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Creator / Terry Pratchett

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"If it wasn't for the fun and money, I really don't know why I'd bother."
Terry Pratchett,

Terence David John Pratchett (28 April 1948 — 12 March 2015) was a British fantasy author and Archmage of Tropeomancy.1 A Knight Bachelor (i.e. Sir Terry Pratchett OBE), he was described as the most shoplifted author in Britain, and is likely best known for his Discworld series.

Pratchett's trademark was his sense of humour — relying on wordplay, spoofing mythology and popular culture (though he usually didn't include current events in his work lest the books become dated), and publishing in genres ranging from fantasy to detective fiction to political thriller (often combining all three), rarely has there been found a phrase that he could not turn, and there are few subjects that Pterry (as his fans have affectionately dubbed him) wouldn't make at least a passing attempt to skewer on the end of a sharp metaphor.

Outside of fiction, Pratchett was well-known for his sharp wit and keen awareness of human nature (and the innumerable failings thereof); one of his more popular quotes claims that the fundamental problem of the human race is that we're trying to achieve world peace and understand the very structure of the universe "using a language which was designed to tell one another where the best fruit was."

Pratchett was also known to have been One of Us. The Luggage, for example, was originally created for a game of Dungeons & Dragons he played; he further enjoyed a few computer games like Doom, Half-Life 2 and fan missions of Thief. His daughter Rhianna is a writer for video games, notably the Overlord series, Mirror's Edge, Heavenly Sword and the reboot of Tomb Raider. He has stated that he is happy for her to take over running Discworld, although she won't be writing new books. She once stated, "They’re sacred, they’re Dad’s legacy and I’m the protector of Discworld and that means protecting it from myself as well."

Pratchett once said that the Discworld series would probably never end; what will end Discworld, he said, is sheer overcrowding — the City Watch books were already problematic in that regard, as it's hard to write a story set in Ankh-Morpork that doesn't somehow involve the Watch (at which point it becomes a Watch book, regardless of his original plot outline), which presumably explains the creation of protagonist Moist Von Lipwig, who by virtue of his past profession was able to become a powerful and influential city figure while wishing to have nothing to do with the Watch.

He was also a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation, by virtue of a liking for the animal and featuring it in the Discworld series as the Librarian.

In 2007, Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, which he typically referred to as an "embuggerance". He didn't let it get him down, though his condition advanced to the point where he couldn't write or type. (Not that that stopped him releasing a book or two a year through dictation.) Also in typical fashion, he said that while he appreciated the sentiment, he asked that only those fans of his with a background in the study of brain chemistry ask him questions like, "Is there anything I can do?"

After being included in the 2008 Christmas Honours list, Pratchett became Sir Terry, and was reportedly "flabbergasted". In celebration, he had a sword forged from Thunderbolt Iron. In 2010, he received his coat of arms. That same year, he became Professor at Trinity College, Dublin. In 2012, he ran Narrativia Productions, which is in charge of all future adaptations of his work, including the Good Omens TV series and Terry Pratchett's The Watch. (Narrativia is the Goddess of Narrative, who manifests whenever aspects of a story neatly fit together in a way the writer hadn't expected.)

The events leading up to Pratchett's passing would honestly not look out of place in one of his own books. At a con in 2009, he announced, "I will not die of Alzheimer's. I shall make other arrangements; I'm going to take the disease with me." Sure enough, in 2011, he began the process that would lead to his eventual assisted death.

In 2010, Pratchett became the first-ever novelist (with the assistance of his good friend Tony Robinson) to give a Richard Dimbleby Lecture on this subject titled Shaking Hands With Death. It can be seen here. In 2014, he withdrew from public appearances due to the development of his Alzheimer's, and ultimately succumbed to the disease on March 12, 2015. Though he had made all preparations for his death and had full intentions of carrying through with his earlier promise, Pratchett ultimately died of natural causes, passing away peacefully in his sleep while surrounded by his family and cat.

Shortly afterwards, Pratchett's assistant Rob Wilkins posted a series of tweets that went on to become one of the most remembered (and tear-jerking) aspects of the mass grieving that followed the news.

The BBC broadcast a docudrama about his life, Back in Black, in 2017. Also in that year, his computer hard drive with all his unfinished work was destroyed by a steamroller per his request.

Terry Pratchett's body of work includes:

  • Discworld, his most iconic work, a satiric fantasy/comedy Long Runner offering biting between-the-lines commentary on contemporary social amd political issues.
  • The Carpet People (his first novel) and the Nomes Trilogy (aka The Bromeliad), three further books on a similar theme, aimed at children.
  • The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata, his first two adult novels.
  • The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy for children. Only You Can Save Mankind has been adapted for radio, the other two for TV.
  • Good Omens, a collaboration with Neil Gaiman. A mini-series was released on May 31, 2019.
  • Nation - a non-Discworld fantasy children's novel, released 11 September 2008.
  • The Long Earth - A science fiction series co-written with Stephen Baxter. The first book was released 19 June 2012.
  • Dodger, a Dickensian story featuring Charles Dickens himself, released 13 September 2012.
  • The Unadulterated Cat: An allegedly nonfiction book about the wonders of Real Cats (1989)
  • A Stroke Of The Pen: A collection of Sir Terry's short stories published under pseudonyms from the 1970s and 1980s, re-discovered and collected by several fans and the Pratchett estate after his death, published 5 October 2023.

Tropes associated with Pratchett's work include:

  • The Comically Serious: Terry Pratchett may be known as a humorist but the guy could still play his stories rather straight. He would just sneak in a joke on every page if he could.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: Pratchett sometimes auctioned off naming rights to minor characters for charity.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Has a cameo in each of the Discworld TV movies, and played a cop in one scene of the Good Omens radio show.
    • Since Pratchett's death, Paul Kaye who portrayed him in Back in Black also does his cameos: Kaye is the nuclear power plant PR man in Good Omens (2019).
    • Also in Good Omens (2019), Pratchett's iconic hat and scarf can be seen hanging on a hat rack in Aziraphale's bookshop.
  • Deconstructive Parody: His trademark was his sense of humor and for playing with various narrative and genre conventions. His stories were often mixed with other genres and commentary.
  • Died During Production: Pratchett passed away on March 12, 2015. The last book he wrote (The Shepherd's Crown, the fifth Tiffany Aching book in the Discworld series) was published posthumously, and since his daughter Rhianna has stated that she will be the "caretaker" of Discworld but not write any books for it herself, this book marks the end of the series. Per his wishes, his in-progress works were all destroyed. With a steamroller.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After his Alzheimer's diagnosis, he continued writing and appearing at conventions through the last few years of his life and became an outspoken advocate of "Death With Dignity," hosting the controversial documentary "Choosing to Die." (He had made plans to end his own life this way, but died of natural causes before this could take place.)
  • Fourth Wall Shut-In Story: The short story "Final Reward" has a Barbarian Hero, following his death, arriving in the hall of his "creator"; that is, the fantasy writer who invented him. The writer has increasing trouble dealing with his houseguest, especially when the barbarian quickly adjusts to the real world, and is soon more successful and popular than the writer. At the end of the story, the writer escapes by creating a new series set on the same world and writing himself in as the central character. The barbarian discovers the author gone, and on finding the unfinished manuscript realises what has happened. He decides to continue the series and write a good life for his creator.
  • He Also Did: He helped write dialogue for a The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion mod.
  • Historical Re-Creation: In "And Mind The Monoliths", the HTV network has a show called Paleolithic Village in which folks try to recreate how people lived during the Bronze Age. The Lemony Narrator mocks the misguided contestants trying to reconstruct Stonehenge.
    "You can't miss us, down here at the HTV Paleolithic Village. Well, you can, if you're not careful. What you do is, you come up past the Yorkshire Television hill fort, turn left at the LWT Bronze Age encampment, go straight on past Southern TV's Beaker Folk village, and we're next door to the field where some poor bleeders are trying to reconstruct Stonehenge."
  • Ironically Disabled Artist: Cruelly, the form of Alzheimer's that Pratchett suffered attacked his mental ability to process written and typed words. He still managed to complete seven entire books via dictation.
  • Line to God: He was active on the Usenet group for a while in The '90s.
  • Nice Guy: Pratchett was known as an incredibly nice man who was very generous to others, especially his friends and the fans he met at conventions.
  • One of Us: Was a big fan of science fiction, fantasy, pop culture like Monty Python, and loved be at the conventions just as much as those who would dress in cosplay.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: It's hard to find a page in one of his novels that doesn't have a funny joke written on it.
  • Refugee from TV Land: The short story "Final Reward" has a Barbarian Hero, following his death, arriving in the hall of his "creator"; that is, the fantasy writer who invented him.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Where his books lie.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: In his books, this trope was often played with but the overall outlook actually leaned pretty strongly on the optimistic side. Terry was quite in awe of the universe we live in and the general experience of life and his books reflect that. The Discworld series reflected peoples cynicism for everyday life even though they did live in a world that reflected his optimism.
    • What makes it particularly intriguing is that in Pratchett's books there will often be a cynic and an idealist paired together. Who is actually right about the situation also varies: in the first two books, cynic Rincewind is almost always right and idealist Twoflower is almost always wrong. In the City Watch books, Carrot is an idealist while Vimes is a cynic, but Carrot tends to make the world around him (a deeply cynical one) essentially become more idealistic, because people don't want to disappoint him. It also bears noting that Carrot has been getting considerably less idealistic while still not being cynical, whereas Vimes has been growing slightly more hopeful in human nature (although he still thinks everyone's a selfish greedy bastard). In both books he's featured in, Moist von Lipwig is a cynic who is amazed and disturbed at how idealistic those around him can get. Death and Vetinari are both functionally cynics (they do what they do because they have to do it) with highly idealistic beliefs about human nature. In general, the Discworld appears to be an idealistic world populated by cynics.
  • Tuckerization: Some characters (particularly Hodgesaargh, the falconer of Lancre) are based on particularly memorable fans.
  • Unnecessary Time Precision:
    • Interesting Times: Rincewind asks Cohen the Barbarian how old he is. What century is it? Ninety to 95 years.
    • Night Watch: Vimes asks when Dibbler Enterprises, Est. was established. What year is it? Tuesday.
    • Sourcery: While Rincewind is an Inept Mage, he's had his fair share of adventures. When he meets Nijel, a rather unimpressive Barbarian Hero, he thinks he's found kinship with him. Spending too long away from civilization is bad for one's notion of time, after all. Nijel has only been three days on the road, making his earlier question of what year it is unneeded.
      Rincewind: Exactly how long have you been a barbarian hero?
      Nijel the Destroyer: Er. What year is this?
      Rincewind: Out on the road, then? Lost track of time? I know how it is. This is the year of the Hyena.
      Nijel: Oh, in that case about... about three days.
  • What Could Have Been:

At last, Sir Terry, we must walk together.
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
The End. - three of the last Twitter messages on Pratchett's account.

1. and footnotes

GNU Terry Pratchett


Video Example(s):


Death saves the Match Girl

During his substitution for the Hogfather, Death runs into the Little Match Girl on the verge of death on the streets. Albert tries to spin her death in a positive light, as a reminder to be thankful for what you have. However, Death is disgusted by this notion and uses his current status as the Hogfather to give life rather than take it, reviving the Match Girl with the gift of a future, before handing her over to some guards so she may have some food and care.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (30 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight

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