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The Dresden Files: Tropes A to M

The books of The Dresden Files have many, many tropes. These are tropes A through M. You can find tropes N through Z here.

Please make sure spoilers are properly tagged. The series has a lot of them, so try not to ruin everyone else's fun.


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     A 
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • The Swords of the Cross are able to go through just about anything. Amoracchius, for example, can go clean through a steel fire door and kill the man on the other side without any real effort on Michael's part. The RPG says they can take advantage of any Weaksauce Weakness the target may have so long as they're "on the clock."
    • Swords wielded by the Wardens are enchanted on several levels, including, apparently, being able to cut through anything. On at least one occasion, one cuts through a whole tree with little effort. In the RPG book, this is represented as an option to make it hit for Weapon:6 damage. For comparison's sake, the swords are normally Weapon:3, and Weapon:4 damage and above is usually reserved for powerful spells and/or battlefield explosives.
  • Abusive Parents: Hello, Lord Raith. Justin also counts, being Harry and Elaine's adoptive dad.
  • Action Girl: At Dragon*Con 2010, Jim was on a panel about gender roles. The only reason he could figure out why he was up there was because, "I write women who kick ass." At this point, the only recurring female characters who aren't Action Girls all live in the Carpenter household and are somewhere between the ages of eight and eighteen. And given their lineage, it's better to say they haven't become Action Girls yet.
  • After-Action Patchup: Charity uses iodine.
  • Alien Blood: Black for Red Court vampires, a paler shade of red than usual for the White Court, watery brown for ghouls, green for Fomor, red but with a mucus-like consistency for servitors, all over the map for the really exotic beasties.
  • All Beer Is Ale: Although the series takes place in 21st century America - where most commercially available beer is lager - Harry actually prefers a craft ale brewed by the owner of MacAnally's.
  • The Alleged Car: Harry's car, the Blue Beetle is, not to put too fine a point on it, junk. It suffers much of its damage over the course of the series, but his mechanic is good enough that he can keep the thing running about 7 days out of 10. By Changes it has been destroyed beyond repair.
  • Allergic to Love: Completely literal in the case of White Court vampires, who receive painful, blistering burns from attempted feeding with anyone whose last sexual intercourse was with someone they truly loved and who truly loved them - even if that person was the White Court vampire in question. The effect even extends to gifts made for that person by their loved one.
  • All Myths Are True: Yep, all of them. Particular emphasis tends to be given to the Western mythologies and beliefs (Christian, Celtic, Greco-Roman, Norse, West African, et cetera).
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Council's opinion on any vampire, although the White Court are at least capable of acting civilized and not sucking the life force from anyone they meet. That does not make them any less monstrous.
  • Anchored Ship: Harry/Murphy. The anchor looked to be being pulled up right at the end of Changes, but subsequent events again put the end destination in question. In Skin Game, it appears to be finally, legitimately moving forward, but we won't know for sure until next book.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: There are angels (and Fallen Angels). Both of these are separate and distinct from the demons, sidhe, wildfae, old gods, demigods, vampire lords and Outsiders hanging around the place, to the point where it reaches Fantasy Kitchen Sink levels.
  • Angrish: Harry has a quite justifiable bout of angrish after learning in Cold Days that, on top of everything else he has to deal with already, the island Demonreach is getting ready to explode and take out a fair chunk of the Midwest.
    Harry: Of course it is. I swear, this stupid town. Why does every hideous supernatural thing that happens happen here? I'm gone for a few months and augh. Be right back. Grrssll frrrsl rassle mrrrfl.
  • Anyone Can Die: Carmichael, Morgan, Susan, and even Harry himself.
  • The Archmage: The Senior Council and particularly the Merlin are this for the White Council.
    • Also the Archive, a little girl who knows absolutely everything that the human race has ever learned. She's been shown as powerful enough to hold off fallen angels, literally with one hand, using only the latent magic present in her 12 year-old body.
    • Another candidate for the title is Cowl, a villain explicitly stated to be Senior Council-class in terms of power. He may or may not have at one time been the apprentice of Heinrich Kemmler, a (now mercifully deceased) Evil Sorcerer referred to as a "black magic messiah who took the whole White Council'' (as in the Merlin, the Senior Council, the Wardens, Simon Petrovich's brute squad and every non-evil magic user with any combat capabilities) to take down.
    • For a non-human candidate, we have the Eldest Gruff. He is a 5 foot tall anthro-billy goat. But he is the top assassin for the Summer Court, wears three purple shawls he took from the dead Senior Council members he beat, and killed the the host of a Fallen Angel with so little effort it was described to be like swatting away a pesky fly. And Titania, Queen of the Summer Court, sent him to kill Harry.
    • And even amongst the Fae kind, the six Queens are in general far stronger than any of their courts. Special mention, however, must go to Mother Winter, the eldest of the Winter Court. She possesses powers of ultimate destruction, including the Unraveling. The Unraveling is capable of breaking most every curse or magical spell, including turning a vampire back into a human being. Presumably Mother Summer is equal to her in terms of power as well.
    • There's also the original Merlin, back when he was still around. The magic he used to set up the prison on Demonreach was so advanced that Bob uses the analogy of an internal combustion engine compared to Harry's wooden axles.
    • Harry himself is a candidate, as he's often described as the strongest wizard of his generation. He doesn't have the control, finesse or experience yet, though. A wizard of the White Council isn't considered a mature practitioner until they've been on the Council for a century and Harry isn't even 40 yet. By comparison, Senior Councillors have three or four centuries of experience and accumulated ability. Harry admits that in a couple hundred years, it's very possible he could become the second-or-third-most powerful wizard in the world, and that's not even considering his various other sources of power he gains over the series. By Skin Game he feels reasonably certain he could take on Mab if they're on Demonreach. That's a lot of power.
  • Armor Is Useless: Generally averted; while Kevlar vests are usually not sufficient against most supernatural threats, everyone who knows what they are up against makes sure to include mail, possibly supplemented with plate, to deflect claws or blades. Charity makes Michael's full plate armor, and she gave Murphy a double-thickness bulletproof vest with titanium chainmail fitting inbetween layers for Christmas. Come Ghost Story, most characters are in possession of similar kevlar/titanium hybrid armors, all made by Charity.
    Michael: My faith protects me. My Kevlar helps.
    • Dresden's coat is enchanted to be nearly impenetrable and as resistant as chainmail or kevlar to being stabbed, cut, or shot, and several times it's been the only thing stopping him from being killed instantly. Occasionally, though, he points out that it's not great against heavy, blunt blows like clubs or fists.
  • Army of Lawyers: It is mentioned many times that Marcone has one to protect him from any kind of legal charges.
  • The Artifact: The series title itself. Back when the series was about a wizard-cum-private detective-cum-police consultant, it made sense to have a series title that evoked the idea of working cases and keeping files. Now that it's grown well past that premise and regularly features our hero going to war with vampires, battling demons and fallen angels, watching his friends become holy warriors and Fey princesses, becoming a warrior of the Fey himself and stealing ancient artifacts from gods, the title might make someone who picks up one of the later books without reading the earlier ones think "Files? Just what sort of files is he keeping, anyway?"
    • Although many fans believe that the books are supposed to be journals written by older Harry Dresden, after the fact, in the same way that many wizards before him recorded their experiences.
  • Artistic License - Geography: The Chicago of the early books is not quite the Chicago of reality. Butcher cleans up his geographical act by the later books, though.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Michael loves these, being in a position to innocently pull off these Captain Obvious quips.
    "Demon," breathed Rudolph. "Jesus, can you believe this shit?"
    "Jesus did believe in demons," Michael said, his voice quiet.
  • Asteroids Monster: Several critters in the series have this ability. Certain trolls, for example, shed lots of little trolls when they are wounded. The Denarian Tessa while in mantis form also bleeds countless tiny bugs which recombine into her primary body as a sort of T-1000-esque regeneration. The guardian centipede in Lea's garden on the other side of the Nevernever from Harry's apartment splits into two separate bugs when Harry slices it in half, prompting Lea to complain that now she has two gaping maws to feed.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Senior Council of the White Council of Wizards is composed of the seven wisest and most powerful wizards on the planet. The leader of the Senior Council, the Merlin, is supposedly the most powerful wizard period. Though there is shown to be a lot of politicing and deal-making that determines who gets appointed to the Senior Council, not even Harry (Insubordinate wise-cracker though he is) disputes their power and skill.
    • This applies to pretty much the entire Dresdenverse. Justified in the case of the supernatural community, since supernatural power grows with age, so that someone's climb through the political hierarchy will correlate with growing supernatural power. Subverted in the case of Lord Raith, who used to be an ass-kicker, but lost most of his power thanks to Maggie's death curse.

    B 
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Coroner Waldo Butters plays this role for Harry, especially when the hospital is not a safe option (for Harry or for other patients - the ICU doesn't play well with Harry's Walking Techbane tendencies). He is not happy about it, and frequently complains.
  • Badass: Pretty much everyone.
    • Morgan, who nuked an Eldritch Abomination and got within inches of killing the Red King.
    • Ebenezar McCoy, wielder of the Colony Drop.
    • The Merlin, who held off an army of vampires, demons, and Outsiders with a single impromptu ward.
    • Michael Carpenter, the Fist of God, who went into battle against a Fallen Angel or three Dual Wielding holy swords.
      • And he's a dragonslayer. To give you an idea of just what that means, here's a little snippet from the series's page:
    Word of God says that in a three way fight between Eldest Gruff, Queen Mab, and Ferrovax, Ferrovax would curb stomp them both. Apparently in the Dresdenverse, dragons are every bit the terrifying monsters the original myths made them out to be. Think less Smaug, more Jormungand.
    And Michael killed one.
    • The Archive, who held off eight Denarians with almost no resources or warning without breaking a sweat. At the age of twelve.
    • Gentleman Johnny Marcone, who ripped Nicodemus in half with a Kalashnikov.
      • The Unseelie Accords are a set of peace treaties which are widely respected throughout the world's supernatural community. The signatories include: The White Council Of Wizards, three separate vampire Courts, two faerie Courts, a dragon or two, and Gentleman Johnny Marcone - the only vanilla mortal human acknowledged as a freeholding lord under the Accords.
    • Karrin Murphy, who is, well, herself, and once took a chainsaw to an ogre's knee.
    • Charity Carpenter, a Mama Bear so devoted she raided the fortress of the Winter Queen. Which in mortal terms would be like kicking a demigod right in the nuts.
    • Marcone's bodyguard Hendricks, who tossed ravening super-ghouls around like a pro linebacker during the White Court coup, then wiped Nicodemus's mooks off the island with a freakin' minigun.
    • Jared Kincaid, known as the Hellhound, who killed two Fallen with the same bullet.
    • Harry himself, because how many people can say they've ridden a polka-powered zombie Tyrannosaurus rex into battle against a hoard of zombies and ghosts?
      • In Turn Coat, Harry has an epiphany when he realizes, to his own genuine surprise, that five Wardens are scared of him, and he looks back at his career so far through their eyes and realizes what kind of reputation he's built up over the years.
      • To clarify, Harry makes a regular business of conversing with, insulting, fighting, and occasionally killing things way, way beyond his weight class. He represents at least two different powerful magical factions as of Changes White Council and Winter Court as a Warden and the Winter Knight, killed the Summer Lady, Aurora, ridden the aforementioned T-rex into battle against necromancers, occasionally plays 'errand boy' for Uriel, won a three-year battle with a Fallen Angel's shadow in his mind, fought a skinwalker, and is responsible for the extinction of the Red Court.
      • Trust us. He's good. He freely admits that he has only survived thus far thanks to sheer dumb luck, unusual circumstances, and unexpected help from others. This does not diminish his badassery in any way.
    • And Cowl curb-stomped Harry Dresden. He's a confirmed member of the Black Council who very nearly became a god (if it weren't for Dresden).
  • Badass Boast: Although not as awesome for the wizards and humans, Toot Toot makes a boast that sounds quite badass for fairies in Small Favor:
    "I have a guard?", I asked. Toot threw out his chest. "Of course! Who do you think keeps the Dread Beast Mister from killing the brownies when they come to clean up your apartment? We do! Who lays low the mice and rats and ugly big spiders who might crawl into your bed and nibble on your toes? We do! Fear not, Za-Lord! Neither the foulest of rats nor the cleverest of insects shall disturb your home while we draw breath!"
  • Badass Bookworm: Butters has become an example in Skin Game.
  • Badass Family: The Carpenters. There's the father, mother, eldest sister and now, as of Ghost Story, her younger brother. With plenty of other siblings to come.
  • Badass Normal: Karrin Murphy, Charity Carpenter, John Marcone, and Hendricks are all recurring examples. Rawlins, Carmichael, Daniel Carpenter, and Anna Valmont also have their moments.
  • Badass Santa:
    • Shows up in Cold Days as a good friend of the Erlking, who participates in the Wild Hunt with him. It's also briefly shown that he's an alternate persona of Odin.
    • Although we haven't seen him do anything, there is a second Santa, Klaus the Toymaker. He uses children's toys as his focii. Word of Jim says the old Belgian wizard was sent to help the Allied Forces during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II because the Nazis had a warlock summoning demons to help them. Klaus destroyed a band of "SS-summoned demons with a windup wooden duck".
  • Bad Dreams: Harry has them. A lot.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: The White Council believes that using any magic that breaks any of the Laws of Magic (Killing humans with magic, transforming others, Mind Control, Necromancy, Time Travel and Summoning (or even seeking knowledge about) Eldritch Abominations) is addictive. So anyone who does any of that, even if for a good reason, is likely to do it again, more frivolously, or to do another one of them, and must therefore be executed. Only another Wizard putting his own life up as surety against repeated Lawbreaking can see a stay of execution.
    • In Fool Moon, the Hexenwulfen belts have the potential to addict and corrupt anyone who dons them. Even Harry.
  • Bad Powers, Good People:
    • Thanks to Lasciel, Harry Dresden had access to Hellfire, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. He continues to use it to do what he can to help other people. Though it's pointed out that it's affecting his subconscious - this motives don't change, but he gets more extreme and angrier. However, once Lasciel was no longer a factor, Harry lost this ability and was given the angelic equivalent, Soulfire, instead.
    • Then there's Thomas Raith, life-sucking White Court prettyboy ... who, instead of draining his victims dead, 'sips' from the customers at a hair saloon and fights on the side of the good guys. While Thomas Raith is still allied with Harry Dresden, his torment at the hands of a skinwalker makes him forsake the Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire status.
    • The Necromancer Kumori believes that she is this, but comes off more as a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Nevertheless, she did use necromancy to save a life; the guy was in total agony until the paramedics had him stabilised, but if he made a full recovery it might be considered worth it.
    • It's an ongoing question whether a person who uses Black Magic is redeemable. The fact that the White Council has a means for probational rehabilitation at all implies that it is, but we haven't seen it so far. Everyone who actually broke the laws of magic except in self-defense has slipped back into Black Magic regularly. Harry is more and more coming to suspect that this trope is totally averted for the Dresdenverse.
  • Battle Couple: Will and Georgia Borden in wolf-form. Especially apparent in "Something Borrowed".
    • Harry and Susan in Changes. Especially notable in that they're rescuing their daughter. Mama Bear and Papa Wolf in all their glory. Honestly, the Red Court never stood a chance. (Though they only partially fit this trope, seeing as Harry makes it explicitly clear they are done because Susan never told him about Maggie.)
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • The first Denarian ever seen in the series is, appropriately, a giant demonic bear...with six limbs, horns, and four eyes.
    • One of the forms the Skinwalker in Turn Coat takes is a combination of a bear, a cougar, and some sort of lizard.
    • Listens-To-Winds. Minibus-sized war bear. Pure awesome.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Sort of; most of the good characters are very attractive, but then so are most of the high-powered supernaturals. It works out to something like ugly = bad; beautiful = good; really, really, amazingly beautiful = RUN AWAY.
  • Being Good Sucks: For doing the right thing, your friends will suffer and die, your allies will suffer and die, your family will suffer and die, and you will suffer and die.
    • Let's put it this way: Harry would really enjoy being able to store beams of sunlight for later use, seeing as how delightfully effective those are at fighting vampires. Except he can't no matter how he tries, because you need to be happy to do this.
    • Subverted by Michael Carpenter. Even though bad things happen to him as a result of his work, he manages to stay upbeat and has a life that makes him truly happy. This is true of pretty much all the Knights of the Cross.
  • Beneath the Mask:
    • If a wizard looks anyone in the eye, something happens called a "Soulgaze". Each person sees the other for who he or she really is, with no chance of deceit.
    • Wizards can use an ability known as the "Third Eye" or "Wizard's Sight", which shows them the truth about whatever they look at with it. Anything about the item, object, person or whatever it is will be made visible to the wizard, also with no chance of deceit. For example, Harry catches a glimpse of Murphy in Grave Peril with his sight, and she appears as an angelic figure in dirty white robes.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: Harry sometimes jokes about this, but the Laws of Magic specifically prohibit human transformations.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Demonreach's magical complexity baffles even Bob. That's right: the guy whose literal job is to know everything doesn't have a clue how this is even possible.
  • Big Bad: At least one super-nasty per book. Additionally, it seems that most of the events of the series so far have been orchestrated by what Harry calls the "Black Council," serving as the Big Bad for the series.
    • As of Cold Days, the Outsiders are revealed to have been responsible for pretty much everything beforehand, making them the Bigger Bad of the series.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Harry and Thomas are both prime examples. Also, Harry to every young girl he comes across in the series - Kim, Molly, Lydia, Faith....
    • An example: In the short story "It's My Birthday, Too", a Black Court vampire is seconds away from tearing out Harry's throat. Thomas slams into it, stabs a wooden chair leg clean through it's chest, and, when the thing tries to pull it out, Thomas rips its arm off. Harry repays him later - the one that beat Thomas up gets burned to a crisp.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Harry and company frequently arrive at exactly the right moment, often with only seconds to spare, to save the day and rescue everybody. Well, almost everybody...
    • Because of the Knights of the Cross's Contrived Coincidence Super Power they the often arrive exactly when they are needed, Harry even counts on this in Proven Guilty.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The living area or sanctum for Bob inside his skull. Harry visits it during Ghost Story and finds it to be a pimped-out mansion on the level of James Bond, decked out with home theater, every videogame system known to man, and other comforts. Harry initally questions why Bob would ever want to leave. Bob replies, "A gold cage is still a cage, Harry."
    • In the same book, Harry says almost the exact trope name in reference to Molly Carpenter's mental "command center": on the outside it looks like the Carpenter kids' treehouse, but on the inside it looks like the bridge of the USS Enterprise. The really really cheesy version from TOS.
  • Big Good: The Merlin of the The White Council is supposed to be this and in many ways is, but often hampered by internal politics or prejudices. Ebenezer of the Grey Council looks like he is shaping up to be this. God and Odin might be counted as ones as well.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family / Royally Screwed Up: The Raiths.
  • Bilingual Bonus: See that picture on the main page? The characters on Harry's staff are Japanese; specifically, the are the katakana for "matorikkusu", which is how the Japanese would write "matrix", but as you would see in a mirror.
    • Translating some of Harry's evocations occasionally provides a few laughs, as when he calls up "stunt double" illusions using the Latin equivalent of "Lights! Camera! Action!".
    • Many of the Fae names are Gaelic in origin. Leanansidhe means "beloved fairy", which she herself may regard as an appropriate appellation if no one else does. Cat Sith just means "fairy cat", and it certainly predates Star Wars, though whether it can be said to be strictly a name is debatable.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: In "Aftermath", a short story, the "turtlenecks" use sonar to navigate in the dark.
    • Kincaid determines the exact landmine a room is booby-trapped with by smelling the chemical composition of the explosives, and can see infrared. Human, right....
  • Black and White Morality: Harry often views himself as somebody on the edge, and he frequently teams up with Marcone, but the series is very firm on the concept of right and wrong, good and evil, etc. There are lines Harry refuses to cross, no matter what. Until Changes. In Ghost Story, Harry realizes how badly he messed up by making that fatal compromise - but it is also not entirely Harry's fault he chose as he did.
    • Near the end of Death Masks it's stated explicitly that this is the way the Knights Of The Cross view the world.
    • Black and White morality is built into the universe for some beings. The Laws of Magic are part of the world so when one is broken evil is strengthened. Some monsters like Fallen Angels are explicitly stated to be evil in both an ethical and metaphysical sense. However, it doesn't apply to all creatures. Winter Fae are evil by human standards, but not objective universal standards. They are embodiments of the harsh nature of Winter and operate according to Blue and Orange Morality. Other times, a situation may be so complex that there is no "black and white" choice even for one of the Knights of the Cross.
  • Black Magic: Killing someone using magic, mind reading, necromancy, mind-reading using Mind Control and summoning an Outsider are the main forms we have seen. Baleful Polymorph and Time Travel are likewise forbidden. Addictive, and the use of such magic incurs a death penalty if you get caught. Word of God states that every time a Muggle is killed with magic, indirectly or otherwise (as in throwing someone off a building using a magic gust of wind), it breaks the first law and makes the forces of darkness even stronger. If the RPG is correct (and it has enough Word of God on its side to say it is), even seeking information about anything beyond the Outer Gates is a no-no. Exceptions probably exist for the Merlin and the Gatekeeper, and definitely exist for the Blackstaff (that is his purpose). The Black Staff that acts as his mark of office absorbs the corrupting effects of his Lawbreaking so he does not become addicted.
    • Following the events of Turn Coat, the strictures against mind-magic are slightly relaxed, in that Council wizards are granted permission to use these magics for the sole purpose of mental self-defense training.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • When Harry looks into a person's eyes for the first time they both see each other's inner nature. This is such a turbulent experience that for every day of his life, Harry has to avoid looking into the eyes of any person he talks to. He focuses on the nose instead. Similarly, The Sight, which functions on the same principle as a soul gaze. It lets him see the true nature of anything he looks at, and the memory never fades. Ever. This can be very bad considering how nasty a lot of stuff out there is. Looking at a skinwalker left Harry a gibbering wreck for about an hour afterwards. It is mentioned that wizards who spend too much time looking at things with their Sight often go insane.
    • The Archive knows everything that has ever been written or committed to paper (yes, this means Porn, Hate Speech, and even Purple Prose), and the Archive itself itself is passed down from mother to daughter along with the personal memories of each previous Archive. This means that, in addition to knowledge and power, one woman gains all the trauma, heartbreak and memories from countless previous lives.
  • Blow You Away: Harry can manipulate air and wind with his Ventas Servitas spell. This sees more play in the early books, as Harry upgrades to pure force blasts (Forzare) later on.
  • Blown Across the Room: Harry's Forzare goes beyond this. In Dead Beat one unfortunate ghoul gets thrown out a room through a piece of plywood and lands on the other side of the street. In Fool Moon he sends a werewolf through three buildings.
    • Harry also wears rings on his right hand which store up kinetic energy gradually and can release it in an instant, allowing similar effects. At first Harry only had one but he later upgrades to a triple-banded ring on each finger of his hand. He can unleash as many as he needs to at one time.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Fae, who simply do not view the world the same way humanity does. Lea, for example, honestly does not understand why Harry would object to being "protected" by being turned into a faerie dog.
  • Book Ends: The first and last appearances of the Big Bad in Welcome to the Jungle both take the form of her shadow in profile.
  • Boom Stick: Harry's blasting rod is basically a stick he uses to burn everything in sight.
  • Boring, but Practical: Despite being incredibly boring, Martin is an incredible fighter and gun master. He is boring for a reason, and uses his unobtrusiveness to his advantage, easily blending into crowds and being able to take on other appearances.
    • Dresden likes this trope, preferring simple but overpowered spells like fireballs and wind. He also likes using his gun.
  • Brass Balls: "You can say what you like about Gentleman Johnny Marcone, but he has a set of brass balls that drag the ground when he walks."
  • Break the Badass:
    • Tessa shooting Michael. The Denarians torturing Ivy. The Denarians killing Shiro. The Denarians like this trope - it makes them stronger.
    • In Turn Coat, Harry breaks down when Madeline Raith turns him in to the White Council for shielding Morgan, to the point where it crosses into a Heroic BSOD. Murphy snaps him out of it by point out that (a), he's a badass, man up, and (b) bureaucracies take time to get things done; he has time, man up. Also segues into an awesome scene where Murphy takes Harry to task for his inaccurate self image of an unpredictable lone ranger.
    • The Naagloshi is also fueled by this trope. It gains power by killing wizards (and a bit from one-trick-ponies like the Alphas). However, it gets crowning mention for what it did to Thomas.
    • Even more so in Changes when he breaks his back. He gets better, but he was so morose that he ended up committing assisted suicide.
      • This last needs a bit more explanation. The aforementioned decision to commit assisted suicide was not directly caused by his feelings about his broken back. Rather, it was an attempt at dealing with the consequences of what he was forced to do after. Dresden's enemies had kidnapped his daughter, who they planned to ritually sacrifice, and with his back broken Dresden had no way of stopping it from happening. To save his child and himself, he makes a Deal with the Devil with Queen Mab to heal his injuries and give him power, at the price of his service to her once his task is complete. However, fearing that Mab would turn him into a monster once he was in her service, he calls up an assassin he knows and hires the guy to kill him as soon as his daughter is safe. Of course, it later turns out that Harry was psychically manipulated into taking this course of action...
    • One in particular would be seeing Stan killed so casually in his flashback in Ghost Story. In a moment that's both heartbreaking and badass, Harry snaps out of it and blows up the assailant, He Who Walks Behind, the foremost warrior of the immune-to-magic Outsiders.
  • Brown Note: Harry does not respond well to some of the stuff he sees with his Sight. He just about broke his brain at least twice looking at very powerful, incredibly nasty things, and you never ever forget what you see...
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Butters. The best pathologist in the city... but he loves polka music more than is healthy and wears bunny slippers.
    • Bob the Skull is an extremely powerful spirit of intellect that has worked for wizards for centuries and has such a wide span of magical knowledge that the White Council considers him a serious threat and they'd be seriously pissed if they knew Harry has him. And he really likes porn and trashy airport romance novels.
      • A Justified Trope in this case: Bob is a form of "pure" intellect, having a personality at all is a result of the emotional projection, assumptions, and inherent biases and assumptions of his current patron. Harry, a child of the '80s with a sometimes unhealthy obsession with pop culture, thinks that someone who does nothing but memorize every bit of obscure trivia in existence should be an endearingly-eccentric nerd, and the largest information network he's heard of is the internet (which is for porn). Bob's former master was a social darwinist necromancer steeped in the lore of the superiority of ancient wizard knowledge and obsessed with ancient dark magics: the personality Bob exhibits under his ownership is much more ice-cold axe murderer than carefree porn hound.
    • From the point of view of the muggles, Harry himself. The cops at Special Investigations put up with his proclamations that he's a wizard because he gets resultsnote .
      • Also, the Wardens recruit him despite his severe authority issues (especially regarding the White Council) and history of dark magic because he's one of the only really powerful wizards left and is famous for rebelling against the Council, so if someone so anti-council is on their side, they must be doing the right thing.
      • We also get to see Harry's bunny-ears from Murphy's perspective. Harry is a guy who walks into a scene with an outfit that looks like it belongs on the set of El Dorado, asks a few questions that make absolutely no sense, occasionally does something strange like take a strand of hair from a brush, vanishes for two days and somehow makes an envelope with the exact information necessary to crack the case wide open and an invoice for twenty billable hours appear on her desk next Monday morning.
  • Buy Them Off: Weregilds, which are paid for deaths throughout the supernatural community.

    C 
  • Call Back / Brick Joke: In the early novels, Lea wants to turn Harry into one of her hounds, in order to protect him. She gets her chance in Changes, when the group needs to get to Chichen Itza from the Ways quickly.
    • Harry asks for some Listerine after Morgan gives him CPR in Storm Front, and again after Lara kisses him to recharge his emotions and magic in White Night.
  • Canis Latinicus: Lots of it, Harry uses it for all his spells. Elaine uses Dog-Babylonian and Egyptian. Morgan uses Ancient Greek. As of Changes, Molly seems to prefer Japanese. The explanation given in Fool Moon is that they provide a wizard's mind with "an extra layer of protection against the magical energies coursing through it". The protection is thinner if you use words you are too familiar with, as the words will be close enough to your thoughts that the two are near impossible to separate. Thus, wizards use words that are either made up or from languages they do not really understand.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: Rivers aren't much of a problem if you have a boat, but running water of any sort dissipates magic, to the point that Nicodemus is able to completely disable Harry by hanging him under a waterspout.
    • Casting across/into water is also more difficult which becomes a plot point in quite a few books.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: If Harry could just fit his mouth around "I can't tell you, it's a 'Wizard Thing'", 99% of the angst with Murphy could be dispelled. This actually becomes less of a problem in the books after Summer Knight, when Harry finally spills the magic beans to Murphy about the supernatural world.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Thomas, with Justine only. If he tries, his Allergic to Love nature gives him horrible burns. Justine figures out a method. It involves her sleeping with another woman to remove the protection before sleeping with Thomas. Thomas seems okay with it, and even Uriel seems to approve.
    • Harry and Susan as well, because pleasure makes her lose control and might lead into biting him and turning into a full vampire. Eventually, Harry solves the problem by tying her up.
  • Cartoon Bomb: In Ghost Story, the army of ghosts uses some of these, along with the 'pineapple' grenades, when Harry leads them to reenact the storming of Normandy Beach.
  • Cast from Hit Points: A Wizard's Death Curse, which uses up the life in their body for a final spell.
    • Harry nearly kills himself this way without even meaning to in Grave Peril, expending so much energy to burn down Bianca's party that he keels over. Michael has to perform chest compressions to revive him.
    • Soul Fire, which burns the soul itself - and no soul means no life. Nice thing about the soul, though: It's a renewable resource.
  • Catch Phrase: Harry has two: "Hell's bells!" and "Stars and stones!" Thomas has, "Empty night." Word of God has said that those three phrases will also be the titles of the Apocalyptic Trilogy that ends the series. In Butcher's own words, "there's a reason those are curses."
    • It should be noted however that those three are not completely exclusive as Elaine has been seen to use the first two and Lara (presumably along with other Raiths) use the latter.
    • The Catch Phrase of Harry's musclebound-barbarian PC in the Alpha's role-playing adventures is "Enough talk!"
    • There's also "Damn, I'm good", which Harry uses often enough that it's rubbed off on Molly too.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The ratio of funny to horrendously depressing has changed in the last few books. To the point where, before reading a new book, one might ask "Is it worth the Crazy Awesome to have my heart ripped out and stomped on?"note 
  • Character Development:
    • Know that J. R. R. Tolkien quote about wizards? Harry's always had the "quick to anger" thing pretty much covered, but over time he is getting better at the "subtle."
      • He's also getting much more magically powerful. The first two books had him struggling to use magic after a few powerful bursts, and Fool Moon has a point where he's worried he may have burnt out his magical batteries permanently. Since Grave Peril, he's been throwing around more and more major mojo without showing any signs of weakening, to the point that the only thing that stops him from using magic is lack of consciousness or severe pain.
      • Not just his raw power is increasing, either: his control has steadily improved throughout the series. His blasts of fuego is getting progressively more concentrated — from flamethrower-spew to telephone-pole width to wrist-size to thumb-size — and he's broadening his repertoire as well, tackling veils and illusions that he never thought he'd be any good at, early on. Plus, he went from avoiding the Nevernever like the plague to using little-known Ways to hop from continent to continent.
    • Moreover, Harry's willingness to trust his own allies, and to keep them informed of what's going on, advances enormously over the course of the pre-Changes novels.
    • Ghost Story takes place six months after the end of Changes, during which Harry was out of contact with most of his friends and allies. The changes are somewhat startling. Molly has grown up, Murphy has wised-up, Butters has toughened-up...the list goes on.
    • Billy and Charity both start out a bit flat, but become full three-dimensional characters by their second and later appearances.
  • Chaste Hero: Averted. Harry likes sex just fine, the trouble is that the majority of women who are eager to sleep with him would kill him or enslave him. Plus, he would rather not indulge out of sheer carnal pleasure, but love. As if this were not handicap enough, he is also kind of clueless about women. Taken to tragicomic extremes at the end of Changes: Harry and Murphy, both traumatized by events, agree to meet up and have mindless sex in an hour... but just before he goes to meet her Harry is shot dead.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In any book where Harry brews a potion or two for a specific use early in the story, they turn out to be vitally important at the climax — which, needless to say, is not the purpose for which they were originally made. And there are a whole lot more.
    • One that doesn't get fired for seven books pops up in Proven Guilty. Specifically, Fix's comment that "She's lying" when talking about Maeve.
    • Everything that happened during Bianca's party in Grave Peril.
    • Mab's insane rage lasting from Small Favor to Changes.
    • Something that manages to be a Chekhov's Gun by virtue of not being there: during Small Favor Harry gets Mind Raped into forgetting every aspect of fire magic he's ever learned, but he (and, correspondingly, we) don't find this out until half the book has gone by and he realizes he hasn't even thought about fire the entire time.
    • The Beckitts' backstory.
    • Harry and Susan's little slip in control during Death Masks.
    • Let's just say Butcher is seriously good at using these, to the point where he rivals J. K. Rowling.
  • Chekhov's Skill: "Parkour!"
  • Chemical Messiah: The drug Third-Eye has a vaguely new age style following it also does seem to give muggles some degree of magical power.
  • Children Are Innocent
    • Ivy being a tragic exception. Harry and, to a lesser extent, Kincaid treat her as such though (which she seems to appreciate).
  • Christianity is Catholic: Although other denominations are mentioned (Shiro is a Baptist), Catholicism is featured the most out of the Christian faiths.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: Harry calls in his mechanic to fix the Blue Beetle's damage and breakdowns time after time. Most of the body isn't even blue anymore. It finally gets destroyed for good in Changes.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: We are looking at you, Harry.
    • Michael too, although for him it's a welcomed calling rather than a "Dammit, why me?" obligation.
    • Sanya actually seems to enjoy his Chronic Hero Syndrome.
  • Church Militant:
    • Michael kicks ass for the Lord, in a very positive, idealistic, non-Knight Templar fashion, and is heavily hinted to be carrying the real Excalibur. The other Knights of the Cross are just as ass-kicking, but heavily subvert the "Church" part: one, a non-native English speaker, accidentally converted to Baptism when he was at an Elvis Presley concert and completely misunderstood the phrase "meet the King," and the other claims to be an agnostic despite receiving his holy sword direct from the hand of an archangel. He argues that the "angels" and "demons" could be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, or he could just be hallucinating the entire thing.
      • As of Ghost Story, Amoracchius has been confirmed to indeed be Excalibur. The two other swords, Esperacchius and Fidelacchius, are Durendal and Kusanagi respectively.
    • Father Forthill is revealed in The Warrior to be connected the Ordo Malleus (The Inquisition).
      • The villain in that story was a Knight Templar who was tired of having the swords waiting for wielders in the hands of a wizard.
    • Any of the Latin American churches affiliated with the Fellowship's operations are probably this trope too.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: One of the main principles of magic is that you have to believe in what you are doing or it will not work. For example, in Proven Guilty, Harry sets up a defensive spell network using blue Play-Doh, telling Murphy that blue will work best. When she asks him if that is how the rules of magic works, he tells her that it is irrelevant because he associates blue with safety in his own mind so it works best for him. This is also the basis for the Oblivion War; it is fought by a small cadre of agents whose mission is to erase all knowledge and memory of the worst of the old demons. Any knowledge of them is enough to bring them back to the world in some measure.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: The Black Court Vampires (or, to quote Harry, blampires). In fact, Stoker's book was written and published on the orders of the White Court in order to help teach muggles how to fight the Black Court.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
    Harry: "Hell's holy stars and freaking stones shit bells."
  • The Collector of the Strange: Harry Dresden has a collection of vampire fangs (not the hinged plastic kind), parts of rhino horns, depleted uranium dust and spell/potion ingredients.
    • Also a lion scrotum. It was a gift. Stop looking at me like that.
    • Mort Lindquist collects ghosts at his residence. Both warrior-type ghosts that act as his home-security force within the Spirit World, and insane murderer shades whom he shelters from the sun's rays and from posthumous predators.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Lloyd Slate, the Winter Knight. Mab basically tortured him from the end of book four to the middle of book twelve. To put that in perspective... these books take place about a year apart. Each.
      • And given how time works in the Nevernever, this could have conceivably gone on for centuries.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Harry will do whatever he can or needs to do to win, using whatever he can get his hands on (as long as it does not violate his personal ethics or the laws of magic). He is not the only one, as Kincaid mentions that his preferred method of destroying a Black Court scourge is to just bomb the entire building, and he mentions that if he ever needs to go after a wizard like Harry he will simply pick him off with a rifle at kilometer range. Even the faeries sometimes decide to abandon their traditional style in favor of pragmatism, as one Gruff hit-squad comes with sub-machine guns and tries to just shoot Harry.
    • Harry at one point notes that one of the best tactics for dealing with magic-slinging enemies is to take the first opportunity you get to just slug them in the face.
  • Complete Immortality: Certain entities such as gods and the Faerie Queens are absolutely unkillable under normal conditions. Even if their bodies are reduced to their constituent atoms, they will eventually recover completely. However, there are certain places and times where this does not apply such as on Halloween, and they can be killed just like anyone else. Provided, of course, that you can get past the defenses of a Physical God.
  • Complexity Addiction: If your plan is not insanely complicated the White Court vamps will not respect you for it. Needless to say, they do not respect Harry very much.
  • Confusion Fu: Harry often defeats opponents with hundreds, sometimes thousands of years of experience on him, buttloads more magical talent and skill, and vastly superior physical abilities often by doing things that are the exact opposite of sensible. With a bit of every Gambit trope ever thrown in. Yes, even Unwitting Pawn. On Harry.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted. One time, Harry blocked napalm with his shield and burned his hand to a crisp nonetheless — his shield could block the physical elements of the napalm, but the heat was still able to make it through. His next shield bracelet is made to cover for this, among other things.
    • Though in the first book Harry threw up his shield to block a burst of fire just fine (could be ignored, as he drops low to avoid the worst of it as well).
  • Cool Big Sis: Molly. Subverted by Lara.
  • Cool Car: Thoroughly averted with the Blue Beetle.
    • Thomas' Hummer, on the other hand, is so cool Harry refuses to admit it aloud.
  • Cool Guns:
    • Murphy uses a FN P-90 from White Night and onward, mostly because the compact size of the weapon makes it ideal for her small size. The weapon she uses was bought for her by a Kincaid as commemoration for something that happened during their vacation in Hawaii. She eventually adds a red dot sight and a silencer to it. Murphy also alternates between using a Glock and an unspecified SIG model.
    • Sanya always makes sure to pack a Kalashnikov of one kind or another. He is a progressive Knight of the Cross.
    • Other assault rifles are mentioned throughout the series, but the precise models are not specified, as Harry generally does not know the difference and does not use assault rifles much. The aforementioned P-90, for example, is referred to by Harry as an Assault Rifle in Ghost Story though it's a Personal Defense Weapon, closer to an SMG.
  • Cool Pet: Mister and Mouse. Mouse is a Temple Dog / Fu Dog with unspecified magical powers and human level (at least) intelligence. Mister is an enormous house cat (30+ pounds, but no excess fat) who loves Coca-Cola and food from Harry's favorite pub. He is so awesome that his true form and the way he appears to normal sight are exactly the same. Mister is too dignified to abide by such silly things as the laws of physics.
  • Cool Sword: The swords wielded by the Knights of the Cross, each imbued with Holy might and one of the nails of the Crucifixion. They're named Amoracchius, Fidelacchius, and Esperacchius. Or, if you wanna go by their more famous names, Excalibur, Kusanagi, and Durendal.
    • Among others; apparently most of the big name magic swords of history were one of the three.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Quoth Jim Butcher: "Wizards are cool." And the fans have noticed that so are zombies, werewolves, vampires (be they Dracula, Anne Rice, or Succubus types), The Fair Folk, fallen angels, Eldritch Abominations, and evil wizards. And when that first wizard does Crazy Awesome stuff like riding a zombie Tyrannosaurus into battle, well...
  • Cosmopolitan Council: The Senior Council.
  • Could Say It But: Harry and Murphy both invoke this trope at times, since officially they're each often barred from involving the other.
  • Counterspell: This is one of the defensive tricks a practitioner can do.
    • In Death Masks, when one of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius casts a spell conjuring up a bunch of snakes to attack his love interest, Harry Dresden performs a quick counterspell to get rid of them.
    • In one of the short stories, a Grendelkin displays and boasts of his knowledge of countering magic, making it so Harry's hardest hits just flow off it like water.
    • In Turn Coat, Listens-to-Wind does a Rain Dance as a counterspell—this time, instead of negating the blasts coming at him, he just causes them to miss their marks.
    • The swords of the Wardens of the White Council are also noted as being able to cut through and undo any enchantment. We see it in action a couple times, once negating one of Harry's defensive shields, and another time destroying some magical armor.
    • The RPG goes into a little more detail on how it's done—first, the mage has to do a Lore check to assess the strength of the spell he wants to counter, then he casts the counterspell equal to that amount of power. It's noted this usually takes too long to do as a defensive move, but it can be houseruled in as one.
  • Covers Always Lie: The covers of most of the books depict Harry with a fedora-like hat. Not only is such a hat never mentioned in the books, but one short story ("Heorot") has Harry mention at one point that he needs to get a hat, and in Changes he comments that he hates headgear.
    • Harry is a little over six and a half feet tall, and his staff is six feet long. The covers show his staff as being as tall as he is.
  • Cowboy Cop: Ortega accuses Harry of meting out "cowboy justice" to the Red Court in Grave Peril.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Harry. Half of the reason he survives through most of the series is because he either prepared for just such an eventuality or he knows who to call or where to go to get what he needs. The rest, he makes up as he goes.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: The White Council believes that all killing using magic is bad, even in self defense. They're not exactly wrong.
    • Note that this rule applies only to killing humans with magic. Harry and other wizards kill all sorts of non-human things with magic, and the White Council usually approves. In fact this seems to be part of why the White Council exists. Note that apparently this is truly not Black Magic, since it doesn't cause that addictive death spiral.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Big G God exists in the Dresdenverse and is fairly active, and so are all the demons and angels that come with Him. However, the Fae are real and there are various demons, loa, and other supposedly mythological spirits and creatures around that Dresden can call up. The Norse gods even run a magical security firm.
    "...there are beings who aren't the Almighty who have power way beyond anything running around on the planet...Old Greek and Roman and Norse deities. Lots and lots of Amerind divinities, and African tribal beings. A few Australian aboriginal gods; others in Polynesia, Southeast Asia. About a zillion Hindu gods. But they've all been dormant for centuries."
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Specific examples aside, this is a running theme of the series, as a noir story in something of a Crapsack World, there isn't really a single Sorting Algorithm Of Power so much as every power bringing with it a cost and a weakness. Most novels start with Harry not yet knowing the weak point, putting on the receiving end of the curb-stomp, and end with him finding it and applying the appropriate lever, putting him on the giving end. There is very little middle ground in magical combat.
    • The scene in the first book that pits Harry and Marcone against a traitorous gangster. Not. Even. A. Page.
    • Harry vs Xenomorph Expy in the dark in Proven Guilty. No-Holds-Barred Beatdown with a side of Unstoppable Rage.
    • In Small Favor, the fallen angel Magog tries to take on Eldest Brother Gruff. Magog gets annihilated in a single shot, without Eldest Brother Gruff even really trying. Dresden likens it to Gruff swatting him like "an uppity pixie."
    • Michael in Small Favor vs several hundred hobs (evil Winter fae), some of which are armoured and some the size of Mountain Gorillas. Michael barely breaks a sweat. Of course, wielding freaking Excalibur helps.
    • In Turn Coat, the Skinwalker utterly thrashes Harry, Luccio, Lara and several other White Court vampires, and a half dozen human gunmen.
      • That same being had earlier reduced Harry to near-gibbering uselessness just after seeing it.
    • In Cold Days, Harry, now the Winter Knight, fights Fix, the Summer Knight. Fix has about ten more years of experience with the job, and has been preparing to fight the Winter Knight nearly that entire time. Furthermore, Fix is at full strength, and has his magic armour and sword, while Harry is running on fumes and has been stripped naked. But Harry has a few things going for him that Fix can't counter. First, Harry is still one of the world's most powerful Wizards. Second, Harry has enough willpower to ignore the combat sense the Winter Knight Mantle bestows him, which Fix would know how to counter. Third, the fight takes place on Demonreach, which grants Harry total knowledge of everything on it. Some conjured mist robs Fix of his sight, leaving Harry unhindered. Harry takes Fix down so easily he feels almost ashamed, saying he feels like he's beating up a blind man.
  • Curse: Several varieties, including a Wizard's Death Curse.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Ivy, the all-knowing Archive in Death Masks, is all business when introducing herself and her purpose for visiting Harry... but goes to full 7-year-old little girl mode when Mister enters the room. Or, in Small Favor, goes to full 12-year-old little girl mode when she sees otters. Otters!

     D 
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The White Court Vampires, complete with institutional Complexity Addiction.
  • Death by Childbirth: Harry's mother, although it is later revealed that this was the result of a curse.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Most of the old gods have effectively gone into hibernation over the last few centuries. The Lord Almighty (as Harry calls the Christian God) is still very active in modern times, and not all the Old Gods are completely out of the game.
    • Changes reveals some of the Old Gods, specifically Mayincatec ones, to have actually been very powerful, very old vampires of the Red Court, called the Lords of Outer Night. However, from the same books there is indication that the gods really did exist, and the Red Court leadership stole their names.
    • Cold Days reveals even more. Some entities can hold different mantles or masks as times changes. Odin may not worshipped much anymore, but he still gains much power from his role as Santa. And a whole lot of "dark" gods/entities are imprisoned underneath Demonreach.
    • There are a whole bunch of ancient deities so dangerous to the world that an Ancient Tradition of Venatori has been struggling for centuries to erase every trace of their presence, thus preventing mortals from believing in them and allowing them to exist. This invoked example is appropriately known as the "Oblivion War".
  • Death Glare: Mouse pulls a big one on a bully at a beer contest. After spending the first part of the story playing up the Big Friendly Dog act, he suddenly stops and stares. He doesn't growl, bark, or show teeth, he simply stares. Mouse is good at things like this—he just makes people suddenly aware that 200 lbs. of dog are paying them very close and not-at-all friendly attention.
    • Agent Tilly is said to have an effective one.
    • Harry may have one himself - as the books are told first-person, he might not realize it. Cowl is mentioned to have 'swayed' a tiny bit when Harry glared at him. Or it might have been the wind.
  • Debt Detester: The fairies, although it's not so much that they dislike being in debt as that if they make bargains they're compelled to keep them, so they have to be very careful about any deals they make. That said, fairies are very, very good at playing the Literal Genie act, so anyone entering a bargain with them usually gets the short end of the stick.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Subtly deconstructed. Malcolm Dresden, Harry's father, was a well-meaning but ultimately unsuccessful man who did his best, but ultimately did little to influence Harry's development. His mother, Margaret La Fey, is a highly morally ambiguous character who involved herself in a lot of shady goings-on, which ultimately got her killed. His adoptive father, Justin Du Morne, was a clearly Evil Mentor who abused Harry and put him through Training from Hell... but Harry would not be nearly as strong as he is without Justin's tutelage.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Deconstructs the Indy Ploy methods so much favored by Harry and other heroes flying by the seat of their pants. Harry's 'throw plans together within a seconds notice' and 'survive now and deal later' mindset screw him over multiple times in the long run, such as when he goes to Bianca's party in the third book and starts the Vampire War, or in Changes when he wiped out the entire Red Court of Vampires, winning the war — and opening up a massive power vaccuum that is throwing the world into such chaos that even the mortals are beginning to take notice.
    • The series also subtly deconstructs the Ho Yay trope - it's all fine and funny if two guys are suspiciously close while insisting they are not gay. But when there are two guys who are suspiciously close and one of them is an incubus who can enslave people to their will through sex and the other is a close friend of yours...it's caused Harry no end of trouble placating worried allies that he is not mind-controlled.
  • Decoy Damsel: In the short story Backup, Harry runs into this. Unfortunately, the person who knows she is a Decoy Damsel (Thomas) cannot tell him she's playing him, for a variety of reasons. This leads to Thomas having to frantically run around behind the scenes making everything work out, including letting Harry throw him into a wall.
    • Gets a Call Back in Cold Days, where Harry tells a companion he still has no idea what the hell happened on that case.
  • Defective Detective: Harry has big woman issues.
  • Defector from Decadence: Literally Thomas. Thomas disagrees with the White Court's views of humanity, and struggles with his own identity as a vampire. Until the Naagloshi tortures him, bringing his demon back to power in his mind and making him start feeding again, thus averting this trope.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The Raiths, as most will sleep with either gender. At one point, Lara flirts with both Harry and Luccio in the same scene. Notably averted with the White King himself, which is part of the reason Thomas' father did not turn him into a slave like his sisters.
    • The bias against male homosexuality as Lord Raith's personal preference is significant, since the Raiths control the pornography industry. In-universe, his influence is the reason why modern mainstream society believes two drunken girls kissing is "hot", while two men doing the same isn't.
  • Destructive Saviour: Harry's tendency to destroy a lot of buildings has become a Running Gag. Frequently lampshaded. In Side Jobs, the foreward to one story describes its early planning as finding a nice mall in the Chicago area for Dresden to destroy.
    • Heavily lampshaded in what is probably the best opening line for any book ever:
    Harry: The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault.
  • Diary: The series may be a collection of these, as they are told in the first person and it has been revealed that wizards of the White Council are expected to keep journals which they pass on to their apprentices (along with the journals of their teachers and their teacher's teachers). The RPG actually refers to the books as case files.
    • Ebenezar has a series of diaries of his master's master's master's, etc. Going all the way back to the ORIGINAL Merlin.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Often.
    • Just about any strategy of Harry's relies on him knowing something that the Big Bad doesn't, or him doing something the Big Bad couldn't have expected.
    Wile E. Coyote. Suuuuuper genius.
    • In general, Harry has a lot of street smarts and fights really dirty. Regularly averting the Squishy Wizard trope, Harry is physically fit, somewhat trained in martial arts, has years of brawling experience, and almost invariably packs a gun. On one occasion some wannabe Practioners tried to challenge Harry to a magical duel, so he pulled out his revolver.
    • How Harry killed Aurora, the Summer Lady deserves special mention. Nobody ever thinks of the Little Folk, allowing Harry to smuggle them and some box cutters into the most pitched battle he could find. Just when he seemed spent... he opened the equivalent of a bag of poisonous bees in her face.
    • Harry, the famed wizard detective, hired a muggle detective. He subcontracted.
    • Despite the number of times that Harry gets thrown into situations that he knows less about than he should, he continues to wisecrack his way through. Very occasionally, the baddies bring something so far out of left field that even Harry is rendered speechless. Demeter, Lara Raith, and Nicodemus all had their moments.
    • Kringle, aka Santa Claus, has another name. Odin. Boy did he love dropping that bombshell on Harry.
    • The Big Bad's plan in Cold Days is brilliant, comes out of left field, and is the only fitting successor to the plan from Summer Knight we've seen so far.
    • Harry performed this on himself with a supernatural hitman and a memory wipe.
    • In Harry's duel with He Who Walks Behind, the latter corners Harry at a gas station. Guess what happens. Guess.
    • In the climactic duel in White Night, a Big Bad is taken by surprise when the ground he's running on suddenly turns into frictionless dust.
    • Now that Harry is buddies with the Genius Loci of Demonreach, he gets to regularly pull these off on the island when he's fighting people only running on mortal senses. Even immortal sense aren't as good as intellectus.
    • Skin Game reveals the 'parasite' Mab was talking about is a spirit of intellect born from Lash's Heroic Sacrifice, meaning Harry has been pregnant since the end of White Night. Yes, you read that right.
  • Did Not Die That Way: Harry's mom died giving birth to him, and it's later revealed that this happened due to a curse laid by one of her enemies. Also it's implied at one point that his father's death wasn't entirely natural either.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Harry lives for this.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Michael Carpenter has a history of this. He is known to have rescued his wife-to-be by slaying a dragon. (See Our Dragons Are Different.) Holy swords are particularly good at that sort of thing.
    • Harry himself has taken out more than a few supernatural nasties that were well above his weight class, including, but not limited to the Summer Lady, the Red King, He Who Walks Behind, and He Who Walks Before.
    • In Cold Days, Murphy joined the list of humans who have killed godlike entities when she shot Maeve.
  • Dirty Business
  • Discard and Draw: Harry lost the Hellfire and immense knowledge he gained from Lasciel's shadow in White Night, then picked up Soulfire from Uriel in the very next book, Small Favor, and forged a mystical link with a sentient island in the book after that (Turn Coat).
    • It's implied that this kind of bargaining your way into external sources of power isn't unusual for wizards, and is one of the reasons the senior wizards are uncomfortable with Harry's relatively high 'base power level' even though it doesn't really present a direct challenge to them. The Blackstaff, the previous keepers of Demonreach, and the council's bargain with the Fae for exclusive use of the ways all indicate that this kind of ability shuffle is one of the main tools in the wizardly box.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: This is a trait of the entire Svartalf race. Put to use in Bombshells by Molly, Andi and Justine. And Thomas.
  • Distressed Damsel: The subject of what amounts to a Running Gag, with Harry inevitably helping her (even when it is unwise) because he has a chivalrous streak he cannot seem to override. He even puts himself back under the Doom of Damocles again to save a girl.
  • Divided We Fall
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Murphy, in particular, is violently allergic to perceived pity or sympathy.
  • Double Meaning Title: Jim Butcher seems to have a lot of fun making these up. In fact all of the titles of the full length novels have multiple means except possibly Changes.
    • For example, the title of Storm Front, which is about people being murdered with a curse, was going to be Semiautomagic.
      • Still a double meaning. Victor Sells was using thunderstorms to fuel the curse and the incident was the beginning of the metaphorical storm that has been Dresden's life since then.
  • Doom Magnet: Harry. He cannot even get a day off without mayhem.
  • Dramatic Drop: In the sixth book, Murphy meets Harry's mentor, Ebenezar. She is not impressed, and demands brisquely she be the driver since he doesn't have a license in Chicago. Harry tells Ebenezar he better just let her do so, calling the older man 'sir'. Cue Murphy dropping her armload in pure, unfiltered shock at hearing Harry Dresden address someone with authority with respect. She talks to Ebenezar afterwards as if he's on the same level as the Pope.
  • The Dreaded: We know Harry Dresden is a Hurting Hero and Sad Clown. Everyone else, like the Faerie Queens, Fallen Angels, and White Council? Not so much. They know him as a possibly-not-so-former warlock who shows a glaring disrespect for Faerie Queens, Fallen Angels, the highest nobility of the vampire courts, and even his seniors on the White Council and gets away with it, continually gaining more power in the process. As far as they're concerned, he is the guy that killed the Summer Lady, fought off Outsiders, and stopped the Darkhallow with a zombie Tyrannosaurus, succeeding Morgan as the "Most Infamous Warden on the White Council". This reputation is enough to give a half-dozen Wardens pause when they are told to arrest him. It has reached its peak by Changes, when a Red Court vampire assassin, the most badass of the vampire badass, one of the most feared vampire assassins in the world sees Harry... and screams in terror and runs the other way.
    • There are hints throughout the series that Harry has some sort of special destiny. This includes the possibility that his magic is the only mortal magic that can affect Outsiders. Supposedly some on the Senior Council and many powerful beings of the Nevernever know about this and fear/hate him for it.
  • Driven to Suicide: In White Night, one of the characters that Harry is trying to save is driven to suicide by one of the local White Court vampires that feeds off despair. It's implied that if the Denarians ever get their hands on Esperacchus (the Sword of Hope), they would try to drive someone to suicide in the hope that they would use the Sword as a way out, as that would be the ultimate expression of despair, which would destroy the power in the sword, and render it useless.
    • In Ghost Story the flashback reveals Harry himself is the one who hired Kincaid to kill him, in order to escape from being the Winter Knight. However, Uriel immediately draws attention to the mysterious shadow that spoke seven words to Harry, and purposefully pushed him to suicide. While Harry did try to kill himself, he was manipulated into it, so it's a bit of a grey area.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Using Black Magic almost inevitably leads to the temptation to use it again, ultimately leading to this trope. There are examples of characters who have been able to withstand that temptation, Harry among them, but the only person actually immune to it is Ebenezar McCoy in his capacity as the Blackstaff.
    • The last one has its downsides. Those black veins that appeared on his arm did so for a reason.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Harry has managed to defeat multiple black wizards, demons, and vampires, played a pivotal role in the war between the White Council and the Red Court, saved Chicago from a horde of necromancers, prevented a death plague from taking out most of the United States and saved the entire world from the faerie Courts being thrown out of whack, just for starters. Unfortunately, the only kind of respect he gets from most members of the White Council is the sort of respect with which one might approach an unexploded land mine.
    • Most members of the Senior Council act this way because he's a Cowboy Cop. When we see the younger generation like Carlos Ramirez, they're far more likely to respect him as the series goes on.
  • Dumb Muscle: Harry's enemies sometimes accuse him of being this, due to the fact that he a) has a whole lot of power (magically speaking), but isn't so good at fine control, and b) he usually doesn't let that stop him from bringing on the mayhem.
    • Also the kind of character that Harry plays when roleplaying with the Alphas. His preferred character? An extremely dumb barbarian.
    • Harry seems to have this impression of Hendricks, given how large and quiet Marcone's bodyguard is. A subversion, as "Even Hand" reveals that Hendricks is actually well-read and erudite when he's alone with Marcone, and is working on his thesis.
  • Dying Alone: In Dead Beat, Cassius uses his death curse to tell Harry, "Die alone." Later his father tells him that death is by its nature something you do alone, but that does not mean there cannot be people with you when it happens, or people to meet you after it does, and the curse could mean nothing. In Turn Coat Morgan dies, and Harry reassures Luccio that he was with him when he did. In Changes Harry dies alone.

    E 
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Some. In the first book, Harry looks at a house with his Sight and Sees it on fire, indicating there is a possibility it will be burned down soon. Harry has not Seen the future since.
    • On a meta level, Harry doesn't actually get into a proper fight or cast a spell in combat until more than half way through Storm Front, and his Shout-Out quotient is pretty minimal aside from one teasing conversation with Murphy.
    • Female wizards are referred to as "witches" in the first book and "wizardesses" in the second; by the fourth, "wizard" has become a gender-neutral term, and "witch" is used only as a generic insult for female magic-users of any species.
  • Edible Ammunition: If you agree that every random thing that the Entropy Curse used from its environment to kill its victim may get called its "ammo", then yes, chalk up one unlucky vampire dying from cold turkey.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The White Council headquarters is underground beneath Edinburgh, and if the Ostentationary is not elaborate, nothing is.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Outsiders, vast demonic creatures which destroy reality and can only be turned back by the most powerful of wizards... working together. And, in Turn Coat, the Skinwalker.
    • Demonreach is a massive prison for these things - enough that according to Vadderung, if they escaped, it would be "the end".
  • Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Harry is aware of this trope, as well as how horrible his Latin is. So when Proven Guilty comes around and he has to make an eloquent defense of Molly Carpenter to keep her from being executed for black magic, he manipulates the situation so that he can present his defense in English.
  • Elvish Presley
  • Emotion Eater:
    • The White Court vampires draw their sustenance from lust (House Raith), fear (House Malvora) and despair (House Skavis). In Proven Guilty, there are phobophages — creatures from the Winter Court of Faerie that feed on fear and they are perfectly willing to beat some humans to a pulp, kill them or drive them permanently insane to create the fear they need in others.
    • Skinwalkers are said to be able to draw power from people's fear so potently that even so much as talking about them can strengthen them. Subsequently, the Navajo tribespeople who know of them tend to not discuss them with outsiders, meaning that those who encounter them will probably not recognise them, which also leads to fear of them.
  • Empty Fridge Empty Life: Played straight in the first books, where Harry's fridge is filled with beer, coke, and little else. Decreases after the fairies start to fill his fridge with all kinds of food. Rarely what he needs, but the fridge is full nevertheless.
  • Endless Winter: Whenever Mab stays on the material plane for too long, winter just seems to drag on forever.
  • Enemy Within: Subverted. Harry does have an inner subconscious persona, but he is really harmless, or at worst annoying. Harry thinks his inner self pronounces words like "issues" funny and lampshaded in his first appearence.
    Harry: Wait, I've seen this before. I'm good Harry and you're bad Harry, and you only come out at night.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: In Turn Coat, Morgan survives just fine being on the run for his life after being framed for murder. But let him learn the one person he cares for most thought the worst of him...
    "Ana," he said, almost choking on the words. "You. . . you think that I. . . How could you think that I would. . . .?"
    He turned his face away. It couldn't have been a tear. Not from Morgan. He wouldn't shed tears if he had to execute his own mother.
    But for a fraction of a second, something shone on one of his cheeks.
    • Though the person he perceives betrayed him gently points out Brainwashed and Crazy is a very real danger in this universe, and so the mistrust is not entirely unwarranted.
    • This is one of the worst ways you can hurt Harry. It's happened to him twice in his life, with Justin and Elaine before the series starts and Ebenezar in Blood Rites. Possibly the only way to hurt him more is to manipulate him into doing this to his friends.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: More than a few villainous characters have worked with Harry for this reason.
    • Thomas Raith's motivation for helping Harry out. He lied. It is actually because Harry is his half-brother, through their mother.
    • "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone is perhaps the best example of this. He is an unrepentant criminal and vice lord, yet he refuses to tolerate anything or anyone that exploits or harms children. This comes from when he was younger. The son of his boss tried to kill him but missed Marcone and shot an innocent child instead, leaving her in a life-long coma.
      • Indeed, in Even Hand, it was shown that he personally executes anyone who dares to deal drugs to kids or pimp out children in his city.
    • Mab and Bob, both of whom are highly amoral, are disgusted with Heinrich Kemmler, who single-handedly engineered World War I just to get a supply of bodies to work with.
    • In Small Favor Nicodemus describes the Red Court of vampires with genuine disgust.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Mouse's remarkable degree of common sense leads to a few instances of this, especially in Turn Coat.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Thomas Raith, who apparently inspires sexual feelings in... well, everybody.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Inverted. If you are a prominent character, you can forget about getting any. Examples include Harry and Susan (she doesn't feel like losing control after being turned into a vampire), Murphy, Thomas after nearly killing Justine, Raith Sr. due to a curse, Butters averted in Cold Days, he's with Andi the werewolf now, and surprisingly enough Ramirez.
    • Played straight with, of all people, Michael and Charity. There's a reason they have so many kids, and they've even Squicked their kids a little from the frequency and volume of their lovemaking, especially when Michael is about to go out on a mission. Justified by both of them knowing that despite a certain degree of heavenly protection, sooner or later Michael won't come back and they want every minute to count.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Averted with The Archive. Everybody did just call her "the Archive," until she met Harry. Now she is "Ivy."
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Mouse.
    • He's also a Good-Detecting Dog: The Senior Council of wizards considers Harry reckless, dangerous, and possibly evil because of his past. The council's resident expert on magic dogs is dumbfounded in Turn Coat when she realizes Mouse chose Harry as a companion - from her reaction, it's implied this means he must be a stellar guy.
    • Mister has occasionally demonstrated talent as an Evil-Detecting Cat, hissing at the door when Shadowman's demon comes knocking and prudently keeping his distance from Harry's place when vampires are lurking nearby.
  • Evil Feels Good: Black Magic and vampires.
  • Evil Mentor: Justin DuMorne, who tried really really hard to turn young Harry into a Black Magic practitioner. Almost succeeded, too.
  • Evil Overlord List: Lampshaded Harry suspects Nicodemus of having read it, though having guards without tongues seems to imply he didn't read all of it. And accuses Evil Bob of not having read it when he stops to gloat in Ghost Story.
  • Evil Plan: A case could start out as somebody hiring Harry to look into why their sock got lost in the wash, and by the end of the book it'd still turn out to be connected to one of these.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Given that it is a supernatural detective story there are a lot of them. Victor Sells, Leonid Kravos, Corpse-Taker, Cowl, and Justin DuMorne just to hit the high points.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Ferrovax the dragon to Michael, a holy knight and dragon-slayer: "I thought you'd be taller."
  • External Retcon: The White Court of vampires convinced Bram Stoker to write Dracula in order to expose the weaknesses of the Black Court of vampires, one of several factions of vampires that each conform to different vampire mythologies. This resulted in the near destruction of the Black Court, as almost all of humanity learned their weaknesses.
    • According to Word of God, H.P. Lovecraft wrote his books to spread knowledge of Outsiders. Furthermore, Abdul Alhazred the "Mad Arab" was killed by the Gatekeeper and the Necronomicon was a book of rituals that got distributed by the White Council after his death to lessen its power (each ritual can only give so much power at once and when too many people try to draw on a ritual's power source, it is rendered so weak as to be harmless).
  • Extradimensional Shortcut: Nevernever can be used this way by those who know the proper Ways to take.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: Harry quotes statistics on missing persons to point out that, if a dozen people got eaten by trolls or vampires in a good-sized city over the course of a year, no one would really figure out that there was a supernatural menace as long as the bodies did not turn up. In addition, anything magic is Walking Techbane, which among other things makes cameras of all kinds almost completely useless as evidence of something magical. No matter how many zombies, ogres, vampires, werewolves, other faerie tale creatures and dinosaurs run around Chicago, somehow the general public remains convinced that anything apparently supernatural is actually the result of a hoax, hysteria, or hallucination brought on by moldy bread.
    • Everyone knows there is no such thing as magic, so witnesses are never believed. Most just convince themselves they imagined it because the alternative means that the world doesn't work the way they think it does, challenging their entire concept of reality.
    • As of Ghost Story, even the extra strength might not be enough. The Fomor are active enough that even the Muggles are starting to notice things.

    F 
  • The Fair Folk:
    • Harry has a faerie godmother, only she is the Leanan Sidhe and there is nothing nice about it. Think "vampire fae who grants poets and artists inspiration in exchange for a vastly shortened lifespan." Also, for a while there she was trying to "protect" Harry from being hurt or killed in the real world by attempting to trap him in Faerie and turn him into a dog. Permanently.
    • Harry also has two Queens of Faerie furious with him at the moment: Titania, one of the Queens of Summer, because he killed her daughter, Aurora, in Summer Knight, and Mab, one of the Queens of Winter, because Harry managed to rain destruction on her capital, Arctis Tor, in Proven Guilty...and used Summer fire to do it.
    • On the other hand, Toot-Toot the fairy and his pixie buddies are quite fond of Harry, to the point of putting together the "Za Lord's Guard". As a result of Summer Knight, he also has a faerie housekeeping service he can never mention (except to the reader) or they will leave forever.
    • Then there's Mab. Harry's new boss. Hoo boy there.
  • Fairy Godmother: The Leanansidhe is literally Harry's godmother, and a very powerful Faerie. It's not as much fun as Cinderella made it look. (Though she does gussy him up for a meeting with royalty in Changes.)
  • Fairy Companion: Toot-toot and "the Za-Lord's Guard".
  • Faking the Dead: Several important characters.
  • Fan Disservice: The scene in Turn Coat where Lara Raith feeds on (read: consumes emotions and soul by having sex with) her cousin Madeline — and Lara, who has been severely injured in battle, is a charred, ravenous, vengeful living corpse. Also appears to eat her cousin's internal organs, based on how she stuck her hand in Madeline's viscera while said cousin is turned on by this. The Raiths are screwed up.
  • Fantastic Catholicism
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Harry is a fan of the inquisitive eyebrow arch, and his narration in Death Masks describes it as Spock-like.
  • Faux Yay: Thomas's cover in the mortal world is a man who runs a beauty salon with a French accent and is so camp he could be sold at Cabela's. His apartment is covered with gay memorabilia from bright colors to musical posters. His main bedroom has a huge fluffy bed. The other holds his weapons and explosives. People aren't allowed to look in that one. And to top it all off, Harry is registered at his apartment as Thomas' gay lover. Murphy and the cops just loved this.
    I was going to kill Thomas.
  • Fearless Fool
  • Feigning Intelligence: Invoked by Thomas to survive in his really messed-up family. While he plays Obfuscating Stupidity to the hilt for most of his relatives so they won't see him as a legitimate threat, his sister Lara saw through that. So he feigns intelligence only for her, making cryptic statements and hinting he has complex plans in motion, which holds her off while she tries to figure out what he's doing. Harry notes it's a good scheme, if there's enough paranoia. And in the White Court, paranoia comes 'bottled, on tap and in hot and cold running neuroses'.
  • Femme Fatale: Too many to list. Once again — subject of a lot of lampshade hanging.
  • Fertile Feet: The more powerful Summer fae like Eldest Brother Gruff or the Summer Lady do this.
  • Fiction 500: The White Court in general, and Lara Raith in particular.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: Inverted by the White Court, which arranged for the publication of Dracula in order to expose the rival Black Court's secrets and vulnerabilities.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Harry's understanding of how magic works in his world is incomplete. This is because he really wasn't taught or trusted by the most knowledgeable. Those who do know refrain from telling him because they believe it is important that he figure things out on his own.
    Does Harry have an incorrect understanding of the Dark Hollow and other parts of the world?
    Butcher: Oh god yes. I won’t say Harry is clueless, but his understanding of lots of things including the way that magic works is incomplete in many ways. If only because he hasn’t been trusted by a lot of the wizarding community by a lot of the people who could have taught him better. And a lot of the people who do know better aren’t correcting him because they think it’s important to learn these things on your own.
  • Fingore:
    • One way Mab shows to Harry that she really has control of him, and then she freezes the wound just for spite.
    • Deirdre of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius also likes to employ this trope in torture.
  • First-Person Smartass: Harry Dresden, primarily, though Thomas Raith exemplifies this trope in the novella Backup.
  • Five-Man Band:
    The Hero: Harry Dresden.
    The Lancer: Karrin Murphy.
    The Big Guy: Michael Carpenter, although after he gets crippled Sanya takes over this role.
    The Smart Guy: Butters, or Bob. In Ghost Story Bob belongs to Butters now, so they're counted together now.
    The Chick: Molly Carpenter.
    The Sixth Ranger: Thomas Raith.
    Team Pet: Mouse.
  • First Name Basis
    ''Everyone else who lets me ride on their dinosaur calls me Carlos'.'
  • Flat Earth Atheist: Sanya (see Church Militant example above). Sanya has a pretty sophisticated and logical personal philosophy on all the supernatural stuff. He lives in a world with ridiculously powerful beings who are not actually worshipped or called gods, and it is possible for mere mortals to gain near-godlike power. So why assume that one particular powerful entity really is a god, or God? And his mission, as he points out, is worthwhile whether he was given his task by a real angel or not, because either way he is still helping the helpless.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: In Skin Game, Harry jokingly calls the Demonreach Alfred. It rather likes it.
    Harry: "You know the name Alfred is a joke, right?" It stared at me, a wind that didn't exist hampered its cloak. "Alright, I guess you need a first name too. Alfred Demonreach it is.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: The Sidhe and other immortals have a tendency to talk this way.
  • Foreshadowing: Tons of it, all throughout the series. One-off commentary by a character in one book becomes a whole lot more meaningful when re-read a second time, with knowledge of how the plotlines develop. There is a lot of material that gets subtly foreshadowed, particularly in Grave Peril and Proven Guilty. The latter, for example, has a moment where Harry and Ebenezar discuss the traitor within the White Council, and Harry comments that no one has shown up with mysterious sums in their bank accounts. Morgan's frame-up in Turn Coat involves exactly this. Murphy and Harry's discussion about their relationship foreshadows Harry's daughter in Changes and Murphy's taking up of Dresden's mantle as the protector of Chicago in Aftermath.
    • Another, less memorable bit in Dead Beat, When Harry's Father tells him “There’s so much still ahead of you. Pain, joy, love, death, heartache, terrible waters, despair, hope. Sorta makes you think about Harry's death and the fact the story still goes on.
    • Even all the way back in Storm Front, Harry himself foreshadows the Red Court's mass sacrificial rite in Changes when he describes what would be necessary to power the multiple heart-ripper spell.
    • The first volume of the RPG, in discussing famous locations and how their doorways to the Nevernever might be set up, mentions the Pyramids of Giza being "worse than Chichen Itza." This is the location where the final battle of Changes takes place, which was released after the RPG was published, and it indeed involves a route that takes a detour through the Pyramids. This bit is even blacked out in the book, with a side note by Harry not to reveal it.
  • Forever War: Between Faerie and the Outsiders. Winter bears most of the brunt of the war itself, but is supported by other groups.
  • Formally Named Pet: Harry Dresden's cat is named simply Mister.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Harry and Lasciel's shadow, in the end.
    • Harry and Marcone. They are civil and have some mutual respect, and Marcone extends great courtesies to Harry when it suits him. The RPG Rulebook has fun with this. Nearly every time Marcone is mentioned, there is a sidenote by Harry that has him disparaging Marcone for being criminal scum, then admitting Marcone has good qualities like a Morality Pet and a tendency to help Harry himself, then cursing Marcone for almost making Harry like him.
    • Harry and Lara, who always seem to end up working together and mutually hate and respect each other.
  • A Friend in Need: Poor Murph. She got demoted for helping rescue a teenage girl from monsters, then fired for saving the world.
  • Friend on the Force: Lieutenant Karrin Murphy.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: Subverted; although some vampires like to portray themselves this way, especially to human groupies to be used as food sources, most of them are really nasty monsters. Thomas may be an exception to this subversion, but then again he is half human (like all White Court vampires) as well as Harry's half brother.
  • From Bad to Worse: Nearly every single book starts off with bad cirumstances getting worse and then escalating.
    • The series of battles between the White Council and the Red Court in Dead Beat. The Red Court began by capturing several Wardens that had to be rescued or killed to prevent their knowledge and powers from being turned against the White Council. The Wardens rescue them, but the Council gets pursued to Sicily where the Red Court launches a trap that keeps the Nevernever closed for an entire day, resulting in the deaths of dozens of Wardens and other wizards. When they finally managed to open the portal to the Nevernever, the Red Court followed them, summoning demons and Outsiders to help them. Then the Council withdrew to a hospital in the Congo in order to treat their wounded... which the Red Court knew all about so it had human guerillas launch a massive nerve gas attack that killed every single one of the hundreds of wounded and thousands of innocent bystanders in a radius of several blocks.
    • The "Day Off" short story plays this one for hilarity. Harry's day just keeps getting worse and worse, in non-fatal and embarrassing ways.
    • In Changes, the obstacles to rescuing Maggie keep piling up, culminating in Harry having to kill the woman he loves to save her.
  • Full-Contact Magic: A Squishy Wizard, Harry is not.
  • Full-Frontal Assault:
    • Harry has an unfortunate habit of getting into hostile situations where he is naked or close to it. It's happened in Storm Front, Grave Peril and Cold Days so far.
    • A lot of supernatural creatures will also charge into a fight naked, though most of them aren't, let's say, noticeably so, except for the Grendelkin, who is described as male and terrifyingly so, with comparisons made to fire extinguishers.
  • Full-Name Basis:
    • Very serious business for a wizard, since knowing the True Name of a magical creature allows you to summon or exercise influence over them. This works just as well for humans, but it is a limited-time threat since human self-image changes over time and learning a humans True Name will only remain their True Name for a few months. In Grave Peril, a dragon in human form displays its power by sending Harry reeling, even though it only uses his first and last name (leaving out the two middle names). In White Night, Harry is trying to make telepathic contact with Elaine, and he uses her full name along with his own in a desperate attempt to reach her.
    • Harry very nearly gets himself casually obliterated by the Archangel Uriel, near the end of Ghost Story, merely by casually referring to him as "Uri". As it turns out, an angel's name is tantamount to the angel itself, and forgetting the -el part of his name is close to blasphemy. For clarification, Uriel means "Light of God". Given that his stated role in the universe is to bring truth and balance when the forces of Evil try to cheat, it is a big deal for him.
      • In particular, the -el part of his name is the God part, explaining the blasphemy a bit more clearly.
      • He had no problem with a nickname though. "Well, aren't you Mr Sunshine." Mostly because, angelogically speaking, Uriel IS in charge of the sun.
  • Functional Magic: While it generally runs on life energy and (by proxy) emotions, a lot of rules govern it, and not just the White Council's laws against using it to kill, either. For example, any faerie can be forced to comply with a promise if they say it three times, a symbol of faith can be used to consistently ward off or hurt certain creatures, anything with iron will hurt or ward off faeries, a loup-garou werewolf can only be killed with something made from inherited silver, et cetera. One reason that Bob is such a valuable resource to Harry is that Bob has an encyclopedic knowledge of the current state of the rules.
    • In Backup, Thomas describes magic as a skill that almost anyone can learn to use to some extent, provided they take the time to practice. On the other hand, he readily admits that there's a huge difference between what he can do and what Harry can do (comparing a six-month correspondence course with Ph.Ds from three different Ivy League schools). In Backup, Thomas' first tracking spell is easily foiled, and it takes Bob's coaching to get one that works properly. Thomas states that that would never have happened to Harry in the first place.

     G 
  • Gate Guardian: The Gatekeeper, a wizard in charge of overseeing the Outer Gates which are under constant assault from Eldritch Abominations.
  • Gender Is No Object: For a group of people characterized as notoriously behind the times, and for which the ruling group has been alive since—in some cases—women could be considered property, the White Council is very egalitarian as far as the sexes go. Two of the High Council members are women, there are women wizards casually mentioned throughout, and the leader of the Wardens—the most badass of combat wizards—is a woman, even after she loses a good chunk of her magical power.
    • Likely due to the fact that magical power is more likely to be passed down by the mother.
  • Genre Blindness: Several villains seem absolutely determined to underestimate Harry, regardless of the foes he has faced and prevailed against, and the fact that other, more savvy bad guys keep trying to recruit him.
  • Genre Savvy: Most anyone mortal has seen the movies and heard the stories necessary to recognize a trope when they see one.
    • Murphy once referred to hunting Black Court vamps as "living the cliche." Harry also described killing Black Court vamps as "doing the Buffy thing." Thomas also shows up for a vampire-duel in a Buffy shirt. See the Our Vampires Are Different note below.
  • Geometric Magic
  • Gigantic Adults Tiny Babies: Puppy-age Mouse was small enough to fit in Harry's coat pocket. Two years later, he can barely fit into Harry's car.
  • Gilded Cage: The inside of Bob's skull (or at least how Dresden perceives it) is a luxurious mansion that can contain anything Bob wants. However, since he needs permission to leave it, he hates it.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: It is implied that this trope even EXISTS because of Lord Raith's personal tastes. House Raith controls the pornography industry, and by extension has their thumb in cultural perceptions of sex and attraction. Because Lord Raith isn't into male-on-male (to the point of murdering his own sons rather than dominating them through sex like he does his daughters), only female-on-female is considered "hot" by the mainstream male audience.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Happens a lot, e.g. when the loup-garou eats one of Harry's cowboy boots.
  • Glamour: The Fae.
  • Glass Cannon: Harry himself describes all wizards as this. They can dish out a whole lot of power-if they're prepared. If not, they're as rendable as the rest of the squishy mortals.
  • God Guise: The Lords of Outer Night, the heads of the Red Court who posed as the Mayan pantheon - the Red King is implied to have done a stint at Kukulcan. Played with in that there's a point where the Lords of Outer Night show fear in the face of a divine assault, and Harry wonders if they just picked up the mask when the actual deities got out of town and they're afraid they're being called on the carpet.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Faerie Queens of Summer (Titania) and Winter (Mab). They are not so much evil as ruthlessly amoral and self-interested.
    • The theory since Proven Guilty is that, for some unknown reason, Mab has completely lost it, even by Faerie standards.
    • As of Cold Days it is not Mab who has lost it, but Maeve, under the influence of Nemesis. Mab's actions were a result of her fury at Maeve being corrupted.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The entire point of the clandestine Oblivion War. Less than two hundred people in the entire world (of which Thomas, Lara, and Bob are three) know of the... past... existence of unfathomably powerful demons/gods/entities that preyed on mankind. Their power derives directly not just from belief, but from sheer knowledge of their existence. So, in the past, certain people went to rather extreme lengths to remove all knowledge of their existence and make them into unthings. The war continues to this day, with agents of Oblivion taking any measures necessary for this secret knowledge to stay secret, as opposed to others who want to bring these things back (either for power or just For the Evulz).
    • Belief is a significant source of supernatural power for many denizens within the Dresdenverse. However, deific-level entities do not vanish or die from lack of belief. Many godlike entities are active in multiple aspects and dimensions of reality, and they can go "dormant", or become seemingly inactive in human affairs for a long time. This can (but does not"necessarily") result from lack of belief, or even lack of knowledge.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: In Turn Coat, Harry barely manages to avoid this after looking upon the skinwalker with his wizardly Sight. When he Sees it, he blacks out, only to awaken some time later as a gibbering, incoherent mess, and in physical pain. He recites prime numbers to prevent himself from remembering it for a time. It takes locking himself in a room and assaulting his mind with the image over and over again to get his mind straight (he also gets a Psychic Nosebleed). Even then, he'll never forget what he saw.
  • Good Guy Bar: McAnally's Pub. It is accorded neutral ground under the Unseelie Accords, giving Harry and friends a safe place to eat, drink and recuperate.
  • Good Is Not Dumb
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    "I am not Yoda."
    • Also shown in Death Masks, where Harry and the Knights of the Cross are confronted by a willing collaborator of the Denarians who surrenders and sarcastically promises to repent, all the while taunting them smugly because the Knights are bound to not judge or punish, but only to fight the evil possessing the Denarians. Once the Knights leave, Harry takes a baseball bat to the man's kneecaps.
      Harry: People like you always mistake compassion for weakness. Michael and Sanya aren't weak. Fortunately for you, they are good men. Unfortunately for you, I'm not.
    • The White Council of Wizards as a whole is judgemental, hypocritical, isolationist and violent. However, even Harry eventually agrees that their bloody actions are exactly what is needed to protect humanity from supernatural threats, and perhaps even from wizardkind themselves. Their tendency to execute without a second glance is not because they enjoy the blood, but because there is no other option.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The Knights of the Cross will try to persuade the Denarian-possessed to turn away from evil, but won't shy from taking heads if refused.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Harry notes at one point that a fist to the face is incredibly effective against foes who know they're facing a wizard. They generally expect him to stand back and do nothing but sling spells, thus a punch in the nose is one of the last things they were defending against.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Harry has taken a whole lot of abuse over the years. Small Favor has a partial list, but he has acquired even more since then. Including one of those "badass" eye scars, thanks to a psycho with a knife in Turn Coat.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Forthill.
  • Goth: Molly.
    • Perky Goth, specifically. She has the piercings, heavy makeup, and artfully tattered clothing, but she is also quite cheerful most of the time. Not to mention the technicolor hair.
  • Greater Need Than Mine: In Small Favor, during the rescue at the book's climax, Gentleman Johnnie Marcone insists that the first person to be evacuated be the Archive, a wounded and unconscious twelve-year-old girl. Harry Dresden remarks that it's stuff like this that makes it hard for him to file Marcone under "scumbag, criminal" and hate him.
  • Guardian Entity: Harry has a literal Fairy Godmother.
  • Guilt Complex: Harry suffers from this in spades. Harry often stretches things very far in order to blame himself for things.
  • Gut Punch: The ending of Changes is this for the series.

    H 
  • Hand Blast: Harry pulls this when deprived of his staff and blasting rod.
  • Hanging Judge: The Merlin, according to Harry.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Various supernatural species get their strength, agility and stamina for free, which pisses Harry off because he has to exercise to achieve a fraction of their result.
  • He's a Friend: Harry to Mouse.
  • Healing Factor: Explained in detail by Butters. Wizard DNA is different from that of normal humans, in that wizards do not heal until their bodies are fixed — they heal at the normal rate, but they heal until every trace of the wound is gone and the injured body part is back to normal. As in, no scar tissue, no fractures in bones, nothing. This perfect healing (or close enough to make no difference) also slows down the normal cellular deterioration that causes aging, giving wizards a lifespan measured in centuries rather than decades.
    • Certain supernatural creatures have more enhanced versions. The RPG rulebook puts it at three levels, the highest of which allows a creature to heal from something that would normally take months or years within minutes.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Healing magic seems to be nonexistent, at least for humans (Listens-To-Winds does have some capability in this matter, but he's a Senior Council Member and regularly goes back to medical school). Magic can be used to staunch a wound or keep someone alert, but not in any more direct fashion. Very powerful beings like the Faerie Queens can do more, including fixing a broken spine and bringing Harry back from the brink of death, with the help of a powerful Genius Loci. According to the RPG, Summer Magic can be used to heal people (at least, better than most people) as the magic grants some kind of instinctive knowledge of physiology. Miss Gard's Runic Magic and certain forms of Necromancy can also stave off death.
    • A Justified Trope in that the reason healing is so hard is that the body is really complicated and if you try to fix someone without knowing exactly what you are doing, you'll probably kill him or at least make him even worse.
  • Hearing Voices: A rare neutral example. Harry can, under specific circumstances, converse with his own subconscious. Subverted in that Subconscious Harry really is part of Harry, but there is no explanation given as to why he appears to Conscious Harry (ironically enough, he can only speak to Conscious Harry when he's unconscious).
  • Held Gaze: There's even has a name for this - the Soulgaze, where two people catch a glimpse of each other's souls because they share a gaze. One of them has to be a wizard to trigger it, though.
    "For me, meeting someone's eyes is always risky. Every human being knows what I'm talking about. Try it. Walk up to someone, without speaking and look them in the eyes. There's a a certain amount of leeway for second, or two, or three. And then there's a distinct sensation of contact, of intimacy. That's when regular folks cough and look away. Wizards, though, get the full ride of a soulgaze." Harry Dresden, White Night.
  • Hermetic Magic: Most magic in the series is either this or Summon Magic. Both may be powered by Life Energy, but especially this.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Michael Carpenter, The Fist of God. Retired as of Small Favor, but Sanya still counts.
    • Carlos Ramirez, commander of the West Coast Wardens
    • Karrin Murphy and the rest of SI.
    • Warden Morgan.
    • Billy Borden and the Alphas.
    • Thomas Raith, participant of the Oblivion War.
    • "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, mortal representative on the Unseelie Accords as of White Night and financial power behind the defense of Chicago against supernatural threats as of Ghost Story.
  • Heroic Fatigue: Harry goes through this all the time. Often he will forget to eat or sleep when he is on a case and the world needs saving from supernatural doom. By the time he manages to solve everything he is usually so strung out that he often ends up just blacking out from exhaustion.
  • Heroic Resolve: This is SOP with Harry Dresden. He's quite possibly the Trope Codifier (him or Spiderman, who he references every now and then, saying "I follow the Tao of Peter Parker").
    • Immediately before the aforementioned Fae war, Harry explained to the Gatekeeper (the most enigmatic of the Senior Councilors) that the job wasn't finished, so he (Harry) was going to go into the fight. This after he very nearly died multiple times trying to unravel the mystery of the week that led to his actions which caused said war.
    • After that incident, Harry has dueled and killed a Red Court Noble, who was only marginally below a living demi-god. Shortly afterward he kills said Red Court Noble's father, who, by the way, is the ''freaking Red King himself. All after his home was burned, his office detonated, his car crushed, and all the while his daughter was in Red Court hands.
    • Even being dead doesn't stop Harry from riding to his friends' rescue.
  • Hidden Depths: just about everyone.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted. Shots from guns with silencers are described being "maybe as loud as someone slamming an unabridged dictionary down on a table" rather than the "splitting the air with thunder" noise that guns without silencers make.
  • Holy Ground: The church of Saint Mary of the Angels is holy ground, meaning that it is mostly impervious to all dark magic and anti-human supernatural forces.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: The Soulfire ability Harry receives from Uriel is ostensibly holy, and also powered by his own soul.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Harry will tell the reader repeatedly that he is not a good and decent man, but any time the opportunity occurs to do the right thing at great personal cost, Harry Dresden steps up without a second thought. Receives a rather cruel Lampshade Hanging in Grave Peril, when an enemy of Dresden's mockingly gives him a tombstone inscribed with the epitaph "He died doing the right thing". She then promptly gives him the choice to either walk away safely, or risk a tenuous peace and the lives of himself and others. Harry sees the trap, and goes in anyway.
    • When a bunch of super powerful warlocks are about to use the population of Chicago to turn themselves into a new God of Death, the Wardens assigned to deal with them stop slaughtering their way through the army of zombies to protect trick-or-treating schoolchildren.
  • Honorary Uncle: Harry to the Carpenter clan.
  • Hope Spot: Seems to happen at least once per book.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Molly Carpenter is a Perky Goth version of this. When she first becomes important to the story, she's dropped out of school, gotten a bunch of tattoos and piercings, started hanging around with the wrong crowd, and dresses like, in the protagonist's words, "Frankenhooker."
  • Horny Devils: White Court vampires of House Raith.
  • Hot for Teacher: Molly for Harry. Also Morgan towards Luccio. Both times unrequited.
  • Hot Witch: Molly. formerly Charity, Elaine Mallory, Anastasia Luccio, Andi, Georgia, Marcy and most female fae.
  • How About A Smile: At one point Harry is forced to seek help from Johnny Marcone. Johnny decides to have a little fun with Harry.
    Marcone: Say "please".
    Harry: Please...
    Marcone: Say "pretty please".
    Harry: Pretty please...
    Marcone: Say "pretty please with a cherry on top".
    Harry: Fuck you. *hangs up*
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Harry is 6'9'' tall, while Murphy is five foot even. Also Kincaid and Ivy.
  • Humans Are Special: Harry thinks so considering how he puts it in Cold Days:
    Harry: Mortals had the short end of the stick on almost any supernatural confrontation. Even most wizards, with their access to terrific forces, had to approach conflicts carefully—relatively few of us had the talents that lent themselves to brawling. But mortals had everyone else beat on exactly one thing: the freedom to choose. Free will. It had taken me a while to begin to understand it, but it had eventually sunk into my thick skull. I couldn’t arm wrestle an ogre, even with the mantle. I couldn’t have won a magical duel with Mab or Titania— probably not even against Maeve or Lily. I couldn’t outrun one of the Sidhe. But I could defy absolutely anyone.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Nevernever, or at least the parts closest to the mortal world, are fraught with faeries, demons and other dangerous creatures. The parts further away from the mortal world are worse.

    I 
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: The Gatekeeper in Summer Knight can't believe he's saying "What the Council doesn't know won't hurt it".
    • In Turn Coat, it provides one of the funniest lines in the entire book.
      Dresden: I can't believe I'm about to say this. So think real careful about where this is coming from: Have you people ever considered talking when you've got a problem?
  • I Gave My Word: Promises are binding in the supernatural world; a wizard who swears by their power and breaks the promise loses some of their talent, while a denizen of Faerie who breaks their promises suffers indescribable agony. A bearer of one of the Swords of the Cross who breaks a promise runs the risk of unmaking the Sword completely. The only supernatural beings who routinely break their word without consequence are the Denarians. However, the nature of binding is to the letter of the promise given, not the spirit, and the Red King points out in Changes that he never even spoke to Harry, instead communicating through a translator, and thus never actually gave Harry his word at all.
    • Also, in Cold Days, we find out, if a mortal who has taken a Mantle tries to break the Law of the appropriate Court, the result is the Mantle immediately disappears, taking all of its power and enhancements with it. This is particularly difficult for Harry since what happened in Changes.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: White Court Vampires are born, not "made" like the other Courts, and become vampires if they feed on someone before truly falling in love. Raith manipulates his children to make sure they turn, then he ensures his daughters' loyalties through disturbing means and kills his sons before they can become threats. This is a large part of the reason behind Thomas' Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Harry admits as much twice during the series, during Turn Coat and Cold Days. Interestingly enough, it's used for a specific purpose - to convince two people that he's the good guy, because if he were the bad guy they know he couldn't come up with a plan this complex and smooth. This does not stop the first incidence from being a Crowning Moment of Funny, or the second from being a massive Oh Crap for the other person.
  • I Know Your True Name: True names (i.e. a person's name pronounced exactly the way they do so themselves) grant a wizard power over the one named, to the point that demons will consider a portion of a person's name from their own lips to be worthy payment for a service. Some dragons are apparently so powerful they only need part of the name, and Harry wonders what he could do with the full one. However, it is pointed out that humans are far more mutable than supernatural beings, so a human's True Name can change over time.
    • Wizards, being human, are also subject to their True Names changing, but because they are long-lived, it takes a significantly longer amount of time to do so.
  • An Ice Person: Mab, Queen of the Winter Court of Faerie and Lord of Air and Darkness, is very definitely An Ice Person but very definitely not A Nice Person.
    • And of course her daughter Maeve, the Winter Lady. And soon her replacement, Molly.
    • Harry's been one ever since he became Winter Knight.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The first 11 books had formulaic titles: two words, the same number of letters in each, with some kind of pun or double meaning in the title. Summer Knight, for example, is set around the summer solstice, and it is about investigating the murder of a man who held the office of Knight of the Summer Court of Faerie. Blood Rites is about family ties, with a B-plot about vampire-hunting. The 12th book breaks this pattern with a one-word title: Changes. With books 13 and 14, he returns to the older pattern with Ghost Story and Cold Days.
    Bob: William picked up on your casefile naming pattern, boss. Should we tell him about how it's your insurance against head injuries?
    • The pattern evidently will be broken again in the apocalyptic three-book series finale, as one of the final trilogy will be titled Stars And Stones. The other announced titles, Hell's Bells and Empty Night, do conform to the system, at least as far as word- and letter-count.
    • It carried over to a few of the later short stories, but their titles avert it more often than not.
    • The first two original comics (Welcome to the Jungle and Ghoul Goblin) break the rule, but the upcoming War Cry will follow it.
  • Ignored Confession: In Proven Guilty, Molly confesses her love to Harry. He openly tells her that he's not going to take it seriously, for two reasons: One, because she's a rebellious teenager and her attraction to him is partly fueled by that; and two, because he's just saved her from a highly traumatic experience and her perception of him is being colored by that. Years on, Molly admits this was the right thing for him to do, although she is angry that he refused to acknowledge her feelings even after they became more genuine.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Practically a running gag, though he does have to exercise some forced methods of control. One time Harry winds up dumping ice water on his crotch. The next time he dumps the water on the temptress.
    • Molly is really bad about this, though. In White Night, when Harry and Murphy talk about Murphy's sexual escapades with Kincaid in Hawaii, Molly, who is reading a book, drops the book on her face in surprise, then tries to act uninterested.
    Harry: It would have been a lot more convincing if she wasn't reading the book upside-down.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Denarians are immortal due to the presence of the Fallen contained in the silver denarius coin each one carries. Furthermore, Nicodemus is given extra protection by the fact that he wears the noose Judas Iscariot supposedly used to commit suicide around his neck, which allows him to regenerate damage that would drop even other Denarians who are protected by their respective Fallen.
  • In the Back: Harry has absolutely no compunctions about taking opportunities as they are given.
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: The Unseelie Accords are an interesting version of this. The Accords are signed by several major supernatural powers from the Winter and Summer Fae, Vampires Courts, to the White Council and other gods. In it, it describes the rights and obligations one group has to another, from the right to take vengeance or payment for damages done against one party from another if the action was unlawful to how one could request arbitration from a neutral third party. Low-level magical practitioners are on the edge of protection and only if a Warden or Senior Member of the White Council sticks one's neck out would they get some protection. Normal humans excluding Marcone who signs up in White Night actually don't have any say in them, and thus the Accords cannot be used to claim damages done. That said, this allows for loopholes to be exploited by this, such as not worrying about fighting in neutral territory.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: The White Court of Vampires, and the fae. The Red Court of Vampires look like the beautiful people in their flesh masks, but they are really not.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: At the end of Blood Rites, a down-on-his-luck Thomas moves in with Harry. Complicated by the fact that Thomas is an incubus who feeds and can control people's minds through sex, a fact well known, so anyone who knew they were living together simply wouldn't believe it was innocent. Understandably, they keep it quiet. Especially because they can't tell anyone the real reason it's completely innocent - that they're half-brothers - without attracting a lot of hostile attention from enemies looking for leverage.
  • Inspector Javert: Morgan. He harasses Harry at every turn, accuses him of black magic and cavorting with demons and vampires (which, to be fair to Morgan, Harry does do with Lash and Thomas), and eagerly looks for an excuse to execute him, but this is all because he legitimately believes that Harry is a threat to others. Their relationship mellows (slightly) over the books, and comes to a head in Turn Coat.
  • Internal Affairs: Thanks to her constant adventures with Harry, combined with a grudge-holding former member of Special Investigations, Murphy seems to be under investigation by IA for nearly half the series. By the end of Changes, they seem to have won.
  • Irony
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Which is why Harry gives Ivy and Lash their names.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Harry cites this word for word when he admits that he may have kinda thrown himself out of a moving car. He had a plan. Sort of.

     J-L 
  • James Bondage: Harry gets tied up a lot. The times he weasels out of it on his own and the times he needs to be rescued are split about 50/50.
  • Jesus Taboo: Averted. The series doesn't just make generic platitudes about God and faith, it demonstrates that the tenets and artifacts of Christianity have real power and meaning. In particular, the Swords of the Cross derive their power from the nails of the True Cross, the Shroud of Turin exists and has power and as of Skin Game the other relics of the Crucifixion are back in play in the world. Also, Michael Carpenter is not shy about holding Jesus up as his example and inspiration.
  • Join or Die: Nicodemus gives Harry an offer: take up one of the 30 silver coins and join the Order of the Blackened Denarius, or have his throat slit after breakfast. Nicodemus believes very strongly in pragmatic villainy.
  • Killed Off for Real: Several characters, notably Shiro, Morgan, Susan, Lily, and Maeve.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: The Red Court vampires have a powerful narcotic in their saliva that addicts their victims to being bitten. They also spit into beverages to poison and thrall people that way. Well. They did, anyhow.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Michael is a literal embodiment of the title and elso exemplifies its meaning, as Harry himself says that he is the closest anybody will ever get to meeting an Honest-To-God angel. Well, most people. Harry has hung out a few times with the archangel Uriel.
    • And Michael is armed with a magic sword to boot, Amoracchius. The sword's other name? Excalibur. Yes, that Excalibur.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Harry and Murphy.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Do not mess with Thomas Raith's siblings, or he will do whatever it takes to destroy you. Especially his younger siblings Inari and Harry. Harry, though younger, reciprocates the sentiment.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Ebenezar McCoy. And when you're dealing with a man who can pull a satellite out of orbit to eradicate you and your entire stronghold, then it would probably be better to not try to kill Harry.
    • Changes sees Harry himself become one, in his drive to protect his daughter. And if you have an unfettered version of Harry Dresden....well, say goodbye to your species.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Enough for a whole store of various lighting fixtures and accessories.
  • The Laws of Magic: The title character uses and names the Law of Contagion and Similarity, as a basic crime-solving technique. He also mentions and frequently uses the Law of Names, as well as the Law of Words of Power (mentioning in passing that you could technically use English words, but there isn't a sense of buffer between the self and spells, so it causes pain to the user).
    • There's numerous other ones that aren't explicitly named, but invoked. He used the Law Of Infinite Data to send Ivy a message, the Law of Pragmatism (numerous times, seeing that he used necromancy to raise a giant dino because it worked), and others.
    • Dimensional travel assumes the Law of Infinite Universes, and there is a wizard with the task of guarding certain dimensions.
  • Layman's Terms: Lampshaded in Summer Knight, when Harry stops to give a massive plant monster a cool name, simply because such a thing needs a cool name.
    Harry: It's a chlorofiend.
    Murphy: A what?
    Harry: Plant monster.
    Murphy: Oh.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Every now and then, Harry says things which are clearly directed at the audience. Probably the most egregious example is in Fool Moon when he jumps out of a moving car and the text reads, without any spoken dialogue, "Don't look at me that way." The RPG refers to the books as his case files, and he quite rightly expect that someone other then himself will be reading those case files in the future.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: A running theme throughout the series is Harry having to deal with these.
    • From the point of view of the police, Marcone embodies the trope: he's a ruthless crime lord, but better than anyone else who might try to take over the role.
  • Lie to the Beholder: At one point, Harry uses a spell to make Thomas look like him as a decoy to help him hide from the Fae.
  • Lighthouse Point: There's an abandoned lighthouse on Demonreach.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis:
    • According to Harry, Bram Stoker wrote Dracula at the behest of the White Court in order to weaken the Black Court of Vampires by instructing muggles in their traditional means and weaknesses.
    • William wrote the RPG for much the same reason. The RPG rulebooks are framed as being a first draft written by Billy and company which he has given to Harry to look over.
      • The Trope is inverted in the RPG: a Running Gag is Jim B., a player of the game whose character is Harry Dresden
    • Word of God is that Lovecraft falls in the same category, and that both he and Stoker died because of what they did. This is actually a large part of the expanded Cthulhu Mythos, written by others writers since Lovecraft's death, whose stories include Lovecraft as a deceased author who revealed many of the secrets of the Old Ones.
    • It becomes a part of the plot in the novella Backup as Thomas is trying to keep various Eldritch Abominations from gaining power by keeping them Unpersons. If Harry gets his hands on the book the the Villain of the Week has, he will turn it into the White Council. This is bad because when the White Council gets hold of a Tome of Eldritch Lore, they publish it, which typically causes the power of the knowledge contained in it to weaken. Harry and the White Council don't know that this particular book would only make things much worse if its contents were made known.
  • Little Miss Badass: Ivy takes this to levels unequaled by pretty much anyone else, ever. For one thing, she can control Mordite, a literal piece of antilife, with needle-threading precision.
  • Living Shadow: Nicodemus has one of these that can strangle people and fly. The shadow is not even his Denarian form. To quote Jim:
    "No, he just has his shadow do things for him. You go relying on an alternate form to get things done, that still puts you in personal danger and Nicodemus is more practical than that. He'd rather stand over here and let something else kill and get the work done. Unless it's something cool like a Knight of the Cross, in that case he's still got something to prove."
  • Loners Are Freaks: Harry spends the first few books as a "loner", but less so in the later books when he builds up a decent group of True Companions. It is worst between Grave Peril and Summer Knight, when he is trying desperately to figure out how to cure a loved one of vampirism.
  • Long-Running Book Series
  • Loophole Abuse: Lots of it, especially in Harry's dealings with the fae and his brushes with the Seven Laws of Magic
    • At the climax of Dead Beat, Harry must use necromancy to get close to an evil wizard. When Lawful Stupid Warden Morgan calls the result an "abomination," Harry points out that the Laws prohibit raising dead humans, and says nothing about Tyrannosaurs.
    • Towards the end of Small Favor he calls in a favor he's owed by the Summer Court to get out of a fight with the third Gruff, who is noted to have personally bested three ruling member of the White Council. He does this by using his favor to ask for a donut. The Eldest Gruff is well aware of the intent of the wish, but goes along with it, under the excuse that finding a donut exactly like what Harry has requested could take "a very long time," because he doesn't especially want to kill Harry either.
    • It's also worth pointing out that loophole abuse is a major part of what makes Harry so effective as a hero, due in large part to the fact that most supernatural creatures are required on some level to keep their promises or risk dire consequences. Most intelligent creatures of the Nevernever are masters of loophole abuse themselves, but they rarely expect humans to be as good at thinking outside the box as Harry is.
  • Love Potion: Played perfectly straight. It is described as not so much mind control or love-inducing, but rather it lowers someone's inhibitions. Bob refers to it as super-tequila.
  • Lying Creator: Jim Butcher explains the reasons behind it here.

    M 
  • MacGuffin: Appears a bit throughout the story, but most notably The Word of Kemmler. Harry even lampshades this in one scene by comparing his situation to two similar stories involving MacGuffins.
  • Made of Explodium: Most of Chicago goes up ten points in flamability level whenever Harry is around. One particular instance is when he tries to ground out a magical charge he built up, and Murphy's car randomly explodes. It is later revealed that Harry screwed up the timer on a bomb somebody planted on Murphy's car, but it was still hilarious.
  • Made of Iron: Harry. Listing the injuries he receives in any one book would probably make doctors pale, and listing every injury he receives over the course of the series would result in a Wall of Text so large it would deserve it's own folder. He avoids long-term effects by having a minor Healing Factor, but by the time of the climax he's usually two steps away from blacking out and keeps going through sheer willpower.
  • A Magic Contract Comes with a Kiss: With Mab, it's a bit more than just a kiss.
    • Maeve tried to ruin Billy and Georgia's wedding by having a friend take Georgia's place. During the Race Against the Clock Harry tries to figure out when it would be to late to stop it. At the vows? No, it's the kiss what seals the deal.
  • Magic Knight: The Wardens, The Knights of the Cross and The Summer and Winter Knight.
  • Magic Wand: Molly is shown to prefer wands, and as of Changes is shown to regularly carry at least two.
    • Harry uses his staff to make it easier for him to control evocation magic. His blasting rod, though, is specialized as a Boom Stick.
    • Molly's wands and Harry's staff and rod are both foci, and depending on preference other wizards might use, say, a soup ladle or a pair of earrings. None of them are strictly necessary; fitting with the general Clap Your Hands If You Believe nature of magic, they're just tools to make it easier. For example, Harry casting a fire spell without his blasting rod is like trying to carve a butter sculpture with your bare hands; possible, but difficult.
      • Elaine prefers jewelry as her magical foci. She also describes Harry's chosen foci as phallic.
  • Magical Accessory: Several. Notably Harry has a Shield Bracelet.
  • Magical Native American: Listens to Wind a.k.a. Injun Joe, although he is also a normal wizard. He seems to be the only one with a familiar, though. The RPG suggests that this is because the White Council frowns on keeping familiars, but Listens To Winds hails from a tradition older than the White Council's influence in North America.
  • Magical Society: The White Council.
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality: The Fae courts control global climate change.
  • Magnetic Hero: Harry draws people into his orbit and transforms them without even realizing it.
  • Mainlining the Monster: The Red Court, whose saliva is addictive and a fairly powerful narcotic, use this to hold onto political power in Latin America.
  • Male Gaze: Pretty much constant, and not exclusive to Harry's narration either. Even when Murphy is the viewpoint character, mention is made of a female werewolf having 'curves that drew the eye'.
  • The Man Behind the Man: No Dresden book is complete without one or two. Or more. We do not always find out about them until later.
    • Lara Raith eventually comes to rule the entire White Court in this way, after learning her father is unable to feed thanks to Margaret Dresden's curse on him, and then proceeds to literally Mind Rape him into her slave.
    • Cold Days reveals that the Outsiders have been using a mind virus to influence pretty much every event up to that point. Damn.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: The sex lives of some of the guys in the series bring this trope into play straight or with twists. Carlos, the big talker, subverts this in White Knight as he really is a virgin. Harry, needless to say, laughs himself sick.
    Lara (of Carlos to Harry): A virgin?...Is he a present?
  • Masquerade: Though most of the supernatural creatures do not really bother to hide themselves, the public refuses to believe they exist. Harry himself pays very little attention to the Masquerade, he is in the Yellow Pages under "Wizards". The vampires, demons, and the other supernatural creatures usually try to sweep their tracks, because if normals find out that they exist the general response for all of them will be Kill It with Fire and they will be totally outnumbered.
    Crane: You wouldn’t dare reveal yourself to the world.
    Dresden: Go read the yellow pages in your room. I’m in there. Under "Wizards."
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Harry is actually part of two different chains. The first is Merlin > Over a thousand years worth of Masters and Apprentices > Ebenezar's master > Ebenezar > Harry > Molly. The second is Simon Pietrovich > Justin DuMorne > Harry > Molly.
  • Master of One Magic: Some people have some magical ability, but not enough to be considered a wizard. Some of those people focus on using one spell really, really hard.
    • Billy and his werewolf gang only know a spell to transform into a wolf and back. It does have a secondary application as a healing spell though; Billy describes it as being similar to transforming into human form.
    • Mort is an Ectomancer, who specializes in magic to do with ghosts and spirits. He's even better at it than most wizards.
    • At one point in Ghost Story, Harry's friends have to fight a Kinetomancer, who specializes in force magic applied to physical movement. Meaning he's incredibly fast and strong.
    • Binder's only real trick is summoning magical Mooks.
  • Master of Your Domain: Lash teaches Harry quite a few tricks.
  • Master Swordsman: Shiro of the Knights of the Cross is said to be an artist with his blade. The RPG codifies this, giving him a Weapons skill of 6, with stunts to boost it further in certain situations (for reference, skills top out at 4 or 5 for most non-wizard, non-"Plot Device level" characters), and outright says if you try to take him on one-on-one, you are going to lose. Even Nicodemus, who hates Shiro, grudgingly respects Shiro's abilities. Nicodemus himself is also pretty good due to having more than 2000 years to practice.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Harry's ability to Listen (i.e., tune out extraneous sounds and focus on what he needs to hear) may be part of the wizarding package, or may be just a learned skill Harry can do - he's not sure which.
    • In Death Masks Michael, wearing heavy armor and unconscious, and Harry are in a river when crime lord Marcone tosses Harry a line and pulls both of them to safety. The line turned out to be the Shroud of Turin, burial cloth of Christ. A 2000 year old piece of cloth gaining the tension strength to withstand two heavy men being pulled with it out of rushing water and never tearing. Yeah. Just a coincidence and good craftsmanship.
  • May-December Romance: Kinda-sorta Harry and Luccio—though she's in the body of a 20-year-old coed by the time their relationship starts, she's actually a 200+ year old wizard who grew up in Italy in the early 1800s. Falls into this category because Harry will live just as long as her.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: The complications of this kind of relationship are brought up by Murphy in Proven Guilty when she and Harry talk about their relationship. Murphy notes that she does not have Harry's long lifespan, and he will still be relatively young when she is dying of old age.
  • Mayincatec: The cover for Changes.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • In White Night, when Harry and Elaine are heading for Thomas' boat at the marina, there's mention of a boat with a particularly bad engine belching smoke. It gets passed off. The boat in question is carrying Madrigal Raith, a White Court vampire with a grudge against Thomas and Harry, and his ghoul hit squad. The boat then attacks Thomas' ship a chapter later.
    • In Turn Coat several characters are described as having ink on their fingers and the clerk is often described in the background insistently and obsessively collecting people's signatures for menial things. This seemed insignificant until the end when the clerk was found out to be a traitor and the ink contained alchemical substances used for psychological attacks.
    • In Cold Days, Murphy, Harry and Thomas are in a standoff with seven Sidhe. Harry is injured and on the ground, so isn't participating in the parley. The situation changes, and he's the only one who notices. What happens next is equal parts Nightmare Fuel, Crowning Moment Of Awesome and Crowning Moment of Funny.
    Harry: Hey, weren't there seven of you guys a minute ago?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Harry's father was a stage magician and Harry himself is named after Harry Houdini, Harry Blackstone, Sr. and David Copperfield.
    • Nicodemus Archleone.
    Harry: Seriously? Archleone? As in "seeking whom he may devour"? Could you get any more obvious?
    • Michael Carpenter. Michael, as in the archangel, and Carpenter, as in Jesus' day job, and Michael is an actual carpenter to boot.
    • Thomas' sister Inari. Inari was the god of, among other things, foxes/kitsune in Japan. Given the folklore surrounding kitsune, it was kind of obvious who Inari was before it was said outright.
    • From "Dead Beat", a necromancer goes by the name of Grevane, which is an anagram of "engrave", usually associated with tombstones.
    • In "Small Favor" Uriel disguises himself as a janitor named Jake when Harry is in the chapel questioning God. In the Bible, Jacob wrestled an angel and got some cool perks out of it. Harry gets encouragement and knowledge of soulfire.
    • Dr. Fabio from "I Was a Teenage Bigfoot", a former Venator who was siphoning Irwin's essence with dark magic... to regrow his hair.
    • The Wardens of the White Council have an apt name. After all, there was originally just one Warden, and he oversaw the prison underneath Demonreach.
    • Ms. Demeter Helen Beckitt, the manager of Marcone's fitness club in White Night. You might think it's just a hint to the customers that there are other services to get, vaguely related to a Greek fertility goddess, but wouldn't be "Aphrodite" more apt and standard then? Well, think who might be Persephone... At the end of the book, it's revealed that Helens daughter is still alive, but lying in a coma.
  • Meat Puppet: A definite possibility for those bearing mantles of power. When he becomes the Winter Knight, Harry fears that the mantle of Winter Knight will erode his personality, sanity and self-control, and take over his mind. Some people say it's inevitable, some say it isn't. There's no definite answer.
  • Mega Neko: Harry's cat, Mister. He is huge. Seriously. Easily thirty pounds and described by Harry as potentially part bobcat. In the comics, he says he feeds Mister sheep.
    Harry : I like dogs, they give Mister something to snack on.
  • Merlin and Nimue: Not the Merlin, the official leader of the White Council, but Harry himself. He has a younger apprentice of the opposite sex who he is training in magic and has a strong personal connection with; Harry was friends with her father for years before ever taking her as an apprentice. Harry is also guarding the Sword in the Stone ( or rather, he was until Changes, and is again as of Skin Game) and looking, when he can be bothered, for a suitable user for it.
  • Mind Control: Molly Carpenter, who has developed a very bad habit of entering people's minds without their permission. Her intent is always good, but the results are not. She has driven her ex-boyfriend into permanent insanity by trying to frighten him away from drug use. She also invaded the mind of Captain Luccio — and got caught by Morgan. If Morgan had turned them in when he got caught, or had told Luccio what Molly had done, both Molly and Harry would have been beheaded automatically. By Dresdenverse rules, invading another's mind and compelling someone to do something (or not do something) against his/her will not only breaks two of the Laws of Magic and can cause permanent psychological damage to both the victim and the perpetrator, but is highly addictive Black Magic. Though we can't be sure, Molly claims she didn't actually "touch" anything, she just looked around to see if there had already been tampering - and there had been.
  • Mind Rape: A favorite tactic of vampires of all stripes and a decent number of sorcerers. Murphy states that her ordeal with Kravos was practically this. Even in the following book she is having trouble sleeping because she gets night terrors; the only way she can get some decent sleep is through a combination of alcohol and sleeping pills.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Harry never knew his mother thanks to Death by Childbirth. Or rather, death by being hit with a powerful entropy curse that killed her through Death by Childbirth.
    • Ivy. In Death Masks, she claims that her mother went into a coma when the Archive passed to her, but Luccio reveals in Small Favor that her mother got the Archive as a pregnant teenager after her grandmother died in a freak car accident. Angry at what happened and hating that the unborn Ivy would get to live a normal life instead of her, she killed herself, and thanks to the Archive containing all the memories of all the previous Archives, Ivy knows this.
  • Mission Control: Butters acts as this and a Voice with an Internet Connection for Molly, Andi and Justine in Bombshells.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In the later books, Harry and Thomas both mislead with this, though for different reasons. It does not help that Murphy and SI wil not let go of the joke.
  • The Mole: Numerous over the course of the series, but Wizard Peabody is the best example.
  • Monster of the Week: Almost every villain appearing in one of the short stories as opposed to the main books. Includes a Hecatean hag, the spawn of Grendel, a Crazy Survivalist priest, a group of ringwraith and Slytherin house rejects, supernatural fleas, and a maenad.
  • Monster Progenitor: The Red King to the Red court Vampires.
  • Monumental Damage: If it's a major landmark or tourist attraction in Chicago, chances are good that Harry will mix it up with a baddie there sooner or later, probably with lots of collateral property damage.
  • Mood Whiplash: Harry likes to tell jokes to lighten tense scenes. In Death Masks Harry was being tortured and refused to take a bribe to end the pain with, "Sorry, I follow the Tao of Peter Parker." He then followed up by saying the nonplussed villain "must be a DC comics fan." However, it is not always intentional, and it often takes Harry himself by surprise. There is a scene in Storm Front when Harry goes to ask Bianca, a beautiful vampire, about the death of one of her girls. The second he says what he is there for she lunges for him, shifting partially into her real form, assuming he is there to kill her. After he drives her back and explains himself, she changes back, and Harry leaves as she is having a snack. All he can now see is the monster who wants to be beautiful.
  • Mook Horror Show: Implied a few times, particularly when an undisguised Red Court vampire (read: a human-sized bat monster) sees Harry, screams, and then runs away.
  • More Hero Than Thou
  • Mr. Exposition: Bob on anything magical. Waldo Butters on anything medical, up to and including trying to give scientific explanations for some of the weird stuff that happens to and around Wizards... and succeeding. The RPG has Exposition and Knowledge Dumping, a Trapping (sub-skill) of Scholarship; on a successful roll, the Game Master can "borrow" the Player Character to use as a mouthpiece to Info Dump about the relevant subject. This effectively cuts out the middleman effect witnessed in most RPG knowledge skill checks (Player 1 rolls, GM relates info, Player 1 says "I tell everyone else".)
  • Mr Seahorse: Harry finds out he's been pregnant since the end of White Night, much to his surprise.
  • Muggles: Harry's word for them is "Straights." Harry seems to apply the term specifically to those who have no knowledge of the supernatural at all (IE, Murphy and Butters, both exposed to the supernatural, would not be called "Straights", but Murphy's superiors outside SI would.)
    • He also likes to call them "vanilla mortals."
  • Muggles Do It Better: Recent developments in modern technology, pure numbers, and magical weaknesses have helped humans better deal with some of the lower supernatural threats like vampires, werewolves, or low skilled magic users. The various Badass Normals are pretty good evidence for this. However, the more powerful or godlike supernatural threats would require small armies, going nuclear, or just beyond humanity's ability to deal with. A wizard's own ability to cause technology to malfunction or kill in mass have been used by wizards to defeat much larger groups of men armed with modern military weapons.
  • Multiple Reference Pun: Most of the titles.
  • Mummy:
    • Although Harry himself hasn't met one as of Skin Game, another character's flashback in Ghoul Goblin shows that animated mummies guard isolated Egyptian tombs in the Dresdenverse.
    • His friends and associates like to joke about it — usually when Harry's all bandaged up. In Turn Coat, Vince Graver sees Harry and asks whether Harry cursed everyone who dug up his tomb, or just the English speaking guys. In Skin Game, Murphy sees a patched up Harry and says Harry's worries about becoming a monster are justified — specifically, he's turning into a mummy.
  • Mundane Solution:
    • Harry frequently runs into foes who are resistant to his magic. One confrontation with a spell-proof ogre is resolved when Murphy cripples the orge with a chainsaw and Harry drenches the ogre in gasoline and ignites it. Harry is also one of the few White Council wizards willing to use firearms and frequently uses his staff or blasting rod as a cudgel.
    • This was established as a key part of Harry's character as early as the second book, Fool Moon, when he'd run himself out of magic thanks to imprudent use of magical amphetamines, and still had a rather pissed-off lycanthrope alpha male to deal with... so he pulled a .38 revolver and shot the guy in the knee. It didn't really work all that well, seeing as lycanthropes have a Healing Factor to rival Wolverine's, but it sure wiped the smug grin off the son of a bitch's face for a while.
    • Speaking of Harry, special mention should go to how he handles a cult of practitioners who keep harassing him in the short story Side Jobs. Their leader challenges him to a magical duel, but Harry doesn't even bother. He just scares them off by pointing his gun at them instead.
    • A major lesson that Harry often reiterates (especially to his apprentice, Molly) is that knowledge and basic common sense are a lot more important than magic. For instance, on one occasion when Molly suggests using a tracking spell, Harry points out that a simple phone call would work just as well.
    • In Turn Coat, Morgan talks about how he once had to take on a skinwalker, an incredibly powerful demigod horror with a hefty resistance to magic. He knew he'd get pounded in a straight fight (not everyone can be Injun Joe, after all), so instead he lured it into following him to the middle of nowhere in Nevada. Specifically, a nuclear testing ground. He stepped into a portal to the Nevernever just as the bomb went off. Morgan 1, Eldritch Abomination From the Dawn of Time 0.
    • In fact, mundane weaponry is the accepted way for wizards to kill if it ever must come to that, as killing humans with magic carries not just the obvious moral and legal ramifications but also corrupts the soul. The Council's enforcers carry big ol' swords for this reason.
    • Likewise, all the magic of the Summer Lady isn't enough to stop a swarm of dewdrop fairies armed with cheap hardware-store boxcutters.
    • The most efficient way to handle Black Court vampires? A paintball gun that fires projectiles filled with holy water.
    • In Skin Game, Harry circumvents Marcone's high-grade anti-magic security not by casting a flashy spell, but setting off roman candles as a distraction.
  • Murder Makes You Crazy: The reason for the First Law of Magic. Magic is an expression of will given form, so using it to kill someone is particularly warping. Plus, magic is consistently referred to as the power of life, or coming from, life, meaning you're warping the power of life to cause death.
  • My Car Hates Me: The Blue Beetle is prone to giving out at very inconvenient times. However, this is partially due to the law of averages, since it dies the rest of the time, too, and partially justified by the fact that since magic is fueled by emotion, the more distress Harry is in, the more likely he is to make the car short out.
  • My Greatest Second Chance
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Council meetings are conducted in Latin, which Harry learned via correspondence course. It can get ugly if Ebenezar (or Lash) isn't there to translate.
  • Myth Arc: The Black Council is suspected by Harry to be directly or indirectly responsible for just about everything bad that has happened to him since the events of the first book.

Continued here.
Skin GameLiterature/The Dresden FilesTropes N to Z

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