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Literature: I Am Number Four
aka: I Am Numberfour
John Smith is Number Four.

Number Four is an alien from the planet Lorien, which was destroyed by another evil race, the Mogadorians, whose sole purpose is planetary extinction. Number Four wasn't the sole survivor, as there were eight others, along with their guardians, who escaped the planet's destruction. These nine remnants are destined to use their inner powers to defeat these evil intergalactic terrors, but they must survive long enough to master them. The aliens seek out the survivors, one by one, in order of their number. Numbers one through three have been killed.

Number Four is next.

I Am Number Four is a Young Adult sci-fi novel written by Pittacus Lore, the Pen Name of James Frey (of A Million Little Pieces infamy) and Jobie Hughes. Published in 2010, it had the film rights picked up by DreamWorks over a year before it was even released. The Film of the Book was released in February 2011, starring Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer and Timothy Olyphant. Both the book and the film proved to be decent hits; the book spent six weeks on the children's chapter of the New York Times Bestseller List, while the film has already made back its $50 million budget.

While the film series has been shelved due to relatively-poor performance at the box office, the novel series has continued, and is planned to extend as far as six books. The series consists of the following novels thus far:

  1. I Am Number Four (2010)
  2. The Power of Six (2011)
  3. The Rise of Nine (2012)
  4. The Fall of Five (2013)

Also included is a string of e-novellas called I Am Number Four: The Lost Files. These are:

  1. Six's Legacy (2011)
  2. Nine's Legacy (2012)
  3. The Fallen Legacies (2012)
  4. The Search For Sam (2012)
  5. The Last Days of Lorien (2013)

The first three of these were re-published in print in the summer of 2012 (to help promote The Rise of Nine) as I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies. A second print compilation, Secret Histories, will be released in July 2013.

The book series has gained Frey (further) infamy and controversy even before it hit shelves: Frey's publishing house, Full Fathom Five, commissioned I Am Number Four specifically to write "the next Twilight" or "Harry Potter" with the idea of being adapted into a film franchise from the onset and has been accused of being akin to a fiction sweatshop and producing works of derivative nature. New York Magazine published an article giving more insight into Frey's thought processes behind the series and Full Fathom Five.

The film and novels contain the following tropes:

  • A God Am I: Eight.
  • Action Girl: Number Six
  • Adaptational Badass: Number Six trades in invisibility from the book for teleportation in the movie.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Nine calls Four "Johnny," referencing his chosen human name from the first book.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Number Nine. If he's not talking about fighting, chances are he's talking about women.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Mogadorians exterminate all life on a planet (including all members of the species from that planet that escape), then find another planet to wipe clean. Except Adamus Sutehk, aka Adam, who helped Sam's father escape from the Mogadorians.
  • Ax-Crazy: Nine. Dear god, Nine.
  • Badass Longcoat: All of the Mogadorians wear them.
  • Badass Normal: Sam, who "plays a lot of Xbox".
  • Betty and Veronica: Played with. Certainly Sarah, whose defining character trait is that she takes pictures, feels mildly threatened when Number 6 appears in the film. She should because as she's busy cowering in fear due to her powerlessness, Number 6 is wrecking people left and right. But considering how John's race mates for life with one other person, Sarah really has nothing to worry about.
    • Except, in the second book, Six says that the mating-for-life thing probably isn't true, if Katarina's stories are anything to go by.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Marina. Just ask Number Five.
  • Big Bad: Setrakus Ra.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Number Six.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Instead of gore, the alien characters that die turn to dust and explode in a shower of ash. Averted by the Gory Discretion Shot of the janitor, where you see the automatic mop sweeping his blood off the floor.
  • Blood Knight: Number Six, but when Number Nine comes along she seems like an amateur compared to him.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Four has so many superpowers that he's basically undefeatable, at least for the Jerk Ass jocks at his school. literally with Six, thanks to magic.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Nine to horrifying degrees.
  • Cast the Expert: Greg Townley showing off his Le Parkour as Number Three.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Sam bringing along guns.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Four's comment about the ten Elders of Lorien. Why ten are specified is revealed in The Power of Six - there are really ten Loric Garde kids, each meant to inherit the powers of the original Elders
    • Except Ella, the tenth Garde, was not intended to leave Lorien, so there were only supposed to be nine Chosen One Loric kids..
  • Chekhov's Skill: Those Deflector Shields ain't just for lookin' cool.
  • The Chosen One: As of now it's a tie between Four, Eight and Nine as for who will inherit Pittacus Lore's powers (Currently, Four seems to have the edge, being the only one to have the powers of other members of the Garde).
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Jury's out on the CIA and their involvement, but as for the FBI...horribly, horribly inverted. As of The Rise of Nine the Feebs are working with the Mogs, who provide them with valuable scientific knowledge that puts our military light-years ahead of any other, in exchange for trying to track down the Garde and give them over to them.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The good guys use blue bullets/power/sword. The bad guys use red bullets (green in the books).
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The Mogadorians.
  • Dawson Casting: Played straight as 24-year-old Dianna Agron, 22-year-old Jake Abel and 20-year-old Alex Pettyfer play high school students. However, it's averted with Callan McAuliffe who was 15 at the time of filming, and Greg Townley who was 14.
  • Deflector Shields: Number Six.
  • Dirty Coward: Setrakus Ra. He's somehow able to cut off the Garde's Legacies, leading Six to call him a coward because he won't fight them unless he puts them at a distinct disadvantage.
  • Disney Death: The supposed tragic death of the dog turned out to be this.
    • This shouldn't have surprised anyone; when we last see the dog during the climax, it's wounded, but it doesn't turn to dust like all other aliens that die in the movie. Therefore, it's obvious even before it pops up again in the last scene that it survived.
    • Unfortunately, Bernie Kosar is Killed Off for Real in The Fall of Five.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Sam. In fact, the distraction works to break him out of a panic attack.
  • The Dog Is An Alien: John/Number Four's dog Bernie Kosar shapeshifts into a more monstrous, distinctly more extraterrestrial creature (that still resembles a dog) known as a Chimera to pull a Big Damn Heroes, engaging another alien monster in combat and eventually killing it.
  • Dye or Die: Number Four has to dye his brown hair blonde when he moves to Paradise, Ohio.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Alex Pettyfer dyed his blond hair brown for the beginning of the film. Jake Abel dyed his blonde hair brown for the duration of the film. Callan McAuliffe had his hair dyed darker for the film, but claims to have lost track of its original color because he's dyed it other colors for roles before.
  • Easily Forgiven: Mark, despite being an utter Jerkass throughout the entire film, paint bombing Sam and John's lockers, sending his men to attack John and kidnap Sarah, gets off with an insincere apology at the end.
  • Eyescream
  • Elemental Powers: The Loric horoscope at the end of some editions of Book 1 (essentially the Western horoscope with exotic names) alludes to this. Like, those born under fire signs are most likely to have Lumen as a legacy.
    • The covers of the books also carry elemental motifs relating to characters with large roles in the novel in question.
      • Book 1: Fire, shown by a Flaming orange-red sun for Four and his Lumen (which comes with heat/fire resistance.)
      • Book 2: Water. Seven, aka Marina doesn't have hydrokinesis so far, but she can breathe underwater, and she can also heal the sick and injured.
      • As of Book 4, she is now An Ice Person, which fits in with water.
      • Book 3: Earth (more specifically sand, which is likely a reference to the site of this book's climactic battle in the secret desert facility in New Mexico.) Nine is a strong and stubborn type, but it's all just a facade. Number One is a more obvious example of Earth power: as revealed in the e-novella The Fallen Legacies, she could cause earthquakes.
      • So far, the best representative for Air would be the weather-changing Six. She claims she can control all four elements, however. So far we've only seen her manipulate fire, but only in that one iconic movie moment.
      • Five also has an air-related power, he can fly.
      • Other, lesser-known elements are at play here. We have Space (Eight's teleportation, Nine's anti-gravity), Beast (Four and Nine can both communicate with animals), and Life (a strange variation withElla/Ten's Aeternus ability.)
  • Everything Fades: All aliens (conveniently) leave no corpses. This is probably a substitute for Henri's funeral pyre from the novel.
  • Everything Is Online: Actually played fairly realistically; one of the things that keep Number Four from staying in one place is that whenever something big happens to him that exposes the fact that he's an alien is because people record his powers and upload them to YouTube.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Kevin Durand had some fun playing the Mog leader.
  • Expy: Every Mogadorian looks like a gill-nosed Lord Voldemort.
    • Only those in the film. The Fallen Legacies add that only the vat-born Mogs look like this.
    • A different one in Nine's Legacy - Nine and Sandor's dynamic strongly resembles Batman and Robin. Sandor even calls Nine his "young ward" repeatedly.
    • Nine comes across like a young Dean Winchester at times.
  • Faux Affably Evil / Laughably Evil: The leader of the Mogs delivers some of the funniest lines in the film.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flash Step: Number Six, particularly in the movie where she can teleport. Eight has this power in the books.
  • Follow the Leader: A very pretty boy moves into a small town and starts a relationship with a girl, except he has superpowers, which complicates things. And his mouthy, socially ostracized friend is called Sam, who believes in ancient astronauts. Number Four even ends the movie narrating that Earth is his home now, and though they are worlds apart, there's more to them than meets the eye so he has to protect it.
  • For the Evulz: The Mog leader scares the crap out of a little boy in an adjacent car for no other reason than this.
  • Four Is Death
  • Giant Flyer: They're more like giant gliders, but the Mogadorians' secret monsters are still this.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The deaths of the "They Walk Among Us" guys and the janitor all happen off-screen as well as the death of Number Three's guardian, who's yanked through the door of their hut by one of the lizard glider creatures.
  • Human Aliens: The Loric.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Mogs. According to The Fallen Legacies, most of them are grown in underground vats (because their birth rate has plunged dramatically, possibly due to the pollution of their homeworld.) These vat-born Mogs are the deathly pale, butt-ugly ones like the scouts in the film.
    • Natural-born Mogs can more easily pass for human - other than the fact that they are much bigger and taller.
  • Humanoid Alien: See Human Aliens and Humanoid Abomination above.
  • I Just Wantto Be Normal
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Sam.
  • Informed Attribute: In Six's Legacy, Six worries that Katarina's name would attract unwanted attention if she continued to use it in Mexico. Other than the odd spelling, though, Katarina is a perfectly acceptable Spanish name, so there is really no reason to worry about it.
  • Ironic Echo:
    John: "You have... no idea... what I'm capable of."
    • Nine mockingly says this to the Mogadorians' human henchmen in The Rise of Nine, before Nine and Four take them out.
  • It's Personal: Number Four points to the red-eyed Mogadorian and tells Number Six: "He killed Henri, I want him."
    • Subverted in Six's Legacy. Six wants to say, "That's for Katarina!" when she dispatches a Mog, but she can't because she's really doing it for her own satisfaction.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Number Three. And Henri. Four also narrowly avoids this. Marina does this to Five in book 4, although he only lost an eye.
  • Jerk Ass: Mark, the Football Jock and Sarah's ex, is completely without any redeeming qualities, is little more then a violent thug who attacks other people constantly, and ends up getting easily forgiven at the end.
  • Kayfabe: The very first page of the book is a "disclaimer" stating the events depicted in the book are real. Also the author bio states the "Pitticus Lore" is the ruling elder of Lorien currently in hiding.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Realistically averted: a shotgun is more likely to knock the Made of Iron bad guys on their ass, and flinging large heavy items at them will probably slow them down, but it takes turning their own overpowered BFGs on them to actually take them out.
  • Kink Meme: There's a new one here, for both the movie and the book, as far as they overlap.
  • Le Parkour: Number Four is fond of this trope.
    • And Number Three, implying that Lorians are all badass. The opening sequence of the film was maybe the most awesome part. It does help that Greg Townley, Damian Walters' protégé, played three.
  • Logging Onto The Fourth Wall: Sadly averted; only redirects to the film's website.
  • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Actually more of Deflector Shields, until Number Six uses it along with her own body in the climax to protect Number Four and herself.
    • Number Four also has a bracelet that automatically expands into a shield to protect him from incoming attacks.
  • Made of Iron:
    • The only things that seem to be able to kill a Mog is a Mogadorian blade or one of their weapons.
    • Sarah's ex has some elements of this as well. He's launched into a second floor window hard enough to crack the glass with his face, then falls back to the ground, and yet he's completely uninjured at the conclusion of the movie.
    • Five can literally become Made of Iron. One of his legacies is that he can take on the qualities of any material he's touching. he can also use this to become a Rubber Man.
  • Missing Mom: Number Four's parents are both dead, but he mentions to Sarah's family that his parents are just separated. Also, Sam has lived with his dad and stepdad but no mom is ever mentioned.
    • Sam lives with his mom in the book, and he has no stepfather.
  • Money, Dear Boy: The author made no secret that he wrote the book to cash in on the popularity of the Harry Potter series and try to create a new hit franchise in its stead. That being said, it's much better than something supposedly written as an empty cash grab should be.
  • Mundane Utility: Number Four's glowing hands. Aside from using them to recharge Six's powers, he uses them mainly as flashlights.
  • My Nayme Is: Henri. Justified because the Loric accent (which he hasn't really lost) is said to resemble French, so he just has a French name to go with it. (This causes some consternation for Sam's mom, who hears his accent and unsuccessfully tries to converse with him in French, in which she is fluent.)
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Bernie Kosar, the dog named after a former NFL quarterback.
  • The Obiwan: Henri.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut
  • Oh Crap: Number Six gets two of these: one when an energy grenade gets thrown at her, and the second is when she realizes Four is about to give the leader Mog a Pineapple Surprise (in slow motion, no less). Sam also has one when he sees the lizard creatures jumping out of the truck, followed immediately by another one when Bernie Kosar shape-shifts.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Sam (portrayed by Australian actor Callan McAuliffe) is a repeat offender of this trope, but most notably in the garage scene. British actor Alex Pettyfer slips up as well, but much less frequently.
    • In the DVD bonus feature about Number 6, Australian Teresa Palmer claims that one of the things she liked about the role was being able to use her own dialect.
    • At least with the latter, it can be assumed that he either has a somewhat odd combination accent due to extensive travel or that he's faking an accent to fit in better with the Americans.
  • Out of the Inferno: Number Six after blowing up Number Four's old house. Justified in that Number Six can shield herself from fire.
  • Pet Monstrosity: The Mogadorians' pets. Also, Bernie Kosar. He manages to take down one giant flying monster, and only gets a hurt paw out of it. Number Six takes out the second one with some help from Four.
  • Pineapple Surprise: Number Four kills the Mogadorian leader by using his powers to set off all of the leader's bullets while they're still strapped to his chest.
  • Power Glows
  • Precision F-Strike: In The Fallen Legacies, after Number One is killed, her body is brought back stateside so Mog scientists can test a special device that can examine the memories of a corpse - which are seen by this story's teenage Mog narrator, Adamus. Partway through, One herself appears to Adamus, and introduces herself with this trope.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Implied with the Mogadorians. The Mog leader mentions “where I'm from, men work,” (not to mention his hunting trophies).
  • The Quisling - The guys from the "They Walk Among Us" website. And the FBI, see above.
  • Rescue Introduction: Number 6.
  • Sequel Hook: The movie end with Number Four and Six searching for Numbers 5-7-8-9 and Sam's dad. We also never saw what's in that box.
    • The books reveal that the Chests contain various rocks, jewels, and other implements that allow the Garde to develop their powers. Peculiarly, everyone seems to have some different things in each of theirs.
  • Shapeshifting: Apparently, the Chimera can change form. Number Eight has the same power, and usually assumes the form of Vishnu gods.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Number One. She's also rude and sarcastic enough to make Nine (no slouch in snarkage himself) look like a novice.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Katarina.
  • Stepford Snarker: Nine. He got a lot of flak for being tactless and rude, but read book 3 and you'll realize he's nowhere near as smooth as he wants you to think he is. Especially around girls.
  • Superpower Lottery: Number Four.
    • Averted after The Power of Six with Marina and driven to even further heights with Nine, who as of the end of book 3 has the most powers out of all of the Garde.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: In the beginning of the film.
  • Taking the Bullet: Eight teleported in front of Five's knife, saving Nine but dying in the process.
  • Team Pet: Bernie Kosar, prior to his upgrade into a Pet Monstrosity.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sam near the end of the film, when he takes up a Mogadorian blaster rifle to protect himself and Sarah. He "plays a lot of Xbox."
    • Bernie when he transforms into the chimaera.
    • Not to mention Number Four himself when his powers emerge.
    • Sarah got upgraded from The Chick Love Interest into an active fighter, who's proven to be quite deadly with a gun.
  • Traumatic Super Power Awakening: Marina unlocked her first real aggressive power after Five kills Eight.
  • Unflinching Walk - Number Six after setting fire to Number Four's old house to such a degree she walks in the explosion.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Henri.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The Mogs keep their secret weapons sated with supermarket turkeys.
  • You Are Number Six: Played with. It's averted in that the numbers are not actually used for names, but as target designations. However, it's deliberately invoked in Number Six's case, who identifies herself as "Number Six" (except one snarky comment to Sam that her name is "Jane Doe") and refers to John only by his number. Like John, Marina and Ella go by their names, while Nine goes by his number.
    • Played straight enough in the books where they appear to have no proper names in their own language and he actually refers to himself as 'Four.'
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The two conspiracy theorists, one of whom is forced to swallow what looked like a miniature version of a Sentinel Sphere from Phantasm.

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alternative title(s): I Am Number Four; I Am Number Four
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