Gregor, Boots and Lizzie’s parents are not completely useless, and never by choice, but they are rarely able to help Gregor with his unique problems. Averted in Gregor the Overlander when his dad manages to steer them back to Regalia.
Averted with Vikus, though he usually plays more of a supporting role.
Aerith and Bob: The humans have both typical English names — Henry, Howard, York, Susanna, Judith — and more fantastic names like Solovet, Nerissa, Vikus and Mareth. Lampshaded when Gregor is introduced to – Henry, he almost laughs that "among all these strange names, there's a Henry".
Arc Words: Certain phrases from the various Prophecies get repeated over and over again in the story before it's revealed what they mean:
"Two Over, two Under, of royal descent, two Crawlers, two Fliers, two Spinners ascent, one Gnawer beside, one lost up ahead, and 8 will be left when we count up the dead" from the Prophecy Of Grey in Gregor the Overlander.
"Die the Baby, die its heart, die its most important part" from the Prophecy Of Bane in Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane.
"Turn and turn and turn again, you see the what but not the when", "Remedy and wrong intwine and so they form a single vine" and "If the flames of war are fanned, all Warmbloods lose the Underland" from the Prophecy Of Blood in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods.
" Father, mother, sister, brother, off they go, I don't know if I'll see another" from the Prophecy Of Secrets in Gregor and the Marks of Secret.
"What she saw, it is the flaw, in the Code Of Claw" and "When the Monster's blood is spilled, when the Warrior has been killed" from the Prophecy Of Time in Gregor and the Code of Claw.
Badass Normal: Gregor. And Luxa. And Ripred. Okay, pretty much everyone here can kick butt.
Beneath the Earth: The series is all about this trope. More than 90 percent of the books take place in an underground world beneath New York called the Underland.
In Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor learns he's a "rager" a person with highly developed warrior skills, a natural-born killer. Meaning he has a natural capacity to go into this state when his life is in danger. It's not always voluntary, which is really bad for a character who normally hates to kill.
Ripred is also a "rager".
Big Applesauce: The Underland is located directly underneath New York. Of course.
More specifically, Twitchtip the 'scent seer' whose sense of smell is so accurate that she can smell secrets — not a fast track to the popular crowd.
Also, Nerissa. Funny how a society built on one man's prophecies treats their own personal prophetess so poorly.
Turns out being the Warrior of the prophecy isn't much fun for Gregor. At the end of the series, Gregor is warned that with his rager abilities it will be much easier for him to kill people, so he'll always have to keep an eye on himself.
Bond Creatures: The Underlander humans and the bats are the only species with this. Until Gregor and the Code of Claw.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The assorted oversized creatures of the overworld are given simpler names, allegedly by the people who live there. (Rats are known as "gnawers", spiders as "spinners", and so on.) This is what the creatures of the Underworld actually call themselves, just translated into the nearest thing in English. Humans have one of these names too among the Underworld creaturesnote "killer", but they don't like to hear it.
Character Development: Oodles of this. It's quite refreshing, actually. Gregor goes out of his way to point this out in Luxa when she goes to Temp for advice in later books.
Character Name and the Noun Phrase: The series starts off with Gregor the Overlander, then continues to Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, then Curse of the Warmbloods, and so on.
The Kill 'em All ending leaves Gregor in a state of emotional distress about many characters, many of whom were absolute jerkasses toward him. Particularly in Gregor and the Code of Claw, when faced with the Prophecy of Time that foretells his own death.
On a smaller scale, the True Companions have a very confused, not-quite-stunned reaction to the death of Tick in Gregor the Overlander.
Death World: The Underland jungle. Scratch that, the entire Underland may count. Besides the humans have to deal with intelligent races of Rodents of Unusual Size and Big Creepy-Crawlies. This isn't to mention the earthquakes, volcanoes, eyeless plesiosaurs, giant squid and the occasional plague outbreak. Good thing the humans have the bats on their side — otherwise they probably would have been goners long ago.
Die Laughing: A certain type of carnivorous plant in the Vineyard of Eyes emits a euphoric gas that makes you laugh at everything, rendering you helpless to the attacking vines.
Disappeared Dad: The father of the titular character in Gregor the Overlander, vanished when he was eight. They find him though.
The Drag-Along: Temp and Boots. Averted in Gregor and The Curse of The Warmbloods. Temp kept on warning them, first suggested the idea that the cradle/cure might not be where they thought it was, and Boots did her dance.
Ripred: And if Temp is right, it would explain one thing .. The point of having a crawler on this whole hellish trip! Honestly, how has he added to anything of significance? No offense, Temp, you've been a real champ about babysitting, but what have you contributed? Nothing! Maybe this is it! Your big moment!
Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Underlanders will spend centuries meditating on the possible meanings of Sandwich's prophecies, but they won't give a second thought to whatever Nerissa says.Sure, Nerissa is not all there but her visions are accurate.note The problem is she doesn't know the time her visions take place. They could be ten years into the future or five years before she was born for all she knows. Gregor at least gives her the respect she deserves.
Even though the crawlers/cockroaches, gnawers/rats, spinners/spiders, fliers/bats, etc. that coexist with humans in the Underland are not human, they are sentient and treated as full characters on the same level as humans. Prejudices held among human characters towards these species are even treated as equal to any intra-human bigotry.
The bats, humans, and mice are allies with each other, and hate the rats, who hate just about everyone but especially the humans and mice. The insects pretty much hate all the mammals. The spiders are willing to play both sides, and the cockroaches are considered stupid.
Also, the nursery rhyme features the line, "Some will slice and some will pour." This sounds like an innocent tea party, but turns out to be a description of the medieval-style warfare used in the Underland. "Slicing" refers to the use of swords, and "pouring" refers to the pouring of boiling oil over the walls of a fortress or castle to stop a siege.
Given the "revelation" that Sandwich's prophecies are either nonsense or so vague as to be practically so, this seems a lot less significant.
Just Following Orders: In Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Doctor Neveeve says this line while being arrested.
Ripred points out that Sandwich's prophecies may well just be coincidence or self-fulfilling, and he doesn't believe in them. They seem to be pretty accurate, but only after a book of trying to decipher them and you can see how they could be reinterpreted to fit the latest explanation.
Mrs. Cormaci, who tends to send just the right objects at just the right times and who gives tarot readings. Gregor at one point wonders if she can see what he needs in her tarot cards, and given that psychics exist in this series, he could be right.
Missing Mom: When Gregor's mom gets the plague in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, she spends most of the rest of the series recuperating in the Underland.
The rats demonstrate this quality in their first appearance by accurately calculating what Gragor and Boots ate for dinner hours earlier right down to the tiny bowl of greens. They also are shown to be able to estimate human emotions and navigate and fight in complete darkness.
In Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane we meet Twitchtip who has such a sensitive nose that she is called a "sent seer." Among other things she can detect the sent of a rager, newly hardened volcanic rock, a whirlpool, and the color of Boots' shirt from out side the castle tower Boots is in.
One-Man Army: It takes four hundred soldiers to take out Ripred. Gregor qualifies as well.
Patchwork Map: In the Underland there are plains, jungles, maze-like tunnels, small seas, arable land and desolate areas all within one or two hundred miles of each other, and no transitions.
Synthetic Plague: The Reveal at the end of Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods is that the disease called "the Curse of the Warmbloods" was a biological weapon that escaped from a Regalian lab. Its creator didn't tell anyone she had the cure because she didn't want to admit she'd created the plague.
Prophecies Are Always Right: Subverted. The series revolved around the prophecies of Sandwich (no, really), who wrote numbers of them in his tenure in the Underland some time before. At first, these prophecies seem to be always turning true (the first two books for example), but the third and fourth books become increasingly stretched to fit the prophecy. It all comes to a head when it is revealed that in the last prophecy, Gregor is supposed to die. After going into the final battle, Gregor does not die, and not all of the prophecy comes true, as is noted by several characters throughout the book such as Ares, Gregor, Ripred, and Luxa. However, they still manage to con the people and creatures of the Underland that the prophecy is true with a little help from Luxa's "prophetic" cousin, who believes the prophecies are true in order to bring peace amongst the humans and rats.
Prophecy Twist: Happens all the time. Then it is subverted in Gregor and the Code of Claw, when Ripred points out that the prophecies could be loosely interpreted to cover a variety of situations, and that people are often adapting what happens in reality to fit the prophecy so that it is fulfilled (their society is strongly based around the prophecies their founder wrote). He then gets reallyGenre Savvy by deliberately giving himself a wound that will fulfill yet another prophecy.
Released to Elsewhere: The rats are "relocating" all the mice in the Underland. Turns out that they're actually leading the mice to their doom without them suspecting anything. Not surprising, considering that the story is based on the Holocaust.
Lizzie is often required to explain why her family members have disappeared for extended periods of time.
Mrs. Cormaci becomes this for the family starting in Gregor and the Marks of Secret.
She Is Not My Girlfriend: In Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and Luxa are going to investigate the Nibbler's situation, but since no one can know about it, they pretend that they are going on a picnic. Of course, Howard shows up and offers to join them, so Gregor, looking for an excuse, tells him that they're going on a date. Even when Howard finds out that Gregor was lying, he still chews him out because seeing as Luxa's a princess and Gregor's not even an Underlander, they couldn't possibly be married. Gregor states several times that he and Luxa aren't like that and marriage is thinking way too far ahead, but then Howard asks Gregor why he thought Howard might believe it in the first place, rendering all his arguments useless.
All of the bats have names taken from Greek mythology.
Luxa's mother is named Judith, while Judith's twin is named Hamnet and their sister is named Susannah. William Shakespeare had a daughter named Susannah and twins named Judith and Hamnet.
The mice are named after famous mathematicians and mathematical principles.
The rats have compound names, usually violent — Ripred, Gorger, Makemince.
Tonight Someone Dies: In the Gregor the Overlander, an ancient prophecy states that 12 will set out on a quest "and eight will be left when we count up the dead." Sure enough, by the end of the book, Tick, Gox, Treflex, and Henry have all met their maker.
The Regalians still scorn Gregor even though he's saved their lives multiple times.
The ending of Gregor and The Code of Claw has Gregor tell off what amounts to the ENTIRE Underland. The Bane's dead and the humans and rats are ready to live together peacefully. Luxa then announces that the rats are being sent to live in the most hostile region of the Underland. Ripred isn't amused, and both sides are ready to go to war right then and there. Gregor tells all of them off not just for being so stupid after both sides have been devastated, but also for Ripred having come all this way with them and Luxa treating him like dirt.
Wham Line: That encoded message in Gregor and the Code of Claw? It says Twitchtip died in pit. Also, Luxa's declaration of war against the gnawers.
You Can't Fight Fate: Brought home in Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods when his mom contracts the plague; Gregor acknowledges mentally that there was no other way to ensure the prophecy would happen the way it needed to.
You Can't Go Home Again: Averted, mostly. This happens a bit in the first book, but then Gregor goes on this quest to find his missing dad and all that. Otherwise they want him to go home. And then come back for the next 4.