Literature / Discworld

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The turtle moves!

"Stories are important. People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way round. Stories... have evolved... The strongest have survived, and they have grown fat... Stories etch grooves deep enough for people to follow... A thousand wolves have eaten grandmother, a thousand princesses have been kissed... Stories don't care who takes part in them. All that matters is that the story gets told, that the story repeats."
Witches Abroad, describing the Theory of Narrative Causality

A world, and a mirror of worlds.

The Discworld, a flat planet carried by four elephants standing on the back of a gigantic space-turtle (sex unknown), is the venue for Sir Terry Pratchett's long running fantasy series.

The first few books were a straightforward parody of Heroic Fantasy tropes, but later books have subverted, played with, and hung lampshades on practically every trope on this site, in every genre, and many not yet covered, as well as parodying (and in some cases, deconstructing) many well known films, books, and TV series. The humour ranges from simple wordplay to wry reflections on the absurdities of life.

While all of the Discworld books exist in the same Constructed World, with the same continuity (and roughly in chronological order, with a few exceptions), many can be loosely grouped into different series, following some of Pratchett's recurring characters. These include Rincewind the incompetent "wizzard," the Ankh-Morpork City Watch (which are usually mystery novels), the Lancre witches (which lend themselves well to Shakespeare), and Death. Some books follow one-off protagonists who may or may not appear in supporting roles in other books.

In addition to the main characters, there is a large cast of recurring characters, including dodgy street trader Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler and benevolent tyrant Havelock Vetinari ("benevolent" in the sense that he's a much nicer tyrant than his predecessors, actually concerned with the welfare of the city and its inhabitants, not to mention the fact that after a succession of fools and idiots, he's actually competent—scarily so, in fact). Villains have included sociopathic geniuses, Eldritch Abominations, and the Auditors of Reality, cosmic bureaucrats who consider life too untidy to be tolerated.

As of August 2015, there are forty-one books in the series, five of them young adult, as well as several short stories. There are also Discworld calendars, diaries, maps, compendia, three Video Gamesnote , five Board Gamesnote , and a pen and paper RPG, each with additional background information about the Disc. All the books have been adapted for the stage, two have become animated series, and three (technically four, as The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were filmed as a single story under the former title, but the second is a direct follow-on) have become live-action Made For TV Movies. A police procedural based around the Ankh-Morpork Watch is in the works, and discussions are underway for cinema films of Mort and The Wee Free Men

Because of his failing health, in a November 2012 interview, Terry Pratchett revealed plans for his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, to take over the Discworld series in the event of his eventual Author Existence Failure. She has since clarified that this doesn't mean writing more books, but protecting his legacy (and she includes herself among the people it needs to be protected from). She is currently working on the TV series The Watch and the film of Wee Free Men.

Terry Pratchett passed away at the age of 66 on March 12, 2015 due to complications from his Alzheimer's. His final novel, The Shepherd's Crown was published on August 27, 2015 - while Pratchett was working on another novel at the time of his death, this will not be published.

See also the character sheet for details on the more major of the series' Loads and Loads of Characters, and the fan-run L-Space Web for quotes and annotations (which unfortunately hasn't been updated since Going Postal, from 2004). There is a reading order guide for those who would like to go through the books by internal series chronology.

The work of collecting book annotations has been continued on the L-Space Wiki, who have picked up the baton and assembled a catalogue of annotations for all Discworld novels since Going Postal, in the hoped-for event that the L-Space Web proper resumes full operations again. New contributors are always welcome!

The Discworld series was pre-dated by a science-fiction novel entitled Strata. While this isn't a Discworld book per se, it does prominently feature a flat Earth, and it does seem to contain the seeds of many ideas that would feature in the Discworld books later on.

Warning: Some of the summaries contain spoilers.
    List of Discworld media 

The main Discworld novels, in order of release. Brackets denote date of UK publication and main character(s) - standalone indicates that it is not part of a series.

Compilations:

  • Rincewind The Wizzard (The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Sourcery, and Eric, collected into one volume)

Illustrated novels:

  • Eric (illustrated by Josh Kirby) (1990 - Rincewind; also available in paperback novel format)
  • The Last Hero (illustrated by Paul Kidby) (2001 - Rincewind, bits of The City Watch and Wizards, Heroes; republished with more illustrations)

The young-adult Discworld novels:

Children's books:

Short stories:

The Mapps

  • The Streets of Ankh-Morpork (with Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Stephen Player) (1993)
    • The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide (with Discworld Emporium staff, illustrated by Peter Dennis) (updated version of The Streets of Ankh-Morpork, 2012)
    • The Ankh-Morpork Map for iPad (fully zoomable and animated with achievements and narrated walking tours)
  • The Discworld Mapp (with Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Stephen Player) (1995)
    • The Compleat Discworld Atlas (with Discworld Emporium staff, illustrated by Peter Dennis) (updated version of The Discworld Mapp, 2015)
  • A Tourist's Guide To Lancre (with Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Paul Kidby) (1998)
  • Death's Domain (with Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Paul Kidby) (1999)

Made For TV Movies

  • Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (2006), an adaptation of Hogfather.
  • The Colour of Magic (2008), an adaptation of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic
  • Going Postal (2010), an adaptation of Going Postal

Animated series

  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld: Soul Music (1996)
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld: Wyrd Sisters (1997)

Video Games

Board Games

  • Thud (2006)
  • Discworld: Ankh-Morpork (2011)
  • Guards! Guards! (2011)
  • Discworld: The Witches (2013)
  • Discworld: The Clacks (2015)

Music

  • From the Discworld, Dave Greenslade (1994)
  • Soul Music Soundtrack, Keith Hopwood and Phil Bush (1996)
  • Soul Harmonics, Lavington Bound (2011)
  • Wintersmith, Steeleye Span (October 2013)

Other:

  • The Discworld Companion (with Stephen Briggs) (1994). Universe Compendium. Second edition as The Discworld Companion Updated (1997); third edition as The New Discworld Companion (2003), fourth edition as Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion ... So Far (2012).
  • Discworld Roleplaying Game, originally published as GURPS Discworld RPG (1998), and one supplement for it, GURPS Discworld Also (2001) (both with Phil Masters); the first book was later repackaged as Discworld RPG in 2002. A new edition, incorporating material from both the earlier books and other sources, and with the rules updated to GURPS Fourth Edition, was released in 2016.
  • The Science of Discworld I-IV (with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen) (1999, 2002, 2005, 2013)
  • Nanny Ogg's Cookbook (with Tina Hannan and Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Paul Kidby) (2002)
  • The Discworld Almanack (with Bernard Pearson) (2004)
  • The Folklore of Discworld (with Jaqueline Simpson) (2008)
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld (quotations; compiled by Stephen Briggs) (2009)
  • Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook to Travelling Upon the Ankh-Morpork & Sto Plains Hygienic Railway (with Discworld Emporium staff, illustrated by Peter Dennis) (2014)
  • Several Radio adaptations on The BBC
  • Stage-play adaptations of many books, most originally scripted by Stephen Briggs for the Studio Theatre Club in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Unpublished works

Barring Rhianna Pratchett changing her mind and writing/completing these or permitting someone else to do so they will forever remain What Could Have Been titles.
  • Scouting For Trolls was mentioned by Sir Terry in an interview as a possible future book. Some background material has emerged - scouting is extant in Ankh-Morpork according to one of the short stories in the A Blink of the Screen collection and a scene where Carrot is running a scout troop comprised of two rival gangs appears in Jingo. A minor character in Raising Steam is mentioned to be a scout.
  • Raising Taxes - at the end of Making Money Vetinari and Drumknott have a brief conversation about the need for reform of Ankh-Morpork's archaic tax system and Moist von Lipwig is mooted as a possible architect. The title was mentioned by Sir Terry during promotional tours for Making Money but the book appears to have been radically reworked into the Raising Steam novel instead.
  • The afterword of The Shepherd's Crown mentions some other ideas.
    • Twilight Canyons - a group of elderly people solve a missing treasure mystery and foil the rise of a dark lord despite failing memories.
    • The Dark Incontinent - presumably would have done for Africa what The Last Continent did for Australia with carnivorous plants and a crystal cave.
    • An unnamed book about Constable Feeney from Snuff investigating a whodunit amongst the goblins.
    • An unnamed sequel to The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents detailing his adventures as a ships cat.
  • According to his assistant there are ten unfinished novels in Terrys archives which could include other Discworld novels.


Tropes that are not specific to one character (or group of characters) and appeared in three or more books (anything else should go in those pages, since otherwise five sevenths of the tropes on this site would be listed):

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes A to D 
  • Absurdly Dedicated Worker: If not attended, golems will continue carrying out their last order indefinitely, potentially causing huge property damage. Other characters have mused that this is their approach to protest.
  • Absurdly Long Stairway: The Unseen University's Tower of Art is 800ft tall and along the inside edge of the building are some (very old and infirm) steps which spiral upwards and number 8,888.note  Several wizard traditions require senior wizards climb those steps, then spend five minutes being out of breath and wheezing. There may be something supposed to happen after this, but since most UU wizards are elderly and overweight, few ever get enough puff back to carry them out. They still climb the spiral steps though, because it is tradition.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Death's scythe and sword. Especially Death's scythe, which is described as "proverbially sharp" and can cut the dialog in the book when it's swung. It exudes an aura of sharpness that extends several inches from the actual blade - because it is that sharp.
    • Carrot's sword is also very interesting. It is one of the very few swords on the Disc without a single hint of magic in it, making it more real than anything it tries to cut. Instead, it is a long and very sharp piece of metal designed specifically to cut through man, horse, and armour. It is also an extremely old sword. This makes sense, given its implied origin.
  • Academy of Adventure: If the Unseen University doesn't have adventure happen to it, the wizards will make one (usually by accident).
  • Addiction Displacement:
    • All Black Ribboner vampires turn to a particular obsession (coffee, photography, politics, et cetera) as a psychological substitute for craving human blood.
    • Sam Vimes replaces alcohol with cigars.
    • On the more psychological level, Vimes has channeled his obsessive tendencies into policing and detective work. He's even lampshaded this, saying that what he needs is a support group where he can stand up and say, "My name is Sam and I'm a really suspicious bastard."
  • Alien Geometries:
    • One of the more disturbing features of the Unseen University Library is the way the dome of the Library is always overhead, no matter how far you seem to move on the floor in any direction. This is compounded by the fact that shelves of books, and occasional people among the shelves of books, are also clearly visible on the ceiling around the dome.
    • The Tower of Bugarup University is about 20 feet tall on the inside, or as seen from the bottom — but at the top, it's about half a mile tall.
    • Unseen University itself is so afflicted with this trope that it has a faculty position entitled Professor of Recondite Architecture and Origami Map Folding, whom the others can consult if they need to find another staff member's office.
    • Bloody Stupid Johnson has this as his stock in trade, due mainly to his utter inability to perform basic math (when combined with the Disc's shaky reality). He has designed flat triangles with three right angles, a circle for which pi was precisely 3 (breaking space-time in the process), and laid out an apartment complex for which the various doorways and windows don't necessarily open out onto the garden of the same building in which they're set.
  • All Witches Have Cats: Nanny Ogg has Greebo; Granny Weatherwax eventually has You. Tiffany's family has the cat Ratbag, although it loathes her (and the feeling is mutual).
  • All Theories Are True: Especially the morphogenic field, and anything involving the word "quantum".
  • All Trolls Are Different:
    • The trolls are actually made of stone, instead of turning to stone. They sometimes go dormant for long periods of time and are mistaken for rocks.
    • The legend of trolls turning into stone during the day is based on the fact that trolls are nocturnal: their brains are silicon-based and easily overheat, leading both to torpor and stupidity and startling intelligence under the right circumstances.
      • To wit, Detritus is once trapped in a freezer and slowly freezes to death. Just before he loses consciousness, he writes an equation in the condensation which explains the origin of life in its entirety. However, when the door is opened, the rush of warm air gets rid of the condensation and the formula. He is also once taken to the Klatchian desert and can barely move during the day.
      • Diamond trolls are capable of regulating their own internal temperature and are known for being extremely bright. Mr. Shine is an example of this.
    • Also a major reason for the conflict between trolls and dwarfs: "Dwarfs are beings who spend most of their time digging through rock to find precious minerals. Trolls are essentially metamorphic rock wrapped around valuable minerals."
    • Gargoyles are a subspecies of Troll. Their jaws are permanently stuck open, and they like to hang out on tall buildings as their primary foodstuff is pigeons (unlike regular trolls, who eat rocks). They're perfectly at home spending days on end staring at nothing.
    • A troll's physiology also seems to represent the place it was born. Though most trolls have solid mountainous physiques, there's also Chalky (implied to come from chalk plains) and Brick (who was born in the city).
  • Alternative Number System:
    • Trolls apparently have a "base Many" system (actually base four). As in, "one, two, three, many, many-one, many-two..."
    • In one book, Detritus appears to be counting in base-2 (binary). This makes sense, given that a troll's brain is made of silicon (like a computer chip).
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees:
    • Weirdly, a Senior Wrangler is a real thing. It is the student who gains the highest overall mark in mathematics at Cambridge University. (People who get Firsts are just Wranglers.) In fact, most of the bizarre practices and terminology at Unseen University are based on real Oxbridge examples.
    • The "Clacks" system used in the later books is based on a system that was used in Europe during the Napoleonic wars. Semaphore towers were actually built.
  • Amusing Alien: The Luggage.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: Gods, demons, and the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions. The first two groups are more similar than they'd like to admit ("the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters"), while the Things just want the light and shape of our reality and would kill us without even noticing if they ever got through. That's without mentioning the Auditors and other weirdness.
    • Thief of Time has a scene where pictures of particularly dangerous entities are shown. The picture of the most feared of all shows... an empty, hooded robe, hanging in mid-air. That's how Auditors appear. Angels and Demons have uses for humans. The Things From The Dungeon Dimensions would eradicate humans without noticing. Auditors are the only ones who are actually malevolent: they not only actively want to eradicate life, they want it to never have existed.
  • Arabian Nights/Days: Klatch is Arabian Nights Days in Sourcery, the first book Klatchians play a major part in, but by the time Jingo rolls around it's more of a late-19th/early-20th-century Lawrence of Arabia style Middle East, with a few Arabian Nights elements left in.
  • Arc Number: 8. The Discworld has eight seasons and eight-day weeks, and its spectrum has eight colours (though only magically gifted people can see octarine). An eighth son of an eighth son becomes a wizard, and wizards themselves must never speak that number's name aloud for fear of extradimensional payback. There are eight Muses and eight circles of Hell. The Tower of Art at the Unseen University has 8,888 steps (more or less). There's a magic-sensitive metal called octiron and a magical gas called octogen.
    • Moving Pictures contains one of the later references, with the passing grade for Unseen University exams being 88.
    • In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, eight rats with their tails knotted together make up the Rat King, Spider.
    • In the second Science of Discworld, Ridcully demonstrates that magic is ineffective on Roundworld by saying "Eight!" aloud a few times, then hauling Rincewind out from under the table to show him that, no, nothing disastrous happened because of it.
    • For the Auditors, three is a preferred number, because when three of them work together, each one can be monitored by the other two.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: While there are a few good ones in the books, the aristocrats of Ankh-Morpork are generally a bunch of blithering idiots who are as incompetent in politics as they are in military matters.
  • Badass Normal:
    • The watchman Sam Vimes. So threatening is he that the crime rate actually drops when Vimes leaves the city, since the criminal underworld knows what he'll do if it rises while he's away.
    • The Chessmaster Havelock Vetinari is only very rarely taken by surprise. Everything else is either a plan of his or the results of one of his plans. The city cannot function without him.
    • Cohen and the Silver Horde, a band of octogenarian barbarians. They're completely normal human beings who got very good at staying alive, and simply never dropped the habit.
  • Bad-Guy Bar:
    • The Mended Drum (originally the Broken Drum - "you can't beat it"). Originally a seedy bar in the mould of the Wild West, and as such a favoured haunt of the Disc's many Heroes. In today's more congenial age, barfights at the Mended Drum are staged contests and severed limbs are carefully numbered so they can be surgically reattached.
    • Biers, the bar for the differently-alive, including vampires, zombies, werewolves, bogeymen, ghouls, and various others too weird to fit in anywhere else. And one Mrs. Gammage: a nearly blind, dotty old woman who started visiting the pub when it was named the Crown and Axe, and hasn't even noticed that the normal clientele has been replaced by the... er, differently-normal. (She is, incidentally, a very safe dotty old lady; the regulars have apparently adopted her as a sort of unofficial mascot, and at least a couple of thieves who robbed her subsequently turned up without a drop of blood left in their bodies...)
  • Battle Butler: Quite literally, with Sam Vimes' butler Willikins. Both in the sense that he temporarily leaves the household for military service in Jingo (and proved quite ferocious as a sergeant, both in and out of battle), and in Thud! he turns up as a Special Constable, and takes down two of the three Dwarf assassins without thinking about it, despite the fact that they surprised him by coming directly through the wall. Sam thinks how comforting it is at times like that to have a butler who can throw a common fish knife so hard it is extremely difficult to remove from the wall. He's also glad that the different street gangs they were in as kids had a treaty, so he never had to face Willikins in a rumble.
    Willikins: A cap with sharpened pennies sewn to the brim.
    Vimes: You could take an eye out with that!
    Willikins: With care, sir, yes.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Like many Police Procedurals, the City Watch stories never make it easy to collect information.
  • "Begone" Bribe: The modus operandi of the Beggars' Guild.
    • Sometimes literally; Coffin Henry wanders around with a sign that reads "for sum muny I wunt folo you home".
  • Being Human Sucks: The orangutan Librarian of the Unseen University is much happier with his form after a magical accident and has taken precautions to prevent the wizards from making him human again.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Mustrum Ridcully and the wizards of UU may look like harmless, slightly overweight, cheerful old men. The entire purpose of UU is to keep them that way so they don't destroy the world. Before the University made magic and academic life pleasant, the plural of "wizard" was "war".
      • The Librarian also seems like a genial and harmless half-deflated inner tube, until someone says the M-word...
    • Nanny Ogg is generally much nicer than Granny Weatherwax, which is why people tend to seek her out for help when they need it. She is, however, every bit as cunning and manipulative as Granny, if not more so. Pratchett himself hinted that Nanny may be even more powerful than Granny, but is smart enough not to show it.
    • Subverted in short story "The Sea and Little Fishes"; Granny Weatherwax suddenly starts being nice to everyone — which, naturally, makes them deeply suspicious.
    • Death is pretty congenial, and does his job sensibly while trying to understand humanity as much as possible (even if most of the time he doesn't really get it). But if you threaten the nature of reality, seriously threaten his granddaughter Susan (which is pretty hard to do in the first place), or try to mess up his part of the universe, you had better start running like Rincewind and never stop running! He gets emotional over kittens as well.
    • And then, of course, there's Rule One: "Do not act incautiously when dealing with small, bald, smiling, wrinkled, apparently harmless old men!"
    • Carrot Ironfoundersson. More than once, the poster boy of goodness (to the point you imagine him with baby-smooth skin and living in the 1950s USA), has made others realize this about him.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For the love of God, don't say the M-word near the Librarian.
    • Or call Granny Weatherwax a Crone, a Hag...
      • ... or an old woman.
    • Or try to take Rincewind's hat away. Or any other wizard's.
  • Beta Couple: Played with sometimes in the City Watch books, where there are two Official Couples: Vimes/Sybil and Carrot/Angua. Exactly which is the Beta Couple depends on the book: Vimes/Sybil are pretty clearly the Betas in Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo and The Fifth Elephant, but Thud! sees a reversal of the situation that's looking pretty permanent. Even so, a number of books in the sequence (Guards! Guards! and Night Watch) avert this altogether by not having Angua appear in them.
  • BFG: Detritus of the Watch wields a siege crossbow, converted to fire bundles of arrows which burst into tiny projectiles at high speed. It can remove doors from their frames, their houses, and the world of objects larger than a matchstick. The only safe place to be when Detritus fires it is a hundred feet or more behind him.
  • Bilingual Conversation:
    • Any conversation with the Unseen University's librarian (an orangutan). His vocabulary is limited to "Oook" with varying punctuation, but everyone seems to know exactly what he means.
    • The Death of Rats also. Squeak.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Golems, or at least Mr. Pump, are sensitive to something called "Karmic Signature", which Pump did not see fit to explain. They can also detect one another "singing" underground, through thousands of feet of soil.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Gods tend to throw these at people who annoy them, particularly atheists.
    A bolt of lighting lanced through the clouds and hit Dorfl's helmet. There was a sheet of flame and then a trickling noise. Dorfl's molten armor formed puddles around his white-hot feet.
    "I Don't Call That Much Of An Argument"
  • Book Ends: The Colour Of Magic, the first Discworld novel, features the first foreign tourist's visit to Ankh-Morpork. Raising Steam, the last novel in the series published before Terry Pratchett's death, features the introduction of the steam train to Ankh-Morpork, which makes tourist excursions to and from the city available to pretty much anyone.
  • Brawn Hilda: Vimes' wife, Sybil Ramkin, right from her first appearance in Guards! Guards!. In that one, some Palace Guards come to take her to be eaten by the dragon. She takes exception to being dragged off by a load of guards... with a broadsword. It doesn't work out for her, but two of her pets (Sam Vimes and a most peculiar young male swamp dragon) rescue her later on. It is noted on several occasions, as recently as Snuff, that Sybil is descended from the kind of old aristocracy that kept its place by being more than able to defend themselves. Hence why even in Night Watch a younger Sybil grabs a ornamental sword (or something else long and metal?) to defend herself when (stranger to her at that time) Vimes comes to the door. There were previous references to the martial activities of Sybil's male ancestors, usually in the context of her even tougher female ancestors looking after everything else, including caring for whatever portions of their male relatives made it back from battle. As well, given the later references to the family apparently never throwing anything away if it could possibly have any use, there's no reason to think that sword wasn't entirely functional. (Given how badly she handles a sword in the chronologically later events of Guards! Guards! she probably didn't know how to use it, but that's not important when you consider the kind of help the family tends to hire and the fact that her father might well have been home.)
  • Brick Joke: Happens quite often, even across books in the form of Continuity Nods.
    • In The Truth, there's mention of someone trying to pass a parrot off as a dog by teaching it to bark and writing "DoG" on its feathers. In The Last Hero, Leonard of Quirm is shown feeding a bunch of birds, one of which is that parrot.
    • A bar called The Broken Drum (You Can't Beat It!) burns down in the first book. It appears rebuilt subsequently throughout later books as The Mended Drum (You Can Get Beaten).
    • Invariably, a remark about anyone with "eyes like gimlets" will lead to the other party asking "what, you mean that dwarf who runs the delicatessen on Cable Street?" It isn't until the nineteenth novel, Feet of Clay, that we learn there really is a dwarf named Gimlet and that he is well-known for his piercing glare.
    • Similarly, due to widespread illiteracy in Discworld, there have been kings capable of turning whatever they touch into glod and at least one princess cursed to spin straw in glod. Glod is, in fact, the name of a notoriously short-tempered dwarf—short-tempered mostly because various kings and princesses keeps summoning clones of him into being without warning.
    • In Men at Arms, Angua mentions in passing that Big Fido thinks that all wolves have names like Quickfang and Silverback, and laughs it off. We find out in Feet of Clay that the full names of her parents are Baron Guye von Uberwald, aka (Silvertail), and Seraphine Soxe-Blumberg, aka (Yellowfang). Of course, they are family of (werewolves), so....
      • Though in The Fifth Elephant, we're told that most true wolves don't have names, so much as descriptions. Gaspode attempts to translate one of these for the rather prudish Captain Carrot. They eventually settle on "Bum", which Carrot can choose to interpret in the way common in the US (vagrant, tramp, hobo) while remaining at least somewhat similar to the more precise translation "Arsehole".
    • Another one crops up in Night Watch. In The Truth, one of the newspaper headlines is "CITTY's BIGGEST CAKE MIX-Up!!!". It's a story about a cart carrying several tons of flour overturning and causing a cart carrying a cartload of eggs to overturn, which in turn causes a cart carrying 30 churns of milk to overturn... Anyway, in Night Watch, after Vimes destroys a certain siege engine, we find out that it is not the biggest cake mix-up after all. As one of people who ordered the siege engine sent against Vimes: "Those oxen were really feisty, sir."
    • There's a passing mention of some cheeses having put up a fight when the elves attacked an inn in Lords and Ladies. This sounds like a joke, until Wintersmith introduces Horace the Cheese...
    • In Moving Pictures, C. M. O. T. Dibbler orders a thousand elephants for a production that never gets made. In The Compleat Discworld Atlas we are told that many menageries in the Circle Sea region now mysteriously contain far more elephants than they used to; recently-discovered documents indicate that a Mr. Dibbler is implicated.
  • Bungling Inventor:
    • Bloody Stupid Johnson, whose works tend to warp reality when they're not outright useless. It is suggested that he possessed a form of inverse genius; not stupidity, but a form of intelligence that equated to genius in the opposite direction. His works include the Colossus of Ankh-Morpork, which fits in a pocket, an exploding sundial, a Portal Network apartment complex, a tower built with quicksand (it'd be built faster), several pipe organs, a shower that combines with a pipe organ and a geyser, a mail-sorting machine that receives letters from alternate universes, an ornamental cruet set capable of housing several families, a manicure device better suited to peeling potatoes... Quite impressively, he managed to create an explosive out of nothing but sand and water. A particularly good example being that garden of Patrician's palace, which includes:
      • A trout pond that, due to a mix-up with measurements, is one hundred fifty feet long, one inch wide, and home to just the one trout.
      • A beehive large enough to house 10-foot long bees.
      • A chiming sundial that explodes around noon.
      • A fountain that, when turned on, groaned ominously for five minutes and then fired a cherub a thousand feet into the air.
      • Cast iron garden furniture that has been known to melt on hot days.
      • A maze so small that people get lost looking for it.
      • Crazy paving that has committed suicide.
      • The "Ho-Ho", which is like a ha-ha (a ditch that hides a fence) but much much deeper, and has to date claimed three gardeners.
        "To Bloody Stupid Johnson, scale was something that happened to other people."
        "If you wanted a small ground-to-air missile, you just asked him to make an ornamental fountain."
    • Completely inverted with Leonard of Quirm, who invents, among other things, incredibly destructive siege engines as intellectual exercises, including cutting instructions and parts lists, a working submarine and spacecraft and what is hinted to be an atomic bomb.
  • Butlerspace: Igors from Discworld are explicitly able to instantly appear right behind their masters when called. One even goes so far as to set a beartrap behind him as a test, but the Igor gets around it, being no stranger to "masters of an inquiring mind".
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Rincewind, obviously.
    • Less obviously, Lord Vetinari, although to a lesser extent. He gets overthrown by a dragon and thrown into his own dungeon, gets shot, is turned into a lizard, gets poisoned, has to spend time in a submarine with Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs and pretends to be a street performer before being arrested, is knocked into a coma to be replaced by a fake version of himself, and on top of all this has to make sure that the city runs as it should while defeating the woman who writes the crossword for the Times.
    • The Bursar, usually. In any novel where the wizards appear for long, he's likely to be the bystander who catches the friendly-fire flack.
    • The Thieves' Guild Yearbook and Diary introduces a self-invoked example: Mr. Echinoid Blacksly, founder and sole member of the Ankh-Morpork Guild of Victims. He hires himself out to be robbed, mugged, or burgled in his clients' stead, as per the Thieves' Guild's pre-arranged appointment schedule.
  • Candlelit Ritual: Parodied with the Rite of AshkEnte, which summons Death. The full Ritual takes lots of large candles, rare incense, a ceremonial octogram, and whatnot — and it's all set dressing used by self-important wizards to lend some gravitas to something that can be done with three bits of wood and a couple drops of mouse blood.
  • Canis Latinicus: Latatian, most of the time.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: Occasionally discussed, with regard to witches and wizards, but apparently averted in truth. Supposedly true for the undead, though Windle Poons manages it in Reaper Man. It's noted, however, that the Ankh river barely qualifies as "running" or "water" after passing through the city.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • Death: There is no justice. Just me.
    • Rincewind: "Oh shit I'm going to die!"
    • Moist: "Trust me."
    • all Igors: "Yeth, marthtar."
    • The Death of Rats: Squeak.
    • The Librarian: "Oook."
    • Vetinari: "Don't let me detain you."
    • Granny Weatherwax: "I aten't dead."
    • Discussed Trope by Vimes and Carrot in Jingo:
    ‘You know what I always say,’ he said.
    Carrot removed his helmet and polished it with his sleeve. ‘Yes, sir. “Everyone’s guilty of something, especially the ones that aren’t,” sir.’
    ‘No, not that one . . .’
    ‘Er . . . “Always take into consideration the fact that you might be dead wrong,” sir?’
    ‘No, nor that one either.’
    ‘Er . . . “How come Nobby ever got a job as a watchman?”, sir? You say that a lot.’
    ‘No! I meant “Always act stupid,” Carrot.’
    ‘Ah, right, sir. From now on I shall remember that you always said that, sir.’
    • Commander Vimes is fond of noting that in criminal cases, the motive is easier to find if you "follow the money".
  • Cats Are Magic: Death is very fond of cats and gives them all nine lives. That said, the only cat who is really magical is Maurice, from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. He gained sapience and speech by eating a rat who had, in turn, also eaten some magical garbage.
  • Cat Stereotype: Granny Weatherwax's cat You is a pure white kitten, full of purity and innocence. Nanny Ogg's cat Greebo, on the other hand, is grey, and is older, wiser, and pure malevolent evil.
    • Inverted: Greebo is actually afraid of You since their first meeting. Note well, the only other creatures that Greebo has ever feared were a Nac Mac Feegle and a voodoo deity in the shape of a cockerel.
  • Caught in the Bad Part of Town: Whenever a character finds themselves in The Shades, (the most infamous and crime ridden slum in the city of Ankh-Morpork) it's essentially a countdown (usually a very short one) until multiple crooks try to mug or kill them.
  • Chronoscope:
    • The Omni-scopes have the power to do this, although true to form the wizards spend a great deal of time and effort trying to eliminate that capacity, treating it as a bug instead of a feature. It seems all they wanted was an expensive version of a webcam.
      • The problem, it is revealed, is in STEERING the damn things. They tend to start out with random viewing coordinates, so it's very hard to see anything in particular with them. Most of them end up being used as shaving mirrors because almost everywhere they might look is effectively featureless space.
    • Also from the Science of Discworld books, Hex is able to treat our entire universe as one of these. Fast fowarding, or rewinding to see specific spots in human history (our universe canonically exists in a snowglobe on a shelf in the Unseen University, a wobbly shelf).
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The series has gotten darker and more mature over the years, all without quite losing its sense of humor. And yes, Pratchett even plays with this trope, contrasting the dark Monstrous Regiment with the moderately lighthearted Going Postal followed by the dark Thud! followed by the moderately lighthearted Making Money followed by the even more lighthearted Unseen Academicals followed by the pitch black I Shall Wear Midnight...
  • Chalk Outline: Invoked rarely, and only for laughs. For example, the Ankh is the only river in the world you can draw a chalk outline on.
  • Chameleon Camouflage:
    • Susan Sto Helit.
    • Granny Weatherwax.
    • Granny's apprentice Tiffany Aching.
    • Vimes has an uncanny ability to blend neatly into the shadows.
    • The Wizards of UU can do this so well that they look more like what they're pretending to be than the real thing does.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Remember when the The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork was obese?
    • Or when Death seemed to actively cause people to die rather than merely collect their souls?
    • Remember when Granny Weatherwax was just a simple village witch?
    • Or when Vimes was a depressive alcoholic?
    • Or when most wizards were as skinny as Rincewind?
    • Or when Willikins was just a butler?
  • Character Development:
    • Or rather, setting development. Over the course of the series, Ankh-Morpork goes from a Wretched Hive locked in Medieval Stasis to a bustling Steam Punk City of Adventure. It's still a pretty much a Wretched Hive, it's just that everyone is more civilized about it.
    • Somehow the Senior Wrangler became the romantic of the UU faculty, while averting this trope enough to still be interchangeable with the Chair and Lecturer.
  • Chess with Death: Although he can never remember the rules.
    Remind me again how the little horse-shaped ones move.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: The druids use stone circles as computers, flying them into place (the metaphor is extended by them having to build new ones every few months because the old ones are now obsolete). It being cheaper to build a new 32 megalith circle than upgrade a 16 megalith circle. This causes some friction with trolls (who are giant sentient rocks), who are often picked and dropped off miles away from where they were living.
  • City of Adventure: Ankh-Morpork.
  • The City Narrows: The Shades within Ankh-Morpork, where the cops (and criminals) never go for fear of not coming out alive. (Of course that makes it okay for those members of the Watch who aren't technically alive.)
  • Clever Crows:
    • Ravens living around the High-Energy Magic building at Unseen University have developed intelligence beyond their already-clever limits, and view the city panorama below as a sort of daytime entertainment. A couple of them bother gnome constable Buggy Swires on a stakeout, constantly pestering him for details.
    • Quoth the Raven (yeah...) who starts off as a wizard's familiar in Mort, and ends up becoming the steed for the Death of Rats in later books. He advises a number of protagonists and is clearly more level-headed than most characters on the disc.
  • Clown School: The Fools' Guild, where young men are apprenticed to become court jesters and the like. Depicted as a terrible place where comedy is Serious Business. A Running Gag is to compare the Fools' Guild to the Assassins' Guild, which it is directly next to, and make the Fools' Guild sound worse.
  • Common Tongue: Morporkian, fitting the city's cosmopolitan influence.
  • Comically Inept Healing: The Guild of Barber-Surgeons seem to mostly be this, at least until former Back-Alley Doctor Dr Lawn rises high enough in the profession to make some changes.
  • Concept Album: Steeleye Span's musical version of Wintersmith.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Narrativium pretty much guarantees this. Pratchett explains this phenomenon by reasoning that the side with numbers has to think before hitting, whereas the hopelessly outnumbered side can just attack anything nearby and be pretty much sure it is an enemy, thus giving them an advantage. This makes sense in Discworld logic.
  • Continuity Nod: Pterry generally tries to acknowledge continuity. The events in Thief of Time are used to explain many remaining continuity problems.
  • Corrupt Politician: Subverted by Ephebe. They have the only elected politician on the disc, a new one is elected every five years on the basis of honesty, and they call him The Tyrant. It's his actual title.
  • Crafted From Animals: Nac Mac Feegles make plenty of gear from animal parts, but since they are wee people they make use of small animals; rabbit skulls are used as helmets, mouse leather is used for bagpipes etc.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Commander Samuel Vimes has set up numerous traps at his home and office to deal with those pesky Assassins, to the point that his name has been taken off the register for real assassinations, but some of the more mean-spirited instructors have begun sending out students to do "mock assassinations". If they can draw a bead on him with a crossbow, they pass. Good luck.
  • Creator Cameo: Pratchett has cameos in all three of the TV movie adaptations to date. Not only that, he speaks the final line of dialogue in all of them.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus:
    • The religion of Omnianism, which we get to see develop over centuries, clearly parallels Christianity. In the past its adherents were more of the "burn the heretics" type but in modern times the only crusades they go on are door-to-door pamphlet deliveries.
    • Most of the nations of the Disc, in keeping with the standard fantasy setting, practice polytheism, with all the gods coexisting (and even sharing the same mountaintop abode, if they're popular enough). But actual religious practice is very modern: the Church of hammer-wielding thunder god Blind Io is suspiciously Anglican, while immigrants who worship Offler the Crocodile God keep vaguely Hindu-looking art around the house.
    • The History Monks are somewhat Buddhist, while Genuans practice Hollywood Voodoo (though with made-up deities named after supermarket chains).
  • Counting to Potato: Trolls have a counting system based on fours, rather than tens (apart from Detritus, who ends up counting in binary). As a result a troll counting "one, two, three, many"note  comes across this way (leading to an In-Universe stereotype that trolls can't count past three).
  • Deadly Book: The Library of the Unseen University is full of books that do horrible things to people. In particular the Necrotelecomnicon (Written by Achmed the Mad, who preferred to be known as Achmed the I Just Get These Headaches) will drive mad any man who attempts to read it. Fortunately The Librarian isn't a man (but an orangutan) so he has no problem with it.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: The deserts of Klatch have these, to the point where all you need to do to sharpen a sword is hold it in the air for a little.
  • Death from Above:
    • Don't go into wherever the Librarian has chosen as his base of operations if he considers you an enemy. He will generally drop down onto your shoulders and try to unscrew your head.
    • Also a favorite of those Nac mac Feegle who ride large birds. Being both lightweight and nigh-indestructible, they only bother with a parachute if the ground is soft enough that clambering out of the hole they make would be embarrassing.
  • De Fictionalization: A number of board/card games appear in the novels, and several of them have been given real life versions.
    • Thud! being one example. Stealth Chess, for example, is a chess variant; Thud! is based on the ancient Norse game of hnefatafl, as befits a game of dwarfs and trolls. For trivia fans: The dwarf name for Thud is Hnaflbaflsniflwhifltafl (pronounced Hur-naffle-baffle-sniffle-wiffle-taffle) a rather more obvious connection to the Norse game.
    • There are also rules for Cripple Mr. Onion.
  • Democracy Is Bad: At least the people of Ankh-Morpork think so. Sam Vimes's ancestor "Old Stoneface" assassinated the last Ankh-Morpork king, and tried to introduce democracy but the people voted against it.
  • Destroyer Deity:
    • The novel Hogfather reveals that Death has a special room for the lifetimers belonging to very important personages. There is a very large one with a world-turtle engraved on it, carrying on its shoulders four elephants, which in turn support the entire Discworld. The implication here is that when the day comes for the last of its sand to run through, Death will square his shoulders, lift his scythe, and rise to the task... Soul Music, explores this further, it's Death's job to one day play the anti-chord that will end everything, using a pick made from the very tip of his scythe.
    • Discworld goes even further with Azrael, the Death of Universes, who is so vast that nebulae are but twinkles in his eye, and his single word takes up a two-page spread on the text.
  • Dig Attack: It is hinted that this is how Dwarfs carry out war underground. Dwarf war appears to consist in aggressive mining, digging and listening for the other side's tunnels and shafts, and breaking through either to launch direct assaults or else to sneakily undermine and collapse enemy delvings.
  • Divine Conflict: In the early novels, the gods of Cori Celesti are engaged in an aeons-long feud with the Ice Giants, who play their radio too loud and have refused to return the lawnmower.
  • Divine Right of Kings:
    • A lot of people on the Disc believe in this, which Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch hates. He bitterly notes that people are willing to put up with a lot of crap just because someone royal said so. His own ancestor, Suffer-Not-Injustice "Old Stoneface" Vimes, killed the last king of Ankh-Morpork, a horrific Caligula who was known for "entertaining" children in the palace dungeons. Old Stoneface still gets made out as the villain of the tale, somehow.
    • Carrot Ironfoundersson is almost certainly the rightful king of Ankh-Morpork, and is a kind and friendly soul who loves everyone and is loved by everyone. In fact, he's such an excellent king that he refuses to take the throne (or even acknowledge his right), as Vimes and Vetinari are doing a fine job of ruling the city. Despite his affable nature, it's repeatedly made clear that the "divine right" of his ancestors revolved mostly around being really good at killing anyone who disagreed with them.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Parallels are drawn between magic and nuclear power: borne out the structure of the universe, it's immensely powerful and can be employed for much benefit but has to be handled with great care. Places where it went wrong are left barren and toxic and may simply be craters, the waste products are dangerous and damaging for centuries afterwards, but generally it's perfectly safe to be around right up until the moment when it very much isn't. (Terry Pratchett was once a press officer for Britain's nuclear energy providers.)
    • The wizards are a contentious group, clashing, talking over each other, getting distracted, going off on tangents and arguing over details, but they always figure out what kind of magical trouble is happening, what it means and what they need to do about it. Pratchett has quite a lot of scientist fans who say that this is very similar to the way scientific research really works, and is true for academia in general.
    • One that sticks to the forefront is everything to do with female dwarfs seems to be just like gay people in the real world. It Makes Sense in Context, as female dwarfs look so much like male dwarfs that a large part of Dwarfish courtship involves figuring out if the other person is actually a different sex from yourself. Recent attempts by some female dwarfs to assert their femininity haven't been met kindly by the more conservative factions.
      • A closer allegory may be Transgender people's plight in the real world. Since the Dwarfs are (at least on the surface) a One-Gender Race, any Dwarf identifying as the "wrong" gender gets about the same reaction as people beginning transitioning do in real life. There's even a case of "self-trans panic" in the books, wherein the villain turns out to be a closeted "female Dwarf" who had a mental breakdown due to a combination of stress and cognitive dissonance—she was a prim and proper dwarf, but prim and proper dwarfs don't have dreams of wearing leather skirts and flowing chainmail dresses—brought on by the growing Dwarf Femininity movement.
  • Double Entendre: The novels make fairly heavy usage of innuendo and oblique references to disguise more adult subjects, either for humor (drinking songs like "A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End" and "The Hedgehog Song"note ) or for delicacy (King Lorenzo the Kind is only described as being "very fond of children" in the series itself - this is plainly doubletalk for "sadistic pedophile").
    • And the seamstresses!
      • Which is doubly effective in Dutch: the Dutch word for "sewing" also means "screwing", and as a result "seamstress" has always been a somewhat uncommon, but very recognisable euphemism for a you-know-what in the Netherlands.
      • This may also be a reference to Medieval and Renaissance literature. At that time, "seamstress" was such a common term for "prostitute" that it hardly counted as a euphemism. Lazarillo de Tormes is one example.
      • Not just in medieval times — up until the 19th century, at least, in some places.
      • Of course amongst the, ahem, seamstresses there is also a woman which can actually sew, for those customers who got it wrong.
  • The Don:
    • "Legitimate Businessman" Chrysophrase the troll. Naturally, Pterry can't help but pun—high level troll gangsters are referred to as "Tons".
    • Harry King fits the type as well, but he's not a criminal (though ironically, he is literally in the recycling business, which could also be called waste management, a stereotype for American Dons' "legitimate" businesses).
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Although he initially appears as a hostile figure, Death rapidly develops into a sympathetic and well-meaning public servant who takes an interest in humanity and does his best to ease people through their transition to the next world.
    Lord, what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the reaper man?
  • "Down Here!" Shot:
    • The six-inch-tall Wee Mad Arthur introduces himself with "Down here, bigjobs".
    • Dwarfs such as Cheery Littlebottom have also been known to utter the words.
  • Dying Candle: The arrival of DEATH is always heralded by any candles in the vicinity snuffing out.

    Tropes E to H 
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The earliest books are quite different in tone, the characterization is different, things like troll biology are wildly different, all sorts of things. Sir Pterry spent some time building a plausible demiphysics based on the nature of the disc (eight seasons, a tropical belt at the edge and polar hub, etc), a mythology founded on that (the number eight, Eldritch Abominations) and so on. Except for the occasional reference to the eight day week and the eight seasons of the year, most of that is dropped in favor of wicked good character pieces and archetype development.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: Trolls eat rocks, though, as with actual food, there's grades and divisions of quality.
  • Elemental Plane: Death's Domain and the Palace of Time. Both symbolizing their concepts as much as the Anthropomorphic Personifications who inhabit them do.
  • Element Number Five: Surprise.
  • Elite Mooks: The modern Watch is often viewed this way by people opposing them. Criminals and cons trying their usual tricks on "stupid guards" tend to be surprised by the smart tactics Vimes has instilled in his troops.
  • Ethnic God:
    • Some consider Tak the god of the Dwarfs; however, while the Dwarfs believe Tak made the world (as well as Dwarfs, men, and trolls), they don't worship him as a rule.
    • Some human nationalities also have their own specific gods: Omnians worship Om, and Borogravians have Nuggan (though most of them actually worship the Duchess, who has posthumously become the equivalent against her will).
  • Evil Is Sterile: The Auditors. As the accountants of reality, they are the fundamental opposite of creativity, and loathe all forms of life, let alone creative thinking. Yet in Thief of Time they manage to create human bodies through mimicry and at least appear human, given a certain amount of Uncanny Valley.
  • Eyes Are Mental: One of the laws of magic is that transformations can never change a creature's eyes. This rule holds even for gods.
  • The Fair Folk:
    • Elves. If you're thinking Legolas and Elrond, think again. In line with older folklore, they're without empathy, sadistic, abduct beings from their home dimensions and would be the only Discworld race to be Always Chaotic Evil if they didn't play by Blue and Orange Morality.
    • The Nac Mac Feegle are not sadistic or otherworldly (some are downright friendly), but they're hardly happy little wood sprites. Picture a kleptomaniac, hard-drinking, bar-brawling Glaswegian in the body of a Smurf.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Is Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler selling sausages? Then another stupid moneymaking scheme has just blown up in his face.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention:
    • In the Agatean Empire, almost every male's name is number-adjective-noun, such as Nine Turning Mirrors and Six Beneficent Winds. Two Little Wang is particularly disgruntled about this...because he considers 'two' unlucky. Some characters lack the adjective and run it into one word (Twoflower, Ninereeds). Word of God invoked from Terry Pratchett is "I think I pinched the Mayan construction."
    • And then there's dwarf Patronymics, which stack. So after a few generations you get Glod Glodssonssonssonsson.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Dwarfs versus trolls.
    • Humans versus trolls in some places.
    • Just about everyone versus goblins.
    • One book notes that on the Disc, normal racism isn't really prominent. Instead "Black and white get along in perfect harmony and gang up on green".
    • Generally averted with Lady Sybil, who goes so far as to do those private conversations with her old friends who make unpleasant remarks about the people she is traveling with. Her internal dialog in one book mentions that she knows few trolls, but the trolls she does know are pretty much like everyone else: trying to raise their children and looking out for the next dollar.
    • Vimes, who regards dwarfs and trolls as just people, has a thing against the undead, although he gets over it gradually as the series goes on and various types of undead prove to be useful members of the Watch.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: Later novels draw parallels to The War on Terror. The terrorist actions of the fundamentalist "deep dwarfs" (who cover themselves from head to foot because they consider it a sin to look on sunlight) are highly reminiscent of radical Islam.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Appliance: All over the place, with counterparts ranging from PDAs (the pocket imp Vimes uses) to the telegraph (the clacks system). In the beginning this was clearly done more with humour in mind, but over time these ideas have been extrapolated to have more complexity and effect on the setting. The clacks has recently been ungraded to take account of colour, not unlike fibre-optics...
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Most cultures in the series have some real-life equivalent, often to create an Anachronism Stew fantasy setting.
    • Ankh-Morkpork started as a parody of the fantasy City of Adventure exclusively populated by thieves, assassins, wizards, roving bands of heroes and tavern staff. With time, it developed into a cross between that, Elizabethan London and modern New York or London. Pratchett describes it as a cross between nineteenth-century Seattle, modern-day New York, and Victorian London.
    • Lancre is part a fantasy-land countryside of witches, farmers, small kingdoms, mountains, elves and such, and largely rural England, particularly the West Country or the Lake District. Perhaps more specifically Lancashire, especially the northern, more hilly and more rural, half, famous for the Pendle Witches of the early 17th century.
    • Überwald is equal parts the spooky Central European don't-go-near-the-castle Dracula country, and the countries formed in the wake of the breakup of the USSR with just a hint of the Holy Roman Empire. The USSR itself and Stalin have their counterparts in the (offscreen) Evil Empire and Emperor respectively, which united Uberwald until their fall.
    • The Counterweight Continent (no doubt that's just the Morkporkian name for it) is the Far East, mostly Japan and China, although Thailand and its food gets a honourable mention, and a Discworld Expy of Korea sneaks into the last couple of books.
    • Klatch is Arabia, but has a relationship with Ankh-Morpork of "the old enemy" mostly mellowed into tolerance, like Britain and France.
      • Klatch is large enough that different parts of it function as expies for Turkey, Ancient Egypt, the biblical Middle East, Arabia, Persia, and Pakistan, note .
    • XXXX (or Fourecks) is a big canvas of Australian cliches. Its neighbouring "Foggy Islands" evoke the Maori name for New Zealand, "Land of the long fog".
    • Quirm is France. Good food, but often too heavy on the "avec".
    • Howandaland is sketched out as Darkest Africa with a tantalising hint of white colonial Africa, but hasn't been seen much in the books. note 
    • Ephebe is Ancient Greece and Tsort is Troy. Between them is the Egypt-inspired Djelibeybi.
    • Genua is New Orleans, Louisiana in its first appearance, but in later books it becomes a counterpart of Italy. In still later books Brindisi became the Expy of italy.
    • Llamedos is Wales. Complete with rain and extra consonants.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Crossbows generally take the place of firearms on Discworld. Though only recently invented, firearms are by no means non-existent. The Assassins' Guild severely restricts the proliferation of firearms and crossbows that have been modified to the point that they can be about as deadly as firearms, as they feel that it would make killing too easy.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The gods play games with the lives of men and toss bricks and lightning bolts at atheists.
  • Fictional Colour: Octarine, the colour of magic (it's sort of a greenish purple).
  • Fictional Zodiac: The Disc has its own version of the zodiac. It involves such signs as The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars and Khefin's Eye 1-4.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: Zombies are very strong, immortal and able to sew themselves back together if need be. However, the older they get, the drier they get, and so they're understandably nervous around fire.
  • Flanderization:
    • Uberwaldian Dwarves were originally referenced as only vaguely religious. By the time of Raising Steam they're The Fundamentalist terrorists who look to Tak, previously remarked upon as playing an ancillary role in the creation of Dwarves, as the almighty font from which all good things flow.
    • Vetinari takes an interest in doing the crossword puzzle, regarding the person that composes them as a Worthy Opponent. Contrast his temperament in Raising Steam, where he crows like a madman after "defeating" her and forcing her to retire.
  • Flat World: People, fish, and sea monsters continually fall over the rim. As indeed does the sea, but the Discworld Companion says "arrangements are made" to prevent it all draining away.
  • Flip Personality: Altogether Andrews, first introduced in The Truth.
  • Fluffy Tamer:
    • Lady Sybil Ramkin and her dragons.
    • Nanny Ogg and Greebo.
    • Granny Weatherwax and You the cat.
  • Food God: The Discworld has many:
    • The Hogfather, in addition to being a Santa Claus Expy, has elements of a Food God specializing in pork products.
    • Epidity, God of Potatoes, lord of a Potato Cult.
    • There is a God of Custard, Nog-Humpty
    • While the details are obscure, the Grace Bissonomy has divine associations with both oysters, or perhaps bivalve aqcuatic molluscs in general, and is depicted in iconography as brandishing a bunch of root vegetables that might be parsnips. Or perhaps carrots.
  • Footnote Fever: They show up in most of the books to provide often-humorous clarification or deeper history on some topics.
  • Foreign Queasine: Dwarfs eat rats, which the occasional human will sample. Probably just once.
  • Freudian Trio: The Lancre witches (Magrat: ego, Granny Weatherwax: superego, Nanny Ogg: id. Very, very id.)
  • Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire: All the members of the League of Temperance, who only drink animal blood taken from slaughterhouses. Or switch to something completely different — coffee, anyone?
  • Gargle Blaster: Scumble, which is made from apples (well, mostly apples). A few drops are enough to fell a troll. Nanny Ogg's particular recipe is known as "suicider."
  • Gem Tissue: The Diamond King of the Trolls isn't just a flowery regal title. He really is made of diamond. Trolls are made of what is called metamorphorical rock, where the silicon-based substance of their bodies is predominantly one form of inorganic silicon tissue: the stuff of their being is partly down to genetic factors, but can also be mimetic of the dominant rock of their surroundings. Many male trolls are simply "Granite" or "Marble" or similar: but female trolls tend to incorporate a lot more wholly and semi-precious gemstones, ie Ruby, Beryl, et c. And, of course, all trolls have diamond teeth - the only material strong enough to grind and break down rock.
  • Genericist Government: Towns have mayors, maybe a council, but that's generally it.
  • Genius Slob: Though they are some of the smartest people on the Disc, the wizards of the Unseen University are essentially a bunch of celibate male students suffering from severe arrested development.
  • Genre Roulette: While the whole series is predominantly Fantasy, the separate arcs within it often adhere to a secondary genre; notably, the City Watch books are also Murder Mysteries/Detective Dramas.
  • Genre Shift: As the series progressed, modern ideas and technologies have slowly entrenched themselves in the Disc, lifting the later books into having a strong flavour of Urban Fantasy.
  • The Ghost:
    • Bergholt Stuttley "Bloody Stupid" Johnson, Discworld's most infamous inventor. His works are present throughout the series, but Johnson himself has never made an appearance. Probably because Sybil's grandfather shot the man when it looked like he was about to do work for the Ramkins.
    • Messr Honeyplace, Mr Slant's vampiric partner at Morecombe, Slant and Honeyplace, has never made an appearance. Morecombe is also a vampire and the Ramkin's family solicitor (for multiple generations), but Honeyplace has not been sighted to date.
    • Mrs Colon, who wins extra points for being The Ghost not only to the reader but also to the other characters, up to and including her own husband, since she always works the exact opposite shift to him. Almost their entire marriage has been conducted through affectionate notes left on the kitchen table. Vimes speculates that their children were the results of particularly persuasive handwriting.
    • Among supernatural entities, the Soul Cake Duck (the Disc's equivalent of the Easter Bunny) has been mentioned many, many times, yet never appeared even in novels where gods, holidays, or childhood beliefs feature prominently.
  • Girls with Moustaches: All dwarfs, openly female or not, have long, flowing beards.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Leonard da Quirm.
    Leonard: Well, because it's submerged in a marine environment, I call it the Going-Under-The-Water-Safely-Device.
  • Gonky Femme: Dwarfs of all genders in Discworld look like small bearded men, so Cheery has to employ Tertiary Sexual Characteristics to show her femininity.
  • Good-Guy Bar: The Bucket. Do not try to take the female watch officer hostage.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Corporal Carrot IS this trope, though Obfuscating Stupidity has its uses.
  • The Good King: Shows up rather often: King Verence of Lancre, Rhys Rhysson the Low King of the Dwarfs, and Mr Shine the Diamond King of the Trolls all care for their people and want what's best for them. Carrot may qualify (see I Just Want to Be Normal below), but prefers his position in the City Watch while Vetinari governs Ankh-Morpork. In Carrot's defense, Vetinari does an excellent job of running the city, while Carrot believes he can serve it best as a copper.
  • The Grim Reaper: Death puts in at least one appearance in every single Discworld novel except The Wee Free Men and Snuff.
  • Guile Hero: Moist, Vetinari (although his position on the hero-villain continuum is complicated), Nanny Ogg, and Granny Weatherwax, all in different ways. Carrot and (somewhat less so) Vimes also get moments of this.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: The "learning to commit more serious crimes" variety is parodied when the Ankh-Morpork Thieves' Guild, an entirely legal organisation, runs official classes in the city's main prison, the Tanty.
  • Happily Married:
    • Commander Vimes and Lady Sybil.
    • Fred Colon and his unnamed wife.
    • King Verence and Queen Magrat of Lancre.
    • Mort and Ysabell, despite their death in a carriage accident.
    • Detritus is said to be Happily Married to Ruby in Thud!, though they lack Babies Ever After.
    • Averted by Carrot and Angua, who eventually do end up living together but seem to have no interest in or intention of getting married, despite being one of the series' Official Couples.
    • Moist and Adora are finally married by the time of Raising Steam.
    • Effie and Harry King.
  • Hat of Authority: Witches and wizards depend on their hats as signifiers of their occult and social status. The Archchancellor's hat carries special (and magical) weight, its wearer being the Archchancellor. Moist von Lipwig also accrues various fancy hats as he is put in charge of different organisations.
  • Hat of Power: The Archchancellor's hat has the memories of all prior Archchancellors and can bestow them as it chooses on anyone who wears the hat, as well as possessing significant magical abilities of its own. At one point it freezes a thief solid for stealing it.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today?: Played with; most of the time, it's the 6-foot tall Carrot who's doing the mentioning.
  • Hegemonic Empire: Ankh-Morpork used to be the more traditional type of Empire, but this way was more sustainable. The city-state only directly controls a small portion of land, but its economic influence throughout the continent is almost limitless, and its production is so great no one dares invade for fear of being deprived of the very tools needed for invasion. It's also the center of all information trade, giving it unequaled political clout in the region.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: In Soul Music, the Dean gets a leather jacket with "Born to Rune" on the back. It doesn't come out often after that, but when it does, it should be an instant Oh, Crap! for whatever the Wizards of UU are going to war against.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named:
    • Inverted with Lady Luck, the only goddess who must depart if her name is spoken.
    • Played straight with elves, as saying or even thinking their name too much tends to attract them.
  • Horse of a Different Color:
    • Vermine, "a more careful relative of the lemming" with black and white fur much prized by royalty and nobility for lining their robes. Its fur is also much prized by the vermine itself; the selfish little bastard will do anything rather than let go of it.
    • There's also the Scalby, which is to Rats what Rats are to... things that make them look like better things than Scalbies. Scalbies are described as "Carrion birds that would eat stuff that would make vultures sick. Scalbies would eat Vulture sick."
  • Humans Are Leaders: Not too surprising, as humans appear to be the most populous species. But in Ankh-Morpork, dwarfs, trolls, and vampires are factions that Vetinari and the Watch deal with like any other guild.

    Tropes I to L 
  • The Igor: An entire family of them that does henching and Mad Science professionally. They also pioneer surgical techniques and do it almost recreationally; when an Igor is said to have his father's eyes, it's probably not a figure of speech. They may have been handed down through the generations (a good pair of hands are worth hanging onto as well). One of them has a pet dog made up of the pieces of many other pet dogs; though he's very upset when Scraps gets killed off, he consoles himself that it's only a matter of time until the next thunderstorm. Male Igors are Kavorka Men and considered quite the prize for young women, whereas the Igorinas are cute monster girls mixed with Hello, Nurse! - in lieu of scarred up bodies, they are mind-bogglingly attractive except for a bit of cute stitching for show, for example around a wrist like a tattoo, or in a celtic-like pattern on their cheeks. When we finally get an on-screen Igorina (in Monstrous Regiment) she makes an off-hand remark that the scars from the stitching can be gotten rid of in 15 minutes with the right ointment. That means that Igors go around covered in scars because that's how Igors want to look. Other books clarify that the igor stitches are actually clan markings.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal:
    • Susan Sto Helit desperately wants to lead an ordinary life, which is complicated by the fact that her parents are Death's adopted daughter and his former apprentice. And she's a duchess.
    • Rincewind hates being forced into dangerous quests to save the world, and would like nothing more than to be bored the rest of his life.
    • Carrot Ironfoundersson may also qualify, as despite the fact that he probably is the heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork, he prefers to be a copper.
  • Imperfect Ritual: Subverted, as usual. Wizard magic is often done with an elaborate ritual, but most of that is just for looks. Several books feature the Rite of Ashk'Ente, which only needs one wizard, three bits of wood, and a fresh egg. If you haven't got a fresh egg, a mouse will do. But wizards generally feel that if you don't have eight archmages chanting at the corners of an octagram filled with occult paraphenalia, you aren't doing it properly. Witches are more practical; they're not above doing something impressive for headological purposes but when nobody's watching will take whatever shortcuts are available.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Trolls gamble by tossing something up and then betting on whether or not it will come down. (This is the Discworld. It might not.)
  • Insistent Terminology: The Assassins Guild does not "kill" or "murder" their targets. Common thugs murder, and the assassins are not thugs. So they "inhume" their targets.
  • Interspecies Romance: Throughout the City Watch cycle we have Carrot (male human) and Angua (female werewolf).
  • Invented Invalid: In later city watch books, the City Watch gives an allowance of days off for three grandmother's funerals per year.
  • Jerkass Gods: Most of the gods are fairly weak and mundane, but some of the more powerful ones view human life as a game for them to manipulate. And some of the less powerful ones, too. Nuggan, for example, who seems to be the divine equivalent of someone who's gone pants-on-head neurotic.
  • Karma Houdini: It is practically stated in the books that Mustrum Ridcully brought the poor Bursar to madness. And he never gets his comeuppance for this!
  • The Kingslayer: "Old Stoneface" Vimes, ancestor of the current Vimes, chopped the King's head after he was sentenced to death by a tribunal for his horrific crimes. He was the only one with the balls to do it. He was later executed, his body getting the Osiris treatment. His bad reputation was so powerful, his descendants many generations later are still being bugged about it.
  • Klingon Promotion: Standard practice at Unseen University until Ridcully arrives. His sheer unkillability rather spoils the attitude, and eventually the Wizards decide they actually rather like not having to constantly watch for their own impending death.
  • Lady Legionnaire Wear: The ladies of the Watch wear armor with this - in Men At Arms it's said that Angua, the first female to join the Watch, will need the blacksmith to hammer out her breastplate (which was the same issue as the male watchmen's) by quite a bit before she can wear it.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Just about every book not only includes a lot of Trope Play, but a lot of Genre Savvy characters who will know just what's going on, and will be in no way shy about stating it.
  • Limited-Use Magical Device: The Octavo in the first Discworld novels is a tome that was used to create the world; it has eight spells left in it (one of which escaped and inhabited an unwilling wizard), which have to be spoken at the correct time in order for the Discworld to spawn a litter of baby Discworlds. After this is done, the spells disappear.
  • Literal-Minded: Most, if not all, books will have one or more of these characters, useful for hanging lampshades on metaphors and similes.
    • Early books actually justify it. Dwarfs as a species evolved underground, and thusly metaphor and simile never caught on in their language, due to the dangers of not being able to communicate important facts (for example, the impending collapse of the ceiling) quickly, promptly and accurately. Humans, meanwhile, had most of their capacity for imagination and metaphor bred out of them as a survival response to the Mage Wars, when reality was even looser in the Discworld than it already is, and so stray thoughts and idioms could become real if careless.
    • One of the historical Patricians of Ankh-Morpork, Olaf Quimby II, manifested a particularly intense version of this as part of the inevitable madness that afflicted all past Patricians; he made metaphor and hyperbole illegal and punishable by death. Eventually, he was stabbed to death with a pen by a disgruntled poet whilst personally testing the saying "the pen is mightier than the sword".
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: The number of wizards who can hold any given level of wizardry has been fixed by tradition for centuries, so no matter how talented a given wizard is, he'll only get promoted if someone higher ranked than him dies or gets promoted into a higher level himself. This lead to the "Dead Man's Pointy Shoes" tradition in which wizards used Klingon Promotion to create openings in the higher levels, which lasted until Mustrum stopped it by virtue of being unkillable.
  • Living Crashpad: The Bursar's been a target for this once or twice.
  • Living Legend:
    • Granny Weatherwax, whose name among the trolls is Aaoograha hoa ("She Who Must Be Avoided") and among the dwarfs is K'ez'rek d'b'duz ("Go Around the Other Side of the Mountain"). She has taught respect to vampires and elves as well.
    • His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes is known throughout his city as scrupulously honest and a man who, when upset, tends to spread his discontent around with a big shovel. So well known generally for inventing the first capable and honest police force of the city of Ankh-Morpork that cops throughout the plains are known as Sammies.
    Vetinari: People know about you, commander. Descendant of a watchman who believed that if a corrupted court will not behead an evil king, then the watchman should do it himself [...] Sam Vimes once arrested me for treason. And Sam Vimes once arrested a dragon. Sam Vimes stopped a war between nations by arresting two high commands. He's an arresting fellow, Sam Vimes. Sam Vimes killed a werewolf with his bare hands, and carries law with him like a lamp [...] Watchmen across half the continent will say that Sam Vimes is as straight as an arrow, can't be corrupted, won't be turned, never took a bribe...
    • Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, the rightful heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork (who just happens to like being a guard). His charisma is so strong it warps reality. Also, he has a punch that trolls respect.
    • Rincewind (a Wizzard) is famous among some communities for his ability to run away from anything. And scream in 27 languages. He's also saved the Disc multiple times when running was no longer an option. At one point, after two head wizards almost go nuclear, another realizes that the last time that happened, the Disc was almost destroyed and Rincewind stopped it with a half-brick in a sock. He looks around and sees Rincewind putting his sock back on.
    • Tiffany Aching is rapidly building herself a fearsome reputation.
    • Cohen the Barbarian. Look up his description for details, but the short version is that he has managed to live to a very old age in a profession that typically has a very short life expectancy, and he's not retiring any time soon.
    • Lu Tze among the history monks.
  • Living Structure Monster: Unseen University is explicitly described as a building complex that throughout its thousand year history has absorbed so much ambient magic that it is practically a living thing with emotions and a degree of sentience. Equal Rites has the witch Granny Weatherwax reaching out her mind and effectively borrowing it — i.e., a sort of benign possession which a witch may only do with the mind of a living thing. She reads its mind and discovers it is frightened and fearful. Much the same happens in Sourcery, when the University dimly senses big trouble ahead, and doesn't like it.
  • Loves Only Gold: Dwarfs in the Discworld are often accused of loving gold. They retort this is not true. They only say that so as to get into bed with it.
  • Low Fantasy: Increasingly - starting around "Men at Arms", the focus shifts away from reality-warping threats and towards how a city like Ankh-Morpork would actually work. By "Going Postal" and "Making Money", we've got books about corrupt executives, bank fraud and the power of good press...that happen to also involve golems, wizards and banshees.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: Wizards' staffs, and the Luggage. Both are made from sapient pearwood, a strange, sapient kind of magic lumber that is extremely loyal to its owner.
  • Lucky Seven: Inverted — eight makes many appearances as an occult number, most of them bad. Has a much stronger presence in the first two books, though.
    • The reduction in bad references to either may have to do with Two-Flower accidentally destroying the Temple of the Sender of Eight. He only wanted a picture...
    • It popped back in for a terrific Leaning on the Fourth Wall gag when Pterry finally started breaking Discworld books into chapters. In Going Postal, the chapter in between 7 and 9 is titled "Chapter 7A."

    Tropes M to P 
  • Made of Phlebotinum: This 'verse can seem ordinary enough at first glance, until it's pointed out that, without heavy duty magic involved, a flat world on the back of a giant turtle that swims through space should be utterly impossible. The magic is so thick that it slows down light to create timezones on the Disc. Magic-heavy areas also completely and utterly play with the laws of physics, making the entire world plausible. In The Last Hero it is stated that if Cohen is successful in his plan to return fire to the gods (with interest) it will disrupt all magic on the Disc for two years. When someone suggests that they can get by without magic, Ponder Stibbons replies that without magic the seas will run dry, sun crash into the Disc, etc etc. And this will not take place over two years, but within a few minutes. Magic isn't just coloured lights, it holds the Disc together.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: As Moist von Lipwig observes in Going Postal, the eventual cost of doing everything by magic (magic having a very steep bill even for little things) is the reason that life on the Disc evolved steampunk technologies for the advancement of society, rather than Functional Magic. Whenever there needs to be a reason why the large number of highly skilled wizards of Unseen University cannot counter a problem with magic, one of the standard limitations is that it takes precisely the same amount of work (in the physics sense) to do something by magic as by any other means, and all the other mundane limitations (like action-reaction) as well. The result is that a wizard trying to pick a lock by magic expends most of his effort to keep his brain from squirting out of his ears. Moreover flying without aids (ie, a carpet or broomstick) is theoretically impossible for the same reason, although knocking a big weight off a high place and going up when it goes down is possible.
  • Magical Camera: Iconographs are little more than boxes containing a very tiny imp with a sketchpad and set of paints. Because the imps have no imagination whatsoever, the images they create are accepted as objective. The flash works by frightening a captive Salamander, a magical lizard which absorbs light and can release it suddenly.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: Wizards tend to attract Eldritch Abominations.
  • Magical Library: The library of Unseen University leads to other dimensions thanks to the sheer weight of accumulated knowledge distorting the space-time continuum. This is known as L-Space. The library itself is pretty much a universe of its own with all the magical books, library creatures such as the thesaurus and lost tribes of research students inside. One of the more disturbing features of the Library is the way the dome of the Library is always overhead, no matter how far you seem to move on the floor in any direction. This is compounded by the fact that shelves of books, and occasional people among the shelves of books, are also clearly visible on the ceiling around the dome.
  • Magical Seventh Son: Except on Discworld, the magical number is eight, and the eighth son of an eighth son is a wizard. And the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son is... very, very bad news.
  • Magical Society: Unseen University serves this function, and is implied to be responsible for the fact that there aren't any magical wars any more, since all the wizards are busy with bureaucratic politics and enjoying the comforts of their station. (It is noted that in the bad old days, "the plural of 'wizard' was 'war'".) Witches, on the other hand, are much less organised, and many of them seem to like it that way.
    The basic unit of wizardry is the Order or the College or, of course, the University. The basic unit of witchcraft is the witch, but the basic contiguous unit, as has already been indicated, is the cottage. — Lords and Ladies
  • Magitek:
    • Due to his job before writing, Pratchett likes to compare magic to nuclear physics, hence the High Energy Magic Building and Ponder's staff talking of splitting the thaum. Known flavours of the thaum are: up, down, sideways, sex appeal and peppermint.note 
    • And then there's... Hex.
  • Master Poisoner: Lord Downey, head of the Assassins' Guild, is rumoured to be this. There is no record of anyone Lord Downey may have wanted to inhume ever being poisoned, however. Which may just indicate that he's really good at it.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery:
    • Standard medical practice in Ankh-Morpork is hitting the patient over the head with a hammer. The only real doctor in the city is seen as crazy; when Vetinari is poisoned in Feet Of Clay, Vimes calls in a horse vet to treat him, because many of Doughnut Jimmy's patients survive.
    • Later on in the series, the Igors can provide effective medical treatment, but they're likely to return to claim payment in the form of body parts once the patient is no longer using them.
    • Dr. Lawn also seems to be subverting this trope in the city post-Night Watch. Of course, his methods come from Klatch, not the Sto Plains.
  • Men Can't Keep House:
    • Suggested several times to be the case with the City Watch, particularly the canteen. The arrival of female Watchmen didn't seem to have any effect.
    • Subverted in the case of dwarfs, as they tend to keep tidy homes no matter what sex (if any) they admit to being. Nor do you ever find rats or cockroaches infesting their houses, so long as the residents can hold a frying pan.
  • Micro Monarchy: Lancre, in the Ramtop Mountains, and some of its neighboring kingdoms which are even smaller. Just about every flat spot in the Ramtops (of which there are precious few) is a kingdom. This has led to generational wars over getting hold of somewhere to store the coal.
  • Million-to-One Chance: Invoked whenever someone needs a long shot to happen. "Million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten."
  • Miraculous Malfunction: The best-case scenario of allowing Bloody Stupid Johnson to build anything. Except organs, those he can seem to do, although the UU one is a bit, powerful.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment:
    • The reformation of the Night Watch into the City Watch, particularly in Men at Arms.
    • Any story with the wizards will see one.
    • Nanny Ogg's family is mentioned to do this if someone makes an unkind comment about any of them, even if it's a person they've been making comments about not minutes before.
  • Mother Nature, Father Science: It's technically magic for both sides, but male (wizard) magic is shown in a more scientific light and tends to be about bending the forces of nature to the spellcaster's will. Female (witch) magic, on the other hand, tends to be more psychological and more about attuning yourself to nature.
    • Those attitudes can also be seen as the exact opposite: while wizardry is about learning and using that which has already been known for thousands of years, witchcraft is about intimidating magic into doing whatever the witch damn well pleases.
  • Modest Royalty: Carrot is the last living descendent of the royal line. He denies it to anyone who asks, perhaps due in large part to Vimes's influence, but he does make use of near-supernatural royal charisma and occasionally drops by Vetinari's office to make gentle suggestions that are surprisingly often accepted.
  • Monster Modesty: Trolls (except Detritus, who wears a watch uniform, and Chrysophrase, who wears a suit) mostly just wear a loincloth "to conceal whatever it was that trolls found it necessary to conceal". This is so much a part of their culture that male trolls will go to clubs to watch female trolls put on clothing. There's usually a riot by the second overcoat.
  • Morphic Resonance: Discworld has played a big part in popularising the phrase. Probably its most significant example is the law of magic that no shape-shifter, not even gods, can transform how their eyes look — so their eyes always provide a clue to their real identity or nature.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Usually Angua.
    • Members of the Assassins' Guild also get this in a book or two.
  • Muggle–Mage Romance:
    • Not uncommon among witches. Magrat married Verence, the muggle king of Lancre. Nanny Ogg had a lot more romances, and ended up raising a large extended family.
    • Wizards by contrast are contractually obliged to avoid this, since they have a small chance of fathering the living embodiment of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. There's mention of retired wizards pursuing romance, albeit quite carefully.
  • Mundane Utility: Wizards. All the time. It goes hand in hand with their disdain for work.
  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom:
    • Omnian names; which are half name, half psalm. Most go by the first word in their name, though.
    • Most Goblins. It's also a grave insult to give them a nickname, although some of the younger ones don't mind.
  • National Weapon: Dwarfs consider their battleaxes cultural artifacts, and will not part with them even when circumstances require them to relinquish all other weapons (at a diplomatic function, for instance).
  • Never Mess with Granny: It can be safely said that Terry likes his women strong. For every three women introduced in this vast series, two and a half are old ladies (whether little or otherwise) that can stop a running bull, and the rest are just like them, but younger. Of particular note are Granny Weatherwax, who put a demon in his place with a few threats, and Mrs. Cake (a medium, bordering on small), whom High Priest Ridcully compares to the things from the Dungeon Dimensions.
  • Nice Hat: Wizards, witches, and various other professionals have to have one. Much is made of the importance of having the right hat for any job, as assuring people that you are a real witch/wizard/postmaster/whatever is half the battle. Mustrum Ridcully, Moist von Lipwig and Nanny Ogg have practically made careers of it.
  • "Noah's Story" Arc: There's an Urban Legend about the founding of Ankh-Morpork that tells how a wise man foretold a Great Flood, gathered his family and hundreds of animals into a big ship, and rode it out. After a few weeks' sailing, the accumulated wastes from all the animals were filling up the vessel, so they tipped all the manure over the side, and built a city on the resulting dung-island.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted; night-soil wagons provide an important clue in Thud!, and The World of Poo takes the aversion to extremes. Mort can also testify that Binky subverts this trope a lot. Harry King, called "King of the Golden River", made a living out of the fact that everybody poops.
  • Non-Human Head: Gods are often noted as looking like humans wearing cheap Halloween masks. Offler the Crocodile-Headed God is the one seen most often, but in Pyramids the equivalent of the entire ancient Egyptian pantheon shows up.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Several Ankh-Morpork-based books make references to "what happened to Mr. Hong when he opened the Three Jolly Luck Take-Away Fish Bar on the site of the old fish-god temple in Dagon Street on the night of the full moon." (The implication is something very nasty involving an Eldritch Abomination, but even the Patrician doesn't know for sure.) He also left very quickly. The type of quickly that involves leaving behind a kidney and an ear hole.
    • There's also the oft-mentioned fate of Vetinari's predecessor, Mad Lord Snapcase, who wound up being hung up by his figgin. A figgin is a small cake, so either there's a bizarre case of linguistic drift going on, or there really is some horrifying element to a man being suspended alongside a teacake.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: It's a running gag that nobody on the disc seems to get the hang of silent letters, so you'll have an upper-class father declare that Susan's method of beating up bogeymen is very "persikological" (psychological), or Shawn Ogg wanting to tell a Rousing Speech to the townspeople to encourage them to fight the elves and "pussike" (psyche) them up.
  • No Sense of Humor:
    • Granny Weatherwax. She understands humor on a conceptual level, but has absolutely no sense of humor and has no understanding of how or why jokes work.
    • Death also has No Sense of Humor, being an anthropomorphic personification who doesn't understand human emotions. His brief attempts to inject humor into his work failed spectacularly.
      • Although he is getting better at it. "Since you believe in reincarnation, you'll be Bjorn again" was pretty good. Pity that the dwarf he told it to also had No Sense of Humor and didn't get that it was supposed to be a joke.
    • Part of the reason that the Fools' Guild is so spectacularly bad at being funny is because they religiously follow, in Gormenghastian tradition, the essays on punning, wit, jokes and humor written by Monsieur Jean-Paul Pune, who was run out of Quirm due to a combination of the (even more intense, at the time) literal-mindedness of his fellows and his own heavily implied ineptitude at actually being funny.
  • No Social Skills: Death fails spectacularly at relating to people.
  • Not So Extinct: A lot of standard fantasy creatures are extinct, though that's often synonymous with "trapped in a parallel dimension".
    • Giant, flying, fire-breathing dragons are shunted off in a dimension of their own. Their improbable biology requires magic to sustain, and the Discworld generally doesn't have enough magical energy around for them to exist anymore. There are exceptions, small pockets of high magic where dragons survive, and individual dragons can be summoned if enough magical energy is pumped into them.
    • Elves are similarly stuck in their own dimension(s), although there are weak points where travel is possible - lots of them in the Ramtop mountains.
    • Orks were the foot soldiers of the defunct Evil Empire, and it's revealed in Unseen Academicals that the people of Uberwald have been exterminating the few survivors. They haven't been entirely successful.
  • Nude Nature Dance: Alluded to, and then firmly averted more than once in the Discworld novels starring the three witches. Nanny Ogg is probably game, but... no. Just no.
  • Oddly Small Organization:
    • In Lancre, 90% of the civil service posts, along with every military position, is held by Shawn Ogg.
    • The Ankh-Morpork City Watch, which in the first Watch book has a grand total of four people on the night shift, and in the final Watch book has a combined night and day watch of about 250. For a city of a million people. That's roughly one watchman for every four thousand people (for comparison, New York City's cop per capita ratio is about twenty times higher), and Vimes complains about how large the watch is, since he can no longer know every person under his command personally.
  • Official Couple: Since Discworld is mercifully short on romantic drama, any couple whose initial courtship forms a sub-plot in one book are likely to follow this trope for the remainder of the series. Prominent examples include Vimes/Sybil and Carrot/Angua in the City Watch books, Magrat/Verence in the Witches books, Moist/Adora in the Moist von Lipwig books and Mort/Ysabelle in the Death books (although the latter were Killed Off for Real in Soul Music, they counted as this before their deaths and are still alluded to in this way by other characters). While Tiffany and Roland were a bit young to start in with a romance right off the bat, later Tiffany Aching books see a touch of Will They or Won't They? develop between them, until eventually Official Couple status goes to Roland/Letitia and Tiffany/Preston instead.
  • Oh Look, More Rooms!: Death's Domain. The initial hallway is intimidating enough, but several of the rooms along it open up into cavernous chambers filled with books or hourglasses. Some get it worse than others. Entirely mundane people just see the entirely mundane bits. Those who see what's really there notice that the mundane bits in most rooms are tiny islands surrounded by vast oceans of empty floor...
  • Oh My Gods!: Common, with the multiple gods the Disc sports. The dwarfs have their own, unique version - they don't believe in gods as such (Discworld dwarfs don't go in for belief, due to their lifestyles), but they have them anyway, because swearing to gods is better than going "Oh, Random Fluctuations In Space And Time!"
  • Oktoberfest: The human population of Überwald is pretty much this trope. Quaffingnote  of beer from ornate ceramic mugs with badly secured lids, whilst singing jolly songs like Ich bin ein Rattedarschedschwein, is a Running Gag
  • The Omnipresent: Death, as should be expected, considering that he's one entity responsible for everyone on the Disc. It doesn't come up too much, though.
  • One-Hour Work Week:
    • Seems to be all the wizards get up to these days, which is a pity since that would be Victor Tugelbend's dream job.
    • Colon and Nobby are technically on duty as much as the next watch officer but often call it quits sooner rather than later.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Played oddly with the Unseen University head faculty introduced in Moving Pictures: because they're known only by their titles, the first part of the title is effectively their first name, and so the Dean of Pentacles is the only Dean, the Lecturer in Recent Runes is the only Lecturer, the Chair of Indefinite Studies is the only Chair, and so on.
    • Taken outside and given a good kicking by the Feegles: "No'-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock."
  • The One Who Made It Out: Lancre is "the place people come from to become successful somewhere else" (usually Ankh-Morpork). Notably, Lancre has produced a quite disproportionate number of notable (and not so notable) wizards. There's not usually a whole lot of entertainment in the evenings, particularly in the winter...
  • Only Sane Man: Most protagonists have moments of this, but special mention should go to Ponder Stibbons.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Death is generally a calm and collected speaker, so whenever he loses his temper (at, say, New Death in Reaper Man), you know shit just got real.
    • Vetinari plays Sam Vimes like a fiddle and gets him to do the best job possible, but mainly by pissing him off first. Usually after such a meeting, Vimes would punch the wall outside Vetinari's office. Until one day he doesn't...
    • An upset Nanny Ogg is bad to see, as Agnes notes in Carpe Jugulum. A Nanny Ogg that misses a chance to mock Agnes' Accidental Innuendo, on the other hand, is rather dread-inducing, because then something is seriously wrong.
  • Original Man: The first humans to live on the disk were much more powerful than the ones that currently live on the disk. The gods remade mankind to be easier to deal with.
  • Our Better Is Different: The dwarfs use "lower" as a synonym for "better" where humans & co would use "higher". For example, their ruler is known as the "Low King". They also invert light and dark in terms of their desirability and descriptive uses.
    "The first Brother walked toward the light, and stood under the open sky. Thus he became too tall. He was the first Man. He found no Laws and he was enlightened. The second Brother walked toward the darkness, and stood under a roof of stone. Thus he achieved the correct height. He was the first Dwarf. He found the Laws Tak had written, and he was endarkened." - from the Discworld dwarf Creation Myth
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • Swamp dragons are unstable, Ugly Cute little runts that manufacture volatile chemicals in their insides for firebreathing purposes and are prone to exploding violently.
    • Noble dragons are your typical fantasy dragon, but have all disappeared for some reason. They seem to have retreated to fantasy but can show up under certain circumstances which always involve a lot of belief and/or magic. Examples are the Wyrmberg and Guards! Guards! Though never stated, the implication seems to be that the dragons left due to the lessening of magical energy on Discworld, possibly due to the lack of Sourcerors.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Discworld dwarfs started out as an intentionally Flanderized parody of this trope. Later books subverted it by introducing Yiddish elements to their culture, among other things. Becomes a Deconstructed Trope with the introduction of Dwarf counter-culture (openly female dwarfs who wear leather skirts and braids in their beards) as well as Dwarf fundamentalists who violently oppose anything non-dwarfish.
  • Our Elves Are Different: And a race of Always Chaotic Evil fantastical sociopaths. They live in a parallel universe to the Disc called Fairyland and serve as a contrast to the Auditors. The Auditors are dull, bureaucratic demons who wanted everything to be orderly; elves are magical alien monsters that, unable to understand basic concepts like love or empathy, can only relate to other beings by causing them misery and spreading chaos.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: Living statues that eat pigeons and can stare down anything, used as watchmen and clacks operators.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: All vampire myths are true in Discworld, but don't necessarily apply to any given vampire. There seem to be only two things that are true of all Disc vampires: their addiction to blood, which can be overcome only by finding something else to obsess over, and the belief that spelling their name backwards is a great way to fool people.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They have great regenerative capabilities, are only truly vulnerable to silver and fire, can switch freely between wolf and human form unless they are in the light of the full moon (which renders them wolves), and they struggle with conflicting sets of instincts and thought processes after changing. (Being effectively a human/wolf mix, they also have a nagging tendency to compromise and think like dogs.) They're considered undead on the basis of "They're big and scary, they come from Überwald, and they don't die when you stick them with a sword, what more do you want?" There are distinct varieties, too, within the traditional variety and without. There are yennorks, who are naturally born werewolves who are stuck permanently in one shape or the other. In Reaper Man we're introduced to a pair of werewolves who more fit the Hollywood 'big humanoid mound of fur and muscle' stereotype, with an additional twist that one of them is a regular wolf most of the time, the other a beautiful girl, and they meet one another half-way one week a month. The werewolves of Discworld also illustrate a rarely-considered point: Humans hate werewolves. Wolves hate werewolves so much more. (This is because humans use werewolves as an excuse to kill wolves, and the opposite never occurs.) A lone werewolf is relatively safe mixing in a human community. A lone werewolf who stumbles into a pack of wolves generally has a very short life expectancy. An ability to spread the the condition through bites has been frequently mentioned, but never shown; from context it may be a myth.
  • Outscare the Enemy: A frequently recurring joke, showing up independently in Interesting Times, Lords and Ladies, and Jingo, among others.
  • Overly Long Name: Sir Pterry is fond of these. Vampires, Nac Mac Feegle, and a number of others can have very long names. Even Nobby. And, eventually, His Grace, His Excellency, the Duke of Ankh Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, Blackboard Monitor and King of the River.
  • Painting the Medium: Has its own page.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: The standard outfit of the barbarian heroes of the Discworld comprises a leather loincloth, a few scraps of metal, and an optional fur or leather cloak. Spoofed with Nijel the Barbarian in Sourcery, who is learning barbarian heroing from a book, and wears his loincloth over the top of woollen longjohns.
  • The Perils of Being the Best: This is a point that gets brought up in many, many, books. Having a reputation for being the best means you have to deal with all the inconveniences of that reputation. First, you have to live up to your reputation. Second, you have to deal with all the challenges it brings you, whether it's trying to carry out impossible challenges or dealing with everyone who wants to prove that they're better than you. A few specifics:
    • Granny Weatherwax has to deal with every magic challenge simply because she is the best witch, even if she doesn't want to do it.
    • Jason Ogg, the blacksmith of Lancre is the best blacksmith and farrier on the Disc, but the cost is he must take up every challenge; from the stupid (having to shoe an ant - he made an anvil from a pinhead) to the exceptional (forging silver shoes for a Unicorn and shoeing the beast). He simply is not allowed to refuse a commission.
    • Vimes is the best policeman on the Disc, which means if there is a crime, even outside his jurisdiction, or while he's on vacations, if he hears about it he must investigate. Furthermore, he has to live up to his reputation as the most honest cop on the Disc, even when it would easier and more convenient not to do so. However, Vimes is aware that not just the Ankh-Morpork watch but cops all over the Disc consider him to be The Paragon, and he's frequently been in situations where he's had to put his own life in danger to avoid breaking that pedestal.
  • Phrase Catcher: The Auditors tend to provoke talk of "malignity".
  • Pimped-Out Cape: The wizards wear very fancy robes.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Wizards in full regalia probably count. They are likened to what would happen if you found a way to inflate a Bird of Paradise covered in glitter.
  • Plant Hair: Trolls are made of rock and sometimes cultivate moss and lichens on their heads.
  • Power Limiter: The Unseen University of the Wizards is full of bureaucracy, bickering, eating, lazing around, and pointless activities in general - all of which are found to have been very necessary when the system is temporarily overturned in Sourcery and the entire wizarding population goes into all-out destruction-mode. It turns out that the base instinct of a wizard is to build a magic tower and obliterate all other wizards until they're the last one (in fact, the the ancient plural of "wizard" was "war"). The current comforts, luxuries, and politics of the Unseen University act as checks to keep that instinct suppressed.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Vetinari does not actually rule his realm with an iron fist. He has the novel idea of maintaining control by making people actually want to keep him in charge, or at the very least, make removing him from power an unsavory prospect. See Vetinari Job Security. A case could be made for Vetinari being just as crazy as his predecessors, with the silver lining that his mania is an obsessive desire to see the city run smoothly. It helps that he has the inventive genius to back it up.
  • Professional Killer: Played with. Ankh-Morpork has an Assassins' Guild, but assassins have a certain style and code, involving wearing lots of black. There are plenty of Psychos For Hire, and if they're titled at all, they're just plain old "killers". Though since the Assassins' Guild is not fond of freelancers, in a very short time most of them wind up as plain old dead. The Assassins seem more or less indifferent to those who are Axe-Crazy for free, but if they start making money from it... There is also indications that the guild may only take a dim view of hired killers taking down people of certain classes, specifically those that conventionally hire Assassins. They don't take commissions on just anyone, or just from anyone. Assassins are also loath to kill unless paid to. Their guild motto translates to "Never kill without payment".
  • Prophecy Armor: Wizards and witches know when they're going to die, though wizards are forever trying to cheat death through various means, none of them successful in the end. Witches tend to use the time to make sure their cottage isn't messy and tidy up the place for their replacement.
  • Puny Humans: If anything, this is played straighter in the Discworld books than in most fantasy. Most sapient races are flat out better than humans: dwarfs are tougher, stronger, and live longer (though Carrot, a human raised by dwarfs, is described as a dwarf scaled to 200%, so the strength bit is not inherent but more due to them working out by constantly mining), trolls and golems are near indestructible and incredibly strong (and trolls are incredibly intelligent when in cooler temperatures), vampires have all their standard strengths and can even learn to replace their lust for blood, werewolves are extremely capable in combat and have fantastic regenerative capabilities, pictsies are unbelivably strong and ferocious (gnomes are described as being as strong as a human despite being the size of a Barbie doll), Igors (if they count as non-human) are all brilliant surgeons and also great healers, and orcs can only be called superbeings. Humans do, however, seem to be the only race that produces wizards, witches, or sourcerers. Even one of the latter can potentially invert this trope. They're also the most numerous and gregarious, and have the most infectious culture. They're also the most innovative. A brief mention of how the "first men" all but destroyed the Disc in a fit of pique immediately after their creation suggests that the Puny Humans trope was subsequently invoked by their divine makers so that they wouldn't do it again. Among other things they were made considerably smaller.

    Tropes Q to T 
  • Rain of Something Unusual:
    • On certain parts of the planet rains of fish are spotted occasionally, as a result of the Disc's Background Magic Field. When the field is exacerbated, one might encounter more exotic and dangerous things, like doorknobs.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn:
    • It's been tried several times in Ankh-Morpork's past. The two standard results are: A) The invaders find themselves leaving the city several days later with confused expressions, armloads of tacky souvenirs, and suspiciously light wallets, or B) The city gains a new ethnic neighborhood and, eventually, some really interesting restaurants.
    • Being old school barbarian heroes, Cohen and his Silver Horde have this as their MO. Being really old school barbarian heroes, they occasionally forget what order to do it in and Cohen has to remind the rest of the Horde which things to rape, and which to burn down.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The eyes of golems glow an unnerving red. A subversion since they're not evil, but people sure take it like they are.
  • Resurrective Immortality:
    • Vampires can be killed in a number of different ways, but will always regenerate when they eventually come into contact with blood.
    • Werewolves have a lesser degree of the same quality, provided their death didn't involve silver weapons or a lot of flame and, presumably, howling.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Mentioned many times, but especially in Interesting Times and Night Watch; a revolution only leaves blood and death in its wake, and changes nothing in the long run.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: Used in the board game Ankh-Morpork.
  • Rock Monster: Trolls are definitely made of rock, although their personalities are not particularly monstrous.
  • Rubber-Band History: There are some instances of time travel: Dios in Pyramids, Eric, the wizards in The Last Continent, Vimes in Night Watch, and Death and Susan use it on occasion (Thief of Time is more time manipulation than time travel). In these cases, history in the Discworld is surprisingly resilient (see Mort). Or maybe because of quantum, we only see the universe where the Discworld equivalent of Hitler winning (Ankh-Morpork being conquered in Jingo, the coming of the ice giants, the Apocralypse, etc.) does not happen.
    • But also averted in Small Gods. Lu-Tze converts a century of war and a vicious, totalitarian religion into a century of peace and a religious debate society by simply sweeping dung into a pile in just the right place.
  • Rule of Funny: Explicitly mentioned several times - one footnote makes reference to the "new rules of comedy" which state that the droll results of wild shots in the air must be told to the public.
  • Running Gag:
    • "Tiffany Aching was Aching all over".
    • References to Leonard of Quirm's painting of the "Mona Ogg", whose teeth follow you around the room.
    • Vetinari will often tell whoever he's talking to to look out a nearby window at what Ankh-Morpork has to offer, in the hopes that they will see Ankh-Morpork the way he sees it, as a great city all things considered, but usually they get sidetracked by fog obscuring the view or a dog peeing in an alley or something equally pointless.
    • A variety of the deliberately-spaced phrase, "that was a pune, or play on words," often appear in the books whenever someone feels the need to emphasize said Incredibly Lame Puns, particularly when they are already quite blatant to the audience and people around them.
    • 'This was X. X was not simply the absence of Y. It was where you took Y and went all the way out the other side to come up with X.'
    • 'In [Character]'s mind, X was something that happened to other people.'
    • Any book with Nanny (and a few other books) will have someone tricked into drinking scumble, made from apples. Well, mostly apples.
    • Anything that can be seen as shadow puppets draws the comment "Do deformed rabbit, it's my favorite."
    • The Unseen University has a new Archchancellor in every book until Ridcully arrives in Moving Pictures and proves unkillable. Wizards believe strongly in Klingon Promotion, although not to the point of, say, missing a meal.
    • Occasionally, someone will say (usually to a wizard) "you can't [do X], there's a rule -" only for the character to do it anyway and say "actually, it's more of a guideline". (This may be a Call-Back to Usenet, where pedantic idiots would often flame others for "breaking the rule" that signatures "must" be no more than four lines; in vain would more sensible people point out that this was actually a guideline, drawn up in and for the days when there was no high-speed broadband, and the modems were slow enough that an extra line or two actually made a noticeable difference.)
    • Vimes, who can't stand the nobility and loathes the very concept of kingship, has increasingly-impressive titles foisted off on him as the Watch books progress. This joke reaches its apex in Snuff, in which he's declared King ... but (thankfully) only of the River, as an honorarium for steering the Fanny through a dam slam.
    • In the later books, the inhabitants of Ankh-Morpork have become aware that there is a werewolf in the City Watch...but for some reason, most assume that it is Nobby Nobbs.
    • Moist von Lipwig keeps stealing Drumknott's pencils.
  • Sacred Scripture: There are many: The Book of Om, The Vengeful Testament of Offler, The Cenotine Book of Truth, The Scrolls of Wen the Eternally Surprised, and The Living Testament of Nuggan (the only holy book to be published in a ring binder for frequent updates).
  • Sand Is Water: The Dehydrated Ocean. Technically not sand but a fourth state of water that occurs in a high density magical field.
  • Second Verse Curse: Parodied - the second verse of We Can Rule You Wholesale, the anthem of Ankh-Morpork, purposely contains a bunch of mumbling since nobody will know it anyway.
  • Security Blanket: Weapon of choice against bogeymen. Because of the nature of belief, if you pull the covers over your head the bogeyman thinks you cease to exist... so if you put a bogeyman under a blanket it causes severe, crippling existential questions.
  • Sent Off to Work for Relatives: This is standard practice for dwarfs, who are sent to their already-established relatives (usually in Ankh-Morpork), learning a trade and sending money home. However, this doesn't seem to be a punishment, more of an immigration stereotype. Carrot Ironfoundersson was sent to join the Watch as he was a human raised by dwarfs.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: Casanunda's business card lists, among his other talents, "Outrageous Liar".
  • Serious Business:
    • Humor, as far as the Fools' Guild is concerned. They have incredibly strict guidelines (okay, rules) concerning the telling of jokes and being funny. Unauthorized joke-telling is severely punished, and the guild is almost completely devoid of warmth and happiness (and, ironically, humor). Graduates tend to be emotionally scarred for life.
    • Contrast the cheerful students of the Assassins' Guild (just next door). Some things are still Serious Business over there, but at least they can laugh. Assassins know that there are things that are serious (and they deal with some of the most serious things people who don't have to deal with magic deal with) and things that are not, how to tell the difference, and when each is in play.
  • Seriously Scruffy:
    • Samuel Vimes prefers to conform to this trope, although his wife is quite insistent that he maintain appearances after he marries her. One of his monologues even notes his disgust at a palace guard's sword, since it didn't show any nicks and dents and clearly never saw any use (as opposed to a well maintained sword which still showed wear and tear).
    • Lord Vetinari is a downplayed example, since he dresses in plain black clothes to avoid having to worry about his appearance in the first place.
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Commander Vimes. Nobles assume (or just like to think) he's a jumped up copper who married his wife for money. Since he's a perspective character in several books, it's very clear that he loves his wife and hates the money.
    • Vimes's subordinate Captain Carrot also makes people wonder if his Incorruptible Pure Pureness isn't just a front. (It isn't, to the point where it's actually quite annoying to some characters.)
    • Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of the city, often frustrates the ruling classes by honestly having no vices they can use to exploit him (although unlike Carrot, he's much more of a Magnificent Bastard).
  • Shout-Out: So very many that, before wikis existed, the fandom collected them into The Annotated Pratchett File. The APF annotations list appears to have been discontinued after about two-thirds of the books; the torch has been carried on by the Terry Pratchett Wiki, which faithfully annotates the later books as well as adding extra detail to the earlier ones.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Somewhat common, especially with Rincewind. The guy would be so obviously right in his cynicism... but Twoflower would come out fine anyway, leaving Rincewind looking like an idiot.
  • Skeleton Motif: Death, being an anthropomorphic personification of, well, death, lives in a pocket dimension where nearly everything - furniture, tools, his house, etc. - has some kind of bone-and-skull motif to it. Things that aren't are usually something that was brought in from the real world.
  • Slasher Smile:
    • Vimes.
    • The werewolves in Überwald.
    • Death (by dint of having no other option).
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Most of the books are level 4 (Arc-Based Episodic).
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Played with. The tone of the books and most of the characters are definitely on the cynical side — the idealistic ones tend to be portrayed as naive, dumb, or putting up a front. However, the universe itself is idealistic: the good guys do triumph, almost always in a Big Damn Heroes way. This is explicitly due to narrativium. In fact, a big thing amongst all of the Discworld heroes is that they use cynical means to achieve idealistic ends.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In the early novels, Vetinari plays chess. Later, when "Thud" is introduced and made out to be the Disc's chess analogue, Vetinari keeps a rare board in his viewing room and plays a friend via clacks.
  • Solitary Sorceress: All witches tend to live this way (Nanny Ogg lives 'alone', but not so alone that she can't yell for somebody to come over). In this setting they live literally and figuratively on the fringe of society, and so are far enough from their communities that they aren't seldom seen by normal people, but not too far to reach if their help is needed.
  • Sparse List of Rules: We only ever find out the sections of the Assassins' Guild's school rulebook dealing with "no keeping a crocodile in your dorm room" and "no boys in the girls' dorm and vice versa".
  • Spontaneous Crowd Formation: This is often called the official pastime of Ankh-Morpork. No matter what the citizenry are doing, if something interesting is going on, they will stop to watch it. As you might imagine, tends to transform into The Freelance Shame Squad regularly.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
    • According to Word of God, any book set in Ankh-Morpork will eventually morph into a City Watch novel, no matter what the original plan — which is presumably why so many of the later Wizards books involve them travelling away from the city. Moist von Lipwig was created specifically to counter this effect, since it's in his interests to avoid the Watch wherever possible, but even Raising Steam falls victim to this, with Moist and Vimes essentially dual leads.
    • A similar situation obtains with Granny Weatherwax and the Ramtops, which is why the witch protagonist of The Wee Free Men lives in a previously-undepicted part of the Disc instead of the region where most of the Disc's witches are found — she needed to live far enough from Granny that she had a chance to save the day herself before Granny arrived to take over.
  • Squirrels in My Pants:
    • It's mentioned in a few books that putting Ferrets (or Weasels) down your trousers is a popular rural entertainment. In I Shall Wear Midnight there is much disappointment when the man who does it doesn't show up for a fair. This is actually a real "sport".
    • This is an attack strategy for the Nac Mac Feegle.
  • Squishy Wizard: All wizards on the disc are this by default. They love food, get winded rather easily, and many of them are also rather old. All of these traits are actually encouraged by wizard culture, and Mustrum Ridcully (Archancellor of the the Unseen University) is considered extremely eccentric for his enjoyment of exercise-heavy activities.
    • Averted by Rincewind and the Librarian. The former has spent the majority of his life running away from things, and the latter is an orangutan. Possibly also by the wizards of the continent XXXX, and certainly by Bengo Macaronanote , who is athletic enough to be the backbone of the University's football team.
    • Although he isn't technically a wizard (as he keeps deliberately failing his final exams), Victor Tugelbend also avoids this out of sheer laziness. (He finds it easier not to carry all that extra weight around.)
    • However, until the accession of Archchancellor Ridcully created a sort of detente, these Squishy Wizards spent a lot of time making each other go squish - so Hyper Awareness and Manipulative Bastard tendencies were survival traits.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: The Lady. One of the few examples of this trope in a universe where Gods Need Prayer Badly. Explained by the fact that everyone believes in luck, even if no one worships it. There is a passing mention of an attempt by a group of gamblers to worship The Lady. They all died in a series of sudden, improbable events.
  • Success Symbiosis: Commander Vimes pursues the law without favor, annoys the rich and power, upsets the finely-balanced alliances of the city's politics and generally makes a nuisance of himself to Lord Vetinari by thumping through his court like a bull in a china shop. This is exactly why Vetinari likes having him around.
  • Suicide Dare: Ankh-Morpork citizens spying a potential building jumper will start shouting advice on the best buildings to jump from. Played for Laughs, (like virtually everything else) in Ankh-Morpork.
  • Super Doc: See The Igor above.
  • Supernatural Repellent: Parodied, especially in Carpe Jugulum, where much mirth is raised by recounting, in a Discworld context, all the things which Earth legends say are fatal to vampires. This ranges from the normal- garlic, and whatnot- to the more unorthodox- lemons, poppyseed, and carrots.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: Strong magic leaves strong residue, to the point that especially strong magic can leave magical fields behind that warp reality and last for centuries. Wizards (and cats) have the ability to see octarine.
  • Super Strength: The Nac Mac Feegle are strong enough to pick people up and throw them through the air, and it only takes four (one per hoof) to run off with a cow. While being six inches high. If we had their proportionate strength, human could pick up buildings.
  • Take Over the City: Many villains desire to conquer Ankh-Morpork. Subverted by Carrot Ironfoundersson, who has the 'right' to and almost certainly could (yes, even from Vetinari), but has opted not to.
  • Talking Animal: Usually due to the magical equivalent of radioactive waste. Examples that appear in multiple books include Gaspode the Wonder Dog and the puntastically named Quoth the raven.
  • Those Two Guys: Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs.
  • Too Dumb to Fool:
    • Trolls in general. Vimes describes Detritus as this in Feet of Clay, almost word for word. In Making Money when Vimes sends troll guards to the bank, Moist comments that they're not too smart, but you can't talk them over to your side either.
    • Fred Colon, acting in his role as cell warden. He's stupid, but he's not an idiot. He keeps the keys in a tin box in the bottom drawer of his desk. He also ends up wandering into investigating the key to one of the mysteries in Thud. Due to this, Colon is one of the few people Lord Vetinari finds hard to deal with. Vetinari is so used to dealing with people who treat words as a form of warfare that virtually everything he says carries multiple connotations, implications, innuendo, traps, and suggestions. All of which reach escape velocity over Colon's head, making him nigh invulnerable to being played, tricked, warned, or helped.
  • Too Dumb to Live: To the degree that the Watch in Ankh-Morpork now consider entering the Mended Drum and calling yourself "Vincent the Invulnerable" a form of suicide. Needless to say, there are quite a few means of committing suicide in the city. Many of them involve typical Ankh-Morporkian stupidity and Berserk Buttons, or just entering the Shades.
  • Tribal Face Paint: The Nac Mac Feegle have elaborate clan tattoos, to the extent that the books sometimes seem contradictory as to whether they actually have blue skin or not.
  • Trademark Favourite Food:
    • Rincewind becomes obsessed with potatoes by the start of Interesting Times, after spending a long time marooned on a paradisical island where they were pretty much the only food he was unable to get.
    • Quoth the Raven likes eyeballs. A running joke in Hogfather is him mistaking other small round items for them.
    • Susan loves chocolates, except for nougat.
    • Archchancellor Ridcully always puts a lot of spice on his food, especially Wow-Wow Sauce, a condiment so potent as to be downright dangerous.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: This trope is at least strongly implied to be highly active in the series:
    • In the earliest books, wizards (and presumably witches) are said to be able to see "octarine", the eighth color of the spectrum, the "color of magic". This isn't mentioned much in later books, but it still seems in those that magic is some sort of innate gift.
    • It also seems that people with strong magical gifts, such as Eskarina Smith, can be dangerous to everyone around them if not properly trained. Even partly-trained but powerful casters can be dangerous to themselves; for example, "borrowing" an animal's mind can lead to a witch becoming lost in the animal's senses. Unseen University has a gymnasium lined with magic-proof materials where students are required to practice.
    • The one attempt we see by untrained characters to work significant magic, in Guards! Guards!, involves lengthy rituals and external sources of power. Trouble is, they can produce an effect but have no control over it.
  • Translation by Volume: In the Discworld GURPS sourcebook, this is a skill called "Shouting At Foreigners". It is an actual skill that can be used instead of a foreign language. Many people think that they can get by in any language by speaking loudly, slowly and clearly in their own, or by dredging up a few half-remembered words from old stories and books. On the Disc, this sometimes works.
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside: Most heroes are not physical exemplars.
    • A young Granny Weatherwax "might have been called handsome by a good-natured liar".
    • Vimes is described in Guards! Guards! as a "skinny, unshaven collection of bad habits marinated in alcohol".
  • True Sight:
    • Wizards and witches can see what's really there, on account of them having no Weirdness Censor.
    • Children seem to have this. Even when Death makes himself known, most adults won't even notice that he's a skeleton, because everybody knows that skeletons can't walk around and talk. Children don't know that, though, and they see Death as he really looks. Not that it bothers them at all. One of the few times he's openly seen by adults is during the performance of a play featuring the character of Death — since they are expecting to see "Death", they see Death — and he promptly gets stage fright, as he's unused to being seen by so many people at once.
  • T-Word Euphemism:
    • The reformed vampires' refrain of "the B-vord".
    • Quoth the Raven's refusal to use the "N-word"note .
    • Don't forget to NEVER, EVER use the M-word near the Librarian of the Unseen University.

    Tropes U to Z 
  • Unequal Rites:
    • Witches and Wizards are not to be confused. Witches are wise women who mostly work in rural areas (we do meet one urban witch), handling medicine, births, and funerals, all splashed with a bit of ritual for psychology's sake; they tend to form covens of three. Wizards are a parody of real world university academia, and they're especially similar to your average nuclear physics department given how dangerous magic is treated in the books. Equal Rites features the first female wizard.
    • An early book mentions magicians, conjurors, and thaumaturgists; to extend the "wizards=academics" metaphor, they're basically the guys who got lower-level degrees. Conjurers have been compared to special effects guys- they find more work than wizards, not because they know more but because they make it more entertaining. Thaumaturgists are compared to surly lab assistants.
    • Granny Weatherwax mentions warlocks in passing, describing them as men who try to be witches and usually wind up just looking damn silly.
    • Fairy Godmothers, as seen in Witches Abroad, are treated as a subset of witch who just happen to use "wizardy" tools, like the star-tipped wand (the distinction is kind of blurred; Granny Weatherwax played a witchy godmother in Carpe Jugulum, which starts as a parody of Sleeping Beauty)
  • Unreliable Canon: Early novels often contained contradictory elements, because Pratchett was more concerned with the quality of the story than with consistency. Later, he adopted a more consistent canon, but those early stories have still have a hard time fitting with it.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: If you're a major character with a potential love interest in a Discworld novel this is pretty much the only alternative to becoming an Official Couple after your first book. Usually involves the Wizards and/or the older Witches and usually Played for Laughs. Prominent examples include Nanny Ogg/Casanunda and Senior Wrangler/Mrs Whitlow. Granny Weatherwax/Mustrum Ridcully probably qualify under Belligerent Sexual Tension, with a slightly more serious tone invoking What Could Have Been.
  • The Unwitting Comedian: Bouncy Normo, the funniest clown who ever lived. In reality, the man was The Bore and yet everything he did made people laugh. His story heads straight into Crosses the Line Twice territory when the narrator says that the despair of people laughing at him even as he begged them to stop eventually drew him to commit suicide. His hanging corpse was somehow considered an avant-garde comedy act by those who found him. It so funny in fact, that it stayed on the noose for weeks afterward.
  • Vow of Celibacy:
    • Wizards of Unseen University are generally expected to stay celibate. The common/official explanation is that it interferes with their magic, but as per the book Sourcery, it's more likely to be a measure to prevent wizards from having descendants, because the eighth son of a wizard (himself an eighth son of an eighth son) is a dangerous super-wizard, and it's considered better to prevent wizards from having kids at all than to risk it. In later Discworld novels the UU vow of celibacy seems to have shifted in the same way as Oxford and Cambridge Universities (see Real Life), in that wizards can have relations with women, but can't get married.
    • Esmerelda Weatherwax never had any (non-witchcraft) relations with men after Mustrum Ridcully left for Unseen University, which becomes a plot point when a unicorn shows up. In her case it wasn't really a vow, since she found it easier being the scary witch.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma:
    • The witches don't really let spelling apply to them.
    • Carrot's approach to punctuation is basically a pin the tail on the donkey game.
    • The head of the Greengrocers' Guild makes Carrot look like a grammatical genius.
  • Waterfall into the Abyss: The ocean falls off all sides of the Disc, but "arrangements are made" (it's probably quantum). There are even people who take advantage of this and have put a net around the edge (the "circumfence") to catch floating items for salvage.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: Lord Vetinari, a product of the Assassins' Guild's school where every graduate is expected to demonstrate lethal proficiency in at least one weapon, uses language to deadly effect.
    "Do not let me detain you."
    "No great rush!"
  • The Weird Sisters: The "coven" of the Lancre Witches (first introduced in Wyrd Sisters), formed by Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick (from Maskerade onwards replaced by Agnes Nitt).
  • Weirdness Censor: It's pretty ironclad, as when anything that doesn't fit into what people consider "normal" (such as Death walking among them) is actively ignored. The complete lack of a Weirdness Censor is one of the abilities of wizards and witches; in the Tiffany Aching books, it's called First Sight.
  • Wiki Walk: Leonard of Quirm, the wizards of the university, and some many other characters are fond of these.
  • Witch Classic: The pointy hats are very important, since a lot of being a witch is based on everyone else seeing you as a witch. The black clothes seem to be mostly because witches are practical and black is hard-wearing. Nanny Ogg and more recently Granny Weatherwax have cats. Broomsticks are generally only used by witches, even though they're made by dwarfs and can be flown by anyone, even without magical talent. One difference from the standard version is that although witches are Always Female, and Discworld magic is hereditary, witchcraft isn't passed down from mother to daughter here, it being considered that young witches should learn from another witch with a different way of doing things to prevent a family's magical style from coiling in on itself.
  • Wizard Classic: Most of the wizards in the series conform to this image, no doubt out of professional pride. Many avert it in some respects, however, such as in their method of Klingon Promotion or the fact that they intentionally avoid doing more magic than they have to. Rincewind is a classic wizard despite being hopelessly incompetent when it comes to spells.
  • Wizarding School: Unseen University, which exists as much to keep the current wizards out of trouble as it does to raise the next generation of them. There's also Bugarup University in XXXX and, just recently, Brazeneck University in Quirm, with references at least one more in Pseudopolis and possibly many others.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Barring fatal accidents, most wizards live well past their nineties, even with their horrible Big Eater habits. A wizard who lives past fifty can expect to live past one hundred. Witches are also pretty long-lasting. That said, they still age at the same rate. This is explicitly why so many of them are old men and women: they are old for most of their lives.
  • The Wonderland: Not just different, but Prachett often takes time in the narration to explain just how different everything is, from how time flows to the shape of the world.
  • World of Badass: If you intend to mess with someone here, make sure they're not witches, wizards, watchmen, werewolves, dwarfs, trolls, Mrs. Cake, demons, gods, gnomes, Mrs. Cake, vampires, pictsies, heroes, assassins, the Luggage, Mrs. Cake or, last but not least, the Librarian. It's a wonder that anyone else is left in the place.
    • In fact, attempting to mess with Death is probably your safest bet on this world. The most he'll likely do is act confused/amused at your antics and walk away. (Note that this covers messing with Death himself. Mess with anything he cares about, and regret it.)
    • If you think that you can take down a watchman, make sure they're not Vimes, Carrot, Angua, Detritus, or Dorfl. note 
  • World of Pun:
    • Pratchett likes to include at least one silly pune, or play on words, per book.
    • The name of the countries Djelibeybi and Hersheba. Terry Pratchett's realization that American audiences weren't getting the Djelibeybi pun inspired the creation of nearby Hersheba, which most audiences in general aren't getting. (If you've heard of the candy, the Djelibeybi pun is criminally easy to get, due to it being mentally pronounced the same way, and lampshaded when we're told Djelibeybi literally means "Child of the Djel." Hersheba is not as easy — this is due to variation in pronunciation (the most obvious pronunciation rhymes with Bethsheba), the fact that it doesn't have a lampshade, and it doesn't have a book focused on it. Once you remember that some British accents add an r sound to words ending in 'a', though....
    • The Ramtop Mountains are named after RAMTOP, the ZX Spectrum system variable which points to the top of user memory.
    • Bhrian Bloodaxe, the first dwarf according to Discworld legend, is named after ZX Spectrum game Brian Bloodaxe.
  • You Can't Kill What's Already Dead:
    • Zombies are much more resilient and stronger than humans, with watchzombie Reg Shoe taking a crossbow bolt through the chest and only complaining of the puncture holes in his armor. They are, however, very vulnerable to fire.
    • Werewolves are apparently considered undead by the narration, with one surviving a fatal bullet wound as the bullet wasn't silver.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/DiScwOrld