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Headscratchers: Neverwhere
  • So, around the end of the book, Richard is telling his once-friend Gary about his adventures in London Below. Gary is incredibly skeptical, and says that Richard was likely in fact hallucinating, which Richard admits is possible. This is all fine and dandy, except that that would leave an enormous plot-hole as to where Richard got Hunter's knife, WHICH HE BLOODY HAS AT THE TIME.
    • It's just a knife. He could have picked it up anywhere and hallucinated about Hunter and the rest.
    • Also, it turns out that it wasn't his imagination, because The Marquis shows up at the end. Remember?
      • Well, yes. That's more or less irrelevant, though, as the problem is that the knife's existence detracts from the plausibility of the possibility that it was a hallucination.
      • The knife's existence does no such thing. From the viewpoint of a sensible, normal guy like Gary it mean just that Richard either owned an exotic knife, or swiped or found it from somewhere. It doesn't make the experience any realer to a third party.
      • To expand, it's like if I disappeared for a month, then showed up with a unique deerstalker and declared it as proof that I had been going on space-adventures with Sherlock Holmes. (I know, I'm just trying to make an obvious example.) People would still think I was insane, and indeed, I could still easily be. As a side note, you could technically just interpret the ending and Richard going irreversibly insane, but that would just be depressing.
  • The graphic novel adaptation. That is all.
    • Word to the wording word. The Marquis is a drow? Door is a stripper clown? Islington is a tribal ice queen? Hunter is... Okay, I liked Hunter's design. But still!
      • The graphic novel designs are based on the original television miniseries which, I think, actually predates the book in either novel or graphic novel form. So the designs are based off the actors and character designs, which were in turn constrained by their budget at the time.
      • Uh... this is based on this? Okay, I can just about see that they took one or two cues — she has dark hair and some of her clothes are red and black. Let's make that full motley and a weird bird's nest thing! That still doesn't explain how this was turned into the thing on the right. And, yeah, the TV series was the original idea. Neil Gaiman wrote the book while working on the TV series. The comic came about 10 years later.
      • It's not just the character/set designs, for me, though those were atrocious. It's the fact that, between the novel and the graphic novel, so many little details from the plot were cut or changed. I understand that some things had to be removed simply because there wouldn't have been enough space for everything, but when they add things that simply weren't in the novel, I think there would have been space to keep some of the little things. As an example, the scene in the graphic novel where the Marquis and Door burn down her house isn't in the novel, and in the same space they could have had where Islington gives Door and Richard wine, or the staircase scene in the British Museum. Or is my problem that I'm assuming the graphic novel is an adaptation of the novel, when it's really an adaptation of the miniseries?
      • Having just watched the miniseries, that does not sound like it. No houses get burned, and the angel does get his drink on.
    • With regard to the character and set designs, there was a memo circulated at some point (No iea if it's real or not) in which an editor asks the artist working on the book to deemphasize the "Homelessness" of his initial drawings and make things more "Gothic and/or alternative".
    • Now this troper feels personally blessed to have read the graphic novel first!
  • Why was the Marquis the one who greeted Richard back in the end? The most obvious character to welcome him back is Door, but instead it's de Carabas. Why him? Been bugging me for years.
    • Door's being obstinate and the Marquis has a thing for Richard?
    • Door is too obvious, the scene would play too close to Richard sinking into madness. Maybe she felt he should return on his own before she dared let herself approach him. I figure the Marquis is the less predictable one, so Richard might be more willing to trust him on a return to the undercity and out of mundane existence.
    • Because Neil knew that the Marquis was the reader's favourite character. Why can't two guys just hang out without the reader deciding they're obviously gay?
      • Word of Gay, Gaiman just didn't say which two characters were gay. Hunter and the Marquis are commonly expected to be the two to whom he referred, based on how the Marquis acts toward Richard and Hunter's anecdotes. Since Richard's straight or bisexual-leaning-strongly-towards-straight, Islington doesn't have a sex, Anaesthaesia has a thing for Richard, Croup and Vandemar would pile on the Unfortunate Implications, and Door's pretty much the Designated Love Interest (and definitely is if we believe in the veritas of vino). That just leaves Hunter, the Marquis, Croup or Vandemar, and Richard's ex, and since Gaiman didn't say anything about whether he meant strictly gay or bisexuality included (personally, I think he's bi if anything), the Marquis has about a 40% chance of being one of the two confirmed gay major characters before factoring in side stories and Author's Preferred Text, whether Gaiman considers Richard's ex to be part of the principal cast, and whether or not Croup or Vandemar ever revealed any homophobic tendencies (or homocidal tendencies, but that would be difficult to tell). Does that answer your question about why "two guys just [can't] hang out without the reader deciding they're obviously gay" (despite nobody mentioning Richard's sexual preference on this page or the main page until now, assuming the other of the two guys you are talking about is Richard)?
      • No, not at all. The ability of FanGirls to see subtext everywhere is still beyond me.
      • What about Old Bailey?
      • Hunter is certainly one of the gay characters, as the novel reffers to a previous relationship with another woman. She certainly appears to have had a history with (and is the same age as) Serpentine. I assumed that Vandemar always had a thing for Croup (again in the novel he chooses to let go at the end and follow Croup into the abyss).
    • Back to the Marquis greeting Richard, I always assumed that he knew all along that it was Richard's destiny to return to London below, and very much enjoyed showing up Richard's mistaken return to the upworld.
      • Yes, I got the impression throughout the book that the Marquis is very intuitive and genre savvy.I think he had a very strong idea that Richard would want to come back, whereas Door might not have been too sure.I think he noticed that Richard was becoming more and more of a Belower as the story progressed.
      • Given his penchant for collecting favours, he's probably combining the above with getting the Warrior in his debt. He needs to restock that arsenal, after all...
    • I think Rule of Cool holds here. The ending is just slicker and more final if Richard is greeted by the Marquis.
      • Wait, what's the evidence for Richard's bi-ness?
  • Croup and Vandemar's last job before the London Below one involving Door's family is apparently in late-medieval Italy (according to the book). So do they just not work very often, or are they time-travellers? (Please nobody say Time Lords...oh, sod.)
    • I figured that they just didn't "work" very often, since they're Psychos For Hire that, despite (or because of) being very, very good at what they do, fall below the standards of most evil. Thus, in at least the past few centuries, they only get hired for the really big jobs.
    • The latter. "There are other times and other places that would appreciate a pair of dab hands with the garroting wire and the boning knife".
    • They might just be obscenely expensive, and willing to wait a long time for a juicy contract.
    • The Altogether Different Prologue (at the end of the Author's preferred version ) has them leaving the monastery massacre and Mr Croup saying their next job is 'About 400 years from now (in) London Below' which suggests they have either precognition or time travel.
    • It's possible that Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar simply exist outside of time, and can travel up and down it as easily as one can travel up and down the street.
  • Why wasn't there a mention of a freaky circus in Oxford Street or Piccadilly? Just... why? Was it because it'd have been too obvious?
    • You mean the Brass Ring? Ugh, don't even go there figuratively. But seriously, at the beginning (before moving to London) Richard wonders if there's an actual circus at Oxford Circus, with clowns and tents and maybe jugglers.
  • Were Croup and Vandemar actually scared of Hunter, considering they bargained with her instead of just threatening her or killing her like they do everyone else?
    • Croup and Vandemar were scared of the Beast of London, and Hunter's killed multiple similar beasts. Not to mention that she's mentioned as capable of matching the two of them in a straight fight. It's certainly possible that they were scared of her.
    • Despite their power and capability, Croup and Vandemar (especially Croup) were rather petty - it may be possible that they were scared of anything even remotedly capable of hurting them.
  • What made Islington feel so certain he could waltz back into heaven and just take it over single-handed?
  • Major Villain Ball moment: Door and company were already coming to Islington on their own, suspecting nothing (presumably no one knew yet that the Marquis is Back from the Dead). Why then set Croup and Vandimar to kidnap her on the last bit of the journey then? If for any reason the Marquis couldn't make it to warn them, they would have handed over the key to Islington and been none the wiser. (If they started to catch on at that point, *then* sic the thugs on them.)
    • Merely Mr.Croup and Vandemar taking the initiative whilst honoring their contract to the letter. The Labyrinth is a very dangerous place after all.
    • And they needed the Beast's Token
  • Hunter's spear. Just what Spear was it? Longinus'? Gungnir? Gae Bolg?
    • All of the above?
  • So, how did Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Croup get into the House Without Doors?
    • I thought that was Islington's help?
    • Villain Teleportation. It's how Mr. Croup caught the Marquis during the confrontation with Islington.
  • When Richard points out that Croup and Vandemar lied about being Door's brother, Croup says that all men are brothers. But Door is a woman. Explain how that quote makes any sense in context.
    • Man = mankind.
      • I severely doubt that either Mr. Coup or Mr. Vandemar qualify as part of mankind.
      • Richard couldn't have known that when he first encounters them, though. Suspects it, maybe.
    • That would work if "brothers" wasn't a masculine term...but it is. So I don't see how that works.
    • Two points: (1) It's just a quip. Croup likes the sound of his own voice. The quip is more amusing to Croup than just saying "I lied." (2) Croup speaks rather old-fashioned English; go back only twenty, thirty years and "men" and "brothers" are not specifically masculine terms, but can often be taken to include "women" and "sisters" as special cases.
      • It probably is also deliberately ironic on Croup's part, since he and Vandemar aren't remotely human.
  • What was the point of Serpentine? As far as I remember she shows up, says 'hello' to Hunter and then never appears again.
    • She takes Hunter's body, which gives the character decent closer as she's the closest thing to family we see Hunter have in the story.
    • She provides aid and shelter to the protagonists in a time of need. She's basically a breather episode between two dangerous encounters, much like Rivendell in The Hobbit.
    • This troper actually saw it as a Sequel Hook, with the possibility Serpentine will revive Hunter as one of the Velvets.
    • Word of God listed the title of the possible sequel as The Seven Sisters of which Serpentine is a part. So I buy into the "Chekhov's Gunman for a Sequel Hook" theory.
  • Why was Richard able to see Door in the beginning of the book? I mean, Richard even asks this question and Door responds with something like "I don't know, that was strange" and then it's never addressed again, as far as I could tell.
    • While it's never outright stated, it's implied that Door unconsciously opened something within Richard that allowed him to see her, and become a heroic person. She was fleeing Croup and Vandemar blindly, and opened without thinking, only trying to find some kind of safety. This brought her to Richard, and the rest is history.
      • Belowers aren't necessarily invisible to Abovers, either. Jess sees Door, and the homeless man who approaches Richard at the ATM obviously expects to be able to converse with him. It seemed to me that Belowers (or London Below itself) inspire apathy in Abovers to varying degrees, depending on the Belower and/or their condition/status, and Richard, being perhaps more compassionate than most, tends to notice Belowers more.
    • Richard is also a Scotsman in London, making him a sort of outsider also. He's used to being out of place and seeing things that other people would just pass by without a thought. Also if I remember correctly, Door specifically tried to open a door to someone who could help her.
    • Richard is dissatisfied with the normal world. (Though he doesn't realize it till the end.) This probably made it easier for him to see Door, as she's from another world.
  • I've always wondered how Croup and Vandemar are paid. They are so insanely powerful, couldn't they just take anything they wanted? So what sort of payment did Islington promise them and what did their former employers have to offer? I even asked Neil on his tumblr, but he never replied.
    • Presumably, Heaven has really great pottery.
    • And nice suits.
    • They wanted to be in favour with Islington when he became God. He's probably promised them power over a portion of the human population to torture and eat at their leisure.
    • I just figured that the work pays for itself. They feel (and I use the term loosely) honor-bound to only do things that a) they're hired to do, and b) Croup figures are worth their time, talents, and energy. Perhaps Croup thought that anything a freaking angel tells them to do falls under criteria B. However, since they quite clearly enjoy what they do so much, the chance to play havoc seems to be all the pay they need. As said, they feel bound to only cause such chaos when hired for it.
    • Could be that they can only use their abilities when doing something for somebody else, like a variation of the Vampire Invitation. They take the role of hired killers because that's the only way they can use their talents and get something out of it, which stops them from simply ravaging everything and taking what they want, or killing their employer while on their contract. This is why Croup gets so angry at Islington - he enjoys killing people but can only do it when other people tell him to (or it could be seen as related to the mission, such as killing Richard to stop word getting out). When he's directly told he can't kill someone it's impossible for him to do so, which pisses him off to no end.
  • How exactly does everyone get back to the Black Friars' monestary after the climax? The abbot just says "I had you brought here". How? And how did he know that they'd need his help in the first place?
    • Well, he knew that they had the key, so he knew they'd be heading to Islington's prison. I presume the monks have a few of those tokens lying around, so they'd be able to get through the labyrinth. As for how he knew that the main characters would need help...I guess he just figured that Islington was bound to do something nasty? Though that doesn't explain the impeccable timing of the whole thing...
  • So, Islington has Croup and Vandemar make a fake journal entry by Door's father, telling her to "trust Islington". So she talks to Islington, who tells her to get the key from the Black Friars. Then she has to take the dangerous route to Islington to bring him the key, because the earlier route only works once. But why does Islington make this so complicated? He could have just arranged for the initial journal entry to say "Get the key from the Black Friars and take it to Islington."
    • There's a trope for that.
    • Since he has to do it via proxy, maybe he didn't want Croup and Vandemar finding out about the Black Friars and killing them for the lols. After all they killed Marquis before they had been given the okay to do that, and commonly propose Murder Is the Best Solution to any problem (on top of figuring out ways to get around being told not to kill such and such), whilst he needs the Friars alive so people can pull off the three ordeals.
  • How does Islington expect anyone to be able to get the key from the Friars, when so many have tried and failed in the past? Is it just sheer luck (from his perspective) that Richard is able to beat the ordeal?
    • Islington will endure for eternity. From his point of view, he will eventually achieve his goal. Who knows how many people he's sent to their deaths before? A fair portion of them must be on the memorial wall the Black Friars keep. Furthermore, from the book at least, it's likely he knew Door's ancestors from quite a while back. Door's family are Openers: who knows how many times he's enlisted members of her family to try and open his prison.
  • The way Anesthesia describes how she got to London Bellow sounds a lot like she died of exposure. Could this mean London Bellow is a sort of afterlife and everyone who "lives" there is dead?
    • No, because several of the characters were born in the London Below (namely Doors), and Richard gets back and forth through situations that don't involve dying and is not the only person who goes back and forth, not to mention that the London Below has it's own little area that's essentially an afterlife and the small details that people from Below can physically interact with the London Above which we see through the eyes of ordinary people.
      • I always thought of them as having either rescued her from dying of exposure or possibly brought her back to life- I don't think that she's currently dead, though, either way (at least before the bridge...).

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