main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Literature: Nightside
The Nightside. That square mile of Hell in the middle of the city, where it's always three AM. Where you can walk beside myths and drink with monsters. Where nothing is what it seems and everything is possible.

An Urban Fantasy series by Simon R. Green, the Nightside series chronicles the adventures of the mysterious John Taylor in the titular Nightside, a hidden world in the middle of London wherein all manner of nasties lurk. Fallen gods and Eldritch Abominations lurk down every dark alley in a place seemingly made entirely out of dark alleys and gaudy neon.

John has a gift: using his Inner Eye, he can find anything. Lost artifacts, the mystical strings binding some otherworldly horror to reality, your missing keys, anything. Naturally, this gets him into all sorts of trouble.

The series spans twelve books, with John Taylor as the protagonist. The books are:
  • Something from the Nightside (2003)
  • Agents of Light and Darkness (2003)
  • Nightingale's Lament (2004)
  • Hex and the City (2005)
  • Paths Not Taken (2005)
  • Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth (2006)
  • Hell to Pay (2007)
  • The Unnatural Inquirer (2008)
  • Just Another Judgement Day (2009)
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny (2010)
  • A Hard Day's Knight (2011)
  • The Bride Wore Black Leather (2012)

This series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Suzie Shooter, a/k/a Shotgun Suzie, a/k/a Oh Christ, It's Her, Run.
    • Quite a lot of these actually, ranging from vicious villains like Belle and Bad Penny to militant heroines like Sister Josephine or Janissary Jane. Whether Ms. Fate qualifies is a matter of opinion.
  • After the End: The extremely Bad Future John first visits via Timeslip in Something From The Nightside, and later spends several books working to avert.
  • Air Hugging: Suzie and John are forced to do this for most of the series... until the end of book 9.
  • Alien Abduction: The Fortress, a heavily-armed and camera-monitored stronghold, was founded by abductees who are determined to kill the aliens if they ever come near them again.
  • Alternate History: Loads of them, often as sources for characters who wander into the Nightside via Timeslips. A few characters (Count Video, the Jonah, Tommy Oblivion) have powers that allow them to select between alternative versions of reality and impose them upon their surroundings.
  • Anal Probing: A Grey seen lying in the gutter has a sign, "Will probe for food." Also referenced in relation to the Fortress.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Creatures called "transient beings" can be found in the Nightside, including Lady Luck.
    • Gaea, a.k.a. Gayle, a.k.a. the Lady of the Lake
  • Artifact of Doom: The Speaking Gun, an unholy weapon made from one of Lilith's ribs that can unmake anything in an instant. It does this by knowing the Word any given person or thing was created with (as in, in the Beginning there was the Word) and speaking it backwards. Described by all who touch it, or even look at it, as utterly reprehensible.
    • The second book had the Unholy Grail, the cup that Judas drank from. Everyone who's anyone is after this thing. Judas himself, the Wandering Jew who has been forgiven by Christ but can't forgive himself, breaks its curse by using it for Communion, turning it into an ugly bowl with no power.
    • Hinted at with Excalibur, but ultimately subverted. The weapon, though it has some power in the wrong person's hands, is ultimately a force for good and can only be wielded by those who are chosen by a world's Gaia, from who it derives. It's still a lot more than just a sword though.
    • Kayleigh's Eye, a powerful but unstable artifact so dangerous to its wielder that it's mostly used by fanatics to arm suicide bombers.
  • All Myths Are True: And they frequently stop in for a pint at the local watering hole.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid.
  • Anti Anti Christ: Merlin Satanspawn was born of the devil to be the Antichrist, but he "refused the honor."
    • His counterpart from Sinister Albion is a more conventional Anti Christ.
    • Blind Pew suspected Taylor himself could be one of these.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Exiles are a group of nobles who wound up in the Nightside via Timeslips and now keep their own exclusive club, as they're the only ones who respect each others' titles. Not a one of them is portrayed as a nice person.
  • The Atoner: Razor Eddie was stone-cold killer with a pearl-handled straight-edge razor when he was fourteen years old. He made a name for himself in a street gang war over turf and afterwards killed people for money or the notoriety or because he could. Then one day he went down the Street of Gods and an epiphany happened. He hasn't said what, but now Eddie sleeps in doorways and lives on handouts and kills people who think their position and power protects them from their crimes, as penance for his earlier crimes. He also has some feeling for the homeless, now that he is one, and anyone who means ill for the homeless will die in a spray of blood and body parts.
    • And the trope is invoked in the first Nightside book when Taylor talks about him some.
      "He's a killer," I said. "Razor Eddie. Punk God of the Straight Razor. These days he kills with good rather than bad intentions, but in the end all he is, is killing. And he wouldn't have it any other way. Hard to get close to a man like that. Someone who's gone much further into the dark than I ever have. But... he turned his life around, Joanna. Whatever epiphany he found on the Street of the Gods, he threw aside everything that had ever had power over him, in order to earn redemption. How can you not admire courage like that? If someone like him can change, there's hope for all of us.
    • Dead Boy is also obligated to do good deeds in hope that it'll let him rules-lawyer his way out of the deal he'd made. Subverted in that, while he goes through the motions, he doesn't actually seem to care much about making amends for anything: it's just a way for him to tally up some karma towards freeing himself, and to avoid boredom.
    • Subverted with Harry Fabulous, who claims he's trying to atone for his sleazy past, but seems to spend most of his time making equally-sleazy deals.
  • Babies Ever After: May soon apply to John and Suzie, after events of A Hard Day's Knight.
  • Bad Future: John visits one of the worst via a Timeslip in the first novel, and spends several books to follow searching for the means to avert it.
    • And by "one of the worst", we mean "one so nasty that seeing it scares armies of sociopathic, genocidal elves out of a civil war, for fear they'll bring it about".
  • Badass Boast: Plenty, but the Lord of Thorns takes the cake:
I am the stone that breaks all hearts. I am the nails that bound the Christ to his cross. I am the arrow that pierced a King's eye. I am the necessary suffering that makes us all stronger. The cold, clear heart of the Nightside. It was given to me to have dominion over all who exist here, to protect the Nightside from itself. I maintain the Great Experiment, watching over it, and sitting in judgement on all who might seek to disrupt or tamper with its essential nature. I am the scalpel that cuts out infection, and the heartbreak that makes men wiser. I am the Lord of Thorns, and I know you all. Sinner, Pretty Poison, Madman, and John Taylor. Stand up. I've been waiting for you.
  • Badass Longcoat: John never leaves home without his trusty white trench coat.
    • And John doesn't have a monopoly on the trope. Razor Eddie and Dead Boy have their grey and purple coats respectively.
    • John's coat sometimes approaches the status of Companion Cube. At least, he often refers to feeding it or taking it for a walk.
  • Badass Normal: The Coltranes don't use much magic, aside from the occasional protective circle, but they still toss Mexican wrestlers and unruly werewolves out of Strangefellows with casual ease. John's secretary Cathy has her moments too.
    • Ms. Fate kicks a fair amount of ass without any powers, just expert martial-arts training and a few silver-edged throwing stars.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: In one of the novels, Sinner is an otherwise-good man who'd sold his soul to the Devil for true love. When he died and went to Hell, it was revealed to him that his "true love" was a succubus who'd only been pretending to care about him ... but he still loved her and was content with his end of the bargain, so much so that having him around subverted the basic premise of Hell. Rather than let a happy soul spoil the atmosphere of the place, the Devil kicked him out again, and Sinner wound up in the Nightside, back on Earth.
  • Batman Cold Open: Almost all books after the first start with John doing a short case unrelated to the main plot for the first chapter, which gives John the chance to show off his talents and sometimes hang a Chekhov's Gun.
    • In The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny the "short case" actually lasts for over half of the book. A motif aside, it's still completely unconnected to the plot of thethis book.
  • The Blank: The Harrowing.
    • The worker-drones of Abomination, Inc. in "Sharper."
  • Boy Band: The Bedlam Boys used to be one, until they got too old to be marketable and sold their talent to the Collector (who keeps it in a very small jar).
  • Break Them by Talking: Pretty Poison, of all people, negates the temptress-assassin Bad Penny's hyper-seductive influence over John and his companions with a one word insult. Pretty Poison is a millennia-old succubus. The one word? "Amateur."
  • Broken Bird: Suzie Shooter. In Paths Not Taken, John Taylor even refers to her as such.

  • Came Back Wrong: Dead Boy was killed by muggers at the age of 17. He made a deal with something (he won't say exactly what) and came back for revenge, a spirit possessing his own body. Now, he's super strong, unkillable, and held together with staples and duct tape. The short story "How Do You Feel?" reveals that his patron, Mother Macabre, had him murdered and resurrected him the way he is now to use as a lab rat, altering his memories to believe he'd made a deal with the loa, Mistress Erzuile.
  • Canon Discontinuity: New details are constantly being flung around, forgotten, called back, ignored, disproved, so on and so forth. Sometimes in the same book. The rules of Cool and Fun are in full effect and the series works best if you define its continuity with Broad Strokes.
    • But that does have the net effect of making it more important when continuity does play a role in things.
  • The Cape: Julian Advent, particularly in his glory days as the Victorian Adventurer. Ms. Fate, the Nightside's own transvestite superhero.
  • Captain Ersatz: Julien Advent is Adam Adamant in all but name. To drive the point home, in one book he mentions having had a female companion named Juliet (Juliet Harmer played Georgina Jones) who runs a nightclub called Adamant.
  • Catch Phrase: Plenty.
    • Business as usual, in the Nightside.
    • Improvise. Suddenly and messily and all over the place.
    • Can't take you anywhere...
    • ...and it was the easiest thing in the world to...
    • There's some shit up with which I will not put.
  • Celibate Hero: For most of the series, both John and Suzy are this, enforced by Suzie's trauma. Somewhere between books 9 and 11, however, they get it on enough that Suzie has shown John some combat holds as foreplay, and she's now pregnant.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Unnatural Inquirer, and specifically that book's Batman Cold Open, Taylor sets out on a mission from Walker to hunt down a man using an artifact to mess with the Loa. Normally in situations where Walker gets involved, he takes whatever he's after... which is why no one remembers the Aquarius Key until John uses it against the Big Bad of the book.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: In Uncanny, at least two references to Excalibur are made by two different people. Taylor notes that no one has seen the sword since Arthurian times, and that even the Collector doesn't have it since he'd have gloated over it. Guess what shows up in the mail by the end?
    • John's mother. All he knows is she left his father, and when said father found out that she was something not human he basically drank himself to death. John has no idea who or what she is.
    • John mentions the possibility of finding Merlin's missing heart the first time Merlin appears in the series. Sure enough, he finds and later destroys the heart a few books later.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: John Taylor gets dragged into more crap than John McClane. But all of it is totally justified, because: a) his gift makes him so useful; b) of who his mother is; and c) he's considered by many to be a jerk, but ultimately the only person too cynical of power to use it when he gets it.
  • Church Militant: The Salvation Army Sisterhood. At least, that's how they appear to outsiders.
  • Code Name: Walker isn't his real name... which means John is the new Walker.
    • Probably only in theory, not practice, as John is already so infamous under his own name that calling him "Walker" would only diminish his intimidation-factor. Hadleigh Oblivion, Walker's predecessor, also used his own name and was famous in the Nightside before he took up the job. It's likely that this trope only applies if the Authorities' mouthpiece rises from obscurity to assume the role.
  • Collector of the Strange: The Cardinal collects obscure religious bric-a-brac, the Museum of Unnatural History collects and displays all sorts of Nightside oddities, the Lamentation collects suicides and their means of death, and the Collector collects everything.
  • Compelling Voice: Walker's Voice cannot be denied by anyone. Rumor has it, he even made a corpse sit up on an autopsy table to answer his questions.
    • Less a rumor, more a "Must you keep bringing that up?"
    • See also: Tommy Oblivion. When confronted with an animated statue, he calmly debates it and convinces it that it can't exist. He's so good he can persuade the fabric of reality.
  • Continuity Nod: Not as blatant as most of Green's Canon Welding, but in Unnatural Inquirer, Taylor's narration mentions how the failure of one of the Nightside's common Bigger on the Inside magical effects can cause buildings to collapse. This is exactly what happened in one of his Hawk And Fisher novels, when the titular cops busted a drug ring and the dealers let their space-expansion spell lapse to cover their tracks.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Cavendishes, Mr. Alexander, Jeremiah Griffin, Taffy Lewis.
  • Crapsack World: The Nightside is a bad place. Until you visit Sinister Albion, where Merlin became the Antichrist. Then the Nightside really seems like a walk in the park.
  • Crazy-Prepared: John has all sorts of useful trinkets and substances stuffed into the innumerable pockets of the aforementioned coat.
    • Although it might be surprising to some how often the solution to a problem can be found in the form of condiments.
    • Despite having Merlin as backup, Alex likes to solve his own problems. Given the bar's diverse clientele, he's got bouncers, magic spells, and even holy water on tap.
  • Creepy Good: Razor Eddie, "Punk God of the Straight Razor", is described as "an extremely disturbing agent of good. The forces of good didn't get a say in the matter". Fair enough, since he's a reformed — but not retiredSerial Killer who targets those who threaten children and the homeless and has been known to leave buildings soaked in blood but conspicuously absent of corpses.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: All over the place.
  • Dark Age of Supernames: Lots of minor characters, particularly villains, sport epithets that fit this trope.
    • So do a number of creepy supernatural weapons and locations, for that matter.
  • Deadly Gaze: Lilith can destroy people utterly with just a glare, turning them into "agonized shadows" on the wall behind them. Her son is good at it too. minus the whole blasting part
    • Probably a reference to how the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki burned shadows of people and objects into the concrete.
  • Deadpan Snarker / World of Snark: Just about everyone gets in on the act at some point. Lampshade Hanging is a big hobby in the Nightside.
  • Deal with the Devil: Sinner sold his soul for ten years of true love. When the time was up, Satan told him that his "true love" was actually a succubus who'd lied about loving him... but Sinner didn't care, because his love for her was real as far as he was concerned. And since he still loved her on being sent to Hell, they kicked him back out - the place was too nice while he was around.
    • Deconstructed with the Walking Man, a person who sells his soul to God. He has amazing power... as long as he never strays from God's path (beyond murder, at least; but he still can't have family or friends).
      • The Removal Man thought he'd done the same thing, but he'd actually been suckered by someone who definitely wasn't God.
    • Also, it's pretty much a given that you can deal with the devil in the Nightside. And worse. Dead Boy has dealt with the latter.
    • The Griffin plays this trope straight. Though the contract can be partly revised, if someone has enough connection to one side or the other...
  • Demonic Possession: Technically, Merlin's possession of Alex Morrisey rates as Half-Demonic Possession, considering who Merlin's daddy is.
    • Played straight and inverted in Paths, when Taylor and Suzie allow angels to possess them, one evil and one good.
    • The Primal possess some cryogenically-preserved bodies from the Necropolis.
  • Deus ex Machina: In Judgment Day, after making a bit of a mess on the Street of the Gods, the Walking Man comes into conflict with one Razor Eddie. Subverted in that, despite coming from nowhere, our hygenically-challenged friend only comes to a stand-still with the Wrath of God in question, and is ultimately beaten.
    • The return of King Arthur seems to be this at first, but once more is subverted - even he becomes more of a tool in John's hands.
    • The Speaking Gun tends to subvert this in its later appearances: when the good guys try to turn it on the villains, they realize it's too damned evil to use.
  • Did You Just Have Tea With Cthulhu: Despite being the incarnation of Earth, Gayle is pretty downright affable for an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: John's Gift has helped him find the Achilles' Heel of a significant number of Eldritch Abominations over the years. He gives a few of them indigestion, as well. ( Given who his mother is eventually revealed to be he's related to most of them, as he said in ''Judgment Day.)
    • Done with the Speaking Gun. Twice, as of Judgment Day though the second time it was done by God's Wrath Incarnate.
    • In the Batman Cold Open to A Hard Day's Knight, John realizes a bunch of Eldritch Abominations are trying to get into this universe using a human soul as a bomb. John weaponizes him, the pocket watch he took from Walker, and the Gateway they opened to send him a message and knocks their socks off.
    • John has a literal fistfight with (Kid) Cthulhu in Unnatural Inquirer. It didn't go well, as John is much better with his tricks and Gift than his fists.
  • Different World, Different Movies: Regularly played with; many stores offer items from alternate histories. This includes alt-history media works, such as Beatles rap albums, pornographic versions of Agatha Christie mysteries, and Orson Welles' Batman epic Citizen Wayne.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: John never carries a gun. He usually doesn't need one, and when he does, Suzie carries enough for both of them.
    • Heck, Suzie carries enough for the SAS.
    • Fully justified in the form of the Speaking Gun, which is said to effectively damn the user if they ever pull the trigger, and makes people feel dirty by just touching it.
    • "I don't like guns. They make it too easy to make the kind of mistakes you can't put right by saying 'Sorry' afterwards. Besides I never felt the need."
    • John invokes this at least Once an Episode, often when someone points one at him at close range. He then opens his hands the and bullets fall out. "Your gun is empty."
  • Drowning My Sorrows: John was reduced to drinking by his sojourn in London Proper, and had previously become a drug addict in the Nightside before Razor Eddie dragged him back from the brink. After Camelot's fall, Merlin retreats to the bar that would become Strangefellows and drinks himself into a stupor.
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: How John tricks a simulacrum door into telling him the password it's been demanding before it'll open.

  • Early-Bird Cameo: Possibly Joan Taylor and Stephen Shooter, if the cross-sex reflections John and Suzie see in Old Father Time's mirrors in Paths Not Taken were the same alternate versions of themselves that they meet several books later.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Nightside has these galore. For the most part, though, they've all got glass jaws, at least when John Taylor gets involved, subverting the usual "cosmic horror" that you see in Lovecraftian fiction. On the other hand, these things are the bottom feeders of the Cosmic Horror food chain.
    • Bride brings in a few more - the inhabitants of Ward 12A are there due to interference by such beings, including potential gateways outside. Also, the force behind the Sun King, the Aquarians, are similar beings.
  • "End of the World" Special: Subverted in Sharper. Lilith attempts to pull this off, but is stopped by her son and the men who brought her into the world.
  • Entropy and Chaos Magic: Magic that influences probability comes up a lot. In the third book there's a Butterfly of Doom that lets the holder use this. Later on, a man gets haunted by his own alternate selves, who want him to become them.
  • Evil Is Visceral: In Something From The Nightside, the Big Bad turns out to be a house on the outside but all squidgy and organic on the inside.
  • Evil Weapon: The Speaking Gun whispers in the hands of anyone who holds it, wanting them to use it. Only a few have the power not to: Father Time, Suzy, and John. And both of the last two have tried to. Even Razor Eddie gave in, though he eventually overcame the compulsion. And Took a Level in Badass as a result.
  • Exty Years from Now: Taylor keeps track of Eamonn Mitchell's various versions in Paths Not Taken by guessing at their ages, then tagging them "Eamonn 20", "Eamonn 40", etc.
  • The Fair Folk: And the only reason they don't show up more often is because they really dislike humans. The feeling is decidedly mutual.
  • Fantastic Drug: All over the place. Revert send you back up the evolutionary ladder, Martian red weed is available for smoking, and Dr. Jekyll's formula is on the market for recreational use.
  • Fantastic Ghetto: Many of the down-and-out former Powers live in Rat's Alley. John himself lived their for the time as a "guest" of perennial resident Razor Eddie.
    • Authority-figures like Walker tend to think of the entire Nightside as this, segregating the depraved and the supernatural away from the mundane world.
  • Fantastic Racism: Elves. When one mentions to John that he has social/mental traits that would make him a good elf, he responds with "Now you're just being nasty."
    • It's mentioned that smoking Martian Red Weed too much turns one into a Martian. Upon such event, the person in question is killed "on general principle." According to Walker in his Secret Histories cameo, the unfortunate may also be served as dinner.
    • John himself is tempted to kick the crap out of a down-and-out Grey alien, for being an abducting little bastard.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Lessee - Biblical myths? Check. Time Travel? In there. Personifications of abstract concepts? Plenty. More gods than Moses can shake a stick (er, rod) at? Hell, they all have their own house. Not to mention the world runs on some variation of classic Heaven/Hell, Arthurian legends are side by side with the Fae (who are as inspired by Shakespeare as much as by traditional folklore), AND a host of other things. Then again, that's part of the point of the Nightside.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The Street of the Gods is full of more religions than Vegas. And goes through them more quickly than a tourist goes through money.
  • First-Person Smartass: And how!
  • Flaying Alive: Count Video apparently pissed off the angels pretty badly in Agents, because he's seen chasing his own flayed-off skin through the burning streets. In all his later appearances his skin's been stitched back on.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The whole myth of Lilith, not to mention her, is believed to take this trope.
  • Freudian Excuse: Suzie is a Trigger Happy Psycho for Hire who Hates Being Touched because her brother started raping her when she was eleven. She got pregnant at thirteen, and when she finally got up the nerve to tell her parents, they blamed her for "seducing him," and because she'd waited so long the abortion was one of those Body Horror-tastic late-term ones. After that, it's not really much of a surprise that she got herself a gun, shot him in the face, and ran away to the Nightside to kill people and never looked back.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom / Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Merlin Satanspawn has empty eye sockets filled with flames. He's the Devil's son, and every time these eyes are mentioned it's commented that "he has his father's eyes". He's first met after his death, possessing his descendant, but when his live version is encountered (while time traveling to the era of Arthurian Legend in Paths Not Taken) he already has the freaky flaming eye-sockets.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly The Street of Gods runs on this. If enough people believe in something, it's true. Gods gain strength from the belief. The short story "Razor Eddie's Big Night Out" offers this to make an oh crap moment on the reader. Razor Eddie—who found a reporter trying to investigate the homeless to write schadenfreude stories of the formerly powerful now on the streets and mailed him back to the paper's office in forty-seven packages with postage pending on each one—Razor Eddie, who makes it a point to kill the rich and powerful (and in the Nightside, that's exceedingly so) who think their position means they won't ever pay for their wrongdoings (again, in the Nightside, it can be a lot)—Razor Eddie, who was infamous when he was 14 years old—Razor Eddie draws his power from the belief in him and what he does, and every time he does something spectacular and the stories spread, his power grows. The beings on the Street of Gods are afraid of him because they believe in the Punk God of the Straight Razor, too, and they know it.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The appropriately-named Madman is a scientist who went bonkers after catching a glimpse of the true nature of the universe. He ultimately cures it by forcing the world to be what he wants it to be for a moment.
    • Some people in the Nightside seem to RUN on this trope... the Deep School that Hadleigh Oblivion trained in seems to have this as a graduation requirement.
  • Groin Attack: Used in practically every novel, and a routine part of the service whenever Lucy and Betty Coltrane toss a male troublemaker out of Strangefellows.
    • Usually indicative of the no-holds-barred brutality of combat in Green's novels, although one book also has a comedy version involving a mousetrap.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: John, in a manner of speaking. He looks perfectly human, but his mother is... not. Of course, his appearance (and relative lack of power, compared to some of his siblings) is part of her plan.
    • Ironically, if his mother had stuck around with Adam, ALL humans might well be as powerful as him.
  • Hates Being Touched: Suzie, due to an unfortunate childhood.
  • Healing Factor: Sinner, which makes him a good man to hide behind in a firefight. Werewolf blood can endow an otherwise-normal human with this quality also, even third-hand as when Belle obtained it from a werewolf she skinned, Suzie was saved by the same skin, and Suzie's blood saved John in turn.
  • The Hero: Julien Advent, Chandra Singh
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: All the time, often with a little help from John to turn the villains' tools against them.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Lilith takes a mortal form, though it's quite clearly stated that this is more a concession to reality and necessary to her plans than the actual truth. John Taylor also appears to be one, as he can quite easily scare people with the barest sliver of his power. When he turns it up to eleven, you realize that he could quite possibly destroy the whole world if he set his mind to finding the way to do it.
    • Several lesser examples occur throughout the series, such as the Primal-possessed corpsicles, Kid Cthulhu, or the hermaphroditic being crafted by an alternate Baron Frankenstein.

  • I Drank What?: One Running Gag of the series is for Alex to offer a beverage called "Angel's Urine" to the unsuspecting. Sales declined after word got out that it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Some passing references to "long pig" franchises suggest this is yet another of the Nightside's sick forms of self-indulgence. A few of the nastier Players are rumored to have eaten their enemies, and Taylor claims the denizens of Rat's Alley did the same to some thugs who tried to kidnap Sister Morphine.
  • Immortality Immorality: When Walker is dying, John asks if no one can do anything. Walker says there probably IS someone who can help, but he doesn't want to pay the price. Because in the Nightside, everything has one. And it's often your soul (or someone else's).
    • Subverted with Sinner; he's immortal because, despite selling his soul, he still managed to feel love in Hell. And so they kicked him out.
  • Immortality Inducer: Borealis Accelerator. A honest-to-god immortality serum. "One sip, and you'll live forever. note "
    • Rumor of another immortality serum used to lure John to the Ball of Forever.
  • Implacable Man: The Harrowing, faceless constructs that relentlessly pursue John.
    • Also the Walking Man, from Just Another Judgement Day, who has been charged by God to punish the guilty. One of his stops while in the Nightside is the Street of the Gods. Guess what happens.
    • Sinner, from book 4. It takes the crossfire from a dozen or so combat wizards to finally bring him down.
    • Razor Eddie. Who stood up to the Walking Man, and only was defeated when the latter took his razor from his hand, psychically shocking Eddie. Other than that, the best you can hope to do if he's after you is delay Eddie while you pray for a less horrifying end than at his hands.
  • Implied Death Threat: John's favorite is to threaten to "find" an enemy's internal organs. He never actually does so in the series, but he isn't above non-fatally taking the air out of somebody's lungs or putting water into them.
  • Karma Houdini: At the end of Bride, the Sun King reverts to a normal man and is apparently forgiven by John, Julien, his former lover, and even God for his crimes. His claim to have killed innocent people in the hospital, merely because they were too ugly for the remade world he'd intended to build, is conveniently unmentioned, even to wave it off as a ruse or the Entities' doing.
  • Last of His Kind: Alex Morrisey is the last member of his genetic line, which forces him to remain at Strangefellows because his family is pact-bound to the bar.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: Finding things. As mentioned above, this includes not only missing objects and missing persons, but the root of an Eldritch Abomination's power, security codes to get into a vault, the bullets that were in your gun (something John practically uses as a party trick), magical paths between realities, and your favorite internal organs.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Walking Man vs the Punk God of the Straight Razor. It was epic.
    • This exact wording has been used to refer to Walker, who has stated in another series that he calls in help and then strolls up to take the credit.
      • Although he doesn't always need anyone's help to accomplish this, as he's been seen setting potential troublemakers at each other's throats with a well-timed mild comment or two.
    • When the living Merlin shows up from Sinister Albion, Alex freaks out, thinking no one and nothing can take him on. Off the top of his head, John spouts off three names that he's dealt with in the past. Subverted, of course, since John proves he's as big a badass as any of them.
    • In Bride, the Sun King pulls this trope on Taylor himself, convincing nearly everyone he knows that he murdered Julien Advent and setting the likes of Razor Eddie, Dead Boy, and the Oblivion brothers on his throat.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There's lots of interesting little minor characters that pop up and frequently meet nasty ends.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Dragon's Mouth is a drug den that pretty much never lets go of anyone it brings in. Except John Taylor, and he was pulled out by the Punk God of the Straight Razor.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover / Canon Welding: The Nightside is explicitly in the same universe as Shadows Fall and Drinking Midnight Wine, and there have been cameos from those books. In From Hell With Love Methuselah was in the Nightside during the events of Agents of Light and Darkness and steals an angel's hand, then makes it into a hand of glory. The Street of Gods first appeared in the quasi-medieval Hawk And Fisher series, which is in continuity with Blue Moon Rising and its sequels; there are references to Haceldama from the Deathstalker space opera as well. As of Daemons are Forever, his Secret Histories series also, officially, crosses over with his Deathstalker series, when Edwin enlists Giles Deathstalker for help. A certain down-on-his-luck detective, whom Edwin won his houseboat from in a poker game, is also mentioned in "The Man with the Golden Torc" and Walker is a major character in "The Spy Who Haunted Me".
    • In a short story published in Unusual Suspects, the two main characters throw out names of potential suspects for the serial killings; the Bloody Man, Arnold Drood, is mentioned, but then excluded because his family already took him out (specifically, Eddie Drood took care of him).
    • In a "blink and you'll miss it" moment, in Agents, Taylor mentions some of the texts in the Vatican library, including the Testament of Grendel Rex. Grendel Rex is actually a Drood turned into a self-proclaimed god now buried in Siberia.
    • In Secret Histories, we find out that Mab has returned from Hell to reclaim her throne. How'd she get there? Larry Oblivion released her on accident, hence how he also got his wand.
    • In Just Another Judgment Day, there are two small ones. The walking man references the Droods when grimacing that he thought the speaking gun had already been destroyed, and it is explicitly stated that Owen Deathstalker is a member of the adventurers club.
    • Knight reminds us how connected everything is... Every. Other. Page. The Droods get at least a half dozen references, the state of the Elves seen in that series is shown and resolved, and Hawk and Fisher themselves make an appearance at Strangefellows.
    • Bride doesn't let the trend die, especially in the Batman Cold Open, wherein we meet the Bride and Springheel Jack from From Hell With Love, as well as one of the last Immortals. Turns out that he was there to kill his distant, half-immortal relative, the King of Skin. He also drops the bomb that the Droods are dead, except for Eddie. Also, the Carnacki Institute gets a couple mentions, with one of their ex- (and possibly excommunicated) employees, and John mentioning that he picked up a few tricks from Carnacki himself.
      • To be fair, Taylor'd mentioned how he'd been Carnacki's apprentice long before Green's Ghost of novels got started.
  • Meaningful Name: Prometheus Power Plant - it's run off of a scion of a major figure of light, murdered on his wedding day.
  • Mirror Morality Machine: Not a machine, but a blast of change energy from Count Video caused Mr. Alexander's Heel-Face Turn in the Batman Cold Open of Paths Not Taken.
  • Mundane Fantastic: living in the nightside is pretty much this
  • Most Common Superpower: Ms. Fate, the Nightside's transvestite superheroine, emulates this trope with a high-grade set of falsies.

  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Shotgun Suzie (aka Oh Shit it's Her RUN), Razor Eddie (Punk God of the Straight Razor), Pretty Poison, Sinner, Madman, the Lord of Thorns...the list goes on (and that's just the good guys!).
    • In-universe Example - John Taylor. Seems innocuous enough, right? Yeah, right up until he removes the bullets from your gun with no visible effort and states that he can do the same to your organs. Considering he can take the air out of your lungs AND focus on dental work, it isn't a stretch to say he's right on that.
    • Other IU Examples: Walker, the Walking Man, and the Griffin.
      • And Jessica Sorrow the Unbeliever
  • Nemean Skinning: Belle from the first novel wore a werewolf pelt this way, still alive and bonded to her flesh to endow her with its Healing Factor.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The name "Nightside" isn't metaphorical; not only is it always night, but specifically it's always three-o'-clock in the morning.
  • Noodle Implements: Used multiple times, most memorably in Hell To Pay when John clears a room by changing all the televisions in the Gryphon's office to the same channel and remarks "There are some things Man was not supposed to do, and certainly not with a moose"
  • Noodle Incident: In Sharper, John mentions that he once attempted an angelic summoning to learn about his enemies. We don't know exactly what happened/went wrong, but apparently there used to be a hotel at the site, and it's still radioactive.
    • Between Nightingale and Sharper, Razor Eddie is MIA on the Street of the Gods. We never quite find out what he was doing there, but he made a lot of gods run out weeping, which is saying something. Also, besides redemption for using the Speaking Gun, he manages to "get an upgrade." Which is REALLY saying something, when you consider he was already a walking Crowning Moment Of Awesome to begin with.
      • The short story "Razor Eddie's Big Night Out" reveals the reason why he went on a rampage there, although details on what/who he actually attacked are vague.
    • We never do find out what happens at Suzie's hen party. Then again, sending someone to find out probably would've resulted in one dead messenger.
  • One Last Job: As John won't have enough time to be both Walker and a PI, he asks his teen secretary to find him one last case to go out on. As it turns out, it's Walker's wedding present, allowing him to go out of the PI business with a bang.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Elves used to rule this world, but we beat them by out-reproducing them, so most of them left.
  • Our Gods Are Greater: The Street of the Gods is full of self-proclaimed deities and religious groups. Most aren't really gods. A few could lay claim to the title, though - especially Razor Eddie.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Though technically revenants, Dead Boy and Larry Oblivion are variations on the walking dead.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Timeslips, which just happen. Until we find out that they don't just happen. Suddenly and messily.
  • Parental Abandonment: John's father drank himself to death when he learned that his wife wasn't human and she vanished. The return of John's mother is heavily implied to be likely to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. It very nearly did.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: The password to get into Caliban's Cavern in Nightingale's Lament is "swordfish." The simulacrum guarding the door won't tell John, but he cons it into revealing the word via Duck Season, Rabbit Season.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Jessica Sorrow the Unbeliever, Merlin Satanspawn, the Lord of Thorns, Hadleigh Oblivion, the Walking Man... and those are just the somewhat human examples.
    • The soulbomber from Knight was turned into one of these.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: In the Cold Open for Nightingale's Lament, John discovers that over 12% of the power in the Nightside comes from a man called the Sunslinger, who had a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque marriage with a scion of his family's mortal foe, the Hangman. This after they were killed by their best man, who owned the power plant in question.
    • PreciousMemories. There's a reason the Walking Man starts there.
    • Each piece of a Sinister Albion knights armor is infused with the soul of an innocent killed by that knight. When John points out the similarity to the Droods' armor, the reply he gets is "Amateurs."
  • Psycho for Hire: Every other minor character.
    • Including the good guys, really.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Alex's idea of entertainment for Strangefellows is a guy who bloodily blows himself apart on stage, then plays this trope straight. It says something about Alex's bar that everyone cheers for this.
  • Rape as Backstory: Suzie.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: The flux fog from Uncanny.
  • Reality Warper: Jessica Sorrow, Madman, and the Speaking Gun. Tommy Oblivion is a weak example, while his brother Hadleigh is much stronger.
  • Red Light District: The Nightside has several of these, which cater to every conceivable taste.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Sinner in "Hex and the City."
  • Reluctant Warrior: John, in regards to Excalibur, and power in general. Also touches on Be All My Sins Remembered. But this is why he so often gets it - he knows he's not worthy of it and doesn't want it, so the universe and its agents tend to saddle him with the power in question.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Done with Walker's aforementioned Voice. He's getting sick of it. He only brought the dead back once. Considering how many other examples of people communicating with and/or summoning the dead have shown up in Green's Verse, Walker's frustration is justified. It's not that special, people, honestly!
    • For John, the Angel War, although he's quick to deny that it was his fault.
    • Nowadays the Lilith War is also laid at his feet.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Kae wants to take out Merlin for not being at Arthur's final battle in Paths. Due to his interference, when John finds out that Kae is running the Knights of London, he worries that Kae may want this towards him. But Kae subverts this; 1500 years undoubtedly helped.
  • Royal Brat: Most of the Exiles who follow Queen Helena were this trope or worse, which is why they're incapable of coping when Timeslips dump them in the Nightside where nobody gives a damn about their titles.
  • Rule34: In the Nightside: More furtive faces disappeared into weapons shops, or brothels, where for the right price you could sleep with famous women from fiction.
  • Running Gag: "Dagon shall rise again!"

  • Sadistic Choice: Subverted in the first novel, when the Collector warns John that giving Razor Eddie a Mercy Kill will mean dooming the insects which are the Bad Future's only surviving life to extinction. As John despises creepy-crawlies, the choice is actually so easy that he shocks the Collector.
  • Screw Destiny: With the demise of King of Skin in Bride, the post-apocalyptic future John has repeatedly foreseen now appears to be impossible, or so he hopes.
  • Shapeshifter: The Charnel Chimera
  • Shout-Out: Often several per page.
    • On more than one occasion is the "Traveling Doctor" mentioned to have been around.
      • That same traveling doctor probably left the sonic screwdriver in Strangefellows.
      • Taylor himself seems to have met the Fifth Doctor personally, as he borrows his "celery antidote" trick in Hex and the City.
      • The Traveling Doctor has also been seen meeting with the Strange Doctor and the Druid Doctor. Only in the Nightside...
      • Old Father Time is described as looking like a Victorian gentleman, which he says is the result of humans wanting to be comfortable around him, and states that the Travelling Doctor has a lot to answer for.
    • The Fractured Protagonist also makes a prominent appearance and from the description it's a good guess he's the Eternal Champion.
    • At Whitechapel Station, a few school girls are "kicking the crap" out of some Droogs.
    • John himself refers to having apprenticed with Carnacki The Ghost-Finder.
    • So who was that masked Frenchman who gave them a lift on the underground river in Hex and the City?
    • Alex once mentioned having had the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in his bar, playing bridge. Guess Twoflower's card-playing lesson must've sunk in after all...
    • A helpful animated hand once wiped down the bartop at Strangefellows. With a tribble.
    • The Coltranes toss a bunch of Morlocks out of Strangefellows after they complain about the bar snacks.
    • Among the Collector's possessions is a huge wicker man with a dead policeman inside.
    • At one point the Amber Prince shows up in Strangefellows, wondering who he is. Again.
    • The Authorities apparently operated a Time Tunnel in the '60s, but it never worked well.
    • The 6th century Nightside's roadkill-disposal services were evidently performed by packs of scavenging Brown Jenkins.
    • Somewhere along the way, the Collector seems to have acquired Number Six's jacket, and he claims he has his spy car too.
    • One of the vehicles parked at Griffin Hall for the party is a tachyon-sparking Delorean.
    • In Knight, King Artur's room number at the Fortress is 1408.
  • Shrouded in Myth: John Taylor has a reputation of such mythic proportions that he's essentially weaponized it. He defeats many enemies just by introducing himself. Sometimes he's bluffing, sometimes not.
    • Many characters have this... The details of the Griffin's Deal with the Devil are subject to well-known rumors (and many of them), the origins and creator of the Nightside, Razor Eddie's mission in the Street of the Gods... it goes on and on.
    • The Walking Man, for much of the Nightside's population.
    • Some of the places have it too... Precious Memories has enough influence that, if a customer tries to talk about it, they instead end up killing themselves in short order. No one knows much about St. Jude, except it hasn't always been a church. And in one of the short stories, Silicon Heaven is known more as a rumor than as fact (though that has more to do with standards of decency in the Nightside... which really says something).
  • Special Person, Normal Name: In a Nightside full of weird surnames/epithets ("Oblivion", "Fabulous") and weirder nicknames, John doesn't seem to have picked up either, despite being one of its more infamous residents.
  • Socialite: Mariah Griffin owns this trope. Being a class example of this is what Annie Abattoir brings to the new Authorities... well, that and being an expert spy/assassin.
  • Spoiler Title: If you are familiar with the full line that the phrase "sharper than a serpent's tooth" originates from and the meaning behind it, then you should be able to figure out just how that particular book ends.
    • Not really a surprise, as it's established within the first page or two that John is fighting to stop his mother.
    • Rick, who owns a restaurant that serves imaginary and extinct creatures, shares a name with the lead character from Casablanca. Not to mention a suit. And a cigarette in the corner of his mouth. And the description of his face sounds a lot like Bogie...
  • Tell Me About My Mother: John spends the first few books waffling between this and knowing that it could lead to the end of world, but ends up going with it in the end.
  • The Plan: Merlin pretty much pulls this off in Knight despite being killed. Twice.
  • Tomato Surprise: In the first novel, Joanna is a construct sent by the man-eating house to lure John to it.
    • In the short story "Razor Eddie's Big Night Out", it's not revealed until the end that the narrator, the modest last follower of the original (non-Lovecraftian) god Dagon, is Dagon himself.
  • Trigger Happy: Shotgun Suzie, oh so very much.
  • Unable to Cry: Poor Merlin, whose eyes-of-flame don't work that way...
  • Urine Trouble: How Godzi- er, Big Green Lizard got himself banned from the Nightside. To be fair, it was radioactive...
    • Also how Zog, King of the Pixies, got barred from the Griffin family's parties. Before he was deposed, a servant had followed him around with a bucket. And mop.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Pretty Poison. Harm Sinner, threaten Sinner, look cross-eyed at Sinner, and you are 'dead. As a succubus demon from Hell, she can do a lot of damage.
  • Weird Moon: Since it's always night, the moon is always out and always full. And it looks a lot bigger than it usually does, for reasons unknown.
    • John remarks, on more than one occasion, he vaguely hopes someone hires him to "find" out why the moon is so close and what the hell is wrong with it.
    • In the Bad Future seen in the first book, the moon is gone.
  • What Could Have Been: Entire businesses are devoted to this trope. In Knight, we find out that an alternate-history Orson Welles did a Batman film called Citizen Wayne and an alternate Clive Barker did a Transformers movie of his own. Other books reference this trope with famous musicians, as with a shop's offer of Janis Joplin songs from her twilight years as a fat, aging lounge singer in Las Vegas, and with books (Miss Marple on the Isle of Lesbos, anyone?).
  • The Worf Effect: First Razor Eddie, then Sinner, Pretty Poison and Madman, prove they're seriously deadly by ripping the Harrowing to bits. Off-page, the Lamentation massacres the Brittle Sisters of the Hive.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The only reason the Nightside's defenders could put up even a token resistance during the Angel War is that the very nature of the place resists both Heaven's and Hell's influence, leaving both angelic armies weakened.
  • World Half Empty: John does the best he can, but the Nightside is not a happy place.
  • Wretched Hive: The Nightside itself.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The Authorities presume that Taylor's mother Lilith is merely a rival out to make a profit. They're eaten alive when Lilith finds them.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Implied in Just Another Judgment Day. Despite defeating his mother and destroying the Speaking Gun, the future he saw in the Timeslip may be coming still. The "Enemies" are the new Authorities, and the Speaking Gun can't really be destroyed due to its nature and that of the Nightside.
    • Possibly subverted, at long last, by events in Bride (see Screw Destiny).
    • John is often referred to as a Prince, a title which he roundly rejects. He then wears a crown of amazing technology forced on his head by Walker, ponders about being the King of the Nightside, and comes home to a gigantic kingmaking sword in the post. He may not have much of a choice about this one.
    • John spent most of Uncanny fighting Walker's offer to be, well, Walker. By the end of Bride, he hangs up his coat and takes a walk around the Nightside in a suit.

Nightshade TrilogyFantasy LiteratureNight Watch
Night HuntressUrban FantasyNight Watch
Night LordsLiterature of the 2000sNight Watch

alternative title(s): Nightside
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy