Literature: CHERUB Series
aka: Cherub Series
"For official purposes, these children do not exist."
The CHERUB Series
is a British series about teenage spies, in the same vein as Alex Rider
and Young Bond
. It centres around a secret organisation, only known as CHERUB
, which takes young orphans (usually not older than about twelve, depending on how young they look) and trains them to become spies. The organisation has been in existence since shortly after WW2
, and at the time of the books, it has several hundred agents.
The main characters are James Adams, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold
and a deliberate parody of James Bond
, and his more mature and responsible little sister,
Lauren Adams. Other CHERUB agents and staff also play a major role throughout the series.
The series can be considered something of a deconstruction of the teenage spy series, as it takes great care to consider the repercussions of the Cherubs being teenagers, and hence not always particularly responsible.
It is also notable for its use of fairly realistic criminals, having drug-dealers, arms-smugglers and animal-rights terrorists instead of the Super Villain
opponents of Alex Rider
and Young Bond
- The Recruit
- Class A (The Dealer in the USA)
- Maximum Security
- The Killing
- Divine Madness
- Man vs Beast
- The Fall
- Mad Dogs
- The Sleepwalker
- The General
- Brigands M.C.
- Shadow Wave
- People's Republic
- Guardian Angel
- Black Friday
There is also a spin-off series, Henderson's Boys
, that is set during World War II
, and follows the adventures of the organanization that would become the predecessor to CHERUB.
A second series has begun, set several years after the end of the first series, featuring mostly all-new characters, though a few from the first series show up every so often.
Casting for a movie version is under way. It is not known which book, or how many, will be adapted.
This series provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Lauren's dad, who beat her up more than once.
- The Ace: Dave Moss.
- Action Girl: Most of the female leads. All cherubs are trained to be superb martial artists and have gun training.
- A.K.A.-47: The infamous Glock 9, though this was an author mistake instead of being on purpose
- Affably Evil: Many of the villains, most notably Keith Moore of Class A.
- Jane Oxford is very cordial to James when they talk.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: This is arguably the central plot device of Brigands M.C and the first part of Shadow Wave. Both books depict biker culture as consisting almost exclusively of thugs like the Brigands (Fictional Counterpart to the Hell Angels) and their allied and rival gangs.
- Alternate Timeline: Robert Muchamore wrote three possible futures for James (available on the website). They consist of James becoming either The Casanova, a family man, or the Chairman of CHERUB. Given the fact that James returns to CHERUB as a mission controller in Black Friday, the third option is the most likely.
- Animal Wrongs Group: Help Earth (in The Recruit and Divine Madness) and the AFM (in Man vs Beast).
- Arms Dealer: A favorite villain of the CHERUB series, which is not surprising considering Britain's opinion regarding guns:
- Jane Oxford in Maximum Security is an International Arms Merchant.
- Dennis Obidin from The Fall is a Former Red With Rockets for Sale.
- The Führer and many of his associates in Brigands M.C. and Shadow Wave are Gangland Gun Runners.
- In Shadow Wave Tan Abdullah is a Minister of Defense looking to import weapons from Britain.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Bruce Norris.
- Ascended Extra: Kazakov in the Aramov trilogy.
- Author Appeal: Association football is frequently mentioned, and even plays a central roll in Mad Dogs. Several characters, including the main character James, are huge fans of Arsenal, reflecting Robert Muchamore's own personal fanaticism for the Gunners. At one point, James almost starts a fight with fans of an opposing team.
- Awesome Mc Cool Name: Dante Welsh. He didn't pick his first name, he was actually born Dante.
- Badass Biker: See the All Bikers Are Hells Angels entry. Also, James poses an a Badass Biker in order to infiltrate the Brigands. The act is helped by the fact that he really is a Badass and he really does like motor bikes.
- Bait-and-Switch Boss: Irena Aramov is the leader of the Aramov clan, the bad guys of the second series. She is actually a nice old lady, who is all too willing to help Ethan and his mother. The real antagonist is Irena's son, Leonid.
- Becoming the Mask: Defied in Divine Madness - James, Lauren and Dana start to infiltrate a cult and, once they've left, immediately realize that they were enjoying themselves way too much. The expert they talk to reassures them that now they've seen how it works and can recognize the techniques, it'll be much easier to not succumb in the future.
- Beneath Suspicion: The whole point of CHERUB children.
- Berserk Button:
- Don't ever say anything bad about James's mother.
- Don't ever hurt or insult Lauren, either. James is appalled when Lauren mentions wanting to see her abusive father, who's in prison.
- Big Bad: Of each book:
- Big Bad Wannabe: Leon Tarasov from The Killing is a small time crook who got a lucky break. He finds himself out of his depth in the big leagues, which means he poses little threat by CHERUB standards.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Sleepwalker. The bad guy is sent to prison, but his son lost his mother, and it turns out that he can't join CHERUB because he sleepwalks and sleeptalks, so he ends up living with Mac, who lost his wife, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in the plane crash.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Ning starts off as this- unlike her friends, who are all obsessed with doing as well as they can in school, Ning wants to sleep in and be a rock star.
- British Education System: The major characters are for the most part all British school kids, so features of the education system like A-levels and GCSE exams play an important role.
- British English: Books written by a Briton, for Britons, about Britons, so you can expect pretty much everything to be British English, even when depicting Australians, and sometimes even when depicting Americans.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Bruce again; as hardcore as he seems, he still goes to bed with a little blue teddy bear.
- Boarding School: CHERUB Campus is something of a boarding school, in that the students all live on Campus. However, because they are all orphans, Campus is their full time home, not just a place that their parents ship them off to during most of the year. It is also not particularly snobbish, posh or upper class in its culture, even if it is rather well funded and well equipped.
- Book Dumb: James is good with numbers, but he's not so good at essays.
- The Bus Came Back: James returns in Black Friday.
- Cardboard Prison: The juvenile maximum-security facility in Maximum Security. James escapes with a literal piece of cardboard, exploiting a real security flaw. The scary thing is, two guards who were in on it weren't actually needed, they were just there to guarantee success.
- The Cartel: Appears in Class A.
- Church of Happyology: The Survivors in Divine Madness.
- CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inverted. Intelligence agents tend to be brave heroes doing a tough job with minimal causalities. Regular police - except those who work with the Intelligence Services of course - are usually stupid, arrogant, violent and generally in need of a good kicking.
- Children Are Innocent: Robert Muchamore's entire writing career seems to be built on averting that trope. His kids almost always have some degree of lust, sadism, sarcasm, disrespect to authority, and profanity.
- Children Forced To Kill: In Class A, James shoots and accidentally kills a gang member in self defense, and is later shown to need counselling, and in Divine Madness, Dana is forced to help with the murder of two (adult) Intelligence agents. There are also several near misses over the course of the series.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Multiple examples.
- Cute Bruiser: Cherubs train in advance martial arts from a very young age.
- Child Soldiers: Cherubs are intended to be more spies than soldiers, but they do get weapons training and tactical training.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : James almost falls for this in Class A and Brigands M.C. It doesn't help that his mother was the shoplifting ring leader and James has strong chav tendencies.
- Darker and Edgier: Generally, the first series of books gets darker and edgier as it progresses, this is partially because the protagonists are also aging and thus are not only allowed on more dangerous missions but also have to deal with the typical social problems (e.g. sex) as they arise.
- Death by Origin Story: The cherubs are all required to be orphaned or abandoned with no family members likely to turn up and claim them. This trope strikes main characters James and Lauren, as their mother dies just chapters into the first book and Lauren's father is sent to jail for smuggling cigarettes after hitting Lauren.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Lauren Adams pulls this act a few times in the early books when she is young enough to get away with it.
- Detective Mole: Michael Patel, who is a Dirty Cop, tampered with evidence to cover up a murder that he committed.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In The Killing, Kerry dumps James, who subsequently takes out his anger on a kid nearby who laughs at him. Horrible? Certainly yes, but James nearly gets killed for it and all of his friends turn against him, because the kid he thumped had a particularly tragic and horrible backstory. But keep in mind, James didn't have a clue who the kid was and had no idea about his past. And all his friends act like he went looking for that kid in particular to thump, when it was just random bad luck.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty:
- Mr. Large, especially after Lauren attacks him. He gets called out on it later by James and his subordinates, who point out that he's gone way too far with bullying Lauren.
- Kazakov seems to have taken over the role, especially after Mr. Large is forced to resign. Unlike Large, though, Kazakov actually knows when enough is enough.
- Eating Lunch Alone: James has to do that at one point when he is being temporarily shunned by his friends.
- Engineered Public Confession: Used as a tactic a few times.
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: All the cherubs know martial arts, some better than others.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Pretty much all the teens above the age of 16 (legal age for the UK) and even a few under. The obsession with teenage sexuality makes one wonder if Robert Muchamore is merely playing to the audience and trying to be realistic, or if there is some Author Appeal going on.
- Everybody Hates Mathematics: Averted. James loves maths.
- Faking and Entering: A favorite tactic of CHERUB, where house searches and planting bugs are disguised as burglaries or vandalism perpetrated by teenage hooligans.
- First Girl Wins: At the end of the series, James and Kerry wind up together, and it's implied he even gets his act together, as although Kerry thinks he cheated on her during college, he never did. Seemingly enforced, too. They break up about four times in the first few books, and The General begins with James and Dana as a couple and Kerry is together with Bruce. Of course, Dana actually cheated on James, leaving him single. And Bruce and Kerry's break-up is shown in only a single throwaway line at the end. Geez, Muchamore, way to show subtlety.
- Food Fight: A major food fight in one of the books gets several characters in trouble.
- Foil: Keith "Junior" Moore Jr (from Class A and Mad Dogs) is this for James Adams. Like James, he is the son of a successful criminal (Keith Moore Sr is a cocaine dealer, while Gwen Choke ran a shoplifting ring). In Mad Dogs, Junior is trying to cling on to the title gang, like James did before joining CHERUB. Like James, this gets him arrested, though Junior gets arrested because after being rejected by said gang, he tries to strike off on his own in the most stupid way possible, unlike James who was betrayed by his fellow gang members. Bruce outright says that Junior is what James would be if he hadn't joined CHERUB.
- Free-Range Children: CHERUB agents have adult supervision, but are often given a long leash and are allowed to get away with a lot, both during missions and on Campus.
- Fun with Acronyms: CHERUB stands for Charles Henderson's Espionage Research Unit B.
- Fur and Loathing: The most notable example is in Shadow Wave where one of the characters is a fur wearing Rich Bitch fashion model and wife of a corrupt politician. Of course, Lauren, being a vegan, has this attitude toward leather as well.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Terry Campbell, director of the CHERUB Technical Department.
- Gay Aesop: James gradually learns to become more tolerant of Kyle's homosexuality.
- Generation Xerox: The second series has only one character who is original (Ryan), with Alfie as the Arsenal-loving Kid-anova with an impulsive streak (like James) and Ning as the girl from Asia strong enough to fight any of the boys (like Kerry).
- Genius Bruiser: You have to be one just to be a CHERUB.
- Get Into Jail Free: In one of the books, James' assignment is to go undercover in a maximum security juvenile prison and engineer the escape of himself and one of the juvenile inmates. The plan is that the inmate he is helping them escape will lead them to his fugitive mother, a wanted international black market arms dealer. He does this by posing as a juvenile with a felony record, which is faked by the FBI.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Two girls makeout at a Wild Teen Party in Brigands M.C., much to the delight of some of the teenage boys.
- Government Agency of Fiction: CHERUB is obviously fictional, and MI-5 is frequently depicted in a fictionalized way.
- The Good Old British Comp: The series depicts several schools, but pretty much all of them follow the common stereotypes described in this trope. Some are bad enough to qualify as an Inner City School.
- Good with Numbers: James, who basically has a calculator in his head.
- Granola Girl: Lauren Adams.
- Great Escape: In Maximum Security, James's assignment is to go undercover in an Arizona maximum security juvenile prison and engineer the escape of himself and one of the inmates. The fact that the FBI and one of the prison guards is supporting him makes the escape a lot easier.
- Harmful to Minors: Too many examples to list, but perhaps the worst involves a young child seeing his entire family brutally murdered.
- Hidden Wire: A favorite tool of CHERUB.
- Home Base: CHERUB Campus, which also serves as Mission Control.
- Infant Immortality: Despite being a series about children being put in dangerous situations, none of them actually get killed. It gets mentioned once that only about four CHERUB agents have ever actually died on a mission over the course of CHERUB's entire history.
- It has to be mentioned that this only seems to apply to the major characters- The Sleepwalker opens with a chapter describing a plane crash which kills everyone on board from the perspective of a young boy, and it's mentioned in Divine Madness that dozens of children were killed by explosives during the Australian army's final assault on the Ark.
- The closest we get is Gabrielle, who is stabbed in Mad Dogs and nearly dies.
- The Infiltration: Another favorite tactic of CHERUB, and the central plot device of many of the CHERUB books.
- Insistent Terminology: There is a Ukrainian character named Yosyp Kazakov. Call him Russian, and you'll get an earful and a half (if you're lucky).
- In the Blood: Irena Aramov wants this. Unfortunately, Leonid is a psychopath with no cunning, Josef is an idiot, and Galenka wants nothing to do with the family business.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: McEwen seems to like them.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: James. As prickish as he is, he accepts and acknowledges his mistakes and faults and does try to be a good person.
- Just a Kid: The entire point of CHERUB is that no one will suspect them because they are Just a Kid.
A terrorist doesn't let strangers into her flat because they might be undercover police or intelligence agents, but her children bring their mates home and they run all over the place. The terrorist doesn't know that one of these kids has bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address book. The kid works for CHERUB.
- Just Plane Wrong: An F-16 is depicted taking off from an aircraft carrier, even though F-16's are not naval aircraft.
- Kids Are Cruel: No shortage of bullies.
- Kid Hero: James and most of the other CHERUB agents.
- Killed Off for Real: The first (and only) protagonist death in the series: Kazakov, shot in Black Friday.
- Knight of Cerebus:
- Michael Patel from book 4, The Killing. He is the first antagonist not to be portrayed in a sympathetic or likeable light, and is therefore lacking in any redeeming qualities. He is also a corrupt police officer who can and will murder anyone who is on to him.
- Hassam Bin Hassam from The Sleepwalker is abusive towards his wife and son murdering the former and makes a fortune from reselling shoddy plane parts, which can cause plane crashes. He is also a hypocrite who preaches that his son must respect his heritage, but is happy to ignore it himself. Hassam is one of the few villains to be killed off instead of arrested, pulling a Suicide by Cop after taking his son hostage and having him subsequently freed by a CHERUB agent.
- Leonid Aramov, a psychopathic brute who shows no remorse about killing children.
- Kung-Fu Kid: All CHERUB agents train in advanced martial arts and many would qualify, though Bruce Norris is the one most noted for his martial arts talent.
- Little Miss Badass: Lauren, Kerry and many of the other female CHERUB agents.
- Little Miss Con Artist: Again, CHERUB agents are trained to be this.
- Lauren takes the cake with her on-campus disciplinary record for scheming and plotting, as well as some moments in her missions.
- Living MacGuffin: Ethan Aramov. CHERUB wants him to take down the Aramov clan, Irena seemingly wants him and his mother to take over after she dies, and Leonid just wants him dead.
- London Gangster: Several of the bad guys, including the Keith Moore Gang in Class A and the titular gang of Mad Dogs fit this trope, though some of them are not actually from London proper.
- Lower-Class Lout: Quite a few of the teens display chavlike characteristics.
- The Mafiya: The Fall features organized Russian crime in both of its major plots. James targets a high level Russian oligarch believed to be selling weapons and military technology to rogue states. Lauren targets Russian human trafficking.
- Meaningful Name and Meaningful Rename: Justified because CHERUB agents get to pick their own new name when they become agents and again when they leave CHERUB. For example, Mr. Large is very tall and muscular, and the CHERUB agent most obsessed with martial arts in the series is named Bruce Norris. Lampshaded in Shadow Wave by journalist Hugh Verhoeven who, after seeing Bruce's combat capabilities, remarks "Bruce Norris, eh? I take it that name's no coincidence?"
- Mission Briefing: Almost every mission includes a lengthy written mission briefing. While the mission briefings will not self destruct, agents are not allowed to remove them from Mission Control, a rule that James does not always follow.
- Mistaken for Cheating: In Brigands MC, Dante Scott is introduced as an old friend of Lauren's from training, who was on a mission for three years. Lauren is naturally overjoyed to see him, but her boyfriend, Rat, gets very jealous and accuses her of cheating on him (she wasn't).
- The end notes of Shadow Wave say that James did not cheat on Kerry in his first year at university (she hadn't yet retired from CHERUB yet), though she suspected otherwise.
- Mugged for Disguise: This technique is used in Maximum Security against prison guards during a jail break.
- Murder.com: In Man vs Beast, an extremist animal rights group attempts to kill a TV chef by making him drink a very dangerous cleaning liquid and then broadcasting that over the Internet for everyone to watch. The chef lives, but it's a very close thing and he's got lasting damage from the effects.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: conversed, as Bruce asks for some little cards he can leave with people informing them who just beat them up.
- Neat Freak: Kyle Blueman.
- Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters: Subverted by many of the enemy gangs. Keith Moore's Gang in Class A is associated with a boxing club. The "notorious underworld figure" Sasha Thompson is allowed to run a neighbourhood football club, complete with teams for children. Also, the titular motorcycle gang in Brigands M.C. has redeveloped their clubhouse into a popular strip of restaurant, shops and apartments. However, the subversion comes in that none of these groups are above genuine criminal activity like racketeering, selling drugs and murder, and they're the bad guys.
- The New Russia: Featured in the The Fall, complete with crumbling infrastructure, unemployment, epic-sized corruption, etc. The Mafiya and Former Regime Personnel play an important role.
- No Endor Holocaust: Averted in Divine Madness when Help Earth! bombs natural gas facilities, because the explosion will be clean.
- Only Sane Man: From the perspective of the Aramov clan, Galenka Aramov. Mostly because she put as much distance between herself and Kyrgyzstan as possible.
- Ordinary High-School Student: CHERUB agents pretend to be these while on missions, and in most ways are much like any other teenagers.
- Parental Abandonment: This trope is a job requirement for CHERUB agents. They must all be either orphans with no known living family members that can assume guardianship, abandoned children, or they must have some other situation that prevents their parents from being involved in their lives.
- Perky Goth: Lauren Adams sometimes (but not always) shows characteristics of this.
- Police Brutality: Michael Patel in The Killing.
- Questionable Consent: James ends up sleeping with the daughter of one of the villains in Mad Dogs. While he normally wouldn't turn down an attractive, willing girl, he wasn't particularly keen on sleeping with this one in particular, and the circumstances make it worse- he's having a bath, and she walks in, starts taking her clothes off and makes it clear that no is not one of his options.
- Reconstruction: Of the child spy genre after Alex Rider deconstructed it. Every mission is approved by an ethics board, and most of them are monitored by an adult mission controller who comes with the spies as supervision.
- Red Pill, Blue Pill: Discussed- James says to Dante that as much as cherubs love going on missions, he thinks that if they were given the choice to return to their normal lives, most of them would go for it. (Depressingly, one has to remember that their normal lives would probably involve having living parents/families again.)
- Refuge in Audacity: Michael Patel tends to go overboard when arresting perps. In one instance, he deliberately slams James' head into the top of his police car's door. Patel is smart enough to know that he can get away with any accusations of police brutality by dismissing the claims as racism against an ethnic cop, causing the case to boil down to a policeman's word against a criminal's. This gives him the perfect cover to keep doing it.
- Remember the New Guy: Dante is introduced in the penultimate book of the first series, but he hasn't even been mentioned up until that point because he's been on a mission that's lasted over three years. He also gets retconned into Lauren's basic training, which doesn't help.
- Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: In Mad Dogs, Sash Thompson is dismissive of our hero, James Adams, until he finds out that he was the one who burned Crazy Joe's car back in Class A.
- Resignations Not Accepted: Not quite. CHERUB agents must retire when they become adults (or, in essence, when they grow too much to pass as a child), but if a retired agent becomes a security risk by leaking secrets about CHERUB, CHERUB security will take care of the problem.
- Romantic False Lead: Bruce to Kerry. They get together, only to enforce First Girl Wins with James, they break up off-screen and James is only told of this in the last, throwaway line of The General.
- R-Rated Opening: Brigands M.C. so very much. The prologue has a younger Dante witness his entire family being brutally murdered in front of him, barely managing to escape with his baby sister, who hits her head and almost dies herself. There's so much gorn, it's a wonder Muchamore got away with it.
- Sarcastic Confession: In The Killing, James tells a woman in at a laundromat about CHERUB:
"You know, I can't really talk to you," James grinned. "You see, I'm a secret agent. I work for an undercover organisation called CHERUB and if I told you any more, I'd have to kill you." "You don't have to be so bloody sarcastic," the woman said sourly, crossing her arms as she stormed off in a huff.
- School Is For Losers: James and any number of other teenage characters have this attitude, though in James's case it is somewhat modified in that he actually enjoys and does well at math, physics and Russian. He is just bad and lazy when it comes to anything involving lots of reading and writing. In spite of his attitude, he ends the series with an improbable number of really high A-levels.
- School Uniforms are the New Black: Because this is the British Education System, all the English schools depicted require uniforms. CHERUB Campus even has uniforms, though they consist of military style trousers and boots worn with t-shirts that are colored according to the rank of the agent- orange for a new kid who hasn't officially joined yet, red for a much younger kid who's too young to start training, blue for an agent in training, grey for a basic agent, navy for a relatively senior agent and black for the most accomplished and senior agents.
- Shoe Phone: For the most part, the focus on exotic spy gadgets disguised as ordinary object is averted. CHERUB agents do have enhanced capabilities on some of the technology, such as their mobile phones, but rarely something really strange. One favorite gadget of many of the fans is the "lock gun," but this is actually a real life technology that is not disguised as anything else.
- Sleazy Politician: Tam Abdullah in Shadow Wave.
- The Spymaster: Mac, the Chairman of CHERUB. And then Zara, once Mac retires.
- Spy School: CHERUB Campus is a spy school, but for the most part it works like any other British school in terms of classes, teachers, subject, assignments, exams, etc. The biggest difference is that some additional subjects such as martial arts and infiltration skills are also taught, and at the age of 10 students go through basic training before they can become fully qualified agents.
- Sting: Being a book series, CHERUB does not have a soundtrack, but in Shadow Wave Dante spoofs this trope by saying "Dun, dun dunnnn!" after an announcement that a tsunami will arrive in a few minutes.
- Simulated Urban Combat Area: CHERUB has access to SAS urban training sites and uses them for their own training in The Killing.
- Spy Fiction: Well, obviously.
- Take a Third Option: Described early on as Lauren's favourite way of doing things.
- Take That:
John Jones: "What did you get [from the mall?]"
"Books mostly. I got a new copy of Oliver Twist
and four other Charles Dickens novels. Plus that Lord of the Rings
book that Dana raved about at the hospital."
"Pretty brave attempting Lord of the Rings
. Never managed to plough through it all myself."
- And later, when James tries to read it, the end notes say that he's a hundred pages in, but can't find it in him to tell Dana that he thinks it's boring.
- Team Mom: Because of the young age of the agents, most of the female staff has to play this role at one point or another, particularly Zara Asker, who starts out the series as a CHERUB mission controller and is later promoted to CHERUB Chairwoman.
- Teens Are Monsters: There is no shortage of chavs and yobs among the Council Estate wastelands depicted, not to mention teenage drug dealers, drug users, gangsters etc. Even many of the "good guy" CHERUB agents show a bad streak sometimes.
- Teen Genius: James is a mathematical genius- ask him a maths question and he can do it in his head in about five seconds.
- Teen Superspy: The entire point of CHERUB.
- Terms of Endangerment: Mr Large calls trainee cherubs 'cupcakes' or 'muffins' a lot.
- The Handler: This role is filled on missions by CHERUB mission controllers. CHERUB handlers are not responsible for running operations, but instead act as Parental Substitutes.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted. James sees therapists on a regular basis (though usually off screen) to deal with some of traumatic experiences and some of his anger management issues. Other characters are sometime sent to counseling.
- Totally Radical: Robert Muchamore tries hard to get the slang right, but sometimes messes up, particularly in his earlier books. For example, his fans at CherubForums.com complained about him having teen characters use the word "dude."
- Attractive girls are always described as "fit".
- Tracking Device: Another common CHERUB tool.
- Training from Hell: Basic training and other aspects of CHERUB training, even to the point that Drill Sergeant Nasty does things to 10 year olds that would get a Real Life military drill sergeant fired for hazing.
- Took a Level in Badass: All the cherubs do this after the aforementioned Training from Hell.
- Trojan Prisoner: In Maximum Security James Adams becomes a prisoner in order to break someone out of prison.
- Twin Switch: One of the bonus stories, aptly named "The Switch", has nearly identical twins Connor and Callum switch places as part of a mission. The fact that Real Life twins are rarely perfectly identical is acknowledged, and a makeup artist is used to make the two boys look even more alike.
- Tsundere: Kerry.
- TV Teen: Averted in a big way.
- Useful Book: Subverted in The Recruit, when James and Kerry lighten their packs during the final basic training exercise and decide to leave behind a hefty tome that they later realize was meant to be used as toilet paper during their jungle trek.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Pretty much the entire point of the series. Teenagers deal with the normal pressures of teen school and social life on top of their challenging missions.
- Western Terrorists: All the actual terrorists depicted in the series are Western terrorists, including the eco-terrorist group Help Earth! (Fictional Counterpart to Earth First!) and the Animal Freedom Militia (Fictional Counterpart to the Animal Liberation Front). In The Sleepwalker it appears that a plane might have been destroyed by Muslim terrorists, however it turns out that the real villain is really just a Corrupt Corporate Executive that was selling shoddy parts to the airliners.
- White Gang-Bangers: Keith More's Gang, the Mad Dogs, and The Brigands.
- Wild Teen Party: Multiple examples.
- Witness Protection: Dante joins CHERUB in part as a means of witness protection, though instead of just living his life in fear and hiding, CHERUB turns him into a Teen Superspy.
- The Yardies: The Slasher Boys, a Jamaican gang, in featured in Mad Dogs, though the term "Yardies" is never used.
- Young Entrepreneur: Kyle, who always has an ethically challenged scheme to make money, usually selling counterfeit merchandise and illegal copies of DVD's, games and other media.
- Your Cheating Heart:
- James and a number of other character do this, sometimes more than once. In fact, James is almost (but not quite) qualifies as a Kid-anova, in that he hooks up with a different girl almost every mission, in spite of having a girlfriend back on Campus.
- Michael and Dana cheat on Gabrielle and James respectively in The General. James is particularly pissed off because he did his best to be a good boyfriend, and Gabrielle's heart is basically broken into a billion pieces. Dana points out later that James hardly has room to talk, but even so, one has to feel sorry for Gabrielle, especially given how close she and Michael were.