[[quoteright:180:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Flashy_4168.jpg]]

[[caption-width-right:180:''Damn' yer eyes!'']]

-> ''I have served at Balaclava, Cawnpore, and Little Big Horn. Name the biggest born fools who wore uniform in the nineteenth century...I knew them all. Think of all the conceivable misfortunes that can arise from combinations of folly, cowardice, and sheer bad luck, and I'll give you chapter and verse.''
-->-- '''Sir Harry Paget Flashman''', ''From the Flashman Papers 1839-1842''

The ''Flashman'' novels by Creator/GeorgeMacDonaldFraser are a {{Picaresque}} series of adventures, starring Harry Flashman. They are presented as the memoirs of an infamous Victorian war hero who describes his adventures as a bully, rapist, lecher, backstabber, and [[DirtyCoward coward]]. The author had a fondness for RefugeInAudacity and strove to make his stories, narrated by the eponymous rogue from the perspective of his comfortable retired life, as deliciously offensive as possible.

The character Flashman is taken from the Victorian novel, ''Literature/TomBrownsSchooldays'', where he is presented without any redeeming qualities. He has ''almost'' no redeeming qualities in Fraser's books either, except from crystal-clear powers of observation and real affection for his wife Elspeth and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In fact, these last two are the only categories of people in the world he's prepared to risk his own life for. Like his latter-day literary child Literature/CiaphasCain, there is the occasional indication that Flashy doth protest too much and is braver than he thinks he is - but unlike Cain, even if this is the case, cowardice is only one aspect of the bullying, self-centered, and misogynistic Flashy's awfulness. Of course, given the many military catastrophes and disasters of the 19th-century British Empire, frequently in the situations Flashy finds himself in "being a coward" also counts as "being the OnlySaneMan" (certainly, a certain George Armstrong Custer should have retreated when Flashman advised it).

The novels are extremely well-researched, and Flashman encounters pretty much anyone who was famous during the Victorian times, as well as living through most of the great political movements and scandals of the era.

[[folder:The Flashman Papers, in chronological order]]

* ''Flashman'' (1839-1842): The first instalment begins with Flashman's expulsion from Rugby School, his entry into the Army, and his adventures in the First Anglo-Afghan War.
* ''Royal Flash'' (first part, 1842-43): Flashman meets Lola Montez and Otto von Bismarck in London.
* ''Flashman's Lady'' (1843 - 45): Flashman finds himself in hot waters after a cricket match between Rugby and England ends up causing a pan-Indian Ocean adventure as Flashman, his wife, and, worst of all, his father-in-law, find themselves abducted by pirates and enslaved by Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar.
* ''Flashman and the Mountain of Light'': Flashman is given the (very much unwanted) mission of spying on the Maharani Jind Kaur of the Punjab and intriguing against the Sikh Khalsa in the run-up to the Anglo-Sikh War.
* ''Royal Flash'' (second part, 1847-48): Flashman takes an ill-advised trip to Munich and finds himself tangled up in Bismarck's schemes...as well as in the artful Montez and the delightful Duchess Irma von Strackenz.
* ''Flash for Freedom!'': After being framed as a card sharp and almost killing his accuser, Flashman is sent out of the country as supercargo on the illegal slave ship ''Balliol College'' by his father in law until the scandal blows over. Flashman must dodge the Dahomey Amazons, the British laws against slave trading, the American laws against slave-stealing, and ''Balliol College'''s insane Latin-quoting captain, John Charity Spring.
* ''Flashman and the Redskins'', "The Forty-Niner" (1849-50): Ending ''Flash for Freedom!'' still stuck to Spring and wanted for perjury, murder, and impersonating a naval officer, Flashman escapes New Orleans as wagon-captain of Miss Susie Willinck, a brothel madam and old flame who is taking her business to San Francisco to, er, service the needs of the California gold rushers. But the Mimbreno Apache conspire to throw a tomahawk into Flashy's best-laid plans.
* ''Flashman at the Charge'' (1854-55): "Forward the Light Brigade! Was there a man dismayed?" Damn right there was, Flashman, who finds himself galloping towards the Russian guns with the Light Brigade and, latterly, fleeing headlong across Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with the sadistic Nikolai Ignatiev in hot pursuit.
* ''Flashman in the Great Game'' (1856-58): Wintering at Balmoral with Queen Victoria, Flashman is sent to India by Lord Palmerston to investigate rumours of an impending uprising by the sepoys. After trying (and failing) to seduce the Rani of Jhansi, Flashman finds himself fighting - on both sides, naturally - of the 1857 War of Indian Independence.
* ''Flashman and the Angel of the Lord'' (1858-59): Caught ''in flagrante'' whilst recharging in Calcutta following the events of ''Flashman in the Great Game'', Flashman prudently takes the next mail packet to Cape Town before the jealous husband tracks him dwn - but there he bumps into an old and unhappy acquaintance. Before he knows it, he's been shanghaied to Baltimore and finds himself caught up in a train of conspiracy that is hurtling headlong to the sleepy Virginia town of Harper's Ferry...
* ''Flashman and the Dragon'' (1860): Seduced by the promise of a dalliance with a beautiful minister's wife, Flashman agrees to accompany a cargo of opium into Hong Kong - and so begins a breakneck adventure in Taiping Rebellion-shattered China, as Lord Elgin's army marches steadily towards Peking.
* ''Flashman on the March'' (1867): Most unwillingly, Flashman finds himself on a secret mission to incite rebellion against the mad king Tewodros II, as Abyssinia is riven with rebellion and foreign invasion. Still, Africa has its charms in the form of the ravishing Queen Masteeat of the Wollo Galla...
* ''Flashman and the Redskins'' "The Seventy-Sixer" (1875-6): Flashman and his wife Elspeth are holidaying in Washington DC when Flashman encounters old comrade George Armstrong Custer and the beautiful Ms Arthur B. Candy. But not everything is as it seems. An old face from Flashman's past is plotting terrible revenge, and events are in motion that will sweep our reluctant hero inexorably towards the blood-soaked grass of the Little Bighorn.
* ''Flashman and the Tiger'', "The Road to Charing Cross" (1878): Flashman finds himself at the Congress of Berlin to try and steal a copy of the Treaty of Berlin, compelled by French journalist Henri Blowitz and tempted by the beautiful French spy Caprice. The caper goes off without a hitch...but other eyes are fixed on Flashy.
* ''Flashman and the Tiger'' (1879): Holidaying in South Africa, Flashman finds himself hurtling headlong from the carnage at Isandl'wana straight into the mission station at Rorke's Drift in the company of the Captain John Sebastian "Tiger Jack" Moran.
* ''Flashman and the Tiger'', "The Road to Charing Cross" (1883-84): Picking up where we left off, Flashman finds himself riding the inaugural journey of the Orient Express and in the company of Henri Blowitz, the beautiful Princess Kralta, Kaiser Franz-Josef II of Austria and, to his horror, Otto von Bismarck.
* ''Flashman and the Tiger'', "The Subleties of Baccarat" (1890-91): In Yorkshire ("a sort of English Texas") for the Doncaster Cup, Flashman finds himself lodging at Tranby Croft with Elspeth and the Prince of Wales, bored rigid. But a scandal at the baccarat tables soon offers him a chance for some amusing devilment.
* ''Flashman and the Tiger'' (1894): Flashman finds himself in a race against time to save the honour of his granddaughter Selina, and ends up meeting one of the 19th-century's [[Literature/SherlockHolmes other great literary creations]].
And finally, two of Fraser's other novels [[TheVerse feature Flashman in some capacity]]:

* ''Black Ajax'' (1810): Not a Flashman story itself, it's a fictionalised account of the life of bareknuckle boxer Tom Molineaux. Instead, Flash's father Henry Buckley Flashman is a major supporting character.
* ''Mr American'' (1909-1914): Also not a Flashman story itself, ''Mr American'' follows the travels of Mr Mark Franklin, a retired Nevadan silver prospector who returns to England to see his roots. The octogenarian Flashy, wits sharp as ever, makes several appearances.

Order of Publication: ''Flashman'' (1969), ''Royal Flash'' (1970), ''Flash for Freedom'' (1971), ''Flashman at the Charge'' (1973), ''Flashman in the Great Game'' (1975), ''Flashman's Lady'' (1977), ''Mr American'' (1980) ''Flashman and the Redskins'' (1982), ''Flashman and the Dragon'' (1985), ''Flashman and the Mountain of Light'' (1990), ''Flashman and the Angel of the Lord'' (1994), ''Flashman and the Tiger'' (1999), ''Flashman on the March'' (2005)
[[/folder]]

[[NamesTheSame Not to be confused with]] Series/ChoushinseiFlashman. Or the robot master from VideoGame/MegaMan2.

----
!!This series has examples of:

* TheAce: Parodied and subverted with Flashman himself. His countrymen see him as this, but in reality he's a DirtyCoward, [[TheCasanova obsessive womaniser]], and [[AntiHero overall devoid of morality]].
* ActionSurvivor: Flashman himself.
* ActuallyIAmHim: Akbar Khan.
* AltumVidetur: John Charity Spring the slave trader never misses an opportunity to quote a line from Virgil or Tacitus in the original Latin.
* AntiHero: Flashman is an UnscrupulousHero who cares only about himself and what he can get out of a situation.
* AntiVillain: Suleiman in ''Flashman's Lady''. While he [[spoiler:kidnaps Elspeth with the intent of forcing her into marriage]], he treats her otherwise honourably and seems to be genuinely in love with her. He even [[PetTheDog tries to save Flashman from Malagasy soldiers without an ulterior motive]]. Plus, it would be difficult to argue that he is a worse man than Flashman.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: While Fraser is known for his careful research, he does occasionally slip. He portrays the Underground Railroad as much more organized and far-reaching than it was, and also invents a pre-1865 precursor of the KuKluxKlan.
* AscendedExtra: From ''Literature/TomBrownsSchooldays''.
* AuthorTract: Some of the later installments feature lectures on the British Empire's achievements and slams at modern PoliticalCorrectness. That said, these rarely interfere with the actual story.
* [[BadassMoustache Badass Whiskers]]: Flashman's "tart-catchers".
* BavarianFireDrill: Flashman, certainly later in his career, seems to be rather adept at talking his way out of certain situations. He certainly seems proud of the fact that he once [[NoodleIncident convinced Jefferson Davis]] that he was only there to fix the lightning rod.
* BecomingTheMask: [[spoiler:Joe Simmons]] was a member of the Kuklos, and a highly-respected slave, who was tasked with infiltrating John Brown's army to keep an eye on Flashman in ''Flashman and the Angel of the Lord''. Brown's fanatic idealism gets to him, and after Harry planned out the Harper's Ferry raid and was getting ready to leave, though, [[spoiler:Simmons]] threatens to ''shoot'' Flashy for deserting John Brown's cause, along with an awesome speech declaring that he is going to live as a man, not a slave. The really ironic thing is that it was Harry who first planted the seeds of doubt in his mind just to spite him--and, characteristically, his own actions come around to bite him in the arse. [[spoiler:When the raid fails and Harper's Ferry is surrounded by soldiers, Joe is the one who takes it the hardest, calling out Brown for a stupid, brainless execution of the plan, and losing sight of his goal of leading a slave rebellion.]]
* BedroomAdulteryScene: In one of the novels, Flashman catches Lord Cardigan with his wife. (Though it is never made clear whether it was a prearranged tryst, or Cardigan intending to rape Elspeth.)
* BeenThereShapedHistory: Dances around this trope, as Flashman constantly encounters these fabulous, colorful characters who were movers and shakers of history, but the only genuine instance was in ''Flashman and the Mountain of Light,'' where he arranges the British victory in the First Sikh War.
** He also accidentally gives Lord Raglan the idea to send in the Light Brigade.
** Also, he does mention that the course of the American Civil War would have changed utterly had he not been present.
* BloodBrothers: Ilderim Khan, a Pathan horseman, becomes this with Harry. Harry genuinely likes and admires the young man (after all, as he says, it takes a true coward to recognize courage), and is stunned to realize that [[spoiler:Ilderim was killed by rebels as a prisoner-of-war in the Sepoy Mutiny.]]
** Flashman also becomes a blood brother to Yakub Beg in ''Flashman at the Charge''.
* BoldInflation: Queen Victoria emphasizes every fifth word or so with italics. ''Very'' much [[JustifiedTrope justified by real life]], as evinced by Victoria's diaries.
* BrainlessBeauty: Flashy's wife, Elspeth: a ravishing beauty well into her middle age, and not two brain cells to rub together--unless, as is often hinted, it's all a facade. Certainly she seems about as randy as Flashman himself when it comes to the opposite sex, yet extremely adept at disguising it.
* TheBrigadier: Sir Colin Campbell and a couple other competent commanders Flashman has served with.
* ButtMonkey: all those adventures that Flashman goes on? None of them were done willingly. In many cases all he wants is to get home to be with his wife, only for some fresh new crisis to brew up for him to be thrust into.
* TheCameo: An antiquated Flashman appears briefly in Fraser's ''Mr. American'' (1980), set in TheEdwardianEra. Though pushing 90 years old, Flashy's as randy and cynical as ever.
* CaptainErsatz: Much of the cast of ''Royal Flash'' (the non-historical ones) are this towards the characters of ''Literature/ThePrisonerOfZenda'', although in-universe, ''Literature/ThePrisonerOfZenda'' is based on Flashman's experiences, making ''those'' characters esatzes in this universe.
* TheCasanova: Flashman, that lucky, lucky bastard. Less than midway through his career, while stuck in a prison cell during the Sepoy Mutiny, he counts up all the women that he had to that day and came up with ''478''.
** And that's only in 1857. Flashman dies in 1915 and there's a whole lot more women to come.
* CavalryOfficer: Flashman was originally commissioned in a cavalry regiment, and spends most of his military career in that branch. He exemplifies the profligate womanizer version of this trope, as do a number of comrades.
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: Flashman becomes more conventionally heroic (or at least less craven and cowardly) towards the end of the series. Since the books were written in non-chronological order, however, trying to demarcate a straight line of CharacterDevelopment is very difficult.
* ChasteHero: The series' presentation of the historical figure James Brooke satirizes this trope, as his characterization as a [[TheCape plucky and honorable hero]] who has no lustful reaction to the topless native women around him is given an unorthodox spin by the implication that he was castrated by a bullet wound received in battle. [[note]] Historical records (and Fraser) indicate that he was shot in the lung, however, and carried out an affair shortly after recovering.[[/note]] Oddly, the article on Brooke in Wiki/TheOtherWiki suggests he was actually a DepravedBisexual.
* TheChessMaster: Otto von Bismarck in ''Royal Flash.'' He gets offended when Flashman objects to elements of his plan [[GambitRoulette as uncontrollable and risky.]]
** Count Nicholas Ignatieff in ''Flashman at the Charge'' and ''Flashman in the Great Game'' is another example as he tries to invade India.
* ColdBloodedTorture: In just about every book, whether it's being done to Flashman, someone else, or by Flashman himself.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Flashman's father-in-law is a money-grubbing [[NationalStereotypes Scot]] who besides running a mill under awful conditions is revealed to have investments in the slave trade.
** The ''illegal'' slave trade that the Royal Navy held an extensive military campaign to abolish, mind you.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Subverted - the cowardly and slinky Flashman is a [[TheBigGuy Big Guy]] of appropriate physical strength, a very good swordsman, proficient with cavalry lance and brags about his ability with horses. In each book there is at least [[CorneredRattlesnake a scene where he has no way to run and uses his strength to fight ferociously]]. What keeps him back most of the time is lack of courage, not physical inadequacy.
* DatedHistory: Some of the novels suffer from this on account of recent historical research by scholars accessing new primary sources in Afghanistan and India from the original languages. Fraser at the time he wrote the books relied on the then available English sources and his own, very good, intuition, and as such his account of the Afghan Wars and the Indian Mutiny while entertaining as always is not exactly insightful as education. In general, Fraser takes as given that "the Great Game" was an active thing and that Tsarist Russia's designs on India were real, when modern historians like Peter Hopkirk and William Dalrymple have seen the Great Game as a greatly exaggerated diplomatic issue on the part of the English, and used more as an ExcusePlot to grab land, riches, and careers for bored officers than of any practical diplomatic concerns.
* ADayInTheLimelight: Elspeth in ''Flashman's Lady''. Besides being actively involved in the story for once, her diary entries are also woven into the plot, their romantic tone providing a counterpoint with Harry's tell-all cynicism.
* {{Deliberate Values Dissonance}}: Flashman is a white supremacist chauvinist as most average Englishmen of his time were.
** Flashman has all of the worst opinions held by his peers towards the less "civilized" cultures he encounters. He stands out as an equal-opportunity cynic, though; his opinion of his peers is little better.
** ''Flash For Freedom!'' is made of this trope. Flashy is able to admit in the mould of 19th Century educated bigots, that the British soldier is not automatically superior to the natives other officers and civilians consider nothing more than barbaric savages. Flashman like Victorian officers as his day has a warrior-caste sentimentality and romanticism about Sikh and Ghazi enemies But in general he doesn't consider them, and their people equal to the English or see them as having identities beyond being soldiers.
** A more subtle one from ''Flashman and the Angel of the Lord'' - several American characters praise Oliver Cromwell as a straightforward heroic figure rather than the WellIntentionedExtremist even many of his admirers see him as today. Of course Fraser like others is probably mocking the GlobalIgnorance of Americans of his time.
* {{Dirty Coward}}: Flashman himself, to the maximum possible and then some. However, [[EveryoneHasStandards Even Cowardice Has Standards]] -- in the original book, Flashman has nothing but scorn for some reinforcements that fled as opposed to pretending to attack. He says this whilst himself fleeing from attacking Afghans, but he at least turns around and yells various disparaging remarks about the Afghan's leader. Also, he looks down upon anyone who displays CowerPower, at least if they can still run.
** In ''Flashman's Lady'' the possibility, or as Harry sees it the near certainty, he will fail Elspeth is as terrifying to him as death itself.
* TheDitz: Flashman's wife, Elspeth. As far as he knows. She does show reserves of amazing fortitude, though: in Madagascar, fleeing from mad Queen Ravonalova, a searching guard steps on her finger and breaks it--and she doesn't even cry out. In ''Flashman and the Redskins'' Harry comments on his wife's 'cold courage'.
** ''The Subtleties of Baccarat'' raises the fascinating possibility that Elspeth's ditziness is every bit as much a false front as Flashman's bravery.
* DoubleStandard: Accurate for the time it's set in, and played for laughs: Flashman is extremely promiscuous, has countless lovers all over the world, makes advances at other men's lovers and wives and even ''rapes'' one. The fact that he's utterly shocked when he suspects his own wife, who stays at home for months or years of his absence, might have a lover of her own is hilarious in and of itself - and becomes more so when he quickly forgets about it because she's the one supplying him with cash (broke as his own father is).
** Flashy does come to terms with the double standard in a later book, [[spoiler: when he discovers that his granddaughter is carrying on with the Prince of Wales.]]
* DragonLady: The future Dowager Empress Cixi in the appropriately named ''Flashman and the Dragon''.
* DumbBlonde: The beautiful, golden-locked Elspeth isn't very bright.
* ElmuhFuddSyndwome: Lord Cardigan, in keeping with his UpperClassTwit personality.
* EmbarrassingRescue: Flashy and company were extremely grateful for it when it happened, but after Ko Dali's daughter successfully broke Flashman, Yakub Beg, and Kutebar out from Fort Raim and got them back to the village, the womenfolk wouldn't stop laughing each time it was mentioned that the mighty warriors had to be rescued by [[MagnificentBastard "a little chit]] [[LittleMissBadass of a girl."]]
* EmbarrassingNickName: Flashman is adopted by an Apache tribe and, due to his horseback skills, is named [[NameThatUnfoldsLikeLotusBlossom White-Rider-Goes-So-Fast-He-Destroys-The-Wind-With-His-Speed]]. Unfortunately for convenience it's shorted to He-Who-Breaks-The-Wind or Wind Breaker. Given how Flashman farted his way down the Valley of Death at Balaclava you could say it's appropriate.
* EmergencyImpersonation: The second novel in the series, ''Royal Flash'', is a parody of ''The Prisoner of Zenda''.
* {{Epigraph}}: The first novel opens with the following epigraph from the novel from which Fraser borrowed Flashman:
--> ''One fine summer evening Flashman had been regaling himself on gin-punch, at Brownsover; and, having exceeded his usual limits, started home uproarious. He fell in with a friend or two coming back from bathing, proposed a glass of beer, to which they assented, the weather being hot, and they thirsty souls, and unaware of the quantity of drink which Flashman had already on board. The short result was, that Flashy became beastly drunk. They tried to get him along, but couldn’t; so they chartered a hurdle and two men to carry him. One of the masters came upon them, and they naturally enough fled. The flight of the rest excited the master’s suspicions, and the good angel of the fags incited him to examine the freight, and, after examination, to convoy the hurdle himself up to the School-house; and the doctor, who had long had his eye on Flashman, arranged for his withdrawal next morning.''
-->-- '''Thomas Hughes''', ''Literature/TomBrownsSchooldays''
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Flashman will kill... but he rebels at being told that he's to assassinate [[spoiler: John Brown, and later on, Emperor Theodore of Abyssinia]]; he says "a scoundrel I may be, but I ain't an assassin, and you'll comb my memoirs in vain for a mention of Flashy as First Murderer." The one time he comes close to breaking this rule, he's been driven into a corner...[[spoiler: and he ends up not having to do the deed, thanks to Sherlock Holmes having set the whole thing up as a way to trap "Tiger Jack" Moran in "The Adventure of the Empty House."]]
** Also, with the exception of raping the Afghan lady Narreeman in the first book, he never commits rape again [[UnreliableNarrator or so he likes to have us believe]][[note]]Victorian men and other men of their time had differing notions of consent and tended to not consider rape, especially to women of their class and race, what we would consider today for all women. A good example is the situation where he gropes Betty Parker in ''Flashman''[[/note]]. The fact that [[spoiler:Narreeman got frighteningly close to castrating him in revenge]] might have played a part.
** Even Flashy is astonished that John Charity Spring would stoop so low as to sell his own cabin boy as a slave to the King of Dahomey in exchange for six Amazon slaves.
** When Flashman has to watch the widows of an Indian ruler committing ''suttee,'' he comes away seething with rage at the cruelty [[PragmaticVillainy and wastefulness]] of it.
** He also finds loading slaves aboard a slave ship to be a sickening experience.
** And he is not favorably impressed by the casual cruelty of the Lady Yehonala [[spoiler: later to be better known as the Dowager Empress Cixi]] while being held captive in the Imperial Palace in Beijing.
* ExpectingSomeoneTaller: an Arkansas hayseed out west to see the legendary Kit Carson doesn't believe that the small, unassuming, polite man could possibly be a frontiersman hero. Carson happened to be sitting next to Flashy, though, so the man assumes that the six-foot-tall handsome chap with the cavalry whiskers has to be it, despite the mountain men telling him otherwise. They laugh themselves sick when he leaves.
* FakeUltimateHero: Flashy's list of awards stretch as long as his arm, and then some, including things like the Victoria Cross and the Medal of Honor.
** In the first ''Flashman'' book, he [[spoiler:gets an award, personally fitted by the young UsefulNotes/QueenVictoria with UsefulNotes/TheDukeOfWellington standing by, for his work in holding a position during the Siege of Jalalabad. In actual fact, Flashman slept through most of the siege, and was forced by his own subordinate Sergeant Hudson at sword-point, to fulfill his duty and inspire the troops, and it was Hudson who truly defended the position, but he died, and all he gets is a sentence comemorating his courage, while Flashman gets the credit. Flashman even notes that even if the truth came out, Hudson would never gotten high honours anyway since as a sergeant it wouldn't mean that he had done more than his duty, whereas for an officer like Flashman, who bought his commission, what he did made him a hero]].
** He's particular delighted with his San Serafino Order of Purity and Truth (4th Class), these two qualities being quite spectacularly absent from Flashman's character.
* FemmeFatale: Many of Flashman's love affairs fit this label, as the women are typically ruthless in their non-romantic affairs, and sometimes their romantic ones as well.
** Lola Montez in ''Royal Flash'' is a good example of this.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: Richard Lester's 1975 adaptation of ''Royal Flash'', with Creator/MalcolmMcDowell as Flashman, co-starring Alan Bates, Oliver Reed and Florinda Balkin. Fraser himself wrote the screenplay. The movie isn't universally popular with ''Flashman'' fans, however.
* FirstPersonSmartass: part of the series' appeal lies in Flashman's honest, cutting assessments [[OnlySaneMan of the world around him.]]
* ForTheEvulz: half the devilment that Flashman gets into is out of idle amusement, at least at first. For instance, his entire motivation for judiciously blowing up the Baccarat Scandal into the public eye is idle merriment. (For once, it doesn't backfire on him--but then again, Flashy is old and wise in sin by that time.)
* ForegoneConclusion: Flashman couldn't have written the memoirs if he'd died at any point, could he? Likewise the framing story makes it clear his reputation remained intact meaning anyone who discovers the truth and threatens to expose him like [[spoiler: Hudson]] in ''Flashman'' or [[spoiler: Nolan]] in ''Flashman and the Dragon'' is DoomedByCanon.
* FunetikAksent: Many, but Scottish is very common because of Flashman's in-laws and the large number of Scots he served with in the military.
* GambitPileup: Flashman's part in the raid on Harper's Ferry comes as a result of this. Finding himself shanghai'd to Baltimore, Flashman is first dragooned by Mr Crixus of the Underground Railroad (portrayed by Fraser as far more extensive and organised than it was) to become Brown's second in command for the raid and help Brown establish a black Republic. He is then kidnapped by the Kuklos (a fictional Southern secret society and forerunner of the KKK) who want to ensure that Brown succeeds and thus start a war for Southern seccession but fails to create the slave republic. He is then kidnapped by Allan Pinkerton and the US secret service who want him to foil the raid from the inside to prevent Civil War.
* GeneralFailure and LordErrorProne: Flashman's usual view of his commanders, particularly Lord Raglan and Lord Cardigan. He does seem keen enough to recognize the competent ones, however.
** Another notable example is his incessant condemnation of "Elphy Bey," Major General Elphinstone, a senile old man that got his entire command wiped out fighting the Afghans.
* GoodScarsEvilScars: John Charity Spring has a nasty scar on his face and is one of the more psychotic characters Flashman encounters.
** Most of Flashman's scars are on his back. Including the bullet scar on his arse.
** He also has the two ''schlager'' scars on his face from ''Royal Flash''.
* HandsomeLech: Flashman himself.
* HiddenDepths: Flashman occasionally shows concern for people other than himself - in ''Flashman'', for example, he is actually offended when old man Morrison believes he doesn't really care about Elspeth. Elspeth, for her part, occasionally shows flashes of serious cunning and steady nerve, which Flashman never notices.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: With the exceptions of the characters from ''Tom Brown's Schooldays'': Tom, Flashman, 'Scud' East, Flashman's family, and his wife, and [[spoiler:Sherlock Holmes for some reason]], most of the characters are historical figures, even ones, such as Sir Colin Campbell, Elspeth's Uncle, who might seem fictional.
* HoneyTrap: Flashman is the victim of several of these (in ''Royal Flash''; ''Flashman and the Angel of the Lord'' - three times -; and ''Flashman and the Redskins'') and he [[GenreBlind never does]] seem to recognise the signs he is walking into one.
* ImperialChina: Seen in its later days during the Taiping Rebellion; Flashman makes occasional references to the later [[NoodleIncident Boxer Rebellion]].
* IncrediblyLamePun: in ''Royal Flash'', Flashman--while disguised as a Danish prince--beds down one of the local housemaids, and reflects if anything came of it--and, if it did, whether the kid ever thought himself to be the son of a prince. If so, he could truly be called an ignorant bastard.
** An in-universe one in the first book. After returning to England, Flashman sees a cartoon in ''Punch'' of himself fighting off a dozen Afghans, captioned "A Flash(ing) Blade". He finds it groanworthy.
* KarmaHoudini: Lampshaded ruthlessly, but Harry plays it less straight than you'd suppose, other than getting out alive.
* LadyOfWar: Ko Dali's Daughter, a lovely young woman who is also a brave Afghan warlord.
* LaserGuidedKarma: Harry usually survives with life and reputation intact, but only after his actions have come around to bite him. In particular everytime he does some ''especially'' bad he very swiftly suffers karmic payback (ie. [[spoiler: pushing a woman out of a cart they are escaping in to lighten the load only to fall out ''himself'' moments later]]). [[GenreBlindness He never notices the connection]].
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: Fraser presents himself as editing Flashman's memoirs, going so far as to "correct" historical inaccuracies.
** He even goes as far as correcting Flashman's spelling of a name in a footnote by suggesting that Flashman had never seen the name written down
* LukeYouAreMyFather: [[spoiler:Frank, a.k.a. Standing Bear, is Flashy's son by Cleonie.]] Like Flashy himself, he has a mile-wide streak of scoundrel in him, so naturally Flashman takes a great liking to him.
* MadBrass: 19th century British army, so...
* MajoredInWesternHypocrisy: Sulieman Usman in ''Flashman's Lady'' is a particularly good example, as is the son of the [[ThePrisonerOfZenda Rupert of Hentzau]] equivalent Flashman encounters in the novella ''The Road to Charing Cross''.
* MissKitty: Susie Willinck, a New Orleans madame Flashman encounters in ''Flash for Freedom'' and ''Flashman and the Redskins''
* MonumentalDamage: ''Flashman and the Dragon'' deals with the real-life destruction of the Summer Palace ordered by Lord Elgin, [[LikeFatherLikeSon the son of the same Lord Elgin who "acquired" the marbles]] from Greece.
* MoralityPet: Elspeth, in a way. Of all of Flashman's women, she's the only one he returns to again and again.
* NationalStereotypes: Flashman's father-in-law is a dour, canny, miserly, vocally Presbyterian Scot. Admittedly his cowardice is [[BraveScot rather unScottish]] but otherwise he is practically the living embodiment of the frugal Scotsman stereotype.
* NiceGuy: Scud East in ''Flashman at the Charge'', in complete contrast to Flashman himself.
* NobleSavage: Averted like all hell and mocked. Flashy finds them no better (but in many senses no worse) than the Europeans or the Americans, though he does admire individuals like the Yawner, [[spoiler: who would later become famous as Geronimo]], and Mangas Colorado. And [[NubileSavage Sonsee-array,]] [[TheCasanova of course.]]
* NoodleIncident: Flashman has a tendency to namedrop other campaigns he's served in - and not just from previous installments. The American Civil War is the most famous, and he tends to mention fooling Andrew Jackson into believing he was only there to fix the lightning rod whenever he successfully [[BavarianFireDrill bullshits]] someone, but Flashman also mentions adventures in Mexico, [[WarOfTheTripleAlliance Paraguay]], TheRiverWar and the Boxer Rebellion without elaboration. Chalk this up in part to AuthorExistenceFailure.
* OrientExpress: In ''Flashman and the Tiger'', Flashman travels on the train's first journey as a guest of the journalist Henri Blowitz.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Flashman fooled his contemporaries by presenting himself as an honest and humble soldier, and often wonders whether Elspeth's seeming stupidity is a put-on as well.
* OldTimeyAnkleTaboo: Flashman was born at just that point in time when attitudes were changing and prudishness descended on Britain. His whole life could be seen as a rebellion against Victorian morality - which at the other end of his life had become the ankle taboo. Something Flashman was somewhat opposed to.
* {{Omniglot}}: One of Flashman's great talents is the ability to learn languages preposterously quickly.
** Flashman claimed that the best way to learn a language is in bed with a hooker that speaks that language. He said that he learned more Greek from one encounter with a Greek whore than in all his years at Rugby. Language is one of his three self-proclaimed talents, along with horses and women.
* OneSteveLimit: Averted and lampshaded in ''Flashman on the March''. Flash encounters both his old crony Speedicut [[note]]from ''Literature/TomBrownsSchooldays''[[/note]] and the historical figure Captain Tristram Speedy. A [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis footnote from Fraser]] observes that a work of fiction would never feature two such similarly-named characters.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: Consciously subverted, as Flashman's opinions are those of the more bigoted men of the time.
* PublicDomainCharacter: Not only is Flashman this, but one novel has unnamed characters who are clearly Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, and another parodies ''The Prisoner of Zenda''. (Although according to Flashman, his own tale-telling is what gave Anthony Hope the idea for ''Zenda''.) Flashman himself shows up in several novels set in his heyday, including two by Creator/SMStirling.
** [[Literature/TomBrownsSchooldays Tom Brown]] himself turns up in ''Flashman's Lady'' and Scud East, Tom Brown's friend, appears briefly in ''Flashman'', is a secondary character in ''Flashman at the Charge'', and [[spoiler: gets killed at the Battle of Cawnpore]] in ''Flashman and the Great Game''.
* RedRightHand: Count Ignatieff has one blue eye and one which is half-blue, half-brown. Although Flashman remarks that women find it an appealing trait, it serves to mark him as someone you shouldn't mess with.
* SadistTeacher: The teacher in question is the real individual Thomas Arnold who is presented as angelic in ''Literature/TomBrownsSchooldays''. However, Flashman actually deserves his ire. There is also a recurring villain who Flashman compares to Arnold, John Charity Spring, who is a brilliant Oxford don... turned PsychoForHire slave-trader.
* SamusIsAGirl: Used in ''Flashman at the Charge'' with Ko Dali's daughter.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: Flashy frequently does this. In ''Flashman's Lady'', he calls it the "Flashman's Gambit": When all else fails, run!
* SherlockScan: Flashman gets one from [[TropeNamer the man]] [[Literature/SherlockHolmes himself]] in ''Flashman and the Tiger'', but between his deliberate disguise and the Prussian-style [[DuelingScar dueling scars]] he got in ''Royal Flash'', Holmes misidentifies him as a German sailor.
** He also gets this from UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln in ''Flash For Freedom!''
* ShotgunWedding: Flashman's marriage to Elspeth was forced by old man Morrison after Flashy seduced Elspeth on a river bank.
* ShownTheirWork: For all their tongue-in-cheek humour, the Flashman novels are based on a lot of serious historical research by the author. Fraser never indulges in info-dumps however, and relegates a lot of the background to Author's Notes at the end of the books. [[note]]Taken to an extreme in ''Flashman and the Dragon'' where one of the appendices discusses the diary of a scholar living in Beijing during the events of the novel: it has almost nothing to do with the plot, but Fraser evidently came across the book in his research and thought it might be interesting to show the other side's point of view.[[/note]]
** There's a story that Patrick Macrory, author of ''The Fierce Pawns''[[note]]A popular history of the Anglo-Afghan War, most recently reprinted as ''Retreat from Kabul''[[/note]] read ''Flashman'' and was furious that Fraser seemingly lifted passages from his own work. Macrory supposedly threatened to sue Fraser, to the point of consulting lawyers... then read Fraser's end notes praising Macrory's book. The two became lifelong friends afterwards.
* SimpleCountryLawyer: Abraham Lincoln's personality as depicted in the books seems to use something like this as ObfuscatingStupidity. Very few people see through Flashman before it's too late: Lincoln is one of them.
* TakeThat:
** ''Flashman and the Tiger'' sees Flashman become tangled up in Literature/SherlockHolmes story "The Adventure of the Empty House". Flashman is [[spoiler: seconds from murdering Colonel Moran himself]] when he realises the Metropolitan Police are standing ready to apprehend him. Fraser consciously mocks the contemporary depictions of Holmes and Watson - Watson immediately sees through Flashman's disguise as a tramp, but is convinced by Holmes that Flashman must be a German-American sailor.
** Fraser's opinion of the American Civil War as a "colossal bore", especially when American readers began to treat it as [[{{Eagleland}} obviously the most important historical event Flashman witnessed]]:
--> "An American wrote to me urging me to write it, saying [[WeAllLiveInAmerica it had to be the high point of Flashman's career]]. I wrote back saying: 'Son, it's a foreign sideshow. The Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, these were the important things in Flashman's life. Your civil war? He was so disinterested that he fought on both sides."[[note]]Of course this might be Fraser's own CreatorProvincialism talking, since modern historians do consider the American Civil War a majorly significant event, far more so than the Crimean War at any rate[[/note]]
** ''Flashman on the March'', the last published novel in the series has an Author's Introduction and Footnotes that's more or less a TakeThat to TheWarOnTerror in general, and Bush and Blair in particular.
* ThriftyScot: Flashman's father-in-law, though he earns some of that money in unsavoury ways.
* TraumaButton: Flashman occasionally relates symptoms of PTSD in his memoirs. In particular, he cannot stand the playing or singing of the military march "Garryowen" because it brings back a memory of wounded men singing it in a shed after the charge of the Light Brigade:
-->''I’ve heard it from Afghanistan to Whitehall, from the African veldt to drunken hunting parties in Rutland; heard it sounded on penny whistles by children and roared out by Custer’s 7th on the day of Greasy Grass — and there were survivors of the Light Brigade singing on that day, too — but it always sounds bitter on my ears, because I think of those brave, deluded, pathetic bloody fools in that Russian shed, with their mangled bodies and lost limbs, all for a shilling a day and a pauper’s grave — and yet they thought Cardigan, who’d have flogged ’em for a rusty spur and would see them murdered under the Russian guns because he hadn’t wit and manhood enough to tell Lucan to take his order to hell — they thought he was “a good old commander,” and they even cheered me, who’d have turned tail on ’em at the click of a bolt.''
* TryToFitThatOnABusinessCard: By the time he is supposed to be writing his memoirs, Flashman's full name and title is [[UsefulNotes/KnightFever Brigadier-General Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE]].
** Full, hell. Those are just the British ones. If we include all his foreign awards and titles (as Fraser does in ''Flashman on the March''), the results end up taking two entire pages.
* UnskilledButStrong: Outright ''unskilled'' is probably too far but when faced with master swordsman like Rudi Starnberg Flashman's considerable strength (aided by terror induced desperation) help keep him the fight.
* UnreliableNarrator: Fraser occasionally ascribes historical inaccuracies to the poor memory of an aged, hard-drinking Flashman.
* UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist: Again, to the maximum possible. Above-mentioned bigotry aside, Flashman is a pathological liar, cheat and coward with a vengeful mean streak whenever he's in a position of power over anyone. For a while he was even an unrepentant ''rapist'', although he repented when he was subsequently tortured and realised it wasn't worth the hassle.
* WarIsHell: This is Flashman's perspective, although he isn't totally a pacifist:
-->''It isn’t important whether you win or lose so long as you survive. So long as your people survive. And that’s the only good reason for fighting that anyone ever invented. The survival of your people and race and kind. That’s the only victory that matters.''
* WhatTheRomansHaveDoneForUs: Fraser doesn't deny that the British Empire originated for purely mercenary intentions, and that the benign idea of civilizing the colonizes was a justification added much later. But while being honest about the racism, the plunder and the expansionism of the Empire, he also feels that it did contribute to a great deal of good, especially the work of rank-and-file bureaucrats who governed on the ground.
* WhiteSheep: Flashman's son, who mortifies his hard-living father by becoming an Anglican priest.
* WouldHitAGirl: Several times.
* YesMan: or, as Flashy would put it, "toadying". Flashman is a master toady.
** Tommy Bryant from ''Flashman'' and ''Flash For Freedom!'' also counts.
* YourCheatingHeart: Flashman cheats on Elspeth, and it's regularly implied, but not confirmed fully that Elspeth is doing the same to Flashman.
----

-->''The car was lost to sight as it turned through the gates and made towards the Palace, even as the lights on the balcony came up again and royalty reappeared. The singing swelled to a triumphant climax; Mr Franklin could imagine the monarch glimpsing the car with its eccentric occupant as it sped across the open space before the Palace — what in God’s name was the old villain going to say when he got inside and the Palace minions discovered he was an entirely unauthorised visitor bent only on relieving himself? Mr Franklin could not guess — but he had no doubt Sir Harry would think of something. He’d had a lot of practice.''
-->-''Mr. American'', p526