"This has our names in it, John." "That's right." "But... the scene they're depicting here in the book... this really happened. Only nobody else was present when this happened. No one could have known." "I know." "So what do you think it means?" "I think it means we're living a novel. This novel." I turned the book over in my hand and studied the cover: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares. I glanced over at the chair at the foot of the bed. At my pants. Charlize Theron began screaming.
A webnovel-turned-published-book by author David Wong (actually Jason Pargin, head editor of Cracked), written in autobiographical style, narrated by a character named David Wong about his and his best friend's adventures featuring the paranormal.Dave and John are two college dropouts living in the middle of an "Undisclosed" town in Illinois. John is a deranged, irresponsible, carefree, slacker/rocker/drug enthusiast. Dave is an apathetic, bored, snarky withdrawn young man with a traumatic past and the tendency to get dragged along with whatever John happens to be doing. After a run-in with a living hallucinogenic drug at a party, the pair gain the ability to see ghosts, demons, and into other dimensions. Hilarity Ensues. So does violence. And Monsters. And weirdness. And swearing. And an unbelievable amount of dick jokes and Toilet Humor.Once available for free at http://www.johndiesattheend.com, but now that it's being published, there's just a humorous promotional blog addressing the (supposed) rumors that the events of the story really happened.
It's also an Alternate Reality Game with clues hidden in the blog images and filenames.
Abnormal Ammo: When John and Dave get somewhat famous due to the Sauce, people begin sending them bizarre things. One of them is a package of explosive bullets for David's pistol.
Adventure Duo: Dave is more serious and literal-minded (to the point of missing blatant clues), a trait he credits to an array of negative character traits. John is flat-out crazy and rolls better with the insane crap pitched at them, but he also lacks some common sense.
A Form You Are Comfortable With: Subverted. The inhabitants of Korrok's world are concerned their manner of dress will upset John and Dave, and so go naked except for hoods. Many of them are noted as being elderly. The whole effect just makes the experience stranger and more alien, especially when John sees what's under them.
Aliens in Cardiff: Korrok invades our dimension in Undisclosed, an unnamed town in the American midwest.
Other universes are often alternate histories where one or more important details have changed, resulting in often-cataclysmic differences from our own world. For example, Korrok comes from a world where Organic Technology was fully mastered. He's an out-of-control supercomputer.
The Shadow Men exist out of time and can make changes in history that echo in the present. Arnie mentions to Dave near the end of the book that he vaguely remembers false memories of John Paul II dying during the assassination attempt and being replaced by a black pope who adopts the name Leo. Much more threateningly, the Shadow Men threaten to suddenly change the timeline to kill Amy if David does not back off.
All There in the Manual: The website and several forum comments by the author (and John Cheese, who, as the name suggests, is who John is based off of) detail the back story and side stories of the novel. Impressively, revelations in the novel make throwaway gags in the preview updates much, much creepier.
Always Someone Better: Dr. Marconi, a rich and respected former priest, archaeologist, and ass-kicker of the demonic and undead. He resembles the typical Lovecraft protagonist, especially Prof. Armitage, and likely would be the hero in a traditional Lovecraftian take on the story.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Korrok is a violent, tyrannical, evil, petty, narcissistic, sadistic, racist, homophobic, know-it-all organic supercomputer from another dimension, with the maturity of a 13-year-old playing an online game. It's a tower of flesh and nerves bigger than the statue of liberty, wants to rule the entire multiverse, and eats people wrapped in bacon.
Anti-Hero: Dave isn't the greatest guy, and he does some pretty nasty stuff here and there. However, he does enough good to escape being a mere Designated Hero, even if many of his bravest deeds were performed by Monster Dave, and isn't too bad a guy at all when not forced into universe-threatening circumstances.
Anyone Can Die: As a result of Cloning Blues, almost every named character including John, though, ironically, at the beginning, not the end, and he comes back anyway dies at one point in the novel, most of them onscreen.
Somewhat justified, since the majority of the mail that John and Dave get are from bona fide crazies who give them nothing useful.
Arnie still seems very dubious of David's story even after David shows him a Wig Monster. It takes David a good deal of luck to convince him from not turning and leaving. It turns out that Arnie really wanted to believe him all along and was just looking for Dave to provide a strong case.
ASCII Art: John is proficient with it. Also used in the story to depict the pi-symbol Korrok uses to mark cloned humans and animals. There's a short segment in which there's a passage quoted by a tribe about Korrok - the reasoning is that it's supposed to be Korrok angrily projectile vomiting and pissing at the same time. (Turn the pi symbol on its side, so the curvy part is down.)
Asshole Victim: Billy Hitchcock, David's tormentor and possible rapist. Sealing a dog's eyes and mouth shut with a glue gun is the LEAST assholish thing about him...
Author Avatar: David Wong. In a book written by David Wong. Yeah.
Berserk Button: Dave snaps and brutally beats down a guy who describes Amy as a liability that he should abandon.
Better than a Bare Bulb: Part of the plot when Arnie realizes that Dean Koontz has been writing fiction about Shadow Men lately, much like the ones in Dave's story, and calls out Dave on it. This is done in part because the early versions, according to the author, were a little too close to Dean Koontz's style of plot, down to Molly being an intelligent golden retriever instead of an "Irish rust dog".
Big Damn Heroes: Happens offscreen to four college students. Dave and John are unimpressed.
The universe imminently ending is no reason to keep from laughing at the sheer ridiculous horror of the circumstances.
David notes early on that the otherworldly forces plaguing him have a very dark and juvenile sense of humor
Blue and Orange Morality - Robert North and Korrok's worshipers, who, as a result of Korrok's calculations and predictions of events, have adjusted their morals - for example, stealing is okay in certain circumstances of his predictions, since the stolen object could hurt the owner or be used by the owner to hurt someone else. Doesn't apply to Korrok himself, however. He's just an enormous cock.
Kicking off with the cop in the interrogation room whose body parts can detach and animate and remains a constant throughout the novel, culminating in alternate-universe humans who can instantly mutate victims from people to animals and whatever is behind those mask-wearing humans at Shit Narnia.
Book Safe: Dave keeps his gun in a hollowed-out Koran.
Breather Episode: The time between the trip to Las Vegas and returning to Undisclosed... until the Shadow Men show up to be irritating again.
Canon Discontinuity: The original, free, online sequel, John and Dave and the Temple of X'al'naa"thuthuthu, is being rewritten and expanded into the true, published sequel, and Dave has stricken the original from canon.
Cat Scare: Not in the story, but for the reader; while viewing the partially finished sequel (now available online again) on the website, highly disturbing faces pop onscreen unexpectedly at random intervals.
Chainsaw Good: Subverted. Dave asks himself if he could have gotten stuck in such a situation with a dumber weapon. He does, however, manage to slice off a guard's fingers with it, but drops it due to the kickback when it hits the guard's rifle.
The dead person in the shed. Not only is there a mighty anticlimax (wherein Dave promptly drops investigating and just locks the shed), but the next chapter is a single paragraph lampshading that if he looked then, he would have killed himself on the spot (and hinting at its return).
Also, Robert North, who, after fleeing following a brief encounter, returns late Act 3.
Chick Magnet: John doesn't really try, but Dave mentions his numerous girlfriends and ability to attract women over the book and in the blog. It makes sense, John is a pretty fun guy.
The Chosen One/ Refusal of the Call: Neither John nor Dave desire to be the Chosen One, and actively fight against attempts to nominate them as such. A notable early example is when Molly starts barking and, after acknowledging that she wants them to follow her, John promptly climbs in his car and drives the other way regardless.
When they finally get dragged to meet Korrok, it turns out they're Chosen Ones... for allowing Korrok to cross into their universe.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Invoked and discussed in an odd manner. Dave mentions at one point that he's not sure if crosses and holy water repel the monsters because their wielders believe in them, or because the monsters do.
Cloning Blues: Dave discovers near the end of the book that he is the clone, rather than the dead Dave in his tool shed. He becomes depressed enough to contemplate suicide, but eventually gets over it with support from Amy and John (who jokingly refers to him as Monster Dave).
Cloudcuckoolander: John. Dave explains a number of his eccentricities and affectations, and we see dozens more throughout the story. David (badly) hides this fact for most of the first chapter, where John is acting oddly professional to a "client" who needs their services... if only so he can get in her pants. The main appeal of the story is the main characters' warped personalities interacting with ridiculous situations. And, of course, he answers his phone with random gibberish, claiming to throw off anyone who calls him, but is really just being a whacko.
"I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE, VINNY!"
Cluster F-Bomb: "Fuck that. Fuck that idea like the fucking Captain of the Thai Fuck Team fucking at the fucking Tour de Fuck."
City With No Name: Taken to an art form; the current splash page image is a sign reading "UNDISCLOSED". Interestingly, the city was originally called Rockville until the author learned that there was a real city with that name, and his book was leading people to vandalize it.
The movie gives it as apparently Sherwood, though the handwriting is sloppy and hard to tell. No such town exists.
The Collector of the Strange: David Wong eventually gets a garden shed full of things that simply should not exist. For instance, an issue of TIME magazine about the assassination of Bill Clinton.
Continuity Nod: To earlier versions of the story. The wide release finally reinstates the fan-favorite Badgerconda.
Cool Car: Detective Lance Falconer drives a Porsche, even though he shouldn't be able to afford one on a detective's salary. It's later implied that he helped Dave write the book, and that one of his conditions was that Dave say he had a really nice car.
Crapsaccharine World: Shit Narnia, Korrok's home dimension. The inhabitants live in peace and harmony, harness biotechnology, are very welcoming and kind... and serve a psychopathic eldritch abomination who seeks to conquer the multiverse, are horribly disfigured, and like to feed people to said abomination.
Crapsack World: The setting of the world is such that anything or anyone could suddenly appear for no explained reason, and 90% of the time it wants to kill you. 10% of the time it's actually friendly but you're so used to the other 90% you shoot it anyway.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Todd. While other characters die horribly, Todd is completely erased from reality in the process, meaning his friends can't even grieve because they don't even have memory of him.
Anyone who is slain by the Shadow Men suffer the same fate, though they tend to give them horrifying deaths first.
Dead All Along: We don't get to see all of the stuff that happens to them, but it apparently occurs enough that the main duo's attitude to this is "I hate it when they do that." Especially when it happens to Dave and Arnie.
While this isn't true from the reader's perspective, it applies to Amy's perception of Dave, as noted by John.
Deadly Bath: Invoked in the prologue to (lamely) try and get any monsters in the house John and Dave are investigating to attack them.
John: “Oh, no! It’s dark in here and here I am in the shower! Alone! I’m so naked and vulnerable!”
Deadpan Snarker: John and Dave and Dave's subconscious, who constantly berates himself and interjects into the action. At times, Dave's subconscious seems like its own character.
Devil but No God: It is alluded to in the first half, though as the main monsters featured in the story were created in an alternate timeline it may not be an actual example. The only reference to a God or something related is a letter from Khrissy after the first half of Book Two, saying an Angel told her to send a cross necklace to David.
Early in the book, Dave seems to subscribe to this worldview himself, though it's notable that at the time his experience with "demonic" entities was all but non-existent.
Morgan: You believe in Hell, Mr. Wong?
Dave: Uh, yeah. I guess.
Morgan: Why? Why do you believe in Hell?
Dave: Because it's the opposite of what I want to believe.
And used more explicitly here:
Amy: Are you scared?
David: Pretty much all the time, yeah.
Amy: Why? [...]
David: Because I sort of looked into Hell, but I still don't know if there's a Heaven or not.
Doing in the Wizard : Most of the fleshy creatures turn out to be genetically-engineered bio-weapons, but averted with the Shadow Men, who are dead spirits helping Korrok in turning the world into his personal shithole.Holy objects still affect them and whatever form they take, like most ghosts and demons. The only explanation is that they are "agents of discord" who find ordered things like music and formalized prayer or iconography extremely irritating.
Dogs Are Dumb: Molly, at first. It eventually goes to blatantly self-serving, to the point David thinks it's out to get him killed. Turns out, it was helping him.
Earworm: Some of the evil racist remixed songs can be catchy, when you think about it. Just don't try to sing along... Three Arm Sally's music, sans the actual music, sounds like it could be pretty awesome.
"I knew a man / No, I made that part up / Hair! Hair! Haaairrr! / Camel Holocaust! Camel Holocaust!"
You can see the lyrics and music for Gay Superman and USAnthem here (about a third of the way down the page).
Let's send 'em aaalllllll ba-ack to Aaaaafrica...
Eat The Bomb: Molly eats the bomb that John and Dave make towards the end of the book, and they feed her some burritos in order to speed up its evacuation. The bomb reappears just in time for their escape from Shit Narnia.
"Welcome to Undisclosed. Dreams Interpreted for Beer."
Eye Scream: When he was a kid, Dave relates to Amy why he was in the special ed school: He stabbed out the local Jerk Jock's eyeballs in revenge for what's heavily implied to be rape.
Foregone Conclusion Subverted: John doesn't die at the end, just toward the beginning, but he gets better. Dave dies about halfway through the book, although we don't realize it until after the climactic showdown. April's clone dies at the end.
Foreshadowing: You will die alone, with shit in your pants. He's talking to the Real Dave, who is killed by a doppelganger who replaces him halfway through the novel. When Monster Dave finds his original corpse, it stinks to high heaven, meaning he really DID shit his pants.
Framing Device: The first book is framed as Dave telling his story to a reporter.
Genre Savvy: Dave and John, after the initial shock of seeing ghosts has worn off. One exception: they are apparently compelled to deliver inappropriate one-liners at every opportunity.
"A key. Good. Now, if I know what's going on here, and I think I do, we'll have to wander around looking for that door. Behind it we'll meet a series of monsters or, more likely, a whole bunch of the same one. We'll kill them, get another key, and then it'll open a really big door. Now right before that we'll probably get nicer guns. It may require us to backtrack some and it might get really tedious and annoying."
Glamour Failure: If Molly is drinking out of the toilet, what just licked Dave's hand? Also one of the abilities conferred by the Sauce, as John and Dave gain the ability to see through supernatural disguises.
A Good Name for a Rock Band: Three Arm Sally. Another: "Fat Jackson's Flap Wagon," which is still spraypainted on the band van even though they've changed their name.
Gorn: An inordinate number of living things explode throughout the book.
Groin Attack: Shitload unleashes a torrent of these; apparently, during the fight, it doesn't occur to him to do anything else other than exploit this one weakness.
John claims he "dick whipped" some guys during a fight, though Dave wonders briefly if he meant that he whipped them in the dick, or with his dick. Later, in the final chapter, he clarifies this and threatens to whip a Hero of Another Story with his schlong.
Hellgate: Shit Narnia Gate, actually. The elevator in the mall technically counts, as it leads to a multiversal bazaar of sorts.
Hero of Another Story: Played for Laughs in the end, where John and Dave get dragged off to another universe again, but leap out before they can get wrangled into saving the day. Four kids come along and save that universe instead.
Heroes Want Redheads: Molly is a red-furred Irish... dog of some sort, but the love interest is her red-headed owner, Amy Sullivan.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Korrok's followers use perfect clones of humans, filled with flesh-eating parasites, to take over worlds. Robert North promptly shoots an Amy clone dead, which John and Dave toss into Korrok's followers, just as it bursts into parasites.
A recurring theme in the novel. It's the apparent motivation of the Shadow Men, as Shitload gives an impassioned speech on why Earth is the most terrifying place in existence.
"Dude, I can't believe you ain't all paralyzed by the pure, naked horror of this place."
After a long, long pause John said, "Uh, thank you."
Interestingly, in the sequel, it seems that other powers are afraid of the opposite: that humans are in command of free will, the strongest magic in the universe, and may in fact win out over their base instincts and thus the base, instinctive terrors that try to besiege them.
And not to mention Korrok and his Shadow Men aren't much better, being irritating, immature pricks who say "fag" and think it's funny.
Hurricane of Puns: While the main heroes exist in a World Of Pun, John's chair-smashing rampage is punctuated by a hurricane of chair-related puns. After slamming the door on the wig monsters, he thinks up one more and opens the door back up to use it.
I Am Legion: The human hive in Book 1 refers to itself as Shitload because 'there's a shitload of us in here.'
Improvised Weapon: "TestaMints," little mints that have Bible verses on them to be given to unsuspecting demons, a baseball bat with a Bible and tape recorder strapped to the end, a flamethrower made from a water spray gun, and after taking the Soy Sauce John and Dave make a bomb from ordinary household objects by analyzing their molecular structures.
Indy Ploy: The entire book. Lampshaded with “Do we really strike you as the type to plan things out ahead of time?”
Infant Immortality: The dog version, with Team Pet Molly, who survives a miraculous amount of things. The ending strongly hints that Molly is actually a disguised angel, who takes on the form of Fred Durst to explain this (and a bunch of other stuff) to the narrator. Note when he says he's been "dogging" Dave around. Quotes included in the original text.May or may not be the case in the sequel.
Averted in the middle of the novel where John and Dave witness a little boy painfully melt, in graphic detail, and be turned into a pig for slaughter. It is so shocking that John lets out a "Mother. Fucker."
Invoked Trope: John and Dave decide (very loudly) to split up while trying to lure out a ghost that has eluded them. John takes a shower while loudly proclaiming that he hopes he does not get attacked while he is naked and vulnerable. Dave decides to take a nap because ghosts love to sneak up on sleeping people.
Jumped at the Call: John. Though, in the epilogue, even he thinks the world on the other side of the gate on the basketball court is too lame to save. Don't worry, some kids do it for them.
While being held prisoner by Shitload, John and Dave and crew think up a plan to douse him with Molotov cocktails. They're caught off guard his eyes popping out of his sockets, like snail eyes, and sort of stare... or, in Jennifer's case, meekly hurl it with so much force, it... rolls away harmlessly.
Later, when the hateful worm things are trying to burrow into Dave's arm, John douses it with booze and lights it, killing them.
John makes a flamethrower and uses it while spouting fire-based puns.
John: GENTLEMEN, I WOULD LIKE TO PROPOSE A TOAST!
Every Car Is a Pinto is also subverted when they shoot the gas tank, and...gas spills out harmlessly while they wait for the trope to kick in. Then they light it.
Lampshade Hanging: Lots, for various reasons. A popular one ("You heard me" and "Hey, why not?") is to call out the sheer ridiculousness of the story.
Large Ham: The possessed pile of meat. A Large Ham in more ways than one.
Living Shadow/The Heartless: The Shadow Men are the ghosts of dead hateful beings from billions of alternate dimensions, who seek to add to their ranks by erasing people from time.
Lovecraft Lite: Much of the book features the same themes as Lovecraft: ungodly horrors screwing with hapless humans in a cruel, uncaring, malicious universe, filled with other malicious, cruel, uncaring humans. However, it's implied that this viewpoint is something the Shadow Men force upon people to get them to attempt to kill people working against them, and then themselves, and that they add to their ranks by instilling hatred in humans. And despite Korrok being an evil, Lovecrafitian deity... in the end, he's more or less an extremely annoying brat. Who then gets blown up with dogshit. Literally.
More Dakka: John and Dave first face down evil with whatever weapons they have on hand, but by the climax they're stocked to the nines with proximity explosive pistol rounds and a flamethrower made out of a Super Soaker. Though the improved firepower is somewhat selectively effective...
The Multiverse: Played straight, and with a lot of confusing jargon from the people/creatures who know the score.
Mysterious Watcher: North, who is actually an alien jellyfish who tried to make love to a chandelier and stops the infected, dead Amy from crossing over into David's world.
Name's the Same: Jennifer Lopez. Subverted with "Morgan Freeman", who John notes doesn't look, sound, or is even named anything like his namesake (his real last name is "Appleton").
The Nicknamer: Dave comes up with humorous nicknames to describe various people and creatures he meets along the way. It's played for drama with Amy, whom he gave the cruel nickname "Cucumber" to in high school and comes to regret it.
In a plan to get away from bullies David invokes this so he can be put in a special class.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Robert North; in Act 3 he undoes Korrok's plan by killing and throwing the infested Amy back to the other dimension on a whim because she's a clone, effectively saving Undisclosed from bug infestation and the universe from invasion. However, before he can explain, a furious John jams the Amy clone's spinal disc into him, painfully transforming him back into the chandelier-humping jellyfish.
No Name Given: There are a number of recurring characters who receive no name, though Dave usually gives them some sort of nickname. We do eventually learn the black detective's name, but Dave still refers to him as "Morgan Freeman." The large man in Shit Narnia is called "the large man" for a while, then "Largeman," and finally "Largey Largeman."
Oblivious To Hints: At the end, the guy who looks suspiciously like Fred Durst tells Dave that he's been "dogging" him the whole time. Dave is completely oblivious to the implication that he is talking to Molly in human form.
One-Paragraph Chapter: Chapter 10 is: "Looking back, if I had gone in and seen what was in the toolshed, I would have put a bullet in my own skull one minute later."
Organic Technology: Turns out, Korrok is the result of one man who utilized and perfected organic tech. Worlds taken over by him, or worship him, use them, such as adorable little kittens that heal injuries and giant spiders that serve as vehicles.
Our Demons Are DifferentThey're either malevolent inter-dimensional ghosts of living shadow or humans turned into genetic experiments from the next door universe.
Outrun the Fireball: Cited by a villain as the kind of unrealistic hope that humans invest into their heroes. John actually manages to do it, but he's only a few feet from the dimensional portal and the explosion's distance ensured he had a few seconds of a headstart..
Pet the Dog: John is usually a pretty silly Miles Gloriosus, but on a few occasions he reveals himself to be a caring guy. Dave reveals that John always referred to Amy by name rather than Dave's cruel nickname "Cucumber" or "that girl without a hand." John also accepts Monster Dave as his friend without any hesitation.
Psychopathic Manchild: The extradimensional conqueror Korrok is surprisingly juvenile. His representative Shitload has the personality of a 13-year-old who just discovered hip hop and cursing. Dave notes that the supernatural changes that follow him around seem to have an adolescent sense of humor. Korrok has the telepathic voice of a small child. Korrok's first words in person to Dave are, "Welcome. Your wiener is even smaller in person."
Portal Cut: One of the monsters at the mall's elevator when the door closes.
Post Modern Magik: All the weird stuff that people send John and Dave, ranging from some sort of oil that can form the shape of a person's thoughts (and then attempt to kill them) to Scooby-Doo glasses from a Kid's Meal that let you see through the Masquerade.
The Power of Rock: Demons hate music. Especially arena rock power ballads. Used at many points in the book, even when whatever music is being played barely counts as music.
Powder Trail - John lights a giant self-wrapped cigarette that acts as a Powder Trail to the bomb that destroys part of the building in Shit Narnia.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The movie loses a lot of subtlety but still delivers a movie that feels like the book.
Puppeteer Parasite: The hooded assholes in charge in Shit Narnia, though they are just puppets of Korrok.
Reaction Shot: During the first climax in Las Vegas, Dave and friends play "Camel Holocaust" after they're informed that demons hate music. When they perform, there's a line about all the invading wig-monsters standing still and giving them incredibly annoyed looks.
Rape as Backstory: Dave was held down by a number of bullies who did something unspeakable to him, which he refuses to elaborate. It drove him to brutal retribution.
Also Jennifer Lopez; when she, John, Dave, Big Jim and Fred are giving last requests to the others in case they die, her request is to find the loose floor board in her bedroom where she's hidden some marijuana, and also "a little notebook...with some guys' names in it", which she wants them to make sure her mother doesn't see. She also has no issue making out with a guy she just met, and later after having a relationship with Dave seems to come back to him whenever she gets "lonely".
Replicant Snatching: Done successfully with Dave's, but Amy's is foiled by North, though Dave doesn't know it at the time.
Ret Gone: The main form of attack of the Shadow Men.
Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory When the timeline is changed by the shadow men, some people will randomly remember how things used to be, although they'll typically remember it both ways, not just the original way.
Room Full of Crazy: Several different locations: Marconi's show room in Las Vegas, Robert Marley's trailer and his hovel at the abandoned mall, Dave's tool shed, and Big Jim's workshop. Each one is not only a Room Full of Crazy, but an insight into the personality and life and often death of the owner.
Screams Like a Little Girl - Every time David screams, he tries to convince the reader that he did it in a manly, gaspy way, and not like a little girl.
Shout Out: Dave's narration is saturated with pop culture references:
Music: Numerous 80's metal songs are referenced as being damaging to evil spirits, mostly by Guns 'n Roses. Dave makes his hatred of Limp Bizkit and Snow's song "Informer" very clear. The soy sauce dealer goes by Robert Marley and does a bad Bob Marley impression. Dave also sees a The Darkness shirt on a man, as part of a threatening message.
Television: David and Amy watch a show about people making custom motorcycles and screaming at each other, a reference to American Chopper.
Literature: John calls the alternate dimension Shit Narnia.
Celebrities: A cop reminds Dave of Morgan Freeman, so he calls him by that name in his narration. The large man in Shit Narnia looks like Michael Jackson in that his face is somehow wrong. "Fred Durst" makes an appearance. Dave dates a girl named Jennifer Lopez who doesn't look like Lopez except in the ass department.
There are many subtle references to Wong's Pointless Waste of Time website: Wally's Videe-Oh!, getting an absurdly high score on a sports video game, etc.
Spy Speak: Parodied. When John and Dave talk on their cell phones during the prologue, the code they speak in case their phones are bugged with stuff like "tomorrow we kill the President" to mean "pick up a pack of cigarettes".
Storming the Castle: John and David have no idea what they're getting into as they assault the mall's cover... which turns out to be some sort of multidimensional bazaar.
Stylistic Suck: Three Arm Sally's lyrics are total gibberish and have no regard for things like "rhythm" or "progression", giving credence to Dave'a assertion that they might be the shittiest band of all time.
Limp Bizkit is repeatedly referred to as a terrible band.
Dave interrupts his narration to reiterate how terrible the song "Informer" by Snow is.
The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Using the Sauce, a local news sports anchor tapes one side of an entire conversation. John and Dave come across it before the intended viewer does, and the way it's so one-sided creeps Dave out. When it is played back to his intended audience, her initially-reluctant responses sync up perfectly, and the anchor in the video even waits for John and Dave to exit the room before continuing.
Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Subverted: Jennifer Lopez looks nothing like Jennifer Lopez, name aside. "Morgan Freeman" is a detective in Book One, but David admits that he looks nothing at all like Morgan Freeman, besides being black - Dave admits that the guy looks more like another black actor, but Dave can't think of that actor's name (or even remember what the man's real name was). So he sticks with Morgan Freeman.
Timmy in a Well: Subverted. Molly barks at the reality breaks that John and Dave encounter, but rarely does anything but that. Also invoked early on when she's trying to get back home.
Tomato in the Mirror: Monster Dave, as well as Arnie Blondestone, who turns out to have been powered by David's (and to an extent, the reader's) expectation of what he'd look like. The real Arnie was murdered by the Shadow Men and stuffed into the trunk of his car.
Tsundere: As a way of gently parodying typical teen adventures to other lands, the four kids who save yet another world in the final chapter (after John and David pretend to need something back home to avoid saving it) are led by a bickering boy and a girl, but the nagging seems to be good-natured. When they come back from saving the world (almost instantaneously), they're kissing.
Uncanny Village: Shit Narnia, the world that Dave and John visit, appears to be peaceful at first. It's the home universe of Korrok.
Unperson: What the Shadow Men can (and will) do to you if you get in the way.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: When the heroes plan even slightly ahead, things go wrong in as fast and messy a fashion as possible. Rolling with the punches and grasping on what little luck they get winds up saving the universe. Also the source of the most terrifying phrase John can say: "Dave, I have a plan."
Dave admits that he might not be 100% accurate in his retelling. He also says he plans to publish the most fantastical, ridiculous, and made-up version possible, just to mess with people.
I did it according to this equation:
l = E x ∞
Which can be translated as "One small lie saves an infinite amount of explanation." I use it all the time. I've used it on you already.
There are also small parts where Dave wasn't present and John tells the story instead. These parts have a suspiciously high occurrence of backflips, as well as a chase scene that John resolves by "stealing a nearby horse." As David points out early on, "If you know John, you'll take the details for what they're worth. Please also remember that, where John claims to have 'gotten up at three-thirty' to perform this investigation, it was far more likely he was still up and somewhat drunk from the night before."
Also, when Dave is talking to Arnie, he gets called out on the fact that he changes the number of people in their group as they head to Vegas, which is actually due to one of them becoming an Unperson.
Viral Transformation: The effect of various worm creatures and/or a sufficiently large dose of Soy Sauce, if not outright possession.
The Virus: Horrifying sapient worm-things from another dimension that will burst you apart and spread more worm things. They're used by Korrok and the Shadow Men to subjugate universes.
Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Dave works at a video rental store and needs to use his sick days carefully if he wants to save the world without ending up homeless. John also works, but never seems to hold the same job for long.
What Did I Do Last Night?: Used twice, once after Vegas, where Dave couldn't remember entire months (he eventually began to remember, and John uses it to dick with Dave by claiming they were gay porn stars), and again around the time Amy went missing, where Dave couldn't remember what he was doing during a particular half-hour. He thinks he murdered someone, due to some suspiciously bloody snow, a warm gun, and footprints everywhere. No, it's not Amy.
Amy herself. She'd disappear for hours on end with no memory. It's because Korrok's forces take her away to make clones out of her, to infiltrate John and Dave's earth.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The Wig Monster that hangs around John after Las Vegas, and is shown to Arnie to make him stay and listen to the rest of the story, isn't mentioned afterwards.
Word Of God: In regards to several character traits and plot points.
World Half Empty - David occasionally monologues like this, especially when he investigates the mall. He knows it's an attempt by the Shadow Men to make him kill John and Chrissy in a fit of nihilist-driven rage, though.