Genre Savvy / Literature

  • In Book Nine of The Iliad, the Greek hero Diomedes doesn't believe Achilles' threats to sail home from Troy because he is fated to die there. He turns out to be right.
  • Don Quixote spends much of his entire story ruminating on how the future author of his works will portray his adventures, using the tropes he has picked up from reading volume after volume of chivalric literature.
  • The hero of Adelbert von Chamisso's 1814 novel Peter Schlemihl is well-read in all the folktale, fairy-tale, and fantasy literature of Germany. When a mysterious stranger offers to buy his shadow, offering in exchange a choice of a list of magical items such as a mandrake root, a cap of invisibility, or "the purse of Fortunatus", Schlemihl chooses this last, knowing from the novel Fortunatus that it is a source of endless money. It's true that selling his shadow turns out to be a big mistake, but otherwise Schlemihl's genre savvy serves him well, such as when he encounters the invisible bird-nest from Hans von Grimmelshausen's story Das wunderbarliche Vogel-Nest and at once recognizes it and knows how to use it. Later, the stranger returns; Schlemihl demands to know who he is and he describes himself as "a simple wandering scholar." Well, that is just how Mephistopheles first appeared in Goethe's Faust, and when the "scholar" offers to return the shadow in exchange for a contract signed in blood, Schlemihl does not sign.
  • Parodied in Mark Twain's The Story of a Good Little Boy, in which the protagonist longs to be the hero of a Sunday school book and goes around trying, unsuccessfully, to do all the right things: taking in a stray dog, getting a job with only a signed tract as a reference, etc. The main thing that bothers him is that all decent Sunday school book heroes die so he'll never get to see the book he's in.
  • In Andrew Lang's Prince Prigio, the genre-savvy King of Pantouflia wants to get rid of his obnoxiously intelligent eldest son by sending the princes after the monster, knowing that the youngest son will be the only one who can triumph. Prigio, being genre-savvy himself, does not fall for this — and STILL gets it wrong.
  • In the novel The Phantom of the Opera, Raoul seems to know he's the "safe" love interest in a Gothic romance, given his utter lack of surprise at Christine's love for her stalker/kidnapper despite no recognition of Stockholm Syndrome as such at the time.
  • E Nesbit's Melisande is a variation of Rapunzel set in a fairy tale world where everyone is Genre Savvy:
    • The king and queen deliberately refuse to hold a christening party, knowing what happened to the Sleeping Beauty. When all the fairies are furious that they weren't invited, and they want to curse the princess, the king points out that traditionally, only one of them can curse the princess or they'll go out "like a candle-flame". He's more or less bluffing, but since the evil fairy Malevola already did the cursing, they decide not to risk it, thank the queen for a lovely afternoon, and leave.
    • In this apparent fairy-tale world, Melisande has - the text itself states - read Alice in Wonderland and knows to avoid crying on people when expanded to giant size.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L Sayers, characters discourse at length about how their situations would be different if they were in a detective story. It sometimes helps: in Gaudy Night when Harriet receives a phone call summoning her back to the college:
    She remembered Peter's saying to her one day:
    'The heroines of thrillers deserve all they get. When a mysterious voice rings them up and says it is Scotland Yard, they never think of ringing back to verify the call. Hence the prevalence of kidnapping.'
She rings back to check, and discovers that the call was a fake. (Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night, ch. 18, p. 349).
  • Similarly, most Agatha Christie books contain at least one line where a character exclaims that "It's just like a detective novel!" and several suspects in various mysteries show nervousness because they're the least likely character to do it and hence, if it were a mystery novel, the one most likely to be fingered. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it isn't.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Peter Pevensie demonstrates a degree of Genre Savvy in C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when — after Edmund suggests the robin they are following might be leading them into a trap — he observes that in all of the stories he has read, robins are creatures of good.
    • Edmund also has a Genre Savvy moment or two near the beginning of Prince Caspian, drawing upon his knowledge of adventure stories for ideas on how he and his siblings can get by after they find themselves in an unpopulated wilderness.
    • He has another in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when they are considering what has happened to the man whose armor they have found; it is explicitly cited that he reads mysteries.
    • Eustace, by contrast, has his initial lack of Genre Savvy pointed out multiple times — he's said in the narration to have "read none of the right books." In his diary, when the ship is becalmed and drinking water is at a premium, he recounts how Caspian warned that anyone caught stealing water will "get two dozen" and that he didn't know what that meant until Edmund explained it to him. "It comes of the sort of books those Pevensie kids read." (Even the Pevensies have their lapses, like when they first arrive back in Narnia in Prince Caspian and think they might have to live off the land. They think they remember reading about people eating roots, but they're not sure what kind; Lucy "always thought it meant roots of trees.")
    • In The Magician's Nephew, Digory reminds Uncle Andrew what usually happens to the Evil Sorcerer in stories, which seems to hit home. (A possible subversion since Uncle Andrew turns out not to be the real antagonist and simply becomes irrelevant in the end, although he gets dragged through a lot of comically miserable ordeals first.)
  • In Cold Comfort Farm, a satirical novel about a young woman who goes from the city to live with her backward relatives on the eponymous farm, Flora Poste has read all sorts of novels about young women who go from the city to live with their backward relatives on farms. She thus correctly guesses that they'll have names like Seth, Amos, and Judith, identifies Aunt Ada Doom as "the Dominant Grandmother Archetype", and keeps an eye peeled for subversions and exceptions.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill the Reckless, Mrs. Barker notes that having problems getting married is just like in the True Hearts Novelette series. Barker has to explain to her that even though they have enough money, My Beloved Smother will persuade Derek to give it up.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Hot Water, Medway, the lady's maid, speaks of how the book she's reading has a detective in disguise as a maid, causing much consternation among characters to plan to crack a safe. Actually, she's the criminal, out to crack the safe herself.
  • John Dickson Carr's detective Dr. Gideon Fell is well aware that he's in a detective novel. In The Three Coffins, he stops the action to explain to everybody how a locked room murder mystery can be pulled off, explaining that there's no point in pretending they're not in a detective novel.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, most of the good guys are pretty Genre Savvy, since legends are a major form of entertainment in Middle Earth. In "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol," Sam wonders if he and Frodo have reached a part of the story that the audience won't want to hear. Frodo, however, rightly points out that it's the dark, scary parts that keep people interested.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Count Olaf in The Film of the Book seems to have read the books, because he knows to make sure Violet signs her name using her right hand.
  • HIVESeries: Shelby Trinity
    Shelby: From now on, no one's dead until I read the autopsy report.
  • Animorphs
    • Marco shows a strong indication that he knows he's in a fairly dark series with a rather sadistic author whenever he's being a Deadpan Snarker.
      Cassie: "I wonder if there's a limit to how many morphs you can do."
      Marco: "I guess we'll find out. Probably at the worst possible time."
    • Later in the same book, upon being told they're not comic book heroes, he makes the rather prophetic comment: "Yes, but I really really want it to be a comic book. See in a comic book the heroes don't get killed."
      Marco: "Now I have a new superstition. Anytime I'm not worried, I worry."
      Marco: "I'm paranoid, sure. But that doesn't mean I don't have enemies."
    • All of them are at least somewhat Genre Savvy, as Tobias, Jake and Marco are all fans of science fiction and comic books, Ax loves soap operas and Rachel at least watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but they're much more likely to assert that This Is Reality and just use it for jokes.
  • In the Framing Story of How Kazir Won His Wife, the sorcerer implies that he got his position through knowing how to deal with pairs of people of whom one always lied and the other always told the truth. In the Story Within a Story, the king was genre savvy enough to realise that Kazir was familiar with the Knights and Knaves puzzle, so Kazir ended up Wrong Genre Savvy when the king set a slightly different puzzle.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld features characters like this, thanks to the Theory of Narrative Causality:
    • Several of the witches, especially Granny Weatherwax, have a feel for "stories", and can use them to their own ends if they have to.
"". Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is when it comes to tropes of detective stories and police procedurals.
  • Malicia from The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents is either too Genre Savvy, or not savvy enough. She insists on always seeing things in terms of stories, ranging from fairy tales to Kid Detective novels like Tom Swift, The Hardy Boys, and The Famous Five (she claims at one point that four kids and a dog is "the right number for an adventure"). Furthermore, she has trouble in coping with subversions and exceptions, and always makes herself out to be the main character of the "story".
  • Rincewind the Wizzard [sic], meanwhile, is very much aware of Finagle's Law and similar narrative conventions that keep his life interesting. He hates them.
  • It's the whole basis of the plot in Witches Abroad. The stories want to be told, whatever the effects on their players. Lily is arranging the city of Genua along the lines of these stories. The toymaker will be a jolly, red-faced man who whistles while he works if he knows what's good for him. The servant girl will marry the prince, with the help of her fairy godmother, whoever has to get hurt along the way.
  • The Guards! Guards!! novel, when Vimes has just confronted the hidden villain of the story. The villain, (using the title of the book) summons several mooks to take Vimes into custody. However, the mooks, despite Vimes having no weapons and just standing there, show extreme hesitation. When the villain demands an explanation, they indicate they know what happens in situations like this: the likelihood is that if they try to take Vimes into custody, he will kill them all by engaging in swashbuckling clichés such as performing somersaults or swinging off chandeliers (the villain points out, somewhat hysterically, that there are no chandeliers in the room at all). It takes Vimes' assurances that he will not do so and would not know how to do so if he tried before the mooks take him prisoner.
  • Also inverted in Discworld with Moist Von Lipwig, who knows very well how things are supposed to go... and plays the part of the hero, because he knows that the innate genre savviness of the public will view him as a hero if he does. As a con artist, taking advantage of what people expect to see is his major skill.
  • Thief of Time has a running gag about Lu Tze's "Rule One": "Never act incautiously when confronting a bald, wrinkly, little old man who smiles all the time."
  • Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde in The Last Hero are confronted by Captain Carrot. They're about to fight him when they realize that's there's only one of him and nine of them, and that he's trying to save the world. All experienced heroes who have spent decades winning against incredible odds, they see that the fight can only go one way and back down. This is pure genius considering that the Horde took advantage of that very trope themselves in their first appearance in Interesting Times (though it didn't end quite the way you might think).
    • The Night Guard have exploited this rule as well for their own benefits by increasing the odds of a dangerous act succeeding from 100/1 to a million to 1, mainly because lower odds are more likely to happen.
  • The Horde's motivation is this trope in regards to End of an Age. Their dangerous actions were spurred on by their belief that the time of heroes has passed. It has, but only for their kind of kick-in-the-door, rob-the-temple, big-thug-with-a-sword hero. Carrot, who routinely risks his life for a city salary the Silver Horde wouldn't consider enough to tip a barmaid, represents a new type of hero: one who's simply determined to do the right thing. The Silver Horde are confronted by this generational and cultural transition — from heroing to heroism — and it floors them.
    • Taken to its logically extreme when the Silver Horde meet up with Evil Harry Dread and his minions. They spend some time reminiscing about how Evil Harry used to follow The Code by doing things like having the standard dress code for his soldiers include helmets that fully covered his face, hiring stupid henchmen who couldn't tell the difference between an old washerwoman and a hero dressed like an old washerwoman, and so forth. Evil Harry always did everything the Evil Overlord List, something with which he is clearly intimately familiar with, says not to do — on purpose. After complimenting Harry on the utter stupidity of his current batch of minions, they go on to complain about how the current generation of Evil Overlords go about doing everything The Evil Overlord List says to do, which just isn't right. That is, if they bother with the Evil Overlording at all and don't just go straight into bureaucracy. At the same time, Evil Harry Dread is complaining about how the new heroes are refusing to live up to their end of the bargain by doing things like sabotaging the Evil Overlord's escape tunnel. Guys like Cohen always left the escape tunnel intact, even thought they knew the Evil Overlord would inevitably escape through one. The reasoning behind this is that Evil Overlords are a hero's bread and butter, so killing them all off would leave them unemployed.
    • Rincewind demonstrates a perfect level of this trope in this story. At one point, he announces to Lord Vetinari that he does not wish to volunteer for the mission. He's going, of course, because he's perfectly aware that that's how his life goes, but he wants it known that he doesn't wish to. The other wizards present, knowing what kind of things he's gone through (for what appears to be rather more than 20 years by this point) concur with him on this point.
  • The Patrician has wearily recognized the pattern of supernaturally powered fads running riot over his city (Soul Music, Moving Pictures) etc., but interestingly when he says so in The Truth he's actually being Wrong Genre Savvy, because the fad in that book — newspapers — isn't supernatural and doesn't fade away like the earlier ones.
  • Cohen the Barbarian shows a moment of Genre Savvy in Interesting Times: knowing that Grand Viziers are always evil, he asks Twoflower, "Do you know anything about Grand-Viziering?" Twoflower says no. He gets the job, precisely because someone who knew something about it would be evil.
  • And it's not just the good guys who are Genre Savvy. The old Count Magpyr in Carpe Jugulum has huge stocks of lemons, holy water, and wooden stakes; his servant Igor even added a handy anatomy chart to help vampire hunters find the heart. Windows were easily opened to the sun, and dozens of objects could be converted into an easily recognised holy symbol. Why? His role was the recurring monster, and he knew what people would do if he tried Going Too Far.
  • Johnny and Kirsty in Only You Can Save Mankind. Of course their genre awareness is actually influencing the setting to some degree.
  • Princess Cimorene of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles is fairly genre savvy, as are most of the characters to one extent or another. She just refuses to conform to type. (Note that this is an Affectionate Parody universe where genre savviness is actively taught to people; Cimorene's education included things like the right way to scream when being carried off by a giant.)
    • One example: the obnoxiously determined Idiot Hero who's been trying to rescue her accidentally releases a genie, who announces that he will now kill them, but they may choose the manner of their deaths. Cimorene immediately replies, "Old age." She winds up catching the genie out on trying to get around the rules and cutting a deal where he goes back in the jar and they pretend the whole thing never happened.
  • One of the best examples is in book one, in a character known only as the stone prince. He earns his namesake due to taking Schmuck Bait that would have had him Taken for Granite, in the form of a gold and jewel covered dipper for a fountain of healing water alongside a tin one. But instead of panicking, he stuck his arm in the spring, allowing him to retain his form, sentience, and motion even as stone.
  • He does even better a bit later when Cimorene accidentally finds out a weakness for the wizards: soapy water with lemon juice. Unfortunately, the Big Bad wizard uses Morwen, a witch that they're friends with, as a shield. The prince douses them both, reasoning that Morwen couldn't possibly melt in soapy water given what he's seen of her spotless house.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series uses this idea — indeed, it is central to its premise. The idea is that the world in governed by a mysterious force called "The Tradition" which forces peoples' lives to follow traditional story tales, like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc. The main characters are either Godmothers or are being helped by Godmothers to achieve the story's end — or to change the story from one with a fair amount of deaths to one with a happy ending. As such, all Godmothers need to know what story they are in and, preferably, numerous other stories they can try and manipulate.
  • The Longing of Shiina Ryo: Shin-tsu begins to joke that he's in a novel and both Kouma and Ryo try to utilize story structures to make sense of his life. It works.
  • Sergey Lukaynenko's Rough Draft and its sequel Final Draft are practically dripping with genre savvy. Characters frequently reflect on how the events of the story follow certain genre conventions. Sometimes their observations foreshadow the actual outcome, sometimes they turn out to be wrong and other times their realization of what genre convention they wound up facing comes too late to do any good. In one of the early chapters, the main character meets up with a science fiction writer (a thinly-veiled Lukyanenko stand-in) in order to try to figure out the solution to his decisively supernatural problem. The writer winds up explaining how various Russian science fiction authors would resolve it, ending with his own take (which didn't match the actual ending of the novels.)
  • In Timothy Zahn's The Domino Pattern, Frank Compton and his colleague Bayta seem aware they're in a detective novel (albeit one in a science-fictional setting.) Therefore they are careful to have the conversation with the being who has important information before he can be the next victim leaving them clueless, and even comment on the importance of not waiting to speak to him!
  • Many characters in John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor's Into the Looking Glass series of novels are perfectly aware they've been thrown into a science fictional situation.
    • In the second novel, Vorpal Blade, being science fiction fans is seen as a useful characteristic for the new Space Marines and officers flying the first human starship, the captain of which takes a giddy delight in being able to give orders like "Ahead Warp 1" and "Engage warp drive".
    • In the sequel Claws That Catch this is taken to a slightly surreal extreme when some conflicts between various alien technologies cause them to hallucinate that they are anime characters. One of the main characters laments the fact that he is clearly a secondary character since as anime characters the hero is clearly identifiable.
  • The Artemis Fowl books have a strong "action movie" sensibility — several of the characters are fans of action movies and are shown to compare their own experiences with the genre.
    A spinning kick, Butler. How could you?
    • Invoked in The Opal Deception, when Holly asks Artemis to think like a videogame character in order to divise a solution to their predicament (being attacked by trolls). Artemis decides to think like a character in a war game, tries to create a list of exploitable weaknesses that the trolls possess, and forms a plan based around their hatred of bright lights.
  • Subverted in The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Rare book finder Lucas Corso has read enough to recognize a trope when he sees one and insists on following them until he can nab the Big Bad. He's mostly right but the Big Bad is someone completely different than he suspected.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a theme of subverting the trope. Sometimes characters figure out beforehand that life will be nothing like the stories, and sometimes they suffer horribly for it.
    • Quentyn Martell is emboldened to reckless action by stories in which princes win fights against dragons and get the beautiful princess afterwards, but he makes a muck of it and dies a horrible death.
    • Brienne tells the story of a hero with a magic sword who never used it, saving it for a singular event. Dick Crabb tells her that it's better to use the best weapon available than die thinking, "I should have used the sword!" When Brienne next anticipates a fight, she thinks back to Dick's words and pulls out her hidden Valyrian steel sword. It gives her just enough of an advantage to win the ensuing fight.
  • Happens a lot in K. A. Applegate's Everworld series, about four young adults thrown into a world in which everything from all the mythologies in the history of the world co-exists. Odds are at least one of them will know enough about whatever figure they encounter to know how to deal with them. They still don't believe Cassandra, though.
  • The online blogiform novel Ultimate Dream is pretty much defined by its Genre Savvy Deadpan Snarker narrator, who relentlessly mocks the cliched Role-Playing Game of the title, which plays like a catalogue of The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Clichés. She continues mocking the clichés even after she and her friends get sucked into the gameworld. The subsequent discussions with the game characters attempts, in several cases, to justify several of the cliches. The Big Bad is Dangerously Genre Savvy, while The Man Behind the Man is aware of the genre's limitations and indeed tries to enforce them.
  • Joe Hill's short story Best New Horror involves an editor who slowly realizes that he's wound up in a situation that conforms to horror genre specifications. He finds this oddly exhilarating.
  • The whole point of Charles Stross's The Jennifer Morgue. The villain, a Dangerously Genre Savvy billionaire trying to take over the world, recognizes he's a living trope and creates a Evil Plan by creating a magic spell that turns everything around him into a James Bond adventure, so that only a British agent conforming to the Bond stereotype would be in a position to stop him and save the world last the last moment. The plan is to then end the spell, making the agent an ordinary person again and so easily contained and killed, with no one else able to get there in time. Unfortunately for him, the British are even more Genre Savvy when the agent they send isn't really the Hero, he's the Bond Babe, acting as an initially oblivious decoy for his girlfriend who is the real Hero sweeping in at the last minute with commandos to save the day.
  • In the comic mystery play Any Number Can Die, a wannabe detective urges a reluctant informant to tell him the name of the murderer, because otherwise she'll get killed and only have time to whisper him a cryptic clue. Sure enough, she gets shot, gives him a clue, and he says in frustration, This always happens in stories!
  • In Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next and Nursery Crime novels, the lead characters are successful because of their Genre Savvy. Thursday works in the Literary Crime division, making sure that novels stick to the conventions of their genre and using her Genre Savvy to get out of many sticky situations. The main problems come when she has trouble identifying the genre she has stepped into. Jack Sprat, in the Nursery Crime novels, is an interesting character because he not only investigates crimes committed by Nursery Rhyme characters, but he also has a strange empathy for the genre-driven urges that make them commit the crimes.
  • Commissar Ciaphas Cain is this in universe. He realizes that acting like the rest of the Imperium's commissars (trigger happy hardasses) will only get him killed faster, and realizes that giving a damn about his troops means he doesn't get fragged, they give a damn about him, and he more chances to avoid getting killed. He also realizes the grim dark setting for what it is, and realizes that most forms of danger are better avoided if he doesn't try to run. He knows that being a fanatical jackass makes him expendable, so unlike the rest of the Imperium (who put large amounts of faith in the God Emperor of Humanity), he decides to proactively work very hard at saving his own ass himself, making him one of the smartest humans in the whole series. It has also been observed that, in a strange way, this may actually make him the most pious Commissar in the entire Imperium. He, seemingly genuinely, believes that he shouldn't rely on the God Emperor's protection because he doesn't want to distract Him from more important things. Given the state of the galaxy, this is quite a reasonable attitude.
  • Harry Dresden in The Dresden Files. Not exactly harmed by such details as Dracula having been written to educate people about how to kill a certain kind of vampire.
    • Lampshaded in Dead Beat:
    "The trick was to figure out which movie I was in. If this was a variant on High Noon, then walking outside was probably a fairly dangerous idea. On the other hand, there was always the chance that I was still in the opening scenes of The Maltese Falcon and everyone trying to chase down the bird still wanted to talk to me. In which case, this was probably a good chance to dig for vital information about what might well be a growing storm around the search for The Word of Kemmler."
    • A failure of Genre Savvy is lampshaded later in the book. When Sue, the reanimated T. Rex eats a ghoul, the ghoul does nothing but scream and throw up its hands to shield itself. Butters points out that never did any good in the movie, and Harry notes he must not have seen it.
    • Also Nicodemus. At one point, Harry tries to trick him into telling him his master plan, but Nicodemus sees right through it, causing Harry to suspect he's read the Evil Overlord List.
    • In Proven Guilty Harry has a plan that hinges on a group of monsters impersonating horror movie creatures ambushing him. When they fail to do so, he threatens to take "drastic, cliched measures" like walking through doorways backwards.
  • Left Behind has an "unintentional" variant that cripples the narrative from the get-go. Many of the characters, who should have shown emotions at certain times, seem to be aware of the type of book they are in; they thus either do not display the appropriate emotions, or merely go through the motions. This cripples the first book of the series to an extreme extent in regards to making the characters seem real.
  • In book two of Tanya Huff's Smoke and Shadows trilogy, the production team and main cast of a Vampire Detective Series are trapped in a Haunted House while filming an episode about a haunted house. A large part of their defenses are ripped off from Charmed or The X-Files, and much of the dialogue consists of witty observations — and creative criticism — of their predicament, and blatant self mockery of Show Within a Show Darkest Night.
  • In Jeffery Channing Wells' online masterpiece, Mundementia One, there exists the Humility Company. This group of bodyguards is the best in the entire world because they refuse to say that they are the best out loud. By continuously downplaying their own skill they manage to survive for another battle. They even have an android Cardinal Richlieu to tell them when they've become too badass and have to sacrifice the rookie to the mysterious monster in the darkness.
    • Frankly everyone in Mundementia One is genre savvy, though Charles is still trying to fully gain his.
  • A few characters in the X-Wing Series are at least a little genre savvy.
    Hobbie: Boss, please tell me you're not putting us in women's clothing.
    Hobbie: You lied to me.
  • In the novels of the Change, Lord Protector Norman Arminger actually puts out a rough approximation of the Evil Overlord List for his provincial governors.
  • In John C. Wright's ''The Golden Age'', ''The Phoenix Exultant'', and ''The Golden Transcedence'', the accuracy and applicability of Daphne's stories to the events happening to them is a matter of great discussion. Sometimes it definitely helps, as when Daphne's response to hearing they are under attack is to throw herself out of the line of fire, saving her life.
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Red and Penny came to life from a painting of Achilles and Penthesilea, and the other characters deduce the Achilles' Heel.
  • The children's book Dear Peter Rabbit shows that the wolves of both the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood tales show a rather remarkable dose of learning their lessons from their given genre (though we only see it for one page). The wolf from the Red Riding Hood tale consoles the Big Bad Wolf over losing his tail to the pigs and their brick house, and suggests that as painful as it would be, they would have to change their diets to exclude pigs and little girls - it was just too dangerous. The Big Bad Wolf, looking very glum and having an artificial tail being sewn on, doesn't look like he's too inclined to disagree.
  • In Joe Haldeman's The Accidental Time Machine our hero, who accidentally builds a time machine which can only travel into the future, shows an incredible amount of genre savvyness. When, after a jump, he is apprehended for a murder he didn't commit, someone of his physique places the exact amount of money needed for his bail with a proxy, even before the bail is even set (and the amount known). The hero then deduces that it must be himself from the future having found a way to travel backwards in order to set him free for his next jump. He then goes on to continue his adventure in relative fearlessness, because he knows he will be alive in the future to travel back into the past.
  • George Beard from the Captain Underpants books is very genre savvy, more so than usual in the book "The Perilous Plot of the Purple Potty People". Harold Hutchins, the other protagonist of the series (and rather Genre Blind in his own right), is constantly spouting things like "At least it can't get any worse!" George replies in disdain, claiming that whenever someone says something like that, things are inevitably going to get FAR worse (and rightly so, since they always do). When the police arrive to haul the boys off to jail for the rest of their lives, Harold spouts his "can't get any worse", and sure enough the evil mastermind Professor Tippy Tinkletrousers arrives in his giant, freeze-ray equipped pants bent on revenge against the boys.
  • In the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Clan Korval has had plenty of time to become accustomed to its own Weirdness Magnet and Coincidence Magnet nature. As a result, it takes some pretty bizarre happenstance to more than mildly startle its more-experienced members, and they are at least somewhat able to recognize and take it into account in their planning (as when Daav advises Theo that she needs a dependable co-pilot to help deal with the trouble her Korval nature will attract in Ghost Ship). To some extent, the rest of the galaxy has also realized that Korval tends to attract trouble, even if they don't rightly understand why. (Even Bechimo was advised by his builders, hundreds of years ago, against having anything to do with Clan Korval, and yos'Phelium in particular.)
  • The kids in and the protagonist in its sister series are familiar enough with superhero stories to hang lampshades and snark, though Lorna inexplicably wanted to try and garner fame with their powers.
  • Renfield becomes quite Genre Savvy in Bram Stoker's Dracula: when he realizes that the Count is going to cheat him of his promised prize he figures to himself that since madmen are supposed to have supernatural strength, he could fight Drac on at least somewhat equal ground. It actually works, as he attacks Dracula in his smoke-form with his bare hands, and manages to force him back to material form! Of course after that things go downhill for him.
    • Van Helsing is also genre-savvy—he's a scientist, but having recognized that they were fighting a monster out of legend, he goes to those legends to learn how to fight it.
  • Fisk in the Knight and Rogue Series manages to be this mostly through street smarts, almost compensating for Michael's less thought out actions.
  • In Privilege by Kate Brian, after Ariana kills someone and throws them in the lake, instead of just leaving, she puts her favorite necklace on the body and waits for the body to float back up. The police assume that the body was her trying to either escape juvie or kill herself and they cremate the body. She is now free to assume the identity of the person she actually killed.
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus notices that the future does not match what was promised in SF he read as a child.
  • Nearly every single character in Skulduggery Pleasant, which is fairly justified since most of them are hundreds of years old and so have the experience.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, one of Tarkin's cohorts ask him why he doesn't just use the Death Star to blow up Coruscant and become Emperor himself. Tarkin replies that Palpatine obviously has measures to prevent this, and any attempt would just get them all killed.
    • Over the course of Galaxy of Fear, multiple characters realize that trouble follows them everywhere they go, and especially that it tends to pick up when the kids have been Separated From The Adults - which is also when the books' formula changes.
      Hoole: "This is a pleasure. I have left you alone for several hours, and nothing eventful has happened. No Imperial invasions. No dangerous criminals."
  • In Geoph Essex's Lovely Assistant, Lyle and Lloyd aren't just Genre Savvy, they're trope savvy, dropping tropes practically by name in some cases and reciting examples from the corresponding entries. The topper comes in the climax, when Lloyd brags to The Dragon: "Crowning Moment of kicked your ass!" They also manage to piece together the Big Bad's identity and some key elements of the Evil Plan through their encyclopedic knowledge of tropes, blatantly suggesting that the characters (and the author) are One of Us.
  • Thrasymachus in Plato's The Republic calls Socrates out on his usual debate style, involving Obfuscating Stupidity and Armor Piercing Questions, and demands he just get to the point.
  • Subverted in Count Zero by William Gibson, where a 16 year-old wannabe hacker nearly gets himself killed after watching too many hacker movies and trying a cyberspace run for real.
  • In City of Ashes, Simon Lewis says the following line after Valentine's ship blows up.
    Simon: Never believe the bad guy is dead until you see a body. That just leads to unhappiness and surprise ambushes.
  • Aside from all the Lampshade Hanging in the Aunt Dimity series, there are some specific instances of characters' experiences informing their actions. For example, Lori recounts her friend Emma's excessive optimism in planning her solo hiking trip at the start of Aunt Dimity: Snowbound (" can't miss it."); thus, when she has gotten lost and snowed in and she sets out from the main house to check on the caretaker in his cottage, her fellow hiker Jamie gives directions to the cottage and starts to utter the fateful phrase:
    "...You can't miss—"
    I clamped a gloved hand over his mouth.
    "Don't say it," I snapped. "Don't even think of saying it."
    "Mmmph," Jamie agreed, nodding earnestly.
  • Jessica in Demon in my View from the Den of Shadows series. Having written almost 20 books about the vampire world, she knows more about it than some vampires.
  • In the Destroyermen series, it would be faster to list those who are not genre-savvy. With the exception of a few characters, primarily in the Grik faction, virtually the entire recurring cast is genre savvy to some extent because every character has seen the pitfalls of previous military or technological strategies back home. As the stakes grows higher, the more genre-savvy characters tend to become out of necessity for survival. Some examples would include:
    • Captain Matthew Reddy - Saw and experienced first-hand the stupidity of the handling of the Asiatic fleet, as well as formally studying naval and military history. He is a huge reason for turning the war from a hopeless extinction to a legitimate fight.
    • Dennis Silva - A literal master of survival, sabotage, and unconventional tactics. He is the series closest equivalent to a true commando because he has a very clear idea of what he is usually facing and how his adversaries will react.
    • Chief Gray - Is a non-commissioned officer who has so much time under his belts, virtually no officers would dare give him an order. Being well into his 60's, he has a tremendous amount of experience and skill at his duties, also being able to find problems and accommodate for them fairly quickly.
    • "Chief Spanky" - Gray's engineering counterpart, who is able to find problems purely based on feel and sound. He is the alliance's most skilled raw engineer and played a supporting role in the advancement of the alliance's technology.
    • Sergeant Alden - A strategic and tactical genius, despite all of his denial of such. He manages to construct fierce armies that have a very high success rate. On one occasion, he fought off over three thousand better armed Grik warriors with barely 150 able warriors, with a large number literally armed with sticks and stones long enough for the cavalry to arrive.
  • John Scalzi's Redshirts is a book about, you guessed it, the more genre savvy expendable crew members onboard the UUCS Intrepid.
  • Song at Dawn involves Troubadours, i.e. people who make their living singing stories of love or courage or bawdiness and so there are many genre savvy to the kind of story they're in.
    • Estela knows countless love ballads so she knows how the romance genre works. She'll think things like 'how would this work in a song' or 'following the instructions of a thousand songs'.
    • Dragonetz, Estela's music teacher, sees no point in going to the Court of Love because he's already an expert on Courtly Love.
  • In Divergent, Marcus seems to know he's in a book. He was an abusive father and husband and so the heroine Tris hates him. However he seems to KNOW Tris is the heroine and so takes her threats lying down instead of fighting back, since fighting would make him look more of a bad guy. He plays it very mysterious in Insurgent, which lessens his chances of ending up dead like ALMOST EVERY OTHER CHARACTER. He also keeps going on about the fact he has a secret and is the only one who knows it, meaning if he dies it dies with him (which would ruin the book). Towards the end he even manipulates Tris into helping him against his wife, who might otherwise win since karma wise, he owes her one. But any enterprise with Tris in it has a higher rate of success...He also refuses to take any risks on their mission, making Tris take most of them instead as if he knows that, as the heroine she is less likely to die.
  • In Rebecca Lickiss's Eccentric Circles, Piper's joining in a conversation of likely suspects with trope logic makes her fit right in.
  • In Laura Amy Schlitz's Splendors And Glooms, the children explicitly invoke the puppet play "The Bottle Imp" to question whether the fire opal is a good thing.
  • In The Leonard Regime, Ben is always one step ahead of everybody else. He always seems to know what's going to happen next or what the next move is. Daniel also has moments where he proves he is genre savvy.
  • The narrator of Mr Blank knows he's a noir anti-hero and points out that trusting Mina, his femme fatale, is the equivalent of going off alone, stripping to his underwear, and looking for a cat in a horror film.
  • Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure has a couple of examples:
    • Leif. He may even be a little too genre-savvy, as certain things he expects to happen just don't. Still, he gets it right more often than not. Zeus eventually recruits him for this very reason.
    • The Muses could be considered to be this, too, since they spend most of their time helping to craft stories.
  • In Armada, many of the main characters like Zack, Xavier, etc. are really genre savvy. The amount of popculture consumed by them probably helped.
  • The main characters of The Fault in Our Stars know every terminal illness trope in the book.
  • The Langoliers: Subverted. As a mystery writer, Bob Jenkins provides a plausible analysis to Albert to explain how they all ended up on a seemingly abandoned plane in mid-flight by pitching a conspiracy scenario about a black ops social experiment. When Albert suggests that they take over the plane, Jenkins admits out that his scenario can only explain why the plane is abandoned, not why there's no apparent sign of life on the ground either. He points out that they're not dealing with mystery, but a different genre: science fiction.
  • Journey to Chaos: Tasio delights in pointing out conventions in the RPG genre that show up this fantasy and action/adventure style story. For instance, when Eric is about to fight a plot important major enemy, he'll announce a Boss Fight and remind Eric that the Final Boss will always have more than one form. He also likes to use tropes by name when explaining his plans, like how he exploited Mentor Occupational Hazard, defied Deus ex Machina and played straight Helping Would Be Kill Stealing.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen spent a good part of every year of her childhood watching the Hunger Games, giving her a rough idea of how the Gamemakers manipulate the arena, the character traits of Tributes which endears them to sponsors, the strategies of the Tributes from other districts, among others. Needless to say, it helps her win the Games.
  • In the Kitty Norvell novel ''Kitty's House of Horrors," upon realizing that the "reality show" she and the other guests have come to attend is actually a front for some anti-supernatural bigots who are trying to kill them and that the house they're in is a giant Death Trap, Kitty's immediate response is to gather the group and inform them that the number one reason people die in horror movies is because they don't watch horror movies. She then lists all the standard ways to get yourself killed in a slasher movie and how to avoid them.
  • In Northanger Abbey, the protagonist Catherine is a big fan of Gothic novels and incorrectly applies their tropes when she visits the Tilneys at their home, the Abbey of the title. Her Love Interest Henry is a fan of them himself—so when he finds Catherine snooping around his late mother's rooms, he surmises that Catherine is imagining a tale of imprisonment and murder, with herself as the heroine come to uncover these dark secrets. And he's spot-on.