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[[caption-width-right:250:[-This isn't a war. It never was a war, any more than there's a war between man and ants.-] ]]

->''"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's... Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."''

So begins ''The War of the Worlds'' by Creator/HGWells, the first alien invasion story, and perhaps the best known, in which late-Victorian England, then homeland of the world's greatest empire, is conquered with casual ease by [[AliensAndMonsters Martians]]. In the end, only chance saves humanity from slavery or annihilation. The novel is arguably the ancestor of nearly every single book, TV show, movie and video game that features aliens.

The story begins with the [[NoNameGiven unnamed]] narrator, a lightly disguised [[AuthorAvatar version of Wells]], visiting an observatory, where he is shown explosions of the surface of Mars. Shortly afterwards, an apparent meteor lands close to the narrator's house in Surrey. When he goes to look, he sees the first of the Martians emerging from its spacecraft. The invaders swiftly set up strange machinery, incinerating all humans who approach.

The narrator takes his wife to presumed safety then returns just in time to witness [[TripodTerror gigantic tripods]], [[HumongousMecha Martian war machines]] armed with [[DisintegratorRay Heat Rays]] and [[DeadlyGas poisonous Black Smoke]], smashing their way through the massed ranks of the British Army. Three tripods are brought down in a succession of battles before the army and navy are routed, with more Martians landing, reinforcing the invaders.

A few are making grandiose plans for resistance, but it is clear they have no prospect of success: Great Britain, one of the most technologically advanced and powerful countries on Earth, has been utterly defeated. The narrator becomes trapped in the ruins near another Martian landing-site, where he gets a first-hand view of the aliens drinking human blood. It seems they intend to treat humanity as [[ToServeMan nothing more than food]].

At this point, when the full consequences of defeat have become apparent, the Martians suddenly stop appearing. After returning to London, the narrator finds that all the Martians have mysteriously dropped dead, their remains being picked apart by birds. It was only later that they figure out that the aliens died from nothing more than common illness, as they had virtually no immunity to Earth's microbiological lifeforms.

There have been several movie versions of this story (the two most famous being released in 1953 and 2005), as well as the famous 1938 RadioDrama, a [[Series.WarOfTheWorlds TV series]], [[SettingUpdate renovelizations set in "the present day"]], a mostly-overlooked but surprisingly faithful RTS game, and, of all things, a RockOpera (which actually formed the soundtrack - in a remixed form - for said video game.) It has also influenced many subsequent alien invasion stories.

Interestingly, the novel was originally considered part of a different genre - the "Invasion Story", of which there was a spate in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, depicting fictional invasions or invasion plans of the author's home country, usually by German or Crypto-German forces. Only later did the "alien" part of "alien invasion" come to be considered more defining than the "invasion" part.

The novel is generally regarded as an allegory of colonialism, depicting Great Britain receiving the same kind of treatment as it had been delivering to the natives of its empire (although figuratively speaking, Englishmen did not ''usually'' drink human blood).

For the television series, see ''Series/WarOfTheWorlds''. For Jeff Wayne's RockOpera, see ''Music/JeffWaynesMusicalVersionOfTheWarOfTheWorlds''. For the real-time strategy game, see ''VideoGame/JeffWaynesWarOfTheWorlds''. For the 1953 movie, see ''Film/TheWarOfTheWorlds''. For the 2005 Spielberg film, see ''Film/WarOfTheWorlds''. For the 2002 Creator/DarkHorseComics version (and [[AdaptationExpansion follow-ons]]) see ''ComicBook/ScarletTraces''. For the 1938 radio adaptation by Creator/OrsonWelles, see ''Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds''.
!!This novel provides examples of:
* AccentuateTheNegative: Wells may have written the alien invasion hitting Britain first as an example of CreatorProvincialism, possibly for the same pragmatic reason the current film adaptation has them hitting the USA first (If you want to conquer Earth, take out its greatest military power first. In the late 1800's that was Britain, today it's the USA), or as a subtle criticism of the actions of the British Empire. However, a more personal reason to Wells has been advanced. He may have had the all-destroying alien tripods land in London, at least partly with the intention of having them reduce his home region, the towns of Woking and Bromley, to smouldering corpse-heavy rubble. Wells utterly despised this part of Surrey for its parochial mentality and its lower-middle-class smug smallmindedness. He also wanted to get even for long, soul-destroying thirteen hour days spent in a miserable [=McJob=] working for a tiny-minded bully. Today's Woking boasts [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Woking_tripod.JPG a statue of an alien tripod]] on the main street to commemorate Wells' vision.
* ActionGirl: Miss Elphinstone, considering she kept a revolver under the pony chaise's seat.
* AgentScully: An early example in Ogilvy.
* AlienInvasion: One of the very first such stories to be told.
* AlienKudzu: the Red Weed
* AliensAndMonsters: Wells was quite advanced for his time in emphasizing the sheer alien-ness of the Martians. But this makes them totally unsympathetic to humans; the horror and the pity of this war are all on the human side.
* AliensAreBastards: Subverted. The Martians launch their invasion only because they are facing imminent extinction, and their brutality towards the humans is qualified by comparisons to the colonial powers' own MoralMyopia towards inferior cultures. The author even gives the supposed bad guys a sort-of happy ending by inferring that after the failed invasion they found a more secure settlement on Venus.
* AliensNeverInventedTheWheel: Despite inventing both tripods and the Heat Ray, the Martians have no concept of the wheel.
* ApocalypseWow: Class 0. Much of Southeast England and the Greater London Area is purged of human life and converted to a Martian habitat.
* AudioAdaptation:
** Creator/OrsonWelles directed a famous [[Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds 1938 radio broadcast]] that allegedly tricked people into thinking the Martians had ''really'' invaded.
** And again in 1949, and ''again'' in 1968. WNYC's ''{{RadioLab}}'' did an amazing (and hysterically funny) live show ([[http://www.radiolab.org/2008/mar/24/ hear it in its entirety here]]) depicting exactly what happened, and analyzing human reactions in terms of our need for storytelling.
* AuthorAvatar: The narrator, although Wells is mentioned as a separate person: see MythologyGag, below
* BigCreepyCrawlies: Wells notes when introducing the Martians proper that all present expected "a man." What emerged was decidedly more Lovecraftian (or rather, ''proto''-Lovecraftian). Even granted the genre was an outgrowth of terrestrial varieties, future AlienInvasion stories seem to have largely missed this delightful precedent.
* BiologicalWeaponsSolveEverything: Earth's bacteria do in the aliens. This is kept in most adaptations, from radio to the 1950's movie. Subverted at first in the 80s TV show that just had the aliens in hibernation. Later one of the characters develops a bacteria to kill off the aliens for good.
* BodyHorror: One of the types of bacteria that the Martians fell victim to are ''necrotic'' bacteria.
* BrilliantButLazy: The Artilleryman, who lays out a convincing prediction about the new order the Martians will bring and how humanity can eventually retake the world, but treats the whole thing as an idle hobby.
-->"Oh, one can't always work," he said, and in a flash I saw the man plain.
* ChekhovsGun
** Midway through the story, the narrator describes certain things that the humans have since learned about the Martians - among them, that they are/were vulnerable to terrestrial germs...
** Averted in one incident involving [[IncrediblyLamePun Chekov's gunfire]]. At one point, the narrator hears the sound of heavy gunfire that sounds like artillery pieces. Never expanded upon.
* LesCollaborateurs: The Artillery soldier believe that the Martians will recruit human prisoners as recons or auxiliary troops.
* ComicBookAdaptation: Or comic book sequel, rather. The Marvel character Killraven lives in the post-apocalyptic world left after the Martians made a second attack in the late twentieth century.
** ''War Of the Worlds'' also forms the backbone of the second volume of ''Comicbook/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen.''
** ''Scarlet Traces'' by Ian Edgington and Disraeli, is also a sequel - Britain is now reaping the benefits of the Martian technology; the same team later reunited to do an adaptation.
** An ''Elseworlds'' story explored what would happen if the ''original'' Franchise/{{Superman}} (as in the one without the wide range of powers he has in modern times) went up against the Martian invasion.
* CoolBoat: The HMS ''Thunder Child''. At the time, a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpedo_ram torpedo ram]] like ''Thunder Child'' represented the most powerful destructive force in the world - fully armoured, with a sharp ram on the bow, torpedo tubes, heavy guns and powerful engines to take it up to [[RammingAlwaysWorks ramming speed]]. In the real world, however, torpedo rams were completely useless; all that they ever destroyed was a single, grounded ship and a harbour jetty. Wiki/TheOtherWiki says "''It has been suggested by some that, in view of the limited military value the torpedo ram demonstrated, Wells's immortalization of the type in what would become a literary classic was the torpedo ram's [[DamnedByFaintPraise greatest achievement]].''"
* CoolPlane
** The original novel briefly mentions a Martian flying machine (see the quote below). This was a cool plane by virtue of it pre-dating the existence of any actual RealLife planes, and yet uncannily matching the appearance of a flying wing bomber like the B-2.
--->Something rushed up into the sky out of the greyness - rushed slantingly upward and very swiftly into the luminous clearness above the clouds in the western sky; something flat and broad, and very large, that swept round in a vast curve, grew smaller, sank slowly, and vanished again into the grey mystery of the night. And as it flew it rained down darkness upon the land.
** The 1953 movie features StockFootage of the cancelled [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YB-49 YB-49 bomber]]. If the "flying wing" design reminds you of something, you're right. The basic principle was re-used for the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.
* CosmicHorrorStory: Considering it does a pretty effective job of implying the general insignificance of humanity (and, to a certain extent, the Martians); made even better by the fact that the credited pioneer of the genre Creator/HPLovecraft would have only been about eight or nine when it was published.
* CoversAlwaysLie: Because of the book's age and public-domain status, it has a rich history of misleading and even downright nonsensical covers. Common blunders include depicting Martians laying waste to modern cities, complete with glass skyscrapers and sports cars, or depicting the fighting machines as some sort of hovercraft (both of which imply the publishers only saw the 1953 film and never read the book). At least one Spanish edition shows the ''[[Franchise/StarTrek Enterprise]]'' in flight, while a certain Romanian edition seems to indicate that the Martians are gigantic flying eyeballs.
* CreatorProvincialism -- There is no mention of what happened outside south-east England; it's not even certain if the invasion reaches beyond England.
** It's actually pretty clear that it doesn't: at the end the narrator notes the relief pouring in from "across the English Channel, across the Irish Sea, and across the Atlantic," implying that Europe, America, and even Ireland were left untouched.
** Forget Ireland; Edinburgh and Birmingham are mentioned as sending ships down to London after the aliens die. Apparently while the Greater London Area was being wiped off the map the rest of the country was just getting on with life as usual.
** Given that the book is often interpreted to be an allegorical representation of the British conquest of the island of Tasmania from the native point of view, the concentration on a small area is understandable.
** The 1996 anthology ''War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches'' sets out to avert this through a collection of short stories depicting the invasion from the point-of-view of historical and literary figures all over the world.
* CurbStompBattle: The entire war. While the humans manage to down several tripods, it's pretty one-sided, especially after the Black Smoke comes into play.
* DeadlyGas: The "black smoke" used in the novel.
* DeathRay: The Martian "Heat Ray".
* DesignCompromise: The soldier's dreams of a huge underground city, and the tiny tunnel he has already created.
* DeusExMachina: In the end, when all the weapons of Earth's mightiest superpower have failed to make any significant impact on the Martian attack, they die of exposure to Earth bacteria.
** Although, to give H.G. Wells credit, [[ChekhovsGunman he did make mention of them in the opening monologue]]. Unknowingly Heroic Microbes were in the story from page one.
** For that matter he also makes clear midway through the book that the Martians have long since eradicated all bacteria and viruses on their own planet and live completely free of disease, as well as their feeding method which consists of injecting human blood directly into their own veins; the perfect vector for infection. It's actually all right there for anybody who is scientifically astute enough to see it coming.
** Dying off to disease also fits in with the parallels with imperialism (see NotSoDifferent below): Many European explorers especially in Africa died from diseases they had never encountered before. On the other hand, these diseases did not delay the imperialist conquest of Africa for long (if at all) and the reverse effect - indigenous populations being hit hard by imported diseases - was much more common, even in European history, as in the Black Death. But having Earth's population being decimated by Martian measles would have made for too much of a DownerEnding.
* DisasterScavengers: The protagonist in the novel, and most of the people he meets, after the Martians topple human civilization.
* DownerEnding: Provisional; although humanity survives, and is reasonably confident of its ability to hold off any further Martian invasions, it's clearly been a desperately close thing, and the Martians remain technologically vastly superior. The narrator is still suffering nightmares.
-->''It may be, on the other hand, that the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve. To them, and not to us, perhaps, is the future ordained.''
* DropPod: To deliver the mechs (or the materials needed to build them) to Earth.
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: The HMS ''Thunder Child'' takes out two Tripods before sinking whilst trying to ram a third.
* EarthIsABattlefield: Especially adaptations that make it clear the aliens are attacking everywhere.
* EarthShatteringPoster
* EasilyThwartedAlienInvasion: Albeit not by human efforts.
* FirstContact: Not that there's any communication involved.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: The red weed dies off not long before the Martians do.
* ForgottenFallenFriend: Despite apparently being a good friend to the narrator, Ogilvy is almost never mentioned again after his early death.
* ForgottenTrope: ''War of the Worlds'' was actually a ScienceFiction twist on the then-vibrant genre of the "Invasion Story".
* FrickinLaserBeams: The "Heat Ray" is a much more realistic description of the effect of a laser than most fiction has managed ''since lasers were actually invented''. The "Heat Ray" as being invisible, making it terrifying as the protagonists can't see the beam, only what it's currently igniting. A high-powered (and by that, we mean ''nuclear'') infrared-spectrum laser weapon would behave pretty much exactly as described.
* GeniusBruiser: The narrator's medical student brother. He's up front when a bicycle shop is looted and rides a bicycle with a ''flat tire'' several miles before it completely falls apart under him. Described as an expert boxer, goes up against ''three men'' to assist Mrs. and Miss Elphinstone travelling in a dogcart and pony. He also steers the dogcart across a stream of people fleeing London. The man's enough of a bruiser to be ''twice'' mistaken for a railroad employee at Waterloo Station, but intelligent enough to refugee across the Channel with Mrs. and Miss Elphinstone.
* GhostCity: London in the novel, New York City in the radio play and and Los Angeles in the '53 film.
* GlassCannon: In the original book the tripods are not armored at all, they're just so fast contemporary artillery can't hit them without getting very lucky and they've usually wiped out opposing forces before they can get more than two shots off. The few times we do see them hit they go down immediately. Adaptations set later than the original have to change this detail, for obvious reasons.
* HopeSpot: The HMS ''Thunder Child'' takes down [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome two Tripods]]. Despite being on fire and almost dead in the water, it charges a third Tripod [[TakingYouWithMe as its ammunition stores explode]], [[HeroicSacrifice clearing a path]] for the escaping refugee ships. As they reach open water, [[OhCrap aerial Martian constructs / more cylinders arriving from Mars]] (depending on the version) can be seen in the sky.
* HostileTerraforming: Martians use areoforming as a weapon, essentially. Possibly an UrExample.
* HumanResources: The Martians drink human blood. In addition, in the novel, humans discover they've been using a third, unnamed humanoid race as we might use livestock. The artillery soldier predicts this as a future for humanity after the aliens take over.
* HumansAreMorons: Subverted. The main character observes that for all the greater technological advancements the aliens have over humans, they do not appear to have invented a tool as simple and practical as the wheel.
** Doubly subverted back to being played straight today. Human examination of the Martian tripods describes them as using electrically/magnetically manipulated sliding devices that simulate muscles. Given that wheels don't really appear anywhere in (Earth) biology (the closest thing is the ball and socket joint), this suggests that the Martians have technologically grown to the point that all their machinery works by simulating biological systems, which have millions of years of evolutionary testing and refinement behind them.
* HumongousMecha -- The towering Martian tripods are one of the first appearances of this in fiction, if not [[TropeMaker THE first]] ''modern'' appearance.
* IComeInPeace -- Subverted. The humans attempt this when they first meet the Martians. The peace party in question is slaughtered, and things get worse after that. The Martians don't even try to hide their intentions.
* InfantImmortality:
** Averted early on, and by ''humans'' no less: a young boy is trampled to death in the mob panic of the first attack.
** Later on, a "lad" is killed by having his blood drained by the Martians.
* InscrutableAliens: The Martians make no attempt to communicate, and the humans can only speculate on their motives.
* IWillFightSomeMoreForever: Even after the tripods prove almost impossible to hit, the military still keeps (ineffectively) using ordnance on them.
* MillionToOneChance: An early example, possibly the TropeNamer, provided by Ogilvy the astronomer.
* MonumentalDamage: Mainly of famous London landmarks, most notably the Houses of Parliament and St Paul's.
* MrExposition: Ogilvy in the first chapter, before his demotion to SacrificialLamb. If it hadn't been for him the narrator would not have known about the business on Mars as early as he did.
* MythologyGag: During the sequence where the narrator is watching the Martians from the ruins, he comments that they remind him of an essay he once read about how humans might evolve in a technology-dominated future, by some chap whose name he can't quite remember. The essay actually existed, and was used by Wells as the basis for the Martians' biology; its author was Wells himself.
** Wells also slams an artist whose depiction of the Martians he didn't like: ''"I recall particularly the illustration of one of the first pamphlets to give a consecutive account of the war. The artist had evidently made a hasty study of one of the fighting-machines, and it was there that his knowledge ended."''
** In a novel that Wells wrote forty years later, ''Star-Begotten'', there's a hypothetical discussion about the existence of Martians and a man mentions he read a book written by "Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, one of those fellows": ''The War of the Worlds''.
* NextSundayAD: Published in 1898, the novel was set "early in the twentieth century."
* NinjaPirateZombieRobot -- These aren't just Martians, they're HumongousMecha cyborg vampire Martians.
* NominalImportance -- Inverted; the named characters, such as Ogilvy, Henderson, and the Elphinstones are minor players, while the majority of the significant characters, such as the Artilleryman and the Curate, remain nameless.
* NoNameGiven: For the movie, he was given the name of "Dr Clayton Forrester" ([[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 Yes, that's where it came from]]).
** Although there's a Clay Forester in Creator/JackWilliamson's 1949 novel TheHumanoids. Some names just say, "I am a GENIUS!"
** It's worth noting this applies to pretty much every single character in the novel, including [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep the Artilleryman, the protagonist's brother, and the Curate]]. The only characters with full names receive minor mentions at best; Dr. George Elphinstone is the only one even remotely important to the plot and he never appears at all.
* NotSoDifferent: The Martians and the Humans. The main character compares the Martians and humans with each other many times; specially the Martians' invasion with the imperialist moments during that time. He even theorize that the Martians maybe had evolved from human-like ancestors, and that our next step in our evolution might be the forms of the Martians.
* NotSoInvincibleAfterAll: After shrugging off (nearly) everything humans can throw at them, the aliens die of some minor Earth disease their immune systems weren't familiar with.
** Human weaponry also managed to do some damage in the original. Not enough to be really meaningful in any extended conflict, but the Martian machines were never completely invulnerable.
** Imagine the same invasion in the year 2013, with the same tripods, same heat rays and same bloodthirsty Martians. They'd be up against missiles, tanks and possibly nuclear weapons. Definitely not so invincible after all. This is why all subsequent adaptations usually give the war machines indestructible forcefields.
* OhCrap: In the 1953 movie, just as our heroes are coming to terms with the power of the war machine that's about to emerge from the cylinder, they look up and see the second cylinder flashing across the sky.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: The Martians need human blood, therefore they could be ''technically'' considered some kind of vampires.
* PlantAliens: The red weed grown (or at least imported) by the Martians.
* PublicDomainCharacter: Or perhaps, Public Domain Civilization, since (more or less) nobody ever reuses the human characters, only the Martians. The most obvious example is in ''Comicbook/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'' comics, though the book wasn't even in the public domain when the first knock-off appeared.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: # ''Come on, Thunder Child!'' #
* RecycledInSpace: When the novel was written, invasion literature (a now-forgotten genre of stories about foreign countries invading England), was popular. ''War of the Worlds'' is basically one of these stories [-WITH ALIENS-]!
* RedshirtReporter: Henderson, who [[CuriosityKilledTheCast was too interested in the Martians]] [[TooDumbToLive for his own good.]] Averted with the narrator, who is another journalist.
* LaResistance: The Artilleryman's plan involves establishing one.
* TheRightOfASuperiorSpecies -- Unusually, this is articulated by the human narrator at the beginning of the book. After reflecting on how much more advanced and intelligent the Martians are, he concludes:
-->And before we judge them too harshly, we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?
* SacrificialLamb -- Arguably Ogilvy. He is friendly to the narrator, seems to be well-intentioned enough if naive, and plays an important role in the story right up to Chapter Five, in which he becomes [[DeathRay Heat Ray]] fodder.
* ScavengerWorld: The protagonist spends much of the novel evading detection by the Martians and trying to scrounge up enough food to survive. Just the ''threat'' of Martians advancing on London is enough to turn that well-heeled city, the pinnacle of British civilization, into a madhouse of disorganized panic.
* ShoutOut:
** The opening paragraphs of the book state that
--->"During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen on the illuminated part of the [Martian] disk, first at the Lick Observatory, then by Perrotin of Nice, and then by other observers. English readers heard of it first in the issue of Nature dated August 2. I am inclined to think that this blaze may have been the casting of the huge gun, in the vast pit sunk into their planet, from which their shots were fired at us."
** That light was real, and it was indeed mentioned in the August 2, 1894 issue of ''Nature''. However, the [[http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?16151-Light-on-Mars-from-1894 actual report]] is arguably even more naive about Martians than Wells himself.
** The opening paragraphs also compare the Martians' actions to the [[http://www.historytoday.com/tom-lawson/british-genocide-tasmania British genocide of the native Tasmanians]], which had concluded roughly 20 years prior to the book's publication.
* SpiritualSuccessor: ''The War of the Worlds'' is arguably this to ''The Crystal Egg'', a short story written by Wells the same year, featuring an [[CrystalBall optical gateway]] to Mars. Martians and their machines are described, although the events in ''The War of the Worlds'' are not clearly foreshadowed.
** ''Literature/TheTripods'', a series of young-adult novels by Creator/JohnChristopher, is in all but name a sequel set in an AlternateContinuity where the Martians were successful in dominating the world.[[note]]Except Christopher's aliens are three-legged chlorine-breathers from a (different star's) world with ''higher'' gravity than Earth, and they took over via MindControl ("The Trippy Show") rather than war.[[/note]]
** There was, of course, an actual (and, very dubiously, claimed to be "authorized") sequel. It was almost entirely unrelated to the original book (setting the original invasion in Boston, America, among other things) and involved the cannibalisation of Martian technology by Earthly masterminds, including the man who both supported the publication of and lent his title to the book. This was called (and was, indeed, about) ''[[Literature/EdisonsConquestOfMars Edison's Conquest of Mars]]''.
** And there's also ''The Second War Of The Worlds'' which involves would-be Quislings helping the Martians overcome their lack of a viable immune system and travel between parallel universes. Oh, and the hero is Sherlock Holmes, so you can probably guess at the actual quality of the work.
** ''Film/IndependenceDay'' is an obvious {{Expy}} for the book and film. Instead of a ''biological'' virus, they're brought down by a ''computer'' virus.
** One of the most famous evil alien races in fiction, the Daleks of ''Series/DoctorWho'', are essentially miniature legless tripods with one-eyed Martian Nazis inside, sporting a DeathRay rather than a Heat Ray.
* SpreadingDisasterMapGraphic: Used by the British military to plot the spread of the lethal Black Smoke, the better to coordinate their artillery and evacuation efforts.
* StarfishAliens: The Martians are utterly inhuman. Even their technology is alien; they never invented the wheel, and their mechanical systems use mind-bogglingly complicated systems of levers to do the job of a cogwheel. TechnologyMarchesOn, however, and anyone familiar with today's biology-inspired robots (including robotic spiders) will find these alien devices far more familiar.
* StrippedToTheBone: The fate of the [[DeathRay Heat Ray]] victims in several film or graphic novel adaptations (notably the Pendragon and Graphic Classics ones).
* StupidScientist: Ogilvy the astronomer, somewhat, although he does change his mind when presented with evidence.
* TakeThat: Especially to the loathed towns of Woking and Bromley (see above). Also, there are veiled and not-so- veiled ShoutOut's and TakeThat's to the Grossmith Brothers' ''TheDiaryOfANobody'', published five years earlier. To begin with, the narrator's wife is called ''Carrie'', as is Mrs Pooter. This hints that the central character is a bit of a Charles Pooter, suddenly abrupted from petty-bourgeois life and given a ''really'' interesting set of events to diarise. And the working-class artilleryman, given a break in social norms, is free to really pour vitriol on his social betters in a [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech crowning piece of Class War]]. He could be describing Pooter:
--> All these—the sort of people that lived in these houses, and all those damn little clerks that used to live down that way—they’d be no good. They haven’t any spirit in them—no proud dreams and no proud lusts; and a man who hasn’t one or the other—Lord! what is he but funk and precautions? They just used to skedaddle off to work—I've seen hundreds of ’em, bit of breakfast in hand, running wild and shining to catch their little season-ticket train, for fear they’d get dismissed if they didn’t; working at businesses they were afraid to take the trouble to understand; skedaddling back for fear they wouldn’t be in time for dinner; keeping indoors after dinner for fear of the back-streets, and sleeping with the wives they married, not because they wanted them, but because they had a bit of money that would make for safety in their one little miserable skedaddle through the world....
* TemptingFate: After the Martains' hostile intentions become clear, the narrator assures his wife that they're trapped in the pit they landed in due to Earth's higher gravity. The next day, the tripods come out.
* TheThemeParkVersion: In the novel, humans manage a few isolated successes against individual Martian tripods, and there are mentions of damaged tripods. By the 1938 radio play, we are explicitly told that the Martians lose only ''one'' machine. By the 1953 film, the war machines are totally indestructible, and even an atomic bomb fails to put so much as a scratch on them. Arguably this is an unavoidable part of technology lag - the main problem the humans had in the book was hitting the fast-moving Martian machines directly with conventional artillery (as well as a lack of defence against chemical weapons), and modern weapons are both more powerful and more accurate. If later adaptions didn't "cheat" on behalf of the Martians by making them ImmuneToBullets, the CurbStompBattle would be in the other direction. In essence, each adaptation invokes what amounts to an [[SequelDifficultySpike Adaptation Difficulty Spike]] to counteract [[TechnologyMarchesOn technological advancements in the real world]].
* ThisLoserIsYou: The Martians, as an allegory for the colonial powers of the time (especially UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire).
* ToServeMan: The Martians feed on people by draining them of blood.
* TripodTerror: The TropeMaker.
* UnbuiltTrope: Often cited as the [[TropeCodifier forerunner]] of the AlienInvasion plot, the story also gives the invaders their own hazards (namely [[spoiler:exposure to foreign diseases]]) and reasons for taking over the planet other than conquest.
* VaderBreath: Martian breathing is described as "timultuous".
* VillainousValour: The narrator acknowledges that the Martian operate like cool-headed professional soldiers; they not only have superior technology, they know how to use it. Nor does the book deny the (possibly desperate) courage required to cross millions of miles of space to launch an invasion against much more numerous and little-known opposition in far-from-indestructible machines.
* WeComeInPeaceShootToKill: When a group of people (including three named characters) approaches the Martans to communicate, the aliens make their intentions quickly and brutally clear.
* WeHardlyKnewYe: Both Henderson and Stent. Neither one receives much CharacterDevelopment or has much bearing on the plot, and [[RedShirt they die too quickly for anyone to get too attached to them.]]
* XanatosSpeedChess: The Martians initially underestimate the humans, but as they suffer setbacks they show off their [[SufficientlyAdvancedAliens superior intelligence]] by adapting to each unforeseen threat after it occurs - after artillery takes down one of their walkers, the Martians use dispersed formations and deploy the Black Smoke. After the ''Thunder Child'', they start fooling around with flying machines.
* YouCouldHaveUsedYourPowersForGood: In the 1953 movie especially. The understanding of science and advancement of technology necessary to create the war machine's force fields and skeleton beams is hundreds, if not thousands of years ahead of human understanding. With that at their beck and call, certainly the Martians could have come up with a better solution to their climate change problem than invading Earth.
* {{Zeerust}}: One particular [[http://johnguycollick.com/warwick-gobles-original-illustrations-to-the-war-of-the-worlds/ illustration]] of the tripods drawn by Warwick Goble makes them look atrociously mechanical and clunky, more like walking water towers than anything else. Incidentally, Wells ''hated'' this picture so much that he included a TakeThat against it in a later chapter. Other contemporary illustrations have actually stood the test of time much better.