Barred From The Afterlife: The plot revolves around stopping the titular lords, who are (among other nastiness) barring the way for dead souls to heaven using an evil mask.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Played with. most of the monsters look fairly nasty. However Carmilla and Zobek, and eventually Gabriel, continue to be good looking, at least in their human forms.
Bittersweet Ending: Satan is defeated, but Marie cannot be brought back to life, and is forced to leave Gabriel behind as she passes on to Heaven. Then Gabriel ends up an immortal vampire in the process of cleaning up the final legacies of the Lords of Shadow, forever seperating him from his love.
Blade Brake: Gabriel uses his Combat Cross to stop his momentum when fighting Malphas and Carmilla.
Despair Event Horizon: Gabriel at the end of the game is a broken man, having learned both that he killed his own wife under Zobek's control and that the MacGuffin he spent the entire story assembling can't bring her back.
Dirty Coward: The Priest in charge of Wygol Abbey, who hoarded the only thing that could protect the village from the vampires for himself, leading to the devastation of his parishioners. Poetic Justice ensues.
Downer Ending: At the end of the Resurrection DLC Gabriel abandons what's left of his humanity to defeat the Forgotten One, shatters his Combat Cross to pieces, and then returns to the human world to become Dracula.
End of an Age: The Old Gods and mythological creatures that appear have long since been forgotten by mankind, and their last remnants are slowly vanishing as well.
Death of the Old Gods: The story takes place in an age where Christianity is slowly displacing the old gods humanity once worshiped. Gabriel eventually ends up killing Pan, apparently putting an end to the Old Gods once and for all.
Evil All Along: Zobek is the Lord of the Dead, and the final of the three Lords of Shadow.
Even Evil Has Standards: Even after becoming a Lord of Shadow, Carmilla still despised Friedrich von Frankestein's twisted experiments on humans. She spends several centuries torturing him for these crimes.
Laura also qualifies, sparing Gabriel when she sees him and Marie embrace, and later enlisting his help in dealing with The Forgotten One.
Evil Overlord: The 3 Lords of Shadow Gabriel also ends up becoming the evil overlord of the series, Dracula.
Evil Plan: The entire story was orchestrated by Satan to obtain the God Mask and get back into Heaven. He was the one who manipulated Lord of the Dead Zobek into casting the spell that separated Earth from the Heavens and then manipulated Gabriel into killing his own wife. This leads to Gabriel's quest to reunite the 3 pieces of the God Mask, which Satan then plans to take, after eliminating his two Unwitting Pawns. Unfortunately for him, Gabriel won't stay dead.
Eye Scream: Gabriel pokes out both of the Giant Ogre's eyes during their confrontation.
Face Heel Turn: Having become a vampire freeing Laura and then absorbed the power of the Forgotten One, Gabriel executes the Demon Lord, destroys his combat cross and returns to Earth, where he goes on to become the Evil Overlord Dracula.
The Priest in Wygol Abbey raving that the Devil has been taunting the holy man in his dreams about the arrival of Gabriel and Zobek.
Gabriel's profile mentioning he may be an illegitimate son of the Cronqvist family. Mathias Cronqvist was Dracula's original name in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.
From Bad to Worse: Gabriel awakes to find he stabbed Claudia in the chest, and it's all downhill from there...
Full Boar Action: Gabriel can capture and then ride around on a giant boar in certain sequences.
Genius Loci: A scroll you find speculates that Bernhard Castle, where Carmilla and the other vampires now live, may be a sentient creature.
Ghibli Hills: Gabriel travels through a number of picturesque European mountain chains during his quest.
Glass Cannon: Reapers, which can kill you in two hits but also die from two hits.
God Is Good: Gabriel clearly believes so, and... Satan is clearly furious that mankind can ask for redemption.
God Is Evil: What fate makes Gabriel turns out an antithesis to his belief above. "Where is this brother who is the supposed savior? Where is this warrior of light? More lies dreamt up by the Church to keep us subservient to their will, no doubt. How is it possible that God exists when he allows the murder and killing of so many of our brethren?"
The founding members of the Brotherhood of Light's plan to purify themselves and ascend to Heaven as powerful spiritual beings worked well enough, but the evil they left behind in their bodies became the Lords of Shadow.
Gabriel fulfills the prophecy and defeats the Lords of Shadow just like the Brotherhood of Light and Pan wanted him to but then goes on to become a more terrible monster than all the Lords of Shadow combined.
Grim Up North: The kingdom of the Vampires is in a very cold climate that gets little sun. Adjacent to their kingdom is Wygol Village, which instead of being a friendly haven for the player, is a Eastern Europe hellhole constantly under attack by the monsters.
Groin Attack: Gabriel knees the gremlins in the groin when he catches them, and then they explode.
Ground Punch: Gabriel Belmont has a move that involves punching the ground to create several explosions of magic around himself.
Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of Reverie, Laura makes Gabriel drink her blood till it kills her, so he'll have the strength neccessary to survive inside the Forgotten One's prison.
Heroic Second Wind: After Zobek kills Gabriel, the spirits of the departed resurrect him so he can break the spell that separated the Earth from Heaven.
He Who Fights Monsters: Fighting against hosts of monsters alone and without sleep or much food is not good for Gabriel's sanity, though as The Stoic he doesn't show it much. Two thirds of the way in, Zobek describes him as talking to Marie as though she were still there. To his credit, he's resolute enough to ask for forgiveness when made aware of his unwitting evil acts. It remains to be seen if that repentance stuck during his time as Dracula.
Hijacked by Ganon: You've been playing as Dracula's past self all along, and just hijacked the Big Bad title from both the Lords of Shadow and Satan.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Almost every boss is killed by wresting their weapon away and planting it in their skulls.
In the tutorial level, Gabriel impales a Warg on a nearby sharpened log.
Carmilla gets impaled on one of the steeples in her own castle.
Interface Spoiler: A minor example: the life and magic bars start off being able to be filled up to half of their visible length, and thus when you get all the upgrades for them, you have more or less twice as much health and magic you had in the beginning.
Interface Screw: Snow and ice will hit screen in snowy and frozen environments.
Jitter Cam: Not to a huge extent, but the camera is never completely still. It's especially noticeable in the menus which have this effect as well, probably to complement the book motif.
Karmic Death: The abbot Vincent Dorin was indirectly responsible for an entire village being killed by vampires because he kept the only artifact capable of killing them to himself. Guess what becomes of him when he is left at the mercy of vampires when the artifact is taken from him by Gabriel Belmont and Zobek.
Kill 'em All: Every single main character dies horribly, save for Gabriel, Zobek and Satan.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Gabriel taking gems from his fallen brethren. Scrolls of the fallen also suggest nearly all Brotherhood of Light members loot the dead for such items, as they are too precious to leave behind. Most of the Brotherhood are suitably somber about it.
Knight in Sour Armor: Gabriel. After having done so many terrible things to some others - or so he said, he still continues his journey bitterly thanks to the heavy weight the world has placed upon him as well as the thought of his beloved wife.
Necromancer: Several, including the third Lord of Shadow.
Necromantic: Gabriel, in a rare heroic version, wants the God Mask because it may be able to bring back his dead wife.
Notice This: Corpses of dead knights carrying scrolls bearing hinds glow. Also, wheels, switches and levers. Enemies awaitng the killing blow (or the mounting) as well. Practically everything Gabriel can interact with.
Not So Different: All three of The Lords of Shadow deliver speeches like this to Gabriel. Carmilla even goes so far to say that Gabriel is even worse than her, since killing the Lords would also kill their heavenly counterparts, which Gabriel was all too willing to do.
Our Goblins Are Different: They look more like pygmie chimpanzee-men than the usual gremlins you may be used to. They're fond of throwing around grenades, too.
Our Werewolves Are Different: At the very least, mention must be made of the Wargs, which are horses that have contracted lycanthropy and are ridden by other werewolves.
Our Vampires Are Different: The vampires here are fairly standard, except they can't assume human forms unless they're at least several centuries old. They also have weird Crab-leg-claw-talon thingies protruding from their shoulders in addition to large bat wings. Olrox and Brauner aren't even human in origin; they're demons that Carmilla turned into vampires.
Protagonist Journey to Villain: The story is in many ways a chronicle of how heroes can descend into evil and madness, especially in the Reverie and Resurrection add-ons.
Real Is Brown: Averted. Despite its "gritty" art direction, the game uses a wide range of colors, from lush green swamps to stark white glaciers to dark blue castles gleaming in the night. Only the Land of the Dead uses a predominantly brown color pallet.
Rewarding Vandalism: A series mainstay. Even in this game, breaking pots and what-not will usually net you refills on your sub-weapons.
Right Behind Me: Done to Gabriel by Skeleton Warriors, Dracolich Necromancers and more. Gabriel's reactions range from shocked to Dull Surprise.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gabriel's devotion to destroying the Lords of Shadow is half the hope to save Marie and half revenge on all the creatures of evil that he believes killed her.
The Black Knight also goes into one after arriving to find a dead Claudia with one of Gabriel's daggers sticking out of her chest. Cue Boss Fight.
Scenery Gorn: Later stages shows how far the influence of evil is displayed, from decaying corpses in an abandoned village to the Land of the Dead, the very definition of Hell on Earth.
Scenery Porn: To an absolutely ridiculous extent. A very early level, a swamp, may have you remarking upon how gorgeous the foliage is (and marveling that apparently the swamp is filled with the fallen corpses of green dragons.)
Schizo Tech: The game is supposed to be set in 1047 AD, yet Frankenstein's laboratory is filled with mechanical devices powered by electricity, the robot with a human brain Mechanical Monster, and a Tesla coil despite Nikola Tesla not being born till 1856.
During the Reverie DLC, you come across a scroll which mentions a time machine built by Emmett Marron.
Superpowered Evil Side: The three Lords of Shadow to the three founding members of the Brotherhood. Simply put, the founders used a spell to become angels, but their dark sides were left behind as a result.
Stealth Mentor: Pan in a sort of way. His boss battle is also a way to teach how to fight Satan (he even states this in one of his battle quotes).
It also forces Gabriel to realize he's been a bit of a selfish prick.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The Combat Cross used as a loading indicator during pre-stage narration gets the same upgrades as your Combat Cross in-game. The loading screen cross even loses the stake after Gabriel breaks the end off in Carmilla's chest.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: In some sequences you're free to endlessly light enemies on fire, jump on monsters backs and snap their necks, turn them into living bombs, and plenty of other horrible things.
Villain Protagonist: The ending reveals Gabriel became Dracula after the events of the game, and the sequels further confirm his status as one such character.
We Can Rule Together: Carmilla makes this offer to Gabriel, only to go in a rage when you turn her down. Satan also offers this to Gabriel, but is quick to withdraw the deal when Gabriel refuses.
The souls that engulf Gabriel once he gets fried by the Lord of the Dead's Agony Beam also whisper things like "Your time has come!" "Stay with us!" "Come with us!"
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Gabriel, in the epilogue, lives to modern times as the immortal Dracula. Unfortunately, it seems all he really wants to do is die. Zobek tries to recruit him to prevent Satan's return, and promises to free Gabriel of his immortality if the fallen hero does.
Wicked Witch: Baba Yaga. She sends Gabriel on a quest to assist in a spell that will make her a Hot Witch, but it's never revealed if it worked.
Woman in Black: Carmilla, who wears flowing long black robes and will enslave, torture or kill you if you dare cross her.