* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: [[spoiler:Martin Chatwin]] had very good reasons to do what he did, and it's easy to see what drove him to become [[spoiler:Fillory's tyrannical god-king. He became the parental figure to his younger siblings at age 12, and his fairytale adventures in Fillory were his main avenue of escape from the pressure. Doubly so when Martin became the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of the only adult the Chatwins had confided Fillory's existence to, but with Martin's increasingly lost innocence and purity, Fillory became less and less open to him. He grew to hate himself, hate the real world, and hate Fillory's gods for barring him entry to the one place he was safe, all for the crimes of being raped and growing older. When he [[DealWithTheDevil strikes up a deal]] with the eviler half of Fillory's pantheon, he trades away his humanity for power and becomes the worst sort of god: one born from the mind of a broken, bitter, and empty child, who is now literally incapable of maturing. Is it any surprise he turned into a monster?]]
* AuthorTract: Grossman's atheist views and apparent distaste for Christianity tend to [[OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions bleed into the characters' opinions]] rather glaringly, particularly in ''The Magician King''.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: At the end of the Brakebills welters tournament, Quentin experiences a revelation about things that don't matter, throws the match, picks Alice up, and jumps with her into a pool of water of unknown depth. None of this is ever mentioned again.
* CompleteMonster: [[Literature/ReynardTheFox Reynard the Fox]] from ''The Magician King'' is a hulking mass of muscle, red fur and sharp teeth, summoned by a sect of magicians who believe they are calling upon a benevolent goddess. When summoned, Reynard promptly proceeds to take the "sacrifices" he sees as his. Setting upon the magicians, Reynard kills many of them horribly and painfully, mortally wounding one and sneering over the young man's dying attempt to offer himself to let the final two live. When one promises her life in exchange for the other's, Reynard [[ExactWords chooses to interpret it in a dark way]]: he promptly brutally rapes her in front of her friend and tears her humanity out when finished.
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Asmodeus is a big one. For the villains, [[spoiler:Martin]] is generally considered such for his intriguing and surprisingly sympathetic backstory, which isn't fully unveiled until the final novel, [[spoiler:long after his death.]]
* FamilyUnfriendlyAesop: One of the major themes of the series seems to be that human beings are not psychologically prepared to deal with a world in which magic is real. May cross into FantasticAesop.
* JerkassWoobie: Quentin drifts strongly towards assholish behavior in some chapters, but he remains consistently pitiable because a lot of the assholish behavior is rooted in his own psychological issues.
* NightmareFuel: When time stops still in the middle of class and the Beast appears, though they can't move, everyone is still aware of what's happening, which means that Amanda Orloff was perfectly conscious the entire time she was being eaten alive ''one bite at a time'', and probably a few people had no choice but to watch it all. The Beast counts as this in general.
* OneSceneWonder: Either one of [[KnightOfCerebus the Beast's]] appearances in the first novel could count.
* StoicWoobie: Elliot, as Quentin comes to discern, has a very hard-won outward coolness.
* TheWoobie: Quentin (at least in the early chapters), Alice, and at times Josh.