Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Nicodemus Archleone. Archleone is Greek for "Great lion." From The Bible, (1 Peter 5:8) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." When Harry first heard the name he quoted the passage, exasperated that Nicodemus would be so blatant.
He Who Walks Behind - though its real name is technically a long mental montage of horror and agony.
The Lords of Outer Night, the upper nobility of the Red Court.
Narrating the Obvious: Occasionally, Harry will say things related to characters that everyone knows already, such as feeling the need to tell us in Death Masks that yes, he really is a wizard. It's never too obtrusive, though. Overlaps with Harry being a privateeye. As the stories move away from "whodunit", and gets much darker this correspondingly gets toned down a bunch.
One of Harry's best friends carries around a sword containing a nail of the True Cross that cuts through all manners of demonic baddies, Harry dallies with the supernatural daily and he has had a fallen angel tied to one of Judas' coins rattling around in his skull — but he does not hold much truck with gods, and believes that the faith that powers them is just another example of emotion fueling magic. It should be noted that Harry does believe in God; he just doesn't think God is all that interested in him (despite having the Archangel Uriel looking out for him), and has some doubts as to his own worthiness as a follower. Harry said it best when he said "I wouldn't burden a decent system of faith by participating in it."
Sanya, who uses one of those swords containing a nail of the True Cross, describes himself as agnostic. His sword was supposedly given to him by the archangel Michael, but Sanya is careful to note that angels could be yet another type of faerie, or aliens (not seen yet, but give it time), or he could be insane and all his encounters with the supernatural could be mere hallucination. While Sanya approaches a Flat Earth Atheist doctrine in some ways, he explains clearly enough that he sees his mission as worthwhile whether it is an actual holy crusade or simply a service to his fellow men.
Neat Freak: In a side story from Thomas' point of view, he notes that Harry has apparently become this, keeping the apartment spotless. The readers know that Harry actually has the fairies cleaning up as a favor from the Summer Lady, but he can't tell anyone about them or they'll leave for good, so he appears to be this to people who visit his house.
Nebulous Evil Organization: the Black Council. We know literally nothing about them; their existence was deduced in the second book and by White Night it was all-but-proved, but the only living character we know for sure is a member, Cowl, we know nothing else about except that he is a strong wizard, not even what he looks like. We know that at least one Denarian is a member, and probably more than one, but we can not be sure which. We can guess that certain Raiths were members and we know Wizard Peabody was, but all of those are dead. Members of the Black Council have proven willing to hurt evil organizations as well as good ones and Innocent Bystanders, but we do not know why.
And Cold Days suggests that the speculative Black Council may instead be The Virus. Among other possible interpretations...
Negated Moment of Awesome: Monsters who specialize in nullifying magic tend to do this quite often to Harry, such as the Scarecrow, which walks through a Hellfire-boosted spell that would have blown him a few city blocks away, or Thorned Namshiel simply eating one of Harry's spells. In Changes, the giant centipede in Lea's garden simply splits into two monsters, both equally angry, when Harry slices it in half with his laser beam spell.
Marcone, Ramirez and Murphy have all teased Harry on different occasions about how often buildings tend to burn down when he is around.
The Fae Courts were buzzing about the whole Donut Incident to the point that even Morgan takes potshots at Harry regarding it. Apparently, they have been laughing about it for months.
Also, SI never really let go of the fact that he had to masquerade as Thomas's gay lover for one case.
Since Mab made sure everyone in faerie saw it, it's unsurprising people keep bringing up the time Harry slept with her in the process of becoming the Winter Knight.
Never Recycle a Building: Averted; after the Full Moon Garage is abandoned due to the lycanthrope biker gang that owned it being slaughtered it is revisited by other villains looking for an empty building to do some disturbing things.
Nice Hat: On the cover, at least, and in several of the short stories he emphatically states that one day he really will get a hat, and it will definitely be a very cool hat. In the books themselves, however, he starts gaining a dislike of hats, and by Changes he outright hates them (although later he wishes he had accepted the telepathy blocking helmet).
Nice to the Waiter: Harry, in a supernatural sense. Whereas most in the supernatural world either look down on, ignore, use, or abuse the Little Folk (small fairies like Toot), Harry gives them respect, helps them, and—perhaps most importantly—gives them pizza. Because of this, they tend to be fiercely loyal to him. The benefits of this are illustrated with particularly painful clarity in Summer Knight when it enables him to unleash a swarm of pixies armed with boxcutters onto Aurora.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After seeing Molly's alter-ego/persona, the Ragged Lady, Harry begins to wonder whether or not he is responsible for her gradual mental deterioration. Ultimately, he is, but not for the reason he thinks (bringing a psychic sensitive like her to the battlefield at Chichen Itza). The real reason is that Molly is suffering due to the fact that she knows the identity of the person who ordered the hit on Harry. It's Harry, himself. Harry ordered his own death, courtesy of Kincaid, as a way to cheat Mab out of having him as the Winter Knight and make sure that she doesn't use him for evil. He ordered the hit, then had Molly erase his memory of the event to prevent anyone from stopping it, even and especially himself.
On top of that, Harry's decision to wipe out the entire Red Court caused a monumental power vacuum in the supernatural world, with long dormant (and mostly evil) organizations scrambling to acquire the assets and power the Court left behind. As a result, said organizations have started causing such a ruckus that the normal world is starting to take notice.
Further on top of that, Molly is, on some level, in love with Harry. Yet another reason she isn't taking his demise well.
The Nicknamer: Harry, being an out-and-out wiseass, is prone to this. He often names random people when he does not know their real names, leading to him referring to them as something like "Eyebrow," "Turtleneck," or "Spinyboy."
He decided that "Knights of the Order of the Blackened Denarius" was too dignified and started calling them "The Nickelheads." Even Michael uses this because he finds the reasoning convincing.
In keeping with certain traditions about the power of names for wizards, Harry's nicknaming also has no small amount of significance: For Lash and Ivy, being given a name also gives them their own identity separate from Lashiel's Shadow and The Archive respectively.
Summer Knight features him deciding that "plant monster" is too stupid a name for what he is fighting, so he calls it a "chlorofiend". No one knows what the hell he is talking about, so he defaults to "plant monster".
At one point he fails to remember a Warden's name and calls him a mash up of possible candidates.
With beings like "Shagnasty" (which could be described as a super-phobophage protogod), not using a goofy or insulting diminutive gives them more power.
Most recently used for convenience, when Harry shortens "The Ik'k'uox" to "The Ick".
This backfires in Ghost Story: the archangel Uriel - whose name means "God is my light" - is deeply insulted, visibly angered, and even frightened when Harry calls him "Uri." That "-el" is vitally important, because it's the part of his name that refers to God. He does, however, somewhat bemusedly accept "Mr. Sunshine" as an alternative nickname, which fits because he's the archangel in charge of the sphere of the sun. Harry got lucky there.
In one of the RPG rulebooks Harry even lampshades his tendency to quickly settle on a nickname for someone and either neglect to find out or remember their actual name, and chastises himself that it's a bad habit for an investigator and one he needs to break.
Mold demons. They are mentioned in every book following Blood Rites but are never given any explanation.
Whatever happened to Murphy and Kincaid in Hawaii during the events of Dead Beat. Whatever it was, it broke Murphy's arm and impressed Kincaid enough that he gave her a gift-wrapped submachine gun as a memento. According to Word of God, Murphy also demonstrated her skills with a katana there.
No Bisexuals: Averted. The Raith family is almost entirely bisexual, except for Inari, Thomas, and Lord Raith.
Noble Demon: A literal case - the demon nicknamed Chauncy is often called up by magicians in need of info from 'down below', because unlike most of his brethren, he doesn't really mind. Granted, you still have to be careful - demons are OBLIGED to try their level best to escape confinement and kill their summoner, and he'll still go through the motions. But once he's done that, he's usually quite cooperative, offering the dark knowledge of hell for a fair price. Only, this is a subversion - turns out, the whole 'nice, civilized demon' thing is just a veneer. When Harry turns down a cleverly-formulated deal that would've essentially have him sell his soul to the demons, 'Chauncy' shows his true face in rage, and nearly tears through the barrier Harry had set up for the meeting. Apparently, he simply knew that acting pleasant would ensure that lots of wizards would summon him repeatedly, giving him a better chance to bargain for useful information... such as names.
No Eye in Magic: When a wizard looks directly into someone else's eyesnote They have to be human, as other creatures don't have souls the way humans understand them, they can see the essence of that person's soul. This ability is called a "soulgaze." Unfortunately, this is an automatic effect, once it is activated it can not be stopped, and since it is eye-to-eye it is very much reciprocal, so the other person sees into the wizard's soul as well, and whatever you see, no matter how beautiful or horrific, you can never forget it. Harry himself spends most of the series avoiding direct eye contact with people, unless he has a good reason for it. He specifically points out breaking people's gazes when he knows they're evil, because the thought of that sort of evil and darkness indelibly etched in his memory would drive him insane. It's implied that it's done that more than a few times to other wizards.
The best example of this is when, after a Duke of the Red Court of Vampires cheated in a duel against Harry, Ebenezar McCoy pulls an out of use Russian Satellite down out of space onto the villain's mansion. He's also implied to have caused Krakatoa, the Madrid Earthquake, and several other major disasters.
Later, in Changes, the Red King tries to eliminate both Harry and Ebenezar McCoy by killing Harry's daughter in a ritual that will kill everyone who shares her bloodline (McCoy is Harry's grandfather). Had the ritual been carried out successfully, it would've been maximum overkill. As demonstrated when Harry is able to reverse the ritual to instead target everyone of the Red King's bloodline, exterminating every last Red Court vampire on Earth.
Even Later, in the novella Aftermath, Karrin Murphy takes on a building full of bad guys. After all is said and done, she empties an entire clip of ammo into the evil wizard and uses yet another to make sure all of the other bad guys are thoroughly dead. But, as she says, when you're fighting the supernatural there's no such thing as overkill.
What does Morgan do when confronted with an Eldritch Abomination? This happened to be back in The Fifties, so he lured it to a nuclear weapon testing ground and leaves it there. On the day of a test. Given how deadly that thing was though, the nuke was only slightly overkill.
There's also Kincaid's solution to killing a bunch of Black Court vampires. Though, from what we've seen of them, we can't really blame him.
"Blow up the building. That works good for vampires. Then soak what's left in gasoline. Set it on fire. Then blow it up again."
Related, one of the reasons given for why the supernatural world is wary of mortals is mortals' tendency to create weapons that are serious overkill just for killing other humans, and are therefore capable of doing serious damage to—if not outright destroying—even toughened supernatural creatures.
No Periods, Period: Averted in White Night. Luccio complains about her younger body. Even Snarkmeister Harry is squicked.
No Pronunciation Guide: The first two audio books pronounce Marcone with a long 'e' at the end: Mar-CONE-ee. For the third audiobook, there is an introduction from Jim Butcher, mostly about how the series hits its stride here at Grave Peril. From that point on, Marcone has been pronounced as simply: Mar-CONE. Perhaps he said something about it when he recorded the intro. (incidentally, the sound editing also gets much better at around book three.)
Not Himself: Various possession plots, and Harry himself is later possessed by a fallen angel and brainwashed by one of the fairy queens.
After taking the Winter Knight mantle he's struggling to avert this.
Not Using the Z Word: Harry re-names the animated-vegetation construct he battles in Summer Knight a "chlorofiend", simply because calling it a "plant monster" was just too silly/humiliating for his pride to stomach. It takes him two or three books to finally give up and start calling it a "plant monster", which he only does because he's sick of having to clarify what a "chlorofiend" is.
Obfuscating Stupidity: The only reason Thomas survived his father's Offing the Offspring is because he was able to convincing Lord Raith that he was so stupid and vapid that he was not a threat. He mostly drops the act after daddy is overthrown.
Harry does this from time to time, but not so often as he'd like his allies to think.
Oblivious Younger Sibling: Harry played this once in the novella Backup. It's told from the point of view of Thomas, Harry's older brother. A woman hires Harry to find a kidnapped child, pressing two of Harry's Berserk Buttons. What Harry doesn't know is that the woman is a bad guy manipulating him into finding a book of rituals, that Harry will find with the child, and when he hands it over to the White Council, mass-producing the book will increase it's evil power, not diffuse it. Thomas, who can't tell this to Harry because of that very reason, has to pull all sorts of stunts to get things to work out okay, including letting Harry beat him up.
Gets a Call Back in Cold Days, where he comes across the building where they fought and comments to his companion he still has no idea what the story behind that case was.
Obstructive Zealot: Morgan. But oddly enough, perfectly justified. Harry himself points out in Proven Guilty that though he doesn't think that he and Morgan will ever be friends, he knows that Morgan has extremely good reasons for his actions, assholish though they may be.
Offing the Offspring: Lord Raith, Incubus head of the White Court, kills all his male children when they get old enough to be a threat. The girls he seduces into sexual slavery. Both of these practices eventually backfire on him, with Harry's help.
Harry hates Gentleman John Marcone. On the other hand, he has to admit that whatever else you say about the guy, he's got "balls that drag along the ground when he walks".
Marcone's protectiveness towards children also prevents Harry from being able to think of him as a monster. And when Harry learns where that protectiveness stems from, he admits to himself that while he still hates what Marcone does, he can no longer bring himself to honestly hate the man himself.
One Steve Limit: Despite there being 12 books in the series there have been very few duplicate names, and never amongst the primary cast. Archangel Michael and Michael Carpenter come close, but the former never appears "on screen". Michael did name his youngest son Harry after Harry.
Amanda Carpenter: There's already a Harry. You can be Bill.
Made even funnier when you realize that there's already a Bill: Billy the werewolf. But Amanda never met him.
If you're willing to give a little, there's Justin, Harry's former teacher, and Justine, Thomas's lover.
Also, Molly's full name is Margaret, just like Harry's mom and his daughter.
OOC Is Serious Business: Mac The Bartender is also The Quiet One. The seriousness of any particular book is proportional to the number of words that he says. A complete sentence or two is enough to scare Dresden. In Changes he goes on for a good-sized paragraph.
In Warrior, the villain got Michael mad enough to actually swear, another thing that shocks Harry.
In Proven Guilty, Harry gets ready to conjure a complicated and potentially dangerous ritual, and he asks Bob the Skull to give him as much information as possible about that kind of spell. Bob responds "Will do" in an absolutely serious tone, which freaks Harry out.
Order Versus Chaos: The conflict/rivalry between Harry and Morgan is primarily due to their personal philosophies - Harry believes in doing the right thing, screwing the rules whenever is needed, while Morgan believes in sticking to the rules no matter what.
The Other Darrin: In the audiobooks. Books 1-12 are narrated by James Marsters. Unfortunately, Marsters was unavailable for Ghost Story, which was narrated by John Glover. Fan reaction to the change has, thus far, been... mixed.
Marsters returns for Cold Days, possibly due to fan backlash.
Alternatively, the switch could be Justifed in a meta sense: Given that for almost all of Ghost Story, Harry was dead, and therefore in a markedly different state and there are even suggestions that he wasn't even Harry proper, just a shade (though that was wrong), having a new voice for that book adds to the ambiance of 'somethings wrong'. Narration returns to James Marsters when Harry comes back to life
Our Demons Are Different: The Fallen associated with the Knights of the Blackened Denarii are Fallen Angels; but there are also lesser supernatural creatures called "demons" that are usually just mindless grunts like the toad demon in "Storm Front."
Our Dragons Are Different: True Dragons (like Ferrovax) are shapeshifters with a power level on par with Fairy Queens and gods. Ferro says that his true form would outright break Harry's mind. Word of God says that in a three way fight between Eldest Gruff, the Leanansidhe 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.
Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts tend to be echoes of the person's last moments with an imprint of their personality. One tragic ghost simply repeats the last action she undertook in life before her death. Unfortunately, the last act she took in life was accidentally smothering her baby. And axing her hubby to death. And she was haunting a nursery.
Messed with in Ghost Story: most ghosts become like this fairly swiftly, although there are a few that manage to hang on to some achievable purpose in the afterlife and thus retain their personality. Harry is a different story, though, as he was sent back with his soul intact. Even so, he comes perilously close to becoming a standard ghost before Uriel intervenes.
Our Ghouls Are Creepier: They are beastial, shapeshifting monsters that want to eat you and are ludicrously difficult to kill. They also come in a larger variant that is even bigger and meaner and is able to disregard the Chunky Salsa Rule.Wordof God implies that the lesser ghouls are a result of crossbreeding the nastier format with human stock.
Our Goblins Are Different: A subtype of faeries, Changes reveals that goblins are far more badass and militant than the comical, physically weak figures they are in most universes.
Our Vampires Are Different: The series manages to have its cake and eat it too by simultaneously subverting and playing straight several now-classic vampire tropes. Butcher took three of the broadest elements of the concept of vampires (undead monsters, bloodsucking monsters, and sexy lords of lust) and created a specific Court for each type: "modern" Anne Rice-inspired vampires who are humans converted into batlike bloodsuckers (Red Court), succubi and incubi (White Court) who are born that way but can theoretically be inoculated against it, and classic Dracula-inspired vampires (Black Court). The last group is particularly subject to considerable Lampshade Hanging as Dresden notes that "[Bram] Stoker told everyone how to kill them;" and only the strongest and cleverest of them remain after the beginning of the 20th century. Word of God says that there are four other Courts, an Asia-only "Jade Court" (presumably Jiang Shi-inspired Chi vampires) that are very intentionally staying too busy to get drawn into conflict with the White Council and three other Courts that are mosquitoes in comparison.
The Jade Court is mentioned by Shiro in Death Masks. He has fought them in duels (and presumably won, given that he survived them.)
Our Werewolves Are Different: From the Black Magic of the Hexenwulfen and the all-but-unstoppable cursed loup-garou to the simple transformation of the "true" werewolf and the wolf that takes on human form, Fool Moon pretty much covers the entire range of possibilities. There are even the Lycanthropes, who only change in their own minds, becoming superpowered, animalistic beserkers when provoked. Only anthropomorphic wolf-men are non-existent, and the contagious bite is notably absent (as per Bob: "Bah, no. Hollywood stole that from the vampires"). In an early scene, Bob lists off all the different types of werewolves, so you know Harry's going to run into every type.
Chicago is well-known for having the 67-million-year-old T-Rex Sue on display at the Field Museum.
Our Angels Are Different: Angels are generally tasked with a particular duty. For example, an angel of death is tasked with safeguarding the souls of the righteous and good and seeing them safely to the afterlife without being waylaid by demons. The archangel Uriel is present as Heaven's equivalent of a spy/assassin/spook, and is tasked with defending the free will of mortals. Angels wield tremendous cosmic power (in Ghost Story, Harry realizes that if Uriel was let loose, he could theoretically destroy the entire planet) but are tightly restricted in how they can use it.
Out of the Frying Pan: Many of the books climax with Harry confronting his primary suspect, realizing he's in trouble, and running away—only to bump into someone from one of the many other factions he's previously pissed off.
Out with a Bang: Raiths feed on life essence brought about by lust. If they are not careful, or are really hungry, they can take too much and kill their food during the act.
Pants Positive Safety: Occasionally, usually lampshaded. In Dead Beat, when Billy brings Dresden's .44 back to him holstered this way, Harry points out it's "a good way to start singing soprano," before Billy tells him the gun's empty.
Michael Carpenter. He has a longer fuse than his wife, but it is attached to an even bigger bomb.
Ebenezar McCoy is one as well. He dropped a satellite out of orbit onto a vampire that had tried to kill Harry, not to mention threatening to kill Lara Raith after she slapped Harry.Changes reveals that Ebenezar is Harry's grandfather.
Changes sees Harry putting this trope into action himself in a desperate attempt to save his daughter from the might of pretty much the entire Red Court.
Special mention goes to Moe, the gorilla from Welcome to the Jungle, who tore the hag who'd killed his keeper apart because she came near his family and their surviving keeper.
Parental Abandonment: Harry's parents are dead, he had to kill his adoptive father in self-defense, and his relationship with his mentor Ebenezar McCoy is complicated, to say the least.
Parental Substitute: Justin, in Harry's Back Story. Ebenezar McCoy assumes this role when he takes in Harry after Justin's untimely death. Things get a bit muddled in when we find out Ebenzar is the Blackstaff and, in Changes, Harry's grandfather.
Parody Magic Spell: Harry Dresden's candle-lighting spell is "Fliccum bicus" ("flick my Bic").
When creating several illusory duplicates to fool a pack of vampires in Changes: "Lumen, camerus, factum" ("lights, camera, action").
The Faerie Queens, Mother Summer, Mother Winter, Queen Titania, Queen Mab, Lady Maeve, Lady Aurora, Lily as of Summer Knight, and Sarissa and Molly as of Cold Days. These powerful women can burn or freeze anything in their sight. And Mother Winter and Summer are hinted to be so strong, not even Cold Iron bothers them. There are also angels and their fallen equivalents, valkyries, the Erlking, Santa Claus, and all sorts of old gods and the like, though only a couple have shown up so far, namely Odin who is Santa Claus, and a maenad in one of the short stories. The Archive is powerful enough to match most of them, and skinwalkers hit this trope right where it meets Eldritch Abomination and dance gleefully in the ensuing rain of terrors. Yeah, conflicts in the Dresdenverse get a bit messy.
Six different necromancers all hit town at the same time in Dead Beat to try to become this. Cowl would have managed it, too, if Harry had been a second or two slower.
In addition, there's the Red King and the Lords of Outer Night, the rulers of the Red Court, who are each nearly as powerful as Odin. They are, individually, an immense powerhouse. Even so, they're not invincible, as Murphy is able to decapitate one with a single stroke of Fidelacchius, and the Leanansidhe is able to one-shot several of them when she catches them off-guard.
Considering that the Leanansidhe is stated to be second only to Mab in Mab's court, she probably also qualifies. And when the Knights of the Cross are working "on the clock" and doing what God wants them to do, they're all but unstoppable themselves. Michael Carpenter once killed a dragon. And when thinking of dragons in the Dresdenverse, it would be a good idea to think less "fire breathing lizard" and more "cosmic deity" in terms of firepower. One of them, Ferrovax, has been stated to be more than capable of taking down Queen Mab herself. It's implied at times that the only reason Michael Carpenter was ever taken down was for his own good. Being injured so severely forced Michael to retire, removing most of his family from the danger they lived in. Michael, in the meantime, survived being riddled with bullets and is reasonably okay, despite never being able to wield his sword again.
Senior Council level wizards are low level versions (technically Cowl is as well, being stronger than Ebenezar). Ebenezar McCoy, the youngest, is the master of the Colony Drop. The Merlin once held off an army of sorcerer vampires and Outsiders with one on the fly ward.
Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Several, including Aurora, the Summer Lady, the Archive, Eldest Brother Gruff and Murphy.
Playing with Fire: Harry prefers fire magic but will occasionally use wind-based and earth-based spells when the situation calls for it. For a while after he was badly burned through no fault of his own, Harry was too scared to use his own fire magic, and defaulted to force/telekinetic strike spells instead.
Police Are Useless: Averted with the Special Investigations unit in The Dresden Files, led by Karrin Murphy, who among other things has taken down a tree-monster with a chainsaw. Though the unit still calls in Dresden for consulting, it's mentioned a few books in that they've learned enough to handle most of your usual supernatural riff-raff without the wizard's help. There are also things with enough power that getting the police involved would lead to a bloodbath. Several times Dresden convinces Murphy not to involve her unit by telling her what he's facing is "worse than the loup-garou", a Nigh Invulnerable variety of werewolf that rampaged through the station in the second book. It's played a bit straighter with the rest of the Chicago cops, who refuse to believe in anything supernatural. They're probably very competent in normal situations, but when it comes to the average supernatural menace... hoo boy. And a lot of them think of him as a charlatan.
Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Most major villains move in circles where people are expected to present a civilized facade when not actively ripping each other limb from limb. Harry's snarky insouciance has taken more than one of them by surprise.
Almost lampshaded in Death Masks. Harry is about to initiate a duel against a powerful Red Court vampire named Ortega. The duel's moderator tells them they can make an opening statement. Ortega says something almost poetic and respectful. Harry takes a swig of his anti-vampire-mind-control potion and burps.
Pop Cultured Badass: Harry, Harry, Harry. His somewhat outdated references are lampshaded by Molly in Changes (and sub-sequentially mirrored in Ghost Story.)
Molly: You know, boss, I believe it is possible to reference something other than Star Wars.
Harry: That is why you fail.
The Pornomancer: Deconstructed. Thomas can not keep a minimum-wage job because his incubus powers make people sexually assault him and, thanks to the Double Standard, he gets fired for it.
Thomas: (After handing Harry a brass telescope) I've got a sextant, too.
Harry: Any tent you have is sex tent.
Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Instory type 1C for Rosanna in "Small Favor". As an age old, neigh immortal Denarian, she never heard of "Predator". Cue snark volley, advantage Dresden.
Portal Network: With significant knowledge of its pathways, the Nevernever can be used this way.
Post-Modern Magik: Pretty much built around it. The series' original name was going to be Semiautomagic even.
Mouse's paws glow when he's preparing to kick some evil ass.
The Swords of the Cross frequently glow when wielded. The light is seen to be inherently painful to various evil beasties.
Power Loss Makes You Strong: Numerous books have seen Harry's use of magic partially or totally stripped from him, but he keeps on fighting with whatever he's got, and learns how to better take advantage of limited resources that way. When he does get his full power back, the benefit of that learning shows.
Harry's love for Susan burned one such, and lack of that reaction was a clue to him that Anastasia Luccio does not love him.
Thomas has a similar problem. He literally can not touch Justine or anything she gives him made with her own hands for the same reason. This is all the more poignant because Justine's true love is Thomas himself.
True love conquers all. As of Ghost Story Justine has found a solution. The effect only manifests if the last person you had sex with was your true love... and Justine has a casual girlfriend.
Power Trio: Harry, Murphy and Thomas develop into this over time.
Pragmatic Villainy: Gentleman John Marcone shows how to succesfully use this trope for fun and profit.
Precision F-Strike: Stronger curse words are relatively rare in the books, so when someone drops an F bomb you know that either someone is very angry, or something is very wrong.
When Harry and Michael discuss Harry's buried Blackened Denarius, and what he had to do to get rid of Lasciel's Shadow.
Harry: What do you mean set aside my power?
Michael: Walk away from your magic. Forsake it. Forever.
Harry: Fuck that.
The scene at the end of Dead Beat when Harry is talking to Mavra.
Harry: "I've got a fallen angel tripping all over herself to give me more power. Queen Mab has asked me to take the mantle of the Winter Knight twice now. I've read Kemmler's book. I know how the Darkhallow works. And I know how to turn necromancy against the Black Court...So once again, let me be perfectly clear. If anything happens to Murphy and I even think you had a hand in it, fuck right and wrong. If you touch her, I'm declaring war on you. Personally. I'm picking up every weapon I can get. And I'm using them to kill you. Horribly."
In Proven Guilty Harry has to convince Molly that she needs to stop acting like a child, take him seriously, and not try to manipulate him like he is just kindly ol' Uncle Harry who has never been anything but sweet to her. So when she tries to go back on her promise to do what Harry tells her, he looks at her threateningly and says "Now get the fuck into the car."
Harry to Molly again in White Night during his Scare 'Em Straight attempt. He only uses words like "damned" and mentions that it is just as effective because he doesn't even curse lightly around Michael's family.
After Father Roarke kidnaps Alicia to get at Fidelacchius and Amoracchius, Harry and Michael go to Forthill for info. When Forthill tries to reason with them:
Michael's face was bleak and unyielding, and quiet heat smoldered in his eyes. "The son of a bitch hurt my little girl."
Private Detective: Harry, technically, and Vince in Turn Coat. Harry's old boss Nick also. Elaine Mallory, as of White Night. She admits that she stole the idea from Harry
Private Eye Monologue: The books are narrated by Harry in the first person and he is a Private Detective. He rarely engages in hard-boiled inner monologues, but when he does, he invokes this trope.
"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."
"The barrel of Denton's gun looked bigger and deeper than the National debt as it swung towards my face."
Properly Paranoid: Harry, of course, and Murphy. The funny thing is, by Changes, even Butters has been infected with paranoia.
Public Domain Artifact: Several times. The Knights of the Cross each have a magical evil-fighting sword that supposedly has a nail from the True Cross in the hilt, and Ghost Story confirms that they are Excalibur, Durendal, and Kusanagi. The Shroud of Turin itself is the MacGuffin in the fifth book. In addition, Nicodemus wears the same noose Judas used to hang himself and the Blackened Denarii are probably the very same 30 pieces of silver that Judas received for betraying Jesus.
Pulled From Your Day Off: The aptly-named short story "Day Off" sees Harry having all manner of Busman's Holiday style mayhem descend on him during his one day off—beginning with a Big Bad Wannabe, continuing with a pair of werewolves suffering from spectral fleas, and culminating with his apprentice smoking out the whole apartment.
Punished for Sympathy: The only way for a criminal who violated the Laws of Magic to escape immediate execution is for a member of the White Council to vouch for them. This places both of them under the Doom of Damocles; if the criminal violates a Law again, both the criminal and their sponsor are executed.
Punny Name: Murphy works out at Dough Jo's martial-arts gym (= dojo).
Puny Earthlings: So many supernaturals are immortal, have powerful magic, can withstand a substantial amount of punishment if not being attacked by their bane, and many of them can snap a human being in two without trying. Wizards are by no means squishy compared to regular humans, but they might as well be when compared to everything else.
Also Averted, because the supernatural community considers bringing normal humans into a conflict the nuclear option. Even though humans are individually very fragile and weak, there are BILLIONS of them, and human fairy tales read like a how-to book for dealing with the supernatural. And, of course, humans have many powerful weapons they did not hundreds of years ago, including nukes.
Pyrrhic Victory: Several. It is a rare book where Harry has only lost blood. There are happy endings too, of course, but some are earned at a much higher price than others. Changes is definitely the most Pyrrhic Victory in the series so far, at least from Harry's personal point of view.
In Grave Peril, Harry quickly discovers that he's been manipulated into a losing position: if he acts, it's bad. If he doesn't act, it's bad. In addition, he's found out that his lover has been cursed, his friends are in peril, and his lack of forethought and planning might spell doom for the Knights of the Cross. On top of all that, his discovery was planned for all of this to have maximum psychological impact. He responds thusly:
Harry: Fuego! Pyrofuego! Burn, you greasy bat-faced bastards! BURN!
In Small Favor, Harry is tired, angry, scared (mostly for his friend who is being eyed intently by a Valkyrie) and being chased by fallen angels. When one of them shoots his friend with an AK-47, Harry flips out and blasts a massive hole in the shooters chest (the shooter being a 2000 years old, demon possessed and a heavy weight sorcerer to boot) with a fire blast that is described as so intense it was almost a solid object.
Harry: Fuego. Pyrofuego! BURN!
In White Night we get a flashback to Harry at a Warden training camp. Some ghouls attack one morning, and take two of the trainees (who are teenagers) captive. Harry rushes to rescue them, but not only are they already dead they are being eaten as he finds them. His reaction is...chilling. He flies into Tranquil Fury and brutally slaughters some ghouls, maims another and sets it to run back to its superiors and horrifically tortures the last before executing him in front of the rest of the trainees and Wardens.
Ramirez: What happened to not hating them?
Harry: Things change.
And after the final execution...
Harry: That's the only way to serve it up. Cold.
Harry spends most of Changes desperately restraining himself from reaching this, bursting through it and going so far past he goes insane. He mentions that when entire blocks go down in flames when he gets angry, he really needs to keep a tight hold on his emotions. Given that the situation in Changes provokes a reaction almost bigger than the above three situations combined, he spends the majority of the book in a perpetual state of Tranquil Fury.
Rage Judo: Standard operating procedure for Harry "Sometimes I'm Asleep" Dresden.
Real Life Writes the Plot: At Dragon*Con 2010, Jim told the audience that, when his son was 8, they had to move to Pennsylvania. To make up for leaving his friends behind, the Butcher's got him a dog. Jim then explained that Mouse was based on how his dog saw himself.
Really 700 Years Old: Several of the Denarians are 2000 years old or close to it. The Red King, Arianna Ortega, and pretty much every high ranking god or wizard qualifies.
"There's no way for us to know how old Arianna is," she contradicted, "because humanity hasn't had a written language for that long. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Gard admits to being a Valkyrie more than a thousand years old in the short story "Heorot".
In Blood Rites, between Thomas Raith and Harry Dresden, made worse by the fact that 1) they cannot openly reveal their true relationship, and 2) they were sharing the latter's small apartment for an extended period after Blood Rites. And 3) Thomas was deliberately pretending to be gay in his public life for completely unrelated reasons. Considering all this together, we should have seen it coming from the paragraph after that "Wizard of Oz" poster on Thomas' wall.
In Dead Beat, Waldo Butters (after meeting Thomas for the first time), is hurt that Harry hasn't previously come out to him. Thomas deliberately kisses Harry on the head and pours him tea after listening to Harry's subsequent startled denial.
In White Night, this is deliberately exploited to explain to building security why Harry has a key to Thomas' apartment and has turned up there in the latter's absence.
Well, that and the unlikelihood of Harry being an NBA-sized gay burglar who works with a dog.
Remember That You Trust Me: Harry's interaction with Murphy. Both are guilty of this. This is actually a recurring theme; Harry is both paranoid and protective of his friends, remembering to trust them is a lesson he learns again and again.
Remember the New Guy: Michael. He was introduced in Grave Peril and has known Harry for at least five years, but he had neither appeared nor was mentioned in the preceding two books or any of the short stories that take place in the earlier time periods.
Rivals Team Up: Marcone and Dresden team up numerous times to fight common foes, first in Death Masks. In White Night, Marcone teams up with Dresden to defeat a gang of ghouls in the Raith-owned Deeps.
Robe and Wizard Hat: Averted. Harry prefers a Badass Longcoat. He is pictured on the cover with a gaucho but the books rarely, if ever, mention him with a hat. Harry does wear a robe in his Wizarding lab, but only because it is cold. He does have formal robes he must wear for White Council meetings, but, being Harry, he once showed up for one in a ratty bathrobe anyway.
To be fair, Mister had used them as a litter box, so it was debatable which would have been more disrespectful.
Rouge Angles of Satin: Occasionally, when referring to pads of paper, Jim Butcher will use the word "stationary" rather than "stationery". He also refers to a 'parking break' at one point during Ghost Story.
Harry briefly calls his father a stage musician in Fool Moon. To make this even more glaring, he's talking about how Houdini and Blackstone were his father's heroes.
Royal Blood: Two of the three Holy Swords are in the umbrella stand by Harry's door, each waiting for a new wielder to take up the fight against evil. Operating under the assumption that the rightful successors to bear the swords are descended from kings, Harry now keeps a weather eye out for anyone with royal history and the proper attitude. The three previous wielders of the Swords were all descendants of royalty: Shiro was descended from the last King of Okinawa, Sanya traces his ancestry back to Saladin, and the Carpenters go back to Charlemagne. Which means that Murphy can likely trace her lineage back to royalty as well.
Rule of Three: All over this series, due to the mystical nature of the number. Subverted with the Gruffs, as well as making an arguable use of the Bishonen Line, though no transformation is involved.
Rules Lawyer: The Fae and how you usually deal with them. Harry also does a fair bit of it to avoid getting decapitated by Wardens.
Running Gag: 'Many, most running through several books.
No matter how many times Harry's told them he doesn't have electricity, he still gets junk mail from electronics retailers.
MacAnally's Pub, the most-commonly used neutral ground for the series's supernatural community, is operated by "Mac", a fellow who brews his own beer. It is served warm (which offends American drinking sensibilities) but everyone who tries it for the first time goes through a virtually identical routine: a dubious look at the bottle, a small sip for politeness's sake, a surprised stare at the bottle (often followed by an equally surprised stare at Mac), and a considerably larger pull from the bottle.
He then goes on to one-up himself in Small Favor by producing three bottles of what is obviously his private reserve. The contents are apparently as far above his usual brew as they themselves are above fill-in-the-name-of-your-least-favorite-mega-brew-here.
Another is Dresden's constant dated pop-culture and movie references. Initially Murphy always had something to say about them, but by the later books they exist primarily to confuse the bad guys, who don't have any idea what he's talking about.
"Some people wouldn't know a pop culture reference if it jumped up and planted an embryo in their esophagus."
Another running gag is Bob's obsession with sex, and Harry's frequent use of pornography as a bribe.
In the first three books, there was the recurring situation of Harry ending up dressed in borrowed or scavenged clothing, which was always something humiliating or bizarre such as a shirt with a peculiar slogan (Stormfront), purple sweatpants (Fool Moon) or yellow duck boxers (Grave Peril).
And alwaysgetting the crap kicked out of him. This one even makes it into the comments in the RPG sourcebooks, one of the sidebars comments between Billy the Werewolf and Harry is as follows:
How come most of the pictures of me show me beat to crap, Billy?
Are you on a case right now, Harry?
Then you're beat to crap?
Similarly, in the first few books he'd usually end up in handcuffs at some point, and ends up wearing them on one wrist for a good portion of the book. It gets to the point where Murphy asks if he has some sort of fascination with them.
Harry blows up and/or burns down buildings. A lot. So much so that the opening line of Blood Rites is "The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault."
To the point where Marcone instructs all his various businesses/clubs to treat Dresden nicely, hopefully lessening the chance of the place winding up as rubble.
The tabletop RPG takes the running gag up to eleven and makes the above quote from Blood Rites one of Harry's aspects (defining character elements) along with repeatedly mentioning the joke in the margin comments.
By the time of Cold Days, Harry himself is a bit astonished that he hasn't burned down a building in quite a while.
A bit of in/out universe example – on every single cover Harry is depicted wearing a hat, despite never having one in the books. It goes to the point where Harry usually, about once per book, make mention of how he should get a hat like everyone keeps telling him to.
There's also one that's mostly confined to Summer Knight. In that book, Harry has to fight a plant monster, but realizes that it needs a better name, so he calls it a chlorofiend. The naming proves pointless, as the standard exchange shows:
Harry: "A chlorofiend."
[Other Character]: "What?"
Harry: "A plant monster."
Everyone mistaking Harry and Thomas for lovers.
Whenever Harry asks someone what's wrong with his Badass Longcoat, they always say the exact same thing: "It belongs on the set of El Dorado." Cops, Knights of the Cross, little girls, EVERYONE.
In Ghost Story, he's continually bitching about how much he hates being the new guy.
Sacred Hospitality: Most of the supernatural community is hundreds of years old and grew up in a different social world (the Old World). This shows up in the treaty which outlines the rules for hospitality and diplomacy among supernatural communities. Guests in a home are privy to protection by the host, but are also expected to act honorably towards the home's owner, and they treat violations of these customs as grave offenses. Harry used this and a bit of Quote Mining to talk his way out of being killed by the denizens of the Erlking's Hall when he accidentally ends up there in Changes, and extends the traditions of hospitality himself to others.
"Morgan," I said quietly. "You are a guest in my home."
He flashed me a quick, guilty glance.
"You came to me for help and I'm doing my best. Hell, the kid has put herself into harm's way, trying to protect you. I've done everything for you that I would have for blood family, because you are my guest. There are monsters from whom I would expect better behavior, once they had accepted my hospitality. What's more, they'd give it to me."
Sarcastic Confession: In the opening of Death Masks, Harry is on an Expy show of Jerry Springer, to answer questions about the supernatural. The show brings on two opposing experts on debunking the supernatural. One of them jokes that, with a little preparation, he's sure he could convince everyone in the studio he's a vampire. His name? Paolo Ortega, a noble of the Red Court of Vampires.
Scars Are Forever: Averted, Harry's (numerous) scars fade over time. As do all Wizards, as bodies heal not just to a certain point but back to full working condition. Downside is the heal rate is about the same as a normal human.
Though this seems to play straight in some cases, possibly from wounds caused by certain magical beasts. Harry's scar over his eye has lasted at least up to the current books, and the Gatekeeper's (much worse) facial scarring has clearly been around for quite awhile.
Science Is Wrong: The series goes on to something more like "Science is missing some important facts." Science comes in kinda handy for Harry in what is probably his most epic Crowning Moment Of Awesome so far, in Dead Beat. Without it, where would he have gotten the dinosaur? Butters kind of helps this along, chalking up Harry's Walking Techbane status to a "Murphyonic Field" surrounding him, and that the immediate physical reason for the wizards' longevity is because their cells divide much better.
The series actually tends to stay very close to normal physical laws, especially for one about magic. Harry often uses (and lampshades) the laws of momentum, gravity, thermodynamics, etc. in order to assist his spells, amplify their damage, or circumvent anti-magic protectionnote A Grendelkin's counterspelling ability might let Harry's fire spells splash away like water off a duck, but does nothing to stop a quarter ton of sharpened bone Harry hurls with a force spell, for instance. Turned against him when his magical shield stops napalm just fine, but it can't stop the heat, burning his hand so badly it almost has to be amputated.
At one point, Harry uses a fire spell directly above some water filled with enemies in order to suck all the heat out of the surrounding space, freezing the water and trapping his foes. This trick turns up, explained in great detail, in Jim Butcher's other series, Codex Alera.
Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum: Played with. Magic has a tendency to screw with any kind of mechanical and electrical devices, in particular anything made from WWII onwards, so most methods for documenting magic just don't work, so 90 percent of The Masquerade is a purely natural process. None of this stops Butters from trying, and he makes some noticeable strides.
What nobody's told Butters is that the rules change. Back in the days of yore, having mad Dresden-level juju meant your milk curdled and fires burned odd colors in your presence.
Whether this is a gradual drift where science is constantly "behind" by a certain number of years or whether there was a very abrupt, definite shift in the magical world at the end of World War One (as a result of events outlined in Dead Beat) hasn't been explained, but the latter is implied. Automobiles, revolvers, radio, and light bulbs are all 1800s technology. Modern-style automobile ignition systems, linear-action firearms, transistors, etc all date from after the date of Kemmler's ritual.
In Ghost Story Bob notes that Butters' grasp of magical theory is actually better than Harry's despite his lack of magical talent, because he has a better mind for it.
Science Destroys Magic: Inverted. Active magic can severely disrupt technology - the more sophisticated a device, the more vulnerable it is. Cell phones are considered to be the most sensitive indicators of magical activity in an area. Harry prefers low-tech gear such as revolvers and his old VW Beetle.
Lampshaded several times by Murphy. Modern automatics are incredibly mechanically reliable, far more so than older revolvers. Harry continues to carry an old .44, probably because he believes it won't jam on him.
Magic is based on your belief in what is possible. Harry believes that his gun won't jam but newer automatics will - so that's exactly what happens. Electronics are another story - electrical stuff genuinely goes crazy around wizards - but purely mechanical things? Your effect on them is more... variable.
The Scottish Trope: There exist things within the Dresden Universe whose names should not be invoked. These entities are so frighteningly powerful, Mab, Titania, and the Queen Mothers avoid stating anything but a vague nickname. These entities include skinwalker, ''Nemesis'', and Archangel Uriel and his equals. Yes, the last ones are good guys, but still do not speak their names lightly.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The Unseelie Accords are the highest treaty in the Supernatural World. Invoking them allows one to attain parley with another force and reach some sort of deal. The Knights of the Cross are not signatories to them, so, from some supernatural groups views, they break the Accords in their attacks against them in their crusade to be good people who help the helpless.
Used against Harry in Grave Peril. While he succeeded in saving the girl, this also unfortunately starts up a war with the vampires
Scully Syndrome: Humanity in general has this as they would rather accept a long-winded and highly improbably explanation for events because "Magic doesn't exist."
Secret Keeper: Harry is the holder of so many secrets it's staggering, especially as the series goes on. Some are relatively innocuous, most are important to only one or several people, but a few...
Secret War: The war between the White Council and the Vampire Courts, and also the even more secretive Oblivion War.
Seeking Sanctuary: If someone needs protecting and Harry can't do it, the almost always sends them to St. Mary's of the Angels.
This has lessened over time as Harry has slowly gotten used to the more horrific aspects of his job; he still gets squeamish, just not nearly to the same extent. Of course, Harry would likely be the first to tell you that this isn't necessarily a positive thing.
Sequel Escalation: Averted in the beginning of the series. After the series shifts into a Myth Arc, this begins to kick in, but is used as a plot point and an explanation for the various Monsters of the Week up until then. While Harry began dealing with rogue sorcerors and ghosts, he later realizes that there have been too many Monsters of the Week, too close together, and there must be someone pushing them into action.
Changes plays the trope straight, with Harry taking on the entire Red Court of vampires. And winning.
Cold Days pushes it even further, with Harry coming into possession of the Well, a magical prison containing an unfathomable number of powerful, evil beings. This trope is invoked specifically when Harry's introduction to the Well is the discovery of six imprisoned Naagloshi in the equivalent of minimum security —after Harry wasn't even able to kill one in Turn Coat.
Serial Escalation: Each book deliberately builds upon the previous, with Harry required to develop new skills in every adventure because the situations have become more extreme and bizarre than before.
Sharing a Body: The Denarians and their hosts all share the host's body.
Also happens when ghosts possess someone.
Shipper on Deck: Thomas for Harry/Murphy, to the point that in Cold Days he's just as frustrated at Harry for not immediately seeking Murphy out upon his return to Chicago as he is for Harry not going to see Maggie, his daughter.
Shipping Goggles: Most people tend to view Harry and Murphy with these (albeit, less in an "Aww you two are so cute together" fashion and more a "What? You two AREN'T fucking?! You're kidding me!" fashion). In-universe, too.
True of most of the ships in this series, really. Fans of any given ship will pull apart the smallest conversations or actions for the subtext they insist must be there between their preferred couple, no matter how unrelated the situation.
Shoot the Dog: The Wardens (Morgan in particular). Most of their job involves executing teenagers for the Greater Good. Even Harry eventually admits that they have their reasons.
Shrouded in Myth: Increasingly, Harry himself. In Turn Coat, several Wardens and Ancient Mai show up to try to capture Morgan. Harry wonders why they will not attack him, until he realizes that it is because they have been hearing about him as that incredibly powerful loose cannon trained by a warlock who openly mocked the Senior Council, started a war with the vampires, took on six necromancers at once with a zombie dinosaur, wiped the floor with fallen angels, and generally did everything on the series' very lengthy Crowning Moment of Awesome page. In reality he is about ready to fall over from exhaustion and injury, but they have heard so much about him that they are scared to confront the legendary Bad Ass.
Made even more ridiculous by the fact that Harry, by wizard reckoning, is young, not even 40, and he's accomplished things that powerful, experienced, old wizards would find challenging. Despite his age, he's accomplished things the Senior Council can't help but respect.
Harry himself remembers these accomplishments as terrifying, but it takes moments like the one in Turn Coat for him to fully realize that while he knows that he got through most of those events almost perpetually panicking, beat to hell, and improvising wildly by the skin of his teeth, an outsider's view only sees the end results. It should be interesting to watch this unfold in future books as people add "He also destroyed the entire Red Court of Vampires and by the way, now he's the Winter Knight and hence Mab's assassin."
Perhaps the best way to sum it up: mythical creatures tell stories about him.
Simple Staff: Or "traditional Ozark folk art." Harry uses it to focus magic and occasionally to club something around the head. He's occasionally mocked for using such a traditional, phallic symbol of power ( Elaine's staff is a length of chain, for example).
The White Court in general, who are so in love with overly convoluted plots that they do not realize their plots are overly convoluted, sometimes to the degree that a simpler plan would have worked better/more effectively. Then again, the degree of convolution is, to the White Court, correlated with the capability of the person pulling it off (if successful), so it's somewhat justified - no matter how well the plan works, no one will respect you if they can too easily figure out how you did it.
Grevane and Corpsetaker are the Necromancers who provide the most "limited" threat.
Some of the Denarians, especially (and amusingly) Cassius.
Socially-Awkward Hero: Dear lord, Harry could be the poster boy for this trope. Even though he has feelings for Murphy from relatively early on in the series - the two of them even acknowledge and discuss their mutual attraction in Dead Beat - it takes him until the end of Changes to even attempt to actually make a move. That's more than a decade in real-world time. He has a major chivalrous streak that gets him in all kinds of trouble, though he's mostly set it aside. In his own words, he's essentially a magic nerd. There is also other key issues. As Harry is about 6'9" tall, he must move carefully or hurt someone. He can short out any technology from a radius of 100 feet on a bad day, and so spends a lot of time avoiding electronics. To avoid soulgazes, he never looks anybody directly in the eye. In a side story from Murphy's point of view, she mentions he gives the impression of being mildly autistic.
It doesn't help that he hangs out with Thomas Raith. White Court Vampires are actually irresistible, so much that Thomas can't get a muggle job because he keeps getting his bones jumped.
Something Only They Would Say / Trust Password: In a world when various entities can take other people's forms or try to send deceptive messages, both are seen throughout the series. Harry generally uses his nicknames or pop culture references as part of his passwords.
Bob has been Dresden's primary Spirit Advisor on supernatural matters for the whole series, but is a bit fuzzy on the concepts of "good" and "evil." This isn't his fault. He's a spirit of knowledge, and knowledge is neither good nor evil. Doesn't stop him from having an evil side that he forcibly excised helping out Corpsetaker in Ghost Story.
Lasciel's shadow; unusually, this time the adviser is flat-out evil. At first she is, anyway.
Spirit World: the Nevernever, realm of faeries, demons, and other supernatural whatsits.
Squick: In-universe. Harry is understandably... perturbed... by the nature of the relationship between Nicodemus and his daughter, Deirdre.
Deirdre nodded sleepily. "Have I missed breakfast?" Nicodemus smiled at her. "Not at all. Give us a kiss." She slid onto his lap and did. With tongue. Yuck.
Squishy Wizard: Averted. Wizards are physically weaker than most of the supernatural creatures encountered in the series, but that still leaves them (slightly) physically tougher than normal humans, able to heal and recuperate from damage that would normally prove fatal or debilitating. In addition, most wizards we see are veterans of some kind of combat, so what they lack in physical ability they deliberately make up for in spells or enchantments.
Stuffed In The Fridge: Subverted. When bad things happen to women that are significant to the protagonist, it usually only ends up making them more badass. For instance, Murphy gets over the Nightmare's Mind Rape by becoming a clued-in Badass Normal monster slayer, and Susan becomes a supernatural vampire-slaying ninja after being captured and infected by the Red Court.
Summon Magic: Typically only used by villains, except for a couple instances where Harry needs to speak with a supernatural informant, or when he wants to talk to Toot at first, before becoming the 'ZA LORD. He also once calls forth and binds a fairy as powerful as either of the queens, just so his enemies cannot summon him instead.
Taken Up to Eleven in Cold Days when Harry tries to summon Mab's boss — and she reverses the summon to summon HIM. Then she binds him and sharpens a cleaver to eat him
Sunnydale Syndrome: The people of Chicago do not notice when a massive werewolf from hell gets blasted through two buildings (Fool Moon), a giant evil scarecrow monster charges down the middle of the street (Proven Guilty), undead armies rampage across the city (Dead Beat), armies of dark fairies and a huge gruff attack a train station (Small Favor), or — well, you get the idea. Harry thinks this is both beneficial and detrimental.
Supernatural Elite: The Red, White and Faerie Courts all run on some form of aristocratic system.
Supernatural Sensitivity: Wizards can use the True Sight to see exactly what is going on, including the residues of active and past magics. There is a drawback: whatever they see with their Sight can never be unseen, and is remembered in perfect clarity forever. Some things (like Harry seeing Murphy as an almost literal angel) are the sorts of things you would never want to forget, so that's good. Some things, on the other hand, (like Seeing a kindly old police officer being subjected to horrific spiritual torture) you wish you had never seen.
Molly Carpenter is particularly sensitive to magic and psychic residue, even without using her Sight.
Supernormal Bindings: The troll-made anti-magic thorned manacles deliver excruciating pain whenever a wizard wearing them tries to use his or her magic. There's also Harry's unicorn-hair binding, which is strong enough to hold a half-turned Red Court vampire.
Survival Mantra: "Stay on mission." (Martin, Susan, and likely the Order of St Giles generally)
Delightfully subverted by Harry's rallying cry to Butters: Polka will never die!
Sword of Damocles: Its use as a deterrent is referenced in the Doom of Damocles. It is a punishment meant to deter wizards from breaking the laws of the White Council by placing the moral weight of another life in the wizard's shoulders. Normally, being declared guilty of breaching any of the laws means you die, no questions asked. But if someone decides to stick out for you, they may let it slip... Under the condition that, if you screw up one more time, both you AND the person who stuck for you die.
Take That: There seems to be a playful series of these between Butcher and the cover artist over Harry's depiction. Harry starts mentioning how he does not like hats — even refusing to wear them when it would be more practical — and on the covers the hats become more and more prominent & fancy. In Changes Harry out-and-out states that he hates wearing hats, and wonders why everyone assumes otherwise.
Full story: The publishers changed cover artists between Blood Rites and Dead Beat. The cover artist had not read the books and was given a description of the character from the publishers - Tall, brown hair, clean-shaven. Wears Western-style shirts, a black leather duster, carries a wooden staff with glowing runes, and 'wears a hat'. It is unclear whether this was due to a member of the publishing staff not knowing that much about the books or confusing Harry's description for that of Grevane, one of the antagonists of that particular book. It has now become a joke between the cover artist and Jim Butcher.
Take Up My Sword: Of the Merlin school with Fidelacchius and Amoracchius. While they are both left in Harry's possession after the death/crippling of their bearers, neither of them are actually meant for him. But, by having them, he has the obligation to find people they are meant for. He seems to have even discovered one of the initial conditions for bearing them, and is actively on the lookout for deserving wielders.
Note, "of the Merlin school" here is also literal, in line with Butcher's fantasy-kitchen-sink approach - Excalibur was one of the Swords of the Cross. It's a small, morbid point of pride to Harry that Merlin only ever had one of the swords in his keeping.
Harry: Stars and stones, Harry. When will you learn to keep your mouth shut?
Terror Hero: Harry is an unintentional mixture of Type 3 and Type 5. He was formerly a Type 3, but by Changes, his reputation has grown to the point that an experienced, dangerous, venomous vampire of the Red Court, lying in ambush, sees him.. screams, and vamooses.
A wizard's death curse uses every last bit of their life energy to fuel a powerful, destructive spell as a last resort — in other words, Cast from Hit Points — so it is either this or Taking You with Me. We have seen one in the series and one in a character's backstory. The one cast on Lord Raith by Harry's mother looks like a Thanatos Gambit, in that she could not kill him so she gave him a certain vulnerability that would be exploited years later, and the one cast on Harry by Quintus Cassius looks like an attempt at Taking Him With Him, but the caster was already too old and weak for that, so he settled for trying to make him miserable.
Leonid Kravos, who kicks off the events of Grave Peril with his death.
Time Skip: About a year or so passes between each book, but the exact length of time varies from case to case. This averts Comic Book Time in that a few characters age visibly, and provides space for Noodle Incidents to have happened in.
Token Evil Teammate: Professional Killer Kincaid (AKA 'The Hellhound', former possibly-demonic servant of Vlad Dracul) has played this role on occasion - but the best example is probably in Changes, when Leanansidhe joins Harry's all-star crew in the assault on Chiten Itza, the Red Court's center of power. He practically defines her as such, and explains to his friends that yes, she is powerful, evil, and more than a bit crazy - but in this particular situation, she's on their side. And she plays the role to the hilt, including complaining when Harry won't let her sacrifice a Holy Virgin offered up by the Red King as a gift...
Lea plays every role to the hilt, really. It's kind of her thing.
Harry himself arguably plays this to the Knights of the Cross in "Death Masks"
Took a Level in Badass: Nearly everyone over the course of the series. One of the biggest happens in Ghost Story with, of all people, Mortimer Lindquist, self-proclaimed coward and non-hero, who nonethless proves to be exceedingly competent at his ectomancy, being able to do things like calling spirits to his body to use their fighting skills or to seize control of thousands of wraiths and use them as a spiritual battering ram to finish off the Corpsetaker.
Morty is confirmed to have power on par with a White Council wizard, his power is just too narrow. Unlike Harry he also solves problems before they threaten the world.
Similarly, Butters too has leveled up in Badass stakes as of Ghost Story, most notable in his take-down of Aristedes.
Totally Radical: Toyed with, then lampshaded in one of the later books. Harry uses the phrase "that's how I roll," much to Michael's amusement. He explains that it must be cool, because he learned it from Molly.
Changes: "Radical. Wicked cool." Good luck translating that into Ancient Mayan, Red King of the Red Court.
The wyldfae looooooove pizza. To the point that Harry can use it as a bribe to get them to do anything from bringing back information to attacking the Lady of the faeries' Summer Court. And killing her.
Harry loves his Coke; he even has a cap with a silver-on-black Coca-Cola logo. He also adores Burger King.
His cat Mister is also fond of Coca-Cola, as well as leftovers from McAnally's Pub.
Training the Peaceful Villagers: Starting in White Night, Harry begins organizing the Paranet out of magic-users who have less talent than full-fledged wizards. They're trained to pool their meager abilities and keep in contact with one another so that they can defend themselves (or at least not be killed one by one) whenever a black wizard or other supernatural threat rears its head. At one point in Ghost Story Harry notes that a dozen Paranet talents are able to magically ward a house better than he can. When Harry dies in Changes, the Paranet saves hundreds of lives across the United States, with the exception of Chicago where Molly uses her wizard-caliber talents in Dresden's absence to single-handedly scare away many opportunistic threats.
Trenchcoat Brigade: Harry's black leather duster and occult focus confirm him to be a card-carrying member. And he revels in it.
Trope Overdosed: Understandable after 12 books, a TV series, an ongoing comic book series, and an RPG.
True Sight: All wizards have an extra form of perception called the Sight. It allows them to see things as they truly are, including peering past glamour or seeing and hearing ghosts, but at a cost: whatever you See, no matter how horrible, is burned into your memory. FOREVER.
Turn In Your Badge: Murphy is head of Special Investigations, a department of the Chicago PD which deals with the weird stuff. Her success at the job (hiring a professional wizard as a consultant helped) gives her a certain amount of immunity to this, but in Proven Guilty, she really blows it... and ends up demoted. At the end of Changes, Murphy is absolutely out of a job, and has literally turned in her badge, thanks to Rudolph.
Tykebomb: It's implied Justin was training Harry and Elaine to be this. They also count as a deconstruction: as far as the White Council is concerned, Harry is one of these, so they aren't exactly friendly to him; Harry has entirely justifiable angst from killing Justin (compounded by the fact that he knows killing with magic taints your soul); and throughout the series we see he has major trust issues.
Uncatty Resemblance: Mild example with Mister and Mouse, who like their owner are both extra-large sized for their species.
The Unfettered: Martin hates the Red Court, but it's only at the end of Changes we find out just how far he's willing to go.
Harry himself in Changes.
Unreliable Narrator: Turns out to be the case between Changes and Ghost Story. Harry asks Kincaid to Mercy Kill him after he became the Winter Knight, and then has Molly wipe him memory so that Mab won't know.
The fact that the books are written firmly from the point of view of Harry can result in non-plot-critical variations on this, like:
The female characters being significantly more attractive and described in greater detail when Harry's not getting laid.
Marcone's activities being dastardly and nefarious even when they really... aren't.
Michael's righteousness and occasional outbreaks of temper presented as indicators that something is wrong with the world rather than the knight having some personal flaws, even when Michael points out his flaws and struggles himself.
Unusual Euphemism: Harry wonders if cuss words in angelic language are just nice words said backwards... "Doog! Teews doog!"
Up to Eleven: Invoked by Harry when describing battle chaos.
Vampire Monarch: The Red Court has an actual King (who is killed along with the rest of the Court in Changes); the White Court consists of three clans, each of whom has their own Lord and the Lord of the currently most powerful clan is considered King by the rest; and the Black Court was nearly wiped out to the point where only a few powerful individuals exist, so no mention of a king of them has been made.
Vegetarian Vampire: c.f. Thomas using hairdressing to sate himself until the events of Turn Coat.
The Villain Knows Where You Live: The novella "The Warrior" features an antagonist who sends Harry photographs of the Carpenter family and their house: not so much "I know where you live" as "I know where your friends live". The characters discuss whether this means the Carpenters are really in danger, or whether they're being threatened to distract Harry from something else.
Villainous Breakdown: Arianna, Grevane, Lord Raith, Victor Sells, Paolo Ortega, Nicodemus and the Red King all experience this after Harry either kicks their asses or demonstrates that he's as strong as they are.
Villainous Rescue: It seems as if Marcone is pulling Harry's butt out of the fire every other book.
Virgin Power: The White Court find virgins a particular delicacy, so to speak.
Waif-Fu: The possessed Lydia in Grave Peril. Karrin Murphy's Aikido skills may also qualify.
Walking Techbane: Wizards, especially Harry, who has to put up with an icebox cooled by real ice, no working furnace in a basement apartment in Chicago (he has a fireplace instead), no hot water and a car from the 50s. He can not get near an active computer without frying the motherboard. If he actively tries, he can hex a camera at 100 yards on a bad day.
Kumori from Dead Beat. Yes, she is a necromancer. Yes, she is palling around with a guy who may very well be on the Black Council. And yes, she is taking part in a necromantic ceremony that will scythe a good chunk of Chicago clean just so the victor can claim awesome godlike power. But she uses her necromantic abilities to keep people alive until they can get medical treatment, and has the stated goal of creating a world where death does not exist.
At the end of Changes Martin the Double Agent is confirmed as this. And when we say "extremist", we are not kidding.
In some of the early books, Harry all but states that he doesn't think of non-humans as people, even fully sapient ones like Toot or his own half-brother. This gradually changes over the course of series.
When He Smiles: A couple (female) people in the series have told Harry he looks much better when he smiles in a few quietly touching moments.
Minor side-character Vince Graver from Turn Coat was described as The Nondescript until his last scene, when he smiles. Dresden notes that the smile completely changes him from a generic average Joe to someone who could light up the room just by being there.
Note: Yes, it was Dresden describing this, and no, the description in the book had no Ho Yay whatsoever.
Little Inara Raith is described as "pretty" but has a smile that makes her radiant.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Mentioned as one of the reasons against Harry and Murphy hooking up; Molly also angsts about this in Ghost Story, and how her youngest brothers will be dying of old age before she's even old enough to be taken seriously on the White Council.
Wicked Cultured: Nicodemus, the host and compatriot of a fallen angel, definitely qualifies. He's the scariest and evilest creature in a series full of scary, evil creatures who could squash him with their pinkies, but he does it with impeccable taste.
Gentleman Marcone comes off as this, but it will likely never be confirmed due to the fact that he's, well, Marcone.
Windows of the Soul: Wizards can see a person's soul with their Sight if eye contact is maintained (this is why you don't look at a wizard too long. They see too much). However, there are two drawbacks: the other person can see you, too, and you can't forget what you see. Ever
Wizards Live Longer: Waldo Butters actually reveals the immediate physical reason for this. Compared to normal humans, wizards have vastly superior cellular repair and healing: broken bones heal without a trace, scars fade, and even Harry's toasted-to-the-bone hand will heal completely. They DO age, but their bodies last a few centuries and we have not heard of any wizards dying of cancer or such diseases.
Wizard Duel: There's one true Wizard Duel in Storm Front, in which Harry's greater strength and experience gave him an advantage he needed to make up for fighting on Shadowman's home turf, a couple in Dead Beat against various necromancers, the fight pitting first Harry and then Archive against the Denarians in Small Favor and another in Changes, between Harry and Duchess Arianna Ortega, a vampire with magical powers. But other than that, Wizard Duels are surprisingly rare in the series. Harry has been in formal Trials By Combat three times, but two were against vampires. Once, a Warden attacked Harry when he believed Harry had murdered another Warden, but Harry knew it was an honest misunderstanding and was willing to let himself be killed. Most antagonists in the series are not actual wizards, most of those who are tend to be Chessmasters, and when it has come down to an actual fight there has usually been a severe power imbalance on one side or another, so the duel is over before it starts.
Working the Same Case: Harry is often working on two cases at once, a police investigation that has stymied the mundane authorities and something on the occult side of things, and they turn out to be related. Alternately, one case comes from his private business or personal connections and the other comes from the White Council of wizards. It is not quite Once an Episode, but Storm Front, Fool Moon, Death Masks and Proven Guilty use this trope straightforwardly and most other books have at least some elements of it. Changes, as with so much else, skips this trope, with one main plot that finds Harry personally.
At least, in Chicago this is the case. As we find out after Harry dies, things are a lot less safe in regions that aren't protected by a powerful wizard. That said, the Paranet and various other interests are working to change this.
Worthy Opponent: Marcone, a polite and efficient mob boss; and the Eldest Gruff, an extrordinarily powerful fairy who does not want to kill Harry but must obey the Summer Queen Titania.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Harry is chivalrous to the point of it interfering with his ability to defend himself from female attackers. He knows it is a weakness and a stupid one in a world where female vampires and werewolves and fae can all kill him with trivial effort, but he can not stop himself. If pushed really hard, he can make himself attack a woman, but it takes a ton of pressure to get him to that point.
Has faded somewhat as the series progresses because Harry has specifically trained himself out of it, has been nearly killed by enough female villains to be somewhat hardened naturally, and has generally started to favor lateral thinking over direct assault when he can manage it for any opponent.
Xanatos Gambit: Multiple times, most commonly in relation to the White Court vampires who are pretty much an entire race of Chessmasters. Examples include:
The plot of Grave Peril, and even events leading up to the book, is one by Bianca, Mavra and the Leanansidhe for numerous reasons depending on the person involved — to gain an advantage on Harry and/or teach him a lesson, to kill him, to destroy an exceedingly rare Holy Sword and give the Red Court of vampires a chance to launch its long-planned war against the White Council of Wizards. It backfires majorly on Bianca but half of it still succeeds, fulfilling the gambit.
Lea specifically pulls a small but nasty one in Grave Peril during the confrontation in the graveyard. After driving off the Nightmare, she waits until Harry has Amoracchius in hand before confronting him with his promise. Then, she confronts him, and he is forced to choose between surrendering to her or using the Sword. If he does not use the Sword, she gets him as a pet, while if he does, the Sword will be rendered useless and she can steal it. Either way, Lea wins.
In Turn Coat. Dresden gets one of these by inviting three renegade factions to the same location to play them off against each other. He later reveals that this was all a setup to get surveillance photos of the real traitor when they find out about the fray. He would have liked to catch the traitor on the scene; the photos (and Mouse) were just a backup plan. He lays it out once the gambit pays off: "But lately I've thinking that you don't ever plan on a single path to victory. You set things up so you've got more than one way to win." This particular gambit, while it succeeds, is a bit undermined when Ebenezar points out the ways it could have failed, to which the only sensible reply is "I got lucky."
You Can Barely Stand: Harry is rarely in any decent shape to even be walking by the time the real fighting has rolled around. Take for instance Fool Moon where he actually has to work to blow out a camera, or Dead Beat, where the only reason he can move at all for most of the Final Battle is Lash's assistance. Taken Up to Eleven in Changes where Harry eventually gets his back broken so he literally cannot stand. However, he makes a deal with Mab, The Winter Queen, and becomes her Knight, but he gets to save his daughter first. After that, he is fit as a fiddle and ready to rock. Lampshaded in the RPG, when he complains about how he is always beaten up in the pictures. Quoth Billy:
You Owe Me: Thomas uses this to get Harry to take on his case in Blood Rites. Harry knew it was coming, as Thomas explicitly said he was saving up for favors in earlier books whenever he helped Harry. Subverted in that while he did use You Owe Me to get Harry to take the case, he was really helping Harry because they're brothers, and saving up favors was a convenient cover story.