[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The_Maze_Runner_cover_8561.png]]
When Thomas wakes up, all he knows is his name and the fact that he can't see a thing. When he's released, things only get stranger. Thomas finds himself in the Glade, a walled-in sanctuary in a giant maze that [[MobileMaze rearranges itself every night]]. Outside are walls without exits, a cliff jump to nowhere, and disgusting creatures called grievers. Inside, there is only a population of boys who remember only their names, who have struggled every day for two years to find a way out.

The next day, a girl named Theresa arrives in the Glade for the first time. Who is she? Why is she there? Why does Thomas feel so drawn to her? And more importantly, will any of them ever escape?

The Maze Runner was written by James Dashner, followed by a sequel, ''The Scorch Trials'', involving the aftermath of the first book and the introduction of new friends and enemies. The final book, ''The Death Cure'', was released in October 2011, introducing the context and ramifications of the previous books and concluding the story. A prequel to the trilogy has been released as of August 14, 2012 called The Kill Order.

A FilmOfTheBook, starring [[Series/TeenWolf Dylan O'Brien]], [[GameOfThrones Thomas]] [[DoctorWho Brodie-Sangster]], [[{{Skins}} Kaya]] [[Film/{{Moon}} Scodelario]], [[Film/SonOfRambow Will Poulter]] and PatriciaClarkson has been announced with a release date of September 19, 2014.
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!!Provides Examples Of:
* ActionGirl: Pretty much every major female character.
* AfterTheEnd
* ApocalypseHow: The series turns out to be set after a Class 2 one of these: [[spoiler:A combination of Solar Flares and a virus, collectively known as the Flare, has wiped out civilization outside a few tiny bases, leaving the world a barely-habitable wasteland roamed by [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Cranks]], with some parts having been scoured of all life.]]
* ArcWords: ''WICKED is good.''
* BigBad: [[DragonInChief Assistant Director Janson]], better known as "the Rat-Man", is the primary antagonist of the series.
* BiggerBad: Chancellor Paige, the head of all the mess that is WICKED. [[spoiler: Eventually, though, the cruelty of that position gets to her and she decides to cut their losses and stop torturing people for a cure that might never come.]]
* BigDamnHeroes: [[spoiler:Minho, along with the other Gladers and Jorge, in ''The Scorch Trials''.]]
* BigGood: [[spoiler: Chancellor Paige again, in the final half of the third book, where she decides to preserve humanity instead of saving it, since the process of saving it was just resulting in tortured and killed children.]]
* BittersweetEnding: And ''how''. [[spoiler: By the end of ''The Death Cure'', Newt and Teresa are dead, there's no cure for the Flare and the Immune will inherit the Earth. Thomas, Minho, Brenda, Jorge and the 200 Immunes begin rebuilding civilization in a safe place far from the Scorch.]]
* BodyHorror: The Changing. Dear God, ''The Changing''. [[note]]To elaborate, it's a side effect of the [Anti-Griever] Serum that makes your veins green and pop out. The good news is that the sheer pain of the process knocks you out.[[/note]]
* BungledSuicide: [[spoiler:If you ever wonder how Newt got that limp...]]
* CardCarryingVillain: WICKED just does not give a shit if lots of children die painfully. The cure is [[WellIntentionedExtremist more important]].
* TheCavalry: [[spoiler: Chancellor Paige]] is this [[spoiler: at the end of ''The Death Cure''. [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure She finally sees that WICKED has gone too far]] and implements [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere her plan]] to get the rest of the Immunes away to safety so that the human race can survive, which she begins by rescuing Thomas from an imminent cranioectomy. Notably, Paige herself [[TheGhost never appears in person in the series.]]]]
* CentralTheme: Running. [[spoiler: The protagonists don't get to stop until the end of the third book.]]
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: Jorge was introduced as a brute willing to commit murder for minor insults, and savagely beating one of the protagonists. [[spoiler: This turns out to almost totally be an act]] and he's later a generally inoffensive pilot and a sort of doting uncle to Brenda.
* ClosedCircle: ''The Maze Runner'' features a place called The Glade. A bunch of teenagers are trapped in it with no memory of their lives before they woke up there. The doors open at dawn and close at dusk, but only lead to a giant maze with no exit. Better yet, the maze changes every night while the doors are closed. Oh, and if you're in the maze at night, giant metal monsters attack you.
** The sequel, ''The Scorch Trials'', starts with yet another closed circle.
* CrapsackWorld: This is an understatement. The world is crawling with those infected with the Flare and even those not infected have proven themselves to be just as nasty. Nearly everybody is willing to kill the protagonists (and everybody else) and there's nearly nothing in the way of plant life either.
* DiedInYourArmsTonight: [[spoiler:Chuck dies in Thomas' arms.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: Minho.
** While not as immediately noticable, Newt also goes into SarcasmMode plenty of times.
** And Thomas picks it up from them.
* DoubleStandard: InUniverse. Group B, made up of a group of girls who had they're own maze journey, are quick to flaunt the fact that they rescued more people and killed more Grievers than the stupid ugly boys. The fact of the matter is that they were given much better equipment to do it with, not to mention actual supplies for the Scorch Trials.
** Teresa's manner makes it obvious that she considers herself smarter than most of the men around her, by default. Although in her case, that's very much in-character.
* DwindlingParty: Near the end of the first book the Grievers settle on a pattern of taking someone every day. The second book continues the trend with more diverse death-dealing implements.
* EldritchAbomination: The Grievers are small versions. Half mechanical, half organic killing machines. All mysteriously and frighteningly lethal. They represent the reality-bending phenomena surrounding the maze; their patterns are unknowable and their presence constant. Meeting one ''will'' result in the danger of painful death.
* TheEndingChangesEverything: Ava Paige's epilogue in the Death Cure shows that [[spoiler: she is still devoted to WICKED's cause, even after having turned on most of them. She altered WICKED's mission objectives in a way that put her on the protagonists' side, though, and she was genuinely sorry for some of the things she did. The same epilogue also implies that Brenda and Jorge were following her orders to the end.]]
* FightingFromTheInside: Gally in the first book fights hard. [[spoiler:Newt]] in the third after he [[spoiler:gets the Flare,]] but with mixed results.
* FiveManBand: Once all the chaff of secondary characters, traitors, victims, and tagalongs were harshly weeded out, an unlikely but stable group formed. When all together:
** TheHero: Thomas
** TheBigGuy: Minho
** TheSmartGuy: Brenda
** TheChick: Jorge
** However, since they get separated often, everyone gets a chance to play the role of TheLancer.
* FourTemperamentEnsemble:
** Thomas: [[color:black: Melancholic]]
** Minho: [[color:gold: Choleric]]
** Brenda: [[color:red: Sanguine]]
** Jorge: [[color:green: Phlegmatic]]
* FunWithAcronyms: WICKED, [[spoiler: World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department. Where Killzone is a malapropism for the mind-brain construct.]]
* FutureSlang: The series is riddled with this. "Shanks," "Slinthead," "Greenie," and "Slim it" being prominent examples.
* GeniusBruiser: Most notably the Runners, who are quick thinking cartographers who make-maps while running marathons and have to stand a fighting chance against [[{{EldritchAbomination}} The Grievers]]. At a point before the main story, Thomas himself counted; he was a child prodigy [[spoiler: Leading WICKED]] and extraordinarily fit and during the series proves to be a decent fighter.
* GenreSavvy: Thomas and Minho, after the first book and a half or so. They start calling most of the stuff they're going to be put through and eventually manage to throw the omniscient WICKED for a loop by anticipating their tactics.
* {{Gorn}}: The series features a ''lot'' of gruesome deaths.
* TheHeart: Newt. [[spoiler:Although the WICKED operators call him "The Glue"...]]
* HeelFaceTurn: One of the more extraordinary examples in which [[spoiler: the BigBad becomes the BigGood.]] She was apparently on the fence, though.
* HeroicResolve: When freaked out and frantic, Thomas tends to will himself to overpower enemies or break out of holds.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Teresa]] dies saving [[spoiler: Thomas from falling rocks as they try to escape WICKED for the last time.]]
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Possibly Newt and Alby. [[spoiler: Well, before Alby died, anyway.]]
* IAmWho: Thomas and Theresa actually [[spoiler:helped design the maze that they're trapped in]].
* ICannotSelfTerminate: [[spoiler:Newt asks Thomas to kill him after he gets the Flare.]]
* TheImmune: Turns out [[spoiler:most of the Gladers]] and [[spoiler:Brenda and Jorge, along with a very small percentage of the world's population called [[{{ExactlyWhatItSaysontheTin}} "Immunes"]]]] are this. [[spoiler: Well, most of the Gladers except for Newt.]] In fact, being this is why [[spoiler:most of the Gladers were picked by WICKED in the first place, because they wanted to research their brains to find a cure.]]
* InformedAbility: The Gladers are picked for their intelligence from their childhood, though few of them actually show any real genius other then setting up a system of order in the Glade. The best real example is sort of roundabout, but Minho and Thomas coordinate battle tactics and formations on the fly during firefights despite never having used guns before. Otherwise, they're of average outlook and just above-average intelligence.
* InstantDeathBullet: How [[spoiler:Thomas kills Newt.]]
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: Sometimes in the second book. [[spoiler: Jorge and Brenda's early characterization is more or less jettisoned with the explanation that WICKED forced them to play certain parts to test the protagonists.]]
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Every Glader has had all his memories of his life before the Glade erased.
* LoveTriangle: One appears in the second book.
* MeetCute: Thomas, meet Theresa.
* MobileMaze: All the main characters are trapped in a small, protected area called the Glade, which is inside a giant maze that rearranges itself every night.
* NamedAfterSomebodyFamous / ShoutOutThemeNaming: The Gladers' names are [[spoiler: not their real names, but names based on scientists and inventors and such that were planted in their memories.]]
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast:
** W. I. C. K. E. D. It doesn't stand for anything good, either: [[spoiler: "World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department."]]
** The Right Arm. It's a rebel organization devoted to fighting WICKED.
* NoOneGetsLeftBehind: Why [[spoiler:Thomas]] doesn't want to [[spoiler:kill Newt after he gets the Flare.]]
* OhCrap: Several moments; the best example is when [[spoiler: the wall that protects the Gladers from Grievers doesn't close one night, leaving them easy prey.]] Another good example is in the final book [[spoiler:when Thomas realizes that the [[{{WellIntentionedExtremist}} Right Arm]] is going to explode WICKED. While he, his friends, and the rest of the Immunes [[{{OutruntheFireball}} are still inside it.]]]]
* TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: [[spoiler: WICKED used to have one, but they all elected to commit suicide before they succumbed to the Flare, leaving Chancellor Paige, Thomas, and Theresa more or less in charge. The various scientists working the project act as one.]]
* OntologicalMystery: ''The Maze Runner'' has the main protagonists trapped in a [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin maze]]. The sequel, ''The Scorch Trials'', is about them trapped in the deserts of a future Earth.
* ThePlague: The disease known as the Flare. [[spoiler: It was a population control virus used so that certain governments would have less overflow to deal with in the aftermath of the super-solar flare strike on the Earth. [[DidntSeeThatComing Unfortunately, it targeted everyone.]]]]
* PlagueZombie: The people with the Flare virus in ''The Scorch Trials''.
* PopulationControl: It's revealed in the epilogue that [[spoiler:the disease known as the Flare was initially supposed to be this, but it [[{{GoneHorriblyWrong}} got out of control.]]]]
* ProperlyParanoid: Thomas and Minho are totally justified in being this, and it has saved their lives on a few occasions.
* PsychicLink: Between Thomas and Teresa, and later Aris. [[spoiler:Brenda, momentarily, who hacked into the hotline to tell Thomas things are gonna get worse.]]
* RealityWarper: What the WICKED organization can essentially do; the extravagant resources they've been granted resulted in skyrocketing technology levels and [[AwesomenessByAnalysis analytical capabilities]] to predict the outcomes of even ''ridiculously'' chaotic events.
* TheReveal: There are a series of reveals throughout the books that, when strung together, give a coherent version of the backstory. [[spoiler: Sometime in the past, a solar flare intense enough to make it through our atmosphere caught the earth, frying it between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. The resulting rampant destitution made relief attempts almost impossible, so to lessen the burden some genius came up with the [[SarcasmMode incredibly smart plan]] to release a [[DepopulationBomb population control disease]] so there would be less people to deal with. The virus, soon to be known as the Flare, mutated into a HatePlague that almost the entire Earthís population caught. In order to combat it, the world's governments formed WICKED, tasked with finding a cure. WICKEDís approach was to brain-map the immune and try to transfer that immunity to the public. Unfortunately, the brain-mapping required would be ridiculously detailed and ultimately impossible. The first two novels in their entirety were stress tests used to remotely map the protagonistís brain patterns. The Maze, the grievers, and the Scorch were all governed by WICKEDís [[SufficientlyAdvancedTechnology ridiculously advanced structural- and bio-engineering]].]]
* SacrificialLamb: [[spoiler:Chuck makes it only to the end of the first book, and serves no purpose but to befriend Thomas and then die.]]
* SacrificialLion: [[spoiler:Newt in ''The Death Cure'']]
* SpannerInTheWorks: Thomas and Minho ''finally'' get in on some Spanner action [[spoiler: at the beginning of the third book. Everything previous to that was planned by WICKED and there was no point at which they were not under WICKED's control.]]
* StrappedToAnOperatingTable: [[spoiler:Thomas in ''The Death Cure'' when [[{{FunWithAcronyms}} WICKED]] is trying to [[{{Squick}} operate on his brain.]]]]
* TeenGenius: Sounds like most of the kids were something of one, but Thomas and Teresa take the prize. Most of them are not seen in action, though, making their genius something of an InformedAbility.
* TechnicallyLivingZombie: The Cranks.
* UnnecessaryCombatRoll: Jorge pulls off one in his introduction.
* UnusualEuphemism: The Gladers have several of these. "Klunk" means "feces," "shank" means "guy," and "shuck" is just an all-purpose euphemism.
* TheVirus: The Flare.
* ViralTransformation: Happens to victims of the Flare, including [[spoiler:Newt]].
* WelcomeEpisode: The first several chapters of ''The Maze Runner'' start with Thomas having amnesia and being unkindly welcome by the surviving group in the maze.
* WhamEpisode: Around Chapter 17, when [[spoiler:Thomas jumps into the Maze with Alby and Minho. Alby has been stung by a Griever, and the doors to the Glade shut behind them, trapping the three boys for the night. The previous chapters weren't exactly pretty, but things get BAD at this point.]]
* WhatTheHellHero: At one point in the story, [[spoiler: Teresa psychologically and physically tortures Thomas to a severe extent, because WICKED had requested her to do so, and she believed it was for the best.]] when Thomas recovers from the ordeal, he is understandably angry at Teresa, especially since she didn't try to find another way to go about things, as Thomas and his friends had on many occasions. Teresa believes ''she has nothing to apologize for'' and has the nerve to get ''angry at Thomas'' because he resents the way she treated him. Teresa acts like nothing happened and tries to continue their budding young romance, even kissing Thomas to shut him up. Thomas completely calls her out on her behavior [[spoiler: and is completely turned off to her for the rest of the series.]]
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And remember,
''WICKED is good.''