Literature: The Saint

Enter the Saint, the first novel in the series... that Leslie Charteris was willing to acknowledge.note 

The character of Simon Templar was created by Leslie Charteris in 1928 for a series of books which ran until 1983, published as The Saint. The novels' success led to many adaptations in other media.

Master thief Simon Templar, also known by his nickname "the Saint" due to his initials S.T., as well as the fact that his heroic exploits fly in the face of a nefarious reputation. While he uses many aliases, usually also incorporating the intitials S.T., his true name is unknown. Instead, he took his inspiration for the name Simon Templar from reading about the exploits of the Knights Templar.

Templarís usual targets are those he considers ďungodlyĒ, such as corrupt politicians, warmongers, and other unsavory types, leading to comparisons, both favorable and otherwise, to Robin Hood. However, Templar is willing to ruin the lives of the ungodly or even kill them, justifying these admitted murders as necessary to defend the lives of the innocent.

Charteris told Templar's story in different formats: novels, novella collections and short stories. Initially, Templar was usually depicted as working with a team that included girlfriend Patricia Holm. Later, this was slimmed down to just Hoppy, his right hand man. Finally, Templar was featured working solo in most stories published from the late 1940s onward. Beginning in the 1960s, Charteris occasionally updated stories for reprints, replacing outdated references to movie stars, etc. with more modern references. By the 1970s, he stopped doing that.

Charteris wrote all the stories and novels published between 1928 and 1963. From 1964 onwards other writers took over and continued writing stories (many of which adapted episodes of The Saint and Return Of The Saint from TV). These writers were usually credited inside the books, but Charteris received sole credit on the covers. The final Saint novel in the original run was published in 1983.

The Saint provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: In "The Newdick Helicopter", a Con Man sells a mark plans for a 'helicopter' (actually a gyrocopter). When the mark assembles the helicopter, he discovers it cannot take off vertically as he expected it to. Assuming he had put it together wrong, he starts tinkering with it and ends up inventing a fully functioning helicopter. (Note that this story was published in 1933, several years before the first fully functioning helicopter was built.)
  • Allergic to Routine: The Saint. Pat also, but not quite as badly.
  • Arch-Enemy: Rayt Marius for a couple books.
  • Banana Republic: The Wonderful War is the story of how The Saint (almost) singlehandedly liberates one of these.
  • Batman Gambit: The Saint loves these with a holy love.
  • Berserk Button: Do not hurt or threaten Pat; he will go into Unstoppable Rage even if he is badly wounded. Do not hurt a woman in his presence. Period. He will undertake your systematic destruction and there will be absolutely nothing you can do about it, and you can expect no mercy.
  • Birds of a Feather: Pat and Simon Templar; Templar often comments that she's the only woman he's ever met who shares his lust for life and adventure.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: If there is any story in the Saint series that does not feature Templar doing this, it's not a Saint book.
  • Comic-Book Time: As Charteris himself notes in The First Saint Omnibus, Templar was aging at a practically normal rate in the first decade or so... but his aging process slowed to a crawl as The Saint dealt with Those Wacky Nazis, and from the time Charteris retired from primary authorship in 1963 through the end of the series 20 years later, his aging was confined to a much more world-weary attitude.
  • Condescending Compassion: Templar loves pretending this attitude around and in regards to the police.
  • Con Man: Lots of The Saints exploits revolve around elaborate cons he devises to separate the ungodly from their ill-gotten gains.
  • Cool Car: Leslie Charteris didn't believe that any car in the real world was cool enough for Simon to drive, so he made up one called a Hirondel. In one later story (Vendetta fir the Saint), an Italian mechanic who has devoted himself to preserving a Bugatti Royale is impressed that Simon drove a Hirondel. It's that cool.
  • The Charmer: The Saint. Women attract to him like flies. He would never take advantage of a woman and is always courteous and (barring the occasional female villain) polite towards them.
  • Damsel out of Distress: A number of early novels and stories feature Templar's girlfriend, Patricia Holm, who becomes an active accomplice in a number of his exploits. She's also noted to be a very good shot and is the person he trusts to drive the getaway car when the chase is particularly hot. Villains have been known to be more afraid of the icy steel in her voice and eyes than they are of Templar at first meeting (of course, it probably helps that she's usually the one pointing a gun in those instances).
  • Decoy Damsel: Pat occasionally does a heroic version of this, allowing herself to get captured to further some plan of Simon's.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Pat eventually breaks up with Templar.
  • Dissonant Serenity / Tranquil Fury: The more angry The Saint is, the calmer and more relaxed he seems and the more likely he will call villains by ironic endearments as he describes in calm and loving detail how he is going to destroy them. It's only worse if he drops the endearments.... The Unlicensed Victuallers learn this most horribly.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: In the early stories, Simon considers firearms noisy and barbarous, isn't particularly expert with them, and further admits as much on more than one occasion; around World War II, his attitude relaxes and his expertise rises, in both cases considerably.
  • Ethical Slut: Pat and Templar have an open relationship, but Templar usually avoids doing much more than flirting with other women because (while they might be more beautiful, and witty or charming) they can't match up to Pat for intelligence and thirst for adventure.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Certainly all The Saint's marks would say this, especially when he pulls off his wide-eyed innocent look and his beatific smile that usually marks his being particularly mischievous.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Often used by The Saint; is often attempted against him, but it is the rare time that he doesn't have a contingency for someone trying to do this.
  • Flowery Insults: Occasionally, when Templar is in a poetic mood and you are starting to annoy him or piss him off or he wants to annoy and piss you off.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Even invokes this trope by name when describing himself.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Templar and his original companions: Roger Conway, Dicky Tremayne, and Norman Kent. Peter Quentin and Monty Hayward were just as snarky, though not quite as upper-crust.
  • Gentleman Thief: The Saint, obviously.
  • Go-to Alias: Sebastian Tombs
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Simon regularly arranges this; he directly references (though not exact-quotes) the Shakespeare line in The Art Photographer and again in The Careful Terrorist .
  • I Call It "Vera": The Saint's twin throwing knives, Anna and Belle.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Pat's are noted to be this, generally contrasting Simon's innocent baby blues. Also notable character-wise because it symbolizes her tendency to come across as more even keel and less manic than Templar.. She can, however, do the Innocent Blue Eyes too, just to freak Teal out.
    • Simon has these when he's angry.
  • Ironic Nickname: Lots, but Templar's nickname of "Angel Face" for the very ugly Rayt Marius is the foremost example of this trope.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Templar doesn't have an off button when he's around the police or villains. All of his insults are very snarky and both for his own (and his comrades) amusement and to keep villains and policemen off their balance. In one adventure (The Policeman With Wings), he defeats a villain using only his mocking wit.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: The Saint has these and is very, very aware of it. He loves giving beatifically innocent looks at his most infuriating.
  • Internal Deconstruction: The late short story "The Spanish Cow" deconstructs Simon's usual attitudes and behaviour. He comes close to seducing and stealing from an unattractive, middle-aged, nouveau riche woman, and only realises at the last minute that he is about to do something truly evil to another person just because she isn't sexy and cool.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The Saint steals from criminals and gives all but 10% of it to charities (unless it can be determined where the stolen valuables or money was stolen or extorted from in the first place, in which case The Saint gives it all back to its rightful owners).
    • Several tales refer to the newspaper stories that explicitly dub him "the Robin Hood of Modern Crime."
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Another thing The Saint loves with a holy love.
  • Knife Nut: Templar prefers knives to guns, and is a masterful fighter with them.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: In "The Last Hero", one of the earlier Saint novels (1931), Simon Templar takes backstage to his gallant and tragic associate Norman Kent, who falls in love hopelessly with Templar's girlfriend Patricia Holm (who hardly notices him) and at the end of the book sacrifices his life to let Templar and his other comrades-in-arms escape the current villain and fight again another day. A book called "Knights Errant of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries" by Caroline Whitehead and George Mc Leod says it all: "Norman Kent is an archetypal knight-errant. Though formally a man of 20th Century England, he lives (and dies) by the Code of Chivalry. He loves totally his Lady, Patricia Holm - who, like Don Quixote's Dulcinea, is not aware of that love. He is totally loyal to his Liege Lord, Simon Templar. Like Sir Gawain in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", Norman Kent takes on the threats to his Lord. Not only physicial threats to life and limb, but also the sometimes inavoidable need to take dishourable acts which would have reflected badly on the reputation of King Arthur/Simon Templar is taken on, wholly and without reservation, by Sir Gawain/Norman Kent."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sometimes Templar talks about a situation or his life being rather like an adventure novel, and that if it stays true to form something will or won't happen. Eventually in the later books it leads to outright
    • Breaking the Fourth Wall; Templar noting that it's too early in the novel for there to even be the chance that he'd get killed off right then, or something of the like.
  • Long-Running Book Series: 50 books published between 1928 and 1983, all overseen by Leslie Charteris.
  • Master Actor: The Saint.
  • Motor Mouth: The Saint will only stop talking when his Gentleman Thief activities absolutely demand it. When he's excited or has a Eureka Moment his mouth tries a desperate job of trying to keep up with his brain, resulting in fragments of the subject in particular, bits of plans on what he's going to do, and jokes all jumbled together coming out of his mouth at a mile a minute (think The Doctor at his most insensibly manic). Even the most brilliant of his associates, notably Pat, find it a strain to keep up with him at theses moments.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Templar, even when he's wearing all his clothes.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Pat or whatever woman happens to be in the story is usually described in 'loving' detail.
  • Mysterious Past: We never find out much about The Saint's past apart from that "Templar" is a pseudonymous surname he chose as a young man or boy.
  • The Nicknamer: Templar hands out these like he's handing out candy to children.
  • The Pardon: The one time the cops had him under arrest and dead to rights, he had just saved a train with members of the royal family on it from being blown up.
  • The Spymaster: Another legacy of World War II: during the war, Simon worked for an American intelligence officer known only as "Hamilton".
  • Real Men Cook: He usually prefers to eat out, but is quite capable of making a delicious meal quite on his own.
  • Rebellious Spirit: The Saint. Teal lampshades this now and again by sarcastically suggesting to superiors that they should make it a law that you can't live a life without committing a crime at intervals just so The Saint would be contrary and they'd get a little peace from him.
  • Slumming It: in The Wonderful War, Simon pretends to be a Banana Republic peon — and even lets himself be arrested! — to bring about his master plan.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Prefers to dress like this whenever possible, however it is noted (several times over) that he simply looks phenomenal in whatever he happens to be wearing by virtue of good looks and sheer personality.
  • Sword Cane: In the early stories, particularly in "The Man Who Was Clever," Simon is shown to be a master with one; since in those days a cane was still appropriate for upper-class gentlemen, he was also "seldom without it."
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Inspector Claude Eustace Teal.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Templar tends to use pet names or terms of endearment when talking to villains; the sweeter, the more inappropriate, and the more frequent the endearments get, the closer the villains are to death.
  • Themed Aliases: Simon's aliases often use the initials "S.T."
  • This Bear Was Framed: In "The Convenient Monster", a murderer kills his victim with a Polynesian club studded with shark teeth and attempts to place the blame on the Loch Ness Monster!
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: In Salvage For The Saint, Charles Tatenor's real name is revealed to be Schwarzkopf. As literally translating his surname into English would have sounded ridiculous ('blackhead'), he went for something that sounded like blackhead in French (tÍte noire).
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Teal is extremely fond of gum, especially Wrigley's.
  • The Trickster: The Saint. Oh hallowed heavens, The Saint!
  • Vigilante Man: Templar.
    • Vigilante Execution: Templar, especially in the earlier books, would often force a baddie he considered too dangerous (and too likely to get off) to fight him in a duel to the death (he generally preferred not to kill in cold blood because it didn't seem quite sporting).
  • Warrior Poet: Templar writes poetry (in comic and satirical vein to entertain and amuse his compatriots and to annoy his enemies, then sometimes more serious stuff about justice and chivalry). Is also prone to, amidst jokes, philosophize on battle, honor, chivalry, love, how modern man has lost his thirst for adventure, and any numbers of those combined.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Prince and The Saint view each other as one.