: fear of the unknown.]] He almost singlehandedly invented a new cosmology, but instead of being one based on science and progress, it was instead full of otherworldly horror and blind, raving deities. While most people of his time were entranced by the technological innovation produced by the Industrial Revolution, Lovecraft was [[RomanticismVersusEnlightenment deeply suspicious of modern technology and the poorly-understood powers it vested in mankind]]. All of his work resonates with the terror of the newly-discovered magnitude of the universe, which in the early period of his life was believed to consist entirely of the Milky Way. Einstein's theory of relativity opened a door into teleportation, time travel, and [[AlienGeometries alien geometry]], and radically altered peoples' notion of space-time itself, while the discovery of pre-Cambrian fossils and Wegener's then-new-and-controversial hypothesis of continental drift brought the notion that the Earth was far older than previously believed, and that even the shape of the continents was not set in stone. All of this was subtly addressed in Lovecraft's stories of alien horror, and of the remains of ancient civilizations lost to the abyss of geological deep time.

The dizzying speed of progress of his time was compounded by an expansion of the unknown. Each new development, instead of reducing the number of questions as had been expected by pre-modern philosophers, instead compounded them exponentially. Leibniz had hoped that the entire world could be described by reason, and that this is the best of all possible worlds -- a possibility utterly abolished during Lovecraft's writing period. Each new discovery only increased humanity's knowledge of its own ignorance and [[InsignificantLittleBluePlanet insignificance]], encouraging a nihilistic atmosphere, and this is perhaps the central theme of Lovecraft's incisive fiction. For fiction done by others in his literary mythos (and the Lovecraftian setting as a whole), see the CthulhuMythos.

Despite [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft#Copyright some controversy]] over whether most of his works are genuinely public domain, they're all invariably available online [[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:H._P._Lovecraft somewhere]]. The letters are harder to get ahold of (and expensive as hell, check out Abebooks), but they're well worth the search.

!!The stories for which he is remembered include:
* ''Literature/AtTheMountainsOfMadness'' -- Scholarly expedition to [[MysteriousAntarctica Antarctica]] discovers ruins of a city built by AncientAstronauts and has close encounters with [[BlobMonster formless horrors]] and [[OurMonstersAreWeird giant hairless penguins]], incidentally proving that "ItGetsBetter" ''can'' be used to great effect.
** Guillermo del Toro (the director of ''Film/{{Hellboy}}'' and ''Film/PansLabyrinth'') had a screenplay prepared, although it will be quite a while before anything comes of it, what with [[Film/TheHobbit one thing]] and [[Franchise/{{Frankenstein}} another]]. Although it had TomCruise and Creator/JamesCameron involved, it was cancelled in light of The Wolfman reboot flopping. At one point, Del Toro said that ''Film/{{Prometheus}}'' may have killed any chance of his ''Mountains'' adaptation being made, as he considers the stories much too similar, but he has since taken back this statement.
** Dan O'Bannon, the original writer of ''Film/{{Alien}}'', is a massive Lovecraft fan (he would go on to direct an adaption of ''Literature/TheCaseOfCharlesDexterWard'') and initially conceived the plot of ''Alien'' as a kind of "At the Planet of Madness"; much of the original story involved the aliens being "gods" to a long-lost civilization who sacrificed victims to them in, and left hieroglyphs depicting their lifecycle on the walls of, a giant pyramid. Many of these ideas would be subsequently reused in ''Film/AlienVsPredator'' (which, just to drive the point home, was set in Antarctica) and in ''Film/{{Prometheus}}''.
** John Carpenter's ''[[Film/TheThing1982 The Thing]]'' is even closer. Indeed, a genealogical connection is plausible: the film is an adaptation of Creator/JohnWCampbell's short story "Literature/WhoGoesThere", published in ''AstoundingStories'' in 1938. Campbell -- who became editor of ''Astounding'' that year -- would surely have been reading it in 1936, when it published ''At the Mountains of Madness''. John Carpenter himself is an admitted H.P. Lovecraft fan, so it'd hardly be surprising if he drew a little inspiration from the story, even indirectly (there actually is some resemblance between the sequences where Mac and Copper investigate the Norwegian camp in ''The Thing'' and the scene where Dyer and Danforth investigate Lake's camp in ''At The Mountains of Madness'', not to mention that the Norwegians weren't in the novella the film was based on...). He even made ''Film/InTheMouthOfMadness'' as a tribute to Lovecraft's work.
* "Literature/TheCallOfCthulhu" -- [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien Cthulhu]] briefly wakes, and fills the dreams of men with madness. The first and best-known Lovecraftian [[TabletopGames Tabletop RPG]] is [[TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu named after it]] and reprints the story in full.
** ''[[http://www.cthulhulives.org/toc.html The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society]]'' [[LovecraftOnFilm adapted]] this story [[http://www.cthulhulives.org/cocmovie/ to film]] in 2005, faithful to the original, in the style of a classic 1920s black-and-white silent movie. A must-see.
* ''Literature/TheCaseOfCharlesDexterWard'' -- Long dead {{necromancer}} steals the identity of his [[IdenticalGrandson identical great-great-great-grandson]]. The source of perhaps one of the most solid pieces of advice for anyone messing with sorcery: "[[EvilIsNotAToy Do not call up that which you cannot put down.]]"
** Also used in the Roger Corman film, ''The Haunted Palace''.
* "Literature/TheDunwichHorror" -- Invisible abomination terrorises the Massachusetts countryside.
** Filmed in 1970 as a not-entirely-faithful CultClassic starring Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee. ''Yog-Sothoth!'' There was also a 2009 remake by the SyFy Channel - again starring Dean Stockwell.
* "Literature/TheColourOutOfSpace" -- A toxic meteorite that's of a colour NotOfThisEarth devastates a small farm in Massachusetts. Lovecraft insists upon using the English spelling of "colour", as always.
** A big part of the inspiration for the "Weeds" segment (starring self-professed Lovecraft fan Creator/StephenKing) in ''Film/{{Creepshow}}''.
** [[WordOfGod King himself]] has said that ''Literature/TheTommyknockers'' derives part of its premise from "Colour;" the story's protagonist, Gardner, shares his name with the hapless farmer of the earlier story.
** Plot also used in the movie ''The Curse'', starring John Schneider, Claude Akins, and Wil Wheaton. Rather faithful to the original, under the circumstances.
** Also a very loose adaption from 1965 called ''Die, Monster, Die!'' with Creator/BorisKarloff.
** Adapted in 2008 as movie called ''[[http://www.die-farbe.com/ Die Farbe]]'' (''The Colour'') by Sphärentor Produktion, a German indie studio. All in black and white, except for the colour itself. Makes a few changes, but overall pretty faithful to the source material.
* "The Shadow out of Time" -- One of his best-regarded stories. A strange creature from the deep past [[GrandTheftMe swaps bodies]] with a modern-day scholar, followed by the latter's subsequent investigations into the years he can't remember.
** Adapted as a short old-timey independent film and released in 2012. See it [[http://youtu.be/y7jp1CT1h6c here]].
** This is the primary inspiration for the framing story in ''VideoGame/CallOfCthulhuDarkCornersOfTheEarth''.
* "Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth" -- Man visits a TownWithADarkSecret and finds [[HalfHumanHybrid something]] fishy in [[TomatoInTheMirror his family tree]].
** This one was the primary inspiration for the video game ''VideoGame/CallOfCthulhuDarkCornersOfTheEarth'', which takes place in Innsmouth.
** Also loosely adapted into ''Film/{{Dagon}}'', set on the coast of modern-day Spain.
** Also part of a long sequel series by various authors, ''Shadows over Innsmouth''.
** 2007 indie film ''Film/{{Cthulhu}}'' by Dan Gildark and Grant Cogswell is actually based on this story rather than any of the Cthulhu mythos stories.
* "The Outsider" -- One of the prime examples of TomatoInTheMirror in literature. ItWasHisSled may be in place, naturally.
* "Pickman's Model" -- A [[MadArtist degenerate artist]] gives one of his former friends a glimpse of the [[RealAfterAll horrible secret]] behind his disturbing subject matter.
** Has been adapted a number of times into short movies by various independent film makers from different countries, movies which were collected on DVD as part of ''The H.P. Lovecraft Collection'' (Part 4) by Lurker Films, Inc.
* "Cool Air" -- A boarding-house resident who likes, for some reason, to have it ''very'' cold in his apartment goes into a panic when his swamp cooler breaks down; his next-door neighbor soon begins to wonder where the smell is coming from...
** "Cool Air" and "Pickman's Model" were made into episodes of ''NightGallery''. Unfortunately, ''Night Gallery'' insisted on adding a female love interest and DamselInDistress for Pickman to the episode. Not only that, the story was combined with "Innsmouth", only with rats instead of fish.
** Also was loosely adapted as one of the segments in the cheaply-made, [[InNameOnly only nominally Lovecraftian]] anthology film ''Necronomicon'', with, of all people, [[MoneyDearBoy a slumming]] David Warner as the star. They decided to throw in a love triangle plot, for some reason.
** A quite faithful indie adaption of "Cool Air" can be found in ''The H.P. Lovecraft Collection'' (Part 1) by Lurker Films, Inc.
** Adapted as "Baby, It's Cold Inside" in ''Vault of Horror'' #17 (February 1951) from ECComics.
* "The Rats in the Walls" -- The narrator, a man from New England, buys an old keep in England that belonged to his ancestors (and which was erected at the site of much older Roman and iron-age temples) and discovers a [[ImAHumanitarian horrifying]] [[MadwomanInTheAttic family]] [[PeopleFarms secret]] that drives him insane.
* "TheWhispererInDarkness" -- A science fiction First Contact story with strong [[GrandTheftMe horror elements]]. A scholar and his pen pal friend discover a colony of sinister fungoid space-faring aliens in the mountainous rural backwaters of Vermont in 1930.
** ''[[http://www.cthulhulives.org/toc.html The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society]]'' [[LovecraftOnFilm has]] [[AdaptationExpansion adapted]] this puppy to [[http://www.cthulhulives.org/whisperer/index.html film as well]]. ''Another'' must-see.
* His ''Dreamland'' stories, among them "Literature/TheCatsOfUlthar", "The Silver Key", "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" and ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath''. The last encompassed a number of characters from Lovecraft's other stories, "Pickman's Model" in particular.
* ''Herbert West -- Reanimator'' -- A MadScientist develops a serum that can revive the dead. Probably best known in its gory, darkly comedic [[ReAnimator film adaptation]] it is actually one of the first tales to use the cannibalistic [[OurZombiesAreDifferent zombies]] archetype so beloved of modern culture. The novella itself was written as a parody of ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}}''. Lovecraft himself disliked the story due to the constraints placed on him by the magazine in which it was published.
* "The Music of Erich Zann" -- A student, seeking cheap accommodation, takes a room underneath a strange, mute cellist who plays unnatural music late into the night. He considered this one of his best stories, as he managed to avoid his usual tactic of explaining everything (read: [[NothingIsScarier the tiniest explanation of anything is not even alluded to]] other than on a paper the protagonist never gets to read).
* "{{Literature/Dagon}}" -- A young man serving in the navy during World War I escapes German captivity only to glimpse a strange monster.
* "Literature/TheTemple" -- A German U-Boat crew is subjected to a series of strange and unexplained events.
* "Literature/TheThingOnTheDoorstep" -- A sweet but weak-willed man marries a sinister young woman from [[Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth Innsmouth]] and starts to exhibit disturbing personality changes.
* And most terrifyingly of all, "[[http://www.psy-q.ch/lovecraft/html/catsdogs.htm Cats and Dogs]]", an essay on [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking why cats are better than dogs.]]
* Apart from these, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society and other fan groups have produced ''[[ShoggothOnTheRoof A Shoggoth on the Roof]]'', a musical based on the Cthulhu mythos (the initial score was that of ''Fiddler on the Roof'', but it was modified after lawsuits). Considering Lovecraft's aforementioned anti-Semitic leanings, this is actually rather hilarious.

For a mostly-complete list of film adaptations, see LovecraftOnFilm. For the comic book about Lovecraft, see ''Comicbook/{{Lovecraft}}''.

The YMMV page for his collective works can be found [[YMMV/HPLovecraft here]].
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!!Tropes used throughout Lovecraft stories include:
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* AlienGeometries: R'lyeh, where Cthulhu lies sleeping, and many others.
* AlienInvasion: The SufficientlyAdvancedAliens are waiting to reclaim what was rightfully theirs; the others have been here for millennia, but humans are simply unaware of their presence.
* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Played for horror rather than narrative convenience, since most Lovecraftian aliens and fantasy creatures '''don't''' speak English, but often some tongue [[BlackSpeech inherently disturbing to human ears]], but when they speak English shit really hits the fan.
* TheAllConcealingI: "The Outsider", in which the narrator [[spoiler: is eventually revealed to be a sentient humanoid monster, although his exact nature (undead? humanoid abomination?) is never explained.]]
* AlmightyIdiot: Azathoth, known to fans as the "Blind Idiot God".
* AncientAstronauts: Perhaps the first use of the trope in fiction. Notable in that unlike most ancient astronaut stories, the aliens are decidedly ''not'' humanoid, and have no interest whatever in humanity.
* AndThenJohnWasAZombie: Happens in "Shadow over Innsmouth", and played with in "The Whisperer in Darkness" (Akeley does not actually become one of the creatures, but he does join their community, as it were). Pickman's alluded-to fate (later confirmed in ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath'') in "Pickman's Model" is an inversion: he does not, in fact, consider it a terrible fate at all.
* ApocalypticLog: Many of his stories are either an ApocalypticLog wrapped up in a FramingDevice, or just a straight ApocalypticLog.
* ArcWords:
--> ''That is not dead which can eternal lie,\\
And with strange aeons even death may die.''
* ArbitrarySkepticism: You live in witch-haunted Arkham and graduated from the only college in America that gives a degree in Eldritch knowledge but you refuse to believe in GrandTheftMe?
* AristocratsAreEvil: The protagonist's ancestors in "The Rats in the Walls" fit the bill quite nicely, save for the DefectorFromDecadence that became his direct ancestor.
* AuthorAppeal: He seems to like a lot of adjectives. And cats.
* AuthorAvatar: Abdul Alhazred and Randolph Carter particularly, although most of his protagonists were somewhat autobiographical.
* AuthorPhobia: Much of what Lovecraft wrote was motivated by his own nightmares and personal phobias. Among the ones less likely to evoke similar feelings in readers nowadays were his fears of [[ValuesDissonance non-white Anglo-Saxon people and miscegenation.]] [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking And fish.]]
%%* BackFromTheDead
* BadassBookworm:
** The three professors in "Literature/TheDunwichHorror".
** And Randolph Carter, featured in several Lovecraft's best-known tales. A WWI veteran, having served from the first in the [[LegionOfLostSouls Foreign Legion of France]], he has great courage and resourcefulness despite his occasional tendency to swoon when things get too eldritch.
* BadassNormal: A strange non-human example. The [[StarfishAliens Elder Things]], despite being ordinary carbon-based lifeforms instead of being made of extradimensional exotic matter like most of the gibbering horrors of the Cthulhuverse, actually managed to survive a fight against the big green himself.
* BasedOnADream: Not only were many of Lovecraft's stories based on dreams he had, but the characters within his works often created art or writing based on ''their'' dreams.
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: "The Outsider" and "Under the Pyramids"[[note]]short story ghostwritten for Creator/HarryHoudini[[/note]] both mention in passing the female pharaoh [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitocris Nitocris]] as the ruler of a society of monsters and undead.
* TheBlank: The Nightgaunts.
* BodyHorror:
** "Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth" has the Innsmouth people's gradual "degeneration" into increasingly fish-like forms. It's mentioned that some of the older residents have become so deformed they can't even go outside anymore.
** "The Colour Out of Space" has shades of this as well, with the colour's influence gradually disintegrating the bodies of the afflicted.
* {{Bowdlerize}}: "Nigger-Man," the cat from "The Rats in the Walls" (named after Lovecraft's own, we might add), is never called what it was in the original story in adaptations. The closest anyone's dared get was in the 1972 Skull Comix version, where it's "Nigaman".
* BritishEnglish: Wrote in this dialect, despite being American, using words like "torch" for "flashlight."
* BigBad: Plenty of them per story, but the most notable ones are Elder/Outer Cthulhu, Azathoth, and Yog-Sothoth, all of whom are essentially powerful enough to destroy the known universe (Cthulhu being the only one bound to Earth, which he shall destroy in Lovecraft's universe). Asenath Waite[[spoiler: or rather, her father Ephraim]] can be considered the Big Bad of "The Thing on the Doorstep", as can Nyarlathotep for ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath''.
* BrickJoke[=/=]{{Unpaused}}: In "The Shadow Out of Time" the narrator loses consciousness while giving a lecture at the beginning of the first chapter. At the end of the chapter and several years later he wakes up muttering about economics.
* BrokeYourArmPunchingOutCthulhu: Version 1 in "The Call of Cthulhu".
* CannibalLarder: In the short story "The Picture in the House," the narrator realizes that his host's talk of historical cannibalism is not purely academic when blood soaks through the ceiling and drips onto the titular picture.
* CatsAreMagic: In Lovecraft canon, specifically ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath'', the cats of the Dreamlands can travel to the Moon on their own power and have a secret language. They worship Bast and aid the hero in his quest. The only thing the Earth-cats fear are the cats from Saturn, who are even more powerful than they, but are in league with the {{Eldritch Abomination}}s.
* CityOfGold: Several of the Dreamlands' cities are described in terms of the exotic and precious materials from which their streets, wharfs, or buildings are made.
* CosmicHorrorStory: The TropeCodifier in the modern world, and the one to popularize the use of the word "eldritch" in English.
* CosmicPlaything: Several of his protagonists qualify. Lovecraft's own life comes across as this, which probably contributed to his use of the trope.
* CrapsackWorld: Almost goes without saying, and in line with Lovecraft's nihilistic worldview.
* CreatorProvincialism: Much of his work takes place in New England due to being raised in Providence, Rhode Island.
* CreepyChild: Wilbur Whateley, the VillainProtagonist of the first part of "The Dunwich Horror", is described to be very creepy (both visually, and from his behaviour; he actually is much much much younger than he looks) by all his neighbours and the people he meets. [[spoiler: When he dies, it is revealed from a quick look on his half naked corpse that he actually is an HumanoidAbomination which bottom part isn't even remotely human looking. He actually is the hybrid child of the Old One Yog-Sothoth and a Dunwich sorceress.]]
* DastardlyWhiplash: [[LargeHam Comically exaggerated]] in "Sweet Ermengarde".
* DevilInDisguise: At the end of "The Whisperer in Darkness", the Henry Akeley whom the narrator speaks with is implied to have been a Mi-Go (or one of their sympathizers) in disguise while the real Akeley had already become a BrainInAJar.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: Although this usually clashes with Lovecraft's CosmicHorrorStory message, he used it occasionally:
** Most notably, the monster beneath "Literature/TheShunnedHouse" is killed by pouring ''sulfuric acid'' over it.
** There is also the trio of Miskatonic professors, who went and kicked the Dunwich Horror's ass and sent him crying to his dad. ''Literally''.
** And we can't really forget Gustaf Johansen, who actually did attempt to punch out the actual Cthulhu by charging a steam ship at him. [[spoiler: OK, so Cthulhu reformed immediately, his friend went mad and he ended up dead thanks to Cthulhu's cult, but A for effort.]]
* DownerEnding: At the end of the majority of his stories the protagonist dies, becomes insane, or loses (or several of the three). Some have bleaker endings: The protagonist actions has no importance whatsoever and they remain sane, now with the knowledge of all the horrors that exist.
* DreamLand: Lovecraft's Dream Cycle stories, inspired by the works of Creator/LordDunsany, are set in a world which can be entered through dreams. ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath'' suggests that each planet has its own dream land, and there are some locations where the dream land and waking world intersect.
%%* DreamingOfTimesGoneBy
* EarnYourHappyEnding: ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath'' ends with the protagonist dispelling Nyarlathotep's deception and avoiding his doom, then waking up to the SceneryPorn of the architecturally graceful city of UsefulNotes/{{Boston}}, USA. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Nyarlathotep admits defeat.]]
* EldritchAbomination: Lovecraft's gods and monsters are unfathomable by human minds--he codified the trope as we know it.
* EnemyToAllLivingThings: Asenath Waite, Wilbur Whateley, and the de la Poers are human (or human-ish) examples; the Deep Ones and the Elder Things are also despised by mundane animals.
* EvilDetectingDog:
** In "The Whisperer in Darkness", dogs are described as having a natural enmity for the Mi-go, which is why Akeley keeps a bunch of them around his house.
** The expedition's dogs hate the Elder Things in ''At the Mountains of Madness''.
** Dogs really hate Wilbur in ''The Dunwich Horror''. [[spoiler: It's a guard dog at Miskatonic University that kills him.]]
* EvilIsNotAToy: "Do not call up that which you cannot put down" is the advice given to the necromancer from ''Literature/TheCaseOfCharlesDexterWard.'' He doesn't listen, and it costs him big.
* EvilIsVisceral: Many things are "squamous," which means scaly or looking like a close-up of a layer of skin cells.
* EvilSmellsBad: There are plenty of references to the stink of evil things and to "charnel" or "putrid" atmosphere in haunted places. For readers of [[TheRoaringTwenties the inter-war years]], many of which [[WorldWarOne had some war experience]] and lived in an age with poor garbage management, this was even more sinister.
* EvilSorcerer: Numerous examples.
* FireKeepsItDead:
** From "The Festival":
--->"Wisely did Ibn Schacabao say, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes."
** Similar concept, different execution. In ''Literature/TheCaseOfCharlesDexterWard'', a repeated theme and instruction is to ''refrain'' from killing the necromancer villain with fire, as he can be resurrected from the ashes. Instead, the protagonist is instructed to dissolve the body in acid.
* ForTheEvulz: Nyarlathotep, one of the few {{Eldritch Abomination}}s who seems to take active interest in humanity, seems to love messing with people just because he can. Although in some stories he is simply the guardian of hidden lore, in ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,'' he's intentionally cruel. In the prose poem "Nyarlathotep," he tours the country driving people insane with scientific exhibitions. His purpose is never clear. In general, he's so powerful that his cruel actions are analogous to a child burning ants with a magnifying glass.
* FishPeople: The Deep Ones.
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: TropeNamer.
* GrandTheftMe:
** The Great Race of Yith (aka the Yithians) have this as their hat. When faced with a danger they cannot overcome, they will, ''as a group'' swap bodies with another race of beings at some other place and/or time to escape, leaving the minds of those they switch with to perish in their previous bodies. It should be noted that these are among the ''nicer'' being inhabiting this universe, as they actually notice humans and don't destroy or enslave us as an automatic reaction.
** Also done by human sorcerers in ''[[spoiler:The Thing on the Doorstep]]'' and ''[[spoiler:Literature/TheCaseOfCharlesDexterWard]]''.
* HalfHumanHybrid: "Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth", and others.
* HaveYouTriedNotBeingAMonster: Robert M. Price has [[http://crypt-of-cthulhu.com/homosexualpanic.htm hypothesized]] that "The Outsider" carries this subtext, however unintentionally.
* HeAlsoDid: Most of his fans would be surprised to learn Lovecraft tossed off a few light comedic pieces, including parodies of [[HoratioAlgerJr Horatio Alger-type stories]] and heavy-handed anti-drinking screeds.
* HellIsThatNoise: Used InUniverse in many stories.
* HeroicBSOD: ''Very'' common. Even a fleeting glimpse at an EldritchAbomination can have bad consequences....
* HeterosexualLifePartners: One of Lovecraft's favorite tropes. Examples include Edward Derby and Daniel Upton, Herbert West and his Watson-esque assistant, Walter Gilman and Frank Elwood, St John and ''The Hound'''s anonymous narrator, Randolph Carter and Harley Warren, the dudes from Hypnos (though their case borders on ChastityCouple)... Thurber might have had such a relationship with Richard Pickman if not for realizing how insane he was.
* HollywoodNewEngland: Lovecraft was a Yankee Patrician to the core. He famously proclaimed "I am Providence."
* HumanoidAbomination: Nyarlathotep, Wilbur Whateley, and the HalfHumanHybrid fish people from "Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth" are the most notable.
* HumanSacrifice: Sometimes done by Mythos creatures such as the Deep Ones, but even more commonly by human cultists.
%%* HumanitysWake
* ImAHumanitarian: ''[[spoiler: The Picture in the House]]'' involves the discovery of a CannibalLarder, while ''[[spoiler: The Rats in the Walls]]'' has this trope on an [[PeopleFarms industrial]] scale.
* InfantImmortality: Notably averted: While children are a rarity in Lovecraft's fiction, chapter three of ''Herbert West--Reanimator'' mentions a missing child who is strongly suggested to have been eaten by West's latest zombie creation. In "The Dreams in the Witch House", the protagonist Gilman fails in his attempt to save a kidnapped child from the witch and her familiar.
* InspiredBy: The house from "The Shunned House" [[http://www.bing.com/maps/default.aspx?v=2&cp=41.829694~-71.408472&style=o&lvl=15&sp=Point.41.829694_-71.408472_Shunned%20house___ actually exists]], as did Jacques Roulet, the psychotic French 'lycanthrope' from the short story. Of course, the two never really had anything to do with each other, and H.P. Lovecraft only chose to write about the house because it was pretty creepy looking.
* InterspeciesRomance: "Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth" and "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family", without the romance but all the {{Squick}}.
* InTheBlood: Many of Lovecraft's protagonists are doomed to commit their ancestors' crimes and suffer from their insanity.
* ItsTheOnlyWayToBeSure: In a surprisingly large number of stories (''The Picture in the House'', ''The Lurking Fear'', ''The Shadow Over Innsmouth'' and ''The Rats in the Walls'' among them) Lovecraft's solution to the inconceivable threat of the dark power of the abyssal gods is to just blow it up.
* {{Irony}}: As stated above, he had anti-semetic views earlier in his life, yet he married a Jewish woman.
* JerkAssGods: Nyarlathotep is a dick. See the ending of ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath''. The other Lovecraftian deities aren't really jerks as they don't even notice our existence.
* KickTheDog: At one point, the DastardlyWhiplash villain of "Sweet Ermengarde" kicks an "unquestionably innocent" cat.
* KindheartedCatLover: Randolph Carter is described in ''The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath'' as loving small black kittens more than anything in the world. This works to his advantage when he gets kidnapped by aliens.
* LampshadeHanging:
%%**"Literature/TheDunwichHorror" and "The Rats in the Walls" [[PlayingWithATrope approach this trope]].
** "The Thing on the Doorstep" definitely uses it. The narration points out that though the hero is celibate, book-wormish, obsessed with late hours and forbidden topics, he has as yet not seen any abomination capable of destroying his sanity.
** "[[http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/theunnamable.htm The Unnamable]]" is kind of a spoof of Lovecraft's own tendency towards making his monsters indescribable, incomprehensible, or, indeed, unnameable.
%%** "Sweet Ermengarde" is a boatload of lampshades being thrown around like frisbees.
** "[[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Reminiscence_of_Dr._Samuel_Johnson A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson]]" is basically a long exercise in Lovecraft poking fun at himself for his tendency at PurpleProse and SesquipedalianLoquaciousness.
* LongTitle: "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family". To Lovecraft's distaste, it was retitled "The White Ape" when it was first published. Simply shortened to "Arthur Jermyn" in the Del Rey anthology.
* LovecraftCountry: Kinda goes without saying...right?
* MadGod: Azathoth, who also happens to be the TopGod in the Mythos. Which fits perfectly with Lovecraft's idea of an uncaring and indifferent universe where mankind is utterly insignificant.
* MadScientist: Herbert West is the most notable, but there are others--usually in the guise of Mad ''Magicians'', or Mad Scholars, though.
* MagicFromTechnology: Or, rather, Sufficiently Advanced Science, in "The Dreams in the Witch-House"
* MarsNeedsWomen: And usually men, too. A couple of his monsters - most notably, Yog-Sothoth and the Deep Ones - want to breed with humanity.
* MysteriousAntarctica: Visited in ''Literature/AtTheMountainsOfMadness''.
%%* MindRape
* MonsterShapedMountain: The carved face on Ngranek from ''Dream-Quest''.
%%* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast
* NoHuggingNoKissing: His stories didn't feature any romantic subplot (nor, most of the time, female characters).
* NothingIsScarier: Lovecraft was of the opinion that "the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." "The Music of Erich Zann" is perhaps his best example; the horror of that story lies not in any kind of monster, but a vague sense of something horrible and unknowable lurking outside the window.
%%* NotOfThisEarth
%%* NotSoDifferent: One of the [[StarfishAliens non-humanoid]] alien species, in a strange way.
* OneGenderRace / NoBiologicalSex: Alien species are unisex without exception. The Deep Ones, being earthly in origin, don't count.
* OrganicTechnology: Used by the Old Ones to generate energy and breed shoggoths for construction purposes. They even use [[NoKillLikeOverkill nuclear weapons]] in an attempt to destroy Cthulhu. [[MadeOfIron It doesn't]] [[MightyGlacier work]].
* OurGhoulsAreDifferent: Lovecraft popularized his own version of ghouls as a secretive living species, rather than undead or demons.
* OurMonstersAreWeird: Most of his aliens who aren't just plain [[EldritchAbomination Eldritch Abominations]] fall under this trope.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent:
** The vampire from "The Shunned House" manifests itself as a cloud of yellowish, man-eating fog.
** The necromancers from ''Literature/TheCaseOfCharlesDexterWard'' also have to practice vampirism for some months after they've been reanimated in order to become fully alive again. [[ShoutOut One of them lives in an old castle in Transylvania]].
** And the Whateleys' herd of cows keep getting these weird incisions, and they look kind of anemic.
* PerfectPacifistPeople: Made fun of in the poem, [[http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/poetry/p095.asp "Pacifist War Song]].
%%* PerpetualMotionMonster
* PetTheDog: The Yithians may be [[GrandTheftMe body-snatching]] StarfishAliens, but that doesn't stop them giving their victims balloon rides.
* PosthumousNarration: "The Picture in the House" ends with the narrator discussing how the house was struck by lightning, killing him and the old man.
* PunyEarthlings: Humanity are completely outclassed by every alien race in the Mythos. This trope was kind of the point of most of Lovecraft's writing, really.
* PuppeteerParasite: Yithians.
* PurpleProse: In this case it's purple in the sense that an oozing infected bruise is purple. Fans enjoy it as part of the appeal.
* RagnarokProofing: Ruins of both [[AncientAstronauts the unbelievably old]] Elder Thing and Yithian civilizations -- even books for the latter! -- have been found remarkably intact.
* RealitySubtext: Many of the stories have hidden dimensions if you know something about the author's life, but most disturbingly in "Literature/TheDunwichHorror".
* RedemptionEqualsDeath: Or possibly, Redemption ''Requires'' Death - although it's ambiguous. In "The Horror at Red Hook", the corpse of Robert Suydam reanimates itself somehow and pushes a golden pillar into the ocean, severely disrupting a cult/smuggling ring's operations.
* ReligiousHorror: Many of Lovecraft's more Mythos-focused works fall into this, by a weird mixture of GodIsEvil and "Atheistic Horror" -- that is, the presentation of the universe as being devoid of any higher power and humans as being no more special than any other lowly beast. Yes, the latter isn't so scary nowadays, but people were a lot more religious in Lovecraft's time -- it was a truly terrifying thought in those days, that humans did ''not'' have The Almighty championing them and giving them dominion over the Earth.
* SceneryPorn:
** Most of Lovecraft's stories abound with lavish descriptions of setting. [[Literature/AtTheMountainsOfMadness The frozen wastes of the Antarctic]], [[Literature/TheDunwichHorror the unnatural-looking hills and forests of Dunwich]], [[Literature/TheShadowOverInnsmouth decaying Gothic architecture]], [[Literature/TheColourOutOfSpace deep dark woods]], and more receive excruciating attention to detail.
** One of his longer works, ''Literature/TheCaseOfCharlesDexterWard'' revels in SceneryPorn of Providence, Lovecraft's hometown (his love of which was previously mentioned).
* ScienceCannotComprehendPhlebotinum: The mysterious meteorite in Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space" is an example of this.
* ScienceMarchesOn: At the time Lovecraft was writing based on the latest science of the day, and strove for accuracy. Nevertheless, scientific progress has since overtaken him:
** Lovecraft identified the Semitic god Dagon with his Deep Ones, based on a then-widely-accepted etymological link to the Hebrew word for "fish". Modern anthropologists consider this a coincidence, and the historical Dagon is now believed to have been a god of agriculture.
** The stories "The Colour Out of Space" and ''Literature/AtTheMountainsOfMadness'' are also heavily affected by eighty years or so of progress since they focus on scientific investigations of strange phenomena. Most notably the fact that there are no AlienGeometry mountains or giant, albino penguins in Antarctica - darn it.
** Whenever referring to human evolution, one of the first hominids to be mentioned is Piltdown man, which, of course, turned out to be a hoax.
** On the other hand, progress has sometimes backed Lovecraft up on matters that were mere speculation in his day: For example he supported and included the Continental Drift Theory in his stories, which is of course widely accepted nowadays but was then rejected by most scientists. Also, he wrote about a ninth planet in our solar system mere months before Pluto was discovered.
* SealedEvilInACan: Cthulhu, among others. Often self-sealed.
* ShoutOut:
** Clark Ashton Smith, [[http://www.dagonbytes.com/thelibrary/lovecraft/imprisonedwithpharaos.htm Harry Houdini]] and some of Lovecraft's other friends became characters in his stories.
** Robert Blake in "The Haunter of the Dark" is modeled on Lovecraft's young admirer Creator/RobertBloch. There's also a character named Howard who is a recluse in Providence ends up dying in one of Bloch's stories. "The Haunter of the Dark" even references that story. Both stories also begin with dedications to the other author, and involve the other dying horribly.
** A few of Lovecraft's stories refer to the works of Creator/ArthurMachen, both directly (the librarian in "Literature/TheDunwichHorror" mentions "Literature/TheGreatGodPan" by name) and indirectly (look for "Voorish signs," among other incongruous phrases).
** "The Shadow Out of Time" mentions Crom-Ya, a barbarian chief who lived around 15,000 B.C. This is a homage to Literature/ConanTheBarbarian, Robert E. Howard's most famous character.
** Creator/EdgarAllanPoe was a major influence, and references to his stories can be found throughout Lovecraft's work. "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" borrows several terms and phrases ("imp of the perverse," "conqueror worm," etc.) directly from Poe, and "The Call of Cthulhu" features a Scandinavian sailor whose hair turns white after a terrifying incident at sea, much like the protagonist in "A Descent into the Maelström.” There are also significant parallels between ''Literature/AtTheMountainsOfMadness'' and Poe’s only novel, ''Literature/TheNarrativeOfArthurGordonPymOfNantucket''.
* SophisticatedAsHell: On Margaret Brundage's cover illustrations for ''Weird Tales'', which often contained a fair amount of [[{{Fanservice}} cheesecake]]:
-->"The human figure is as worthy a type of subject-matter as any other object of beauty in the visible world. But I don't see what the hell Mrs. Brundage's undressed ladies have to do with weird fiction."
* SpellMyNameWithABlank: In "The Alchemist", written in Lovecraft's late teens, the narrator's last name is blanked out; he only refers to himself as "Antoine de C-".
* StealthParody: ''Reanimator'' was a work of commissioned ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}}'' ripoff that Lovecraft was doing for the cash. By the last few chapters, it's increasingly apparent that Lovecraft was just going "Fuck it" and purposefully making it as absurd as possible.
* StarfishAliens: The Elder Things, the Mi-Go, the Great Race of Yith, and many others.
%%* SufficientlyAdvancedAlien
* SurprisinglySuddenDeath: Pretty much anytime Cthulhu shows up. Most notably in "The Call of Cthulhu" when the sailors stumble upon the non-Euclidean structure in the sea. One of them climbs on and prods it for a bit; a tentacle reaches out, grabs him, and devours him. The rest soon follow and only two sailors survive, one of whom goes batshit insane from looking at Cthulhu. A boat injuring Cthulhu proves enough of an inconvenience to [[SealedEvilInACan stuff him back in the can]], averting the end of days.
* TakeThat: New York. Lovecraft ''hated'' New York and made it apparent. If you want to know what he thought of New York, read "He".
* TheTamingOfTheGrue: You can buy Cthulhu plush toys, and there's a meme with a Cthulhu carrying a bouquet of roses captioned "Cthulhu needs love too!" The video [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOHJUrcVdJk Adventures of Li'l Cthulhu]], the games "The Stars Are Right", "Munchkin Cthulhu", etc. [[PlayedForLaughs plays being driven insane by the touch of the Elder Things]] [[DudeNotFunny for laughs.]]
* TimeAbyss: There is a city in Antarctica, continually inhabited since the world was young.
* TimeTravel: Employed by both the Great Race of Yith and the eponymous witch in the "The Dreams in the Witch-House."
* ToCreateAPlaygroundForEvil: The cult in "The Call of Cthulhu" seems to have aspects of this:
-->Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.
* TopGod: Azathoth.
* TomatoInTheMirror: Almost literally in ''The Shadow Over Innsmouth'', when the narrator discovers he has acquired "the Innsmouth look".
* TomeOfEldritchLore: The Necronomicon, trope popularizer.
* {{Troll}}: When he found a student mistaking the abbreviation "ibid." for the name of some famous ancient Roman Lovecraft found this so funny that he went and wrote a whole story about Ibid just to mock the student.
* TurnedAgainstTheirMasters:
** The shoggoths in ''At the Mountains of Madness'', and the reanimated corpses (if the men that created them could be called "masters") in ''Herbert West - Reanimator''.
** Joseph Curwen was killed [[spoiler:for the first time, at least,]] when he lost control of his "guardians".
* UncannyValley: Used extensively InUniverse. If the antagonists are "human", expect the narrator to describe them as "strange" and make reference to "peculiar alterations".
* TheUnpronounceable: Lovecraft loves names that are nigh-unpronounceable due to the fact that they were not intended for humans to speak. His most popular name is Cthulhu. Lovecraft transcribed it as either "Khlûl'hloo" or "Kathooloo"; fans often use "Kuh-THOOL-hoo". Then again, even the pronunciations described by Lovecraft were said to be the closest approximation of the true name human vocal ability could produce. So, in essence, any human saying it can never pronounce it right.
* UnreliableNarrator: A lot of the first-person narration in his stories either become more maddened as it progresses, or has the narrator repeatedly questioning [[AlwaysMale his]] own sanity and memories.
* WeAreAsMayflies:
** The [[EldritchAbomination Eldritch Abominations]] are apparently ageless and outside of time.
** "The Dreams in the Witch-House" even featured a human who had learned how to travel to spaces beyond time, and remained unageing, save for the brief visits she made back to Earth once a year.
%%* WasOnceAMan:
%%** The title monster from "The Beast of the Cave".
%%** The Martense family in "The Lurking Fear", so inbred and degenerate now that one might not realize they were ever human.
* WeirdnessCensor:
** A staple of most Lovecraft stories; the narrators almost always attribute the strange events that happen to them and others they correspond with as explainable by their overactive imaginations and dreams, right until the end of the stories where they are confronted by the undeniable hideous truth and often GoMadFromTheRevelation.
** A prime example of this is "The Nameless City" wherein the narrator attributes the wall-art showing the lizard/seal things to be symbolic of early humans and/or the gods they worshiped. Even after seeing wall-art of the lizards killing a human, it takes a while for the point to sink in.
** [[EldritchAbomination Eldritch Abominations]] and other space aliens can usually appear to anyone they choose, but this trope is the basis for ''Film/FromBeyond''.
* WretchedHive: New York City is presented like this in "The Horror of Red Hook" and "He", mainly because of all the [[UnfortunateImplications immigration]].
* YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm: In many of Lovecraft's descriptions of an EldritchAbomination, he relies on the imagination of the viewer to generate horror, keeping descriptions as [[TakeOurWordForIt sparse as possible]].
* ZombieApocalypse: In ''Reanimator'', they're close to Romero zombies, right down to the spine being the weak point, akin to regular zombies having the head as the weak point. Notable because it was published decades before Romero became famous, as a ''Frankenstein'' parody.
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