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Tropes from Animorphs.

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    Q-R 
  • The Quisling: Chapman in The Andalite Chronicles and Taylor in The Illusion. David threatened the Animorphs with this, but it's heavily implied he's bluffing and hates the Yeerks as much as they do.
  • Quit Your Whining: Jake does this to Marco in Animorphs #35, helping him to recover from his Shapeshifter Identity Crisis. Marco also does this to Rachel in #37 snapping her out of Heroic BSoD.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Subverted; while a bunch of kids aren't what you'd call a stellar planetary defense army, they turn out to be remarkably good at it, especially Marco.
    • Gets deconstructed in #38. The Andalites send an expendable team of military misfits to Earth on a shadowy secret mission that involves manipulating the Animorphs, only to be clearly outclassed by the (by now) extremely disciplined and battle-hardened Animorphs. Comes complete with a "Reason You Suck" Speech/Screw You, Elves! to the Andalite leader from Jake.
  • Ramming Always Works: In the series' arguably most iconic instance, the final line in the series is Jake giving the order to ram an enemy ship, which could kill four of the Animorphs. Since it's a Bolivian Army Ending, we don't know whether it works or not.
    • Also, Elfangor wins a battle by using this same desperate tactic in The Andalite Chronicles thus making the series' ending a Mythology Gag.
  • A Rare Sentence: In Elfangor's Secret:
    <We have to get out of here. I have to demorph. Rachel? Find Washington. He must be the target. Stay on him. Whatever you do: Protect George Washington.>
    "There's three words you never thought you'd say," Marco said with a low laugh.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The Animorphs are a bunch of teenagers who fight alien invaders, and have to make increasingly morally ambiguous choices to win. War Is Hell is in full effect throughout the story. Ultimately, the war ends, but Rachel, Tom, Jara Hamee, James and presumably all of the auxiliary Animorphs are dead. The Blade ship escapes. There is no final all out battle with Visser Three, he merely surrenders when he realizes he's lost. He is then captured but not executed. Jake is left a broken man due to his actions in the war, he and Cassie break up, Tobias leaves society, and Rachel.... Marco does become famous, but it's hollow. There's even the possibility of a new war (with a different enemy) on the horizon. It is in short, exactly what would really happen after a war ends. When a number of fans complained about these things, author K.A. Applegate wrote a letter saying "This is the way it works in real life."
    • The David Trilogy is a merciless deconstruction of the Recruit Teenagers with Attitude, Sixth Ranger and Child Soldier tropes. As it turns out, the average kid isn't eager to jump into a war against space aliens when he's been forcibly kidnapped and recruited, battle-hardened 14 year old are still 14 year olds, and when that average kid with an average kid's immaturity is given power but no incentive for loyalty, the results are tragic to all involved.
    • Visser One suspects that the Animorphs aren't Andalites, but actually humans, much sooner than the other Big Bads did. She does this by noticing that they seem oddly concerned for human lives, while history shows that the Andalite military is unconcerned with alien life at best, and willing to sacrifice them for their greater good at worst. What ends up confirming this for her is Marco making a reference to The Prince of Egypt, something an Andalite would never be caught dead doing.
      Visser One: Andalites don't make jokes, let alone human pop culture references. No, you're a human.
    • According to Jake in the last book, not everyone is okay with aliens visiting Earth, especially ones that can shapeshift.
    • In one book, the kids attempt to capture a flightworthy vessel by sending a distress signal from a Yeerk wreck, relying on Ax's knowledge of Yeerk technology. Except Ax has been on Earth, cut off from alien intel for quite some time now. An entire attack group headed by Visser Three himself descends and captures them. The Visser even scoffs over the "Andalite bandits" being dumb enough to think they never change their distress codes.
  • Reality Warper: The higher powers Ellimist and Crayak, as well as Crayak's servant the Drode.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The governor of California. No, not that one.
  • Rebellious Rebel: David starts out as a very-reluctant new addition to the team's anti-Yeerk resistance movement, only to rebel against them and briefly become a side unto himself.
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: Deconstructed. The teens win the war, but they suffer some pretty serious psychological damage in the process.
  • Recycled In Space: The Hork-Bajir Chronicles is not dissimilar to Pocahontas, gender-flipped, IN SPACE!
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Visser Three is the red (despite his fur color) and Visser One is the blue.
  • Redshirt Army: The actual US Army, as well as the Auxiliary Animorphs, in the last battle. Toby's Hork-Bajir army get killed a lot, too, near the end of the series.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Cassie
  • The Remnant: Referenced. The Blade Ship's crew may qualify.
  • Repeated Cue, Tardy Response: Rachel is trying to get Erek (whose hologram is malfunctioning) out of the store, but a particularly obnoxious clerk is in the way. Fortunately, Marco is there in gorilla morph, ready to knock him out!
    Rachel: Look out, that lava lamp is about to fall and hit you in the head!
    Employee: Huh?
    Marco: <Huh?>
    Rachel: -Death Glare- I said, look out, that lava lamp is about to fall and hit you in the head!
    Marco: <Oh, right.> -Tap on the Head-
  • La Résistance: Twice, actually. The premise of the series is one, the final arc is the second.
  • Ret Gone: Visser Four's host in Megamorphs #3.
  • Revealing Continuity Lapse:
    • Megamorphs #3's first chapter begins with Tobias angsting, as usual, about how being trapped as a hawk means he can't hold hands and go on a normal date with his love interest Melissa — not Rachael, Melissa — and ends with the Wham Line about slaves in modern-day America. It gets worse over the following chapter — Rachel's been completely replaced with Melissa, Marco's mother is still with her family instead of Visser One's host and Jake is an egomaniac considering giving up Cassie to the authorities for opposing a racial war in South America (and Cassie, who is black, also has a slave). Then the Drode shows up and restores their real memories (they're in an alternate timeline where a Yeerk changed the outcomes of many important battles in human history to make humanity more susceptible to the Yeerk invasion), leaving them horrified at the future in store if they fail to stop him.
    • This starts happening more and more in Megamorphs #4, as the timeline created by the Drode starts collapsing due to Cassie being an anomaly in the space-time continuum. It starts with people randomly teleporting miles away with no explanation, and by the end of the book it's gotten so bad that dead characters are suddenly showing up alive and well out of nowhere. Marco dies at one point, and then just appears again while morphed as a gorilla, to boot.
    • The Familiar has things like Cassie using thought speak while unmorphed and the seasons changing in a matter of minutes, all of which hints that it's All Just a Dream.
  • Revenge by Proxy:
    • See Pay Evil unto Evil. Jake is pretty pissed that Visser One has gleefully slaughtered the Auxiliary Animorphs, so he's willing to massacre seventeen thousand Yeerks, who just happened to be completely defenseless and harmless.
    • Also, after they learn the kids' true identities, the Yeerks attack their houses, managing to enslave Jake's parents.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • David is a subversion, as the heroes are the ones that mete out his karmic punishment rather than the villains he threatened to betray them to.
    • Played straight with Tom's Yeerk.
    • Chapman, as a teenager, tries to offer the human race to the Yeerks in order to save himself, which is ultimately what starts the invasion and leads to his own infestation.
  • Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman: Hitler in Elfangor's Secret—he never rose above Corporal and is just driving a jeep. Tobias is all set to kill him anyway, but Cassie reminds him of the Bad Future they were complicit in and insists you can't kill someone for what they might have done.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The Chee are shaped like dogs, but usually pretend to be ordinary humans. They use some kind of force field and hologram combination so it feels like touching a human.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: Probably what at least some of the terrorists mentioned briefly in the last book were supposed to be, since Jake says some are religious extremists, some are conspiracy nuts, and some are racists. He says that some are eco-terrorists though, so at least some of them don't quite fit the mold.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: The Animorphs are given this before they time travel in Megamorphs #3: Elfangor's Secret.
  • Robot Buddy: Erek King. But he and the kids have a falling out at the end of the series, because Jake blackmailed him into fighting, which he's programmed never to do. Conversely, the kids blame Erek for the death of Rachel, as Erek drained the Pool ship's weapons. Erek and the Animorphs never reconcile.
  • Robotic Reveal: Suspicions are aroused when the Animorphs-as-dogs realize that Erek has no scent, but it's not until Erek is hit by a truck and the Animorphs get a good look at him through the eyes of a wolf spider that they realize that Erek is an android.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Very much so.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: A brief one between Ax and Visser Three. Ax entertains the notion of finally avenging his brother by sending the Visser's head flying, but Visser Three ends up running at the first opportunity, not wanting to cross tail blades with what he thinks is a highly trained Andalite warrior, if an unusually young one.
    • The climax of The Threat features Jake and David fighting it out in their respective battle morphs atop the roofs of the local mall.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In Andalite society, "Prince" is a military rank... So it stands to reason that princes would actually do some fighting. Also subverted in that "Prince" is subsequently not actually a "royal" title at all.
  • Rubber-Band History: Elfangor's Secret opens in the world where Visser Four's time travel plans went on unchallenged. Jake calls himself "Supreme Leader" and is considering turning Cassie in for possibly opposing the genocide in South America. Everyone, Cassie included, owns a slave. Melissa has replaced Rachel, who's in a reeducation camp. Oh, and Pong has just debuted, and cable television is nowhere to be found—-there’s only one heavily censored channel.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Averted. Not only do all the other alien races look nothing like humans, but it turns out that humans are the only alien civilization in the universe that walks upright on two legs without a tail for balance.
  • Rule-Breaker Rule-Namer: The Law of Seerow's Kindness.
  • Running Gag:
    Jake: Ax?
    Ax: Yes, Prince Jake?
    Jake: Don't call me prince.
    Ax: Yes, Prince Jake.
    • Jake eventually lampshades it as a running gag between them. He also specifically notes that if he doesn't say "Don't call me prince", it's a sign of how serious the situation is.
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    S 
  • Sad Clown: Marco uses humor as a coping mechanism to deal with his grief at the loss of his mom and what it's done to his dad. After he discovers that his mom is the host to Visser One, he loses the Sad and becomes an Angry/Determined Clown.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Marco, of all people. Though all the kids have it to some degree.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Cassie has a minor crisis because she's not sure if it's right to take a dolphin's DNA or control its mind; one of their rules is that the Animorphs never morph a sapient creature without its permission, or unless it's an urgent emergency. Whether or not they're truly sapient is never quite settled (although whales just barely are, according to the Drode), but they are capable of a kind of telepathic communication with whales ("great ones;" the dolphins are the "little ones."), and Cassie firmly believes they have souls. Everyone loves the dolphin morph, because they're so happy and carefree.
  • Science Marches On: Tobias breaks the fourth wall at the end of In the Time of Dinosaurs to acknowledge that scientists dispute that several of the dinosaurs depicted in the book were alive at the end of the Cretaceous, asking the reader, who're you gonna believe, some scientists with nothing but bones, or a guy who was actually there?
    • The pack mentality of wolves mentioned in the books has since been discarded by science along with the biology and mentality of many other creatures featured since they were written.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: The Animorphs make a rule not to do this, but break it all the time in early books, usually for opening chapter hijinks. It comes back to bite them hard during the David Trilogy, when the eponymous character takes that idea and runs with it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Marco, until he discovers that his mother is Visser One. Cassie, temporarily, on more than one occasion. And David in The Threat.
  • Screw You, Elves!: From #38:
    Jake: Andalites are very fast, those snakes are faster. One move from your boys and they will die... Now we stop playing games, you're not the Andalite fleet, and I'm not going to snap a salute and say 'Yes Sir!' We deal as equals. Which, to be honest, is generous of us under the circumstances.
    Gonrod: I command here. Am I clear on that?
    Jake: No, sir. This is Earth. This is a human planet. We are not the Hork-Bajir, we know how you 'rescued' them. As long as you're on earth, you'll get along with us. Am I clear on that?
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The Animorphs condemn David to one, leaving him on a rocky deserted island in the middle of the ocean.
  • Secret Keeper: The Animorphs themselves are Secret Keepers for the existence of the Chee, the location of the free Hork-Bajir, and the fact that Aftran and Illim/Mr. Tidwell are members of the Yeerk Peace Movement, while these factions are all Secret Keepers for the Animorphs' identities and the fact that they're mostly human. This becomes a huge problem when Visser Three captures and intends to interrogate (read: torture) Aftran. Later, Visser One and the Animorphs become mutual Secret Keepers for political/strategic reasons, and even later, the Animorphs bring in their families for their protection.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Most of the animals morphed are very common in fiction, but now and then, the characters morph some more unusual ones, such as anoles (first used in in book #1), shrews (#2), ospreys (#2), northern harriers (#5), wolf spiders (#10), spider monkeys (#11), golden eagles (#20), giant anteaters (#24), ringed seals (#25), cockatiels (#35), pit vipers (#38), bobcats (#50) and anacondas (#53).
  • Sense Freak: Ax in human morph, as Andalites are mouthless ("Cinnamon BUN-ZAH!!!"). The Yeerks aren't as obvious about it, but possessing a host is the only way they can enjoy the senses other species take for granted—Visser Three's favorite is sight. His punishment after the war is simply to be kept alive in his slug form.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Ax tends to speak very precisely. An example in The Warning: "This is Aximili! Reassert your individual consciousness!"
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Elfangor's Secret, although it was more like "re-set what was originally kinda going okay but this one guy fucked up and the Ellimist and Crayak are panicking now."
  • Shameful Source of Knowledge: Played for Laughs when Rachel offhandedly mentions what kind of volcano they're looking at. After some questioning as to why she knows, she defensively tells them it was on the The Magic School Bus. Gets a Call-Back later on when nobody questions a piece of information, since they'd all seen the The Magic School Bus on that subject as well. (Justified, considering how popular the series was in the 90s, and both series were published by Scholastic.)
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Anyone who can morph has their species of birth as this normally, but if one goes over the two hour time limit they whatever species they were morphed into becomes their permanent form, alongside losing the ability to morph at all outside of the Ellimist's intervention, which was the case for Elfangor and Tobias.
  • Shapeshifter Mash Up: Marco in The Proposal. He morphs a osprey/lobster mix, a spider/skunk mix and a polar bear/poodle mix, respectively.
    • Might also be said of anyone who uses the Frolis maneuver to create a morph of the DNA of several individuals of a species combined.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: More than two hours in a morph traps you in that body. Tobias spends most of the series as a Hawk because he missed the deadline. Besides him, there are an alarmingly large number of characters who fall prey to this fate (although many did so voluntarily)—Elfangor, David, Aldrea, Aftran, Menderash, the entire Taxxon race, and temporarily Cassie.
    • Interestingly, the Ellimist has used his superpowers to reverse a shapeshift lock twice: once for Elfangor, and once for Tobias. The two of them turning out to be father and son probably factored into this, as it seems the Ellimist favored Elfangor.
    • There are also several times the group comes close to this. At one point, Marco went over the time limit and has to brute force his way out through sheer willpower.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: Both the Animorphs and Visser Three have morphing powers, so these are common enough. The most extreme example is probably in The Return, where Crayak pits Rachel and Visser Three against each other in a gladiatorial battle and they both strategically change forms constantly throughout the fight.
    • There's also the whole David arc.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Only skintight clothes will transform with you when one morphs. The kids have to wear leotards and bike shorts under their regular clothes, and can't morph shoes. Late in the series they learn to morph normal clothing, but still can't do shoes. This limitation is because the Andalites, who invented morphing tech, don't wear clothes and so didn't take them into account. It's considered a sign of one's talent when a visiting Andalite is able to morph clothes when turning into a human.
  • Sharing a Body: Controllers (Yeerks and their hosts). Also Cassie and Aldrea in The Prophecy.
  • Shark Tunnel: Book 15 has the Animorphs visiting a aquarium with one of these. It turns into a disaster.
  • Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Marco pretending to be a Controller.
  • Shellshocked Veteran: Jake, by the time he's eighteen.
  • Ship Tease: While there definitely seems to be some Belligerent Sexual Tension between Marco and Rachel, they never go beyond being Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Visser Three, all the goddamn time.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "The Hork-Bajir Chronicles". At the end of the story, all the Hork-Bajir except Aldrea and Dak Hamee are either infested or dead, the Andalites successfully sent out the quantum virus, and the Yeerks are now ready to rampage around the galaxy to their heart's content. The Prophecy softens it a little, revealing that there were pockets of genetically-immune resistance that held on for a while with their leadership, but they were all eventually crushed before the yeerks moved on to Earth. Both at least imply that their actions were not truly pointless, because the ideas, stories, family, and the odd weapons cache they left behind all contributed to make things better for those left behind.
  • Shoot Your Mate: Visser Three tries to get Visser One to shoot one of her human kids.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Amusingly enough, the name of the mind-controlling slugs is an anagram of the middle name of Senator John Yerkes Iselin from The Manchurian Candidate. However, according to Word of God, the Yeerks in Animorphs take their name from J. R. R. Tolkien's Sindarin Elvish word for Orcs, yrch.
    • More Tolkien references include Ax's middle name, Esgarrouth, derived from the Middle-Earth town of Esgaroth. In The Unknown, the air force base personnel use the cover identity "Gondor Industries" on their night out at The Gardens. Also, the Eldritch Abomination Crayak is pretty obviously based on Sauron (most notably his appearance).
    • Marco at one point destroyed a pool party by putting a Baby Ruth bar in the swimming pool.
    • Marco mentions the Fantastic Four in The Invasion.
    • Also many, many more subtle and insignificant ones, such as the six dolphins named after the main characters of Friends in book #4.
    • Generally, Applegate references her favorite things often in the series: Star Trek, the Rolling Stones, the Ford Mustang, Dr. Pepper, et cetera.
    • In The Solution, Rachel has a dream in which she morphs elephant in a crowded mall. She crushes a kid in an orange jacket, prompting someone to say, "Oh, my God! She killed Kenny!"
    • Marco's recommendations for Ax to watch in The Experiment: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Party of Five, Cops, and South Park.
    • Marco also mentions Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be his favorite show in The Discovery.
    • In The Proposal, Rachel and Tobias mention that they're missing Felicity.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In between all the alien warfare, there are detailed descriptions of about a hundred different animal species. Applegate clearly researched a lot of the morphs and went to great lengths to detail them accurately.
    • Applegate also dabbles in military history and literature from time to time.
    • When turning into a bee, Marco describes a color so unbelievably intense humans can't see it, but bees can. He's seeing ultraviolet, which many flowers use to attract bees.
  • Sibling Murder: Tragically attempted three different times in the series: Esplin 9466 the Greater (aka Visser Three) attempts to kill his younger twin brother Yeerk; Arbat attempts to kill Visser Three (whose host body is Alloran, Arbat's brother), and Jake eventually sends Rachel to kill Tom. Out of these three situations, the last one is successful.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Marco, often.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Marco himself also notes this to Rachel while Jake is out of commission. They need a fast, straightforward plan for a high-risk rescue, and he explains that that's not his territory—his cynicism makes him too cautious to address that situation, so she needs to lead.
  • Sixth Ranger: David is the straight example, identified on book covers as the "Sixth Animorph". He did a Face–Heel Turn pretty quickly, though. Ax is the more commonly accepted example, though the books gave the subtle implication that as an Andalite Ax wasn't a true Animorph (the blurb on the back of the books always starts "<narrating character>, the other Animorphs, and Ax..."). James and the Auxiliary Animorphs count as eighth rangers.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Almost completely averted. Rachel and Marco had a very antagonistic relationship, but she and Tobias were pretty much an item from day one. Not completely, because Marco makes several comments indicating he might have a mild crush on Rachel (although his perception that she's certifiably insane balances it out), "Nice Rachel" says flat-out that she would probably go out with Marco if he asked her, and in the What If?/Wonderful Life book Back to Before, they actually did go out.
    • Basically, a running theme of the series is that war ruins everything. In the early books, while Rachel was definitely loyal to Tobias, she and Marco were constantly fight-flirting just like any two good friends who were possibly attracted to one another might. By the end of the series, all of the fun and flirting has gone out of their relationship, and the fighting is not only real but also very cruel and personal.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The series starts out on the idealistic side, and ends more on the cynical side. The gist of the series is pretty much that the universe is a violent, dangerous and evil place, and things are bad all over, but we should try to do the right thing as often as we can anyway. To quote Jake: "It was a stupid, naive, idealistic and childish decision. But I wouldn't want to live in a world where we didn't try the stupid, naive, idealistic and childish thing sometimes."
  • Slumber Party Ploy: Used occasionally.
  • Smarter Than You Look: You don't want to mistake Rachel for a ditz.
  • The Smart Guy: Ax, because he's an Andalite and therefore knows a lot more about science. But Marco's actually smarter than Ax is in terms of actual intelligence.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Marco. He's the only guy that Jake will let get away with constantly insulting him.
    • You don't see it much, but Tom's Yeerk is one.
    • David becomes one after his Face–Heel Turn.
    • Ironically, all three of these characters are seen actually morphing snakes. Not too subtle, K.A.
  • Soap Box Sadie: Cassie often voices her opinions on issues she considers morally compromising. The other characters (and the readers) sometimes get annoyed with this.
  • Something-itis: Marco and Jake are interrupted by people when Marco is almost out of bird morph, so his face has a huge beak but still has thought-speak, so he coaches Jake into telling them it's a condition called beakanoma (a growth in the shape of a beak, and a very tragic disease because it only affects smart and handsome people). Jake transmits most of it to the crowd and they leave, still shuddering at the Facial Horror as Marco finishes demorphing.
  • Space Is an Ocean
  • Spike Shooter: One of Visser Three's morphs can do this.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The kids have a hard time accepting the fact that un-hosted Hork-Bajir are, in actuality, good guys, due to the dangerous-looking blades the cover the Hork-Bajir figure.
  • Spock Speak: Ax. The author is very particular about it; it is carefully stated that Ax picks up actions like nodding his head and shrugging his shoulders from talking to the kids a lot.
  • Spy Speak: Periodically lampshaded by Marco, but mostly used in telephone conversations to arrange meetings.
  • Stable Time Loop: Occasionally.
    • In #13, The Change, the Ellimist sends Tobias back to the night before the infamous construction site incident that started the whole series. Tobias thus convinces his past self to team up the next evening with Jake and Marco and then to take that shortcut across the shady construction site.
    • In In the Time of Dinosaurs, the Animorphs are sent back to the last days of the Cretaceous. They ally with good aliens, the Mercora, against bad aliens, the Nesk, and steal a nuclear explosive from the Nesk to attempt to return home. The defeated Nesk leave the planet but send the Mercora a parting gift, diverting a nearby comet to impact their settlement. The Mercora plan to use the nuke the Animorphs stole from the Nesk to destroy the comet. Tobias, realizing the comet is the very one that caused the K-T mass extinction and that nobody can ever find evidence of the Mercora, has Ax make the explosive a dud. The comet impacts, the Mercora and their settlement are annihilated. Conveniently enough, the comet impact is sufficient to return the Animorphs to their own time. With just one more thing to angst about.
    • Also, the whole Elfangor's Secret book.
  • Staging the Eavesdrop: After David has the group on the ropes thinking he killed Tobias, they stage a conversation in the barn where they admit he has them beaten before discussing out loud what to do next. Tobias reports that a rattlesnake left the barn soon after they did, confirming that he took the bait, allowing them to get rid of David.
    • It's implied this happens again in The Arrival when the kids stage a massive breakup for the benefit of the Unit 0 Andalites.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Rachel and Tobias. She's a beautiful, smart, independent, funny, and spirited suburban teenage hottie. He's a bird. And then The Beginning happens.
    • Also Elfangor and Loren, who're not only from different species but separated by time travel, a meddling Ellimist and memory erasure. The end result: he's dead and she can't remember his existence.
  • Starfish Aliens: Most aliens shown are such. Yeerks (parasitic mind-controlling slugs that feed off of radiation), Taxxons (giant centipedes with a crippling hunger that will eat themselves if they get wounded), and Andalites ("telepathic" centaurs who eat out of their hooves) being the strangest, with everything else not far behind.
  • Starfish Character: #32, The Separation, in which Rachel is split into Mean Rachel and Nice Rachel. Everyone hates them both. And it involves an actual starfish too!
  • The Starscream: Visser Three to Visser One. Tom's Yeerk somewhat also fits this trope. Near the end of the series, after Visser Three is promoted to Visser One, Tom betrays his leader to further his own ambition. (Although, to be fair, Tom is more interested in creating his own Empire than in actually getting Visser One's job.)
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When they need to find out where Erek lives for the first time, the group throws out suggestions for how they can do that and include infiltrating the Sharing, stalking him at his school, looking for clues from where they last saw him, and having Ax hack into a computer via the Internet.
    Cassie: Those are all fine plans, but how about if we just look him up in the phone book?
    Jake: *sheepishly* Or we could just look him up in the phone book.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: Gafinilan and Mertil.
  • Stock "Yuck!": Broccoli comes from aliens planting it here in the Cretaceous Period.
  • Story Arc: The series can neatly be divided up into story arcs. The first arc concerns itself with the development of the children into soldiers and explanations about morphing, the Yeerk invasion, et cetera. The second arc concerns itself with the day-to-day missions, and is cut in half by what you could call Story Arc 2.5, which concerns itself with the sixth Animorph, David. The third story arc deals with the escalation of the war and the reorganization of the Yeerk Empire—the execution of Visser One, Visser Three's promotion, Operation 9366, et cetera. The final story arc begins when the Yeerks discover the kids' identities, and leads to the eventual end of the war.
  • Story-Breaker Power: For some reason, the Tyrannosaurus Rex morphs that Marco describes as "fourteen thousand pounds of trouble" become unusable once the kids return to the present. The same happens to Rachel and Tobias's Deinonychus morphs.
  • The Story That Never Was:
    • In the Megamorphs novel "Elfangor's Secret", Visser Four has used the Time Matrix to alter key events in human history to make the Yeerk invasion much easier. In order to undo the changes to the timeline (and Jake's death), the Animorphs ensure that Visser Four's host, John Berryman, was never born by preventing his parents from meeting, thus ensuring that Visser Four was never able to alter the timeline to begin with.
    • In "The Forgotten", the Animorphs decide to steal a Yeerk Bug fighter in order to fly it to the White House and expose the Yeerk invasion, but an accident results in an anomaly known as a Sario Rip being created, where two alternate versions of each person involved exists at the same time and will be eliminated at a specific time, and also results in the Animorphs getting trapped in the Amazon rainforest along with Visser Three and his underlings. However, Jake gets killed by Visser Three before that time, thus returning him to the exact moment when he made the decision to steal the Bug fighter (as he is apparently the only real person there, as he's the only one to have vivid flashbacks to before his decision throughout the novel). This time, he decides not to go through with it.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land:
    • Rachel in #48 The Return. She has an internal monologue about how she feels isolated and apart even in a crowded school hallway.
    • Jake, who can't relate to anyone after the war because they don't know what he's been through.
    • Also, Tobias, as he's a hawk, and since Rachel is dead, he has no more connection to humanity.
    • And Ax. The things he's learned on Earth—the willingness to justify your actions to your subordinates, the acceptance of vecols as members of society—cause him to be seen as strange to other Andalites. Although, by this time, he's enough of a legendary war hero to get away with it.
  • Subspace Ansible: Z-Space communication.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: In #17, when the team set off a sensor for a device they've never heard of, Ax suddenly starts bellowing at the top of the thought-speak equivalent of lungs to get the hell out of there. Rachel notes that Ax never yells, so it's probably a good idea to listen.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Ellimist and Crayak.
  • Superior Species:
    • Yeerks feel this way towards humans to some extent, but some can empathize with them (most Yeerks liken what they do to humans to what humans do to cows or pigs, but some realize that they steal others' bodies for themselves, and some realize that this is wrong).
    • Andalites are repeatedly characterized as arrogant, and see humans are curiosities at best and expendable inferiors at worst. (This provides an interesting twist: Jake and the others are waiting for a good part of the series for Andalites to save them, but Andalites don't give a damn about humans.)
      • Subverted in the last book. It's revealed that it's really only the Andalite military that's like this. Andalite civilians are much more agreeable and get along with humans just fine.
  • Super Weight:
  • Survivor Guilt: Jake and Tobias both get with this hard following the war's end. Marco doesn't seem too troubled by it though, and ironically enough, neither is Cassie, supposedly The Heart of the team.
  • Super Team: The Animorphs, of course.
  • Supporting Leader: General Doubleday.
  • The Symbiote: The Iskoort. The "Yoort" descended from Yeerks who may or may not have been Ancient Astronauts. They were parasites like the Yeerks of today, but they eventually realized the futility of it and made the conscious decision to modify their entire race as symbiotes with an artificially created lifeform, the "Isk".

    T 
  • Take a Third Option: A traitorous Tom presents a plan to capture the Pool ship to Jake. However, Jake sees through Tom's ulterior motives and realizes that Tom secretly plans to kill Jake and his friends when their usefulness has expired. Jake constructs his own plan which, with the help of Rachel and Erek, would both cripple the Yeerk Empire and neutralize Tom as a threat. It doesn't quite work out that neatly.
    • David took one too. Caught between the Animorphs and the Yeerks and unable to trust either, he turned on them both.
    • After a Yeerk named Visser Four uses the Time Matrix to alter Earth's history so that they will definitely win, the Animorphs are trapped in a Sadistic Choice by Crayak, either leave things the way they are or allow Crayak to kill one of the Animorphs during the mission to reverse the changes. The Animorphs instead allow Jake to die, but then use the Time Matrix to prevent the Visser Four's host from existing, thus preventing the alterations of history from ever happening and keeping Jake from ever having to die.
  • Take That!:
    • #48 The Return, on describing the prospect of dramatizing the morphing process Rachel lists a handful of studios who she's convinced "wouldn't get it right." She explicitly lists Nickelodeon, who produced the Animorphs TV series, which K. A. Applegate has been vocal in her distaste for.
    • Also, the Andalites were originally supposed to resemble stereotypical Grey aliens. Scholastic vetoed the original design and asked Applegate to be a little more "creative" so that if an Animorphs TV series was ever produced, they would have an interesting-looking alien race to showcase. She then went ahead and made them as complex as possible—out of spite—to the point where they proved virtually impossible to properly dramatize when said TV series finally came into fruition. Take That, indeed.
    • One of the most hated books is #28 The Experiment, which is loaded with plot holes and only exists to voice the ghostwriter's opinions about eating meat (though it does have Marco driving, which is always hilarious). Then the last chapter features the Animorphs all eating hamburgers, which was later revealed to be because K. A. Applegate didn't think much of the ghostwritten book and added that final chapter herself. The book's ghostwriter, Amy Garvey, was one of only two ghostwriters who were never allowed to write another Animorphs book again.
      • Even actual vegans dislike this one, as it depicts cows and other farm animals as being too stupid to feel any fear of death at the slaughter house despite countless shockumentaries depicting said animals thrashing to escape and sometimes literally crying in the case of cows.
      • Visser One also mocks Visser Three's plan to create a potion to eliminate free will, which was the evil plan in The Experiment.
    • From The Proposal:
    UPN Executive: You want to put this lunatic on the air? Try Fox, I'm not interested.
    • Also an odd inversion, as one book released shortly after The Phantom Menace goes a bit out of its way to show Marco standing up for the film, clearly acting as a mouthpiece for the ghostwriter.
  • Team Dad: Jake, who gets teased about it.
  • Team Mom: Cassie sort of fits this role. She gives emotional support to the others whether they want it or not.
  • Technically Naked Shapeshifter: Usually averted, occasionally Played Straight. Most of the time morphers cannot morph clothes, as the inventors of the morphing technology, the Andalites, have no need for them. The only kind of clothes that change with them are skintight ones, and only one talented morpher in the series is able to assume a clothed form.
  • Technical Pacifist: The Chee in general, Erek in particular: Erek helps the Animorphs capture the Pool ship because Jake threatens to kill a prisoner every time Erek refuses to cooperate. Erek finds both choices abominable but helps the kids to minimize casualties. Cassie may also qualify.
  • Technology Uplift: The Yeerks were given advanced technology by an Andalite named Seerow, whom the Andalites then named their Alien Non-Interference Clause after when the Yeerks used their new tech to conquer and enslave other species.
  • Telepathic Spacemen: The Andalites and anyone who uses their morphing technology.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Male Hork-Bajir have 3 horns on their heads while females have 2.
    • Male Andalites have blue fur and long scythe-like tailblades, females are purple and their tailblades are smaller and less powerful.
  • The "The" Title: Done with nearly every book in the series, excluding VISSER, Megamorphs 3: Elfangor's Secret, and Megamorphs 4: Back to Before. Megamorphs 2 does feature "the" in the title, although it's not the first word: In the Time of the Dinosaurs.
  • Themed Aliases: The heroes are caught sneaking around a government base, taken inside and asked their names. Marco and Rachel claim to be Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Cassie doesn't watch that show and winds up claiming her name is Cindy Crawford.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: As an aristh, Ax needs a prince. Jake is that prince, much to his embarrassment.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: In The Solution, Rachel has a dream where she morphs into an elephant and crushes the trope namer.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Some laws are deconstructed, some are averted: The Chee comply with the Third and Zeroth Laws, but their creators, the Pemalites, took the First Law to the logical extreme: no violence, period. As for the Second Law: Erek refuses to obey Jake because he disagrees with his methods, so Jake uses the violence prohibition (in other words, the First Law) to manipulate him and force his hand.
  • Think in Text: The use of punctuation, <brackets>, to indicate thought-speech.
  • This Is Reality: The Animorphs are fond of either comparing their acts to superheroes' or of pointing out that said superheroes aren't real.
    • Marco in particular was fond of doing this.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Rachel in The Return.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Played straight and averted. Morphing is based on DNA alone, so it can heal all kinds of injuries like Loren's blindness. It turns out that it only works on acquired disabilities, though. Conditions present at birth like cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis will still be there when the person demorphs. And one character is an amputee with a sort of allergy to the morphing technology, which means he can't heal himself that way.
  • Time Abyss: The Chee are at least five thousand years old and by all indications will live for five thousand more.
  • Time Dissonance: Father (and, afterward, the Ellimist).
  • Time Machine: The Time Matrix. Not really a machine, per se, but all we really know is that it was created by the Ellimist.
  • Time Stands Still: The Ellimist can do this at will and typically does it whenever he wants to get the Animorphs' attention.
  • Time Travel : Many times.
  • Translation Punctuation: Thought-speak is rendered using <angle brackets>.
  • Tree Vessel: Pemalite ships use huge trees as computers for their spaceships. Even Ax (whose species' ships have giant biodomes filled with forests and plains) finds it ridiculous.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: Combined with enforced Shapeshifter Mode Lock to defeat David.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ax and his intense, intense LOVE for cinnamon buns. He even keeps a picture of one in his makeshift home.
    Marco: Anyway, she tells me, 'Some kid went crazy and ate an entire pan of cinnamon buns.' Now, who, I ask you all, who do we know who would eat an entire pan of cinnamon buns?
  • Token Minority: The series was actually pretty groundbreaking in its handling of minorities. In the '90's, it was extremely unusual for a middle-grade novel to have a minority protagonist at all, let alone nearly all of them. Jake was revealed to be Jewish midway through the series — and by extension, Rachel has Jewish heritage, note  — Cassie was black, and Marco was Hispanic. It also got away with discussing prejudice a few times, a biracial relationship (and it was even acknowledged a couple times), and a little racism portrayed when the ultimate message wasn't about the evils of racism (specifically, the society at the beginning of the third Megamorphs, and the racist guy Cassie meets when she travels through time). They even acknowledged the existence of gay people, which was almost never done and in fact even a male bisexual was a part of the team (though this was never stated or hinted at in the series itself and was only revealed via Word of God decades later). Oh, and there were two female protagonists, and they weren't treated any differently than the males in terms of their ability to kick ass, making the series one of the first middle-grade series to have a cross-gender appeal. All in all, it was one of the most inclusive series of its day. And in later books, K. A. Applegate proved even more that she was dedicated to diversity without stereotypes.
    • In fact, if you consider Rachel to be a minority because of her Jewish heritage, the only non-minority in the group is Tobias, who spends the entire series as a hawk. And from a certain point of view, Tobias is the biggest minority of them all, as while his original form was genetically 100% human, his father was Elfangor in human morph, which means he can be considered half-Andalite.
      • Although Tobias is not a racial minority, he is very poor and from an extremely broken home.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rachel and Cassie, though which is which depends on the situation. In civilian life, Rachel is The Fashionista while Cassie is utterly fashion-blind (to Rachel's exasperation) and thinks nothing of getting her hands dirty with sick animals. In combat, Rachel turns into The Big Guy and Cassie is the team's most reluctant fighter.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The cover quote of the final book is It began with six. It will end with five.note  The death is Rachel's.
  • Took a Level in Badass: All the kids, really, though special shout-outs have to go to Jake in the last five books and David in his trilogy.
  • Too Many Halves: Ax—and by extension the Andalite race in general—is once described as half blue deer, half centaur, and half scorpion. Then the narrator Lampshades it by saying they realize that it's too many halves.
  • Totally Radical: Invoked by one of the characters. One comments that they'd "bet dollars to donuts" on something and another comments "Something your grandmother used to say?"
    • The books themselves contain a lot of painfully 90s slang, or approximations thereof; "cool" brands, shops etc. are constantly namedropped. Part of the re-release's stated mission is to tone down the kids' slang (future-proofing, rather than simply "modernising" when that'll be outdated in ten years too) and remove references to specific clothes stores and the like.
  • Touched by Vorlons:
    • The Escafil Device (blue box), which gives normal beings the power to morph after contact with it.
    • The Andalites themselves got a big speed boost to their evolutionary process when Toomin went native with them in The Ellimist Chronicles.
  • Tragic Dream: Jake's weakness is his sense of responsibility: As long as he can, he feels he's got to at least try to save his brother Tom. Jake's entire motivation, right from the beginning, is to free his brother. As the years go by this becomes less and less likely. And it all culminates in the worst possible way: As much as it pains him to do it, Jake orders his brother's execution.
  • Tragic Hero: Jake primarily, but the entire surviving main cast are this to an extent following the war's end.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: The Hork-Bajir, both in The Hork-Bajir Chronicles and The Resistance.
  • Transformation Fiction: A major focus (and appeal) to the books is shape-shifting powers the teenagers inherit.
  • Transformation Trauma: The books go on and on about how Morphing isn't nice to look at, often describing the process in excruciating detail.
  • Translator Microbes: All members of the Andalite military have translator chips implanted in their brains.
  • The Trickster: The Drode.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Jake's ultimate plan in the last two books involves using Erek, disguised as Cassie, as one, with the guards being played by free Hork-Bajir. Also works as a literal Trojan horse, since the other Animorphs are in morph as flies hidden on Erek's body.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: They're kids. They kill people.
  • True Companions: Most obviously shown at the end of the series, when the kids see rescuing Ax from The One as a moral obligation.
    Marco: He told me the whole story. And every word was another nail in my coffin, because what was I going to do, refuse to save Ax? How many times had I been down for the count and only that lightning blue tail had brought me out alive?
  • Tunnel King: The Taxxons, one of the main alien species, which are good at digging (which makes sense, as they originally lived in mountain-sized hives). When Tobias morphs one, however, he notes that really Taxxons are good at eating, and simply devour the earth in front of them very quickly.
  • Two-Act Structure: The secretive guerilla war, and the final story arc.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: A Running Gag with Ax. It's heavily implied he's doing it to mess with Marco. At one point he actually forgets to add "of your minutes", only to correct himself when Marco expresses surprise at him. Another time Tobias accidentally starts doing it. Best one is Ax says "[x] of your miles" and Marco responds "they're everyone's miles." Ax retorts, "What about countries that use kilometers? See, I am learning."

    U 
  • Universal Driver's License: Marco. See I Know Mortal Kombat.
  • The Unmasqued World: The last book. We've got Hork-Bajir in Yellowstone, Taxxons in the Amazon, and Andalite tourism is a big thing.
  • Unnaturally Looping Location: In #13, Tobias and Rachel are flying over the forest when they realize they keep flying over the same patch of forest. Eventually they spot what they're supposed to spot (two Hork-Bajir escaping the Yeerks) and help them. It turns out to be the Ellimist's doing, who later gives Tobias his morphing ability back... but his base form is now a red-tailed hawk. He does let Tobias acquire his old human self though.
  • Unobtainium: Ramonite, which Andalite (and thus, also Yeerk) ships were made of, can turn opaque or transparent or be completely reshaped to form open doors, all through computer commands.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Each book comes with a disclaimer from the narrator that they are changing some information to prevent being discovered by the Yeerks, including the possibility that maybe even their names are false. How much of the series is accurate or disinformation is never explicitly made clear. Towards the end of the series it is revealed that the story has taken place over the course of three years, instead of the pseudo-six months that the rest of the series had implied. The reason that the weather never turned to the cold of winter over this time, which had been mentioned as a looming threat several times in the series, is because the Animorphs live in southern California where it is warm year-round.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Jake and Cassie for a good half of the series, before they make their mutual crush public. Also, Tobias and Rachel - it's the entire focus of their relationship, really, because Tobias is a bird.
  • Unscientific Science: In "The Mutation", the explanation for how the Nartec came into existence makes no sense. The explanation is that radiation sped up their adaptation. That's really not how radiation works.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The Hork-Bajir biology causes them to lapse into their native language, which is used to get cursing into the books. Context makes it clear.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Among many others, the commercial scene in the third book.

    V 
  • Vein-o-Vision: Howlers use it to see weak points.
  • Verbal Tic: David has a tendency to say the name of the person he's talking to several times in a single conversation, usually when he's trying to be threatening. In one occasion in The Solution, he says Rachel's name six times in one page.
  • Vetinari Job Security: In which Mr. Responsible Jake has to leave for a week and Rachel, who is, to put it diplomatically, something of a violence junkie, is made temporary leader. The end result is Cassie getting captured and dangerously close to the 2-hour limit.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: The Pemalite ship.
  • The Virus: Yeerks.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Marco and Jake, who are best friends despite the fact that they argue more often than not. Marco and Rachel as well.
  • Villain Ball: As good as she was at writing diverse characters, K.A. wasn't great shakes when it came to writing three-dimensional villains. Frequently her villains indulged in Cartoonish Supervillainy and tended to be Hoist by His Own Petard, as evidenced by the following examples:
    • Visser Three spends all three years of the invasion with the Ball straddled to his back. His underlings suspect the Animorphs might be human within the first five books, yet it isn't until the 49th book that they confirm it, solely because the Visser is obsessed with Andalites and said underlings know he'll decapitate them at the drop of a hat, so they just go along with his "Andalite bandits" theory. He's constantly micromanaging everything out of the belief that he's Surrounded by Idiots, wastes months on overcomplicated supervillain schemes that his underlings (again) are too terrified to tell him won't work, and he winds up costing his side the war by being a total dick to the Taxxons and denying them access to the morphing cube when he got it, and by refusing to promote Tom's Yeerk.
    • Visser One realizes that Marco is one of the Andalite bandits after The Reunion, but she never acts on this knowledge. Sure, the Animorphs threaten to expose her treason to the Council of Thirteen if they catch any whiff of retaliation on her part, but there's nothing stopping her from having some discreet Controller observe Marco from a distance long enough to figure out who the rest of the Animorphs are and then taking them all at once. The Council's priorities seen during VISSER shows us that they wouldn't give two craps about any rules Edriss might have broken along the way after a victory like that, but she allows the Animorphs to carry on unimpeded hoping to Divide and Conquer them and Visser Three. This, along with never setting any contingency plans in place that would expose Marco's identity in the event of her death (a huge oversight for a character as strategic as she is), allows the Animorphs to rescue her host and kill her without any reprisals.
    • Chapman inadvertently causes his own infestation thirty years before the start of the series by being dumb enough to think that a species of parasites intent on conquering the galaxy would keep their end of a bargain after they had no more use for him.
    • David brings the entire Animorphs to their knees only to be beaten by suddenly developing Bond Villain Stupidity.
    • Even the Crayak is hit by this, as he could just kill the Ellimist upon meeting him but chooses instead to torment him with Sadistic Choices and cosmic Deadly Games. Even when they do eventually get around to fighting, Crayak can't just kill the Ellimist outright, he has to go for the showy finish and lead him to a black hole, allowing the Ellimist to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Villain of the Week: Sometimes. Notable examples include: The Helmacrons, The Nartec, The Howlers, the Smug Super Yeerk known only as The Inspector, and Taylor.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Deconstructed. Is violence really the only option? At first glance, it seems that it is: Yeerks are stealing bodies by force and the kids have to stop them. But as the kids learn, Yeerks need bodies to properly live, and it's possible for the Yeerk and the host to have a symbiotic relationship. The problem is most hosts would resist infestation, which necessitates taking hosts by force. Cassie often tries to convince Yeerks that symbiotism is the best solution - and it works sometimes.
  • Volatile Second Tier Position: Pity anyone who makes the mistake of getting themselves assigned to the role of Visser Three's assistant; even if you don't screw up, chances are his latest scheme will get you killed anyway.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Lots of Shapeshifting Tropes too, eh?

    W 
  • Wagon Train to the Stars: The journey that Marco, Santorelli, Menderash, Jeanette, Tobias and Jake take aboard the Rachel to find the Blade ship was, at least according to Marco. We never get the details of their adventures, though.
  • Wake-Up Call: In The Ellimist Chronicles, unambitious gamer Toomin is deeply shocked when he discovers his neighbor Lackofa has been selected for a position aboard Ket's first manned deep space expedition. Having previously been content to waste time repeatedly losing the same game, he takes this as a "wake-up memm" indicating that he should start taking his life seriously. And then the Capasins arrive and start wiping out the Ketrans, prompting Toomin to assume leadership of the survivors - beginning his centuries-long transformation into the Ellimist we know and love.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Viciously deconstructed. The series goes into what the psychological and physical stress of balancing a double life like that would do to a teenager, how difficult it would be to maintain their cover, and how their two lives can come into conflict. By the end of the series, fighting Yeerks has become a full-time, round the clock job, so the kids rarely (if ever) go to class anymore, instead getting the Chee to fill in for them using their holograms to impersonate them.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: In "The Separation", Visser Three used a moving wall because he thought the group were Andalites, who hate enclosed spaces.
  • The War Room: Where Jake first meets General Doubleday. Jake notes that it seems an awful like what you'd see in a movie; old guys chomping cigars, guys in suits and a big map (that has his hometown crossed out, presumably because it isn't there any more).
  • War Is Hell: The Aesop of the series, though not quite that simple, as it incorporates elements of What Is Evil?, Grey and Gray Morality, and Child Soldiers. Deliberately spelled out after the end of the series by Applegate.
  • Warm Blood Bags Are Everywhere: The Taxxons. Mostly seen through the eyes of Arbron, and Tobias when he morphs Taxxon.
  • Warrior Prince: In Andalite culture 'Prince' is a warrior's rank, so we see plenty of these.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Marco does this all the time.
    • Memorably played straight and subverted in Book #30. Marco, Tobias and Ax go sliding down several stories worth of staircase bannister in cockroach form on their bellies at warp speed. When they get off, they exult in how awesome it was... just before agreeing to never, ever do that again.
  • We Are "Team Cannon Fodder": The Auxiliary Animorphs, and the U.S. Army. In fact, that was the whole point.
  • We Are as Mayflies: The guerilla war between the Animorphs and the Yeerk Empire lasted three years and shaped the fates and lives of thousands of sapient creatures. The larger war between the Andalites and Yeerks was on a scale even larger. But in the end, the entire conflict was only a blip so small as to be unnoticeable when it came to the war between Ellimist and Crayak. The kids' war lasted three years, the war between Ellimist and Crayak lasted hundreds of millions or even billions of years, one that continues even after the Yeerk Empire is destroyed. If one looks at the series as a battle between good and evil, absolutely nothing was accomplished. What's one Yeerk Empire to Crayak? It's implied that the war is more critical than it seems, for reasons that will only be clear to the mortals of the galaxy a century or two down the line.
  • Weirdness Censor: The reason that, when discussing who to recruit for the Auxiliary Animorphs, the kids decide that Adults Are Useless.
    Marco: It's got to be kids. Adults are too reality-bound. It's too hard for them to suspend disbelief for all this weirdness, even when it hits them square in the face.
  • Weird Trade Union: Book #26 has the Iskoort, whose entire society is apparently composed of Weird Trade Unions (see trope page for specific examples).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There's a fair amount of these:
    • Ax never really does avenge his brother's death, does he?
    • We never hear very much about Tobias, Cassie, and Jake's parents following the war, the being that caused Jake to see the alternate future in book The Familiar, the fates of Mertil and Gafinilian, and whatever happened to Chapman and his family?
    • At the end of the first book, the team's first reckless assault on the Yeerk Pool to rescue the imprisoned hosts (they were awfully naive back then) ended with them rescuing one single solitary woman who Cassie carried to safety in horse-morph. What happened to this woman, or even who she was, was never mentioned.
    • The Return actually deals with exactly this in a somewhat literal form: David, who was trapped as a rat, comes back due to the interference of Crayak and tries to take revenge. And then begs to be killed after losing again.
    • Jake's parents are said to be freed after the war was over, and Rachel's mother was at her funeral. None of the parents, or Rachel's sisters, are mentioned again. As Tobias took off, it is unclear if he even stayed in contact with his mother.
    • The aliens behind Book #41 are implied to not be the Ellimist or Crayak; but they neither revealed or mentioned again.
    • The Nartec are last seen struggling to patch things up in their undersea city in preparation of an attack on the surface world. After escaping, the Animorphs acknowledge that's a problem that needs to be dealt with once the war with the Yeerks are over and the world knows everything. And then the Nartec are never even mentioned again.
    • Melissa Chapman is an especially odd case, as she's last seen as Tobias' girlfriend in an alternate universe in Megamorphs #3.
    • The Council of Thirteen poses as the Bigger Bads, the ultimate authority behind the Vissers and the commanders of the Yeerks as a whole. So...were they dealt with at all, or were they all Karma Houdinis?
    • Peter's second wife, Nora. The last we saw of her she was taken and made a Controller. After that, no mention. Peter doesn't even seem to remember she existed when his first wife Eva is freed of Visser One and comes back to him.
  • What If?: Back to Before: What if the Animorphs never met Elfangor? Things still would have blown up, that's what. Just faster and with even more angst.
    • Also: What if the kids gave up? Earth becomes a Yeerk-infested hell, as you might expect, with the kids themselves becoming Controllers.
    • What if Jake became too ruthless and cocky? In #41, Jake, in the heat of battle, leaves Marco and Rachel to fend for themselves, in order to save the rest of the team. The continuation of this mindset is shown in the far future: Tom suspected Jake of being an "Andalite bandit", and turned him into a Controller. Ax, Marco, and Cassie are taken, Rachel is gravely wounded in the ensuing battle, and Tobias escapes. Marco becomes host to Visser Two, and Ax becomes a key player in the attack on his homeworld. Cassie's Yeerk, Niss, joins the Evolutionist Front, a terrorist group dedicated to the creation of artificial hosts, led by Tobias, who permanently morphs Ax. But even Cassie and Tobias aren't good guys: Cassie becomes ruthless, cynical and practically evil ("In a war, Jake, anything is justified."), and Tobias is completely willing to let Cassie die to score a victory ("Save one, or save many? The choice wasn't so hard at the Ragskin building, when you left Marco and Rachel to save themselves.")
  • What Is Evil?: Frequently brought up. Yeerks need hosts, hosts need their freedom. Somebody has to lose. Are Yeerks evil because they fulfill their natural function? If that's the case, are humans evil for killing animals for meat?
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Very low, until it's clear that the Yeerk-infected aliens are people too.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: At the start of the series, it seems this was, with a slug-like Yeerks as the bad guys and the mammal-like Andalites as the good guys. As per usual for Animorphs, this doesn't stick.
    Aftran: What choice do we have? Back to the Yeerk pools? Back to our home planet, with Andalite Dome ships in orbit above us, waiting for one of us to rise from the sludge, then blow us apart? Leave the universe to the almighty Andalites and the species they happen to like?
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Deconstructed. The Animorphs are less hesitant to kill when fighting Taxxons or Hork-Bajir rather than human-controllers. Visser One notices the discrepancy in human-controller casualties, confirming her suspicions that the "Andalite Bandits" are actually humans. Whoops.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Fairly common, though usually just over the line. Rachel plays it well, Marco recognizes the need. For the last two books, it's plainly stated that what Jake is doing is wrong, and he knows it's wrong, and everyone knows it's wrong, no one actually calls him out on it. By that point Jake has become such an unquestionable authority figure that no one, not even the kids' parents, are allowed to question anything he says or does. But at the end of the series, Erek and Visser One (!) have called him out on his actions.
    • A slightly less serious example, but still in and of itself a What the Hell, Hero? moment is when Tobias is at a dance with Rachel, in his human morph, and she tries to trap him in it so they can have a normal relationship. Tobias doesn't exactly call her out on it, because part of him isn't entirely convinced she wasn't right.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Ax is amused by "primitive" human nuclear weapons, and while humans haven't figured out cold fusion yet, Ax claims Andalites only use it to power children's toys.
  • We Are Everywhere: Oddly enough, the Yeerks aren't. They concentrate mostly in the Animorphs's hometown, and them only having one Yeerk Pool becomes a plot point in "The Threat" when Visser Three has to acquire the president's chief of staff rather than having him infested because there's no Pool anywhere close to Washington D.C. yet.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: Skrit Na visit Earth before any other extraterrestrial species, but the first prolonged contact humans have with aliens is a secret invasion by a race of body snatchers.
  • We Have Reserves: The entire purpose of recruiting the Auxiliary Animorphs.
  • Wham Novel: Novel #23: The Pretender. Prince Elfangor was Tobias' father. Tobias learns this in a literal wham moment while seated right next to a human-morphed Visser Three, pretending to be his cousin Aria offering him a real home... and he listens to it all while having to pretend he thinks his father is delusional and his "cousin" was a total nut.
    • Turns into even more of a Tear Jerker when the only reason Tobias survives the encounter is because he has forgotten how to show emotions as a human.
    • #49: The Diversion, where Tobias discovers that his mother is alive and lives right near where he grew up. When he rescues her from Yeerks who want to enslave her to get to the Animorphs, he discovers that she is blind and amnesiac from a car accident when he was an infant. Giving her the morphing power restores her sight but not her memory.
    • #5, too. Sorry Marco, you're gonna need to kill your mama, at least twice.
  • What Other Galaxies?: The Ellimist and Crayak are embedded into the fabric of spacetime, and know that they could destroy the universe. But they only play their Great Game in the Milky Way. The Ellimist alludes to there existing beings like himself and Crayak in other galaxies: Crayak himself originally fled to this galaxy to escape one!
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Given that it's literally their only weapon, the Animorphs' practice and use of the morphing technology far surpasses the Andalites' skill with it. This to the point of shocking Andalites like Ax and Aldrea, who watch the humans perform morphing acts that would count as legendary to their species yet let it pass without comment.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: "Hard to explain elephants and rhinos attacking here in... well, never mind where here is." Eventually averted in the last book, when the series is revealed to have taken place in California. Granted, this was deducible fairly early on, given the presence of forest, desert, ocean, and mountains within two hours flight-by-bird from their home city within the United States, with non-invasive wild animals roughly consistent with the area.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Tobias and going under water. Justified, though, given his species. Also, Ax, and other Andalites, are claustrophobic. Ketrans (the Ellimist's species before he ascended to near-godhood) can have panic attacks when indoors.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Taylor to Tobias in The Illusion.
  • Windmill Crusader: Possibly the case with the Kelbrids in the final book. They are a race that are supposedly mortal enemies of the Andalites, though we never hear about them until the final book and the Andalites are afraid to enter Kelbrid Space in case it starts a war. The weird part is none of the Andalites have ever actually seen a Kelbrid, meaning they could just be some kind of hoax. Nonetheless, at one point the kids are called to investigate Kelbrid Space, as, due to not being Andalites, the kids won't risk causing a war be being there. While we never find out if the Kelbrids are real or not, the kids do discover something really scary in Kelbrid Space: The One!
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: All the kids, to some extent, but Jake mostly.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Certain forms, like ants, can rob one of sentience for a while. It's not always predictable, either.
  • A Wizard Did It: A lot of improbable things are chalked up to Ellimist and Crayak, such as the impossibly pacifistic Pemalites, the Contrived Coincidences in the Animorphs lineup (see the entry above on Can't Stay Normal), David finding the blue box and Tobias regaining his morphing ability.
  • Wonderful Life: Partially subverted. In Back to Before, the Drode asks Jake if he wants the war taken away. Jake, in a moment of weakness, accepts. What happens? The Yeerks still invade. A lonely Tobias joins The Sharing, is infested, and later killed when Visser Three discovers the Yeerk infesting him is a spy. Ax, after escaping from the wreck of the Andalite ship, informs the world of the existence of aliens. The Yeerks, in turn, start a full-on military invasion, and Marco, Rachel, and Cassie are killed in short order. Jake and Ax kill Visser Three and claim the Blade ship. They intend to crash it into the Pool ship, but time starts to unravel and the Drode and Ellimist stop everything and revert the situation to normal. The subversion is that, in the Wonderful Life timeline, they actually defeat the Yeerks much quicker; it takes less than a month and a half after Elfangor's death. The 54-book main series is eventually revealed to have taken place over three years.
  • World in the Sky: The Ketrans' homeworld (Ket) in the Ellimist Chronicles.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: In #5, when the Animorphs are in space, they look back on Earth and comment that it's beautiful. In #7, the Ellimist shows them scenes of Earth, and says the same.
    • In #11 there's a moment where Ax sees all the glories of the rainforest in jaguar morph and says, "Your planet is amazing. Amazing."
  • Worrying for the Wrong Reason: When the Animorphs find themselves on a cliff on the meteor-wrecked Hork-Bajir planet, they notice the planet's molten core far below them. One character worries about the possibility of falling into the magma. Ax says that this won't happen — if they fell, they'd be vaporized by the heat long before they reached it.
  • Writer on Board: The ghost-written book "The Experiment" is a heavy-handed anti-meat screed, so much that Applegate stepped in to rewrite the final chapter so that the Animorphs are happily chowing down on hamburgers as a Take That! to the real author. Though Applegate herself doesn't have much room to throw stones, as "The Secret" is just as much of an excuse to rant about the logging industry and "The Warning" is half story and half snide commentary about the Internet (Web 1.0 specifically).
  • Written by the Winners: Interestingly, it's the humans that do this, refusing to put Jake on trial for war crimes while happily trying Visser One for the same charge.
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    X-Z 
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The final battle eventually breaks down into this, as the kids run around the ship wreaking havoc and looking for any edge to save Rachel, and Visser One (unsuccessfully) attempts to contain the situation.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Averted in Elfangor's Secret.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In #23, Tobias' distant cousin has flown in from Africa and wants to take care of him. He can finally have a real family, stop eating roadkill and have a proper relationship with Rachel. He can have a normal life! This is awesome! No, it's not. That cousin is Visser Three. In morph. He's trying to kill him.
  • You Are Grounded: The most notable example is in the Megamorphs #1, where Jake is grounded after he comes back late from a mission (but is allowed to go out again after he cleans the garage). Starting with #25, the Chee begin impersonating the kids whenever they have to go away for long periods of time.
  • You Are Not Alone: A big thing, but most obvious in #31, when Jake's father is at risk of being infested. Jake's panicking and on the verge of having a mental breakdown, and is expecting a longwinded lecture from Marco about the importance of staying clearheaded and rational, instead of doing something stupid and reckless. But Marco just says, "You're not alone, man."
  • You Are Number 6: All Yeerk names and ranks have numbers attached.
  • You Can Not Grasp The True Form: The Ellimist.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Ax tries to get home in book #5 (the first time they ever morph the ant, which they vow to never do again, ending with them being captured by the Visser Three), but then decides it's better to help out on Earth and wait until the Andalites arrive.
  • You Did the Right Thing: Twice, after the war. Jake's most heinous act by far was flushing the Pool ship's pool into space, which killed approximately seventeen thousand unhosted Yeerks. After the battle, Cassie meets with Erek, who is shocked and disgusted that Jake would do such a thing. Defending Jake, Cassie heatedly replies that Jake "did what he had to do":
    Erek: I see. He feels guilty.
    Cassie: No. Not guilty.
    Erek: Then what?! He used me, blackmailed me, manipulated my programming to get me to crack the engine systems and take control of the ship.
    Cassie: You drained the Dracon beams.
    Erek: What did Jake expect me to do? I had given him control when he needed it. I wasn't going to enable him to kill.
    Cassie: Jake had Rachel with Tom. Rachel and Tom are both... And the ship got away anyway. Thanks to you.
    Erek: And I'm supposed to feel regret because Jake ordered his cousin to take out his brother and I wasn't going to let him kill everyone else on the Blade ship?! So, you too, huh Cassie?
    Cassie: Jake did what he had to do.
    Erek: Did he? Somebody flushed the onboard pool into space. Did he have to do that too? They were unhosted Yeerks. They were harmless!
    Cassie: We needed a div -
    Erek: A what? A what did you need? A diversion?! You're telling me you needed a diversion so Jake massacred seventeen thousand sentient creatures?! A diversion?!
    • Similarly, during the war crimes trial of Visser One, one of the Visser's defense lawyers says that Jake himself should be under indictment as a war criminal for his actions. Jake, who has been clinically depressed for some time due to guilt, is cut deeply by this remark. Cassie, Marco and Ax later tell him that his actions were, if not wholly moral, were completely necessary; furthermore, Cassie makes the case that "you can't equate the victim and the perpetrator" when it comes to war crimes.
      • The book itself leaves things a bit more up to reader interpretation, and it's obvious that the characters saying so were significantly less sure of what they were saying than they would like to be.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Big Bad, Visser Three, was notorious for doing this on a regular basis. One Yeerk scientist actually preferred slow death by Kandrona starvation to what Visser Three would do to him.
  • Younger Mentor, Older Disciple: After the Yeerks are defeated, Jake ends up teaching an elite group of specialized international anti-terror military officers how to morph. He hasn't even graduated high school, but everyone (including people twice his age) calls him Professor.
  • You No Take Candle: The Hork-Bajir. Justified because the Arn genetically engineered them not to be very bright. A Hork-Bajir with genius-level intelligence is the result of a genetic mutation the Arn never quite managed to obliterate.
    • Even when they're being Controlled, a quirk of the brain causes them to trade languages around. (Gafrash!) However, it IS possible for a Yeerk controlling a Hork-Bajir to become perfectly fluent in english as the original Visser One's Hork-Bajir shows, it's just that Visser Three doesn't care enough to bother.
  • You Rebel Scum!: "Yeerk filth!" "Andalite scum!"
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: A major theme of the book, with many an anvil dropped.
  • Your Worst Nightmare


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