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* AntiClimaxBoss: All major antagonists are this, one way or another. None of them provide a serious challenge to Carter in a straight up fight ([[NonProtagonistResolver that is when they are not being disposed by someone else]]), given they are mostly schemers, way past their former glory or just can't keep up with a InvincibleHero. The closest thing to provide a serious battle to Carter was an Yellow Martian old man, and there was no one there to witness their duel.
* CompleteMonster: The majority of the villains in the Barsoom series are implacably evil as they are rulers or despots of major empires, but some do stand out.
** [[GodGuise Issus]] from ''Gods of Mars'' is venerated as a living goddess throughout on Mars, but she is nothing more than a [[EvilOldFolks First Born hag]] behind a complex, multi-layered cult that perpetrated slaughter, rape and cannibalism. Her followers promote her worship, luring people towards Valley Dor in search of paradise, only to be devoured by the beasts that lurked there or by her worshipers ''and this has been happening for thousands of years''. Issus savagely mistreats her female slaves and none of them lasts more than an year, because [[HumanSacrifice they are sacrificed in her honor yearly]]. Her own people aren't even exempt from her cruelty, as the men are brainwashed to fight and die for her as privileged duty and its implied that female Black Martians are killed off to make room for the next generation and she is the only female that had lived indefinitely for centuries. After [[TheHero John Carter]] defies her will and exposes her fraud, [[IHaveYourWife she has his wife]] (as well as two other innocent women) [[AFateWorseThanDeath thrown inside a dungeon with no way out for an entire year, where they are expected to die of starvation.]] All that just to spite him and hurt him, as she knew the other women in question were also infatuated with Carter. Issus eventually met [[KarmicDeath an satisfying end]] when [[HoistByHisOwnPetard the Black Martians savagely tore her apart in anger for manipulating them.]]
* EnsembleDarkhorse: [[MsFanservice Dejah Thoris]], despite her decreased focus in succeeding books, is one of the most recognizable characters in the Barsoom series. She has been heavily depicted in John Carter's fan arts, popular pin-up subject among artists like FrankFrazetta and is given expanded roles in Dynamite Entertainment's comic adaptation, even starring her own regular series and original miniseries as ''Dejah of Mars'' and ''Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars''.
* EvilIsSexy: Phaidor. [[DaddysLittleVillain A Thern princess]] [[DiamondsIntheBuff wearing nothing more than jewelry]]. Many illustrators depict her just like [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe Dejah Thoris]] with [[BlondesAreEvil blonde hair]] [[LightIsNotGood and white skin]], but with a [[AGodAmI god complex]] and [[ImAHumanitarian taste for cannibalism.]] Even the hero notes she is very beautiful, despite turning down her advances.
* FairForItsDay:
** The novels are surprisingly progressive for their time. In particular, the Barsoomian races aren't portrayed as weaker or pathetic compared with each other and the white human protagonist. Far from it in fact, as the black Martians are invariably described as honorable and very attractive, despite most of them being sky pirates. What's more, Red Martians are the result of interbreeding every race together for survival and adaptability, and are typically thought of as the most sympathetic.
** The cannibalistic White Martians are even nastier than the Black Martians. Clearly inferior morally to the Red Martians, intellectually to the Black Martians and technologically to the Yellow Martians, the White Martians are easily the most unpleasant of the Barsoomian races. Those hybrid Red Martians (and many of the "monstrous" Green Martians) are good guys and clearly very intelligent, adapting very quickly once not oppressed by the others. [[spoiler:The original trilogy even ends with John Carter becoming the eponymous warlord and uniting all the varying races of Barsoom as equals -- and this is clearly shown to be a ''good thing.'']] The portrayal of women has been compared favorably in some respects to even some modern works.
** It is also stated that the cross-breeding that resulted in the Red Martians was intentional. An attempt to breed a race that could adapt better to the changing environment.
** In the first book at least, John Carter is disgusted at the Green Barsoomians for their warlike ways and violent tendencies, but it is taken for granted that [[BrokenAesop his killing of dozens of generally innocent people is perfectly justifiable]] because he is doing it to rescue his OneTrueLove. The closest he comes to acknowledging that maybe murder isn't the best way to solve all his problems is when he reflects that the guards were {{Worthy Opponent}}s and fighting men like him. An AlternateCharacterInterpretation might be that since the story is told in the first person, the reason John is portrayed as chaotic good despite his somewhat chaotic neutral method of interacting with obstacles is because he's actually a narcissistic sociopath who doesn't see anything wrong with sacrificing other people's lives if they get in the way of his personal happiness and that of those he cares about.
** John is a ''former confederate soldier''. [[note]]At the time, the Confederacy was often seen as the more romantic side of the Civil War; as attitudes shifted, particularly about race, they became seen as a much more villainous side. Where once a Confederate hero might be expected, to modern readers it carries a whole bucket of UnfortunateImplications. TheFilmOfTheBook largely gets around the UnfortunateImplications by making it plain Carter was extremely disillusioned by the Civil War and felt little loyalty towards the Confederate cause[[/note]]
** This is actually lampshaded in ''The Gods of Mars'' when Carter meets Black Martians for the first time; the narration says he finds them admirable fighters and that their skin tone only makes them more handsome, adding that the reader may find this odd for a Virginian to say.
* FanonDiscontinuity: ''John Carter and the Giant of Mars'' tends to fall victim to this. One notable example: in the book "A Guide to Barsoom" writer John Flint Roy clearly states he does not consider this story to be a true Barsoom story, and thus didn't include any information about this story and the characters apearing in it in his guide.
* HarsherInHindsight: Two decades before the Nazis rose to power, this series was giving us white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed people who considered themselves superior to all others.
* LesYay: In ''Gods of Mars'' and ''Warlord of Mars'', there are suggestions of this between Dejah Thoris of Helium and Thuvia of Ptarth, who are imprisoned together with the villanous Phaidor in the Temple of the Sun. When Dejah Thoris is reunited with her beloved John Carter at the end of Warlord, she recounts how Thuvia's "tender love" kept her sane through the months of their imprisonment.
** John Carter admires Xodar and calls him handsome an beautiful at certain points.
** This runs in the family, as Tara of Helium and her [[HappinessInSlavery devoted slave girl]] ''kiss'' in one scene - after the two get into [[SlapSlapKiss a passionate argument]] about Tara's safety that includes them declaring their love for each other. While a certain amount of ValuesDissonance applies to the interpretation, ''damn''.
* NewerThanTheyThink:
** John Carter was preceded by an obscure book titled ''Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation'', which was about an Earthman transported to Mars through mystical means, fights aliens with his superhuman strength and falls in love with an alien princess. The book was published a decade before Burroughs wrote ''A Princess of Mars''. Interestingly, both works crossed over in comic book format in Dynamite's ''Warriors of Mars''.
** Its not hard to imagine the First Born as [[ForgottenRealms drow]], with them being a very attractive dark-skinned, long-lived race that lives underground, regularly enslaves outsiders and worship an evil, female deity. The obvious difference is that the First Born [[HeelFaceTurn turn on a new leaf and redeem their evil ways.]]
** Green Martians were [[OurOrcsAreDifferent orcs]] before [[LordOfTheRings it was cool.]]
** [[ANaziByAnyOtherName The White Martians]] resemble the Nazis as supremacists with Aryan features such as blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes, yet they predated the Nazis rise of power by decades.
* NightmareFuel: Plenty of it.
** Valley Dor. At first, it appears to be the closest thing to a paradise on Mars as lush and fertile land in contrast to the arid wastelands in the planet. The valley is also inhabited by [[KillerSpaceMonkey white apes]] and [[BigCreepyCrawlies plant men]], some of the most fierce predators in Barsoom. If you managed to survive them, you will be enslaved to the White Martians if not devoured by them. While horrific, its said those that die are the lucky ones. Thuvia, Princess of Ptarth, was their [[SexSlave slave]] for 15 years.
** ''Gods of Mars'' ending has [[ForcedToWatch Carter witnessing Dejah being trapped inside a Temple]] with no way out for an entire year without enough food to survive. That on itself is bad enough but the last thing he sees before the door closed permanently was [[WomanScorned a very jealous Phaidor]] [[MurderTheHypotenuse pulling a knife and trying to kill her]].
** The Carrion Caves in ''Warlord of Mars''. A putrid graveyard riddled with the corpses of Green men and [[SuperPersistentPredator apts]], its deemed a cursed place by the Barsoomians and no one dares cross it. Its how the Yellow Martians have kept themselves hidden for so long, since that is the only possible entrance to their domain on foot, while their advanced technology keeps any flying ships of getting too close.
** The First Born have been this to the Holy Therns for centuries, using them as playthings, frequently assaulting their kingdom and abducting their women for an unknown purpose, none of which are never seen again. Because they never capture any males, the [[IHaveYouNowMyPretty implication]] is considered a AFateWorseThanDeath by the Therns, who are forced to leave these women to their fate, since they do not dare strike back or rescue them out of fear of retribution. The female Therns selected to service Issus live for one year and [[HumanSacrifice then are sacrificed in her honor]].
* OlderThanTheyThink: Some fans of [[Film/{{Avatar}} a little James Cameron film]] saw the trailer for the Disney adaptation and declared it a rip-off. Unknown to them, not only is this series older, but James Cameron himself has cited it as direct inspiration for his film.
* OneSceneWonder: Solan. The guy appears ''very'' briefly, but he gives Carter a better fight than ''anyone else in the series''.
* SeasonalRot: ''John Carter and the Giant of Mars'' is widely considered by fans to be the weakest of the Barsoom stories, and is generally considered something of an afterthought rather than a true John Carter novel. The fact that it wasn't written by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself but rather by his son John "Jack" Coleman Burroughs doesn't help either.
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny: Probably at the core of a lot of the criticism the film version is receiving.
* {{Tear Jerker}}: The end of ''The Gods of Mars''.
* ValuesDissonance: Burroughs was writing at a time when scientific racialism was in vogue, and it shows; the Red Martians, the most populous (and least advanced technologically) of the humanoid Martians, are said to have originated out of miscegenation between the White, Yellow, and Black Martians, who have been forced into polar enclaves by dysgenic pressure. The fact that the Black Martians are cannibalistic raiders is questionable in modern eyes.
* TheWoobie: Dejah Thoris. Her husband disappears mysteriously one night during a mission to save all of Barsoom, their child is born on the same day and [[DisappearedDad she is forced to see him grow without their father]]. Then, [[AdultFear her child goes missing, followed by her father and grandfather who go looking for him, leaving her completely alone]]. When she tries looking for them, [[MadeASlave she is captured and enslaved by the First Born]]. [[HopeSpot She manages to reunite with her husband after 10 years for a few moments]] [[YanktheDogsChain before being thrown]] inside a dungeon with a murderous White Martian that is jealous of her [[MurderTheHypotenuse and tries to kill her]] - and when that fails, she is forced to spend several months locked with her attempted murderer. When she is finally freed from the Temple, its not Carter who came to save her, but his enemies who want to exact retribution on him through his wife and take her prisoner. She spends every moment being thrown around as a hostage with the threat of [[DefiledForever being horribly defiled]] and [[ColdBloodedTorture tortured by them]] just to spite Carter, [[AndNowYouMustMarryMe and is even faced with the prospect of being forced married]] to a EvilOverlord [[IHaveYouNowMyPretty who has taken a shine on her]]. Its truly a wonder how she did not break by the end of the whole ordeal.
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