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Literature: Joe Ledger
Joe Ledger is the protagonist of a series of military/Horror/Speculative Fiction thrillers written by Jonathan Maberry.

Troubled Baltimore Police Officer Joseph Ledger is man with an Army background and a painful past. After helping foil a major crime in his home city, he is approached by a man known only as Mr. Church, who offers him the opportunity to head up his own team on a special task force branch of the Department of Homeland Security.

Joe, intrigued, joins up and gets his best friend and therapist Rudy involved as well. He hand picks from the recruits a number of men, including Bradley "Top" Sims and Harvey "Bunny" Rabbit. They are then sent out to stop terrorist cells from doing things that could literally end the world. But these terrorist cells take terror to a new level, often using Mad Science to duplicate monsters usually only ever conceived in supernatural fiction and folklore.

The series currently consists of:

  • Novels
    • Patient Zero
    • The Dragon Factory
    • The King of Plagues
    • The Assassin's Code
    • Extinction Machine
    • Code Zero

  • Short Stories
    • Countdown
    • Zero Tolerance
    • Material Witness
    • Deep, Dark
    • Borrowed Power

The chronological order of the series goes: Patient Zero, Zero Tolerance, then Material Witness, Deep, Dark, The Dragon Factory, Countdown, The King of Plagues, The Assassin's Code, Borrowed Power, Extinction Machine, Code Zero.

The Joe Ledger series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Any female who becomes a Love Interest for Joe once he's an adult: Grace, Violin. Even the usually pacifist Junie gets in on the act.
  • Alien Tropes: Extinction Machine is loaded with them. A few examples...
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In Extinction Machine, DMS headquarters is destroyed by bombs made of alien Phlebotinum, and about 200 people are killed.
  • Almost Kiss: Played with. Joe stops himself from kissing Violin, and she becomes offended thinking that her half-vampire nature has disgusted him, knowing now what he knows about the full vampire race. But he stopped her because of two reasons: he'd eaten garlic due to having to face the full vampires and thus had terrible bad breath, and also as a half-vampire, he was afraid he would cause her harm through the same allergic reaction to it. When she found out the real reason, she laughed.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Mothers of The Fallen and their daughters.
  • Anyone Can Die: among many others, Grace.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Joe admits that although he has fought zombies, mutants, and clones, that he has a really, really difficult time embracing the idea that vampires are real. And then the aliens showed up...
    • In The King of Plagues a character grumbles "I guess we'll find out that vampires, UF Os and Godzilla are real too." One of these does not appear in succeeding books.
  • Arc Words: Code Zero — "The only action is direct action." "burn to shine" b
    • "I have a friend in the industry."
  • Ass Kicking Equals Authority: Joe gets his authority by kicking the ass of his team when they are arguing who should be in charge.
  • Badass: Everyone in the DMS, bonus points to Joe, Mr. Church, Sergeant Dietrich, Bunny and Top Sims.
    • Occasionally someone else warrants the title as well. In "Code Zero" it was Latino teen Sammy Ramirez.
  • Badass Boast: Ledger starts Patient Zero with one.
    Ledger: When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills... and there's nothing wrong with my skills.
  • Badass In Charge: Church and Joe
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Stoker and several other authors were either working for the Red Order or had been intentionally misdirected by the vampires.
  • Berserk Button: Never threaten Mr. Church's family. Ever.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Echo Team has one for Joe just about every book.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Ghost is one to Echo Team, and only to anyone else Joe has identified as a friend by command phrase.
  • Big "NO!": Echo Team in Assassin's Code.
  • Body Horror: a lot of the things encountered in The Dragon Factory and "Deep, Dark".
  • Born Lucky: Joe Ledger, though Aunt Sallie comments it does not extend to those under his command.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: the twins from The Dragon Factory.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Bunny.
  • Bug Buzz: Noises heard by Joe, Top and Bunny in "Deep, Dark", as a result of the work going on there.
  • Buxom Is Better: Several women in the books take advantage of the Male Gaze of colleagues, coworkers, and opponents.
  • Canon Welding: The Joe Ledger books and the author's Pine Deep books take place in the same universe.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Sprinkled throughout.
    • Aunt Sallie is an exact dead ringer for Whoopi Goldberg.
    • Top Sims is apparently a Samuel L. Jackson lookalike.
    • Rudy Sanchez looks like Jimmy Smits and sounds like Raul Julia.
    • Brick looks like Ving Rhames.
  • Chessmaster: Hugo Vox in Assassins's Code, who delights in manipulating all the players into a Let's You and Him Fight situation. However, he does not live to enjoy the fruits of his labors, since Mr. Church tracks him down and kills him.
  • Cloning Blues: 82 after he discovered that he is a clone of Josef Mengele
  • Code Name: Used by the DMS teams and by Arklight's operatives.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Sebastian Gault
  • Creepy Twins: The owners of The Dragon Factory. Not only are they incestuous, they've also used gene therapy on themselves to give themselves pointed teeth and other animalistic traits.
  • Cross Over: With the Pine Deep Trilogy by the Same Author; In addition The Benny Imura Series of books by the Same Author
  • Cute Bruiser: Lydia.
  • Disposable Woman: Played with. Joe's first girlfriend Helen was raped when they were young teenagers, and suicided some years later. Joe still has nightmares, but doesn't become overbearing protective to the women he ends up attracted to once he's an adult.
    • Grace is the next woman in his life, but she's military herself, and Ledger trusts her to handle herself. When her in-series death comes it is not done meta-wise strictly to cause Ledger angst. There's a genuine in-story reason for it.
  • Downer Ending: Played straight and subverted in different books.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Joe's dog Ghost subverts the trope. He's just a military trained German Shephard trained for bomb detection, body detection, and attack. Some of the enemies act like he really is such a dog.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Hugo Vox.
  • Fake Hair Drama: Junie.
  • Five-Man Band: Echo Team — though the lineup changes because of attrition by death.
  • From Bad to Worse: A Corrupt Corporate Executive and Terrorists with Zombies in the First Book ends with Vampires with Nuclear Bombs.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: During Extinction Machine, Top Sims snaps Joe Ledger out of his Heroic BSOD, after Joe hears that Mr. Church and Rudy are missing and presumed dead.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Lydia. She tends to call Ledger "Gaucho", which is Spanish for his codename, "Cowboy".
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Various things in The Dragon Factory.
    • Not precisely or strictly half and half, but several people in The Extinction Machine.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Played with. The new foundation Junie heads up has a rescuee from The Dragon Factory and someone Deacon has declared as no longer an enemy but to be treated as a friendly: Alexander "Toys" Chismer, whose reformation is sincere, but who believes he doesn't deserve the chance he's getting.
  • Holograms: Mr. Church and Aunt Sallie have access to technology that produces them — within limits.
  • I Call Her "Vera": In "Material Witness," Bunny mentions naming his new gun "Missy".
  • I Have Many Names: Mr. Church aka The Deacon, aka St. Germain. And those are only a few of the aliases mentioned for him, and only the few Joe himself knows personally.
  • I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight: In "Deep, Dark" Joe uses this on James Collins.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Aunt Sallie looks exactly like Whoopi Goldberg.
  • Inner Monologue: Any part of the book involving Ledger's narration is told from Ledger's POV and in his voice.
  • Jerk Ass: Doctor Hu.
  • Lady of War: Grace, Lilith, Violin, Lydia, Montana.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: El Mujahid.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Subverted with Gault. He is already quite evil, but love kind of throws him off his game. A little.
  • Love Triangle: Violin Joe Junie
  • Mad Science: Lots and lots of it, in every book.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: One of the twins from The Dragon Factory who is a Mad Scientist herself.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Invoked. The team crashes/explodes a Cigarette boat to make it look like a drunk boating accident.
  • Men Don't Cry: Subverted. Even though Joe and his team are all Badasses, none of them flinches from shedding Manly Tears when the situation calls for it.
  • The Mole Skip Tyler in Patient Zero
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Upierczi family.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: While Dr. Hu is not actually evil, and is a genuine doctor, he views the end of the world plots as a chance to play with a new toy. He seems to lack empathy completely, which keeps most of the DMS and him in an antagonistic relationship.
  • Our Monsters Are Different
  • Overly-Long Scream: When the President is abruptly returned at the end of Extinction Machine, the Vice-President/Acting President starts screaming, and keeps it up for quite a while.
  • Papa Wolf: Ledger has a few traits of it, Top Sims is a father himself, so definitely qualifies; but Deacon really embodies the trope at one point in the series.
  • Playful Hacker: Jerome Williams, the DMS's computer genius, aka Bug.
  • Power Trio: Joe, Top and Bunny.
  • Punny Name: Dr. Hu.
  • The Quiet One: John Smith, aka "Chatterbox".
  • Rape as Drama: Ledger's Backstory.
    • The breeding program used by the Red Knights in "Assassin's Code".
  • Red Eyes With Hellish Pupils: The vampires.
  • Red Herring Mole: Poor Ollie Brown, but as a former CIA assassin he did look the part
  • Sanity Slippage: Joe tends to suffer a little bit of it in each book, but comes back because he has Rudy to turn to.
    • The Big Bad in Code Zero Artemisia Bliss experiences it in gradiations throughout all of Code Zero.
  • Shout-Out: There are a number of pop culture references, as Joe is an aficionado of same.
  • Split Personality: Joe Ledger. However, he has worked it out in such a way that the three personalities tend to work together, like a committee. The Civilian keeps him sane, The Cop Works things out and when the Warrior gets let out, someone is going to get hurt.
  • Take That: A dig at Twilight in "Assassin's Code".
  • That Man Is Dead: Alexander Chismer/Toys as of "Assassin's Code"
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Rudy is a psychiatrist/psychologist who helps Joe over the death of his girlfiend Helen, and later, Grace.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Mr. Church loves Vanilla Wafers, Joe Likes Oreos.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Played with. Joe has had a lot of love interests, even a pacifist who knows his life is war.
  • Unfortunate Name: Harvey Rabbit — naturally everybody calls him "Bunny".
    • There's also a genius in the Technical Operations Center whose name is Yoda. Not a nickname. His real name.
  • The Virus:
    • Patient Zero has one version.
    • King of Plagues has another.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Mr. Church plays with the trope. He is forever pulling amazing technological gadgets out for the DMS and Joe's team in particular. When asked, all he ever says is "I have a friend in the industry."
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Planned but narrowly averted by Joe and team.
    • Not Using the Zed Word: Played with. Sometimes the come right out and say it. A Code Zero is DMS speak for "zombies", and Ledger has used the word "zombie" himself, as have members on their team. For reasons of common sense (to avoid a panic) and professionality, they adhere to the trope when dealing with anyone outside of the security loop — meaning other agencies and all civilians.
    • Shout-Out: Zombie movies specifically are used by Joe in briefing his team, to let them know what kind of scenario they're looking at if they fail.
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alternative title(s): Joe Ledger
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