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The series as a whole contains examples of:
- Wolfboy is turned into a wolf-man hybrid by an elf he insulted; she was meaning to turn him into a dog, but magic gets screwed up on the Border.
- Gray becomes a were-cat due to a curse laid on her family by an elf her parents betrayed. The curse is only active while she's in Bordertown, but she kind of likes having some magic, especially once she's blinded and can only see in her cat form.
- Fair Cop: Sunny Rico.
- Fantastic Drug: Mad River water for humans, Dragon's Milk for elves.
- Mooner in Elsewhere drinks a 50/50 mix of both because he's a halfie.
- Fairie dust works for both. It makes humans act stoned, and elves act hyper.
- Fantastic Racism: All over the place, usually between humans and elves (and halfies, who get it from both sides).
- Half-Human Hybrid: Half-elves, or halfies.
- Land of Faerie
- Magic Music: In the Borderlands, ordinary music can get this way.
- F'rexample, there's a self-perpetuating Endless Rave at the edge of town which is constantly replenished with new dancers and musicians as people get tired and leave.
- Magic Versus Science
- Narnia Time: Time does not flow the same in Bordertown as it does in either the world or Faerie, though there's no consistency to it.
- This is worse in the Nevernever.
- "Welcome To Bordertown" has the time differences between Bordertown and the World get more pronounced, as the way between closes for 13 days on the Bordertown side, and 13 years on the World side.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: At least half the cast; runaway characters are particularly prone to it. This is partially because of the belief that if an elf has your whole name, they can control you
- Wolfboy, on the way to becoming Wolfboy, is known as "RonJustRon" and "Gone" during his just-fresh-out-of-the-World and Mad River-addict phases respectively.
- Our Elves Are Different: They prefer to refer to themselves as "Truebloods."
- Our Vampires Are Different: They're called Lankins and are elves who want to live forever (as opposed to the naturally long lives they already have) and who use blood magic to do it.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Everything in Screaming Lord Neville's wardrobe.
- Retcon: Certain events in the short stories happened differently when they were expanded into novels.
- Screw You, Elves!: Quite often.
- Shared Universe
- Tongue-Tied: Elves are magically prevented from discussing Faerie in much detail.
- Truce Zone: Anyone who causes trouble at the Hard Luck Cafe is not welcome anywhere in Bordertown.
- Tuckerization: Milo Chevrolet, who has cameos in several stories, is John Milo Ford.
- Urban Fantasy
- The Wall Around the World
- Wish Fulfillment / Be Careful What You Wish For: Comes up a lot.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Comes up several times; Orient in particular got this one pretty hard.
The stories in Borderland contain examples of:
- Cryptic Conversation: The protagonist of "Prodigy" points out that "what you make belongs to you" is a vastly unhelpful way to warn someone that they can accidentally create magical monsters.
The stories in Bordertown contain examples of:
Life on the Border
The stories in Life on the Border contain examples of:
- Big Brother Instinct: The standoffish Stick becomes this for Manda Woodsdatter.
- Epistolary Story: "Lost in the Mail" is told via a runaway's (mostly unmailed) letters.
- Our Banshees Are Louder: In "Nightwail", a dead elven girl becomes one. And then so does the protagonist.
- Refugee from TV Land: In "Light and Shadow", magic gone awry sets several characters from The Maltese Falcon loose in Bordertown.
The Essential Bordertown
The stories in The Essential Bordertown contain examples of:
- Make a Wish: the ending of "Hot Water" reveals that the magical events in the story have been a result of this.
Welcome to Bordertown
The stories in Welcome to Bordertown contain examples of:
Elsewhere / Nevernever
Elsewhere and Nevernever contain examples of:
Finder contains examples of:
- Fatal Attractor: It's implied that Orient is one of these:Tick-Tick: Didn't I say, not so long ago, that your preference was for women that any reasonable man would ward off with garlic and crucifixes?
- Just Between You and Me: Invoked and lampshaded at the end of Finder.
- The Plague: Much of the plot of Finder.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Orient and Tick-Tick.
- Too Dumb to Live: Orient, very nearly literally. His tendency to wander into dangerous situations without backup is lampshaded several times.Orient: I know, I know. Any reasonable person (and even I, now) will look at the decision to go find the bike and think, "Hey, what was that funny noise? Guess I'll go down into the dark basement alone and check it out." And that's not the only decision I've ever made that would cause one to think that.
- Wrench Wench: Tick-Tick