Literature: Dirk Pitt Adventures
aka: NUMA Series
The Dirk Pitt Adventures is a large series of novels featuring oceanographer and Adventurer Archaeologist
Dirk Pitt and his motley pals in the National Underwater and Marine Agency
(which is described shortly but aptly as "the maritime counterpart of NASA"). The series were created by Clive Cussler, although he has teamed up with other authors to write his books, notably Craig Dirgo and his son, Dirk Cussler. There have been two movie adaptations- Raise the Titanic!
See here for descriptions of the novel plots
The Dirk Pitt Adventures novels contain examples of:
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- The Ace: Dirk Pitt swings in and out of this trope's territory, usually in.
- Airport Fantasy: Cussler books are a common sight in airport bookshops, and most of them are long enough to last an entire transoceanic flight.'
- Almost Out of Oxygen: used frequently, usually when the character is underwater and their line has been cut or their oxygen tanks are about to run dry.
- America Saves the Day: Well, as NUMA is based in Washington, D.C. and the main characters are patriots ...
- Often Lampshaded by one of the main characters, as the Washington politicians frequently use one of NUMA's achievements to further their own ends.
- Arm Cannon: Juan Cabrillo, the Corporation's leader, has a false leg in which he keeps—among other things—a rather high caliber pistol.
- Author Appeal: Pitt's large collection of classic cars.
- As well as NUMA's fictional budget. Cussler runs the real-life NUMA, and would kill for the kind of cash that Pitt gets.
- The fictional NUMA is a US Government department. Cussler's real life NUMA is a private organization with no official recognition.
- And the startling number of blue and green eyed people in his works.
- Author Avatar: Ever since Dragon, Cussler is a recurring character in the Pitt series, usually showing up to put the heroes back on track with a minor Deus ex Machina. May also count as a Self-Insert Fic, although Word of God says it grew out of an attempt to see just how much his editor would put up with.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Sandecker in almost every book.
- Badass Driver: Pitt and Giordino, in cars, boats, submarines, and helicopters. All the novels feature some sort of chase scene in them.
- Battle Couple: Sort of, but Paul and Gamay Trout.
- Big Bad: One in every novel, along with The Dragon, and sometimes The Dark Chick.
- Big Damn Heroes: Used in the very beginning of books. It usually goes like this: The Girl Of The Novel and her team has just landed in big trouble. They're in a life-or-death situatipn and no one can help them. Then Pitt and Giordino come along and save them, becoming wrapped up in their problem and kick-starting the plot.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: Used frequently.
- Canon Discontinuity: A number of the early Dirk Pitt books end with sweeping scientific or political changes (the development of a Star Wars system that makes nuclear war impossible, the merging of the US and Canada into a single country) that are then completely ignored by subsequent books since they conflict with the by-and-large real-world setting.
- In Cyclops, Dirk Pitt is hinted to have been born in 1951 (his given age was 38 in-universe 1989), yet Admiral Sandecker never ages, is always described as a man in the late middle age. In other books, the good ole' Admiral is described as born in 1918, which would make people wonder if he is human at all.
- Also, the Titanic is raised whole in the book of the same name. After it was discovered in real life to have broken in half, and that raising it was impossible, the whole incident is erased from canon.
- While not exactly a Series Continuity Error per se, Fridge Logic sets in when in one book there is a secret moonbase but in another the moonlandings were faked. Not exactly contradictory but it's an oddity that is never explained.
- In books set in Spanish-speaking territories, there is a discontinuity about Pitt and Giordino knowing the language. For example, in Atlantis Found, Pitt doesn't speak Spanish, but Giordino does, as he was taught by his mother's Hispanic cleaning lady. For some reason, in Trojan Odyssey the situation is inverted: Giordino does not speak it, but Pitt reveals he studied Spanish in high school.
- Again in Trojan Odyssey, a NUMA archeologist refuses to believe in Atlantis or similar civilizations, despite Pitt and Giordino discovering it earlier in the series. Oddly enough, the fact is acknowledged in the same book by Dirk, Jr. some pages before.
- The Casanova: Subversion - Pitt always seems to patiently wait and let the woman do the first step, if ever.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Pitt and Giordino are masters of this, especially when all the other characters are terrified out of their wits.
- Cool Boat: The Oregon definitely qualifies for this one. The series features lots of these, given that it centers around a marine science agency.
- Cool Car:
- Pitt owns an entire garage full of them.
- And the author actually owns many of them, which are on display in the Cussler Museum in Arvada, Colorado.
- Cool Garage: Pitt lives in a former airport hanger, which he uses to store his car collection.
- Crowning Momentof Awesome: One of the biggest draws of the NUMA Series is seeing how Cussler will manage to top his previous climax in raw, unfettered awesome. So far, he hasn't failed to deliver.
- Deadpan Snarker: Giordino, but also Pitt, Gunn, and Sandecker.
- Dead Person Impersonation: In Inca Gold and Atlantis Found. (Possibly others.)
- Defictionalization: As alluded to above, the NUMA organization has existed in Real Life since 1979, being Clive Cussler's shipwreck hunting non-profit organization, of which he wrote The Ship Hunters books and documentaries.
- Disney Death: Pitt and many other supporting characters
- Departmentof Redundancy Department: The National Underwater AND Marine Agency
- Girl Of The Novel (although Pitt has now settled down with Representative Loren Smith, the only girl he sleeps with in more than one story - some of his other lovers appear in multiple novels, but only sleep with him in one of them).
- Of special note is Summer Moran, who was presumed dead at the end of Pacific Vortex, later turned out not only to have survived (though she later died offscreen), but been pregnant with two kids by Pitt, the grown-up versions of whom would later feature in the novel. Despite the fact that over the course of the book, they spent about two hours in the same room as each other, which weren't used doing the nasty.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Pitt and Giordino use them as signature fighting styles. Pitt is even mentioned to have competed as an amateur boxer.
- Cyclops mentiones he has training in judo, but most of the books insist he doesn't know martial arts, so he is always shown fighting this way.
- Green Eyes: Dirk Pitt himself. They are described as "opaline" and "like the sea."
- Guile Hero: Pitt's often a man with a plan.
- Guilty Pleasures
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The new genetically enhanced salmon trying to get on the market are being called Frankenfish. Sounds like someone is a fan...
- History Marches On: 1976's Raise The Titanic, and the movie based upon it, both assume the R.M.S. Titanic sank as a single piece, remaining intact enough to be salvaged. In Cussler's defense, this was the official position on the sinking until the ship was actually found, which was in 1985, almost 10 years after the book was written.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Summer Moran and Loren Smith.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. They met in kindergarten and they've been together ever since.
- Karmic Death: Most of the villains get taken out in this manner.
- Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Hiram Yeager's computer GUI "Max" is a sometimes scantily-clad (or downright naked) representation of his wife.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In Night Probe, it is strongly implied that Brian Shaw (British agent) is really James Bond.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In some of the later books people looking over reports of Dirk's career mention that his life reads like a series of adventure novels.
- Mineral MacGuffin: Several of the books, including Raise the Titanic and Arctic Drift, hinge on the need to find a supply of some exotic substance which seems to be available only in the sunken ship du jour.
- One Steve Limit: Averted, there seems to be an infinite number of Leigh Hunts mentioned in the series (Though only one in any given book). Also, Dirk Pitt Jr. After he is introduced, the elder Dirk Pitt is referred to as Pitt and the younger as Dirk so that the reader can tell them apart in scenes where both are present.
- Purple Eyes: Loren Smith has them.
- Rule of Cool: what most of the books live on.
- Running Gag: Sandecker never finds any of his special cigars missing, but Giordino always seems to be smoking one. Al secretly tracked down the source of Sandecker's cigars and has been quietly purchasing them himself.
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: Pacific Vortex.
- Shown Their Work: Very often, sometimes to the point of overdoing it. This predominantely shows up whenever cars, ships, historical moments, or diving equipment is mentioned.
- Status Quo Is God: In Night Probe, Pitt retrieves an old treaty that proves that the US legally owns Canada. The president uses it as part of a plan to unite the two countries. It never happens. Possibly explained by the fact that in the next book, Deep Six, which takes place a few months later, the same president is kidnapped, brainwashed into acting as a Soviet agent, and impeached after trying to dissolve Congress in order to push a pro-Soviet agenda. This may very well have killed the credibility of his other proposed policies.
- Stripped to the Bone: Played straight at least once, in Vixen 03. Subverted in Serpent.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Kurt Austin is more or less a replacement Dirk Pitt.
- Universal Driver's License
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: No one ever explains how Dirk can afford two dozen antique cars and two airplanes on his salary as a senior employee of an obscure government agency. His father's rich, but Pitt doesn't seem like the type of person to blow his trust fund.
- Technically, he only had to buy one of the airplanes, and most of the non-car portions of his collection (and some of the car portion) were picked up and/or given to him throughout his adventures. Still, the point does stand, since his antique car collection is enormous regardless (it actually parallels the real-life collection owned by Cussler, who used his book sales profits to assemble the collection).
- As a rule, if the owner of any notably Cool Vehicle that Pitt encounters on his adventures ends up no longer in a position to contest ownership, Pitt snaffles it. This even includes the railway carriage from the final showdown scene in Night Probe - regardless of practical difficulties like the railway tracks by which it got there no longer existing, the apparent inacessibility of the site to a low-loader and the several thousand tons of rock in the way. Nowhere is it explained how he deals with such problems; the vehicle just shows up as "part of the scenery" in Pitt's hangar in subsequent novels.
- If memory serves, he had received a notable inheritance from either a beloved uncle or grandfather which he uses to buy classic cars at auction. I think it was in the beginning of Dragon.
- He inherited a vast amount of money from his grandfather, and as it's hinted he did not live on it (9 days out of 10 he was on assignment in the middle of the ocean) he invested in in the classic cars. It's in Inca Gold, the beginning of Chapter 3 - "The Demon Of Death".
- Artistic License - Physics: The plots of many of the books, notably Shock Wave.
Tropes found in The Mediterranean Caper
Tropes found in Iceberg
- Absent-Minded Professor: Hunnewell.
- Arc Words: God save thee.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Rondheim is a black belt in karate. Doesn't really defend him from having the shit beaten out of him by Pitt during their final confrontation.
- Big Bad: Oskar Rondheim
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Rondheim.
- Deconstructed Trope: When Dirk wakes up in a hospital in Iceberg, Sandecker's secretary, Tidi Royal, starts hitting on him. He shuts her down. She protests he doesn't even know she exists, whereupon he reels off her vital statistics—including the location of a mole—and informs her he will never "play games" that close to the Admiral. At the end of the book, Tidi has hooked up with a secondary character, and is never seen again. This explains why James Bond only flirts with Moneypenny.
- The Dark Chick: Kirsti Fyrie qualifies in a way, although we later find out that she was blackmailed by Hermit Limited.
- The Dragon: F James Kelly.
- Embarrassing Last Name: Jerome Lillie would be this if his family wasn't world famous for its brand of beer.
- Flamboyant Gay: Dirk (yes, Dirk) pretends to be one in order to deceive Rondheim.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Rondheim does this to Pitt while the latter is still pretending to be Camp Gay. Then Pitt does it back to Rondheim in the climax.
- MacGuffin: The zirconium probe ends up not being this thanks to the person who invented it in the first place being coerced to work for the bad guys.
- Nebulous Evil Organization: Hermit Limited, a cartel that encompasses Rondheim and Fyrie's mining corporations.
- Nice Girl: Sandecker's secretary Tidi Royal.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Pitt allows Rondheim to deliver one to him as part of his Camp Gay act. Then he delivers one back on Rondheim in the climax.
- Not Quite Dead: Krisjan Fyrie isn't dead, he just underwent gender reassignment surgery.
- Out-of-Character Alert: Pitt describes a steak to Kirsti, who has spent most of her life in New Guinea, as being wrapped in echidna seaweed. For those of us unfamiliar with the animal-who who haven't played Sonic the Hedgehog recently—he explains to his friend after Kirsti leaves that an echidna is a type of spiny anteater native to New Guinea. He just said he'd eat the equivalent of a "New York steak wrapped in porcupine quills".
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Rondheim, by today's standards at least.
- Sacrificial Lion: Dr Hunnewell.
- Unwitting Pawn: F. James Kelly initially looks like the book's Big Bad, but he is only a puppet of Rondheim.
- Values Dissonance: It is perfectly acceptable for Admiral Sandecker to ask Pitt why he is acting like a faggot in response to the latter's being outrageously Camp Gay.
- Not to mention the fact that the entire Evil Plan would have no chance of working in a modern setting thanks to transsexuals being far more socially accepted than they were in the 1970s.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: F James Kelly is arguably this trope as he believes that the plan to take over Latin America with a mining cartel fulfills an ideal
- White Hair, Black Heart: Oskar Rondheim.
- Wicked Cultured: Oscar Rondheim is known for his nearly flawless memory of classical poetry.
Tropes found in Vixen 03
- African Terrorists: Lots of them.
- Amoral Afrikaner: Most of the characters initially associated with the South African conflict are various shades of gray, regardless of their race or nationality. The exception is Pieter De Vaal who is pure evil.
- Batman Gambit: Pieter De Vaal counted on Fawkes initially refusing the offer to head Operation Wild Rose so he massacred his farm using mercenaries impersonating AAR members to give him a want for revenge.
- Big Bad: Pieter de Vaal
- Catch a Falling Star: Admiral Sandecker and Colonel Steiger catch a falling biological warhead.
- Co-Dragons: Captain Fawkes and Emma.
- The Dark Chick: Emma
- Darkest Hour: The point in the climax where one of the warheads containing Quick Death has been launched and the entire city watches it float down on its parachute. Then Sandecker and Steiger swoop in to save the day.
- Enemy Mine: Captain Patrick Fawkes and Hiram Lusana, in spite of their former conflict, join forces once they realize what type of warheads the former really has.
- And at the very end, Colonel Joris Zeegler of the South African Ministry of Defense and Thomas Machita of the African Army of Revolution together deliver much needed Laser-Guided Karma in the direction of Pieter de Vaal.
- Eye Scream: A truck driver who happened to pass by has received some disturbing eye injuries in the midst of Fawkes's attack on Washington.
- False Flag Operation: Operation Wild Rose is the South African Defense Ministry's plan to condemn the African Army of Revolution by launching terrorist attacks by people posing as members of the AAR BUT this operation is this trope on two levels since its true purpose is to embarass the South African Prime Minister into resignation so the Big Bad could easily replace him.
- Jerkass: Congressman John Daggat.
- Justified Criminal: Fawkes seems himself as this, since his family was murdered by who he believes to be members of the AAR.
- MacGuffin: The missing warheads containing the Quick Death organism.
- Monumental Damage: Captain Fawkes blows the living shit out of the Lincoln Memorial with warheads. Oddly enough Abe himself withstands the damage.
- Redemption Equals Death: Patrick Fawkes and Hiram Lusana.
- The Mole: Emma to the Defense Ministry.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Quick Death warheads probably count as a realistic example of this trope. Even the bad guys weren't aware of what they almost released.
- The Starscream: Colonel Jumana to Hiram Lusana.
- Washington D.C. Invasion
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: De Vaal sent Emma to eliminate Fawkes after the latter has finished blowing half of Washington to dust.
Tropes found in Night Probe!
- Anti-Villain: Brian Shaw is much more of a rival than a straight up villain - that role is mostly filled by Foss Gly.
- Big Bad: Although Henri Villon is the leader of the Free Quebec Society, his dragon Foss Gly is far more effective and intelligent. At the end Gly kills Villon and briefly takes over his position. Of course, there's also Brian Shaw but he isn't exactly a villain.
- The Dark Chick: Danielle Sarveaux
- Dead Person Impersonation: Foss Gly's plan to take over the newly independent Quebec would culminate in this.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Foss Gly
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Although Brian Shaw loses the race to the treaty and is captured by the Marines, Pitt arranges for his release and he flies back to England with Heidi.
- Genius Bruiser: Foss Gly
- Hero of Another Story: Shaw has an extensive history fighting Soviet counterespionage organization SMERSH.
- MacGuffin: The treaty.
- The Unreveal: A fairly minor one. It is mentioned by Pitt that the coincidental disappearance of both copies of the treaty is peculiar. As it turns out the two events were completely unrelated after all.
- Tis Only A Bullet To The Brain: Deliberately invoked by Pitt in his final showdown with Brian Shaw in order to avoid actually killing him...
- Well-Intentioned Extremist:
- Henri Villon's ultimate goal is a free Quebec.
- Clement Massey/Dapper Doyle was a Robin Hood-type figure in the early 20th century whose goal was to steal and presumably give to charity the gold shipment on the Manhattan Limited. Unfortunately he didn't consider the pyrotechnics involved and as a result a trainload of people died.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Henri Villon and Danielle Sarveaux stopped being useful to Foss Gly as soon as the former's political victory over Quebec is essentially assured, and he promptly kills them both.
Tropes found in Pacific Vortex
Tropes found in Deep Six
- Artistic License – Biology: Lugovoy's psychological methods to control minds are magical to say the least.
- Big Bad: Min Koryo, though only after swinging the role between her and president Antonov.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The president.
- Corrupt Politician: Alan Moran, who we are said he has connections to the mafia.
- The Dragon: Lee Tong to Min Koryo.
- Dragon Lady: Min Koryo shows shades of having being this in the past.
- Good Counterpart: Raymond Edgeley to Lugovoy.
- Grumpy Bear: Amos Dover.
- Hard Boiled Detective: Sal Casio, complete with a noir-style outfit.
- Laser Cutter: Koryo has a rather futuristic laser ray emitter installed directly over her bed, in case of indesirable people threatening her.
- Manipulative Bitch: Min Koryo.
- Mega Corp.: The Bougainville corporation isn't so powerful or complex as other companies presented in Cussler's books, but it is absurdly efficient, outsmarting both the USSR and the United States government through the president's abduction.
- Punch Clock Villain: Aleksei Lugovoy. While he is unambiguously loyal to the USSR and is profiled as somewhat immoral, he is clearly overwhelmed by the project's magnitude, and doesn't share the degree of fanaticism and meanness shown by his colleague Suvorov.
- Reluctant Mad Scientist: Lugovoy isn't precisely a good guy, but he would prefer keeping his job at the WHO rather than working to overtake the U.S government.
- Russian Guy Suffers Most: Among the main two Russian characters, Suvorov is portrayed as the most conventionally evil, and he pays for it.
- Sacrificial Lion: Julie Mendoza.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Lugovoy's ultimate fate is unknown.
Tropes found in Cyclops
- Big Bad: General Peter Velikov
- Bigger Bad: President Georgi Antonov
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Foss Gly does this to Pitt, Giordino, Rudi, Jessie, and Raymond. Most of the main characters, really. It's heavily implied, if not outright stated, that he enjoys doing so.
- Defrosting the Ice Queen: It takes weeks of hardship, toil and torture at the hands of the Russians until an escaped Jessie has sex with Pitt under a Cuban bridge.
- The Dragon: Foss Gly
- Jerkass: Raymond LeBaron. His wife too, at first.
- The Last Dance: Pitt and the sailors sent by CIA are fully determined to move the explosive-laden ships to open water, even if they are 99 percent convinced they will die with them.
- MacGuffin: The La Dorada.
- Not Quite Dead: Turns out Raymond LeBaron as well as most of the inner core of the Jersey Colony project have faked their deaths.
- Foss Gly turns out to be alive as well.
- Reentry Scare: When the moon colonists return to earth.
- Rich Bitch: Jessie LeBaron insults Pitt manifold in just a few hours, until she throws him out of her party, for no logical reason whatsoever. Cue the Oh, Crap moment when she hears from the US Secretary of State who is Pitt and how much power NUMA actually has over any marine business.
- You can perfectly take it as a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality, as Pitt skips his citation with Jessie to present himself uninvited in her party only to showboat one of his cars.
- Shout-Out: The in-universe ruthless President of the USSR Georgi Antonov is clearly based on Yuri Andropov, down to the supposed 1970s plot of Andropov and Mikhail Suslov "staging a tragic accident" by detonating a nuclear bomb.
- Space Base: A good-guy example. The USA has a secret moon base called the "Jersey Colony." It's done mostly for science, but also to challenge the Soviets. The Soviets find out, and they're very NOT happy about it.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Played straight and dark in-universe with Fidel Castro, when a character says something like this: "we may think him a buffoon, and the Soviets may think the same, but remember, for the common Cubans he is a hero and a god".
Tropes found in Treasure
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Akhmad Yazid and Topiltzin aka Paul and Robert Capesterre.
- The Dragon: Suleiman Aziz Ammar to Yazid and Juan Machada to Topiltzin.
- MacGuffin: A collection of works from the Library of Alexandria.
Tropes found in Dragon
- Abduction Is Love: Toshie is attached to Suma in spite of having been sold to him as a child. When she is given to Giordino, however, she seems to have forgotten all of that.
- Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: The hidden nuclear devices are the size and shape of a car A/C compressor and powerful enough to blow ships to pieces over dozens of miles and trigger an underwater earthquake. First, to trigger an underwater earthquake megaton-sized weapons are needed, the quoted "maybe 10 to 20 kilotons" is too small, second, only the smallest nuclear devices ever made, W48 and W54 Davy Crockett could fit the size of an automotive A/C compressor, maybe 60x15 centimeters, and their yield was just 72 to 20 tons of TNT respectively, enough to blow to pieces a large ship if hit directly, but never to lay waste to hundreds of square miles.
- Also, Pitt's Uncle Percy, retired nuclear physicist, claims the smallest possible nuclear bomb is the size of a baseball. The smallest critical mass of plutonium is a sphere 10.8 centimeters across and it still needs a case, a tamper and a pit, plus detonating devices around.
- It's next to impossible to take down the electronics of a large country with multiple nuclear EMPs generated on the ground. The nuclear explosions have to happen in the upper atmosphere to allow the radiation to travel far enough before fading. Otherwise a few thousands of computers and installations may be fried near the explosion sites, but the vast majority of them would be outside the pulse's range.
- Simply being on the same ship as a bunch of nukes would not give someone acute radiation poisoning. An undetonated nuke gives off very little radiation. For someone to be as badly affected as the book describes they would have had to do something like take one of the nukes apart and submerge the core in water, or eat bits of it, or something equally daft and improbable.
- A Fat Man type nuclear weapon would not be in functional condition after spending several decades under the sea. Even if it had been sufficiently well waterproofed to keep water out of the electrical systems, and they had power to them, the polonium in the initiator (half-life 138 days) would long ago have decayed into uselessness. It would therefore go off with all the alacrity of a wet fart. (Not to mention that the US has many other far more practical systems to deliver a nuke in any case...)
- Badass Driver: Pitt chases a modern car at triple-digit speeds in his Stutz DV32. Which would be like chasing it with a small truck: high center of gravity, solid axles with leaf springs and drum brakes. (Don't try to run a truck at triple digit speeds in kilometers. It may be the last thing you do in life.)
- Big Bad: Hideki Suma.
- After Suma gets captured, Ichiro Tsuboi and Korori Yoshishi take over this role.
- Cool Car: The Murmotos - either a V12 engined sedan of 600 hp, or a 5.8 liter V8 sportscar. In Real Life, the JDM cars are electronically limited to 180 kph and all Japanese sportscars were limited to 280 metric hp prior to 2004 to get through the homologation rules for Japan Grand Touring Championship. Full blown Toyota Supras and Nissan Skylines were for export to US mainland or Europe.
- Japan Takes Over the World: Exaggerated. Not by the fact plot revolves around a Japanese nuclear blackmail, but by the characters' speech, comments and attitude. When Rep. Loren Smith talks to Japanese businessmen, it sounds like two enemy countries are having the last talks before full blown war.
- Let's Get Out of Here: Pitt detonates a nuke underwater to destroy the Dragon Center with a tsunami, and spends a month in the Big Ben reaching the nearest shore across the ocean floor.
- Luxury Prison Suite: Suma gets an equivalent of this after capture, mostly because he continues to be interrogated by the CIA.
- Self-Insert Fic: This is the first book where Cussler writes himself in as a character, when he races his vintage car against Pitt. This kind of author cameo continues throughout the rest of the series.
Tropes found in Sahara
- America Saves the Day: Moreso than usual since it's an American force that pulls The Cavalry at the climactic Last Stand.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: One of the subplots, involving the Confederacy's kidnapping of Abraham Lincoln.
- Berserk Button: Invoked by Dirk springing a trap before it's ready by telling his Muslim would-be assailant that he buries his enemies with pork in their mouths.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: When it looks like the Malians are about to overrun Fort Foreau, Dirk prepares to kill Eva and the rescued women so the enemy doesn't get to rape them. Fortunately, The Cavalry arrives just in time.
- Big Bad Ensemble: The book has two Big Bads. Yves Massarde is a corrupt French businessman who is inadvertently causing the Red Tide Plague, and refuses to believe Pitt when informed about it. General Kazim is the dictator of Mali and runs the slave-labor gold mine Tebezza. The two have a loose alliance.
- Dub Name Change: For some reason, the Spanish translation of the book renames Pitt as "Dick Pitt" and keeping the change the entire story.
- Karmic Death: The fate of Massarde. Dirk and Al tie him out in the open until he sunburns, then lets him drink lots of the water tainted by the pollutants he introduced. He dies a raving loon.
- Last Stand: Dirk and the UN team have one at Fort Foreau against attacking Malian forces.
- Made a Slave: Dirk, Al, and Eva are sent to Tebezza, a gold mine run by Kazim. Unfortunately, Tebezza's "employees" are actually slaves, and the main characters were sent to work...
- Mercy Kill: Pitt was about to deliver one to Eva before the fort was overrun by Kazim's forces when The Cavalry arrived.
- The Place
- The Plague: The result of nuclear waste leaking from Fort Foureau into the water supply.
- To the Pain: Al pulls this on Massarde's lackey.
Tropes found in Inca Gold
Gunn: The State Department experts and the Congressional Committee on Latin American Affairs think you both should hang around and make the dirty Yankees look good by helping to halt the looting of Peru's cultural heritage.
Pitt: In other words, our esteemed government wants to milk our benevolent image for all it's worth.
- Badass: Dirk Pitt founds himself on an underground river, battered with critical injuries, in pitch black darkness. He bets his life on the last chip, leaving the river to flow him into the sea over 100 kilometers away, hung by a torn and half-deflated rubber boat. It takes balls to find yourself injured in the very bowels of the Earth and not give up.
- Bandito: Amaru.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Joseph Zolar, Cyrus Sarason and Charles Oxley, who are actually all brothers.
- Dead Person Impersonation
- The Dragon: Tupac Amaru
- Corrupt Bureaucrat: Fernando Matos, along with multiple other heads of government and police forces of Baja California are taken in by the Zolars' bribe fairly easily, to the point where Pitt is actively hunted down as the bad guy.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: When trapped in a cenote (sinkhole with vertical limestone walls dozens of feet tall), Dirk Pitt muses for some time on how he never climbed and could not even name the tools used by true climbers, then fashions two crude aids from a small pick, a large steel buckle and two pieces of divers' safety string and slowly and painfully climbs the wall.
- Hollywood Tactics: Pitt hesitates to shoot the main antagonist in the treasure cave, wasting a lot of time to taunt, threaten and ridicule him even as he knows he's injured and the opponent is a cold-blooded murderer. It still ends in a physical fight, but it doesn't end well for our hero.
- Karmic Death: Played with in a rapist's case. Dirk shoots his genitals off, but he survives that. Just not the book.
- Lost World: The Chachapoya city and temple ruins arguably qualify.
- Make Sure He's Dead: Tupac Amaru does this with Pitt multiple times, and obviously fails.
- Mighty Whitey: 16th century sail master Thomas Cuttill is found nearly dead by a primitive tribe in Amazonia and nursed back to health, but becomes a respected tribal elder after teaching them how to build labor saving devices like pulleys and levers from wood.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Averted. Admiral Sandecker never seems to be bothered by Pitt and Giordino deserting a research mission to fight a little personal war with machine guns and downed helicopters, he covers them up in front of Peruvian and American authorities and gladly helps with money and resources by bucketload when they act on a suspicion and an old maritime log. Everyone would love such a Benevolent Boss, if he existed in Real Life.
- Rule of Cool: Exaggerated to childish level and mixed with Description Porn in the scene where Rep. Loren Smith picks Dirk Pitt up at the airport. US Congresswoman from a rural district who looks like a MILF fantasy and dresses herself in red? Road race through Washington, D.C., in a former track car of the 1950s? US Government official living in the above-quoted Cool Garage hangar turned museum with dozens of Cool Cars? (How comes none of them is bothered by the noise of dozens of planes taking off daily in the vicinity?) And no lousy journalist ever bothering either of them? Too much spoof of James Bond to be 100 percent in touch with reality.
Tropes found in Shock Wave
- Big Bad: Arthur Dorsett.
- Eye Scream: Pitt pokes Dorsett's eye out in a fit of rage.
- The Mutiny: Happens with the British convicts on the raft in the prologue, who attempt to eat the women.
Tropes found in Flood Tide
Tropes found in Atlantis Found
Tropes found in Valhalla Rising
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Big Bad is an oil magnate who wants to sabotage the prototype magnetohydrodynamic drive because of what its mass production would do to the maritime oil business.
- Dissonant Serenity: In one scene Al calmly chokes out The Brute who was simultaneously trying to crush him. In contrast, when Dirk was earlier fighting the same guy, he was desperately hurling random stuff.
- Would Hurt a Child: The leader of the death squad attacks a plane being flown by Dirk that was conducting a charity flight for sick kids.
Tropes found in Trojan Odyssey
- Alternate History: The book is based in Iman Wilkens's Where Troy Once Stood work, which esentially says that city of Troy was located in England and that the Trojan War was fought between groups of Celts.
- Amazon Brigade: The bad guys (or girls) of the book.
- Big Bad: Epona Eliade aka Specter
- Continuity Porn: Despite the series's continuity not being very concise, this book makes references to almost every other episode of the saga.
- The Dragon: Flidais.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Epona disguises herself as the obese masked man Specter for public appearances. The fatness of her public persona is apparently meant to obscure her female frame, as it's implied that the also obese Percy Rathbone is actually one of the Odyssey henchwomen under a similar disguise.
Tropes found in Black Wind
Tropes found in Treasure of Khan
Tropes found in Arctic Drift
Tropes found in Crescent Dawn
Tropes found in Poseidon's Arrow
Tropes found in Havana Storm
Tropes found in The Storm
- Alas, Poor Villain: Most of Cussler's bad guys are pretty much undeniably evil, and have few redeeming qualities to boot, but perhaps one exception is the main villan of Zero Hour, who, following the deaths of his children and wife in a government-sponsored assasination attempt that left him horribly scarred, he was so torn up by his loss that not only does he promise revenge against all soceity, he develops a split personality of his "son" from his conscience that actually works with the good guys to defeat him. It's made apparent that the poor man is, between his destroyed memories, alternate personality, and lingering pain that he's but a shadow of his former self, and when he is finally killed, he thanks the heroes for ending his misery.