- Complete Monster: The ghost from The Stone Monkey is a completely ruthless killer who does everything for his own ends, and has no qualms about killing anybody.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Much of The Broken Window with its focus on surveillance has become this in the years since it was first published, especially in light of the NSA's PRISM program, meaning that Deaver was actually pretty prophetic.
- Jerkass Woobie: Lincoln Rhyme to an extent, overlapping with Wheelchair Woobie.
- Nightmare Fuel: Some of the more gruesome deaths in the series, including:
- The Woobie: Amelia Sachs. Her idolized father died when she was young, after which her mother became abusive towards her. She also has problems with self-destructive behavior and arthritis.
- Garett Haldon from The Empty Chair definitely qualifies. His parents were killed because they got involved in a pesticide conspiracy. Their murder also caused him to draw in some of the pesticide himself, making him a harsher person on the surface. He was then placed under the care of foster parents who are implied to have hit him on occasions. He was also pitted as a scapegoat for several murders involving the same conspiracy that took place during the book.