YMMV / Nancy Drew

Tropes in the books include:

  • Archive Panic: Almost 500 books have been written featuring the character. Have fun!
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk, Nancy gets struck by lightning. It has nothing to do with the rest of the story, it's over in less than a page, and nobody ever mentions it again, and isn't getting struck by lightning something you'd want to brag about?
    • In The Mystery of the Fire Dragon, while Nancy is at the airport about to investigate smuggling in Hong Kong. She's tricked into getting onto a plane by a girl with the same name as the missing Chi Che Soong - and immediately kidnapped. It amounts to nothing as Ned sees the plane take off and immediately sends the air force after them. The whole thing is resolved in about five pages, Nancy discovers nothing new about the case, none of the captors' names come up later and the ordeal isn't even mentioned again.
  • Broken Base: Fans of the original '30s/60s version usually hate upon the late 80s version, for the way it modernized the character.
    • On the other hand, the late 80's version (specifically the Nancy Drew Files spinoff) has its fanbase as well, and they don't take too kindly to the new Girl Detective reboot for going the other way and being too "kiddy" (usually, they like the original 30s/60s version, but feel like a certain amount of Nostalgia Filter might make them slightly biased toward everything afterwards.
    • A lot of hardcore fans dislike the 50s/60s rewrites of the first 34 volumes, finding them to be bowdlerized, sanitized, condensed, and featuring less character development, and poorer writing. The biggest complaint is that Nancy is no longer as "tough" as she once was, and that she acts far too proper, polite, and traditionally ladylike in the updated versions. These versions did remove the racist stereotypes often present in the original books, but some think they went too far in their "whitewashing" of almost all minority characters altogether. It doesn't help that the original versions of the first 34 volumes are mostly out-of-print and difficult to find, while the revised versions are still very widely available.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: In the original series, Bess is described as "slightly plump". In the "Files" series, while given a "fabulous figure", she is perpetually focused on losing five pounds. Additionally, she is consistently made out to be the weakest of the group - easily frightened, boy-crazy, somewhat ditzy, etc. As of the newest series, Girl Detective, she's over it. She's always described as curvy, but her weight is almost never addressed. Furthermore while she is still very fashion conscious, she has also become a full fledged Wrench Wench.
  • Memetic Badass: It's a pretty common joke among fans that "Nancy can do by herself what it takes two Hardy Boys to accomplish." Considering all the people she's put away, it's not that far off.
  • Memetic Mutation: Nancy tends to get name-dropped in regards to any female character attempting any kind of investigative work.
  • My Real Daddy: While Edward Stratemeyer is the actual creator of Nancy Drew, all he did was create a rough idea of the character and general outlines for stories for his ghostwriters to follow. It was Mildred Benson, the first ghostwriter, who added a lot more beyond his outline and really brought Nancy to life.


Tropes in the games include:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: A truckload.
    • Is Henry Bolet 'just' lonely and insecure, or does he have clinical depression?
    • Rentaro. Is he an arrogant saboteur with total disregard for the lives he tries to ruin, or a fundamentally Nice Guy who's desperate to save a failing relationship? The ending allows for both interpretations.
    • Is Harper truly insane or not? If so, why?
    • Did Clara mean to kill Charlotte, or was that an accident?
    • A handful of people who played Stay Tuned for Danger immediately concluded that Millie was insane rather than eccentric. This may be because of the stereotype that elderly people are insane.
  • Anvilicious: Sea of Darkness tends to be a tad preachy about the repercussions of childhood bullying and petty ostracism. Maybe if you got to talk to Magnus a bit more before you hear him blaming himself in part for how Soren turned out, it wouldn't come off as such. For what it's worth, the same game also features the first openly lesbian character in the game series, Dagny, and all she gets is sympathy for recovering from a breakup with her life-partner Alicia.
  • Archive Panic: Go ahead, take a little break from the franchise, don't be surprised if another 6 or 7 are cranked out by the time you get back into it. (In fairness, the release schedule is generally two titles a year.)
  • Ascended Meme: HerInteractive itself has made fun of the "It's locked" meme. This trope may be why they brought it back for The Silent Spy.
  • Ass Pull: In the original Secrets Can Kill, the culprit is precisely mentioned in exactly one location before he's even introduced to the plot at all, and it's only in the form of one of the game's many decipherable messages rather than through conversation. And he doesn't get introduced until about five minutes before the game ends, leaving an endgame that feels rather forced and only done for the sake of pulling the "surprise, it wasn't any of the people you thought" twist. The Remastered version fixes this by introducing him at a much earlier point in the game, and demoting him into a pawn, the true culprit is someone you've spoken to before.
  • Awesome Music: After going about three games without using the catchy opening tune, it returns with an all-new level of awesomeness.
    • While we're at it, why don't we mention just about every single score for the games? Kevin Manthei is a genius.
    • Special mention needs to go to Shadow at the Water's Edge. While the majority of the music is appropriately ominous, go into the city and you hear this cute little J-Pop number. It especially appreciated as something of a breather since most of the rest of Shadow is absolutely terrifying.
    • "Mattie's house - Day" is one of the best themes in the franchise. Such soothing music, which is especially appreciated in a crime game.
      • All of the music in Stay Tuned For Danger is pretty much amazing. The use of vibraphone and upright bass creates a brilliant noir-jazz vibe throughout the game, which is especially cool to hear when sneaking at night.
    • Message In A Haunted Mansion is home to supernatural piano music of highest quality. Some songs like "MHM", the theme, or "Attic" are downright creepy. "Abby's Room" is meanwhile one of the most beautiful in the games.
    • The Final Scene's 'Maya'. A short tune, the theme for a character you only see for five minutes, and yet it sums up everything about the game.
    • Treasure In The Royal Tower has some truly awesome wintry, baroque-like music. Also, there's harpsichord in it. What more could you want? Special mention also goes to the theme song "TRT" and the music in the library.
    • The Captive Curse has some of the best music in the series. "Girls" is nearly perfect. Mournful piano and strings at their best. "Mystery" is also awesome for evoking the atmosphere of the game so well.
    • Ransom Of The Seven Ships maybe didn't have the best music but "Toro" by itself is a fabulous tragic guitar piece, very fitting for the story of El Toro.
    • The music in The Haunting Of Castle Malloy can veer into some atmospheric, seriously beautiful territory. "Fiona" in particular, which is very haunting and sad.
    • Curse Of Blackmoor Manor is full of shadowy medieval beauty.
    • The composer for the newest games, Thomas Regin, has contributed some gorgeous pieces of music as well. Have some 'Electric' from The Deadly Device (unfortunately not in stereo) and 'Past' from Ghost of Thornton Hall.
    • "The Word I Couldn't Keep", an original song composed for Sea Of Darkness, is a soaring, passionate ballad. The singer is also the voice actress for Elisabet, and she sings a stanza of it within the game, before the entire song plays over the credits at the end.
  • Broken Base: The Silent Spy seems to be doing this for the games, specifically the revelation that Nancy's mother Kate's death wasn't an accident and she was actually a spy. Some see the whole story as completely brilliant and an interesting twist, other's feel like rewriting a part of the character's history that has been ingrained in the character and the stories since their creation 80 years ago as Her Interactive going a step too far.
  • Creepy Awesome/Crazy Awesome: Harper Thornton from Ghost of Thornton Hall. How literal the "crazy" part is is left for debate.
  • Designated Victim: Paula Santos from The Haunted Carousel is going through tough times with strange incidences in her park, which led to a lawsuit against the park. You are more than willing to help solve the mystery and get her park back to normal. Unfortunately, anytime you get hurt in any of the various game over sequences, she gets unreasonably upset with you and fires you. She doesn't express any sympathy for your injuries or considers the fact that someone is doing this on purpose. Instead, she blames you and tells you that you're off the case.
    • Admittedly, some are your fault (trying to reach for the brass ring, turning the power on and getting electrocuted, leaving the iron on burning the hotel down, and not wearing safety goggles). Anything outside of that, though, is not your fault.
  • Ear Worm: The jingle from the wiki-tiki game in Creature of Kapu Cave
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Mel in Warnings at Waverly Academy and Dave in Secret of Shadow Ranch.
    • Nick from The Final Scene verges on Memetic Badass within the fandom: "Fight the power!"
    • The fangirls seem to like Henry Bolet.
    • Professor Hotchkiss. Even if only among the developers, she's so well-loved they brought her back for two phone cameos. High-five, team Hotchkiss!
  • Fanon: In the first two games, there's random decipherable clues that crop up all over the place in the form of some sort of word puzzle. Usually, they make a comment on something that doesn't happen until later in the game, an obvious (and somewhat out of place in a series that usually tries to justify most of the "strange things" you see here and there) attempt at Gameplay and Story Segregation. Arglefumph took to justifying this as Nancy having a "psychic friend" that left those clues for her.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Nancy and... take your pick between one of the Hardy boys, or one of the various single male suspects in any of the games, even if it's the culprit, or if it would be totally unlikely in the game or in real life. The most popular of these, though, is Nancy and Dave from Secret of Shadow Ranch. Poor Ned...
    • Nancy/Frank Hardy has been a pretty common pairing since at least 1988, when the Spin-off/Crossover Supermysteries were written featuring the pair. Bess and Joe... not so much.
    • Of course, some people who follow his walkthroughs prefer Nancy/Arglefumph. Due in part to him voicing his jealousy of Ned and saying he wants to be Nancy's boyfriend.
    • Less so than the others, Henry Bolet from The Legend of the Crystal Skull and Mel Corbalis from Warnings at Waverly Academy.
  • Funny Moments: One of the bloopers after the end credits for Trail of the Twister features the dance club from Phantom of Venice. The one dancing? Pa. Doing the exact same dancing moves.
  • Genius Bonus: Knowing how to read sheet music will make one of The Silent Spy's most annoying puzzles much easier. There is sheet music translation in the bagpipes book, but having it already memorised will mean you don't have to take the book out constantly. Knowing the layout of the keys on a piano wouldn't hurt either, since that's used in Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.
    • If you know how to speak some of the featured foreign languages, some puzzles can go faster. For example, in Danger By Design, you won't need to buy a dictionary to translate the list of photos for Dieter if you know a bit of French. The stakeout in Phantom of Venice is also much easier if you speak Italian going in.
  • Growing the Beard: The series has gone through a lot of different styles over more than thirty games. After each major design change, there tends to be one game that puts it to really, really excellent use. This also means that there are a few choice examples:
    • Treasure in the Royal Tower was where the series first found its groove, with the great setting, excellent puzzles, and some of the most memorable characters in the series. (Hotchkiss, of course!) Additionally, the voice acting started adding some more emotion, compare them to Nancy's deadpan "Fire!" in Message in a Haunted Mansion.
    • Either Secret of Shadow Ranch or Curse of Blackmoor Manor, which kept the excellent settings and puzzles but added a larger screen and a better interface. These are also commonly cited as the two best games in the series.
    • And then Ghost of Thornton Hall, and to a lesser extent, its precursor, The Deadly Device. Both games were atmospheric and mature, with more cinematic pacing and new kinds of puzzles. Thornton Hall in particular is terrifying, and the story is one of the best in the series.
    • While the game is seen as the weak point of the series, "Ransom of the Seven Ships" is when the animation started to become notably more thorough, although it became much more notable around "Warnings at Waverly Academy" when speaking to the eager Leela, who moves around a bit while talking to you about her games. Just compare the most recent pre-Unity (Sea of Darkness) to even Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon (which still features somewhat plastic looking people)
  • Heartwarming Moments: Here.
    • In Alibi In Ashes a lot of people suspect Alexei Marcovic for framing Nancy and lighting the town hall fire, because he's an ex-amateur-detective who could be understandably jealous of her success. Alexei doesn't help this accusation by being excessively grumpy all the time. So what does he do when Nancy finally gets out of jail and goes to speak with him? Asks her if she's okay and tells her he'll do absolutely anything to help her out. He's been framed before too, and he's probably happier to see her freed than anyone else.
    • While Nancy is conducting her investigation in Sea of Darkness, she managed to forget that it was her and Ned's anniversary. During one of her conversations with Ned, he professes his love for Nancy, and not only do you get to hear a very heartfelt proclamation of love, you're also given the choice to reciprocate.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: If you fail to catch the culprit at the end of Secret of the Old Clock, a Spinning Paper shows up with the headline mentioning it. Since it takes place in the 30's, there is also a small article mentioning Pluto's discovery. Pluto's demotion happened only a year after this game came out.
    • Also, Linda's bewildered query about what sort of adolescent girl reads books about vampires and werewolves, regarding Jane of Blackmoor Manor, would receive a reply of "A trendy one" as of a year later, when Twilight took over the bestseller lists.
  • Ho Yay: When Dwayne Powers explains himself to Nancy Drew in the end of Ransom of the Seven Ships, he mentions a man who did voluntary work in his prison. "We got to be friends. Good friends". The way he emphasises "good" is rather... ambiguous. Also, here's the fact that it took place in a prison.
  • Hype Backlash: Some of the fans were a bit underwhelmed when they finally met Sonny in The Shattered Medallion after he's been The Ghost for so long and wasn't what they were expecting.
  • It's Short, so It Sucks: A common complaint leveled against Creature of Kapu Cave and Secret of the Old Clock.
  • Karma Houdini: Charleena never gets any comeuppance for plagiarizing a plotline from Lori, as the latter's life is in shambles after the events of Last Train.
  • Let's Play:
    • Arglefumph of YouTube is perhaps the best known example of these.(Just approach his "Message in a Haunted Mansion" Let's Play with extreme caution if you use headphones.)
    • That Dude in the Suede has a good one of Water's Edge.
  • J.B. Lewis, another YouTuber, has been performing several Nancy Drew LPs to date.
  • Memetic Mutation: Thanks to the tweenage fans with video cameras.
    • "It's locked."
    • Ladle Day 2k14.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Older games had a victory sting that played whenever a puzzle was solved.
  • Narm: In Curse of Blackmoor Manor, one of the puzzles you must complete involves moving a giant statue across the alchemy lab (don't ask) to capture all four wind clouds which keep trying to push the statue into pits of doom and you must start over. This would be a little more frustrating...were it not for the hilarious Big "NO!" the statue cries out.
    • Also, in one of the Game Over scenarios for Creature of Kapu Cave, if you make too much noise and wake up the grumpy professor, he growls " You young lady would appear to be in very. Deep. Trou-ble. " Try not cracking up.
    • Some of the game-overs in Danger by Design are funny just to hear Minette freak out.
    • "Fire".
    • In one of The Final Scene's Game Over scenarios, Nancy getting electrocuted produces some ear-shatteringly hilarious results.
  • Narm Charm: "It's locked."
  • Periphery Demographic: If you started playing these games in your early teens and still play them well into your college years, you are not the only one.
    • What if you're a boy? The original slogan "For girls who aren't afraid of a mouse" made it sound like a girl's club. (Although HerInteractive has stated that a good chunk of their audience is male.)
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: Dave and Henry Bolet are common targets. These bloggers explain the latter.
    • The other common target is Nancy herself; arglefumph, for example, has an avatar that says "Nancy Drew is my life" and says he would like to be her boyfriend.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Averted. While many forms of gaming journalism refuse to acknowledge this series, they have a surprisingly large Periphery Demographic consisting of former Adventure-Game players.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The culprit in Sea of Darkness is a Jerkass Woobie who was treated as an outsider because he was born outside of town... not more than a mile. That alone resulted in a lot of the locals treating him like he was an outsider. This is sadly Truth in Television for small towns, and can make his desire to try and get out of the town seem kind of excusable..
  • Seasonal Rot: Opinion varies on all of the games, but Ransom of the Seven Ships is the most constantly disparaged.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: While it's worse with earlier games, the annoyance of constantly returning to an overworld or map to get from house to house varies.
    • "Isis! Forward! Left! Down! Forward! Paw!" "... ... ... ... * whimper* " * Scuffle, scuffle, scuffle, scuffle, scuffle.*
    • The puzzle that leads into the tower in Treasure in the Royal Tower. Every time you leave, the puzzle restarts. What makes it more annoying is the fact that the puzzle changes the pattern completely. So you have to discover the new pattern and listen to the loud squeaking sounds when you get the wrong latch.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Some of the mini-games are insanely fun to replay on their own. The scopa card game from The Phantom of Venice is just one of many examples throughout the series.
  • Surprise Difficulty: Often. For example, the thought process of a new Blackmoor Manor player will probably run something like this: "Wait, what's that noise? Did the walls just move? And why are there six doors out of the room? (takes another step) Oh, God, it's moving again! (looks back) Wait, that's not the door I entered through! Where the f*k am I supposed to go?!"
  • Squick: The sandwich puzzle. Make Nancy (or Katie) eat a sandwich with 9 year old Mayonnaise, bad bread, jellyfish, baking soda, and the edible ingredients.
  • That One Puzzle: Almost every Nancy Drew game tends to have *at least* one. However, some stand out as significantly worse than others:
    • In The Legend of the Crystal Skull, tracking down the various Gravestones is notoriously tedious. Nancy receives vague riddles and has to look through a ledger (filled with several hundreds) of names, with no clear direction of what to find. Eventually, the player will realize that the names being searched for are Puns, like "Constance Norring" or "Manny Kin." *However*, even knowing this, you have to flip through hundreds of pages, then run outside and find the grave, receive a new riddle, then run back inside to use the ledger again. It's not even challenging as much as it is tedious and time-consuming.
    • Fox and Geese in White Wolf of Icicle Creek is notoriously difficult. Made worse by how tedious and arbitrary it feels seeing as you have to beat it *several times* for a fairly forced reason. It just comes off as badly done padding
    • One of the final puzzles in "Ransom of the Seven Ships" involves seven hourglasses that must be flipped over at VERY specific times. You only get two chances to do it correctly. Players will be using the Second Chance feature A LOT.
    • The Wire Portrait puzzle in Shadow at the Water's Edge, as well as the Master Sudoku and the Giant Nanogram (particularly on Senior Detective). Not only that, but it's not limited to Senior Detective (i.e. Hard) level. You have to solve five connected sudoku puzzles on Junior Detective level - easy.
    • Stay Tuned for Danger had one of the most infamous final puzzles in the whole series.You have a panel with eight buttons, and you must figure out which sequence of buttons is the right one. Only it's a trial-and-error puzzle, so you don't know what the combination is. If you hit a wrong button, you have to start over. Sounds straightforward, right? ...Except it's a time-limited puzzle! If you don't solve it in time, you have to face a rather Nightmare Fuel inducing death scene as the culprit slowly approaches you with an agonizingly devilish look. Okay, just use Second Chance and start the combination where you left off, right? ...The puzzle is RANDOMLY GENERATED. The entire thing almost completely boils down to if you're lucky enough to hit the right combination with only one or two mistakes, and if you mess up on the seventh button, just forget it. What's worse is that each difficulty decreases the amount of time you have to solve this puzzle. If you went on Master Detective, good luck. This puzzle frustrated so many players that Her Interactive actually released a patch that increased the amount of time you had to solve the puzzle.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Some fans complained about the change to the Unity engine as not to par with the pre-rendered 3D and being too much of a departure from previous games.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The games' backstories are almost more interesting than the games themselves. In particular, the stories of Rita Hallowell and Julius Macquade would make stunning short stories, or even novels.
    • There's also Noisette Tornade and Dirk Valentine and Frances Humber on this list. Jake Hurley's story is nothing to sniff at either, not to mention the entire Penvellyn family, whose six hundred years of history are so fascinating that a character in the game is writing a book about them.
  • Uncanny Valley: Has slowly becoming more averted - early on, the characters looked fair (For the time) but the fact that they stopped dead in motion when they weren't speaking to you looked odd, and how they had such stiff movements like animatronics. However, the more recent games have been averting this - despite making the characters seem more active in moving around and speaking, they look far more approachable than the earlier titles.
  • The Untwist: In Trail of the Twister, Scott, the suspect with the most obvious evidence and the rudest personality is the culprit.
    • Which may actually rate as a twist ending if you've played several of the other games first, as it's far more often the nicest suspect who turns out to be the culprit!
  • Values Dissonance: In Shadow at the Water's Edge, Miwako's ranting about Yumi being selfish for moving out of the Ryokan and wanting to have her own career instead of taking on the one expected of her only makes sense if you understand the general Japanese attitude about independence versus doing what's expected of you.
    • Oddly enough, it was just Miwako and her grandmother, Takae, who frowned on Yumi being her own person; their (deceased) mother, Kasumi, actually didn't mind if her daughters did what they wanted, as revealed in the letter to the girls found at the end of the game. Then again, Takae did describe Kasumi as being just as free-spirited as Yumi, showing that not every Japanese person holds the same attitude about a particular issue as the traditional attitude would command them to.
  • What an Idiot: For a few deaths, you can choose to look at the rubble or stand in place rather than step back or look at the object that's about to hit you.
    • Danger on Deception Island has a few moments. You can choose to prepare a sandwich with expired mayonnaise, jellyfish, or raw meat and either eat it yourself or give it to Katie. You can choose to look at a pile of rubble at the lighthouse, which leads to you getting hit so hard that your speech is incoherent. Then there's the climax where Katie loudly talks to you, knowing that the culprit may be nearby. She doesn't consider the possibility that she could be dooming both of you by yelling rather than loudly whispering to her.
  • The Woobie: Alexei from Alibi in Ashes. He used to be a well-known young detective like Nancy. His career put him in a lot of dangerous situations, which Nancy can relate to. When he entered his twenties, he was framed for a theft that he didn't commit. He was convicted for the theft and he lost his credibility as a detective. To make things worse, the girl he was dating left him for someone else while his trial was going on. It's no wonder why he seems so bitter as an adult.


Tropes in the 1938-39 movie series include:

  • So Bad, It's Good: Some fans' view of this series, given the campy tone, and Nancy's more ditzy personality. There's a scene in The Hidden Staircase where she squeals in fright at the sight of a frog.


Tropes in the 2007 movie include:

  • Harsher in Hindsight: Dehlia Draycott was based on Natalie Wood, both dying from a drowning that was suspected to be a murder. Though Wood's death was eventually filed as an accident, five years after this movie her death was reinvestigated upon the discovery of new evidence that suggested she may indeed have been murdered.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The boutique owner fawning over and making a trend out of Nancy's vintage look can bee seen as this, due to the rise of hipsters in the years after the film's release.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Nancy's best friends Bess and George are only in the opening scenes, and left behind when Nancy moves to LA.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/NancyDrew