Anachronic Order: The story jumps around in time, always making a note of the ages of Henry and Clare in that scene, and on some occasions the ages of more than one Henry, in fact, the person who teaches him to pick locks and steal wallets is himself from the future.
Author Appeal: The author most definitely wants to make it very clear step by step in vivid detail how Clare creates some of her art work.
Badass Bookworm: Don't call Henry a fag and try to beat him up based on the ridiculous clothes he's forced to wear. He will end you. And whatever you do, for the love of god do NOT brutalize his future wife because she wouldn't put out. I don't care if it seems like a good idea at the time, JUST DON'T.
Beneficial Disease: One of the reasons Dr Kendrick argues that Henry is the future of mankind is that he has the ultimate fight-or-flight response, as shown by his survival of the car crash that killed his mother: if Henry's in sudden danger, he can just time-travel away.
Doesn't really work out as well when he gets shot.
Beta Couple: Charisse and Gomez, although Gomez continues to harbor deep feelings for Clare decades after his one-night stand with her.
Bilingual Bonus: Every few pages. Trilingual, really: English, German, and French.
Blessed with Suck: Henry can time-travel - but he doesn't have any control over it. His ability targets the most memorable places, people, and events in his life - the traumatic ones even more so than the positive ones. For every time he gets to visit his wife as a teenager or his infant daughter as a ten-year-old, he has to watch his ex-girlfriend kill herself over him or see his mother die for the fiftieth time. And on top of all this, the story takes place in an Eternist universe . Basically, everything that has ever happened, good and bad, was supposed to happen the way it did, and Henry can't do a damn thing about it. It doesn't take him long to wonder if the universe is actively f*** ing with him.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite going missing for days at a time and being caught naked in the stacks multiple times, Henry is allowed to keep his job at the library and his co-workers take bets as to the REAL reason for his odd behaviour.
But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Getting a vasectomy doesn't work when you're an inadvertent time traveler. Oh, the vasectomy worked fine, but if your wife gets it on with a pre-vasectomy version of you...
Can't Take Anything With You: This causes Henry a lot of hell every time he time travels. Whenever he arrives he has to steal clothes, which causes him a lot of trouble. He also had to remove some teeth as he kept on leaving behind the fillings.
Childhood Marriage Promise: Sort of. When Henry, already married to Clare, travels back in time to Clare's childhood, he tells the child version of her that they are already married in the future. (Well, her future.)
Cursed with Awesome: Alba has an arguably better deal than Henry, as she can induce a time-travel episode and choose where she goes. She still has random time-travelling fits though, so YMMV.
Disability Superpower: A Deconstructed Trope. Being a time traveler is a genetic disorder and is portrayed as a medical condition — a very strange one, but a medical condition nonetheless — and it is nothing but hell. Well, except for cheating and winning the lottery.
"Yeah, I look like I've been folded, spindled and mutilated."
Gratuitous Foreign Language: Niffenegger occasionally has Henry use the phrase "und so weiter", which means "and so on" in German. However, on at least one occasion she misspells it as "und so wiete", which means "and so [???]" (wiete isn't even a word in German).
Human Resources: In the book, Clare asks Henry if the rumor that his library has a rare book that was bound in human skin is true, and he says yes. This sets up things up for a great line later, when a fellow librarian tells Henry that his boss wants to see him, and that the boss "looks like he wants to rebind The Chronicles of Nawat Wuzeer Hyderabed."
I Hate Past Me: Played with. Henry gets annoyed with both past and future versions of himself when they complicate his life.
In the Blood: Henry and Clare's daughter also has fits of chrono-displacement, but unlike her father, she can exert a degree of control over them.
I Will Wait for You: Clare. All the time. There isn't much else she can do, under the circumstances.
Lighter and Softer: The film compared to the novel. Henry keeps his feet and Gomez isn't in love with Clare.
May-December Romance: A different version from the usual, with all the complexities of the time travel involved. Clare figures out early on who Henry is going to be in her life, and Henry already knows that they get married in the future. They do wait until her 18th birthday for Their First Time, and it's her first time with him and not vice versa for two more years.
Missing Mom: Henry's mom's tragic death when he was six. Guess what traumatic event he gets to visit the most often?
Mistaken for Gay: Henry gets attacked when seen walking in a bad alleyway in feminine clothes while travelling through time.
My Future Self and Me: Henry hangs out with future versions of himself a few times. Sometimes they share his apartment, sometimes they commit crimes to train the younger version, sometimes they sexually experiment. All in the glamorous life of a time-traveler.
My Own Private "I Do": For an unusual reason — Clare and Henry have a civil ceremony after the big wedding because Henry completely missed the wedding, even though no one noticed because his future self showed up to take his place.
Naked on Revival: A variant involving time travel rather than death. But even more unpleasant.
Never Win The Lottery: A Subverted Trope: This is the one thing Henry can really exploit in his situation. And he does, for Clare's sake. Yet he continues to hold down a job to the best of his ability and live as normally as possible.
Newspaper Dating: Surprisingly we never see Henry do this. Mostly he just asks his friends the date.
Non Linear Storytelling: There's a complicated pattern, as the book starts when Henry and Clare meet and progresses roughly linear from there, but there's also random travels of Henry's. The meetings of Henry and Clare as a child are in a complicated pattern, with each time either in Clare's order of encounter of Henry's.
Or Was It a Dream?: Henry's first time-traveling experience happened in the middle of the night (good thing his older self was there to meet him) and he assumed he was having a weird dream. And it was pretty much the last time he had a fun experience.
Post 9-11 Terrorism Story: Niffenegger had almost completed the book when the towers fell and ended up adding a scene to further illustrate the limits of Henry's power (and his helpless acceptance of those limits).
Power Degeneration: Henry's condition seems to worsen as he ages, experiencing more violent fits when he time-travels. He also time travels further from the present as he ages, starting from only managing a few days back and forth, to managing to travel back to the 1900s.
Power Incontinence: Henry has no control whatsoever over his time-traveling, and it often happens at highly inconvenient times. Some things tend to trigger his episodes, such as flashing lights, television, stress and alcohol, which is appropriate as his condition is compared to epilepsy several times.
Power Nullifier: Henry experiments with various drugs to stop himself from time-travelling. In one trial, using a formula for a medication that had not been invented yet but he copied from the future, Henry almost kills himself with a very bad reaction.
Power Perversion Potential: Discussed and played straight. Kimy once jokes that Clare could have a threesome with two Henrys, and Henry sexually experiments with versions of himself from the past/future till he's 14.
Puberty Superpower: Averted. Henry and Alba develop their power naturally, but start before they're 10.
Small Reference Pools: An Averted Trope. Can seem as if Niffenegger is referencing obscure works purely for her own amusement. (Even those who have little trouble keeping up with the characters' knowledge of art and poetry may still find the incessant quotations and art analysis annoying.)
Henry: "If anything ever happens to my feet, you might as well shoot me."
Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Henry uses his condition for his own advantage at times, such as seeing concerts, winning the lottery and getting stock tips. He recommends to both Kimy and Gomez to invest in websites such as Google and Amazon, when Gomez doesn't even know what the internet is.
Alba also time-travels to see her grandmother sing in concert, as well as to see Henry.
Trauma Conga Line: Maybe we haven't mentioned this anywhere on the website, but lots of horrifying things happen to Henry.
Troubled, but Cute: Henry in his 20s certainly qualifies as 'troubled,' but after falling in love with a far more stable Henry in his 30s and 40s, Clare doesn't find it all that cute. She has to be told by a 33-year-old Henry to have patience with his younger self before she can fall in love with him in the present day.
Year Inside, Hour Outside: All the time travel he does is why Henry seems to age so fast. He's not sure how old he actually is but he figures it probably amounts to several years on top of his calendar age.
Year Outside, Hour Inside: Earlier in his life he wonders if he might actually be a few years younger than he should be. It's quite possible, as the stress of his life would age him.
You Can't Fight Fate: Played for all the angst it's worth. It's heavily implied that Henry is operating in an Eternist Universe and everything, good and bad, that has ever happened was supposed to happen that way and there's not a damn thing he can do about it. It should be noted, however, that the writing is so good that the angst is handled very well.
Addressed in the movie where in a confrontation with his dad about why he has not stopped his own mom from dying: he replies that he has tried, but he can never get there in time to make a difference.
You No Take Candle: Averted; Ms. Kim, or Kimy (Henry's surrogate mother) lives in Chicago's Koreatown. If not for that, it would be pretty hinky that her English hasn't gotten any better over the few decades of the story.