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Literature: Alex Rider

Before Charlie Higson sat down to write the Young Bond books, this was the answer to the question "What was James Bond like as a kid?"

The series, written by Anthony Horowitz, follows the adventures of Alex Rider, a fourteen year old boy who lives in Chelsea, who is coerced into working for MI6 after his uncle's death. His uncle, Ian Rider, told him that he worked for a bank but was actually a spy. Alex is looked after by a housekeeper, Jack Starbright, who is American. When Ian dies, MI6 gives Alex a "proposal"; either he works for them or Jack is sent straight back to America and Alex goes into care.

There have been nine books in the main series:

  1. Stormbreaker (2000)
  2. Point Blancnote  (2001)
  3. Skeleton Key (2002)
  4. Eagle Strike (2003)
  5. Scorpia (2004)
  6. Ark Angel (2005)
  7. Snakehead (2007)
  8. Crocodile Tears (2009)
  9. Scorpia Rising (2011)

Although Scorpia Rising is meant to be the last book in the series, a Prequel focusing on the character of Yassen Gregorovich, Russian Roulette, was published in 2013. There are also two supplementary materials, Alex Rider: The Gadgets (featuring blueprints of the gadgets Alex uses), and Alex Rider: Mission Files, featuring assorted correspondence, diagrams, blueprints and miscellenea from the first seven books. Stormbreaker was adapted as a movie in 2006, and the first four books have been adapted as graphic novels that form a different canon to the books.

Provides Examples Of:

  • The Ace: Alex's father, John Rider falls into this territory, although he's also a Posthumous Character. Every description of him and his work as a soldier/spy/assassin is full of practically nothing but praise, and even Alan Blunt is described as having a soft spot for him.
  • Affably Evil: Damian Cray and General Alexei Sarov.
    • Yu is also pretty affable. When Alex suggests how he killed his boss he says "actually he drowned but good catch".
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: The end of Point Blanc. The Big Bad had been creating clones of himself and then using plastic surgery to make them look like the sons of famous, wealthy and influential businessmen, with the intention of impersonating them. As Alex was posing as the son of one of these businessmen, a clone is made to look like him. Said clone shows up at the climax of the book to murder Alex and take his place. After a struggle that results in a fire, only one Alex escapes from the fire. It's left deliberately ambiguous as to which Alex survived...
    • Until Scorpia Rising, which features the return of the Alex clone, who apparently survived the fire.
  • And I Must Scream: Major Yu's plan to dispose of Alex: Slowly have his organs removed and sold on the black market, starting with his corneas and eventually reducing him to a husk on life support.
  • Anti-Hero:
  • Anti-Villain: Yassen has elements of this.
    • General Alexei Sarov is also a good example.
  • Blackmail: Blunt blackmailed Alex into being a spy.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: A rare male example, Sharkovsky orders his men to make sure the captured young Yassen has washed himself throughly before being in his presence as Yassen was living on the streets at the time.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Although Alex has strong morals, MI6 (the people Alex serves) are cold and calculated, and black-mailed Alex into their service instead of actually letting him decide whether he wanted to serve or not. It's made even more appropriate by the fact that Alan Blunt, head of MI6 until the last book, is portrayed as being almost emotionless and entirely colorless; gray suit, gray hair, gray lips, gray eyes, gray life...
  • Blofeld Ploy: In "Eagle Strike", Damian Cray orders Yassen to kill Alex and Sabina. Yassen refuses, saying he "does not kill children". Flustered, Damian snatches his gun, and instead of shooting Alex and Sabina, turns the gun on Yassen.
  • Big Bad: in order, Herod Sayle, Dr. Grief, General Alexei Sarov, Damian Cray, Mrs. Rothman, Nikolei Drevin, Major Winston Yu, Desmond McCain, Razim.
    • The Big Bad of the prequel is Vladimir Sharkovsky.
  • Bigger Bad: Zeljan Kurst, leader of Scorpia.
  • Big Damn Hero: Happens all the freaking time.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Damian Cray.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end of the series, Mrs Jones has taken over as head of MI6 and they will never contact Alex again, and Scorpia has disbanded, but Jack is dead and how much the events of the last 16 months have affected Alex is made horribly clear. Had it not been for Sabina's parents "adopting" Alex, who flies off to America to go live with them this would've turned into a Downer Ending.
  • Bond One-Liner: Alex's development into Darker and Edgier is shown by some serious abuse of this trope.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Almost every book has Alex found out by the bad guys, but not killed or forced to make his way through a death trap that he also beats.
    • Yu wastes precious time allowing Ash to explain his betrayal, giving Alex critical time to wait for reinforcements and thwart his plot.
    • That and every single villain seems to be chomping at the bit to spill their plans to Alex in minute detail whenever they get the opportunity.
      • Alex lampshades this in Snakehead by saying in the narrative that the worst part about being a criminal is not being able to tell people about your crimes. And the villains usually bust out the Bond Villain Stupidity when they think that they're about to kill Alex.
    • This is however averted in Scorpia Rising, as Razim needs Alex alive and without any physical marks on him. He also refuses to tell Alex what he is planning- Alex only finds out from one of his subordinates.
    • Subverted with Skeleton Key, at least for the main villain, who actually wants Alex to be his son.
  • Book Ends: Both Stormbreaker and Russian Roulette end with Herod Sayle's assassination by Yassen Gregorovich, but from the perspectives of Alex and Yassen, respectively.
  • Broken Pedestal: In Russian Roulette, John Rider becomes this for Yassen Gregorovich after Yassen finds an MI6 gadget in John's luggage, revealing that John was a British spy who had intentionally tried to get Yassen to quit being an assassin.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: The end of Stormbreaker: Sayle has a gun pointed at Alex and two shots are fired, but they went from Yassen's gun into Sayle's chest.
    • Skeleton Key sports this trope as well; the penultimate chapter ends with the statement that Sarov, face to face with Alex, "raised his gun and fired a single shot". A few pages into the next chapter, it's revealed that Sarov shot himself after Alex rejected him as a father figure.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Alex can hardly take a breath of fresh air without being whisked away to another life-threatening, trauma-inducing mission.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Alex is quite nonchalant sometimes about the various deathtraps and problems he faces....
  • Chandler's Law
  • Chekhov's Gun: Word of God stated that Smithers has had a gadget that has appeared, unknown to the reader, in every book to up to the 8th book, Crocodile Tears. This was finally revealed in Scorpia Rising, book 9. And that gadget is Smithers' own fat. In fact he's very thin and fit but has actually been wearing a special suit that has made him look fat all along.
    • Nearly every book has a gun, often a gadget. Stormbreaker has the jellyfish tank and the Bomber Boy cartridge, for example.
    • Point Blanc: the ski jump.
    • The Gun in Skeleton Key is unusual as it is introduced late, still seemingly cast aside as useless, yet proves important at the end. It's Alex telephone call interrupted by the security guard. At the end of the book, it's revealed at the guard never hung up the phone, so the police heard Conrad shoot him dead and realized Alex was telling the truth. More traditionally in Skeleton Key, there's also the stick of expanding gum.
    • Eagle Strike has one in the form of a gadget: the bulletproof jersey.
    • Ark Angel had a Gun in the form of the second rocket. Supposedly for a "weightlessness experiment" using Arthur the ape, it's actually intended to be Kaspar's escape vehicle from the space hotel.
    • There was another example of this in Snakehead: the battery from the tracking device in his shoe, which Alex uses to power his watch/homing device, allowing MI6's copters to rescue him.
    • There's also one in Crocodile Tears: the explosive black pen Smithers gave him, which Alex attaches to a barrel of fuel before kicking the fuel drum over to McCain and watching him explode.
    • The Gun in Scorpia Rising is the salt pile used for brick-making, into which Razim falls and is cooked from the inside out. And to a lesser extent, the picture of a coat hook also qualifies as a Gun.
    • Russian Roulette: the Power Plus battery transmitter, revealing John Rider to Yassen as an MI6 double agent.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Julius Grief, with a six-book gap between his unknown fate at the denouement of Point Blanc and his reappearance as The Dragon in Scorpia Rising.
    • Within Crocodile Tears, Rahim qualifies in a heroic sense, saving Alex's life once at the beginning of the book and twice towards the end.
    • And in Ark Angel, villainously, Kaspar, both his reappearance in the disguise of Magnus Payne and his presence on Ark Angel.
    • The Gunman in Russian Roulette is Vladimir Sharkovsky, whose appearance at the end is as Yassen's first assassination.
  • Church of Saint Genericus: In book 5, the Church of Forgotten Saints.
  • Cloning Blues: The plot of the second book, Point Blanc.
    • And guess who's back in Scorpia Rising. Technically, Julius Grief isn't a clone of Alex, but the fact that he was surgically altered to look just like him makes it sort of count - it's said the fact that he looks identical to the boy who killed his "father" and left him for dead has caused him extreme anguish.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Subverted several times. The bad guys seem to prefer bragging about what they're going to do to their victims instead of actually doing it (see Bond Villain Stupidity).
    • Played straight in Scorpia Rising with Razim, who wants to create a measurable unit of pain and slowly kills people with various horrific instruments, like knives, syringes and many more, to measure the pain that they feel. He tortures a French spy; the author manages to spare the readers the details though. ...Unless you want to read about that stuff...
      • It's later mentioned that he does several more "experiments" with Julius. Again, the details are thankfully spared.
    • And later on the CIA actually waterboard Alex, though he is later apologized to by Joe Byrne. The same people use torture for..."good" later to obtain a password so they can enter and storm Razim's fortress.
  • Collapsed Mid Speech: One victim goes out this way.
  • Comic-Book Time: The first book was released in the year 2000 with Alex aged 14. As of Crocodile Tears, Alex is just 15 and all eight books have taken place within a year, despite the gadgets moving from Nintendo Game Boys to iPhones and Snakehead explicitly making reference to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (giving the exact date). The same book still lists Alex as having been born in the 1980s.
    • Crocodile Tears has references to the iPhone (January 2007), Assassins Creed II (2009), and the Great Recession (started in 2007 but didn't really get going until fall '08).
    • And in Scorpia Rising the BP Oil spill is mentioned, bringing it around to 2010. He also has an iPhone 3GS.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Inverted in Crocodile Tears. Rahim saves Alex from near death on more than one occasion. After rescuing Alex for the third time, he starts complaining about how Alex was simply screwing up his own personal mission against McCain, even though Alex himself was very grateful for the rescue.
  • Cool Big Sis: Jack is actually Alex's housekeeper, but he appears to think of her more as one of these.
  • Compromising Memoirs: Discussed briefly after Alan Blunt is forced to retire in Scorpia Rising.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Scorpia's plot in Scorpia Rising.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Nadia Vole is killed by her boss's Portuguese Man-Of-War.
    • A non-major villain example, Charlie Roper, an ex-CIA agent is locked in a small glass room shaped like a bottle, and his ''blood money'' of two million dollars is dropped into the room in coins.
    • Damian Cray, who gets sucked into a jet engine.
    • Dr. Grief wants to perform an unanesthesized vivisection on Alex. In layman's terms, he wants to harvest organs from Alex while he's still awake. You may now vomit and shudder. invoked
    • The beauty of Invisible Sword...[[spoiler: dropping dead for no particular reason is definitely both cruel and unusual.
    • How about Major Yu's plan to slowly kill Alex by harvesting his organs?
    • Major Yu, who gets turned into a boneless, fleshy mass by a bomb's shock-wave.
    • Razim gives lots of absolutely horrible and disgusting deaths to innocent people in his sadistic "experiments".
      • And of course he later receives probably the worst death of all, falling into a salt pit and slowly being crushed to death.
  • Cultural Translation: The US editions persist in including Americanisms despite the fact that books 3 and 6 actually take place in America (and the CIA appear in book 9). Among other things, the exploding keyring of Michael Owen in Skeleton Key becomes one of Tiger Woods.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Scorpia's retirement present, such as for retiring founder Max Grendel, is a suitcase filled with poisonous, deadly scorpions. Zeljan Kurst also stages snipers for those who retire and then threaten to kill him.
  • Darker and Edgier: As the series progresses, Alex becomes this.
    • The series as a whole becomes this; initially at least, Alex is generally threatened and held captive by villains but they never actually follow on any of their nasty fates because he escapes first. By the time of the final book, he actually gets waterboarded, by the CIA no less.
  • Deadly Delivery: In Scorpia, Alex does this to try to kill Mrs. Jones.
    • Fails miserably in Scorpia Rising when Smithers uses an X-Ray scanner to prove that the delivery man was carrying a gun and the package was empty. He then gets rid of him with a trapdoor under a welcome mat.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alex makes it a point to casually make jokes and insults about the Big Bads just to make them angry. By Scorpia Rising, however, he seems to have stopped.
  • Death by Irony: Nile from Scorpia has acrophobia. Take a wild guess how he dies.
    • Out of all the ways for Major Winston Yu to die, it was his osteoporosis that got to him.
  • Death by Looking Up: Julia Rothman.
  • Death by Materialism: Literally played straight in Eagle Strike when Charlie Roper is trapped inside a bottle-shaped room and then killed when Damian Cray fills the room with two million dollars worth of nickels (the two million dollars Roper was due to be paid for betraying his country). In other words, 40,000,000 nickels.
  • Deconstruction: Despite not being Horowitz's original intention, the series gradually becomes a deconstruction of the entire idea of spying being a cool or desirable occupation.
    • It also rips the Kid Hero trope apart, demonstrating how traumatic, psychologically scarring and generally awful the whole ordeal has been for Alex.
  • Despair Event Horizon: In the final novel, Razim makes Alex cross this by arranging for Jack, who's been caring for Alex since he was seven years old, to be blown up just as she thought she was escaping from his secure facility. Alex spends a good chunk in a Heroic BSOD before bouncing back to win the day, but the end of the novel shows that he's still traumatized by that (which is really understandable).
    • Not to mention having killed Julius Grief in cold blood.
  • Deus ex Machina: The series follows the third way to the letter just like the James Bond movies. A teenage spy is sent into a mission with a small collection of gadgets. Of course he uses them all to save his own neck just in time and stop the current madman from destroying the world.
    • Another one happens when Alex is running from some gunmen and ultimately runs to the rooftop of a building with no way down and the gunmen on the stairs. But then Alex remembers seeing a giant orange cone/construction equipment (not mentioned before) and jumps off the building into it, allowing him to slide from safety away from his assailants.
  • Disney Villain Death: See Death by Irony. Didn't help that he was on fire when he fell either.
    • Razim suffers from a variation. He survives the fall, but dies immediately afterwards due to landing in an unstable pile of salt, which acts like quicksand and sucks him under and cooks him from the inside once it gets through his skin.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the first book, Herod Sayle planned to kill millions of innocent schoolchildren as revenge for the Prime Minister bullying him at school. Then we have Damian Cray in the fourth book, who arranged the death of a journalist who objected to the violence in his video games, and later told Alex he planned to kill him before he found out he was a spy, on the basis that Alex had done too well at what was supposed to be an extremely difficult game. And then in Scorpia Rising we have Razim, who, as a child, stabbed his nanny in the leg when she told him off for teasing his sister. Yeah, Anthony Horowitz is fond of this trope.
  • Doomed Hometown: Yassen's home of Estrov, wiped out by a chemical weapon accident and its people killed by soldiers covering the incident up.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Point Blanc was retitled Point Blank in the US, presumably to make the Punny Name more obvious.
  • Downer Ending: Scorpia ends with Alex getting shot by a sniper with no indication that he survives. You only know he does because there are four more books.
    • Similarly, Point Blanc ends with Alex and his pseudo-clone Julius fighting on the rooftop of Alex's school. The last few paragraphs only refer to them abstractly, as "one Alex Rider" and "the other Alex Rider," and with one being pushed off the roof to their death. It isn't clear which was which until you notice that the other books, well, exist. Julius survived anyway, as per Scorpia.
    • Toyed with in Skeleton Key. Sarov apparently shoots Alex - we're even treated to "Alex Rider is dead" in the epilogue. Nope. It appears to all have been Spy Speak.
  • The Dragon
    • Stormbreaker: Gregorovich (who turned on Sayle at the end) or Mr Grin
    • Point Blanc: Mrs. Stellenbosch
    • Skeleton Key: Conrad
    • Eagle Strike: Yassen Gregorovich (again, though Cray shoots him for refusing to kill Alex & Sabina.)
    • Scorpia: Nile
    • Ark Angel: Kaspar /Magnus Payne
    • Snakehead: Possibly either Captain de Wynter (although barring Yassen, he's the first Alex doesn't kill, instead being killed by Major Yu when he fails to stop Alex escaping the Liberian Star) or Ash
    • Crocodile Tears: Myra Beckett, although again Alex isn't responsible for her death,
    • Scorpia Rising: Julius Grief and to a lesser extent Erik Gunter.
  • Eaten Alive: Dr. Myra Beckett.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Yassen is a professional assassin, but even he refuses to kill children and anyone not strictly on his list of targets.
    • One of Scorpia's senior members is disturbed by them developing a bioweapon that specifically targets children, and makes plans to retire from the organisation.
    • Scorpia condemned Damian Cray as a madman.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Four Mooks from Ark Angel were always referred to as "Spectacles," "Steel Watch," "Combat Jacket," and "Silver Tooth."
  • Expy: The series contains several expies (ranging from thinly-veiled to better concealed) of celebreties and politicians. It can be said that Damian Cray is basically an evil Elton John. Due to his penchant for vivisection and his admiration of Hitler, Dr. Grief may be an expy of Josef Mengele.
  • External Combustion: Attempted by Cray's minions on Marc Antonio in Eagle Strike. He noticed a wire and didn't start the car.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Subverted in Eagle Strike with Marc Antonio. Not only is he a mere photographer, but he's killed in the first and only chapter he's in.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • The books, despite being a kid's series, have had some very graphic and almost cringe-worthy deaths. Some of these include being stung to death by a Portugese man-o-war, being blown up in a helicopter by a flying snowmobile, being impaled by a set of underwater spikes, having their back broken by a large magnet because of all the metal in their body and then drowning because of the weight, being crushed in a giant bottle with FREAKING QUARTERS, getting sucked into the engine of Air Force One with the remains being described as a "cloud of red gas", being sent back to Earth from space after being hit with a giant fireball, being crushed by a falling hot air balloon platform, having a hole blown in their chest by a medallion made of caesium while showering, having the top half of their plane fall on them before it explodes, and the most out there death of them all, when Kaspar is suspended in zero gravity, helpless as he floats backwards into a zero-g floating knife which impales him through the back of his head. Anthony Horowitz is one sick individual.
    • The main villain of Snakehead, meanwhile, is killed by having every bone in his body smashed to bits by the vibrations of a bomb going off underwater as he's riding a jetski. The result is described as still looking like a human for roughly half a second before collapsing into an unrecognizable heap of skin and gore.
    • In the first chapter of Crocodile Tears alone, a devastating nuclear disaster is set off. We hear what happens to those in the room the first explosion is triggered. Graphically. The first chapter.
    • The Big Bad of Scorpia Rising melting in a pile of salt?
  • Feed the Mole: It's implied this was ASIS' true aim in using Alex with Ash in Snakehead.
  • Femme Fatale: Mrs Rothman.
  • Five-Man Band: MI6
  • The Film of the Book: Was subjected to an unusual variant of Executive Meddling, in that one of the executives Horowitz worked with turned out to be a crook, resulting in the film not being as widely screened as it should have been, ensuring there wasn't enough profit for a sequel. (The fact that the movie was poorly received by critics did not help matters, either)
  • Finger in the Mail: Invoked. Alex swaps rooms with a friend he made in hospital to protect him from kidnappers (the friend's father is rich). The kidnappers then threaten to cut off Alex's fingers and mail them once they finally show up, forcing him to admit the truth.
  • Fun with Acronyms: SCORPIA: Sabotage, CORruPtion, Intelligence, Assassination. Yes, the P is a bit of a stretch.
    • Lampshaded in the prequel Russian Roulette.
      Julia Rothman: They could have added kidnapping, blackmail, terrorism, drug trafficking and vice, but that wouldn't make a word. Anyway, we've got to be called something and I suppose Scorpia has a nice ring to it.
    • The CIA's various regional headquarters in different countries and states are named with the exact same initials— Centurion International Advertising in Miami, Creative Ideas Animation in New York and Cairo Islamic Authority in, well, Cairo.
  • Gaining The Will To Kill: Played with. While the Big Bad of the book usually ends up dead, and mostly because of Alex, he rationalises them away as accidents (in that he didn't intend any of them to die or directly have a hand in their deaths). Alex's willingness to kill is treated by the series as a Moral Event Horizon that he has no intention of crossing - when SCORPIA manipulates him into trying to kill Ms. Jones by showing her ordering his father's death, Alex still has trouble shooting. Eventually, he does shoot, but later is told that his shot would have missed despite being at point-blank range, meaning he really can't kill. In the last two books, Crocodile Tears, Alex begins to lose this innocence, doing things that would definitely kill the recipients - he cuts open a mook's protective suit while in a toxic biodome, and attaches an explosive to a barrel before rolling it over to the main villain. Finally, in Scorpia Rising, the last book he shoots Julius Grief point-blank in the head while the former was at his mercy, but scrambling for a gun. Unusually, this is treated as a good thing, kind of. Ms. Jones states later that due to Julius' personality and appearance, Alex also symbolically killed off the part of his mind that MI5 created - in other words, the part that killed Julius in the first place.
  • Gilded Cage: Sarov keeps Alex in a very nice place during his captivity. Sarov even comments on this.
  • Glasgow Grin: Sayle's Dragon, Mr. Grin, has one.
  • Good Is Not Nice: MI6 can act like this at times.
    • The final novel goes Up to Eleven when it's revealed at the end that Alan Blunt arranged for the sniper to attack Alex at his school solely for the purpose of getting an excuse to put Alex on another assignment. That's right, he arranged a school shooting in order to coerce a fifteen-year-old boy into working as a spy.
  • Guilty Pleasure
  • Heel-Face Turn: Yassen had arguably done this in the end of the fourth book, when he tried to stop Damian Cray from killing Alex, and getting shot in the process. He dies in Alex's arms after Damian Cray dies.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Alan Blunt. He even recites the quote.
  • Hoist By Their Own Petards: Not uncommon for the bad guys in the series.
    • Nadia Vole is stung to death by the Portuguese Man of War that she tried to use to kill Alex.
    • Julia Rothman is flattened by the satellites on the hot air balloon needed to initiate Invisible Sword.
    • Kaspar gets a knife from Ark Angel to try and kill Alex, only to get fatally stabbed by it.
    • Winston Yu is killed by the same bomb he was planning to use in his scheme.
    • Myra Beckett tries to feed Alex to several crocodiles in a pool of water. Guess who falls in the pool?
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted in Ark Angel, by one of the Force Three goons. The narrative describes him shooting at Alex sounding like a cough.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Alex.
  • Internal Reveal: In Scorpia Rising, the reader is aware pretty much from the start that Alex's mission is a trap to deliver him to Scorpia.
  • Just Between You and Me: Every book. The exception is Scorpia, where Alex and the Cobra cabinet manage to work out the plan themselves.
  • Just in Time: Occurs at least once in every novel, most notable in Crocodile Tears when Rahim saves Alex from peril three times.
  • Karmic Death: If it wasn't for the shockwave from the bomb he was gonna use Major Winston Yu would've gotten away.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Jack is a bit younger than most examples of this trope, but she still fits.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Mr Grin in Stormbreaker used to be part of a knife-throwing act in which he would catch a knife between his teeth during the act's finale. As a result of the act going horribly wrong, he now sports a Glasgow Grin and has difficulty speaking properly.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Alex Rider.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Prime Minister in Stormbreaker. Whilst never named, the tie-in book Alex Rider: The Mission Files states that "Education is at the heart of his government's manifesto".
    • The newly-elected, incompetent Prime Minister in Crocodile Tears (released a few months before the 2010 General Election) is, if not David Cameron, clearly intended as a Conservative.
      • And the US secretary of State from Scorpia Rising is obviously Hillary Clinton.
  • Literal Surveillance Bug: Scorpia Rising, when Smithers disguises an electronic bug as a dead cockroach.
  • Look Both Ways: Julius Grief.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Paul Drevin
  • Magical Defibrillator: Subverted. Alex attacks a character with a defibrillator. Given the misuse in other works, and the whole thing being preceded with something along the lines of "he knew what they did, he'd seen a lot of television", those must have been some pretty accurate television shows.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The plot of Snakehead, where Scorpia have to destroy a conference aiming to wipe out poverty but avoid the organisers looking like martyrs.
    • Sarov intends to portray his nuking of Murmansk as an accident caused by a defective submarine, which he will then blame on the Russian government being run by idiots.
  • Man Behind the Man: Scorpia's admitted to being behind book one's villain's plan by selling him the virus strain he implanted in the stormbreakers. It's very possible that they're behind some of the other villain's actions if not all of them.
  • Meaningful Name: Stormbreaker features a Big Bad named Herod Sayle, whose Evil Plan involves murdering thousands of children.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The UK edition of Scorpia Rising.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr Hugo Grief. There's also a Scorpia member named Dr Light.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Doctor Grief, anyone? Or, y'know Herod Sayle? Or Damian Cray?
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Scorpia. They're the villains of three books.
  • The New Russia: A very negative interpretation with Nikolei Drevin, the Big Bad of Ark Angel, who built his fortune after The Great Politics Mess-Up by cooperating with not just The Mafiya but other criminal organizations including The Yakuza and the Chinese triads; Joe Byrne flat-out calls him "the biggest criminal in the world".
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: This happens frequently with Alex. He's dined with every one of the Big Bad's in each book.
    • Taken to its logical extreme in Skeleton Key where the villain more or less tries to adopt him and treats him like his now-dead biological son, after Alex ends up getting captured. Much of the book is the Big Bad letting (or rather, forcing) Alex to live with him in his luxury home, getting him to take part in various activities (like horse riding) and telling Alex We Can Rule Together. And dining with him, of course. He even forbids his Mooks and The Dragon from harming him (the latter glefully disobeys) When Alex finally foils his Evil Plan and puts himself at his mercy, he chooses to shoot himself rather than kill him.
  • No One Could Survive That: Said after Julius Grief drives a jeep off a cliff which then explodes and falls into the ocean. While a lowly guard might buy it, Alan Blunt really should have known better.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Yassen gives one of these in Russian Roulette when he talks about how people who couldn't afford vodka would use shoe polish as a drug.
  • Not Quite Dead: At the beginning of the sixth book.
  • Not So Stoic: Razim feels emotions for the first time in his life during his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Nuke 'em: The crux of Damian Cray's eponymous plan in Eagle Strike.
    • Sarov intends to kill millions of people by nuking a nuclear submarine repair shipyard, making it look like an accident, and blaming it on the Russian government's incompetence.
  • Obviously Evil: If a villainous character is NOT this, they almost immediately cross the Moral Event Horizon. Just in case there was any confusion whatsoever.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: The ending of the penultimate chapter and beginning of the final chapter of Skeleton Key imply that Alex is dead before it turns out that Sarov killed himself, not Alex.
    • The end of Scorpia was not intended to be this as Horowitz believed the audience would assume Alex would be fine.
    • There's a bit of this in Point Blanc too, with MI6 organising a sham funeral to trick Stellenbosch and Dr Grief into thinking Alex was really dead.
  • Overt Operative: This isn't a perfect example of this, in that the whole reason for using Alex Rider as a spy is that bad guys are supposed to think that he is Just a Kid. However, somehow the bad guys almost always find out who is really is and who he is working for, often by looking up his file in their Magical Database. Given how many times that his cover has been blown, it is amazing that he is still considered useful for covert operations.
    • He remains useful due to his unique psychology - though he's an experienced and blooded agent, he doesn't act like one consistently. His enemies are used to Child Soldiers, but they aren't used to one being so stable. Alex's lifestyle and worldview(a schoolboy who keeps getting blackmailed into covert operations rather than a covert operative who takes time off to go to school) keep him psychologically healthy enough for people to keep seeing the "schoolboy" and forget that they're looking at a fighter capable of disabling men three times his size with his bare hands and causing millions in property damage with the contents of the average closet.
    • Ironically enough, the fact that Alex is forbidden from ever carrying or using a gun is also a factor that probably contributes to his success. Without the recourse of direct violence to fall back on, Alex is constantly forced to think outside the box and resort to ideas and tactics that villains are unlikely to expect.
    • It is noted in Crocodile Tears that Alan Blunt disapproves of the fact that Alex has gotten taller, because as he loses his youthful features he steadily becomes less useful to MI6 in this way.
  • Paid Harem: Some hot Cuban chicks accompany the Russian President on his vacation in Skeleton Key; it's implied he had sex with them behind the scenes.
  • Piano Drop: Herod Sayle from Stormbreaker was a street urchin until he saved some rich tourists from a piano dropped from a fourteenth story window.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Amongst other things, Hugo Grief is also an utterly unrepentant White Supremacist. His ultimate plan involves surgically altering loyal, racist clones of his back to their wealthy and influential parents, so that when they inherit their assets by hook or by crook, they'll eventually restore apartheid - this time, on a global scale.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Alex's fight with his doppelganger at the end of Point Blanc.
    • It happens again in Scorpia Rising.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: McCain does this is a surprisingly calm way while speaking to Alex during his Villainous Breakdown:
    Desmond McCain: "Get. Out. Of. The. Plane."
  • Quicksand Sucks: This is basically how Razim from Scorpia Rising goes out.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The four henchmen whose real names were never once mentioned in Ark Angel.
  • Race Lift: In the movie version of Stormbreaker, Herod Sayle becomes a kid from a redneck "trailer park" family who moved to England.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: In Point Blanc.
  • Red Right Hand: All but two novels have one.
    • Stormbreaker has Mr. Grin, who has a Glasgow Smile.
    • Skeleton Key has Conrad, who is probably the most extreme example on the list. He was blown up by one of his own bombs and then surgically put back together with metal parts added. The operation was not completely successful, resulting in mismatched body parts.
    • Scorpia has Nile, who has vitiligo, resulting in having various blotches of white skin.
    • Ark Angel has Kaspar, who had his entire head tattooed to look like Earth.
    • Snakehead has Major Yu, who has osteoporosis.
    • Crocodile Tears has Desmond McCain, who has a misaligned jaw.
    • Averted in Scorpia Rising. The Dragon looks exactly like Alex.
  • Renegade Russian:
    • Yassen Gregorovich, a contract killer who appears in Stormbreaker and Eagle Strike.
    • General Alexei Sarov, a disillusioned former Soviet general who wants his country back.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: The opening chapter of Scorpia has one of the titular organisation's senior members offed in this fashion. He refuses to participate in Scorpia's latest project: a biological weapon that specifically targets children. He is given a "retirement present" from his former co-workers, which turns out to be a box filled with deadly scorpions.
  • Reverse Psychology: Alex falls for this near the end of Point Blanc. After nearly killing himself at least three different ways to get out of the school, he refuses to help out in the attack...until Wolf comes in and tells him he's Just a Kid. Alex immediately demands to go with them, and realizes what he's done five seconds too late.
  • Right Under Their Noses: During Snakehead, Alex is trapped on the villain's ship and, with nowhere else to hide from the guards, spends a few nerve-wracking hours hiding under the villain's bed.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Alex. He's been shot at, forced to watch people die, and stood face-to-face with pure evil. To add insult to injury, Jack is killed, and he is forced to shoot a person who looks just like him. All this has profoundly psychologically damaged him.
  • Shout-Out: Dr. Grief's ultimate plan in Point Blanc is essentially The Boys from Brazil.
  • Shown Their Work: The author often goes into unnecessary amounts of detail, most frequently to describe the model of gun that a soldier/guard/assassin is using or the amount of liters per hour the engine of a vehicle uses. It makes the mistakes stand out a lot.
    • Anthony Horowitz does a great deal of research to get specifics right; he notes that the only things he's been unable to do are visit space and go on board Air Force One.
  • Space Is Slow Motion: The end of Ark Angel makes a point of avoiding this.
  • Spy Fiction: Mostly Martini flavor, but with a strong Stale Beer aftertaste. While it revels in the outward trappings of a Martini (exotic locales with adventurous activities, disfigured villains with ludicrously evil schemes, and high-tech gadgetry), Alex himself is frequently shaken by the moral implications of his work and quickly develops an extremely cynical and gloomy attitude about it.
  • The Stoic: Alan Blunt. The only time he even shows a little bit of emotion is in Crocodile Tears.
    • Myra Beckett is described as being a robot, and at times acts like she physically can't smile.
  • Strictly Formula: After about the first 3 books you can pick out the main villain as soon as they enter. This is particularly evident in Crocodile Tears, the most formulaic so far. Anthony Horowitz has likely noticed this, because in the ninth book two of the three villains are revealed nonchalantly without even bothering to surprise the reader. Also, did anyone else notice that Alex tends to always beat the grownups in some game, then they try to kill him?
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Several of Alex's gadgets; Smithers notes when giving him the exploding pens in Crocodile Tears that he "likes his explosions".
    • Lots of explosions in the books. Particularly the exploding snowmobile that killed Dr. Grief.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Jack.
  • Symbol Swearing: In Scorpia Rising, Alex tells Lewinsky, his accidental abductor, to "go and ----- yourself".
  • Tagline: Originally the series' tagline was "Alex Rider, the reluctant teenage spy" (which gets dropped in context in Scorpia Rising). More recently this has changed to the original tagline for Stormbreaker, "Alex Rider - you're never too young to die".
  • Teen Super Spy: Alex, obviously.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: In Scorpia Rising, the trap by the eponymous organisation is initiated by having a sniper shoot Levi Kroll at a routine meeting, and throwing his body in the Thames, after he attempts to back out of their scheme.
  • Title Drop: Happens Once an Episode.
    • Stormbreaker: It's the name of the computers Sayle is selling.
    • Point Blanc: In the UK: it is The Place title. Namely, the academy Alex is sent to. In the USA: When Grief is killed: "The makeshift torpedo it its target full-on. Point blank."
    • Skeleton Key: The Place title again. This time, it's the island Alexei Sarov lives on.
    • Eagle Strike: The name of Cray's master plan.
    • Scorpia: The name of the Nebulous Evil Organization introduced in the book.
    • Ark Angel: The Place title yet again. In this case, the name of the hotel IN SPACE that Drevin is working on.
    • Snakehead: Type of Chinese gang involved in human smuggling, one of which Alex investigates.
    • Crocodile Tears: A slight break in tradition, as it isn't the name of a plot element; rather, the book defines the term "crocodile tears" at the beginning, and the Big Bad refers to them later. They refer to his supposed conversion to Christianity following his imprisonment for fraud, and literally appear late in the book.
    • Scorpia Rising is the exception to the rule; it basically describes the book's entire premise, but is never dropped in context.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Anthony Horowitz's description of Scorpia Rising promised the death of a major character, one who had appeared in each and every book so far. As it turns out, the book led readers to believe that this would be Smithers, but it ended up being Jack Starbright.
    • Inverted by Scorpia, where the reaction to the ending required Horowitz to publicly confirm that Alex was not dead and begin work on Ark Angel straight away.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Max Grendel resigning from Scorpia is seen as this by the rest of the executive board.
  • Torture Always Works: Torture isn't even used much in the novel, and is usually avoided or interrupted.
    • In Skeleton Key when Conrad places Alex on a Sugar Grinder conveyor belt and threatens to grind him up if he doesn't talk. At first Alex attempts to lie but once that fails he spills everything. Conrad being the guy that he is, decides to... grind him him up anyways. Alex is only saved when Sarov interrupts..
    • In Ark Angel when Alex tells Kaspar that he's not Paul Drevin when one of the nameless Mooks attempts to cut off one of his fingers. Kaspar threatens to kill Alex if it turns out he's not really Paul Drevin but they purposely allow him to escape the death trap they built for him as it is all part of Nikolei Drevin's master plan
    • And the time in Crocodile Tears where Alex was dangling over a pool of crocodiles and told Desmond McCain EVERYTHING rather quickly. Alex is only saved when Ravi interrupts.
    • And then there was the time Alex spilled his guts to a few CIA agents in Scorpia Rising to prevent this. They torture him anyway. He is only saved when their superior Joe Bryne (who knows Alex) intervenes.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: In the beginning of Skeleton Key.
  • The Sociopath: Abdul-Aziz Al-Rahim ("Razim"), and how. He has all the telltale symptoms of a bona fide psychopath - particularly his utter lack of emotions or empathy - and has committed various acts of evil from the day he took his first steps. As a toddler, he stabbed one of his nannies in the thigh because she told him off for teasing his sister. At the age of 12 he nonchalantly strangled his own dog. At fourteen he arranged the death of his own parents, who were conspiring against Saddam Hussein. Now, after spending time in Al Qaeda, in his spare time he inflicts unbearable amounts of pain upon random people in an attempt to create a measurable unit of pain, using a variety of horrific instruments like scalpels and syringes. Possibly his worst act of evil involves this, as he blows up Jack Starbright right in front of Alex's eyes, in an experiment concerning emotional, rather than physical, pain. Afterwards, he nonchalantly notes that the pain meter rose higher than he had thought possible, and that he would possibly have to create a second scale of measurement.
    • Julius Grief is a much more unfortunate case. He was raised and conditioned by a father with a sick mind, and as a result had absolutely no morals.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Alex's entire life, especially after becoming a spy. By the end of Scorpia Rising he has lost the only adult he truly trusted and is unlikely to ever really recover.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Desmond McCain mentions he plans to marry Mad Scientist henchwoman Myra Beckett after his plan succeeds in Crocodile Tears.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Some of Alex's escapes. In Scorpia Rising, he escapes because he had a scorpion hidden in a cigarette packet which he'd captured whilst in his cell, which he then placed in the van and tricked Erik Gunter into opening. The only thing the reader knows about this before it happens is that there is a nest of scorpions in Alex's cell.
  • Uriah Gambit: In Scorpia Rising, Zeljan Kurst has Levi Kroll killed and false evidence placed on his cadaver in order to lure MI6 — and Alex — into a trap.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Anthony Horowitz didn't expect anyone to believe Alex was really dead at the end of Scorpia because the gun used by the assassin is completely unsuited to assassination attempts.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Nikolei Drevin in Ark Angel after accidently shooting his own son.
    • Desmond Mccain goes through this at the end of Crocodile Tears. After having his plan to unleash a devastating plague across the face of Africa foiled by Alex, he confronts Alex with a gun, demanding that just for once, Alex grovel and cry in front of him like the child he's supposed to be. Some people just can't handle having a kid get the better of them.
    • It was mentioned in Scorpia Rising that Julius Grief suffered from this a few times, and at one point tried to destroy his face with his own nails. He also has a miniature one at the end of Point Blanc, screaming to Alex about how he had ruined everything and killed his father, but quickly recovers and tries to kill Alex. Eva Stellenbosch does this as well.
    • Cool, calculating, emotionless Razim has one at the end of Scorpia Rising.
  • Villain Decay: In-Universe example; Scorpia's credibility is seriously affected when a fourteen-year-old boy destroys two of their operations and (indirectly) kills two of their executives within a few months. The failure of their plan in Scorpia Rising results in the organisation disbanding.
  • Villain Opening Scene: Skeleton Key and Scorpia Rising, which actually devotes several chapters to its Villain Opening and splits the book into two halves - one titled "Scorpia" and one titled "Alex". Point Blanc, Ark Angel and Crocodile Tears all open with acts of murder arranged by the villain.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Averted. Alex misses most of his schooling due to his missions. It's gotten to the point that everyone, both student and faculty, somehow knows that there's something wrong with him and that there's more to him than just "illnesses".
  • We Care: Desmond's company First Aid. Not only do they not care, but they're actually responsible for all the crises the public believes they aid.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Damian Cray
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Alex has been described as this by other characters due to the psychological damage he has taken from his missions, enduring horrors that nobody should have to go through and watching people die.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In Eagle Strike, we find out Yassen worked together with Alex's father, and MI6 are the ones who killed him.
    • In Scorpia, we meet Scorpia, the organization that hired John Rider, and learn more about his past, and then discover John was actually a mole for MI6.
    • In Snakehead, we meet Ash, Alex's godfather, and get to learn more about John Rider before finding out that Ash was Evil All Along, and he's the one that killed Alex's parents.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Alex's been through a lot of crap, but he still manages to be Bad Ass.
    • In Scorpia Rising, he gets his revenge on Razim and Julius after they kill Jack.
  • The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Max Webber, an expert on terrorism, is murdered by Force Three in the first chapter of Ark Angel after giving a speech denouncing them.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: One example in Crocodile Tears where a two-paragraph article on the death of a journalist with no close family or friends manages to make page 1 with a prominent headline. Justified in that it was part of an MI6 trap.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The climaxes of at least half of the books.
  • You Killed My Father: Ash, Alex's own godfather, for goodness sake!
    • And in a variation, Yassen for Ian Rider.
    • subverted by Scorpia with Mrs Jones for John Rider.
    • Then in Scorpia Rising it's You Killed My Housekeeper, as Alex goes back to thwart the people who killed the only adult who loved him.

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alternative title(s): Alex Rider
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