Literature: The Princess Bride
A Hot Fairy-Tale
A 1973 book by William Goldman
, The Princess Bride
is about the trials of true love in the Renaissance European nation of Florin. The story stars Buttercup, a simple yet incredibly beautiful farmgirl, and Westley, the farmhand she enjoys ordering around. Although they realize that they share the incredibly rare thing called "true love", fate conspires to keep them apart, as Westley is lost at sea.
Five years later, Prince Humperdinck, who rules Florin in place of his elderly and doddering father, decides to celebrate the kingdom's 500th anniversary by marrying Buttercup, who is now the most beautiful woman in the world. Buttercup, knowing that the Prince is well within his rights and believing she can never love again anyway, reluctantly agrees.
In a plot against the throne, Buttercup is kidnapped by the criminal trio of Vizzini (the mastermind), Fezzik (the dumb muscle) and Inigo Montoya (the world's greatest fencer, traveling to avenge his father) — but their steps are hampered by a mysterious man in black who seems determined to stop them at all costs. The subsequent adventures are madcap, iconic and brilliant.
The book uses a Framing Device
with the author "abridging"
an older story in order to turn a very satirical (and rather cynical) adult novel by the Florinese author S. Morgenstern into the adventure tale for children that he remembers his father reading to him as a kid
It was later adapted by the author into a well-known film of the same name
The new edition published for the book's 25th anniversary included additional commentary (including some remarks on the film), and a rather confusing preview chapter from a projected sequel, Buttercup's Baby
, which implicitly references Goldman's unrelated novel Control
The even newer edition for the 30th anniversary contains additional commentary about the film, as well as everything contained in the 25th anniversary edition, resulting in three forewords. One more foreword and the 'Good Parts' version will be thicker than Morgenstern's original version!
The Princess Bride provides examples of:
- Acquired Poison Immunity: The Man in Black has been building up an immunity to iocaine powder for several years.
- Adaptation Distillation: In-universe. Thenote original book that the story was told from was a long, boring political satire that the narrator distilled into just the good parts for his son.
- Affably Evil: Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen are quite nice, even when they are torturing you or planning your murder, so much so that when Humperdinck loses his composure, it comes as a genuine shock.
- Affectionate Nickname: Humperdinck calls Queen Bella "Evil Stepmother," or E.S. for short. And yes, it is an affectionate nickname; he's quite fond of her.
- Affectionate Parody: Pulls off the tricky balancing act between joyful appreciation and subtle (and not so subtle) parody.
- The Alcoholic: Inigo pre- and post-Vizzini.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Goldman hangs a lampshade on this in the framing story, complaining that he had to argue with his editors about Max and Valerie being "too Jewish" for a medieval fantasy story - as though crotchety Jews were invented in the Catskills in 1952. He also relates a similar battle he went through with the "bifocals" line in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, fighting a studio executive who didn't know and didn't care that Ben Franklin invented bifocals nearly a century before the movie's period.
- Ambiguously Gay: Prince Humperdinck is the only character not swayed by Buttercup's beauty. He just views her as a political tool to convince his country to go to war over.
- Anachronism Stew: The setting is "before Europe", yet "after America" and before the invention of the word "glamour." Also, there is a mention of Australia being populated entirely by criminals, and Westley is described as wearing blue jeans. Oh, and stew is older than everything, except taxes. In-universe William Goldman states that this drove his editor bonkers, and had to explain that S. Morgenstern was being satirical.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: The Scarpia Ultimatum version. If the "Dread Pirate Roberts" does not respond to the messages that Humperdinck purports to send, Buttercup must marry him.
- Arranged Marriage: Buttercup to Prince Humperdinck. She goes along with it because she believes Westley to be dead.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Played straight with Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen; the King, however, is merely senile, and the Queen is the most beloved person in the kingdom.
- As Himself: Played with. The in-universe William Goldman has a son. The real Goldman only has daughters.
- As You Know
- Iocaine comes from Australia, as "everyone knows". note
- Author Filibuster: Parodied; the original versionnote was apparently riddled with these, but the 'editor' didn't realize until adulthood because his father only told him 'the good bits' as a child. The editor promptly cuts pretty much all of them from his annotation, as they apparently completely bog the novel down in irrelevant minutiae and pompous tangents, but his descriptions of them are entertaining in their own right — for example, the editorial on the removal of chapter 3: 56 and a half pages of Buttercup packing her luggage.
- Bad News in a Good Way: How Westley tries to present their unavoidable escape into the Fire Swamp to Buttercup. It doesn't quite work.
- Battle of Wits: Vizzini and the Man in Black engage in a contest of wits involving poisoned wine, with a hilarious use of I Know You Know I Know.
- Best Served Cold: Inigo's quest for vengeance against the "six-fingered man" who killed his father, which began when he was eleven.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: When Buttercup escapes the Sicilian Crowd's boat, swimming into shark-infested waters, Vizzini tells her that if she cries out, they'll find her and she'll die painlessly. But she resolves not to make a peep, ready to die as shark kibble rather than assassin bait.
- The Big Damn Kiss: For Westley and Buttercup's first kiss, the narrative goes on at length about how, since the accidental invention of the kiss, people have been divided over what mathematical equation will best describe the perfect kiss; however, there have been five throughout history that everyone agrees "deserve full marks." The narrative then declares, "Well, this one left them all behind."
- The Big Guy: Fezzik. It's been his condition since childhood; when his father tried to teach him to box in order to defend himself against his mean schoolmates, Fezzik accidentally broke his father's jaw. When he boxed for sport, he found single opponents to lack any challenge, so he would fight entire groups at a time.
- Big Guy Rodeo: The Man in Black does this to Fezzik. It works, too; according to Fezzik, it's because he's got used to fighting crowds (battling gangs for local charities—that kind of thing) and is out of practice with one-on-one duels.
- Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Inverted and Played for Laughs as it takes a while for Miracle Max's cure to fully take effect on Westley, and Inigo and Fezzik have to carry him around while Storming the Castle as bits of him are "waking up" one at a time.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The end of the novel explores the logical aftermath of the heroes' escape. Inigo's injury worsens and the entire army of Florin is after them. They survive, though.
- Borscht Belt: Max and Valerie. In-universe William Goldman always puzzled why S. Morgenstern wrote them as such.note
- The Brute: Subverted. Fezzik is really quite a nice guy.
- Buy Them Off: Inigo insists that Rugen offer money and power in exchange for his life, just to see him beg.
- Catch Phrase:
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Fezzik's holocaust cloak, which he uses to obtain an ingredient for Miracle Max's pill, proves useful while Storming the Castle.
- Cliff Hanger: No, not the Cliffs of Insanity. Seems S. Morgenstern was fond of these (note Buttercup's Baby as well.)
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Rugen has spent decades developing The Machine as the perfect torture device, and is almost childishly eager to try it out on Westley. Humperdinck prefers a more direct approach.
- Confession Deferred:
- Inigo trying to convince Miracle Max to work cheap:
Inigo: This is noble, sir. His wife is... crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation.
Miracle Max: Are you a rotten liar.
Inigo: I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years.
Miracle Max: Your first story was better.
- When Yellin tries to resign because he can't find the rumored saboteurs from Guilder, Humperdinck (who needs a regent in Guilder after the war, only trusts Yellin and Rugen, and knows Rugen is too busy with "his stupid Pain Primer") promptly tells him what's really going on and what planted evidence he should find later.
Humperdinck: I do not accept your resignation, you are doing a capable job, there is no plot, I shall slaughter the Queen myself this very evening, you shall run Guilder for me after the war, now get back on your feet.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Played straight, but it only works for Fezzik, and with a caveat. In his past, Fezzik used to fight people one-on-one for money. Audiences got bored of the CurbStompBattles so Fezzik started taking on more and more people, and found that if he changed his strategy a little bit, it wasn't much harder than fighting single people. During his fight with the Man in Black, Fezzik realizes that his years of fighting groups have left him confused as to how to fight one person. He adjusts his strategy, but by that point, it's too late.
- Contemptible Cover: There exists a mass-market paperback edition that came out about two years after the book's first release in 1973. The cover art◊ depicts a dark-haired woman with very few clothes surrounded by skulls, snakes, tentacles and other horrifying objects. Apparently, not only did the artist not read the book beforehand, he must not have even seen a plot summary.
- Cool Horse: Prince Humperdinck breeds white horses, which Fezzik steals to facilitate the heroes' escape.
- Cool Mask: The Man in Black wears one as part of his Dread Pirate Roberts getup. It's just terribly comfortable!
- Costume Porn: Spoofed, with the narrator describing how he cut from the "original version" entire chapters describing Buttercup's wardrobe.
- Cruel Mercy: In his To the Pain speech, Westley offers to allow Humperdinck to retain his ears, so he can hear the cries of children and wailing of women at his hideous apperance.
- Damsel in Distress: With two exceptions — jumping off the boat and pushing the Dread Pirate Roberts down a hill — Buttercup takes no assertive action in her own defense. This is particularly evident in the Fire Swamp where she fails to assist Westley in any way.
- Dashing Hispanic: Inigo Montoya has the handsomeness and the swashbuckling down pat. His apparent failure at his life quest has left him despondent and alcoholic, however.
- Deadpan Snarker: When he isn't professing his undying love to Buttercup, Westley is being very sarcastic with her. Especially in regards to her (lack of) intelligence.
- Determinator: Inigo in his fight with Count Rugen. Stabbed repeatedly and still keeps coming.
- Disproportionate Retribution: It's implied that Humperdinck's main motive for wanting a war with Guilder is outrage that Guilder would offer him a bald princess as a bride.
- The Dragon: Count Rugen is Humperdinck's second in command and his co-conspirator. During the final showdown, however, Rugen fails rather badly at his job.
- The Dreaded: The Dread Pirate Roberts, notorious for being a terrifying scourge of the high seas who takes no prisoners.
- Dreaming The Truth: Buttercup and the Ancient Booer, who accuses her of giving up True Love for a marriage of convenience.
- Electric Torture: Count Rugen's Machine uses suction for torture in a manner highly analogous to the more common electric shock variant.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: The Impressive Clergyman speaks with a truly mind-boggling accent.
- Empty Room Psych: The fifth level of Count Rugen's Zoo of Death, which is bereft of any of the horrific monsters of the previous two levels, just to lull invaders into a false sense of security so that they fall prey to the deadly spider in the door handle. This backfires, though, by freaking Inigo and Fezzik out so much that they smash the door down.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Humperdinck can't marry a commoner, so Buttercup gets ennobled. The story explains how she had to attend royalty school for three years, and was given the title of Princess of Hammersmith (which was part of the Florinese property but nobody ever paid attention to it).
- Evil Albino: The Keeper of the Zoo of Death. However, he's more of a Punch Clock Villain — he even offers to perform a Mercy Kill on Westley before Count Rugen can get to use the Machine on him.
- The Evil Prince: Humperdinck is the prince of Florin and schemes to instigate a war with neighboring Guilder so he can usurp control of both kingdoms.
- Exactly What I Aimed At: Vizzini instructs Fezzik to pick up a rock and smash The Man In Black's head in. Fezzik decides it's too unsporting, and smashes a rock right near his head, informing the Man in Black that he could have smashed his head, but wanted to settle things differently. The Man in Black believes him.
- Exploited Immunity: Vizzini and the Man in Black are playing Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo; the Man in Black puts poison in both glasses, having spent years developing a tolerance to the poison being used.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- Fingertip Drug Analysis: Parodied.
Man in Black: What you do not smell is called Iocaine powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid and is among the more deadly poisons known to man.
Humperdinck (sniffing the vial, later): Iocaine! I'd bet my life on it.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: In the Framing Story, the original work wasn't a fairy tale at all but rather a dull historical treatise, which the narrator cut down to "the good bits". This leaves plenty of room for parody among the standard fairy tale tropes.
- Framing Device: The novel is framed as an abridged version of a much larger original work which the narrator had read to him as a child.
- Fresh Clue: Prince Humperdinck is an expert tracker, and manages to correctly interpret Wesley's adventures while rescuing Buttercup:
"Iocane. I'd bet my life on it. And there are the princess's footprints. She is alive, or was an hour ago. If she is otherwise when I find her, I shall be very put out."
- Gentle Giant: Fezzik is happiest when he's just making up rhymes with his buddy Inigo. He has no ill will towards people, but fights because it's the only thing he knows how to do well.
- Get It Over With: After being defeated in a duel, Inigo asks the Man in Black to kill him quickly, so he won't have to live with the shame. The Man in Black denies this request, but does knock him unconscious.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Inigo has a scar on each cheek, given to him as a child by the "six-fingered man" for daring to defy him. Inigo returns the favor when he confronts Count Rugen at the end.
- Green-Eyed Epiphany: Buttercup realizes she's in love with Westley because Countess Rugen has the visible hots for him.
- Hairstyle Malfunction: A potential bride for Humperdinck visits, bringing along her hugely famous collection of hats. Unfortunately for her, a breeze blows through the castle while she's there, her hat comes off to reveal her (heretofore hidden) baldness, and Humperdinck is ready to go to war with her country because of the embarrassment he suffered seeing her.
- Happily Ever After: The version that the narrator's father told him ends with a happily-ever-after. As an adult, he learns that the actual book leaves it a bit more open-ended.
- Heel-Face Turn: Inigo and Fezzik are only hirelings, with no real malice in their hearts, but after the Man in Black defeats both of them, they seek him out: Fezzik to give his life purpose and Inigo because he wants help with his revenge quest.
- Henpecked Husband:
- Buttercup's father.
- And the fictional version of William Goldman himself.
- Also Miracle Max, to an extent.
Valerie: Liar! Liar! LIIIAAAAAR!
- Heroic Second Wind: A gut stab and two shoulder wounds aren't enough to bring Inigo down.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Inigo and Fezzik seem to be this. Also, in Inigo's Back Story, this is the kind of relationship between his father, Domingo Montoya, and Domingo's best friend Yeste.
- Home Sweet Home: Westley wants to settle down with Buttercup after making his fortune in the world.
- Hypocritical Humor: The novel mentions removing sections of the original text that were boring and unsuitable for children... in the midst of a section of text that is boring and unsuitable for children.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Inigo, being a master swordsman, has taken to deliberately handicapping himself by fighting left-handed so that fights with inferior opponents won't be too easy. When the Man in Black turns out to be a stronger opponent than he expected, he reveals the ruse and switches back to using his right hand — and then the Man in Black does the same thing.
- I Don't Pay You to Think: Vizzini tells Fezzik "You were not hired for your brains!"
- Ice Queen/Defrosting Ice Queen: Buttercup goes from one to the other and back again throughout the story. She starts out cold, then defrosts when she realizes she's in love with Westley, then freezes up again after he's murdered by pirates, then defrosts again when he shows up. When Humperdinck catches them coming out of the Fire Swamp, she agrees to leave with him to save Westley's life, freezing up once more with despair, but later thaws when she realizes she made a huge mistake.
- The Igor: The Albino serves as Count Rugen's minion, and has the hunchbacked posture and hoarse, ragged voice down pat... until he can't keep it up and decides to talk normally.
- I Gave My Word: Played straight by Inigo as Westley is trying to climb the Cliffs of Insanity. Twisted around when Prince Humperdinck promises not to hurt Westley if Buttercup goes quietly ("You (meaning Count Rugen) will do the actual tormenting; I will only spectate"), but ultimately subverted when Humperdinck mostly kills Westley himself.
- I Know You Know I Know: Subverted. Vizzini's hammy "...so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me! But you would have counted on my thinking that, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you!..." speech is just stalling for time, as the Man in Black points out, trying to goad out a reaction that will betray which goblet has poison in it.
- Incendiary Exponent: Since they only have two able fighters against eighty guards, the plan for Storming the Castle involves setting Fezzik on fire (he's wearing a holocaust cloak, which keeps him safe) in order to frighten them off.
- Inter-Class Romance: Buttercup gets made princess of a tiny area so that Prince Humperdinck can marry her. This also puts her socially above Westley, who used to work as her father's farmhand before becoming a pirate.
- Ironic Echo:
- Prince Humperdinck declares, "I swear it will be done," to Buttercup's demand that he send messages to the "Dread Pirate Roberts", knowing full well that Westley is in his dungeon. Count Rugen echoes it back to him immediately thereafter.
- Inigo swearing on his father's soul not to attack the Man in Black until he finishes climbing, versus Yellin swearing on his mother's soul that he didn't have any gate key.
- Karma Houdini: Played with regarding Prince Humperdinck. He suffers no physical harm at all in the final confrontation, but his reputation lies in ruins and his cowardice is revealed. What happens to him afterwards, however, is not stated.
- King on His Deathbed: Prince Humperdinck's father is supposedly near death, and does die in Buttercup's dream sequence.
- Legacy Character: The original Dread Pirate Roberts retired and passed on the name to one of his associates; this developed into a tradition of which Westley is the latest recipient. When he rescues Buttercup, he states his intention to pass on the title himself.
- Life Isn't Fair:
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: See Author Filibuster — the supposed original version of the book is, in fact, nonexistent.
- Living Legend: The Dread Pirate Roberts is a mythical pirate. Fezzik earns a reputation as a brawler whose arms can never be stopped. Prince Humperdinck can hunt anything down.
- Look Behind You: Vizzini does this at the conclusion of his I Know You Know I Know filibuster to distract the Man in Black from his Poison Chalice Switcheroo.
- Marry for Love: Westley wants to marry Buttercup, and the virtue of "true love" is noised about by a lot of people, but there are practical matters involved like the lack of any money. So he goes off to seek his fortune, leaving Buttercup to fall into an Arranged Marriage.
- Metafictional Device: Used, lampshaded and parodied everywhere. The "original" book doesn't actually exist as a discrete piece of literature, and basically serves as a prop for (in-story) Goldman to play off for additional humor.
- Mexican Standoff: Vizzini holds Buttercup hostage at knifepoint as a hedge against the Man in Black's obvious physical superiority. They choose a battle of wits as an alternative to violence.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Inigo and Fezzik. They follow Vizzini's orders, but they can't hide the fact that they're really pretty nice guys.
- Mr. Fanservice: Buttercup starts noticing how hot "Farm Boy's" bod is. Westley later says he got ripped so that she would notice him. There's a reason the Tag Line for the book is "A Hot Fairy Tale".
- The Napoleon: Vizzini is hilariously short and resents any mention of the fact.
- Neutral Female: Buttercup is useless until the end, where she manages to drive off the entire Brute Squad by standing up in the saddle and declaring, " I - am - the - queeeeeeeeeeeen!!!!!"
- Never Say That Again:
- Miracle Max cannot stand the sound of Humperdinck's name. "Humperdinck! Humperdinck! Humperdinck!"
- Also, Count Rugen, to Inigo's You Killed My Father Prepare to Die mantra: "Stop saying that!"
- Nice Hat: Princess Noreena of Guilder has hundreds of hats, described in the unabridged book in excruciating detail for three pages. They're all extravagant and very useful for hiding her bald head.
- No Ending: The narrator points out that the escape is not the end and leaves the ultimate fate of the heroes ambiguous, with lots of Lampshade Hanging.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The last level of the Zoo of Death is a long, dark hallway, entirely devoid of the horrific beasts of the other levels. The idea is to lure the intruders into a false sense of security so that they are bitten by the extremely venomous spider hidden in the doorknob at the end. Inigo finds the apparent lack of beasts and traps even more worrisome than the previous two levels, and Fezzik is so terrified of what's going on that he bursts through the door at the end — without touching the handle, squashing the spider in the process.
- Our Hero Is Dead: Humperdinck kills Westley in Rugen's Machine for having the audacity to hold Buttercup's True Love. He gets better.
- Out-Gambitted: Vizzini counts on his ability to improvise an I Know You Know I Know speech to confuse the Man in Black and distract him from the Poison Chalice Switcheroo. He fails to anticipate that the Man in Black would not set up the scenario in the first place if he had any chance of losing.
- Padding: The reason for the "Good Parts" version. One entire chapter was devoted to the wedding preparation - with Purple Prose describing everything. It apparently makes Amanda McKittrick Ros look succinct.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: While describing his experiences with and as the Dread Pirate Roberts, Westley very carefully omits any mention of the unsavory acts he must have committed as said pirate.
- Person with the Clothing: The Man in Black.
- Pet Rat: The goons hired by Prince Humperdinck, whose job is to clear out the Thieves' Quarter. Not to mention Vizzini and his crew.
- Pirate: The Dread Pirate Roberts, to be precise.
- Pistol-Whipping: The Man in Black whacks Inigo with the butt of his sword to knock him out so he can't interfere.
- Plot Hole: Lampshaded repeatedly, to the point where the amount of events that don't make any practical sense other than to drive S. Morgenstern's plot becomes something of a running joke.
- Plot-Powered Stamina: Fezzik's arms never get tired, which comes in handy when he has to climb the Cliffs of Insanity with three people on his back.
- Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Vizzini's gambit in the battle of wits is to distract the Man in Black and switch the goblets. If the Man in Black is willing to drink from his own cup, then he's just poisoned himself. Except it doesn't work, because both goblets were poisoned.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "I want Domingo Montoya back, you son-of-a-bitch!"
- Prepositional Phrase Equals Coolness: The Cliffs of Insanity, the Man in Black, the Rodents of Unusual Size, and the Zoo of Death, just to name a few.
- Pressure Point: Vizzini uses a Vulcan Neck Pinch on Buttercup.
- Pretext for War: Humperdinck sets up Buttercup to be so beloved of the Florinese people that her "kidnapping by agents of Guilder" will enrage them enough to support a war.
- Prince Charmless: Humperdinck clearly believes himself to be witty, handsome, and clever. And he is indeed perfectly courteous to Buttercup, but never shows her the slightest sign of love.
- Psycho for Hire: Count Tyrone Rugen is unfailingly polite but has devoted his entire life to the study of pain and has invented the greatest torture machine in history.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Inigo Montoya has a scar on each cheek given to him by the man who killed his father which serves to strengthen his drive for revenge.
- Punch Clock Villain: Inigo and Fezzik; the Albino.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...
- Quicksand Sucks: Except it's not quicksand. The stuff Buttercup falls into in the book is called 'snow sand,' and is rather like baby powder in consistency. As the narrative explains, quicksand is wet and kills by drowning, while snow sand is dry and powdery and kills by suffocation.
- Rags to Royalty: Buttercup is elevated from a back-country farm girl to a princess by royal decree.
- Reading Is Cool Aesop
- Red Right Hand: Count Rugen has six fingers on his right hand, identifying him as the man who killed Inigo's father.
- Remembered Too Late: Max remembers after the heroes leave that the potion will only make Westley fully fit for 40 minutes.
- Resurrection Sickness: Max explains that he can definitely have the tongue and brain working, and with luck maybe a slow walk. That's about it.
- Revenge: Inigo's motivation is to get vengeance on the six-fingered man who killed his father.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Fezzik has a genius for spontaneous rhyming, much to Vizzini's annoyance.
- Robotic Torture Device: Rugen's "Machine", which applies the principles of suction to "suck out years of a person's life".
- Scarecrow Solution: "The Dread Pirate Roberts" rig that Fezzik wears to terrify the Florinese soldiers guarding the castle gate.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Prince Humperdinck can "track a hawk on a cloudy day" and demonstrates this skill by not only perfectly retracing the steps of the Man in Black's duel with Inigo, but identifying the odorless, colorless, tasteless iocane powder.
- Scheherezade Gambit: Westley's relationship with the previous Dread Pirate Roberts is that he will "most likely kill him in the morning". He says this for a number of years before finally becoming fast friends.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Inigo sweetens his revenge by offering Rugen false hope.
Inigo: Offer me money... Power... Anything I ask for.
Rugen: Anything. Please.
Inigo: I want Domingo Montoya, you son of a bitch.
- Secret Test: When Westley rescues Buttercup, his True Love, from her kidnappers, he doesn't reveal his true identity, in the hope of finding out whether she still loves him or not.
- Sentenced to Down Under: Vizzini references this during his Bat Deduction. He calls Australia a nation populated entirely by criminals.
- Slave to PR: The Dread Pirate Roberts works hard to maintain his reputation as a murderous bastard. You don't have to fight as often if people surrender their valuables in order to avoid certain death.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Buttercup. Her beauty is enough to get her promoted to future queen, except the Prince threatens to kill her if she refuses. And he's planning to kill her anyway. In fact, if she were slightly less beautiful, the whole conflict wouldn't have happened.
- Something Only They Would Say: Roberts saying "As you wish", reveals himself to be Westley.
- So What Do We Do Now?: Inigo gets his revenge, but he spent all his adult life in pursuit of it. What should he do?note
- Sparing The Aces: The Man in Black would no sooner kill a genius than shatter a stained glass window.
- Spin-Off: The Silent Gondoliers, another Goldman novel supposedly adapted from an original by S. Morgenstern.
- Stop Saying That!: Count Rugen, verbatim, to Inigo Montoya.
- Storming the Castle: "Think it'll work?" "It'll take a miracle."
- Succession Crisis: The whole thing gets started when Prince Humperdinck learns that his father is dying and he has to marry to produce an heir. FALSE.
- Sword Fight: The duel between Inigo and the Man in Black.
- Tap on the Head: The Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo (swordhilt) and Fezzik (stranglehold), Count Rugen to Westley (swordhilt), and Fezzik to the albino (fist).
- Terrible Trio: Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik are either an example of this or ˇThree Amigos!. Because Vizzini is a cad, but Fezzik and Inigo are mostly good, but on the other hand Inigo and Fezzik both help to kidnap Buttercup and, oh never mind! Later becomes heroic when someone gets slapped with iocaine powder.
- Theme Naming: Florin and Guilder are different names for the same medieval European coin. Currency with those names is still in use today.
- Thicker Than Water
- Threatening Shark: Buttercup tries to swim away from Vizzini, so he excites the sharks.
- Try And Follow: The Fire Swamp and the Cliffs of Insanity.
- Un Installment: The "reunion scene". When Buttercup and Westley are reunited, there's an editor's note explaining that for one reason and another the book doesn't include a detailed depiction of their reunion, but you can write in to the publisher to be sent a copy. People who did write in instead received a letter explaining that the Morgenstern estate had frowned on this, and the publisher needed to keep in good with the Morgenstern estate to avoid messing up the film rights/the US's trade ties with Florin/Goldman's chances of being allowed to "adapt" the sequel (the letter was updated from time to time with a new excuse). The then-current text of the letter was included in the 25th Anniversary Edition.
- Unreliable Narrator: Goldman portrays himself as one in the book's foreword. He then sets out to prove it, quite successfully. He also portrays Morgenstern as an unreliable narrator. And his father (who read him the book as a child).
- To wit: Narrator Goldman talks about a wife and kid he doesn't have in real life (not to mention as saying the story is actually satirical non-fiction). Narrator Morgenstern says that the story happened before Europe but after America. Narrator Father never informed his son that the story came from a historical text and he skipped over all the (lengthy) boring parts)
- Villainous Breakdown: As Inigo refuses to die, and slowly gains the upper hand on Rugen in their duel, Rugen first becomes shaken, then demands that Inigo "Stop saying that!"
- Wall Slump: Inigo has a famous one after Rugen stabs him... several times.
- Wham Line:
- "As you wish!" as Roberts tumbles down the hillside.
- Humperdinck is presented as a Jerk Ass for claiming Buttercup as a trophy wife - though he seems sincerely concerned that Guilder kidnapped her and plans to kill her - and later imprisoning Westley to get him out of the way. Then he reveals that he was behind Buttercup's abduction all along, and was trying to frame Guilder for it, and will instead murder her on the wedding night and frame Guilder for that instead.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Fezzik is terrified of being alone.
- Wicked Stepmother: Utterly averted with Queen Bella, who has an excellent relationship with her stepson the Prince. Humperdinck calls her "Evil Stepmother" (or E.S. for short), but entirely in jest.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Buttercup — though at first she's only in the top twenty. The first couple of chapters are in fact a lengthy Deconstruction of the trope, as the narrator somehow has access to a list of "Who was the most beautiful woman in the world at any given time," pays careful attention to Buttercup's rise through the ranks, and even gives anecdotes on what happened to the previous holders of the title (in order: chocolate, smallpox, and wrinkles brought on by worrying about how to hold on to the title of "World's Most Beautiful Woman.")
- Your Eyes Can Deceive You: Part of Inigo's training.
The released portion of Buttercup's Baby provides examples of:
- Affectionate Nickname: Buttercup and Westley's daughter Waverly refers to Fezzik as "Shade".
- Author Filibuster: Parodied, as in The Princess Bride, with S. Morgenstern's digressions. After a huge buildup to a fight, the conclusion is a perfunctory few sentences mixed in with several pages about the positive qualities of a certain type of tree. Goldman explains that Morgenstern had a large monetary stake involving these trees, and used the book as an opportunity to make them more popular.
- It's also played with, in that Goldman's removal of these in The Princess Bride is said to be a point of contention with Morgenstern's estate about letting him 'abridge' Buttercup's Baby; apparently, the estate considers these the most important parts of the book.
- Belated Happy Ending: Buttercup's Baby resolves the open ending of The Princess Bride.
- Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: It's Big Guy Fezzik who throws himself over an enormous cliff to save Waverly, who is Buttercup and Westley's daughter.