The following article has been approved for publishing because it serves the cause of the Light.
— Night Watch
The following article has been approved for publishing because it serves the cause of the Dark.
— Day Watch
Night Watch (Ночной дозор, Nochnoi Dozor) is a book series by Sergey Lukyanenko, a speculative fiction writer internationally acclaimed in the Eastern Bloc. It had two movie adaptations (both movies mixed elements of this book and its sequel) starring Konstantin Khabensky, the first of which became the top-grossing Russian movie of the time. Because of this, the series received much attention internationally and spread Lukyanenko's name and work to the West.Night Watch is set in Moscow in 1998-2007 (book timeline) / circa 2004 (movie timeline). The world is pretty much the gritty ex-Communist concrete-a-thon we know and love, with a major difference. There are Others. Others are non-humans, born by humans and have special abilities. Vampires, shapeshifters, wizards, prophets, warlocks... and all others. What distinguishes Others from humans is their innate ability to manipulate "The Twilight", a "mirror-world" of magical energy. Others come in two flavors, Light and Dark, and the Light and Dark have been conflicting since the beginning of time. In the 12th century or so, the Others from both sides realized that conflicts between them, due to their vast power and influence over humans, could destroy the world. So they wrote and signed the Treaty, which basically states that each side is allowed to form a Watch to monitor the activities of the other side from becoming overly excessive, in turn monitored by a joint Inquisition. The Treaty has held up well, and all fighting between Light and Dark has moved into the shadows.
Night Watch follows the livings and doings of Light magician Anton Gorodetskiy, an Moscow Night Watch operative working under the Great Light magician Geser.
Day Watch follows three different Dark Others, with several Night Watch characters appearing as recurring antagonists. It was co-written by Sergey Lukyanenko and Vladimir Vasilyev
Twilight Watch follows Anton Gorodetskiy as he tries to protect his daughter, a potential Light Messiah, while looking for a magic book that can turn mundane humans into Others.
Face of the Dark Palmira follows the livings and doings of members of the Kievan Day Watch visiting St. Petersburg. The book was written by Vladimir Vasilyev with Sergey Lukyanenko's blessings. Twilight Watch and Face of the Dark Palmira take place in the same time period, and events of one book refer to those in the other (and vice versa) - though the plots never truly connect.
The Last Watch written by Sergey Lukyanenko because he wanted to prove that the fame hasn't gone to his head and he could write a book within a year without distractions getting in the way. Wraps up some loose trends from the previous books, lampshades and homages the movie adaptation a few times and wraps up the events in the closest thing the series can have to the Grand Finale.
Nevertheless, the fifth book was released in 2012, titled The New Watch.
Aside from the movie adaptations, the book inspired a surprisingly interesting (if badly animated, buggy and poorly acted) PC game, a MMORG and a board game, not to mention the usual merchandising crap.
Night Watch provides examples of:
Affably Evil: Zabulon may be the head of the Moscow Day Watch (making him incredibly powerful, several centuries old, and probably the most ruthless and dangerous Dark Other in the former Soviet Union) and the sworn enemy of the Night Watch in general and Geser in particular, but he is generally polite and friendly to everyone, seems to have a certain fondness for Anton, generally acts as though he is enjoying himself immensely, and regards Geser as a beloved rival (it is even implied in Twilight Watch that part of the reason that neither Geser or Zabulon have advanced beyond the rivalries of the Watches is because they enjoy playing out their rivalry). It's mentioned somewhere that Zabulon is nearly a millennium old. And he remarks to Gesar that he had dreamed that they would one day work together, during the climax of Twilight Watch. While giggling in a slightly less-than-sane way.
New Watch also reveals that Zabulon cares about those he initiated, like the prophet Erasmus Darwin, whom he genuinly tried to defend against the Tiger. Then again, when Anton witnesses him begging the Tiger for his life, he realizes that, should Zabulon find out that Anton knows, Anton's life is forfeit.
Alternate Continuity: The films, as expressly stated near the beginning of The Last Watch. One of the characters retells as a dream one of the most random and over-the-top scenes in the movies, which he dismisses as an alternate reality — there's more than a hint of a Take That, too. There is also the PC game adaptation, which basically throws the book and movie continuities into a blender.
The spell that the Inquisitors suggest that Anton use to defeat the ultimate vampire Kostya, is called the Sarcophagus of Ages. It locks the victim and the caster in said sarcophagus together until the end of the universe.)
By the end of New Watch, Anton uses the spell to trap himself and Arina to convince Tiger the prophecy about the destruction of magic will never come true. However, Tiger pulls Anton out of the Sarcophagus, and Anton suggests Arina might escape once her portal-opening Minos sphere recharges.
White Haze, a spell referred to in the Last Watch, essentially made a whole opposing army into the stone statues... while leaving everyone alive and conscious. They've spent four millennialike that. White Haze was also the spell Geser suggested in the above-mentioned duel.
New Watch explains why there are more Dark Others numerically but of lower rank but fewer Light Others but of higher rank (Zabulon is the only Great Dark Other in Moscow, while there are nearly half-dozen Great Light Others in Moscow). Statistically, there is 1 altruistic person per 16 selfish people. The same proportion translates into the Light and Dark Others, respectively.
Baleful Polymorph: Olga is punished for an unspecified transgression by being forced to remain as a stuffed snowy owl for decades at a time. She's only allowed to assume human form for half-an-hour each day during wartime (the last time was during World War II). Thanks to Geser's manipulations, the curse is lifted at the end of Night Watch. She is still able to speak in this form, but Anton notes that it takes great effort.
Black Comedy Rape/Rape Portrayed as Redemption: To an extent in Day Watch as seen in Alisa's revenge on a group of guys who were going to rape her is to force them at gunpoint to perform sex acts on each other. That being said, the completely cold and callous way in which she does this ensures that while it's hard to sympathize with them, she doesn't come across as justified in doing so either. She even mentions that it's not as good as gay porn she once watched with the other witches.
By-the-Book Cop: Staff Sergeant Dima Pastukhov of the Moscow Police considers himself an honest cop, by Russian standards. Granted, he'll occasionally accept a small bribe from a cafe owner when stopping by for lunch or rough up a drunk or two when they get roudy and refuse to go to a sobering-up station (special center for the intoxicated). However, he will also chase down any perp without a second thought, won't harass store owners, and will let those who are only a little drunk go home (provided they don't drive). However, he avoids the Others like the plague, having been accidentally granted the ability to see them by Anton's carelessness.
Celebrity Paradox: A variant in Face of the Black Palmira. Zabulon and Taviscaron (the head of the Kiev Day Watch) are walking through the streets of Kiev, discussing random things. Taviscaron points to a building and casually mentions its architect by the name of Gorodetsky. Zabulon immediately expresses interest and asks for the architect's first name. Taviscaron tells him it's Vladislav, and Zabulon loses interest, mentioning that he knows another Gorodetsky.
In New Watch, an old Jewish battle mage thinks that Anton is also Jewish based on his last name. Anton defends his family name, claiming it's an old Russian name, that he comes from a family of architects. While this may be another nod to Vladislav Gorodetsky, the real Gorodetsky was of Polish-Ukrainian descent.
Charm Person: All Others, even weak ones, are able to do this, although if a Watch member is caught doing this, then it can result in some serious consequences. In New Watch, Anton deliberately tells a cop that he doesn't "need to see [his] papers" while waving his hand, while musing about Star Wars.
Combat Pragmatist: Semyon is one of the few Others who has studied martial arts in order to use them in combat. Most Others rely on their magic or supernatural abilities (such as vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters). Anton notably takes out a rogue Light mage (who has surrounded himself with an impenetrable magical shield) by knocking him out with a telescopic stick (he mentions that it's a rookie mistake to use a magical shield instead of a Sphere of Negation, which protects against physical attacks as well). The Big Bad of the Face of the Dark Palmira spin-off novel is taken out in a similar manner (hitting him on the head with a lamp), but only because he was using the technique of partial submerging.
Contemplate Our Navels: A particularly tedious string of long conversations in the third part of the book about morality and the Light and Dark, etc.
Content Warnings: Made In-Universe — Night Watch, the first book, opens with a note that its text was approved for publishing by both Night and Day Watches; on the other hand, Day Watch has a note that it has not been approved by either; Dusk Watch is "indifferent" to both; Face of the Dark Palmira has "no comment" from both (while the Inquisition states that "it's silent [on the matter], as always") and The Last Watch is "acceptable" for both.
Creator Provincialism: Lukyanenko spent much of his adult life in Moscow, so it's not surprising that it's the main setting of the books. On the other hand he was born in Kazakhstan, and Central Asian motifs often show up in the novels.
The main idea seems to be that Dark Others value personal freedom over anyone's well-being, whereas the Light Others see it the other way around. Things get shady when it becomes apparent that personal freedom of a powerful mage comes at the cost of freedoms of less powerful mages and, eventually, humans, but the Dark Others are encouraged not to give a damn. Which doesn't really work. On a side note, Light Others are constantly faced with the dilemma of "killing a thousand to save a million".
Day Watch shows the most of how Dark Others are not necessarily evil, or even bad, and provides insight into their perspective. It is true that most of the Dark Ones shown are quite evil, but since most of the stories are told from the perspective of the Night Watch, most of the Dark Ones encountered will be criminals or high-ranking members of the Day Watch (who will be the most ruthless and powerful, as well as the oldest — when you've lived several centuries, you want to explore as many pleasures as possible). In Twilight Watch we also see a werewolf who initiated several children in order to save them from a terminal illness.
The novels show that a lot of minor Dark Others aren't evil — the above-mentioned werewolf, and earlier, the dark ones Maxim killed, and such, but it also shows that the rank-and-file ones in the Day Watch are happy to engage in cruel acts of child murder, or rape. And in two novels, dark ones attempted to nuke Moscow. When light ones kill people, or do something too bad it's usually accidental - if they kill someone on purpose unjustly they often dematerialize themselves (dying by disintegration) because they feel so guilty that they lose the will to live.
The important difference between Light and Dark Others is that the Light Others are perfectly aware of the human vice and ignorance, while Dark Others consider their power a gift that is to be used. This explains why low-ranking Dark Others tend to use their powers for granted while high-ranked ones consider it an asset that has to be invested wisely. Light Others are taught from the beginning that the power corrupts and if not controlled, it may destroy its bearer (it is also the recurring theme in Night Watch and a part of Zabulon's Evil Plan in Day Watch).
Kostya is a complicated example. He develops a formula that allows vampires feed and grow in power without hurting anyone and has never requested a hunting license despite having the right to do so. Anton doesn't seem to notice
Erasmus Darwin in New Watch is a lazy example, When Anton meets him, he lives alone in a house in Regent's Park Estate, London, and prefers it that way. He's also implied to be on good terms with Geser, who occasionally sends him magical puzzles. Darwin is a prophet initiated by Zabulon. It seems he simply doesn't want to do anything, good or evil, in start contrast to his grandson Charles Darwin. The only thing that could possibly put him on the Dark side is his utter lack of concern for his teenage mistress when he, as a teen himself during the 18th century, learns that her sould has been sucked out by the Tiger, who's after him. After getting the Tiger to leave, Erasmus briefly wonders whether, now that she's no longer a complete person with dreams and ambitions, his mistress will let him do things in bed that she was previously against.
A Day in the Limelight: In Day Watch, the first part had as its narrator the secondary character Alisa, and the second part's narrator was a new character Vitaliy.
A Degree In Useless: In Last Watch, Anton travels to Samarkand and gets in the taxi driven by an elderly Uzbek man who speaks Russian without an accent. When talking to the driver, Anton assumes most of the man's reasoning is grounded in Eastern wisdom. The driver reveals that he has a Ph.D. in Psychology, which is completely useless in Uzbekistan. Also crosses with Worthless Foreign Degree, as he earned his Ph.D. in Moscow.
Diagonal Cut: In Last Watch, Anton throws two "triple-blades" at a human mercenary with magical amulets. The first one slices cleanly through the mercenary's enchanted submachinegun (also taking off the guy's hand). Anton isn't sure where the other one went until the confused mercenary tries to move. At that point, the guy's head splits open into three pieces. Of course, since it's a spell and not a physical blade, they could also count as Absurdly Sharp Blades.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: Tiger Cub's death in Day Watch is described almost casually. Which is normal if you consider that the narrator is Vitaliy, a powerful Dark Other (sort of...) who had never met Tiger Cub before and killed her in self-defence.
Dummied Out: The snarky reply by Anton to Olga's jibe about tampons is removed in the international version of Night Watch. Possibly the squick factor is involved.
Eagle Land: Lukyanenko always was and still is rather strongly anti-American, and isn't afraid to show it.
In Day Watch, a low-level American Air Force officer is introduced on holiday in Prague. He's a member of the Light and was involved in the bombing of Kosovo. Russian Night Watch members are very surprised he's still aligned with good.
There's also the issue when the Dark Other Edgar asks another American about spiritual experiences (Edgar's gearing up for a Hannibal Lecture), the American responds by citing a sports victory, essentially proving himself Too Dumb to Fool.
In Twilight Watch, one character has a shirt showing a Russian soldier killing an American with a message about who really won World War II; Anton finds it somewhat amusing.
Enemy Mine: The Watches work together when battling Kostya.
Zabulon also shows up during the Night Watch's first battle with the Tiger in New Watch. However, after a short smoke/talk with Anton, he decides not to help them anymore and leaves, despite the fact that the fate of the Twilight itself is in the balance.
Enthralling Siren: Vampires can use the Call to get a human to come to them. Usually used to get around the Vampire Invitation rule. Once hooked, a human remains "summonable" by the vampire wherever he or she is.
Evil-Detecting Dog: Dogs are mentioned to be able to tell Others from humans. They like Light Others and fear Dark Others. Tigercub has specifically trained her dogs to attack Others, although she has trained them to restrain, not kill.
Even Evil Has Standards: In The Last Watch, Arina, now a light one, stops her co-conspirator from using a nuclear bomb in their plan. She assures him that even when she was a dark one she would have done the same.
Arina claims sheWouldn't Hurt a Child in Twilight Watch and then ends up leaving a live grenade with Anton's daughter with the pin pulled.
Evil Counterpart: The Dark protagonists of Day Watch, Alisa, Vitaly, and Edgar, all present interesting counterparts to Anton's personality.
Evil Pays Better: In the second novel, Anton grimly notes how a Dark Other (of a lower rank than he) can easily afford to fly business class, while he has to fly economy.
Subverted in New Watch, where Anton finds out that his Watch-issued ATM card doesn't have a limit. Theoretically, any Watch member can get as much money as they want, but it's not really their nature to be greedy. When asked, Geser simply says that being able to predict stock markets and currency exchange rates means that the Watch is never short on money. When Gesre asks if Anton wants to get a Bentley, Anton says that his own car works just fine. Besides, a fancy car would only invite curses from the unwitting humans.
This actually goes against what Anton notes in the second novel, that it's difficult for the Night Watch to make a lot of money using honest means. Then again, not everything the Light Others do is honest, so Anton may simply be a Wide-Eyed Idealist at this point. Besides, what's so dishonest about calculating probabilities? Everybody does it. The Others just do it a lot better.
Technically, the card does have a limit. However, since Geser has deliberately chosen a foreign bank to keep the money, which doesn't report the balance to ATMs belonging to Russian banks, the Watch employees can't see it. Anton does try to get a large amount of money, and the machine spits it out without a problem, so there is, at least, no (visible) limit on how much cash one can get in a day.
Fantastic Racism: Both the Light and Dark have contempt for vampires and werewolves, with the Dark seeing them mostly as useful pawns and the Light tending to assume they are Always Chaotic Evil, since the Others who become them tend to be the type who would go for eating innocents. Interestingly enough, both groups provide examples of rare Dark Is Not Evil Dark Others. Not exactly Always Chaotic Evil but rather too animalistic to be considered proper humans. In the case of vampires, they may also turn people into new vampires who, without proper initiation and guidance may turn into real monsters (as shown in the first part of Day Watch). The same thing can happen with werewolves. Vampires and werewolves are the only Others who can turn humans into their kind (until Twilight Watch, that is).
For the Evulz: Light Others are generally prone to seeing Dark Others like that. Dark Others tend to be more pragmatic though. At some point, the Night Watch determines that a group of Dark Others are trying to resurrect an ancient and powerful Dark Other and confront the Day Watch over it. The Dark Others balk at the suggestion, wondering why anyone would resurrect a certifiably insane Dark Other who would be of no use in politics and would probably turn himself into a dragon and burn down a few cities before getting shot down by human jets.
Fur Against Fang: Completely averted as both werewolves and vampires are considered the dregs of the magical world. They still despise each other as "dumb beasts" and "dead bloodsuckers".
The Evils of Free Will: The Night Watch would deny it, but they don't have much of an answer as to what they'll do to evil people if they ever create the utopia they desire, and there's a strong implication of Heel Face Mind Screw. There is, in fact, a heavy implication that the Light others can never "win" because their victory condition is every human and other freely choosing light over darkness. When several attempts to create a perfect social system — communism — failed due to Dark interfering, in 1930 Light tried to salvage the project using mind control potions on Soviet leadership. The idea was to reawaken all their best moral values, forcing them to the path of Light. It worked a little too well either driving people mad or making them hunt enemies everywhere. After that the communism project was abandoned.
Headphones Equal Isolation: Anton is almost invariably listening to music on his headphones while on duty, and he explains that he does this because his ability to interact with the Twilight makes the world seem unreal to him, and the music helps keep him sane. It is implied that Anton's Mindisc player is not choosing songs at random and may be a subconscious form of divining.
Glamour Failure: Vampires can make themselves appear invisible to humans (then again, almost every Other can). However, if a human looks into a mirror, then the effect of the spell is broken (although, only for as long as they're looking into the mirror). This is the opposite of the typical vampire lore.
Golem: A serpent-like golem guards the Crown of All Things on the fifth level of the Twilight. A deva (an Eastern golem made of Twilight itself) is created by Edgar in Last Watch to take out the Samarkand Watches. In New Watch, Mark Germenson conjures a typical earth golem to oppose the Tiger and gives it orders in Hebrew. Olga mentions that it's Jewish magic. Anton mentions that the most long-lived golems are made of clay, while animating wood or metal is a crapshoot at best, even for a Great Other.
Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: A group of Night Watch employees go to Tiger Cub's cabin for a weekend retreat. Anton, like most, ends up getting drunk and passing out. In the morning, he finds Svetlana and another female Light Other in the arms of Ignat (an incubus). Instead of raising hell, he simply walks out, has a smoke, talk to Semyon (who instantly deduces what happened), and waits for Svetlana to wake up. When she does, she quickly relizes that he knows and tries to justify her actions (including the fact that it's been years since the last time she's had sex). She feels guilty at first, but gets madder and madder as Anton keeps telling her it's ok, seemingly not caring about her infidelity. This ends up being a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, and the two end up Happily Married. There could have been some UST between Svetlana and Ignat, since he was previously sent to seduce her and try to get rid of the vortex over her head. Just as she was ready to do him, the vortex got bigger, and Geser forced Ignat to pull out before it blew.
Anton is anything but a nice person at times. In fact, sometimes he comes across as a complete Jerkass. This is, in fact, pointed out by Zabulon. (To paraphrase) "I've seen your true form, Anton, and it was no knight in shining armor."
The Night Watch is considered good but Light Others can be as ruthless as any secret police (or more, given their powers). They also control population of vampires and sometimes authorize transformation and feeding on mundane people without any consent of the latter. This causes Egor to become disillusioned with the Night Watch.
The Night watch is also not above brainwashing humans in their social experiments, see The Evils of Free Will above.
Olga was punished for a small mistake. This mistake resulted in Russian Civil War.
Good People Have Good Sex: Alisa in the second book, after falling in love with a Light Other and sleeping with him, mentions that it was the best and most amazing time she had ever had. It was also during the period of time when we saw her softening and turning... not good, just less Dark. This is partly because her previous lover, Zabulon, liked to do her in his demonic Twilight form. With a spiked penis.
Groin Attack: Anton to Edgar towards the end of The Last Watch.
Heel Face Turn: Arina. Dark Other in Twilight Watch, she becomes a Light Other in Final Watch. Subverted: her turn to the Light doesn't change neither her temper, nor her motives.
Historical In-Joke: Both Soviet Communism and Nazism were originally plots by the Light to swing everyone towards Good, which were corrupted by the Darkness.
Hot Witch: A number of characters fall into this, with a dash of Vain Sorceress, since both the Light and Dark have powers to maintain youth and good looks and avert aging. In the case of the Dark, they also achieve this affect through the use of glamour.
It May Help You on Your Quest: In Last Watch, Geser sends Anton to Uzbekistan and gives him a whole bunch of amulets. Anton examines them and notes how Geser never gives him anything that won't be of use. Anton remembers the Australian cartoon Around the World in 80 Days where Phileas Fogg seems to have incredible foresight and will inevitably find a use for any object he packed at the episode start. He also notes that the same applies to most adventure games. On the other hand, he knows that either Geser himself has checked the probability lines or had the best divinators in the Watch do that. And yes, every amulet ends up being of use, even an enchanted copy of his SIM card (apparently, the "disable GPS tracking" function is an unintentional byproduct of the "make user sound convincing on the phone" enchantment).
Japanese Tourist: Anton sees a group of them in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and briefly wonders what they're doing there.
Knight Templar: Maxim, an uninitiated Light Other who kills Dark Others who aren't really that evil (including a werepanther that had only ever killed in self-defense and a Dark wizard out for a night on the town with his wife and child) He changed his views when he agreed to become an Inquisitor. Inquisition generally tends to do this to people.
Maxim in Night Watch, who basically comes across as Light Yagami's Russian cousin. Also, you'd think that the Day Watch would be the organization of Light Others, but it is actually that of Dark Others.
There's one scene in Day Watch that mentions how the historical figure Gilles de Rais (a friend to Joan of Arc and a child murderer) as well as some fictional Serial Killer were both Light Others. Essentially, both fell into a combination of Pure Is Not Good and Utopia Justifies the Means — since they didn't see their actions as wrong, their crimes had no effect on their alignment.
The Loins Sleep Tonight: While Anton and Alisher are battling Edgar, Afandi, a weak 300-year-old Uzbek Other "weaves" an intricate spell that manages to penetrate Edgar's defenses. When asked what it was, Afandi replies that he has cursed Edgar so that the next 77 times he lies with a woman he suffers a failure. Anton observes that it's a very Eastern thing to do.
MacGuffin: The Chalk of Fate in Night Watch, an artifact that allows a Light Sorceress, whose power level is "Beyond Categorization," to rewrite the fate of any individual.
MacGuffin Girl: Nadya, Anton and Svetlana's daughter and also a prospect Messiah of Light.
Masquerade: The Treaty explicitly forbids revealing the Others' existence to normal humans, an act often punishable by death. There are, however, a few mortals who have stumbled onto the secrets of the Others on their own, and who are allowed to live.
A few later novels also show Geser making use of humans who know about and willingly work for the Watch as contractors, as long as they keep all they know a secret.
Mathematician's Answer: In The Last Watch, a powerful vampire in disguise is spotted by an Other, who is a teacher on a field trip with his class of Other trainees. The vampire is trying to remain hidden and kills the teacher in front of his students and one of the students who manages to use a battle spell. The vampire grabs a young student and asks, warning him that he can sense a lie, if the kid has been taught yet how to remember auras (an easy way of identifying Others). The kid honestly replies that he hasn't been. The vampire lets him go and leaves. The kid didn't lie, nobody taught him how to remember auras, but he has been practicing on his own. This allows Anton to identify the culprit.
The same novel features another case. Edgar uses a powerful amulet to force an ancient and powerful Light Other to tell only the truth and asks him how he can get the Crown of All. The Light Other smiles and says "with your hands". It's implied that only a very powerful Other could have avoided answering a question this way.
Mistaken for Gay: In the first novel, Anton is temporarily in Olga's body and goes out to dinner with Svetlana, his love interest. The combination of their body language around each other and Olga's short hair makes another character see them as a lesbian couple and react with disgust.
Muggles Do It Better: Nukes are the only weapons (except for some extremely powerful spells) that obliterate everything in the area in both the normal dimension and all Twilight layers, leaving the Others nowhere to run. Additionally, as shown in The Last Watch, remote-controlled guns can be extremely effective against the Others due to the fact that machines project no malice and can't be detected with magic. Enchanted guns are even more effective. There is a reason the Others are terrified of humans finding out about the existence of the Others. It would be the witch trials all over again.
The second book also mentions the possibility of resurrecting an ancient and powerful Dark Other, who likes to appear as a giant dragon. It's mentioned he would go rampaging across Europe, not caring about the Grand Treaty. However, another character points out that, while devastating, said dragon would be no match for the modern human military. As the character puts it, in a battle between an angry dragon and helicopter gunships, he'd bet on the gunships.
Multinational Team: Mentioned by an old Jewish battle mage in New Watch, when a group of Light Others are gathering to oppose the Tiger. The group consists of a Jew, a Tibetan (Geser), a Kazakh, an Uzbek (Alisher), and a Russian (Anton).
Mundane Utility: A good number of spells are specifically designed for domestic use and are ubiquitously used by the Light and the Dark Others. Why spend half-an-hour applying makeup when a quick spell is all it takes to look your best? Household chores can be done in seconds. Some clever and experienced Others have actually learned to use domestic spells to win magical battles (try to throw a fireball when you feel like your body is being ironed instead of a shirt, or if your skin is literally being peeled instead of potatoes).
Narrator: Anton in Night Watch, Twilight Watch, The Last Watch, and New Watch. For the two first parts of the second book, see A Day in the Limelight above, the third part averted this trope as it had no narrator.
Never Found the Body: Subverted. Anton believes that Kostya's body has never been found after the events of Twilight Watch and that he may be the new villain in Final Watch. However, Geser almost immediately reveals that Kostya's body was, indeed, recovered but this was kept secret from Anton because it was in a very bad condition and Anton was his friend, after all. There is a good chance of the body simply disintegrating during re-entry.
The New Russia: It isn't the most negative depiction, but there are a lot of references to the shady new money (with possible connections to The Mafiya) associated with this setting.
In New Watch, Anton notes with disgust how the rich and the powerful blatantly ignore traffic laws and never even get pulled over due to "special" license plates or even no license plates at all. Then again, the Others never get pulled over either thanks to their magic. When Anton asks a cop why he won't pull over an expensive car with no license plates, the cop replies that a friend of his did that once and ended up losing his job over it.
Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Thomas Lermont retells the story of King Arthur having all the boys born on May Day rounded up and put on a ship, after Merlin prophecies the coming of Mordred. Thomas is not sure if Mordred survived the shipwreck or was simply another boy who was told he was Arthur's son. Semyon then mentions Herod by name.
No Ontological Inertia: In New Watch, the old witch Arina reveals that, unlike other Others (no pun intended), witches are more in tune with nature and age faster, sustaining their bodies through magic. If magic were to disappear, Arina would turn to dust. It's also implied to be true of vampires and werewolves, who sustain themselves by consuming blood and raw meat, respectively, of humans in order to use the magic stored there for sustenance.
No Periods, Period: Somehow averted; Olga jokes about it when she magically switches bodies with Anton. He gets lucky though, it would have been one week later. Anton responds with his own deadpan joke, pointing out that every TV-watching man knows what to do with a tampon: put it in your fist and pour blue liquid on it. Anton's reply is cut out of the english version of the book.
Not So Different: A repeated theme is that the line between Light and Dark Others is very fine indeed.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Afandi, an elderly but weak magician from The Last Watch, "Part 2 - A Common Enemy"
One-Hit Kill: A registered vampire can be instantly incinerated by "pulling" on the seal. Anton kills a vampire this way at the beginning of the first novel. However, the only reason he had to resort to this is because he had depleted an amulet given to him to capture the culprit.
One-Winged Angel: Both sets of the Others have a true form they create in the Twilight, and the Dark Others tend to go for the "snake demon" look.
Only One Name: A number of characters are only known by their first name or their Twilight name. This may be either because the author simply hasn't bothered to come up with a last name for a character or because said character is extremely powerful. According to Day Watch, Others who classify as Mages Beyond Categorization lose their last names. In time, they acquire Twilight names. Geser is frequently called Boris Ignatyevich; however, since he is originally from Tibet, that name is definitely false. Olga's name is never given. Zabulon is only referred to by this name, except in Face of the Black Palmira spin-off, where a colleague and close friend of his calls him Arthur (another novel implies that Zabulon may be English).
Our Dragons Are Different: Fafnir is an ancient and powerful Dark Other, whose favorite Twilight form was that of a giant dragon. He is mentioned several times, and an artifact of his plays a key part in the first book. Since he predates the Grant Treaty, resurrecting him would be very bad for both the Light and the Dark Others.
These also some discontinuity here, as some novels claim that werewolves are just shapeshifters, while others claim that they're undead.
Pac Man Fever: Generally averted. When video games are mentioned, they are treated as casual hobbies and the few games mentioned by name were indeed popular titles at the time of writing. The movie depicts them with reasonable realism as well.
Special mention goes to a scene in the second film where this appears intentionally. Zavulon is playing a fighting game. At some point, he holds and swings his phone like a sword and his movements are imitated in game. That was two years before the iPhone came out. But this game he plays is actually a vision of a possible future.
Power Levels: All Others are assigned "Categories", ranging from the seventh (the weakest) to first (the most powerful). Categories are not fixed, as an Other can advance or fall down a rank depending on how often they practice magic. There is also the so-called "peak condition" when a mage jumps up two or three levels during a time of great emotional stress, like it happens to Anton Gorodetsky in the end of the first book. Lastly, there is the Over Nine Thousand category called "Beyond Categorization".
Depending on the power level, an Other can dive to the deeper levels of the Twilight. There are six Twilight levels (most mages never get past the third), and the seventh is our normal world, so the Twilight is basically a cycle. However, the full cycle can only be traversed by an ultimate mage, such as a Light Messiah like Nadya Gorodetskaya. Or Merlin, who becomes a permanent fixture as the story progresses. It is mentioned that the Others actually took the word "level" from video games, replacing the previously-used "rank".
Geser, head of the Moscow Night Watch, is based on a popular Central Asian folk hero by the same name.
The second film also briefly shows Tamerlane, the founder of the Timurid Empire, also seeking the Chalk of Fate.
Jesus is also mentioned, but it is unclear if he was just a really powerful Other (perhaps a zero-level, like Nadya or Merlin) or Light itself.
Last Watch has Thomas Learmonth AKA Thomas the Rhymer as the chief Light Other of Scotland.
New Watch has Erasmus Darwin, an actual prophet (as opposed to the charlatan he was in Real Life), the grandfather of Charles Darwin.
The author has toyed with the idea of Zabulon being the Old Testament Zabulon, but later stated that he is much younger and merely named after him.
Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Ilya (in the book), Zabulon, some other Others. Since Others are able to restore eyesight and any Other who wants to can undergo this procedure, all Others who wear glasses do so of their own will.
Randomly Gifted: Otherness isn't hereditary, and spontaneously and randomly manifests.
Really 700 Years Old: Nearly all Others stop aging when initiated. There are some exceptions, but they usually use some form of illusion to make up for it.
The Reveal: Occurs multiple times in each book. The most notable example is the revelation at the end of Last Watch that the Twilight only has six levels, and that the seventh level is simply the real world.
During the first part of The Last Watch, several characters have dreams that mirror scenes from the Night Watch film adaptation. The City Light Company, which is a Night Watch front in the movies, is referred to in Last Watch as one if their former fronts.
A rare usage in a published work: the first two novels contain many samples from contemporary Russian rock music to set the mood and illustrate the characters' philosophy, e.g. Valery Kipelov's song "I'm Free" is used extensively to exemplify the Dark Others' worldview. In fact, some characters suggest that Kipelov himself is an uninitiated Dark Other.
Even more prominent in the case of alternative-rock band Piknik known for their esoteric lyrics. The band leader, Edmund Shklarsky is also considered to be an uninitiated Other.
It is briefly mentioned that Rammstein video Du riechst so gut probably has been sponsored and scripted by werewolves.
Sophisticated as Hell / Precision F-Strike: In New Watch Anton describes the humongous fireball thrown at them: "A marketing manager would call it a premium-class fireball. A poet would say it was a Tzar-fireball. A biologist would dub it an Alpha-fireball. A very composed mathematician would note that it was a three meter-wide fireball. It was a "shit-your-pants-it's-so-scary" fireball!
The same scene features another example, involving Geser (who is driving) trying to veer away from the fireball while screaming a profanity. Anton mentally notes how precisely the phrase captures the events and Geser's feelings. He's very proud of the Russian language.
Speakof The Devil: In Last Watch, Semyon is driving Anton to the airport and tells him a dream of driving a truck and nearly hitting Zabulon with it, who puts up a shield, which flips the truck over (one of the over-the-top scenes from the film)... and nearly runs into Zabulon on the airport parking lot.
Semyon: Oh, hell!
Anton: More like its lord and master.
Suspiciously Apropos Music: Anton, while listening to his mini-disc (later MP3) player. He always puts it on random, and often the song that pops up has something to do either with the story, or with his present state of mind.
This is referenced in the novel with Anton suspecting he might be unconsciously manipulating the player.
Anton does this regularly, it really is something of his modus operandi. This gets lampshaded when Anton decides that the only way to be certain that he isn't taking the option Zavulon wants him to take is to invent an entirely new and unpredictable one.
The whole trope is also repeatedly subverted from here to the far side of Moscow when it turns out that Zabulon, Gesar or whoever is stringing Anton around at that point in time specifically didn't mention the third option so that Anton would pick it.
Take That: In Last Watch, Anton mentions how a group of them went to see The Lord of the Rings. When it came to the duel between Gandalf and Saruman (whom Anton outright labels Light and Dark), all the Others laughed hysterically, as one of the first things they've been taught is that only an idiot relies exclusively on his amulets and battle wands instead of his Power.
Technology Marches On: By New Watch, Anton has ditched his mini-disc player in favor of a smartphone that plays MP3s. He still has the old player, though, which proves useful.
This Is Reality: In Last Watch, Semyon meets an old friend of his in Edinburgh and tells him they'll talk and exchange gifts later. Anton notes that, if this was an action film, these words would spell doom for Semyon. Luckily, things work differently in Real Life.
Too Awesome to Use: Several one-shot artifacts are mentioned throughout the series. One such artifact is the Minoan Sphere, which allows one to open a portal to any desired location while remaining untraceable. However, the witch Arina has figured out how to recharge the Sphere, turning it into a Game Breaker. Anton seemingly breaks the Sphere by using it to teleport four people, but Arina mentions that it'll recover in 5 years.
Based on the real-life Moscow punk Alexander "Las" Ulyanov, leader of The Belomors and Lukyanenko's friend
, tends to regularly end up together with him in those incidents that boost Anton's level and receive an upgrade too. He wasn't even the Other when he was first introduced, and ended up as a minor Night Watch official with third or fourth level.
Las's strength isn't in his magic but his ability to see things from a human's perspective. When sent to investigate, he'll often simply talk to people, while using a low-level "tongue-loosener" spell to get people to open up. Most Others no longer thing that way.
Took a Level in Jerkass: also, Las, after his baptism in New Watch becomes quite a patronising jerk, full of disdain towards both regular people for "ignoring the revelation" and living in vice and Higher Others for dissociating themselves from mundane problems and growing aloof.
Upgrade Artifact: The Fuaran text, when combined with blood from 12 people and read aloud by an Other will turn any human in the field of the reader's vision into a low-level Other. The same spell will "upgrade" an Other to an even higher level. Anton is "upgraded" to a Mage Beyond Classification (Geser's level), while Kostya becomes an Absolute Other (Nadya's level). The spell appears to permanently lower the person/Other's "magical temperature" in relation to the ambient "magical temperature". Essentially, anyone whose temperature is lower than the ambient temperature is an Other (i.e. he/she absorbs the magic of the world and is able to use it). The lower the temperature, the more powerful the Other. An Absolute Other is also called a Zero-level Other, as his or her magical temperature is 0 (i.e. unlimited absorbtion).
The Saushkin Cocktail could also possibly count, being a special mix of donor blood that can be used to raise a vampire to a Higher status that normally requires him or her to completely drain 3-4 people.
Utopia Justifies the Means: The "dark side", so to speak, of the Night Watch, and the main argument the Light Watch uses against them. Even The Nazis came out of their attempts to change the world.
Vampire Invitation: One of the few items of vampiric lore that are true in this 'verse. Usually not a problem for vampires, as they are able to use the Call to get a human to come outside. It's not clear exactly how this rule is applied. For example, Witezslav and Kostya are able to enter Arina's hut after she flees. However, this is part of an investigation, so it's possible that the rule is magically suspended for the duration.
Villain Protagonist: Alissa in Day Watch and to a somewhat lesser extent the other Dark Other protagonists of the novel.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Werewolves and their Light counterparts (who prefer "Shifter-Mage") can turn into their animal form at will. However, werewolves are actually undead, while the Shifter-Mages are normal Others with an affinity for this trope. Vampires are also mentioned in the first novel to be able to turn into bats or other animals.
Whether or not werewolves are undead keeps changing from book to book.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Occasionally, a recently-initiated Light Other will break down, hateful of the compromise between Light and Darkness, and will start taking absorbing Power from happy humans. At full capacity, even a Great Other may not be able to deal with him. The goal of these extremists is to remoralize a huge number of people to always be happy. They ignore pleas from their fellow Light Others that such an action would allow the Dark Others an equal chance at spreading unhappiness by the terms of the Treaty. In New Watch, Anton reveals that those who go off the deep end are called "schuharts" after the protagonist of the Strugatsky Brothers' novel Roadside Picnic Redrick "Red" Schuhart whose final act in the novel is to declare "HAPPINESS FOR EVERYBODY, FREE, AND NO ONE WILL GO AWAY UNSATISFIED!". Anton himself nearly does this in Night Watch but ends up spending all the accumulated Power to remoralize himself.
Wicked Witch: Played around with Arina. Her true form is a greatly aged crone and her depiction definitely evokes Baba Yaga. Edgar seems to be a male version (both seem to practice the same kind of magic), and his true form is likewise very aged. However, both are a subversion. Neither are that evil, and Anton notes how their true forms show this- many Dark Others become hideous demons in the Twilight, and so the fact that those two still look human speaks to their relative goodness.
Wizarding School: Both Watches have schools for newly-initiated Others. Unlike a typical example, though, not all students are children, as Others can be initiated at any age. It's implied that a child's curriculum includes regular classes as well. Anton teaches a class in New Watch where he explains why it's not a good idea to try to remake the world (or a country) to be better (essentially, a Break the Cutie class).
Worthy Opponent: Alisa refers to Anton as this in Day Watch. She sees his act in the previous novel of draining others of happiness so that he could prevent himself from turning heel as the kind of selfish individualism that a Dark One should strive for.
Wretched Hive: Face of the Black Palmira reveals that Saint Petersburg has become a DarkCity, which makes it infinitely more depressing and unhealthy to live in.
Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Erasmus Darwin, a Dark Other who was born in the 17th century, speaks in Shakespearean English (e.g. using "thou") when Anton first contacts him. The only reason Anton is even able to understand him is due to the fact that the Others can understand and speak any language. Anton wonders why Darwin does this, as no one has spoken this way even in the 17th century. Later on, Darwin drops the act and speaks normally.
Aside from the tropes above, the movie adaptations contain examples of:
The Alcoholic: Anton in the beginning of both movies. In the first one, he drinks a lot to pass the taste of blood he has to drink so he could chase vampires. In the second movie he drinks a little too much while reading about Tamerlane. He is poisoned in the end of the second movie, resulting in an extremely drunk behavior.
Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Towards the beginning of Day Watch, Zavulon goes through a list of Russian celebrities. Some of them are explicitly stated to be Dark Others. Easy to miss for non-Russian audiences, as the list is in Russian and only appears on screen for a few seconds.
In the movie, Bear's name is Ilya, while in the books, Bear and Ilya are two different people.
Also, the Inquisition, which is a rather big organization in the books, is reduced to two Creepy Twins in the second movie.
Film!Yegor seems to combine aspects of Yegor and Kostya in the novels. The Light/Dark conflict strains Anton's relationships with both characters and film!Yegor is introduced like his novel counterpart, but like Kostya in the novel, becomes a vampire. Further, Anton's introduction in the film in which he tries to purchase a spell to induce a miscarriage is taken from a Batman Cold Open in Day Watch (novel), in which it was done by a random woman, but Alissa in the novel also did this successfully.
Informed Ability: Tiger Cub says in Night Watch that Bear can shapeshift into a bear, but the latter is unwilling to do a demonstration.
In Name Only: Day Watch was not adapted from the book of the same title. While Night Watch was adapted from the first of three stories from the book Night Watch, Day Watch was adapted from the two others.
Slobs Versus Snobs: The Light Others all look like common people, and the Night Watch even wears blue-collar worker uniforms. Their vehicle of choice is a power grid repairman's truck. The Dark Others all look like a mix of low-rank gangsters and Gestapo officers.
Tagline: The Rusian tagline of Day Watch is "First movie of the year" (which, from Russian, can also be translated as "Movie number one of the year", as in the BEST movie). While it can seem pretentious, it is in fact to be taken literally: the movie's Russian premiere was on the 1st of January, 2006, at 3 a.m.
Take That: Night Watch broke every box office record in Russia since pretty much ever. By the time Day Watch was in mid-production, 9th Company (another Russian movie) surpassed that record. In Day Watch, Anton used bill boards as portals. At one point, he emerges from a 9th Company poster, ripping it apart. During the production, the creators of the movie expressed their hope for the movie to surpass 9th Company at the box-office. It did.
Aside from above tropes, the video game adaptations contain examples of:
Alternate Universe: The PC game was basically a combination of book and movie continuities. The character designs harken back to the movie, as does the usage of mundane items to do magic, but the characters can also use spells from the books and Twilight is closer to the way it was depicted in the books.
But Thou Must: sort of. Your choices won't alter the major plot points, but they will make it easier (or harder) to achieve your mission objectives.
Immune to Bullets: Played with. Ordinary guns (and later machine guns) are surprisingly effective against the lower-level Others in the PC game. Not so much with the higher-powered others, but they still do damage, which can be useful when you and your enemy are out of mana.
Heel Face Turn: During the course of the PC game, the characters try to figure out why some Light Others inexplicably become Dark. turns out that the new technology-based "remoralization" spell can flip the potential Others' alignments before they are initiated.
This flip-flops during the series. It's initially claimed that most uninitiated Others are in flux until the moment they first step into the Twilight. Their current state of mind at that time determines their alignment. This is why the initiators have to pick just the right moment. In New Watch, however, Anton claims that, statistically, there is 1 Light Other for every 16 Dark Others, which is roughly the same as the ratio of altruistic vs. selfish people in the world. This appears to indicate that only altruistic people become Light ones and only selfish people become Dark.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stas, the main protagonist of the PC game. Later in the game, it turned out that there is a reason for that - he was a "remoralized" Dark Other
McGuffin: Orb of Power, as the name implies, can amplify any spell thousand-fold. Naturally, both sides want to use it for their own purposes.