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Literature: The Mortal Instruments
aka: Mortal Instruments

An urban fantasy series by Cassandra Clare following Clary Fray after she witnesses three teenagers apparently commit murder in a nightclub - but no one else can see them.

Not long later, she goes home to discover that her apartment's been trashed and her mother's gone missing. Soon she and her Childhood Friend, Simon, are dragged into the world of Shadowhunters. The three teenagers, Jace, Alec, and Isabelle, explain their world to her: mythical creatures such as vampires and werewolves do exist, known to them as Downworlders, and that Shadowhunters are a special "breed" of people that act like supernatural policemen, making sure that Mundanes are safe and never find out about the demons that are invading their dimension.

But things aren't over for Clary just yet. There's a war on the horizon - the Shadowhunters against massive demon forces conjured by the man who took her mother, Valentine. Clary's personal life is not without its own drama - her relationship with Simon,is slowly getting more and more complicated, and what is she to do about the beautiful and elusive Jace, who seems very attracted to her?

Originally concieved as a trilogy, dangling plot threads were meant to be tied up in a graphic novel. The author found that dissatisfactory, however, and added another three books to the series, and began working on several other series set in the shared universe.

A film version was released August 2013, with Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower having been cast as Clary and Jace; the sequel was scheduled to start filming in 2014, but has since been cancelled.

A television series has been announced for development.

This series has a character sheet. Please put all character-related tropes there.

The Mortal Instruments:
  • City of Bones
  • City of Ashes
  • City of Glass
  • City of Fallen Angels
  • City of Lost Souls
  • City of Heavenly Fire

Supplementary materials:
  • The Bane Chronicles
  • The Shadowhunter Codex
  • Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy
  • The Secret Treasons

Spin-off Series:

The Book series provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Every single higher-up is at a Clave meeting. All of them. While Jace's group of inexperienced youths are pursuing the Mortal Instruments, the maniacal Valentine, and attempting to stop The End of the World as We Know It. Anyone who isn't is either insane with power, revenge, or a spy.
    • Subverted with Magnus Bane. Physically he looks to be about nineteen, slightly older than the protagonists. But he is actually centuries old and thus technically more of an "adult" than even the oldest Shadowhunters. He is also incredibly useful.
  • The Ageless: Warlocks are this. They do not age after reaching adulthood, but are not significantly more resistant to physical injury than humans. This is also implied to be the case with the Fair Folk. Vampires are a little closer to Immortality, as they possess Healing Factor, although they can still be killed, most obviously by sunlight.
  • Alternate Universe: Edom is actually a parallel Earth, that even had its own Alicante and Shadowhunters, but which was laid waste to by the demons and is now part of the territory held by Asmodeus and Lilith, and basically rented out to Sebastian.
  • Altum Videtur: Gratuitous Latin is in widespread usage here. Partly justified in that Idris is located in Western Europe and has been around since the Middle Ages, when Latin was still the common language of the educated class in that region. Sometimes abused by Shadowhunters as part of their smug routine. Ominous Latin Chanting is also popular.
  • Ancestral Weapon:
    • Clary is given her mother's stele in City of Ashes. Subverted since she loses it.
    • In City of Heavenly Fire, Clary gets one of two swords her father commissioned that was specifically meant to be an Ancestral weapon. Sebastion/Jonathon already has the other. Emma's Cortana also counts.
  • Angel Unaware:
    • Clary unintentional, as Valentine didn't know Jocelyn was pregnant when he experimented on her with angel's blood.
    • Jace intentionally as the angel's blood that Valentine used to experiment on him with gave him certain characteristics (such as the ability to jump supernaturally high).
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Clary gets one from Simon and another from Jace, while Jocelyn gets one from Luke in City of Glass. Magnus's is more of an Irritated Declaration Of Love, when Alec demands to know why he hasn't called him back, resulting in this exchange:
    Magnus: You're an idiot.
    Alec: Is that why you didn't call me? Because I'm an idiot?
    Magnus: No. I didn't call you because I'm tired of you only wanting me around when you need something. I'm tired of watching you be in love with someone else- someone, incidentally, who will never love you back. Not the way I do.
    Alec: You love me?
    Magnus: You stupid Nephilim. Why else am I here? Why else would I have spent the past few weeks patching up all your moronic friends everytime they got hurt? And getting you out of every ridiculous situation you found yourself in? Not to mention helping you win a battle against Valentine. And all completely free of charge!
    Alec: I hadn't looked at it that way.
    Magnus: Of course not. You never looked at it in any way. I'm seven hundred years old, Alexander. I know when something isn't going to work. You won't even admit I exist to your parents.
    • Magnus also gives one to Alec one book earlier though the love part is only implied.
  • Animal Eyes:
    • Magnus Bane has greenish-yellow eyes with vertically-slit pupils, like a cat.
    • In humanoid form Asmodeus has catlike eyes.
  • Apologises a Lot: Many of the characters are prone to making profuse and dramatic apologies, Clary Fray most of all.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The runes, though there is some stuff that they can't do.
  • Arc Words:
    • City of Bones has "all the stories are true".
    • In City of Heavenly Fire, Clary dreams of a rune several times and describes it as "a shape like two wings joined by a single bar".
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • On more than one occasion when Luke has needed to acquire some allies in a hurry his solution has been to find the nearest werewolf pack, kill the Alpha and take over as leader.
    • In City of Heavenly Fire, Maia takes down an usurper of the New York Clan in an absolutely vicious Curb-Stomp Battle which leads to her becoming temporary head and later permanent head of the New York Clan after Luke's retirement.
  • Awkward Kiss: Clary has one of these with Sebastian in City of Glass, saying it felt just "wrong". Turns out that's because he's her real (demonic) brother.
  • The Beautiful Elite: All the Nephilim are somehow good-looking (with the possible exception of Hodge and The REAL Sebastian Verlac). The vampires, too.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Lampshaded in City of Ashes when Alec, Jace, and Isabelle return from fighting a demon in a subway tunnel and Alec questions why Izzy never gets any dirt on her. Her response? "I'm pure at heart. It repels the dirt."
  • Beleaguered Assistant: It could be argued that Alec and Isabelle are this for Jace. While he is a very talented Demon Slayer, he is also extremely reckless and very frequently ends up as a Distressed Dude. Early on it is noted that Alec has never killed a demon, despite being the oldest of their Power Trio, mostly because his attention is focused on keeping Jace (and to a lesser extent Isabelle) from serious harm. This trope spreads, almost like a disease, when Clary enters the picture, giving her her own set (mostly Simon and Luke, although Isabelle and the others also take turns). Magnus eventually starts feeling like this for the entire group, since his magic is needed by just about everyone.
  • Big Applesauce: The first two books, as well as the fourth. The third book is set in Idris, but the trope is still in play, as the representatives of the faeries, vampires, warlocks and werewolves that come to Idris (which is located between France and Germany) are all from New York City. The prequel trilogy is set in Victorian London.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Alec takes his job as the oldest Lightwood sibling very seriously. And he's also the only one of them to be at least eighteen, making him legally an 'adult'.
  • Big Damn Kiss:
    • Alec finally outs himself in City of Glass by kissing Magnus in front of, well, everybody.
    • Jace and Clary's first kiss in City of Bones, and their kiss in the faerie court in City of Ashes, also count.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Valentine unknowingly added angel's blood to Clary before she was born. He also added angel's blood to Jace before he was born, through the naivete of his birth mother Celine Herondale.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In the first half, Valentine is defeated, Jace and Clary can pursue a relationship, Alec came out without any immediate backlash, and the Downworlders have gained representatives on the Council. On the other hand, Max was murdered, Simon is bearing the Mark of Cain, Sebastian's body has vanished, and the Seelie Queen is holding a grudge against Clary.
    • In the second half, Sebastian and his Endarkened are defeated with minimal casualties to the main cast, and everyone's relationships are either going well or getting back on track. Unfortunately, the Clave has passed legislature against faeries that is sure to backfire, Mark is abandoned to the Wild Hunt, Helen is sent away, and Julian was forced to kill his father in front of his younger siblings.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The impetus of the series is Valentine Morgenstern's belief that all Downworlders should be exterminated, despite Shadowhunter laws that protect him. Pretty evil right? Then you learn that despite these supposed protections, prejudice against Downworlders is pretty heavily ingrained into Shadowhunter culture. The issue is lampshaded several times throughout the series, but it comes to a head at the end of City of Heavenly Fire when the Clave begins passing legislature inhibiting the freedom of faeries, despite Magnus' warnings that it will only cause future problems. If that wasn't enough, they also begin discriminating against Shadowhunters with faerie blood, abandoning one who was kidnapped by faeries and risked his life to leak vital intelligence. The author herself says that was intended to make the readers realize that the Clave isn't just flawed and in need of a few tweaks, but crippled by its own prejudice.
  • Black Eyes of Evil:
    • Valentine Morgenstern's eyes are described as black. He's also the genocidal Big Bad.
    • Thanks to the demon blood, Sebastian/Jonathan had these at birth. Jocelyn was so repulsed by him she refused to care for him.
    • Amatis Herondale when under the influence of the Infernal Cup.
  • Blue-Collar Warlock: This is apparently not unusual for warlocks in general. They typically cast spells for a living.
    • Magnus Bane lives in a warehouse loft, throws wild house parties, generally behaves like a New York hipster and otherwise seems entrenched in modern urban culture despite his great age. Also does spellcasting for a fee as his primary source of income.
    • Catarina Loss is shown to work in a hospital as a nurse.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • Amatis Herondale in City of Lost Souls, after Sebastian captures her and forces her to drink from the Infernal Cup, turning her into a Dark Shadowhunter.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter:
    • Clary Fray from is often almost insanely self-absorbed. Even though she is unconcerned about things like popularity, she can be rather spectacularly heedless of other people's feelings, tends to jump into dangerous situations without thinking about it and will do whatever she wants even if it literally results in endangering the entire world. Luke calls her out on it one time, when she tries to blindly Portal to Idris and she is shocked because he has never chastised her before.
    • Isabelle Lightwood has some shades of this, constantly complaining and lashing out at her parents. It turns out it's mostly a ploy to distract their parents from Alec's homosexuality.
  • Brother-Sister Incest:
    • In City of Bones a fortune teller tells Jace that he will "Love the wrong person". He falls in love with Clary, who turns out to be his sister.
    • Subverted.They end up not related. Jace is the son of his supposed Father's second second-in-command. And Clary ends up with Jace, though only after meeting and kissing a boy she finds out is her REAL brother. Oops.
    • In City Of Lost Souls Sebastian/Jonathan is shown to actually want Clary, backing her up against a wall and forcefully kissing her, while going on about how they can be evil and rule the world together.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Every character of a different ethnicity who appears in the series always turns out to be biracial, (usually half Caucasian). Magnus is half Dutch/half Indonesian, Aline is half Japanese/half Caucasian, Maia is half black/half Caucasian. See a trend here?
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • For the entire duration of Jocelyn's kidnapping and subsequent coma, Clary is completely devoted to bringing her back. When Jocelyn finally is cured and returned, the very first thing Clary does is tear into her for depriving Clary of her Sight and not preparing her for the Shadowhunters' world.
  • Captured Super Entity: City of Glass, has Jace and Clary finding an angel in Valentine's basement.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Maia Robert's parents never believed her when she told them her brother was abusive.
    • In City Of Glass, Jace's outright dislike and suspicion of Sebastian raises a lot of eyebrows despite the fact that he was right all along.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Clary has a "Still Not King" pin. Who wrote The Very Secret Diaries that inspired that pin in this 'verse?
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels: Raziel, who created the Shadowhunters. Also, Michael, Gabriel and many others are mentioned but do not appear. Raziel explicitly states that God exists, but what degree of direct interest He takes in earthly affairs is ambiguous.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In City of Bones, Madame Dorothea's tarot cards: the Ace of Cups was the Mortal Cup.
    • Also, the lake that Clary and Luke fall into during City of Glass turns out to be the Mortal Glass.
  • Code of Honour: The Shadowhunters' Law, which provides a moral framework for what they do, but which is often very restrictive. Both the heroes and villains have a distinct tendency to try to circumvent it, even while accepting it in principle.
  • Comically Missingthe Point: More than once during the Anguished Declaration of Love as seen above, where Alec Lightwood seems more concerned with the fact that Magnus didn't return his calls and lied about his age than the fact the city is under attack and Magnus is explaining all the pain Alec's closeted-ness and his love is causing him. Leading us to this little gem where they BOTH end up missing the point of their conversation:
    "You told me you were three hundred! You're seven hundred years old?"
    "Well, eight hundred, but I don't look it."
  • Coming-Out Story:
    • In City of Glass, Alec Lightwood comes out rather awesomely by kissing Magnus in the middle of the entire Clave, including his parents.
    • Parodied, when Luke gets Simon a pamphlet called 'How To Come Out to Your Parents' when he becomes a vampire and tells him to adapt it to suit the situation. Neither Simon nor Clary is amused.
  • Common Crossover: This series and The Infernal Devices don't have a huge crossover file yet, but it's steadily building. Considering the fact that The Infernal Devices is really just a prequel and many characters are either ancestors of characters here or present in both series (such as Magnus Bane and various vampires), it's not surprising.
  • Contemptible Cover: The first book, as seen on the page picture. Jace doesn't go shirtless at all in the first book, and hardly ever throughout the whole series. A more accurate cover artwork would probably look something like this, the teaser poster for the film adaptation.
  • Covered In Scars: Shadowhunters are covered in scars from years of being marked with runes.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: All over the place. Isabelle dates anybody but other Shadowhunters, intentionally bringing home boys she knows her parents would disapprove of, Jace says it's to get attention, it works - in the wrong way. Alec winds up in a gay relationship with a warlock. Jocelyn isn't wild about her daughter dating the boy that Valentine raised. Jocelyn and Luke's relationship has caused them no end of grief over the years. Valentine forced Stephan Herondale to divorce Amatis simply because she was Luke's sister. Aline and Helen's lesbian relationship is controversial for Shadowhunters. Somewhat invoked and somewhat subverted when Maia and Simon date: A werewolf and a vampire dating is controversial but their mutual surrogate father figure, Luke, doesn't care and thinks highly of both of them. Worth noting that while these relationships are all said to be taboo, actual opposition or fallout is very low-key if it's seen at all.
  • Dead Person Impersonation:
    • Valentine killed Michael Wayland and his infant son (using that baby to make Jocelyn believe her son Jonathan was dead) and took over Michael Wayland's identity while raising Jace (who was Stephen Herondale's son, whom he cut out of her dead mother's womb). It's complicated.
    • The real Sebastian Verlac's actually been Dead All Along, with Jonathan Christopher having taken over his identity after he murdered the former.
  • Death Seeker:
    • Jace is explicitly described as being this. Isabelle flat-out says that Jace is "in love with the idea of dying" and she and her brother Alec put considerable effort into saving him from his own recklessness.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Like her brother, Isabelle Lightwood is not very fond of Clary at first. Later, though, she begins to open up to her.
    • Imogen Herondale starts out frosty and unapproachable, but suffers several humbling failures and by the end of City of Ashes she performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save Jace after learning that he was her grandson.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: Lucifer, Azazel, Samael, Asmodeus, Lilith and many others. At least some are fallen angels. Asmodeus in particular is one of the nine most powerful, and subordinate only to Lucifer.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: In City of Ashes, Alec has a key to Magnus's apartment, but given his inexperience and secretive nature, it's left open as to just what happens between them. But by City of Lost Souls, it's made clear that they do.
  • Distinguishing Mark:
    • Jace Wayland has a star-shaped mark on his shoulder which is a birthmark of the Herondale family.
    • Simon gains the ability to walk in sunlight, nicknaming him "Daylighter" and the Mark of Cain, though he later loses the latter.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Clary, Isabelle and Jace usually go barefoot indoors.
  • The Dreaded: Agramon in City of Ashes is made of this trope. Of course, he is the Greater Demon of Fear within the setting and kills people by appearing to them as their greatest terror. Gets narmtastic when he appears to Jace as Clary's corpse, despite the many, many other things that would make more sense with Jace's backstory.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first three books barely make note of the parabatai bond. Strange, considering how important it is in the prequel series. The second half of the series compensates by emphasizing the bond several times.
    • The Forsaken are only significant in City of Bones. After that, they are barely mentioned at all.
  • Evil Counterpart Race: The "Endarkened" Shadowhunters that Sebastian Morgenstern creates using the Infernal Cup and Lilith's blood. They are stronger and faster than regular Shadowhunters, but cannot use their Runes or angelically aligned weapons. They are given demonic equivalents.
  • Expy: Most of the characters are expies of Harry Potter characters as interpreted by Cassandra Clare's old fanfic The Draco Trilogy:
    • Clary Fray is Ginny Weasley.
    • Jace Wayland is Draco Malfoy.
    • Simon Lewis is a Composite Character of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Seamus Finnigan.

      In universe he starts to take on many aspects of the biblical Caine thanks to Clary inscribing His mark onto him.
    • Isabelle Lightwood is Blaise Zabini.
    • Alec Lightwood is Harry Potter.
    • Valentine Morgenstern is a Composite Character of Lord Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy.
    • Luke Garroway is Sirius Black.
    • Jocelyn Fray is Narcissa Malfoy.
    • Hodge Starkweather is Peter Pettigrew.
    • Sebastian is Tom Riddle.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: The Shadow World is generally invisible to Mundanes. Many Downworlders strut around fairly openly, relying on humanity's natural Weirdness Censor to cause people to not see them for what they really are. The Shadowhunters, being almost human, put a modest amount of magical effort into rendering themselves unnoticeable in everyday society. Also, their country apparently doesn't exist.
  • The Fair Folk: Fairies are rarely trustworthy. Although they cannot lie, they are masters of evasion. They also have a definite sadistic streak and will ally with good or evil depending on where they think their interests are best served.
    Simon: They can't be worse than vampires, and you did all right with them.
    Jace: All right? By which I take it you mean we survived?
    Simon: Well...
    Jace: Faeries are the offspring of angels and demons, with the beauty of angels and the viciousness of demons. A vampire might attack you, if you entered its domain, but a faerie could make you dance until you died with your legs ground down into stumps, trick you into going for a midnight swim and drag you screaming underwater until your lungs burst, fill your eyes with faerie dust until you gouged them out at the roots—
    Clary: Jace! Shut up. Jesus. That's enough.
    Jace: Look, it's easy to outsmart a werewolf or vampire. They're no smarter than anyone else. But faeries live for hundreds of years and they're as cunning as snakes. They can't lie, but they love to engage in creative truth-telling. They'll find out whatever it is you want most in the world and give it to you — with a sting in the tail of the gift that will make you regret you ever wanted it in the first place. They're not about helping people. More harm disguised as help.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Warlocks, werewolves, vampires, faeries, demons, angels, and Nephilim are the main fantasy creatures; however, many others are mentioned in passing. In fact, in City of Bones Jace tells Clary that "all the stories are true." Except for mummies. No one believes in mummiesnote .
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Shadowhunters are notorious for their sense of superiority. At best, they consider mundanes to be helpless and useless; at worst, they consider Downworlders to be dangerous criminals that need to be kept in check. The elitism of the Shadowhunters is often Lampshaded by outsiders, notably Clary and Simon, as well as Downworlders.

      Taken Up to Eleven in City of Heavenly Fire when Helen and Mark Blackthorn are considered tainted by their half-faerie status despite the former having fought for the Shadowhunters and the latter having actually leaked vital intelligence to the Shadowhunters. It's even sold by the Shadowhunters as saving the family from the future pain of being betrayed despite both clearly caring for their family.

      The Shadowhunter Codex reveals that throughout history, there have been several attempts to wipeout Downworlders and that torturing them and robbing them was quite legal for some time. Things began to change with the Accords, but the racism lingers in Shadowhunter culture.
    Clary: So progressive, we couldn't murder Downworlders in the street anymore.
    Jace: Big change, though—from "Downworlders are basically demons" to "Downworlders are basically humans."
    • Raphael Santiago discriminates against anyone who isn't a vampire.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Clary is annoyed when Jace does this at her, because it is an ability she has always envied. She gets even more annoyed when Magnus Bane turns out to be able to do it too.
  • Fire and Ice Love Triangle: Simon and Jace from the first half of the series. Jace is arrogant, cold, and distant while Simon is dorky, caring, and an Unlucky Childhood Friend.
  • Fish out of Water: Clary Fray and Simon Lewis from are not hardened Shadowhunters or Downworlders like the rest of the cast, at least at first. Clary jumps right on the mundie racism bandwagon rather disturbingly fast, though and Simon's does get turned into the latter.
  • Foil:
    • Isabelle Lightwood is the seasoned, snobbish, girly Nephilim to Clary Fray's naïve idealist tomboy.
    • Sebastian/Jonathan Morgenstern to Jace: He was experimented on with demon's blood while Jace was experimented on with angel's blood. Valentine raised him to be cold, cruel, and sadistic, while Jace is more compassionate and kind.
    • Aline Penhallow to Isabelle Lightwood; she's conservative and shy where Isabelle is outspoken and outgoing.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In City of Bones, Simon makes a joke about Jewish Vampires. That's exactly what he ends up becoming.
    • The Lightwoods have a history of marital troubles. Isabelle is noted as wishing she had her parents' blue eyes instead of her own dark ones. Blue eyes are a recessive genetic trait, it's impossible for two blue-eyed parents to have a child that's not blue-eyed.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: The Alliance Rune. After City of Glass it's never used again, even when Shadowhunters and Downworlders are going into battle right next to each other.
  • Functional Magic: Primarily Inherent Gift, as one of the defining attributes of being "human" is the inability to use magic and thus free access to magic is generally limited to Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Warlocks (who are half-demon) are the primary practitioners of magic, although the Shadowhunters have their Runes and the Fairies possess strange powers.
  • Fur Against Fang:
    • The vampires and werewolves do not get on well; this is because the two demon species which originally infected humans, giving rise to the vampires and werewolves, were rivaling species who hated one another.
    • In City of Ashes, werewolf Maia Roberts dislikes Simon at first. Very much. Until they both end up being captured by Valentine.
  • Geometric Magic: This is the primary form of magic employed by the Shadowhunters, who use Angelic Runes to perform a variety of functions, including giving themselves superhuman physical abilities. Clary's special aptitude with Runes is essential to the plot.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: The greater demon Azazel, and the greater angel Raziel are summoned at different points during City of Lost Souls, by the main characters, who desperately need a weapon that can break a demonic bond. The demon Azazel offered a solution at the price of being set free, which the good guys had to decline, while the Angel Raziel was extremely insulted at being summoned 'like a dog' by someone who did not carry 'The Mortal Instruments', and only gave the heroes the weapon they needed as opposed to killing the one who summoned him because the summoner, Simon, had a rune which would kill anyone who tried to hurt him.
  • Gratuitous Greek: Interestingly averted despite the regular use of Gratuitous Latin and the fact that Shadowhunters are usually educated in both Classical languages. While it is mentioned that some texts, such as the Book of the White, are written in Greek, nobody seems to drop any Greek phrases to anybody that would not be expected to already know the language anyway, even though they often do so with Latin.
  • Guinea Pig Family: Valentine experimented on his own children in the womb to create better Shadowhunters. He infused Jonathan/Sebastian with demon blood, which made him horrifically strong but had the unfortunate side-effects of making him soulless and Jocelyn depressed. To make her feel better he gave her angel blood, not knowing she was pregnant with Clary at the time...
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Warlocks are the progeny of couplings between humans and demons. They are themselves generally infertile.
  • Harmful to Minors:
    • Although Shadowhunters, like most of modern society, do not consider children to be adults until they are eighteen (which is the youngest age at which they can even attend Clave meetings), it is apparently acceptable for children much younger than that to participate in Demon Slaying without adult supervision. At the start of City of Bones, Alec is the oldest of the protagonists being only one that is eighteen years old. The movie seems to try to avert this by making all the characters a few years older than they are in the books.
    • Jace's childhood, basically, the least of which involved his father murdering his pet falcon.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Jace Wayland and Alec Lightwood. Alec's sexuality and initial attraction to Jace notwithstanding, the two share a "parabatai" bond which is explicitly stated as being a permanent bond of partnership even stronger than that of brothers.
    • Jonathan Shadowhunter with David the Silent, inspired by their Biblical namesakes who were also examples of this trope. They were the very first parabatai.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Luke Garroway and Jocelyn Fray at the end of City of Glass. They planned to get married in City of Fallen Angels but the marriage was postponed indefinitely, with Jace's possession by Lilith and subsequent disappearance.
  • The Hunter: The Shadowhunters protect humanity from supernatural creatures. Subverted somewhat in that the Shadowhunters are themselves supernatural in nature.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Valentine Morgenstern from , expresses hatred and disdain for the mixed-breed Downworlders, and contends that the Shadowhunters must keep the world safe from demons. But he deliberately taints his own son with demon blood, making him into a strange human/angel/demon hybrid, and even tried using demon blood to change himself with unclear results. He also readily summons and uses large numbers of demons to fight for him, as well as dealing with the powerful Greater Demon Lilith. Raziel calls him out on it.
    • The vampire Raphael Santiago badgers Simon relentlessly about the need to accept that he is dead to humanity and must sever all ties to his former life. However it's said that he puts on a cross and visits his family every Sunday.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • At the end of City Of Glass, Clary decides to wish Jace back to life. Which is great except she seems to have forgotten about all the other shadowhunters that died. Real considerate there, Clary. Though considering what happens it causes Jonathan to come back to life and create an anti-nephilium group, this might not be a bad thing.

      She usually grabs the Idiot Ball and runs with it whenever Jace is involved, like when possessed!Jace is able to trick her into mind-control just by batting his eyelashes at her and playing on her hormones.
    • Jace grabs it with a bloody deathgrip when he refuses to tell anyone about the possible prophetic dreams he's having about murdering Clary until it's almost too late, nearly starves himself to death, doesn't sleep... oh, and ends up getting himself possessed by Sebastian. What an IDIOT.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: All the books have busts of the main characters over a city horizon. And shining covers, as does The Shadowhunter's Codex.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of the books in the series are called "City of X". The titular City of Bones is the Silent City, while the titular City of Glass is Alicante.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Subverted, when Jace prepares himself for this speech from Simon, his girlfriend Clary's protective best friend. Of course, Clary is a demon-slaying Shadowhunter.
    Jace:Is this the part where you tell me if I ever do anything to hurt her, you'll kill me?
    Simon:No. If you hurt Clary, she's quite capable of killing you herself. Possibly with a variety of weapons.
  • I Have Your Wife: In City of Fallen Angels, Lilith tells Simon that she has his girlfriend. Due to the fact that he had just broken up with Maia and Isabelle he does nothing, and assumes that it's an empty threat, until he discovers Maureen has been killed due to her crush on him.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: This is the case with warlocks. As half-human/half-demons, they age more or less normally until they reach adult, and then their aging just stops.
  • Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction: The Silent Brothers and The Iron Sisters. They don't take part in the disputes of the Clave and Downworlders, instead the former devoting their time to writing all of it down, with the latter residing in Idris and forging weapons.
  • Infant Immortality: Subverted. In City of Glass, all the teenage protagonists survive the final battle.... but Max; the cute, manga-reading youngest Lightwood who wasn't allowed to fight is brutally murdered.
  • Informed Attribute: The parabatai bond. Although it supposedly makes two Nephilim "closer than brothers", Alec and Jace usually seem to have little or no ability to read each other. Alec often fails to get when Jace is being sarcastic (despite the fact that Jace is almost always sarcastic). Jace had no idea that Alec was just pretending to side with the Inquisitor in order to keep her from suspecting that he intended to help Jace. Despite the alleged combat advantages of the bond, they do not really seem any more effective when fighting together than they do with others, such as Isabelle. Cassandra appears to have noticed this problem and plays up the bond considerably in City of Heavenly Fire as compared to the earlier books.
  • Interspecies Romance: Played straight with Magnus and Alec. No pun intended. Every witch and warlock is the offspring of a human and a demon (though Word of says that most of these cases are rape, not romance), in City of Ashes Isabelle is dating a faerie knight. The fey themselves are the offspring of demons and angels. Jocelyn and Luke and Isabelle and Simon, as of City of Lost Souls, are in the same vein as Tonks and Lupin from Harry Potter, with their lycanthropy and vampirism respectively being more like diseases than a genetic trait, though there are born werewolves in-universe. Helen and Mark Blackthorn are half-fey as well.
  • Invisible to Normals: Shadowhunters, demons, and Downworlders are all invisible to normal people, or 'mundanes', until they've been bitten by a werewolf, forced to focus, or otherwise pulled in.
  • Jesus Taboo: Judeo-Christian theology is frequently referenced as background. God, Archangel Michael, Archangel Gabriel and other Celestial Paragons and Archangels are explicitly stated as being real characters. The same goes for Satan, Lilith and various Demon Lords and Archdevils. Jesus, however, is mentioned only once, and in jest.
  • Join or Die: In City of Heavenly Fire, Jonathan/Sebastian does this while turning the Endarkened Ones using the Infernal Cup. If they're too young or old to be turned he just kills them.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • Prior to City of Bones, Jocelyn brought Clary to Magnus Bane every two years to have her memories of the Shadowhunter world wiped.
    • In City of Heavenly Fire, Asmodeus takes all of his memories of Clary and the Shadow World from him as part of the deal to return everybody from Edom to Earth. This is both because he relishes human memories and he knows it will hurt all of Simon's friends, especially Isabelle, to be forgotten by him. Magnus is able to restore some fragments of Simon's memories, but for the most part he has to start over from scratch.
    • Magnus Bane can induce it, such as his work on Clary. However, he can't undo it.
  • Last Episode New Character: City of Heavenly Fire introduces Emma Carstairs, hero of the upcoming sequel trilogy, The Dark Artifices.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The cover of City of Lost Souls spoils the romantic plot arc of the first three books of the series, revealing that Clary and Jace are not brother and sister and, indeed, are in a romantic relationship.
  • Lawful Stupid: The Clave, to the point where their leadership is basically a Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering. Actual Lawful Good Shadowhunters frequently find themselves in To Be Lawful or Good situations simply because the Clave is hopelessly bogged down trying to figure out the most lawful way of dealing with just about anything.
  • Letter Motif: In City of Bones, "JC" is a significant pair of initials. It's for Clary's false father Jonathan Clark, her not really dead brother Jonathan Christopher, the latter name of which serves as the basis for Jace's name which pushed up the drama when he and Clary thought they were siblings.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Jace tells Clary to do this before they kiss in front the fairy court in City of Ashes. More like "Close your eyes and think of England."
  • Like Brother and Sister:
  • Literal-Minded:
    • Jace once told Clary; "If there were such a thing as terminal literalism, you would have died at birth."
    • Alec has a tendency to misinterpret sarcasm.
  • Long-Lost Relative:
    • Valentine Morgenstern is Clary’s biological father.

      Jace and Clary end up being siblings... though not before they've sort of fallen in love with each other. Oops...

      Once you get to City of Glass, you find out that Jace and Clary aren't related, and that Clary's actual brother is Sebastian.
    • Amatis Herondale to Luke, more or less, although it's more of the fact that they're estranged siblings and Luke's afraid that she'd blame him for her divorce.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: City of Heavenly Fire has a demon which can do this. However, its imagined worlds always have a flaw, as it always leaves something out (and in one case thought a good guy was evil).
  • Love Dodecahedron: Clary falls for Jace. Long time best friend Simon has always loved Clary, but Clary doesn't find out until later. Alec has a crush on Jace, who doesn't find out at all. Simon has a crush on Isabelle, Alec's sister. She loathes him when they first meet but he grows on her. By the end of City of Bones, Jace has fallen for Clary as well. Later, Maia is introduced. She likes Simon, and he likes her back. But we can't let anything in this story be simple. Sorry Simon.. By now, Magnus Bane has been introduced. Guess who ends up with him? In City of Glass, yet another player is introduced, Sebastian. Clary has a short fling with him. Only it turns out that Jace and Clary aren't actually related. But in Sebastian aka Jonathan's case, it's for real. And he knew it. Then there's Jocelyn's love history, which is simpler (Lucian / Valentine), or other side love interests like Isabelle's fling with Meliorn or Maia's ex Jordan. As of City of Lost Souls, Clary/Jace is on with difficulties, Alec/Magnus is off, Jocelyn/Lucian is on, and Maia/Jordan is on.
  • Love Martyr: Clary, Jace and Simon could all qualify.
    • Clary is devoted to Jace, despite the fact that he is a Death Seeker and/or a positive magnet for Mind Control.
    • invoked Jace and Simon are devoted to Clary, despite her being a Damsel Scrappy. Simon in particular hangs in there even after it is absolutely clear that Clary wants to be with Jace and he himself begins to date other (supernatural) girls.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • Jonathan Clark, the man Jocelyn told Clary was her father, was just a mere acquaintance. Clary’s real father is Valentine Morgenstern.
    • Michael Wayland was never Jace's father. Valentine Morgenstern is, he raised Jace while under the guise of Michael Wayland. Though City of Glass reveals that Jace's father was actually Stephen Herondale. Valentine adopted him after his mother died, but he kept him a secret from his real son, and vice versa.
  • MacGuffin: The titular Mortal Instruments: A cup, a sword, and a mirror
  • Magical Society: The Shadowhunters most definitely, complete with their own magically-concealed country located on the border of France and Germany. The Fair Folk likewise count for much the same reasons. Vampires and werewolves are a less organized variation, being organized into local clans and packs respectively, and they live within mundane cities. The warlocks are an aversion, being mostly free agents bound primarily by individual relationships.
  • Magitek: The flying motorcycles the vampires ride, which are powered by "demon energies". Also, those who look closely will notice that Magnus Bane's television is not actually plugged in. The Shadowhunters have Magitek home conveniences in Idris.
  • Magic Versus Science: The extensive wards that conceal and protect Idris also appear to interfere with technology. Hence the Shadowhunters do not use things like automobiles to get around within the country, even though those that live elsewhere are quite familiar with them. Witchlight is used to provide things like illumination that would normally be powered by electricity in other countries. Elaborate mechanical devices, possibly related to phonographs, are used to play music. There is no cellular coverage or internet access naturally, and the only working phone in the country was enchanted by a warlock. It is also noted that Runes interfere with the proper ignition of gunpowder, which is why Shadowhunters do not make use of firearms.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Despite her hatred for children, Imogen Herondale in City of Ashes acknowledges this trope, coming to the conclusion that Valentine would do anything for his son like she would.
    • Lilith considers Jonathan her "son" due to him being tainted by her blood, and takes measures to protect him throughout the second trilogy.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Warlocks have a distinguishing mark that's unique to each one. Magnus Bane has cat eyes, Catarina Loss has blue skin and white hair, and Ragnor Fell has ram horns, green skin and an extra joint in each finger.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Alec Lightwood is eighteen and dating Magnus Bane is around 400 years old. The fact the Magnus is an immortal warlock while Alec is human becomes a plot point in City of Fallen Angels.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Clary Fray. Clary sage is a plant historically used to help clear the eyes, so Clary is a name suitable for a heroine who sees the Shadow world, which most people are blind to. The meaning behind her name is mentioned by Jace upon learning it in City of Bones.

      Subverted, in that her father wanted to name her Seraphina, which derives from "seraphim", a class of angels. Her mother named her Clarissa instead.
    • Valentine Morgenstern. "Morgenstern" means "morning star" - signifying, of course, Lucifer.
    • Luke Garroway sounds like loup-garou, French for werewolf.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Technically anyone of note in this series. Shadowhunters are half-angel half-human, Warlocks are half-demon half-human, Faeries are half-angel half-demon, etc etc.
  • Moment Killer: Every time Jace and Clary seem to be about to exchange a moment that could turn into a Relationship Upgrade it is inevitably interrupted.
  • Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: Clary Fray has her childhood friend Simon Lewis, a normal boy (until halfway through City of Ashes) who is in love with her and she herself has a crush on demon-slaying Shadowhunter, Jace Wayland.
  • Muggles: Mundanes. Anyone who has no knowledge of Downworlders or Shadowhunters is a mundane or a "mundie". Clary is included in this because even though she is a Shaddowhunter, she knows nothing about their world.
  • Mundane Utility: Jace to Magnus: "Nearly unlimited supernatural power, and all you do is use it to watch reruns. What a waste."
  • Naginatas Are Feminine: In City of Ashes Isabelle walks in with her trademark whip and a naginata. When Alec asks if the naginata is for him, she tells him to get his own weapon, promptly giving it to their mother.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: The series uses this. Examples include, in City of Bone, Alec said something that sounded like 'ducking glass mole' and in City of Ashes, has Jace suggested that the whole cast of Gilligan's Island could do something anatomically possible to themselves.
  • Nephilim: The series, while keeping the angelic origin, has the Nephilim as essentially enhanced humans descended from angels who slay demons and look beautiful doing it.
  • Nice Guy:
    • In City of Glass, Clary describes Sebastian Verlac as someone she thinks is easy to have fun with. Only applies to the real Sebastian, who by now is a Posthumous Character.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Really, it gets to the point where should-be True Companions are abandoning each other to vampires and demons for slights like "I can't believe you like her/him more than me!" and "It wasn't my fault!" Kind of sends the underlying message that this is all teens are capable of.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: In the opening scene of City of Bones, Clary and Simon are at a club, when Clary spots a mysterious, handsome young man. As she stares at him, Simon tries to get her attention with a series of increasingly outrageous comments, culminating with him telling her that he was sleeping with her mother and considering taking up crossdressing.
  • Number Two:
    • Raphael Santiago to Camille Belcourt.
    • Stephen Herondale to Valentine Morgenstern, when he was still alive, after Valentine cast out Luke for becoming a werewolf.
  • Official Couple: Jace and Clary.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Simon Lewis. Recognized that loving Clary was a dead end, and had enough self-respect to let her go and move on to Isabelle and Maia.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: There are werewolves of the variety where they are forced to change at the full moon, but can change shape at will at other times; they mostly retain their human minds, although at the full moon their minds become less human. They can be hurt by silver, while the condition is semi-contagious, with about half of all bites transmitting lycanthropy.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Despite being dead for years at the beginning of the series, we learn a lot about Stephen Herondale through recollections and his relationships with other characters.
    • Celine Herondale's suicide takes place long before the story proper, but her relationships with current characters make her important.
  • Power Tattoo:
    • The Shadowhunters have the ability to carve (usually temporary, occasionally permanent) tattoos on themselves, giving them a variety of abilities, such as Super Strength, Super Speed, etc. However, not all of these are good. Valentine's endgame plan is to have the entire Clave enslaved and under his control by having all Shadowhunters accept a permanent Obedience Rune.
    • In City of Glass, Simon receives the Mark of Cain, which dates way back to the book of Genesis. Clary puts it on him to save his life. It actually comes in handy several times during City of Fallen Angels, as anybody who tries to lay hands on him gets punishment laid down on them sevenfold. In City of Lost Souls, the angel Raziel removes the Mark of Cain when Simon summons him, in exchange for a heavenly sword to sever the bond beyond Jace and Johnathan/Sebastian.
  • Power Trio: Jace, Alec and Isabelle start out the series as this. However, the group dynamic changes when Clary and Simon come along, and still further when Jace and Clary become an Official Couple, as do Alec and Magnus Bane resulting in a more complex set of relationships.
  • The Proud Elite:
    • A female example: Isabelle Lightwood, who has Raven Hair, Ivory Skin, is extremely cold and proud, and actively partakes in Shadowhunters' Fantastic Racism. She defrosts rather quickly, though.
    • Raphael Santiago is in some cases an even better example than Isabelle, but it's played with as while he's certainly proud and he does see himself and vampires as elite, the magical world (re:the Clave) does not see them as so.
  • Purple Prose: Clare's writing is on the borderline of this. She seems to be completely aware of this, and occasionally uses it for comic effect or to skirt around curse words. Prime example:
    "Jace suggested that the cast of Gilligan's Island could go do something anatomically unlikely with themselves."
  • The Reveal:
    • City of Bones:
      • Clary is a Shadowhunter.
      • Jocelyn was married to Valentine.
      • Alec is gay.
      • The Mortal Cup was hidden in a playing card in Dorothy's apartment.
      • Alec is in love with Jace.
      • Hodge was a traitor to the Clave.
      • Luke is a werewolf.
      • Valentine is Clary's father.
      • Valentine is Jace's father, making Clary and Jace siblings.
    • City of Ashes:
      • Alec and Magnus are in a relationship.
      • The Inquisitor had hid a tracking device in Jace's shard of the mirror.
    • City of Glass:
      • Sebastian Verlac was someone else in disguise.
      • Sam was actually Hodge.
      • The Mortal Glass was actually Lake Lyn.
      • Clary and Jace are part angel.
      • invokedA bunch of reveals come all at once: Jace isn't Clary's brother, Sebastian/Jonathan is, Jace is part of the Herondale family, Valentine is Sebastian/Jonathan's father, not Jace's, and Jonathan was disguising as Sebastian.
      • Simon can walk in daylight because he drank angel blood.
      • One of the high-ranking clave members was a traitor to Valentine.
    • City of Fallen Angels:
      • Kyle is actually Jordan, and he's a werewolf.
      • Camille was working for Lilith the entire time.
  • Secret Other Family: Jace was unaware of Sebastian's existence, which led him to believe that he was Valentine's real son. Also Clary's father and brother.
  • Shared Universe: As well as The Infernal Devices prequel series, this seems to be set in the same universe as the Modern Tales of Faerie by Holly Black. Val and Luis from Valiant are the homeless kids Clary sees in the first book and Simon listens to Stepping Razor, Ellen's band from Tithe.
  • Ship Tease:
    • In City of Glass, Sebastian Verlac has some sexual tension with Clary and Isabelle, which goes nowhere.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Herondales are a Shadowhunter family with a birthmark of a star. Jace's is on the back of his shoulder. Now, where have I heard of that before?
    • Val and Luis from Holly Black's Valiant are seen at one point.
    • A badge on Clary's bag says 'Still Not King', a reference to Clare's famous The Lord of the Rings fanfic The Very Secret Diaries.
    • Best of all, two extra characters have a debate on which fictional gay wizard would win in a fair fight, Dumbledore, or Magnus.
    • A reference to Hellsing is made when Clary thinks about how a church looks like "one of her favorite anime scenes involving a vampire priest".
    • Max is frequently seen reading Naruto.
    • In City of Glass, Max is also seen reading Angel Sanctuary, a manga about a reincarnated angel who is in a romantic relationship with his sister. It has a case of Does This Remind You of Anything as well as bringing to question why a nine year old with fairly strict parents would be reading it. But then again, his parents have quite a lot of marital issues. So his reading choices likely passed largely unnoticed. Besides, they probably thought that that something called Angel Sanctuary would be clean and proper.
    • Happens often with animanga, given that Simon is characterized as a typical Geek. At one point Clary asks him if he wants to spend the evening with her watching Trigun.
    • Simon is described in the fourth book as wearing Jeph Jacques's "Clearly I Have Made Some Bad Decisions" shirt, and Cassandra Clare also mentions his in-universe series "Magical Love Gentlemen".
    • Church (the Persian cat from the New York Institute) shares his name with another famous cat.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Isabelle and Alec Lightwood. Isabelle is not averse to showing off her beauty, is generally nicer, and like Jace, always rushing headfirst into demon-slaying. Unlike her, Clary notes that Alec is shyer, easier to guilt, and tries everything he can to downplay the good looks he shares with his sister.

    It's implied that Isabelle is the way she is in part because she wants to draw attention from her brother's homosexuality, as she does not want her parents to find out when he wasn't ready.
  • Slashed Throat:
    • In City of Ashes, Valentine does this to collect Simon's blood. he gets better.
    • Clary comes very close to this in City of Fallen Angels, courtesy of Jace (to be fair, he was under Lilith's Mind Rape at the time).
    • Maureen Brown is found in a dumpster with her throat slit.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: The vampires in the series go back and forth on this. On one hand, when Simon is turned, he gets the bloodlust and can't go out in daylight, and can't even say a single bible verse, or the name of God. But his attitude stays pretty much the same. Nearly all of the other vampires, on the other hand, are assholes.
  • Smart People Know Latin: Shadowhunters are quite into this, especially when trying to assert intellectual superiority over mundanes.
    Simon: "Basia coquum". Or whatever their motto is.
    Alec: It's "Descensus Averno facilis est." "The descent into hell is easy." You just said "Kiss the cook".
    Simon: Dammit, I knew Jace was screwing with me.
  • Spell Book: The Gray Book is dedicated to the Angelic Runes used by Shadowhunters, and the Book of the White with spells affecting life and death among other things. Shadowhunters and Warlocks are prone to collecting spell books, the former to keep them under lock and key, the latter in order to use them.
  • Starbucks Skin Scale: Found in the series, where for example the biracial character Maia is introduced as having "honeyed" skin. Author Cassandra Clare discussed her choices in describing skin tones in a blog post, where she admitted that she risked coming off as ethnocentric due to not giving similar descriptions to Caucasian characters.
  • The Starscream:
    • Raphael Santiago. According to Camille, he was the reason she left - he killed mundanes and blamed them on her, causing her to flee. When she did so, he seized her position and told the rest of the New York vampire clan that she was struck with wanderlust and a desire to travel (something that was not unheard of in vampires.)
  • Straight Gay: Alec Lightwood, doesn't have any stereotypical gay traits, although several people manage to figure it out anyway. Generally the only way gays could be without being expelled from the Clave. Interestingly, homosexuality is not in fact prohibited by the Law. Shadowhunters just tend to look down on it, possibly as a reflection of their slightly archaic culture.
  • Summoning Ritual: The Mortal Instruments are required to summon the angel Raziel, a ritual that can only be done once every millennium. Once they have all three, Raziel will come to them and will grant any single wish the summoner wants. Or rather, he won't smite them the moment he appears and might consider granting that single wish. Well...
  • Supernatural Elite: The Shadowhunters tend to see themselves as this and act accordingly. The Downworlders are not especially happy about it, but lack the necessary unity to do much about it.
  • Surprise Incest: Subverted. Clary and Jace are revealed to be siblings at the end of City of Bones. They spend all of City of Ashes and most of City of Glass angsting about their attraction, until it's revealed thatJace was adopted. Played straight with Sebastian/Jonathan, Clary's actual brother, who kisses her despite knowing full well that she's his sister.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Much of the action in the first three novels involves locating and recovering the titular Mortal Instruments, one of which is literally a sword, "Maellartach". Some other items, like the Book of the White, are also the subject of quests. Then in City of Lost Souls it is again literally a sword, in this case "Glorious", the sword of the Archangel Michael.
  • Tangled Family Tree: All over the place.
    • Clary is raised by her mother Jocelyn, and thinks of her mother's devoted, if platonic, boyfriend Luke who is really a Shadowhunter named Lucian Graymark that was turned into a werewolf as her stepfather. He later gets a Relationship Upgrade with Jocelyn. She believes her biological father was a soldier killed in action, but he is really the Big Bad Valentine Morgenstern.
    • Jace is supposedly the son of Michael Wayland. But then it turns out that Michael was murdered and the man who supposedly fathered him was really Valentine Morgenstern, leading to a Brother-Sister Incest problem with Clary. It later turns out that his actual biological father was Valentine's right-hand man Stephen Herondale. Needless to say, Jace goes through a great many surname changes, although he often uses Lightwood after his adoptive parents and siblings. Worth noting that Stephen had previously been married to Luke's sister
    • Valentine did in fact have an actual son with Jocelyn, Jonathan, whom he raised in secret. Jonathan disguises himself as Sebastian Verlac, a cousin of the prominent Penhallow family. Later he magically coerces Jace into regarding him as a brother. Jonathan also has a Brother-Sister Incest vibe with Clary.
  • Teens Are Short: It is called out repeatedly that the main characters whose biological parents are still running around look very much like their parents, only shorter.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill Muggles: Shadowhunters and Downworlders are forbidden by the Law to hurt mundanes.
  • To Be Lawful or Good:
    • A common quandary for Shadowhunters. The Clave is often rather clueless, even about the actions and motives of its own members. As a result the heroes must often struggle with deciding whether to follow the Law, or do what is necessary and/or right.
    • This is the default stance of the Clave, although some members take it all the way to Lawful Evil or just plain Lawful Stupid. Maryse Lightwood also counts, as she allows the Inquisitor to behave rather barbarically towards Jace, her adopted son, until the Inquisitor openly violates the Law and she can justify defying her.
  • Token Minority: Simon is Jewish (this is especially hard for him once he becomes a vampire), Maia is biracial, and Magnus is part Asian.
  • Trilogy Creep: First, there was the original trilogy (City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass). Then, it was announced that Clare was writing The Infernal Devices, a steampunk prequel trilogy set in Victorian London (The Clockwork Angel, The Clockwork Prince, and The Clockwork Princess). Then, a fourth book centered around the Simon character of the first trilogy was revealed to be in the works (City of Fallen Angels). Then Clare decided to add two more books to The Mortal Instruments story (City of Lost Souls and City of Heavenly Fire) while also stating that this new trilogy of MI books would no longer focus solely on Simon but rather on the entire cast. This YA fantasy book series literally tripled in size. Almost humorously, after writing City of Glass Clare stated in an interview that she liked half-open endings, and deliberately left hers that way, and that she had no intention of continuing it.

    It has far more than tripled now. In addition to The Mortal Instruments and the The Infernal Devices, there are three new trilogies in the works; The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours and The Wicked Powers. Note that all of these are separate series within the same universe, and each trilogy (not including the double-trilogy of The Mortal Instruments) is written so that it can be read on its own.
  • True Companions: At the beginning of the series, Alec, Isabelle, and Jace are this. Over the course of the series, the group expands to include Clary, Simon, and Magnus. By City of Heavenly Fire, all six would go (quite literally) to hell and back for one another and, with the former three each falling in love with one of the latter, form a sort of family.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Jace Wayland, Clary Fray and Simon Lewis.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: City of Fallen Angels was originally supposed to be a one-shot Graphic Novel follow-up to the original trilogy, until Cassandra Clare decided to make it the start of a second trilogy. It shows.
  • Urban Fantasy: Shadowhunters, warlocks, werewolves, vampires and fairies, all in modern day New York City.
  • Vampire-Werewolf Love Triangle: The series has an unusual variation on this. There's a werewolf-vampire-human love triangle—but the vampire is at the center of it.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Discussed and Averted, as Jace makes clear to Simon:
    Jace: There’s no such thing as vampire mojo.
  • The Verse: The Shadowhunter Chronicles consisting of this series, prequel series The Infernal Devices, sequel series The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours (sequel to The Infernal Devices) and The Wicked Powers (sequel to The Dark Artifices), all taking place in the Shadowhunter world.
  • Viral Transformation: Common from exposure to angelic or demonic influences and/or bodily fluids.
    • The Shadowhunters received their special abilities from drinking the blood of the angel Raziel given to them in the Mortal Cup. New Shadowhunters can also be created this way, although the process is risky. Jonathan Morgenstern arranged the creation of the Infernal Cup, tainted by the blood of Lilith, which can turn humans and Shadowhunters into Endarkened Shadowhunters.
    • Consumption of angel or demon blood generally, even in dried form, can result in changes to a person or their offspring. Valentine, Jocelyn, Clary, Jace and especially Jonathan were all altered to some extent in this way due to Valentine's experimentation with the blood.
    • Vampires and werewolves are the descendants of two different species of demons. They can transmit their condition to humans, and even Shadowhunters, via bite.
  • Weirdness Censor: Mundanes cannot see the Shadow World or most individuals belonging to it as they really are. The Shadowhunters, being mostly human, would normally be visible to them, but a simple bit of magic renders them unnoticeable as well. Locations, including an entire country are hidden from human perception this way.
  • Welcomed To The Masquerade: It's brooding, experienced love interest Jace that first demonstrates Clary's Shadowhunter capabilities. Later, Hodge Starkweather expounds on them.
  • White Hair, Black Heart:
    • Valentine Morgenstern is white-blond and, oh, aims to wipe out all Downworlders.
    • Sebastian/Jonathan Morgenstern is white-haired and just as evil as his dad.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Jace and Clary, to ridiculous levels. Nothing much ever seems to happen until they figure out they aren't related.
  • Word Salad Lyrics:
    • The lyrics to any song by Lawn Chair Crisis/Sea Vegetable Conspiracy/Sexist Pigs/Rock Solid Panda/Salacious Mold/Millennium Lint/Dangerous Stain/Dichotomous Lemur are like this.
    • Not to mention Eric's poetry readings:
    Come, my faux juggernaut, my nefarious loins! Slather every protuberance with arid zeal! Turgid is my torment! Agony swells within!
  • You Kill It, You Bought It:
    • In City of Lost Souls, Maureen Brown becomes leader of the New York vampire clan after killing Camille Belcourt.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: In City of Ashes, when Clary destroys Valentine's ship with a single mark, an awed Valentine says "Mene mene tekel upharsin", in reference to the Biblical quote above. It's given an Ironic Echo later in City of Glass, when Clary engineers the failure of all his plans as well as his own death. He's sealed her mouth, so she writes "MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN" in the sand at his feet.

The Film Adaptation provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books, Valentine Morgenstern is described as having white-blonde hair and black eyes. In the film, he's portrayed by Jonathan Rhys Meyers who has dark brown hair and blue eyes.
  • Adaptation Induced Plothole: In the book Simon was abducted by vampires because he'd been turned into a rat, and they mistook him for one of them. In the movie, they took him as a hostage because they wanted the Mortal Cup. The movie failed to give us any possible use Vampires could have for the Cup.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: SCANDAL's "Rainy" is the theme song for the Japanese release of the film.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Johann Sebastian Bach is stated to have been a Shadowhunter and wrote chords that repel demons into his music.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Madame Dorothea, played by CCH Pounder, is the first named character to kick the bucket courtesy of Demonic Possession.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The film has a ludicrously attractive array of males in the cast - the females are pretty too, but there's much fewer of them.
  • Casting Gag: In the film, all of the Shadowhunters have British accents. Clary who is the daughter of one is played by Lily Collins who is also the daughter a Brit.
  • Extended Disarming: Madame Dorothea refuses to let Shadowhunter Jace inside her apartment armed. He drops his sword in her umbrella stand, followed by a knife. Then another sword, another knife, more knives...and still more knives. When he's "finished" and starts walking towards the door, she raises her eyebrows, points to his boot, and he removes one more large knife to add to the collection.
  • Film of the Book
  • Follow the Leader: The film was green-lit as an attempt to fill the void of "teen paranormal romance" films left behind once the last Twilight film was released.
  • Held Gaze: Magnus and Alec have one when they first meet. Cue the squeals of fangirls everywhere.
    "Him. The one with the blue eyes."
  • Hollywood Nerd: Clary's best friend Simon is a shy, awkward, D&D-loving nerd who can't get her to notice that he's in love with her (and is eventually rejected in favor of the dashing hero Jace.) He is played by the gorgeous Robert Sheehan.
  • Hollywood Old: 36-year-old Luke Garroway is played by 29-year-old Aidan Turner.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Simon confronts Clary about her decision to associate with Jace when Jace steps out of the room:
    Simon: *whispering* Your mom is gone, and you're hanging out with some dyed-blond-wanna-be-goth-wierdo?
    ...
    Jace: *re-entering room with a phone* You need to check this. Oh, and for the record, my hair is naturally blond.

Monster Hunter InternationalUrban FantasyMr Blank
Morris and Chastain InvestigationsFantasy LiteratureMoses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman
The MediatorParanormal RomanceNightshade Trilogy
More Than ThisYoung Adult LiteratureMorganville Vampires
Mortal EnginesLiterature of the 2000sThe Moth Diaries
Morpheus RoadLiterature of the 2010sMoses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman

alternative title(s): The Mortal Instruments City Of Bones; Mortal Instruments
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