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Awesome / The Thirty-Nine Steps

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The book series

Richard Hannay

  • In Greenmantle, when Hannay finally loses his patience and punches von Stumm, a massive and intimidating Magnificent Bastard. And then beats him unconscious.
  • In Mr Standfast, when Hannay is in a man-trap (a situation that no doubt festered for years in Ian Fleming's mind, what with the voluble villain and all) and releases himself with the help of some basic astronomy, physics, and trajectories, to say nothing of brute strength.
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  • In The Three Hostages, Hannay gets one when his wife Mary turns up in a seedy nightclub dressed and made up like a tart, dancing with one of his friends (who's about 20 years younger than himself), and he trusts her so implicitly that it doesn't even occur to him to question her fidelity. Instead he instantly arrives at the correct conclusion—that she is undercover working on the same case as he is.


  • Mary gets hers at the end of The Three Hostages, when through sheer force of awesome she convinces everyone that the little vial of green liquid in her purse is some horrfying, disfiguring acid (it's eau-de-Cologne), browbeats the villain into total submission through sheer force of awesome, and saves the day, while the men stand around not knowing what to do.

Peter Pienaar

  • Peter Pienaar gets one at the end of Mr Standfast.
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  • He gets another one in Greenmantle when he sneaks through enemy lines to deliver a message to allied forces.
  • Also, while he is only mentioned in passing in The Thirty-Nine Steps it's basically the stuff he taught Hannay about evading the law that kept Hannay alive most of the time which may count as yet another one.


  • Sandy Arbuthnot gets one or two. Such as the entire climax of Greenmantle with the taking of Erzerum.
  • The end of Mr Standfast, taking place on the Western Front during the last desperate months of WWI, is a CMOA for the entire Allied Forces.


The 1978 film

  • Scudder makes a damn good effort in avoiding his hunters, frequently using quick thinking, common sense and his life-long experience as a spy. Unfortunately, despite all that, the assassins' resilience and resources, as well as a bit of bad luck regarding a milkman, brought about his downfall.
  • Hannay proves himself to be a quick and opportunistic thinker, taking whatever chances he can and whatever friends he can make to stay a step ahead of his pursuers.
    • Then there's his Moment of Awesome. During the climax, he figures out that the bomb's detonator has been integrated into the mechanisms of Big Ben so it can go off when the clock itself strikes eleven forty-five and he makes a death-defying bid to stop the hand from reaching that time by clambering outside the tower onto the face and hanging himself by the arms from the minute hand.

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