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Creator / Dean Koontz

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"Writing a novel is like making love, but it's also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it's like making love while having a tooth pulled."

Dean Ray Koontz (born July 9, 1945) is an American author known for writing suspense thrillers, many of which also contain elements of horror, action, science fiction, romance and satire.

One notable aspect of Koontz writing is that almost anytime there is a supernatural occurrence, its explanation, as outlandish as it might sometimes be, is usually physically possible, at least in theory. Very rarely does his work tread into outright fantasy (a notable exception being the Odd Thomas books, which include real ghosts).

On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, his works fall pretty far on the Idealistic side despite the disturbing content found within the stories and the fact that the villain has usually no redeeming qualities. The heroes, on the other hand are always brave, highly intelligent, compassionate and admirable human beings whose virtues vastly outweigh whatever flaws they might possess. Common themes and messages in his books usually revolve around overcoming adversity rather than feeling sorry for oneself, and living life to its absolute fullest. This sense of idealism is contrasted by having one or more characters reflect on the decline of modern society over the past twenty or thirty years due to sex, free drugs, or liberalism in general. However, despite such musings, the worlds created by Dean Koontz seem to be populated with genuinely good people who are always willing to help a friend in need. If his protagonists have any flaws, it is a specific insecurity that is holding them back. These insecurities can often be traced back to events from the character's childhood, and through the course of the story the character must work through these insecurities in order to achieve their dream or to otherwise live full and happy lives.


Dogs feature heavily in his works, and in his personal life. He has stated on Facebook that while he loves cats, he has a life-threateningly severe allergy to them. This is why feline characters rarely appear in his writing, as stated by him.

His story "A Mouse in the Walls of the Global Village" was included in Harlan Ellison's anthology Again, Dangerous Visions.

Koontz's novels with their own trope pages include:


Other works by Dean Koontz provide examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Chris Snow (Fear Nothing, Seize the Night), Martin Stillwater (Mr. Murder), Tommy Phan (Ticktock)... possibly half of the protagonists of his novels are perfectly innocuous people thrust into danger without any special training.
  • An Aesop. Sometimes subtly, sometimes not.
  • Affably Evil: Believe it or not, sometimes—albeit rather rarely—Koontz's villains are this. One who comes instantly to mind is Billy Pilgrim from The Darkest Evening of the Year. He crosses the Moral Event Horizon but... "people liked Billy in part because of his appearance. Pudgy, with a sweet, dimpled face and with curly blond hair as thin now as it had been when he was a baby, he looked huggable. And people liked Billy because Billy genuinely liked people. He didn't look down on them for their foolishness, or because of their idiot pride or their pomposity, but delighted in them for what they were: characters in the greatest irony-drenched dark comic novel of all: life."
  • Alas, Poor Villain: So far, very few of Dean Koontz's villains can be pitied.
    • Roy from The Voice of the Night is a sociopathic 15 year old kid who has killed at least three people, two of them on purpose. Everything about the character makes you hate him even more, until you learn that he accidentally killed his sister when he was a child, and ever since then his mother treated him like complete shit. In the end, the heroes take pity on him and call the police in hopes to help him.
    • Bruno Frye from Whispers. Where to even begin? In a nutshell, Katherine gave birth to identical twins after being raped by her father and raised them into believing they were one person. When one Bruno did something wrong, she'd punish both. When one Bruno did something good, she'd reward both. If they ever acted as if they were two people, she would lock them in a cellar filled with bugs. Said bugs caused the twins to scream so much that their voice boxes were permanently damaged, this also gave them constant nightmares that always resulted in them waking up and remembering the cellar, even as they grew up. Now adults, the two Brunos (still believing themselves to be one) are still traumatized and kill anyone who resembles their mom. When one of the twins actually dies, this drives the other one insane, wondering how he can be alive and dead at the same time. Basically, he's still a monster, but he's the most sympathetic villain Dean Koontz has created. As one of the good guys put it:
      I just wish all of the villains in this piece were thoroughly vile and despicable. It seems wrong, somehow, to feel so much sympathy for them.
    • The Outsider from Watchers. If the stolen Mickeys don't break you, it begging to be killed during the climax will.
    • What about all the guys Victor Helios created in the FRANKENSTEIN trilogy? They were created without the ability to feel hope, unable to have anything good in their lives, created by a man who thinks that positive emotions are useless, and they're the most pitiable creatures that ever graced a novel! From the boy who was created autistic so that Helios could have free slave labor that didn't need to stop working to eat or excrete to the household staff that are slowly losing their grips on reality, these guys even inspire pity in the novels' protagonists.
    • Grace Spivey from The Servants of Twilight. A deranged cult leader trying to murder a 7 year old boy she thinks is the Antichrist? A latent psychic who confuses her abilities to see said 7 year old's potential as a gifted child as making him evil? The pawn of an uncaring and/or incompetent God trying to eliminate the competition? Or is she actually right and the boy is the son of The Devil himself? The Servants of Twilight is so ambiguous that each of the above scenarios are equally plausible.
  • Analogy Backfire: A particularly justified example of this in the Frankenstein series; when Victor Helios creates a fifth version of his wife Erika, he programs her with only basic literary analogies because he feels that reading too much was the reason her predecessor developed too much independence. As a result, at one point Erika muses to herself that she and Victor will be like Romeo and Juliet when she reflects on her desire for them to have a happy relationship, because she only knows of Romeo and Juliet’s reputation as famous lovers without knowing their full story.
  • And I Must Scream: Whatever happens to people who cross over "sideways" to that hellish dimension in Fear Nothing and Seize the Night.
  • Apocalypse How: Villains often plan to end the world in various stages. The villain in Dragon Tears wanted a Class 2 (Take Over the World and restrict humankind to zoos and preserves). Frankenstein: Lost Souls: Class 3 (kill everyone). Twilight Eyes: Class 5 (start nuclear war). Nightmare Journey is a story where a class 1 Apocalypse actually happened.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The audiotape from Delacroix in Seize the Night detailing what happened to him and the others at Fort Wyvern.
  • Author Appeal: Dogs, especially golden retrievers, tend to feature heavily. On the negative side, liberals, atheists, academics, and anarchists are generally portrayed as outright evil, or fundamentally misguided as best. The Face has an outright chapter-by-chapter conga line of maligning stereotypes of several of these groups, among others.
  • Aerith and Bob: Many, many, many characters he writes have ridiculous sounding names to go with people with normal first or last names.
  • Bad Ass In A Nice Suit: In Lightning, the time travelling Nazis wear Luis Vuitton pinstripes and Cool Shades, the "power suit" of the late The '80s.
  • Bad Future: The characters in 77 Shadow Street find themselves transported back and forth between their own time and a distant future where nanotechnology and The Singularity (referred to as "The One") has killed off all humanity and doomed the world.
    • A more personal type in Lightning awaits Laura without Stefan's intervention.
  • Bench Breaker: In Intensity, the protagonist escapes her captor by ramming a wall with the chair she is tied to and splintering it. She injures herself in the process.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Moongirl from the Darkest Evening of the Year is a psychotic, emotionally manipulative arsonist who kills and torments For the Evulz. Her boyfriend is significantly less crazy, motivated more by greed and a twisted fascination with her. She is also drop-dead gorgeous and can pose convincingly as normal until it's safe to drop the act.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Within the first few chapters, there should never be any doubt in the readers' minds exactly who they should be rooting for.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Spoken almost verbatim by the underworld guy in Watchers.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Vince, the professional assassin from Watchers, lives by a strict code of conduct based on this kind of morality.
  • Body Horror: What the Retrovirus does. Hello there, random disgusting growths and crab-like claws replacing hands and shining yellow animal eyes. What it does to the mind is worse, though. Also worthy of mention is the abundant Shape Shifting Squick in Shadowfires.
  • Body Surf: The villain in What the Night Knows is the ghost of a serial killer, empowered by a demon, who commits murders by possessing one member of a family and forcing him to rape and murder the rest of the family. The finale involves him possessing several Asshole Victims to launch an attack on the hero's home and family.
  • Cameo: The first chapter of the fourth Frankenstein book, Lost Souls has Deucalion (The Monster) at the Monastary of St. Bathalomew's, conversing with Brother Salvatore, aka Brother Knuckles a former Mafia enforcer turned monk. Both the setting and the character are from Brother Odd.
  • Canine Companion: Present and accounted for in Watchers.
  • Children Are Innocent: Played straight in general.
  • Cool Guns: A surprising number of protagonists can get their hands on a Desert Eagle. If they can't, Smith & Wesson magnum revolvers are a great second choice.
    • Laura and the Nazis carry Uzis in Lightning. It's even lampshaded by the SS officers, who don't like that the guns are of Israeli design.
  • Creepy Twins: Violet and Verbina Pollard from The Bad Place share each other's thoughts and sensations as well as those of animals. Since people are immune to their ability, they can't identify with them and thus are very far away, especially Verbina, who has retreated into a sort of autism and communicates only through her sister. While they're not necessarily evil, they have the moral ambivalence of animals.
    • The creepiest are probably Bruno from Whispers.
  • Creepy Child: Toby from Winter Moon acts like this when the Giver attempts to seize control over his mind
  • Cloning Gambit: Happens to Helios at the end of Frankenstein: Dead and Alive.
  • Cloning Blues
  • Creator Provincialism: Many of his books take place in small towns in northern California.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Many of Koontz's heroes come from abusive (or at least dysfunctional) backgrounds, but are nonetheless portrayed as successful, financially independent, strong-willed, and emotionally stable. At first, his villains were also portrayed this way but somewhere along the line Koontz decided that would make them somewhat sympathetic, so he made them Villain by Default instead and sometimes mentions that they had everything growing up but turned to evil as a deliberate choice.
    • In some interviews, Koontz has mentioned that his father was insane, and his decision to not have children of his own was for fear that his father's insanity might have had a hereditary component. He's mostly worked this out of his system, but if you go back and read some of his earlier novels with that in mind, it makes a couple of characters and scenes read entirely differently.
  • Deal with the Devil: Interesting subversion in The Face. An ex-mobster Dunny, while in a coma, gets an offer from demonic Mr Typhon. Typhon knows that Dunny partially redeemed himself and is now bound for Purgatory, not Hell. Consequently, Typhon offers Dunny a chance to save his friend and a child - at the price of Dunny's soul. Subversion comes at the very end of the novel: in the process of saving lives, Dunny redeems himself all the way, and Typhon has no power over him, their deal notwithstanding.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many protagonists and antagonists, the latter sometimes combined with Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor.
  • Department of Child Disservices: The workers in Lightning are pretty useless.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host: This bit, from Life Expectancy: "With blue vinyl-tile floor, pale-green wainscoating, pink walls, a yellow ceiling, and orange-and-white stork-patterned drapes, the expectant fathers' lounge churned with the negative energy of color overload. It would have served well as the nervous-making set for a nightmare about a children's-show host who led a secret life as an ax murderer. The chain-smoking clown didn't improve the ambience."
  • Deus ex Machina: Starting to become a crutch in his later works, if the Amazon reviews are anything to go by. Breathless is the worst offender, but arguments can be made for Relentless and Darkest Evening of the Year. Breathless has adorable monkey creatures that appear out of nowhere to bring out the best in mankind.
  • The Devil Is a Loser:
    • Occurs with several of villains, and seen most prominently with Enoch Cain Jr. in From the Corner of His Eye, which is even lampshaded when two of the heroes discuss the nature of evil, and remark that evil is often petty and stupid yet capable of genuinely shocking horror, and it's OK to laugh at evil's stupidity despite the real horrors it perpetrates, as this takes away some of its power.
    • In The Servants of Twilight, Christine at one point notes that her possibly-the-Antichrist son's father, while mysterious and possessed of a very Meaningful Name, was quite boring and unremarkable, and that surely Satan would have been thoroughly charismatic and impressive. Whether she's right or this trope is in effect is one of the many things the novel never reveals.
  • Dumb Is Good: A rather horrible case with Nummy from the last two Frankenstein books.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The Giver from Winter Moon is a terrifyingly alien thing that comes out a hole in reality and literally cannot comprehend death.
    • Darkfall features an elder demon snaking a tentacle/worm/finger/appendage out of a portal, and Koontz actually uses the word "Lovecraftian".
    • Midnight contains a wide variety of horrific creatures, also described as Lovecraftian at one point. They include a living building connecting humans into a mental network, and a massive protean being described as primordial soup come to life; which can sing a melodyless song that lures any animal, including humans, into a lemming-like state in which they feed themselves to it.
  • Eldritch Location: The world of red skies glimpsed by Christopher Snow and the gang in Seize the Night.
    "That's not the future. That's . . . sideways."
  • Eye Scream: The Outside from The Watchers rips out it's victims eyes because it knows everyone sees it as the monster it knows it is.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: If the dog is freaking out, something VERY bad or at least bizarre is going on.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Gennaro Caramazza (Darkfall) is the head of a powerful Mafia family, so he has no problem being involved with drugs or prostitution or arranging for his enemies to be killed. But he's morally outraged that Baba Lavelle has threatened his grandchildren and killed his two gentle pet dogs. He says that vengeance shouldn't be directed at the innocent no matter how justified it is.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Implied occasionally.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good
  • Evil Matriarch: Candy's beloved, saintly mother.
  • Expy:: Bryan Drakman from Dragon Tears has many similarities to Francis Dolarhyde from Thomas Harris' Red Dragon: a serial killer who is narcissisic, has obsessions with mirrors and body images, delusions of becoming something transcendent, wearing red robes, not having been raised by their parent and believed to be wrong at birth. Both live alone in massive houses they've inherited. There's even allusions to dragons in both characters. Unlike Dolarhyde, however, Drakman has the power to back up his delusions of grandeur. He also didn't come from an abusive childhood.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Most villains will definitely qualify, their polite and soft-spoken or cheery exteriors masking a cold and murderous heart and doubling the creepiness of their actions. "Evil is no faceless stranger, living in a distant neighborhood. Evil has a wholesome, hometown face, with merry eyes and an open smile. Evil walks among us, wearing a mask which looks like all our faces."
  • First-Person Smartass: Christopher Snow, Jimmy Tock. Others too. Koontz likes this trope.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: In spite of being named "Candy", the main antagonist in The Bad Place looks like the Juggernaut, is full of homicidal rage and has deadly psychic powers to boot.
  • For the Evulz: Many of the villains' motivation in Koontz's later works is this. In Innocence, the heroes uncover a secret conspiracy of the richest and wealthiest people who go to extreme lengths (costing millions of dollars) to acquire beloved and unique and beautiful pieces of art, only so that they can set them on fire in a private ceremony.
  • Freudian Excuse:
  • Genre Savvy: The doctor in the second half of Lightning is a fan of various thrillers. When a beautiful woman with a gun shows up at his door in the wee hours, he bemoans the fact that he's too old to enjoy it.
  • A God Am I: Quite a few villains in his stories believe themselves to becoming gods, or are at least arrogant in the extreme to think they are superior beings, including the title character in his Frankenstein series, Midnight, Dragon Tears, and his short story "A Darkness in My Soul".
    • Victor is actually a subversion - although he positions himself as the center of the New Race's lives, he hates being referred to as a god.
    • And the main villain in Dragon Tears might be justified. He can *freeze time*, among many other things!
  • God Is Evil: Or at least God is insane. Occurs in his earlier works Fear That Man and A Darkness in My Soul. In Dragon Tears, the villain seeks to become the New God and his plans for the world is as horrific as this trope can imagine.
    • The conclusion that Charlie comes to by the end of The Servants of Twilight. At least one of the possible conclusions, given the ambiguity of the book.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: And we tend to get to read all about it, too. The reverse of this trope is in play as much as this one is, in the sense that the villains don't have sex, due to being either indifferent to it, or almost hysterically repulsed by it.
    • Unless Koontz wants to establish them as a monster, then the villains will rape and torture people to show just how evil they are.
    • On the other hand, Dark Rivers of the Heart shows that Bad People Have Good Sex too (a hands-off kind, but they still enjoy it).
    • Moongirl and Harrow from The Darkest Evening of the Year quite readily get it on, but in Moongirl's case, only in the windowless room where not even the smallest point of light can get through. The couple has no compunctions or hangups about sex, and the primal/animalistic way they go about it is meant to accentuate their evilness.
  • Hand Cannon: The characters frequently put magnum revolvers to good use; the Desert Eagle pistol has also made its fair share of appearances.
  • Haunted House Historian: Silas Kingsley in 77 Shadow Street. The history of the titular building is filled with mysterious and sinister occurrences. Kingsley knows about nearly all of them.
  • Hell Seeker: John Joseph Randolph of Seize the Night not only wants to go to Hell, but seeks to take everyone else with him.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Alphie, the genetically engineered hitman from Mr. Murder, has this ability at the cost of an extremely high metabolism. If he doesn't eat enough food to fuel his rapid regrowth, his body begins to self-cannibalize, making this one of the more realistic examples of the trope.
    • Eric, the Implacable Man villain/monster from Shadow Fires has a very powerful "William Birkin" version of this, due to being a scientist who injected himself with an experimental cell regeneration treatment in an attempt to achieve immortality. Unfortunately, instead of regenerating into human cells they "adapt" into inhuman cells geared towards survival, so the more damage he takes the more monsterous he becomes. His regeneration also doesn't extend towards thoughts (since the human mind is made up of unrestorable electrical impulses as well as nerves and tissue), so taking brain damage causes him to become crazier and crazier.
  • Hollywood Atheist: The Frankenstein series uses this.
  • Honor Before Reason: On multiple stories, the heroes would have it easier if they went for cold-blooded pragmatism, but they can't. The plot puts them through hell but rewards them handsomely afterwards. The Taking provides a pretty good example overall, taking place during the Rapture and all.
  • House Squatting: The contract killer in The Good Guy has no home of his own, breaking into and living in other people's homes on a day to day basis.
  • Hulk Speak:
    • The parts of Dragon Tears narrated by the family dog.
    • The beta creature in Watchers attempts this, making him inferior in the "Francis Project" compared to Einstein.
  • Humans Are Special: "What makes humanity beautiful is our free will, our individuality, our endless striving in spite of our imperfection.
  • Human Aliens: Justified in that the one in One Door Away From Heaven is from a species with the ability to absorb DNA and shapeshift into other creatures. While their primary goal is to help humanity, they also have a malevolent counterpart, prompting a character to ask Curtis if it's kinda like angels and demons.
  • Humanoid Abomination: A few of his inhuman villains. Notable is Eric from Shadow Fires, who due to his attempt to become immortal causing him to mutate due to an out of control Healing Factor, begins becoming more monstrous as the story goes on. At the climax, his mutation stabilizes into something that's just barely humanoid.
  • Human Disguise: The antagonist of "Hardshell" from Strange Highways is a shapeshifting Eldritch Abomination serial killer that masquerades as a human so he can kill his victims without trouble. Unfortunately, the cop pursuing him is one, also.
  • I Have Your Wife: The plot of The Husband.
  • Intellectual Animal: Einstein the Golden Retriever in Watchers, who learned to play Scrabble and reads Dickens; the Moonlight Bay series, taking place in the same world as Watchers, has another smart but less educated dog in Orson. The dog in Relentless is quite smart, though not to that degree and can teleport. In Breathless Puzzle and Riddle appear to be this at first but are actually a whole lot more.
  • Just Before the End: Heavily implied in both Fear Nothing and Seize the Night.
  • Kill It with Fire: Another of the protagonists' favored means of dealing with various horrors, after more prosaic methods have failed.
  • Kill and Replace: what Dr. Helios and his New Race aims to do.
  • Life Drinker: Vince Nasco from Watchers believed he gained the life force of whoever he killed and can become immortal if he absorbs enough (thus why he became a hitman in the first place). He can't, he's just insane.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything : The main premise of Lightning is that the Nazis invented a time machine that sends people into the future, accompanied by apocalyptic lighting and thunder.
  • Little Miss Snarker:
    • Lelani Klonk, disabled in body but wise beyond her years.
    • Thelma Ackerson from Lightning, who is twelve when we meet her, also counts. She grows up to be a standup comic.
  • Locked Room Mystery: Darkfall has a couple of these. Vincent Vastagliano is murdered in a bathroom that is locked from the inside and the only window in the bathroom is too small for a person to climb through. Dominick Carramazza and two of his bodyguards are murdered in a hotel suite where the door to the hallway is locked from the inside and the windows are locked and sealed. All of them were killed by voodoo demons that can creep in and out of a room through the ventilation system.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Winter Moon features an Eldritch Abomination that is defeated by a plucky all-American family.
    • The Taking starts out as an alien invasion story with all the trappings of Cosmic Horror (it's even speculated that the aliens are terraforming Earth and humans to them are akin to the pesky mosquitos you annihilate by draining their swamp), complete with a reference to Cthulhu. Turns out, the "invasion" was actually the Apocalypse and the "aliens" were demons unleashed to punish humankind for its wickedness. They depart as suddenly as they arrived, and all children and sufficiently virtuous adults have been spared. The new world is actually pretty pleasant with all the Bad People gone.
  • Mad Artist: Valis from Velocity.
  • Mad Brass: Colonel Leland Falkirk from Strangers.
  • Man-Made House Flood: Cullen in Relentless is extremely inept when it comes to tools and appliances. When he bursts into Penny's study to warn her about an intruder, she immediately assumes he's had another household mishap and asks, "Did the coffeemaker assault you or have you used the dishwasher again and flooded the kitchen?"
  • Mandatory Motherhood: The third time sex between members of the New Race is referred to as being dispassionate because they're sterile. Ironic, since Koontz himself has no children.
  • Mama Bear: if a female protagonist has a child, she will always be this. Notable examples are Tina Evans from The Eyes of Darkness, Laura Shane from Lightning, and Micky Bellsong from One Door Away from Heaven. Molly Sloane from The Taking is like this about the children she's taking care of, even though she barely even knows any of them.
    • Also, Nora in Watchers considers Einstein her child, despite their differing species, and is as fiercely protective of him as Travis. And threaten her unborn child? Feeling suicidal, are you?
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: an unusual case in Children of Twilight. Mundane isn't an option, but the real question is: is it supernatural (angels, God's miracles, the Antichrist, and so on), or are all the phenomena psychic in nature?
  • Misanthrope Supreme: If we get a glimpse of the villain's philosophy, expect him to be one of these. Some examples include Moongirl from the Darkest Evening of the Year who fantasizes about everyone on earth being dead, the villain from Dragon Tears who wants humanity confined to zoos, and also Helios's clone in Frankenstein: Lost Souls who just wants to see a lifeless Earth.
  • Mind Rape: The Giver wants you to LET IT IN. Also, Dr. Ahriman
  • Monster Clown: Serial killer Konrad Beezo and his son Punchinello in Life Expectancy.
  • Monster Misogyny: Many of Dean Koontz's villains and monsters target women for their unspeakable crimes, especially in his early work.
  • More Dakka: A favored means of conflict resolution among the protagonists.
  • Motive Decay: Victor Helios in Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series first desires to eliminate humanity and replace it with a masterrace of his own creation, and eventually take over the world and the universe. In the sequel series, his clone who has his memories and personality now just wants to wipe out humanity and then kill himself when it is completed for some reason. This is explained by Koontz as the next logical step to the original motivation, even though they are two completely different things.
  • Nanotechnology: Dr. Proctor's "stuff" that he injects Dylan, Shepherd, and Jillian with in By the Light of the Moon. Also the mind-control/body alteration micro-spheres in Midnight are described like Nanotechology. The creations of Frankenstein's clone in Dead Town are humanoid colonies of nanites. The Bad Future of 77 Shadow Street is also implied to be the result of nanotechnology.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Vivian Norby, Milo's fifty-something babysitter in Relentless, once beat up two thugs who broke into a home where she was babysitting. One of them ended up with a broken nose, split lips, some cracked teeth, two crushed fingers, a broken knee, and a puncture wound to the butt. The second intruder had even worse injuries (and developed a phobia of fifty-something women who wore pink, as Vivian always did). "Vivian suffered a broken fingernail."
  • Never Suicide: This happens frequently. Sometimes a suicide is staged as part of a larger conspiracy. In other instances, the character really did kill themselves, but only because some evil force took control of them and forced them to do it.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: His villains tend to be nihilists who believe that their warped worldview is philosophically transcendent.
  • Nightmare Sequence: To signify that a character is going through some issues stemming from their past or present shortcomings, or that they are psychic and picking up the aura of someone really nasty, or that a strange entity or occurrence is creeping up on them and trying to invade their minds.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: Many of Koontz's older villains are Mad Scientists who want to create a new version of humanity, either wiping out the old version in the process or without paying attention to terrible flaws in the transformation process. The heroes naturally destroy all such abominations.
  • Noodle Incident: Cullen Greenwich from Relentless mentions that his family won't allow him to change a car tire because things once went very wrong when he tried to do so; he doesn't say what happened, only that it involved a monkey dressed in a band uniform.
  • Ominous Fog: In Moonlight Bay from Fear Nothing and Seize the Night, and Moonlight Cove from Midnight.
  • Orphanage of Fear : Downplayed in Lightning. While the facility itself isn't too bad, it employs a janitor who's a paedophile, with a lech for Laura Shane.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Seriously. Walking fungi that scream and weep like people in pain, giant insects, blob monsters, grotesque parasite-shooting abominations, and the aforementioned cosmic horrors.
  • Papa Wolf: If a male protagonist has a kid, god help any madman or monster who threatens them. Notable example is Jimmy Tock from Life Expectancy. Travis Cornell from Watchers is like this about Einstein, species notwithstanding.
  • Parental Abandonment: Amy Redwing from The Darkest Evening of the Year has this as backstory.
  • Perverse Puppet: In Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages, the evil toys are led by a pair of wicked marionettes.
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: The Frankenstein novels have this as part of Victor Helios's (aka Victor Frankenstein's) backstory.
  • Police Are Useless: In Shattered, Alex Doyle tells the police that George Leland tried to run his car off the road; they accuse him of making up stories and possibly being a drug addict who hallucinated the incident. In Mr. Murder, Martin Stillwater tells the police how a man broke into his house and almost strangled him to death; the police accuse him of setting up the whole thing as a publicity stunt.
    • Taken a step further in the Moonlight Bay series, where the police are not just corrupt, but have been co-opted and are actively trying to cover up what happened at Fort Wyvern. It also doesn't help that some of them have The Virus.
    • If one of a novel's main characters is a police officer (like Harry Lyon in Dragon Tears, Jack Dawson in Darkfall, and John Calvino in What The Night Knows), he'll avert this trope by being conscientious and highly skilled at his job. He'll probably still have some frustrating co-workers who do fit the trope, though.
  • Positive Discrimination: Most of his disabled characters get this treatment.
  • Psycho Serum: The amber fluid in Midnight.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Giver in Winter Moon can possess both the living and the dead.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Billy Pilgrim, at least in his opinion. "They said there was no rest for the wicked. In fact, there was rest neither for the virtuous nor the wicked, nor for guys like Billy, who were uncommitted regarding the whole idea of virtue versus wickedness and who were just trying to do their jobs." In reality, Billy is Affably Evil, but the evil part is there.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:Astonishingly, subverted in his Frankenstein series. Victor is depicted as a monster who viciously abuses his created "wife", which is bad enough. His clone, however, despises this as a form of weakness and promptly has himself castrated to escape such trivial temptations. Victor Immaculate, as he calls himself, has discarded his original's dream of world domination to become an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Red Herring: Almost everything in Your Heart Belongs to Me. Which is fitting, as it's basically a story of a man who went astray.
  • Retired Badass: Ben Shadway in Shadowfires. He's an easygoing real estate salesman who likes to build model trains and watch old movies, so Rachael Leben is surprised when he incapacitates a threatening Geneplan employee with his bare hands. It turns out he served in an elite Marine Reconnaissance unit in Vietnam.
  • Scenery Porn: Extremely lavish and detailed descriptions of settings and architecture, which generally flows smoothly with the rest of the narrative.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Several villains.
  • Supersoldier: Always ends in Transhuman Treachery.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: Happens in the short story "Hardshell".
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: His shapeshifters (mostly malevolent ones) are fond of doing this.
  • Screwball Comedy: Ticktock. Yes, a screwball horror comedy.
  • Sealed Evil in a Teddy Bear: In Ticktock. And it doesn't stay there for long.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Surprisingly his work actually hits hard on the idealism end.
  • Spooky Silent Library: Chapter 4 of Relentless begins with a nightmare set in one of these.
  • Storyboarding the Apocalypse: Victor Helios in his Frankenstein series had a short CGI film of the world under the control of his new race, and he makes all his creations watch every day.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The plot of Lightning features a Nazi Germany that had developed time machines during World War II.
  • Take Me Instead: Tim Carrier from The Good Guy.
  • Take Over the World: The villains in his Frankenstein series, Midnight, Door to December, Night Chills and Dragon Tears all desired this to a certain extent. In 77 Shadow Street, we see a future where one has actually succeeded.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: In The Good Guy Linda is having a bad dream of when her dog was taken away and mutters the dog's name, prompting Tim to ask her what's wrong.
  • Take a Third Option: By the end of The Servants of Twilight, Charlie Harrison isn't sure whether or not Joey is or isn't the Antichrist, but he figures that even if he was, that doesn't necessarily make him evil, just different. He even factors in the famous Samuel Butler quote: “An apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.”
  • Tele-Frag: Frank Pollard isn't very good at teleportation.
  • Temporal Paradox : Discussed, along with the Grandfather Paradox , in Lightning.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Konrad Beezo calls Lorrie "missy, little lady, dear, and darling," and treats her in a friendly way as he's preparing to kidnap her and deliver and steal her firstborn. It seems his upbeat, syrupy facade is the only thing keeping him from exploding into homicidal rage.
  • Time Dissonance: In Whispers, the main character, who is 35, at one point muses that it seems like it was only a year ago since he was 25, when in fact ten years had actually passed.
  • Time Stands Still: Dragon Tears features an antagonist whose "Greatest and Most Secret Power" is time-stopping. He can control who is and is not affected; late in the book, the two protagonists find themselves in a frozen world being stalked by a Golem.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Moonlight Cove in Midnight and Moonlight Bay in the Christopher Snow books.
  • Tragic Monster: Konrad Beezo and his son to some extent, as well as Alphie from Mr. Murder and the Outsider from Watchers, especially toward the end. Since Koontz antagonists almost always won't be redeemed, these tend to stand out, in a put-the-tormented-psycho-out-of-their-misery sort of way.
    • Also, from the FRANKENSTEIN series, the man-made humans created by Victor Helios, nee Frankenstein. They live a bleak existence without hope or the ability to feel positive emotions, and they have the pleasure of living for maybe thousands of years without happiness, since all they're supposed to be are biological (sort of) machines to do Victor's work for him.
  • Undead Child: The hideous abomination Ellen Harper gives birth to in The Funhouse. Another monstrous offspring by the same father, named Gunther, lives to adulthood and becomes a member of the carnival, wearing a Frankenstein mask to hide his inhuman nature.
  • Unfortunate Names: One of Life Expectancy's villains, Punchinello Beezo.
    • A lot of his villains, despite their overwhelming Evilness, fall victim to this: Shearman Waxx (Relentless), Corky Laputa (The Face), Edgler Vess (Intensity), Junior (From the Corner of His Eye), and Candy (The Bad Place — although in that case it was actually Lampshaded when one of the heroes declared that he wasn't afraid of any man named Candy. The character in question was named James at birth, but was given his nickname by his much-adored mother).
  • Villainous Incest: Major characters in several books are the product of non-consensual incest.
    • The Bad Place has the ultimate example: The villain was produced by his hermaphroditic mother, the product of brother-on-sister rape, inseminating herself.
    • What the Night Knows also has a pretty damn strong example: The villian, Blackwood, is the product of family generations of incest finally crapping out. Then he died. Then he REALLY got nasty.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Eric Leben in Shadowfires does this after being hit and killed by a truck. Turns out that immortality substance he injected into himself worked a little too well. Unfortunately it does not prevent brain damage, insanity, and wildly out of control DNA, compelling him to devolve into a monstrous freak and hunt his ex wife.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Corky Laputa from The Face genuinely does believe that if he brings down civilization as we know it, a better civilization really will rise from the ashes. He just has no compunctions about what he has to do to accomplish that. Other villains from Koontz's works tend to fall under this category as well. Koontz's recent novels tend to indicate that this is where he believes most evil comes from: if you think humanity needs fixing, you don't really love humans or the things that matter about us.
    • Arguably Victor Frankenstein falls into this category in some moments, he seems to genuinely believe that he's doing the human race a service by wiping them out and replacing them with his New People; he even muses at one point that if he were to die, the future would be bleak for the world. On some twisted level, in his own mind he's fixing the world by killing everyone.
    • Proteus is perhaps the most clear example. He's a supercomputer that wants to be given true life so he can go out and solve all the problems of the world. In the novel it is ambiguous on how sincere he really is, while in the movie Proteus often speaks of mankind's rape of the Earth and doesn't want to be dictated to by the project's corporate sponsors.
  • Wicked Cultured:
  • Wicked Toymaker: In Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages, a group of living toys must find the toymaker their creator had selected to take over his work. If they do not, an evil toymaker will inherit his power instead and create magical toys that will harm children instead of helping them.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Roy from The Voice of the Night.
    • The Outsider from The Watchers also qualifies, as it was made to be a killing machine and knows it. It hates what it is but can do nothing to change it. Its habit of ripping out its victims' eyes stems from the fact it knows everyone sees it as a monster.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: A common theme, discussed, played straight and subverted.
  • You Just Told Me: In Darkfall, Detective Dawson asks Shelly Parker if she knows Baba Lavelle (an evil voodoo priest). Parker denies knowing him or ever hearing anything about him. Dawson asks if she believes in voodoo and Parker casually says of course not, voodoo is crap. Dawson says that if she had never heard of Lavelle, she would have been surprised when he mentioned something as strange as voodoo: "You would've asked what the hell voodoo had to do with anything. But you weren't surprised, which means you know about Lavelle." Parker is forced to admit that she actually knows a lot about him.


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