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Literature / Adrian Mole

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Adrian, Nigel, and a magazine they'd get in trouble for possessing.
A series of books, written as journals, by Sue Townsend, centering around the life of Adrian Mole, a British everyman. It starts out when he's 13¾, and the series runs until his early forties (at least). With the death of Townsend in 2014 the series has most likely come to an end barring any posthumous publications or continuation by another author.

The first two books were made into television series that aired on ITV in 1985 and 1987, as was The Cappuccino Years on The BBC in 2001.

Books in the series:

  1. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ (pub. 1982; covers events 1981-82; Adrian is aged 13¾ to 15)
  2. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (pub. 1985; covers events 1982-83; Adrian is aged 15 to 16)
  3. The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole (pub. 1989; covers events 1984-89; Adrian is aged 17 to 22)
  4. Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians (pub. 1991 as part of Adrian Mole: The Lost Years, or Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major in the UK; covers events 1990-91; Adrian is aged 22 to 24)
  5. Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (pub. 1993; covers events 1991-92; Adrian is aged 24 to 25)
  6. Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (pub. 1999; covers events 1997-98; Adrian is aged 30 to 31)
  7. Diary of a Provincial Man (serialised in The Guardian 1999-2001; covers events 1999-2001; Adrian is aged 32 to 33) (published in book form as The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001)
  8. Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (pub. 2004; covers events 2002-03; Adrian is aged 34 to 36)
  9. Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (pub. 2009; covers events 2007-08; Adrian is aged 39 to 40)

This work provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-D 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: When William has to be taken to hospital suddenly, one of his nurses develops a crush on Adrian. He finds her repulsive for no other reason than that she has hairy wrists; ignoring his mother's advice to just buy her a razor.
    • Eleanor Flood is this to Adrian. Although, in his defence, she's so psychotic that she burns his house down.
  • Absurd Phobia: In Cappuccino Years, Adrian reveals his fear of netting, which stems from his babyhood, when his parents used netting to imprison him in his cot at night. He says that he has never been able to enjoy watching tennis for this reason.
  • Abusive Parents: Adrian's parents border on neglectful, although it is played for laughs.
  • The Ace: Everyone around Adrian seems to get success in something he wishes he could have, almost to the point of a Running Gag:
    • Pandora. Beautiful, witty, Head Girl of her school, doctorate from Oxford, fluent in at least five languages, MP and published author, to list just a few of her achievements. The last two books subvert this however by suggesting her political career has already peaked and started declining note  and her autobiography sells poorly.
    • Brett Mole is a widely acclaimed author, filmmaker, ladies' man, millionaire stock trader, wit and almost everything Adrian would like to be ... until Brett loses his money during the 2008 recession.
    • Barry Kent could be considered this as well, since he becomes a widely admired poet...much to Adrian's consternation, as he believes Barry cannot read and Adrian desperately wants to be recognized as a genius poet (or recognized as being ANYTHING wonderful, for that matter). To twist the knife further, one of Barry's books is based heavily on (an unflattering Expy of) Adrian.
    • After having been a housewife and mother to a large family for many years, Barry's mother Edna graduates with two first-class degrees, begins a successful career in middle age, and wins awards for her academic papers while Adrian's own life is falling apart. He's stunned.
    • Inverted by Brain Box Henderson. He should be this, having been a Teen Genius in the early books, but ends up working in a fairly mundane job at an electronics shop. Hilariously, he's jealous of Adrian, because Adrian is more successful with women than he is (though, Adrian notes that he can count the number of women he's slept with on one hand). Adrian uses this to his advantage to pawn Marigold off on him.
  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Adrian generally dislikes abbreviations, preferring to spell out phrases such as National Health Service (usually written "NHS") in full. However, occasionally he writes sentences in abbreviations:
    • In Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Running Gag that everyone says "a swan can break a man's arm, you know" is replaced on one occasion with "A.S.C.B.A.M.A.Y.K.".
    • In Wilderness Years: having hoped that his grandma never finds out that Bert Baxter gave him a bed for the night, he writes "G. knows about B&B at B.B's. She saw B.B. in C&A."
  • Acting Your Intellectual Age: Adrian, in believing himself to be an intellectual, often comes across as older than he really is. His mother notes that he "came out of the womb at 35", he tends to get along best with the elderly, and is diagnosed with prostate cancer at a relatively young age. However, in Cappuccino Years, he wishes "that everyone over the age of fifty would commit mass suicide, and give the rest of us a break".
  • Actor/Role Confusion: In The Wilderness Years, Adrian writes that he bumps into Victor Meldrew, who plays the grumpy bloke in One Foot in the Grave. The grumpy bloke in question is Victor Meldrew, played by Richard Wilson.
  • Adaptational Name Change:
    • The original Radio 4 play was The Diary of Nigel Mole.
    • Adrian's friend Nigel (possibly named as a Mythology Gag to the above) is Nigel Hetherington in the books (usually), but Nigel Patridge in the ITV series (and, for some reason, in Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians).
  • Age Insecurity: Pauline is sensitive about her age, especially when she gets together with the much younger Martin Muffet. In Growing Pains she is mentioned to be 38, and becomes very upset when the local newspaper falsely reports she's 58. In Wilderness Years she shamelessly lies about her age in order to get a job, and deliberately positions herself to block out the window so the interviewer can't see her properly.
  • Air Voyance: When Pandora flies to Tunisia, Adrian goes with her to London Heathrow Airport, and knows which plane is hers at it disappears into the clouds.
  • Alliterative Name: Bert Baxter, Martin Muffet, Pamela Pigg, Wayne Wong.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Adrian muses on this in Weapons of Mass Destruction.
    What is it about women and shoes? I have only three pairs: a brown pair, a black pair, and a pair of flip flops for when I am on holiday. They are perfectly adequate for my needs.
  • Always Someone Better: A Running Gag is that someone else always ends up succeeding at something that Adrian would like to be. Pandora and Barry Kent are notable examples; Pandora becomes a celebrated academic, who gets elected as a member of Parliament, while Barry is a successful poet and author. Inverted with Brain Box Henderson, who is jealous of Adrian's apparent success with women.
  • Ambiguous Gender:
    • In order to go to see his current crush, who works at a creche, Adrian borrows one of the neighbours' young children. He doesn't know the child's name and is not sure of their gender, so books them into the creche under the name Emily. He's banned from the creche when the staff had to change the child's nappy and discovered they certainly aren't an Emily.
    • Adrian is unable to determine the genders of his landlord's three children in The Wilderness Years. Tamsin is a girl's name, but Griffith is usually a surname and the third kid is named Alpha.
    • During Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian's boss Mr. Carlton-Hayes frequently mentions his partner Leslie. Leslie is always refered to just as Leslie, leaving the reader unsure if Leslie is a man or a woman. It is revealed in The Prostate Years that Leslie is a man.
  • Ambiguously Bi: At one point Nigel tells Adrian that he can't decide if he's gay, straight or bi, and when Adrian asks which he's more comfortable with, he says "All three". That moment aside, he's mostly portrayed as gay to borderline Het Is Ew levels.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Adrian frequently corrects his own ambiguous syntax, in his diaries.
    He bit the vet, but I expect he's used to it. (The vet, I mean - I know the dog is.)
  • Amusing Injuries: The famous Airfix glue incident. Adrian tried sniffing glue from a model aeroplane and it stuck to his nose.
  • Anachronism Stew: An in-universe example: When he writes his novel in Wilderness Years, he writes a description to be slotted in somewhere: "The fried egg spluttered in the frying pan, like an old man having a tubercular coughing fit in a 1930s National Health Service hospital." The National Health Service was founded in 1948.
    • Adrian and Pauline see Monty Python's Life of Brian in a cinema in March 1981. The film was released in the UK in November 1979 so would not still have been running 16 months later.
    • A neighbour's dog is said in April 1982 to be being prepared for Crufts. In the 1980s Crufts was held in February. Preparing a dog for a show would not take 10 months.
  • ...And 99¢: In a long school uniform shopping list in Secret Diary, almost every single item has a price ending in 99p. Same goes for his Christmas shopping list in Growing Pains. In Wilderness Years, Adrian asks for a two-week holiday in Europe costing no more than £300; he is sold one for £299.99.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: True Confessions starts off with Adrian, before jumping to Sue Townsend herself around the halfway mark and the tail end of the book is the diary of a young girl named Margaret Hilda Roberts.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Adrian sometimes uses slightly old-fashioned expressions. For example, he nearly always says "lavatory" rather than "toilet", even in the later books. When speaking on Radio 4 in True Confessions, he tells listeners that he will make particular reference to his "toilet habits", meaning his washing routine, which probably caused some listeners to chuckle. Another expression is "postmistress".
    • In Wilderness Years, he refers to his landlady Mrs. Hedge as a "slut", in the old-fashioned sense of meaning a slob or a slovenly person.
  • Anti-School Uniforms Plot: In Secret Diary, Adrian impulsively wears red socks to school, instead of the regulation black. When the headmaster Mr Scruton sends him home, Pandora organises a sock protest, complete with a "red sock committee", and they proudly march into school the next day, red socks and all. However, Mr Scruton gets wind of this, and intercepts them before they see anybody else in school, and suspends them for a week. After their suspension, the committee votes to give way to Scruton, but wear red socks underneath their black socks.
  • April Fools' Plot: Adrian is constantly hit with April Fool's gags, mostly involving someone making him believe that a publisher wants to pick up one of his works. Adding to this, April Fool's Day happens to be the day before Adrian's birthday.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At one point, Adrian goes to see a psychotherapist who engages him in an exercise to pretend that a chair is his father and tell "him" why he has disappointed Adrian. The therapist encourages Adrian to be angrier, but he's already said everything he could think of to say, and continues with "... you didn't buy me an anglepoise lamp when I was revising for my GCSEs, and I hate your Country 'n' Western cassettes"
  • The Artful Dodger: At the end of Growing Pains, a minor character Boz is a possible example.
    Boz is going to help me fix the brakes on my bike, he is an expert bike-fixer. He has been stealing them since he was six.
  • Art Reflects Personality:
    • In an art lesson in Secret Diary, Adrian draws a picture of a boy standing on a bridge, looking at a boy struggling in a river; and thinks that the boy on the bridge looks like himself, and the boy in the river looks like his ex-best-friend Nigel, who has just started going out with Pandora. The art teacher says that the picture "has depth", and so does the river.
    • In Small Amphibians, Brown is particularly annoyed about Adrian using his phone for frivolous purposes, and doodles a missile heading towards a target with A.M. written in it.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Moles' Asian neighbours have the Sikh surname Singh, but are stated to be Hindus, and they speak Hindi, not Punjabi.
  • Author Avatar: The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole features Sue Townsend as an actual character, whom Adrian believes is stalking him and trying to pass off his diaries as her own works of fiction. She also appears in True Confessions, where the opening blurb explains that Adrian sued her for this.
  • Author Tract: In universe, when Adrian's mother writes Adrian's cookbook, she includes a bizarre and completely irrelevant chapter on gender politics.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Many babies are born in the books, and this trope is mostly averted:
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian is not pleased at all when his mother is pregnant, noting that there will be a toddler smashing the place up when he is studying for his A-levels. Although he helps his mother, he is indifferent to baby Rosie when she is born.
    • In Cappuccino Years, when Adrian finds himself supporting two sons, he rants that he only wanted one child, a daughter, who was to be called Liberty, and Pandora was to have been her mother.
    • Also averted in Cappuccino Years, Rosie falls pregnant, and considers keeping her baby, to Adrian's horror, who notes that Rosie has not shown any maternal instincts, having disfigured her dolls, and performed gruesome experiments on them with the contents of their father's toolbox, like a torturer's apprentice. Later, Rosie has an abortion.
  • Babysitting Episode:
    • In Secret Diary, Adrian finds himself forced to babysit Doreen Slater's son Maxwell. When Maxwell screams non-stop, Pandora phones and gives him the advice to put vodka in hot milk, and pour it down his vile throat.
    • In Growing Pains, when Pandora and Adrian are pushing baby Rosie in her pram, they pretend they are married, and Rosie is their baby.
      Pandora tired of the game before I did, but not before several people had been fooled.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian lives rent-free, in return for babysitting his landlord's three children on a regular basis.
  • Bad Boss: Brown, Adrian's boss at the Department Of The Environment, is a petty bureaucrat who makes hell for Adrian (and, to a lesser extent, everyone else). He's obsessed with nailing Adrian for stealing postage stamps and doesn't even give him his statutory rights when Adrian's resignation letter (which he wasn't going to submit, having got cold feet) somehow finds its way to him. Adrian suspects that he cares more about the Newport Pagnell newts than he does about his subordinates.
  • Bad Liar: Adrian admits to being a bad liar in the first book.
    Grandma found Maxwell's dummy in my father's bed. I lied and said the dog must have brought it in from the street. It was a nasty moment. I am not a good liar, and my grandma has eyes like Superman's: they seem to bore right through you.
  • Baffled by Own Biology: The teenager Adrian Mole experiences his voice breaking dramatically when he is fifteen years old, wobbling between very high-pitched and much deeper for a few days. He also notes in horror "My nipples have swollen! I am turning into a girl!!!!!!", about which his doctor is highly unsympathetic.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A couple of in-universe examples is that a message suddenly comes through in a moment of high tension, but it turns out to be something extremely trivial.
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian and his mother wait three weeks for a cheque from the Social Security office. In desperation, Adrian's mother contacts the local radio station, saying she will abandon Adrian in the office unless she receives her cheque by midday. Just as they head out of the door for this abandonment, the phone rings; it is Adrian's father pleading for his name not to be mentioned on the air.
    • In Small Amphibians, Adrian is summoned to Brown's office to be told that a telephone message has come through from his mother; normally such messages are only allowed in "life or death matters". Adrian prepares himself for terrible news, and weakly mumbles "hello" into the object of his doom, the telephone. His mother wants to know (hysterically) if he would like to wear a carnation or a rose in his buttonhole, at her wedding.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: In Growing Pains, Adrian gets sent to the headmaster's office for writing a poem in the boys' toilet. When Adrian asks the headmaster how he knows he's the culprit, he replies, "You signed it, idiot boy." He is suspended for a week, which marks the start of a slide into delinquency and depression.
  • Beardness Protection Program: In the second book, Adrian runs away from home and tries to grow a beard.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Adrian has a beard during The Wilderness Years, a notable emotional low point for him.
  • Beast in the Building: Adrian thinks it is a mistake that at the midnight service on Christmas Eve, there is a live donkey in the church, even though the vicar is in charge of an animal sanctuary.
  • Benevolent Boss: Mr. Carlton-Hayes, Adrian's employer in the last two books, is the only person Adrian ever worked for who wasn't a pen-pushing bureaucrat or a total nutter. When Adrian finds himself in financial trouble in The Weapons Of Mass Destruction, Mr. Carlton-Hayes gives Adrian a payrise to help him cope and any time Adrian needs time off for personal matters, always gives him the time he needs. When the bookshop is forced to close in The Prostrate Years, Adrian is devastated at the thought of not seeing him every day.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Flowers sisters, Marigold and Daisy, during the events of The Weapons Of Mass Destruction occupy the roles respectively; Marigold is meek and weird, while Daisy is more confident about her sexuality, owing to her Mexican heritage. Before Daisy comes along, Pandora could also be considered the Veronica, as she and Adrian almost get together after their school reunion until Marigold messes it up for Adrian.
  • Big Brother Instinct: When Rosie falls pregnant, Adrian notes that he wants to beat the guy who was responsible. As it stands, he's the one who helps her out when she gets an abortion.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: In The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, elderly Queenie dies shortly after Adrian's sister is born, and he reflects at her funeral that she had to die in order to "make way" for the baby.
  • Bit Character: Months after an incident in which William threw his lunch at a goat during a nursery school visit, the teacher makes William play a goat in the Nativity play. Adrian is appalled that his son is playing a lowly goat, and notes that a goat rarely or never appears in pictures of the Nativity. However, he enlists the help of Tania Braithwaite to make a goat costume. He also notes that his other son Glenn is unlikely to be chosen to play any part in a nativity, even a goat.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most of the books tend to end this way, most notably The Wilderness Years where Adrian has lost Bianca and his flat is burgled, but starts a new relationship with Jo Jo and a possible career as a chef and The Prostrate Years where Daisy leaves him, but he may have gotten back with Pandora.
  • Black Comedy: There are some elements of this in the books, such as the deaths of Ivan Braithwaite and the Moles' dog. An in-universe example is when Adrian writes "The White Van", a sitcom about a serial killer.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Adrian uses this phrase in The Wilderness Years, when he has been sworn to secrecy about an affair between Brown and Megan.
    God, blackmail is an ugly word. I hope Brown doesn't force me to use it.
  • Blatant Lies: In Cappuccino Years, Adrian's son William lies that a goat ate his lunch, but he was Caught on Tape throwing his lunch at the goat. Adrian admits to himself that his son is a convincing liar, and tells his own blatant lie: that if William does not behave in future, a man called Jack Straw (then Home Secretary) would get him, and put him in prison.
  • Bonding Through Shared Earbuds: Earbuds were less common in 1991, but In Wilderness Years, Bianca takes off her Sony headset and invites Adrian to listen her Guns 'n Roses tape, as they walk along. Presumably she does this to flirt or bond with him, but it goes completely over his head (no pun intended).
    After five minutes, I handed it back to her. I couldn't stand the din.
  • Boomerang Bigot: In Growing Pains, Adrian and some of his friends meet an election candidate for the "Send 'Em Back Where They Come From Party", whose policy is the expulsion from England of "black people, brown people, yellow people, tinged people, Jewish, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Celtic and all those who have Norman blood" — in fact, everyone save those who can prove themselves to be "pure-bred flaxen-haired Saxons"note . Given that said candidate's name is Duncan McIntosh, under his own laws he would be obliged to move to Scotland.
  • Boots of Toughness: In Growing Pains, Adrian buys himself some "bully-boy brown" Doc Marten's boots when he joins Barry Kent's gang.
  • The Bore:
    • Adrian's knowledge of the Norwegian Leather Industry and his book tend to be looked upon with little interest from most people.
    • Adrian is unimpressed by Bianca drawing his attention to beautiful feats of engineering, such as Tower Bridge, and one of the largest unsupported arch structures (St Pancras Station).
      "Quite honestly, Bianca, all I can see is a dirty, scruffy roof covered in pigeon shit."
  • Boring Religious Service: Adrian is occasionally made to go to church by his grandmother. He considers the service to be "dead boring", and throughout the series is convinced that God does not exist anyway, because of wars, famines, and motorway crashes.
  • Breakup Breakout: In-Universe, Adrian's assistant on his tv show ends up becoming much more famous than him after the show ends.
  • Britain Is Only London: Mostly averted, as most of the books are in Leicestershire in the Midlands. People from outside London often refer to everywhere else as "the provinces".
  • British Teeth: Earlier on in the series, Adrian has an Australian dentist who comments on how bad British people's teeth are.
  • The Bully: Barry Kent in the early books, especially in the first book, where he is constantly harassing Adrian for menaces money. Adrian's grandmother steps in and intimidates Barry into paying it all back. During Growing Pains, Barry suddenly gains respect for Adrian for a while when he gets in trouble for writing a poem on the school wall; Adrian then joins Barry's gang for a short period. Adrian still ends up disliking him again later once he publishes a book based heavily on Adrian. By the time of Weapons Of Mass Destruction, they are least civil to each other.
  • The Bus Came Back: Several characters return after long absences. Mr. Lucas was absent for a whole quarter-century between Growing Pains and The Prostrate Years. Before he returned in The Cappuccino Years, Nigel, Adrian's best friend in the early books had gradually faded away from the storyline; by The Wilderness Years (in which he does not appear) Nigel was referenced in passing as Adrian's former best friend.
  • Butch Lesbian: Aunt Susan. She is a prison warder, she smokes cigars and has hairy fingers according to Adrian. Her partner Gloria is a Lipstick Lesbian.
  • Calling Out for Not Calling: Adrian sometimes mutters about people not calling, when he has contacted them. He receives the postal equivalent: a letter from Grandma (in early December), asking why he hadn't sent her a Christmas card yet.
  • Captain Colourbeard: In The Wilderness Years, Adrian refers to Pandora's middle-aged lover Cavendish as "Bluebeard".
  • Captain Oblivious: Adrian misses the signs of just about everything, especially when he does something that leads to disaster for someone else. Subverted in The Cappuccino Years when he's the first to spot the signs of his mother's affair with Ivan Braithwaite.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Somewhat. While most of the characters are presumably straight, Adrian does know a lot of gay people. There's his aunt and her partner; Nigel; Pandora's first husband; Gary Milksop and his partner; and Mr Carlton-Hayes. In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian hires a lesbian couple to help him move into Rat Wharf.
  • Catchphrase: Adrian regularly writes "Just my luck" in his diary, and uses "lousy stinking" as an adjective.
  • Caught on Tape: In Cappuccino Years: After a nursery visit to a farm, Adrian's son William claims that a goat ate his lunchbox: not only the contents, but the lunchbox itself. Adrian complains to the nursery teacher, who contacts the farm, claiming that CCTV footage shows William throwing his lunchbox at the goat.
  • Caustic Critic: In Cappuccino Years when Adrian is offal chef at a London restaurant, the critic A. A. Gill writes this memorable review: "The sausage on my plate could have been a turd: it looked like a turd, tasted like a turd, smelled like a turd, had the texture of a turd. In fact, it probably was a turd." The restaurant's owner Savage has the review enlarged and displayed in the window, where it draws admiring crowds. The review is often quoted by other characters.
    I thought you were in London, cooking turds for A. A. Gill.
  • Ceiling Banger: Adrian plays his Abba records at the highest volume, until the deaf woman next door bangs on the wall.
  • Cheek Copy: In Wilderness Years, two colleagues Bill and Megan are caught photocopying their private parts. At first, Adrian is amused by this, but is then angry when he is made to do Bill's work, as well as his own.
    Photocopies of Bill and Megan's private parts are being passed round the office, but the copies are so blurred that it is impossible to tell which is Bill's and which is Megan's. That photocopier never did work properly.
  • Cheerful Child: William, who's universally adored for his cheerfulness and cuteness.
  • Christmas Carolers: In Secret Diary, Adrian resorts to carol singing on doorsteps to raise money to buy presents for his family, as all his money had been confiscated by his parents when he ran up a Shockingly Expensive Bill.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Half-brother Brett Slater (until The Prostrate Years). Also several more minor characters like Animal (from The Weapons of Mass Destruction).
  • Class Reunion: Adrian attends his in The Weapons Of Mass Destruction. Several characters not seen since Growing Pains return, such as Brainbox Henderson, Claire Neilson, and whatever teachers have yet to retire. Adrian is actually the third most famous person from his graduating class after Pandora and Barry Kent, having briefly been a celebrity chef.
  • Class Trip: The first book features one to the British Museum which goes so badly that Ms Fossington-Gore nearly resigns in disgrace.
  • Clothespin Nose Plug: In Growing Pains, Adrian mentions that when changing his baby sister Rosie's nappies, he nearly faints when he tries to do it without a protective device, a clothes peg.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The trademark of Peter Savage, Adrian's boss at the offal restaurant in The Cappuccino Years
    • We also hear several of these from Rosie during her teenage years.
  • Coming of Age Story: The books start off when Adrian is thirteen and ends in his forties with him becoming a grandfather.
  • Conlang: In Wilderness Years, the precocious children of Adrian's landlord have their own language, Oombagooma. Adrian recalls how he used to have his own made-up language (Ikbak), until his father beat it out of him during a long car journey.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: In Secret Diary, Adrian sends his poem to the BBC about a leaking tap, of which the last line is "Dad, fit a washer and don't be a berk!". When Mr Tydeman of the BBC replies, he says that he had difficulty making out the last word, because something had caused the ink to run; a teastain, a tearstain, or a case of "your tap runneth over"?
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Adrian becomes this in The Cappuccino Years, as Savage instructs him to only cook basic dishes. He gets an abysmal review in The Sunday Times. He becomes a celebrity chef specialising in offal, even though he admits to being unable to cook. By the next book, he's reduced to working in a roadside burger van.
  • Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose: In Wilderness Years, Bianca hangs about after she has fixed Adrian's shower, and lies on his bed in what an old-fashioned man might call a provocative pose. Adrian has no idea how to proceed, and Bianca falls into a very deep sleep, leaving Adrian in an awkward position.
  • Creator Cameo: In addition to Sue Townsend's appearance in The Lost Diaries and her own diaries midway into True Confessions, Adrian's contact at The BBC, John Tydeman, was actually Radio 4's Head of Drama, responsible for the original Nigel Mole radio play and later radio adaptations of the books.
  • Creature of Habit: In Growing Pains, Bert Baxter is revealed to be a creature of habit, when detailed instructions are provided to the Braithwaites when they have to look after him for a fortnight. These detail which cup he will drink out of, his very limited range of food, and the exact time at which he moves his bowels, so that the commode can be arranged.
  • Credit Card Destruction: Subverted in Weapons of Mass Destruction when Adrian has got into a spiral of credit card debt, his accountant Parvez symbolically cuts Adrian's store card in half, saying "you'll thank me one day".
  • Credit Card Plot: Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction has an ongoing plot about Adrian's credit card debts. He ends up getting new credit cards in order to pay off the old ones. Eventually, his frivolous spending, combined with his debt, leaves his monthly outgoings at twice his income. It's implied to be resolved by the end of the book, as he sells his flat and his car, moves into his parents' spare converted pigsty, and gets a raise at the bookshop. However, his large tax bill is still being paid off by the last book.
  • Creepy Doll: In The Cappuccino Years, when teenage Rosie is pregnant, Adrian makes her care for an electronic doll which is designed to educate teenagers on the reality of parenthood. This doll cries at unpredictable hours, has to be fed every four hours with an electronic bottle, and may sound an alarm if roughly handled. Said doll is unsettlingly realistic, and looks like a prettier William Hague. Hilarity Ensues when the following happens:
    • When the doll arrives, they discover it is of indeterminate sex, presumably with Barbie Doll Anatomy. Rosie was disappointed, she had been hoping for a girl; she calls the doll Ashby.
    • Rosie laments that Ashby is ruining her life, because of the lack of sleep.
    • When the alarm sounds at night, the only way to stop it for Adrian to carry Ashby in his arms, rocking her to sleep. His small son William sees this, his expression one of jealous rage.
    • Rosie finally cracks and throws the doll out of the window; soon after this, she decides to have an abortion. Adrian accompanies her to the clinic, and discovers it's not a good place to be a man.
    • When sending the doll back at the post office, the doll starts to cry. The colour drains from the postmistress's face, who insists on unpacking the parcel. Adrian says "Do you really believe I would consider sending a live baby by Parcel Force?".
  • Crossword Puzzle: In Secret Diary, Adrian sees Pandora's parents doing the Sunday Times crossword together, and takes this to mean that they get on well together, unlike his own parents. In Cappuccino Years, Adrian sees Ivan Braithwaite doing the difficult crossword - he does the quick one while he waits for the kettle to boil.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Eleanor Flood tells Adrian that her father died when a small dog fell off a balcony and hit him on the head. Adrian's reaction is to ask if it was a pedigree breed.
  • Daddy DNA Test: This is how Adrian finds out he is the father of Glenn Bott, and later how the family confirms that Mr Lucas, with whom Adrian's mother had an affair in an earlier book, is the real father of Rosie.
  • Darker and Edgier: Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction dealt with some much darker topics than earlier books, such as Adrian's debt problems, the morality of the war in Iraq and Glenn's best friend being killed in combat, which has a profound effect on Adrian. The Prostrate Years is even darker than this, with Adrian being diagnosed with prostate cancer and suffering a painful breakdown of his marriage. While not quite as dark as either of these The Wilderness Years was rather bittersweet dealing with a period of homelessness and poverty, heartbreak and the death of Adrian's grandmother.
    • The series as a whole gets progressively darker throughout, which is only natural given that Adrian is growing up, shedding some of his childhood innocence, and experiencing the world as an adult. However, as the series goes on, his friends and family lose their patience with and tolerance of him; admittedly he brings some of it on himself, but at times they're quite openly hostile or nasty towards him, which is a bit jarring compared to earlier books. Additionally, while some of his complaining still comes off as immature Wangst, he also accumulates more genuine worries, often mentions feeling lonely, unhappy and inadequate, and is clearly showing the effects of his troubled adolescence.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Adrian runs away from home shortly before his sixteenth birthday, and as such has nobody to celebrate it with. He buys a birthday card for himself, and writes a message from his parents inside.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Adrian thinks he's this. His mother fits the trope much better.
  • "Dear John" Letter: During Growing Pains, Pandora dumps Adrian twice this way, once because he wanted to see one of her nipples, the other because he started hanging out with Barry Kent.
  • Debating Names: In Growing Pains, Adrian's mother gives birth to a girl. A few days afterwards, she and Adrian choose her name by each making a list. The only names he likes on his mother's list are "Rosie" and "Ruth". His mother does not like any of Adrian's chosen names, which are all names of people he knows, including Toyah, and Pandora. His mother sneers "Pandora is a pretentious name!". They settle on "Rosie Germaine Mole".
  • December–December Romance: Bert and his second wife, Queenie. They get married when he's 89 and she's 78.
  • A Degree in Useless: Adrian's most prominent academic qualification is an A Level in English literature. When he leaves the Department Of The Environment, his jobsearch initially proves fruitless as nobody requires anyone with that particular qualification.
  • Delegation Relay: When Pandora first declares her love for Adrian, she tells Claire Neilson, who tells Nigel, who tells Adrian. Adrian tells Nigel to tell Claire to tell Pandora that he returns her love.
  • Department of Major Vexation: A visit to the Department of Health and Social Security is described in detail in The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. Needless to say, obtaining money from the office is not an easy process.
    I sat down on the screwed-down chairs. Toddlers ran amok. Teenage mothers shouted and smacked. Everyone ignored the "no smoking" signs and stubbed their cigarettes out on the lino. About every ten minutes, a number flashed up on the screen, and someone got up and went through a door marked "private interviews". I didn't see anyone who went through the door come out again. This looked a bit sinister. My mother remarked "they've probably got gas chambers out there".
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Adrian has a tendency to over-explain things, which his therapist refers to as "childish pedantry":
    • He bit the vet, but I expect he's used to it. (The vet I mean; I know the dog is.)
    • I heard Ivan Braithwaite's faulty exhaust pipe turn into Wisteria Walk, and stop outside our house. Together with the rest of his car, obviously. I mean, obviously!
    • The shop owner goes to the Canary Islands twice a year, and drives a Mercedes. He drives a Mercedes in Oxford of course, not in the Canary Islands, although it's perfectly feasible he has use of a Mercedes in the Canary Islands as well. (I don't know why I felt the need to explain the Mercedes/Canary Islands confusion. It may be another example of what Leonora calls my "childish pedantry".)
  • Determinator: Adrian's constant mailing of his work to John Tydeman at the BBC show that he's absolutely dead set on being recognised as a great writer. Tydeman becomes increasingly frustrated with Adrian's constant letters, especially when he starts sending the manuscript for Lo! The Flat Hills Of My Homeland.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Adrian never managed to get his most constant love interest, Pandora Braithwaite but the ending of The Prostrate Years might have changed this.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: On a train in Russia, in The Wilderness Years, which is compared to buffalo with loose bowels, used by a prisoner on a dirty protest, and a couple of healthy young skunks.
    The lavatory on the train defies description. However, I'll try. After all, I am a novelist.
  • Distressed Woodchopping: In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian accidentally annoys Mr Flowers by mentioning Mexicans. Mr Flowers leaves the room, saying he has wood to chop.
  • D.I.Y. Disaster: Adrian's father starts a spice rack business in the first book and begins selling them to the neighbours. One of them complains that their spice rack falls apart after a few days.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The Mole family dog is only ever referred to as "The Dog". When he dies, his successor is simply referred to as "The New Dog". Subverted with their third dog, when Pauline names him after Ivan Braithwaite. Adrian is not amused, since not naming dogs is a Mole family tradition.
  • Don't Look At Me: In Wilderness Years, Adrian's landlord Christian comes home with a black eye, after a yob accused Christian of "looking" at him. Adrian notes that this is a frightening example of the degradation of society, as yobs used to enjoy people looking at them.
  • Doom It Yourself: A mild version in Secret Diary, when the teenage Adrian takes it upon himself to paint his bedroom with a colour he likes (black), deciding that at his age he can no longer live with Noddy wallpaper, and the other Toyland idiots running round the walls. He does the job without stripping the paper, and uses a half-inch brush. Predictably, the job takes a very long time, and things keep showing through the paint, even after several coats, especially "Noddy's bloody hat bells". He resorts to using black felt tip pen to erase them when his paint runs out. The end result of this project is that the room looks dark and gloomy, and dog will no longer stay there, whimpering to be let out.
  • Doorstopper: Early drafts of Adrian's novel Lo! The Flat Hills of my Homeland are over seven hundred pages long. He tries to fax it to the BBC, clogging up their fax machine for eight hours.
  • Doting Grandparent:
    • Adrian's paternal grandmother is very strict with everybody, but she loves Adrian more than his own parents do.
    • In Cappuccino Years, Adrian's mother dotes on Adrian's son William.
  • Drawing Straws: Unable to agree about where to go on holiday, Adrian and his parents draw straws to decide between Skegness, Greece, and the Lake District. They do not trust each other to make the draw, so they fetch the neighbour Mrs Singh, who is appalled that Mr Mole does not have the status to make such a decision.
  • The Dreaded "Thank You" Letter: Adrian receives a gift from his Auntie Susan, who is a prison officer: a toothbrush holder made by a prisoner. On his aunt's order, he writes a thank you letter: "Dear Miss Pool, thank you for sending the toothbrush holder. It is charming." Apparently, this very short letter really brightens up the prisoner's day.
  • Dressing to Die:
    • Subverted in Secret Diary when Adrian's grandmother tells off Adrian's father for growing a beard, adding that Adrian's grandfather was shaved in his coffin by the undertaker, so if the dead can shave, there is no excuse for the living.
    • In Wilderness Years, the character Jake in Adrian's novel makes a point of shaving before attempting suicide, because he is vain and keen to look good as a corpse.
  • Driven to Suicide: Although he does not attempt suicide, Adrian sometimes writes suicidal thoughts, notably when he shoplifts a key ring at a low moment. In Growing Pains, he writes lists of "reasons for living" (the only item being "things might get better"), and a much longer list of "reasons for not living". In The Wilderness Years, just after he has separated from Bianca, in his novel he describes in detail his hero attempting suicide.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Adrian happens to be in a supermarket during the minute of silence for the war dead on November 11th, noting that cash registers are turned off, and an assistant on the cheese counter giggles after thirty seconds.
    • In Weapons of Mass Destruction, the family holds a minute of silence for the death of the New Dog, which everybody (apart from Adrian) believes was brought about by Adrian giving the New Dog a turkey bone.
    Tropes E-K 
  • Eagle Land: Hamish Mancini, Adrian's pen pal in the early books. Also, in The Cappuccino Years, his American literary agent fits the trope.
  • Ear Ache: In Cappuccino Years, Adrian's son William inserts a coffee bean into his ear, to "see if it would rattle". The bean has to be removed in hospital.
  • Eco-Terrorist:
    • Probably the aspiration of Adrian's Bad Boss Brown at the Department of the Environment. He berates Adrian for having a mahogany toilet seat at home, bans aerosols and certain cleaning products from the building, and drives a car inches behind a lorry, because this supposedly uses less fuel.
    • In Cappuccino Years, when Pandora Braithwaite MP mentions using Chanel No. 5 perfume in an interview, the Green Party are down on her "like a felled oak" because it contains a rare oil, and she has to atone for this by planting trees, to save her reputation.
  • The '80s: First few books take place in the 80s, and Adrian captured the zeitgeist very well.
  • Egg Sitting: A variant of this takes place in The Cappuccino Years, when Rosie accidentally gets pregnant and decides to hire a lifelike simulation baby doll to see if she's ready to become a parent. The doll's crying drives her insane, and she eventually decides to have an abortion.
  • Eleventy Zillion: In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian tries to convince his accountant that his substantial debt isn't a big deal by pointing out that there are "7 zillion trillion stars" in the sky and writing out the number in full, which he writes as a 7 followed by 21 zeros. This would give a zillion the value of a billion if Adrian is using the short scale, or a thousand if he is using the long scale.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Adrian's mother names his new sister Rosie Germaine Mole, after Germaine Greer. Adrian notes that his mother is the only person who liked the "Germaine" bit.
  • Embarrassing Pyjamas: In Secret Diary, Adrian insists on having new nightwear before going to hospital, to replace his Peter Pan dressing gown and Winnie the Pooh pyjamas, which are too small and covered in patches.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: This happens a few times:
    • In True Confessions, Adrian reveals that he has "Mum and Dad" written in a private part of his body. He regrets this because when he is the millionaire owner of a Greek island, he will be the only sunbather among his guests to be wearing trunks.
    • In Cappuccino Years, Rosie wants a tattoo lasered off her belly when she is pregnant, saying that the little monkey will stretch to look like King Kong.
    • In Weapons of Mass Destruction, it is revealed that Adrian's father had "I'm a nutter" tattooed on his head as a skinhead youth; which then became visible when he started losing his hair.
  • Epistolary Novel: The books are formatted as diary entries. Adrian tends to include copies of his correspondence in his entries as well.
  • Executive Meddling: In universe example. Adrian's mother submits her book, A Girl Called "Shit" to a publisher, who insist she retitles it The Potato Farmer's Daughter.
  • Even Beggars Won't Choose It: In The Wilderness Years, Bianca tells Adrian that she doesn't like the grey slip-on shoes he wears. In response, he tosses them out the window into the gutter along with the socks he's wearing. He later spots a homeless man trying them on and tossing them aside in disgust. When he's burgled, the culprits take everything apart from his underwear, an old pair of trousers, and all his books.
  • Everybody Has Standards: Barry Kent is a bully with occasional racist tendencies. His encounter with the guy from the Send 'Em Back Where They Came From Party leads to the guy fleeing and Barry joining Rock Against Racism.
  • Everybody Smokes: Adrian is the minority non-smoker, and is very disdainful of the puffers around him, especially his parents.
    I am alone in the non-smoking section of the hospital restaurant; the small smoking section is crammed full of doctors and nurses. Why won't they see the light and give up?
  • Everything Is Online: Adrian's ex-wife Jo Jo is apparently able to find his bank details, new address, and medical records online. Either that or she's got him under a scary amount of hidden surveillance.
  • Extreme Doormat: Although not a general trait of Adrian's, in Weapons of Mass Destruction he is an extreme doormat to the highly manipulative Marigold Flowers and her family, who twist him round their little finger, and bully him into marrying her, and spending vast amounts of money on her, despite his resolve to stop seeing her.
    Daisy: So tell her the wedding's off before they hire the sodding marquee!!!
    I didn't tell her I had written a large cheque to the marquee hire firm.
  • Face Doodling: In Cappuccino Years, Adrian returns home to find that his son William has scribbled on Adrian's father's bald patch. As a punishment to his father for falling asleep while babysitting William, Adrian doesn't tell him about the scribble on his head.
  • False Teeth Tomfoolery: In Secret Diary, Adrian is urgently summoned to Bert Baxter's house, because Bert has lost his false teeth, which have sentimental value for him, because they used to belong to his father. It turns out Sabre the dog was chewing them: Bert merely rinses them, and puts them back in his mouth.
  • Fashion Dissonance: Adrian favours clothes which are cheap, practical and unfashionable, usually bought from charity shops, or Marks and Spencer (which is mentioned frequently throughout the series). Pandora lampshades this in Wilderness Years, by saying that he has ample spare money, because he "doesn't wear decent clothes". Specific instances of Adrian's fashion dissonance are:
    • In Growing Pains, he wants to buy a grey zip-up cardigan from Marks and Spencer, but his mother vetoes this, saying it makes him look like veteran TV presenter Frank Bough.
    • For his date with Sharon Bott, he asks Nigel what lads wear to skating rinks. Nigel gives him a detailed list; Adrian improvises with a string vest, PE shorts, and grey knee socks.
    • In True Confessions, he describes his attire in detail, including a balaclava helmet, a silken cravat owned by his late grandfather, odd socks.
    • In Wilderness Years, he wears a Royal British Legion blazer, which is mocked by many people, including Pandora.
      Pandora: That fucking awful blazer: give it to Oxfam, for Christ's sake.
    • Also in Wilderness Years, his lover Bianca confesses that she adores everything about him, except his grey slip-on shoes, and white towelling socks. As a mark of his love for her, he throws them out of the window.
  • Fat Idiot: Sharon Bott, Glenn's mother and Adrian's former girlfriend. Unusually for this trope she is implied to have been pretty attractive as a teen, making her a borderline (former) Brainless Beauty too.
    • He seems to think she's gorgeous in her rollerskating togs, but that might be because they're on a rollerskating date he's heard she's easy.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Adrian never truly ever got over Pandora after their relationship ended. It doesn't help that he moves in with her in Oxford in spite of the fact that she's married to a Camp Gay man and is having a relationship with an older lecturer at the university. Even in the later books, they're still in each other's lives and he may have won her back by the end of The Prostrate Years.
  • First-Name Basis: Two examples in The Growing Pains'':
    • When Adrian joins the gang of his old enemy Barry Kent, Barry gives Adrian permission to call him "Baz", and the gang start calling Adrian "Brains".
    • Adrian receives a letter from John Tydeman at the BBC, carefully and politely explaining why it would not be appropriate to call him "Aidy" or for Adrian to call him "Johnny". Adrian has no recollection of having written a letter to this effect, and suspects he may have written it when he was very seriously depressed.
  • First-Person Smartass: Since the books are written as diary entries from Adrian's point of view, he tends to add his own snarky comments and observations about the events around him.
    I take up my pen to record an important event in the lives of men, and because this is a secret diary, I am not required to add "and women".
    It is not interesting to actually live my life. It is tedious beyond belief.
    Once again I thank Pepys, the god of diarists, that my journal will not be read in my lifetime.
  • Five-Finger Discount: In Secret Diary, Adrian briefly turns to delinquency, and shoplifts a Kevin Keegan key ring; but is so conscience-stricken that he ends up returning it. In True Confessions, he accidentally shoplifts a pair of Outspan oranges.
  • Flush the Evidence:
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian does this with a note he wrote to Bianca, which takes three full flushes before it disappears.
    • In Cappuccino Years, Rosie flushes Ivan's exfoliating hand mitt down the toilet, which has to be unblocked at great expense.
  • Follow the Leader: In universe Adrian tries this twice: Once by writing in the style of Bridget Jones and once by renaming his novel Birdwatching to try and capitalise on the success of Trainspotting.
    • Adrian's mother tried to cash in on the Misery Lit genre with her autobiography A Girl Called "Shit!"
  • Food and Body Comparison: When referring to the size of somebody's breasts, they were, as Adrian recalls, slightly larger than Jaffa oranges, but not quite as large as Marks and Spencer's grapefruits.
  • Foreshadowing: In some of the books, this is done with occasional illustrations, appearing about every three months. Some examples are:
    • Noddy smeared with black paint marks, when Adrian decides to paint over his Noddy wallpaper.
    • A Charles and Diana tea towel stuck to the front door, for the Royal Wedding.
    • Adrian's packed suitcase, before he runs away.
  • Forgot to Pay the Bill:
    • In Secret Diary, the Moles' electricity is cut off for several days, because Adrian's father cannot pay the bill. Adrian notes that it is "dead symbolic" when the kitchen clock stops, and Adrian's grandmother discovers him reading Hard Times by his key ring torch.
    • In the same book, the phone is cut off after Adrian has taken long reverse-charge calls from Pandora in Tunisia, and tries to hide the bills from his parents.
  • Foul Cafeteria Food: In Growing Pains, Adrian laments that school dinners have become complete crap, citing the possible reason that Margaret Thatcher wants the pupils to become too weak to protest in years to come.
  • Friendly Shopkeeper: There are several friendly shopkeepers:
    • In Secret Diary and Growing Pains, there is Mr Cherry the newsagent, for whom Adrian does a paper round.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian's meets his love interest Bianca as she works in a newsagent's shop.
    • In Cappuccino Years, "the bloke in the BP garage" is friendly to Adrian, and is noted for being one of the very few beneficiaries in the will of a reclusive elderly man, Archie Tait.
    • In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian works in a bookshop, owned by a friendly shopkeeper.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Cappuccino Years has several scenes of Adrian trying to get through an automated dialling maze. One such scene is played for laughs when Adrian contacts a helpline for information about birds, desperate to prove William's nursery teacher wrong about whether all birds sleep in their nests.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble. Among the teenage main characters
    • Sanguine: Barry Kent
    • Choleric: Pandora Braithewaite
    • Melancholic: Adrian Mole
    • Phlegmatic: Nigel Hetherington
  • Friends with Benefits: Adrian and Sharon Bott.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: Adrian's mother successfully sues a shoe shop because the stilettos she bought there fell apart while she was trying to climb a mountain in them. She wins the case when her lawyer argues that the shop, "Shoe Mania!" should have removed the exclamation mark from its name so as not to excite hormonal middle-aged women.
  • Full-Name Basis: Elizabeth Sally Broadway, an occasional acquaintance and one-time girlfriend of Adrian's.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • Well, Pandora's initials spell out PLEB ...
    • The Whelk Association Trust is a rather more "fun" example.
    • Socialist Lesbians Against Globalisation.
  • Fun with Homophones: In Cappuccino Years, Adrian tells a woman how to get to Torquay.note  It is then reported on the news that a woman was wandering around Torquay in a state of distress, having wanted to go to the similar-sounding Turkey.
  • Gallows Humour: The author just loves to kill off characters in unusual ways. Bert Baxter is killed a day short of his 105th birthday in an accident involving a dressing gown cord and a stairlift, and Ivan Braithwaite drowns while swimming to retrieve Pauline's sunglasses left on a rock.
  • Gasshole: Glenn Bott gets in trouble for farting in school, and Adrian's mother comments that she's never known anyone to fart so much.
  • Gassy Gastronomy: In Cappuccino Years, Glenn gets into trouble at school for farting, claiming that his mother has been feeding him too many beans.
  • Gender-Concealing Voice: In Growing Pains, Adrian takes a telephone call from the hospital for his mother; and on the spur of the moment, pretends to be his mother by speaking in a falsetto voice, as the caller addresses him as "Mrs. Mole" before he has had a chance to speak.
  • Gender Scoff: When George goes to Stick Insect and their newly born son, Brett, Tania drives Adrian and Pauline back to Leicester from Skegness. When they get back, she tells Paulines that "All men are bastards" and shoots a dirty look at Adrian, who takes major offense to this.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: After "lying in bed like a dying swan for a week" (see Heroic BSoD below), his grandmother roughly orders him out of bed.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: In The Cappuccino Years, when Adrian is transporting a group of pensioners to the local polling station, one of them claims he's spent the last week in bed with his new girlfriend. When Adrian asks why she isn't voting, he claims she's an anarchist. Adrian asks who would maintain the drains without a government, and he claims she doesn't believe in drains; Adrian counters that they are essential to civilisation, to which he claims that she doesn't believe in civilisation either. Of course, Adrian, being an idiot, buys this story hook, line and sinker.
  • God: Mentioned a lot, and cursed a lot. Adrian claims to have lost his faith, and often cites reasons for this, such as wondering why God allows wars/famines/motorway crashes to happen, or why Barry Kent's novel was published, and Adrian's wasn't. On his first driving lesson, he mentions how others have their faith to protect them, but then says "as I came to my first roundabout, I prayed to God to protect me from the nasty cars and lorries".
  • Gold Digger: In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian goes to his high school reunion and discovers that one of his old classmates has made a fortune from marrying a series of rich, elderly men.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted with Rosie. She is really no more "good" or "bad" than any other character, and Adrian takes her to the clinic and she doesn't get chastised or painted as a monster by anyone. Pandora's father claims that his daughter has had at least one abortion, too.
  • Good Old British Comp: Adrian attends Neil Armstrong Comprehensive in the early books and much of his stresses in the second book are caused by his upcoming O Levels. When Adrian brings him along one day, Hamish Mancini is disappointed to discover that Corporal punishment in the vein of Tom Brown's Schooldays is not an everyday feature of school life (the cane was still in use in 1982 but was reserved for exceptional cases).
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Adrian rarely swears; one of his favourite insulting adjectives being "lousy stinking". When he quotes foul-mouthed people, he often uses stars to censor them.
  • Granola Girl: The entire Flowers family (except Daisy).
    • Brown has his moments. For example, when driving to Newport Pagnell with Adrian to obtain an update on the newt situation, he drives stupidly close to a large truck so as to remain in its slipsteam to conserve fuel.
  • Gratuitous French: Adrian's diaries are liberally sprinkled with French phrases, even though he does not speak French. The ones most often used are sans, faux pas, je ne sais quoi (in fairness to Adrian, the latter two are in common use in British speech).
    Bianca came round avec tool box, but sans wine.
    What would be the point of living after age sixty? Sans teeth, sans muscle tone and sans sex?
    Without girls, the party lacked a certain je ne sais quoi (French for something or other).
    The conversation of uncultured people lacks a certain je ne sais quoi: unless they are French of course.
  • Gratuitous Latin: In Wilderness Years, Adrian angers Pandora's when he writes a note to her asking for a lift, using the phrase "my alternative modus operandi being driven by you in your motor car". Being far more learned than he is, Pandora is not amused, and corners him in his bedroom, calling him a pompous nerd, and a pathetic dork.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: In Weapons of Mass Destruction, a local youth is run over and killed nearby, and a huge shrine is built up. At first, Adrian is sympathetic, but then considers the shrine to be a nuisance to the shop, so he moves it a short distance, and is Caught on Tape. He is then vilified in the press for doing so.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Adrian's family, his father in particular, consider Margaret Thatcher to be this given the state of his employment history. Adrian's interpersonal relationship diagram in the second book lists her as an enemy of the family alongside Barry Kent, Pop-Eye Scruton, and the Manpower Services Commission.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Adrian's life gets increasingly crappy as time goes by. When we first meet him, he's being bullied in school and has to deal with his parents, but manages to get Pandora as a girlfriend. By the end of the final book, he has two failed marriages and prostate cancer.
  • Gym Class Hell: Since Adrian isn't physically inclined and Mr Jones, the P.E. teacher is a Sadist Teacher, he finds P.E. to be a particularly torturous subject especially when rugby is involved.
  • Handing Over the Crap Sack: A dentist mistakenly removes one of Adrian's front teeth, and wraps it up and gives it to him to take home.
  • Handmade Is Better: Adrian's friend Nigel says that Adrian's racing bike is mass-produced, unlike his own which was handmade by a craftsman in Nottingham. Adrian writes that he has gone off Nigel, and also gone off his bike a bit.
  • Happy Ending Override: The Wilderness Years ends on a bittersweet but clearly optimistic note for Adrian - he has just been through a very low period of his life having lost his Second Love Bianca, but even that pain has made him mature as a person with him finally getting over Pandora, and he is beginning a very promising new relationship with Jo Jo and a possible career as a chef. There is even a suggestion he might have a future in writing after all. Six years later when The Cappuccino Years starts he's gone through a bitter divorce, been left a struggling single parent, is back to be hopelessly in awe of Pandora, is a notoriously poor chef, and his writing career is no closer to getting anywhere.
    • This happens again between The Weapons of Mass Destruction and The Prostrate Years: at the end of the former, Adrian is married to Daisy, they have a baby daughter and he seemingly gives up diary-writing because 'happy people don't keep a diary'. At the beginning of the latter, their marriage is unhappy (and falls apart over the course of the book) and Adrian is displaying the first signs of his prostate cancer.
  • Happy Rain:
    • In True Confessions, after Adrian has a long kissing session with Pandora, but she absolutely refuses to go further, Adrian is pleased to find that it is raining on his way home, to wash away latent sexual feelings.
    • A very minor example in Cappuccino Years. When William loses his school shoes and has to go to nursery in his Wellingtons, Adrian prays for rain, but none comes; and the nursery teacher offers him a leaflet "help with footwear", for those in poverty.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The Cappuccino Years features an in-universe example: Adrian sends his proposal for a soap opera about The British Royal Family to The BBC on the 30th August 1997.
  • Has a Type: Adrian, for reasons he can't explain himself, has a thing for women with slender wrists.
  • Hating on Monday: Adrian moans about Sundays more than other days, because of shops being closed, occasionally being made to go to church by his grandmother, his parents doing nothing but read the Sunday papers, him being burned by a stray Catherine wheel at a bonfire party held on Saturday November 4 because his religious flatmate won’t allow fireworks on a Sunday, or there being no postal delivery.
    Does the clergy imagine that God gives a toss whether or not humans receive letters on a Sunday?
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Gleefully played with by Nigel, who starts up a Gay Club at school. When the headmaster objects, Nigel pretends that it's for "pupils who want to be frisky, frolicsome, lively, playful, sportive, vivacious or gamesome during the dinner break. What's immoral about gaiety?"
    Pop-Eye Scruton: "Nigel, the word 'gay' has changed its meaning over the past year. It now means something quite different."
    Nigel: "What does it mean, sir?"
    Pop-Eye Scruton: "...."
    Nigel: "Sorry sir, I can see that I will have to get an up-to-date dictionary!"
  • Hello Again, Officer: In Weapons of Mass Destruction, PC Aaron Drinkwater turns up to berate Adrian for being "abusive" to an emergency call operator, and for throwing rubbish into the canal. Later, when Pandora is signing copies of her autobiography, Adrian requests police protection for the crowds which are certain to ensue. For this, PC Drinkwater turns up again, and is not amused when hardly any people appear at all.
  • Helping Granny Cross the Street: At the very beginning of the Secret Diary, Adrian makes a New Year's resolution to help the elderly across the road.
  • Heroic BSoD: Adrian is no stranger to these, but the biggest one comes during Growing Pains after Pandora dumps him. He runs away from home, then upon returning, spends several days lying in bed incapable of mustering up the effort to get up. He gets better when Pandora comes back to him.
    • He also spends some time running with Barry Kent and his gang, and even visits the Kent home (which turns out to be a much less dysfunctional bunch than his own family). Keep in mind that outside of this time, he considers Barry Kent to be an enemy, and seems to develop a deep-seated hatred of Barry's success as an adult.
    • After he loses Bianca, he is a broken man, though this thankfully doesn't last long, as he has to pull himself together for his grandmother's funeral and his holiday to Greece and burgeoning relationship with Jo Jo helps him get over it.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Bert Baxter can speak fluent Hindi.
    • Adrian is surprised how well versed his father can be on cultural matters. There's a reason for this, though; His car's radio is jammed on Radio Four. (Subverted though, because he claims that Kingsley Amis used to be the editor of New Statesman, confusing him with Kingsley Martin.)
    • Adrian is also surprised at his father's maturity after Adrian's grandmother's death. "He has dealt with all the death paperwork, and haggled over the cost of the funeral with commendable efficiency."
  • High-Class Glass: Pandora's upper-crust first husband Julian Twyselton-Fife occasionally wears a monocle.
  • High Heel Hurt: In Cappuccino Years, Adrian's mother tries to sue Shoe Mania!, after a stiletto heel breaks off when she is meeting Sir Anthony Hopkins on a mountain. When asked in court why she was wearing heels, she says that she only wore them in the final stages, as she did not want Sir Anthony to see her in hired climbing boots. She is successful in suing Shoe Mania!, as she shoes did not bear a health warning, and it is ruled that the name Shoe Mania! encouraged women to make unsuitable purchases.
  • High School Is Hell: Adrian's secondary school life is portrayed as being difficult for him, particularly in the first book where he is bullied by Barry Kent, subjected to humiliation in P.E. classes by Mr. Jones and is generally treated like shit by "Pop-Eye" Scruton.
  • Hired on the Spot: In Wilderness Years, Adrian Mole replies to an advertisement offering free accommodation in return for looking after children, and is astonished to be accepted there and then, showing the landlord's desperation. The phone call is written as a script:
    Dr Palmer: Christian Palmer speaking.
    Adrian: My name is Adrian Mole. I've seen your advert.
    Dr P: When can you start?
    Adrian: Start what?
    Dr P: Looking after the bloody kids.
    Adrian: But you don't know me.
    Dr P: You sound okay, and you've proved you can use a telephone. So you can't be a total simpleton. Have you got all your faculties, i.e. four limbs, eyesight?
    Adrian: Yes.
    Dr P: Ever been done for molesting kiddie-winkies?
    Adrian: No.
    Dr P: Got any particularly nasty personal habits?
    Adrian: No.
    Dr P: Good. So when can you start?
  • Hollywood Spelling: Averted in Cappuccino Years, when one of the staff at the restaurant asks Adrian what to name the cat. Out loud, Adrian suggests "Humphrey"; and the member of staff buys an engraved cat collar, spelled "Humfri".
  • Honking Arriving Car: In one story, Adrian quickly writes in his diary before heading off on a survival weekend, finishing his entry with "Must stop, the minibus is outside papping its hooter".
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Adrian's acne is a source of angst for him in the earlier books and, even into his thirties, he still gets spots. Growing Pains portrays his sexual frustration, especially when Pandora makes him wait, even dumping him when he feels he can no longer do so.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: This happens twice.
    • In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, he goes on a survival weekend with the youth club. Unfortunately, Hippie Youth Leader Rick thinks things like maps or the slightest semblance of planning are for squares. This is compounded by the fact that almost everything Adrian brings with him is completely impractical for the trip and the few things he decides to ditch to save on weight are things that would have made things easier for him.
      I have lived like an ignoble savage for the last two days! Sleeping on rough ground with only a sleeping bag between myself and the elements! Trying to cook chips on a tiny Primus stove! Having to perform my natural functions out in the open! Wiping my bum on leaves! Not being able to have a bath or clean my teeth! No radio or television or anything!
    • In The Wilderness Years, he books a cheap holiday in Russia, which is sold to him as "a week on the Russian lakes and rivers". He believes it will be on a cruise ship, but it turns out to be paddling his own canoe, complete with sleeping in a tent, and drinking water from the river.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In Growing Pains, Adrian does some last-minute Christmas shopping at Woolworth's on December 23. Then he complains about the long lines and asks, "Why do people wait to do their shopping until there are only two days left before Christmas?"
  • Hypochondria: Adrian treats the normal signs of puberty, such as acne or his voice breaking as medical emergencies.
  • Ignored Epiphany: At one point in Growing Pains, Adrian realises that both his parents were engaged in adulterous affairs at about the same time and each produced a child as a result, and that his diary for that time records only "my childish fourteen-year-old thoughts and preoccupations". Instead of realising how incredibly self-absorbed he is, though, he simply wonders if Jack the Ripper's wife was similarly naive about her husband's activities.
  • Immaturity Insult: In Growing Pains, when Adrian is fifteen, his parents selfishly choose a "no under-eighteens" bar, and spend hours there. Adrian wanders off, and is summoned back by an announcement "would Adrian Mole aged fifteen please go to the lost children's centre, where his mummy and daddy are waiting for him".
  • Immediate Sequel: Growing Pains begins the day after Secret Diary ends.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Comes up twice in the series, both times at the expense of other, more traditionally English characters:
    • During the Royal Wedding celebrations in Secret Diary, Adrian's neighbour Mr. Singh is the only one who knows all the words to "Land of Hope and Glory".
    • In True Confessions, during Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew's wedding, Adrian mentions passing by the Co-op supermarket where the Union Jack is hung upside down, and the Sikh temple where the flag is hung correctly.
  • Improbable Age: Invoked and played for laughs. One newspaper mistakenly refers to Barry Kent's forty five year old father as a "burly World War II veteran". In 1982.
  • Innocent Awkward Question: Adrian intervenes when his father George talks of suicide in front of Adrian's son William.
    George: This little lad is the only reason I haven't topped myself.
    William: What's "topped myself"?
    Adrian: Oh, it means, er, getting better at something.
    George: But I'm not having all these injections in my dick.
    William: Who's Dick?
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Played for laughs in the first book; Adrian completely fails to pick up the obvious signs of his mother's affair with Mr. Lucas. In the second book, he fails to realize the signs of his mother's pregnancy.
  • Innocently Insensitive: There are times when Adrian displays a complete lack of tact. When introducing Bianca to his mother, she notes that she has a degree in engineering. Adrian quips that she has not so much as built a LEGO tower since leaving college, which brings her to tears.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted with Nigel, who's bitter about going blind. Adrian notes that Nigel is clearly annoyed when a former teacher calls him brave, and when Gary Milksop tries to write a poem about how being blind has made Nigel more insightful, Nigel finds it more funny than anything.
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
    • Adrian tends to get along with senior citizens best, throughout his life. His relationship with Rosie can also count. He has mentioned that she's one of the few to understand him, and he's the one she goes to when she needs to get an abortion.
    • There's also his friendship with Glenn's best friend, Robbie. Robbie is a lot like Adrian, in that he's meek and bookish, despite being a soldier. Robbie's death is what changes Adrian's stance on the war in Iraq.
  • Interquel: The Lost Diaries... sort of. Falling between the The Cappuccino Years and The Weapons of Mass Destruction they were originally published as a weekly column in the Guardian between 1999 and 2001 and were only published in book form in 2008. The chapters remained in limbo in so long most fans assumed they had become a case of Canon Discontinuity, especially because very little in them is mentioned in the later books.
    • Among which include the circumstances of Ivan Braithwaite's death, which are completely different to the description thereof in the book that chronologically follows.
      • Adrian does have a tendency to be a somewhat Unreliable Narrator, so he may simply have gotten things wrong.
    • Adrian writes in The Weapons Of Mass Destruction that he can count the women he has slept with on the fingers of one hand. Pamela in The Lost Diaries takes the total of his lovers to six.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Pandora is recorded making comments that offend The Whelk Association Trust. It's expanded on in the tv series, where it ends up destroying her political career.
  • It Will Never Catch On / This Is Going to Be Huge: Pretty much every prediction Adrian makes about the results of current events turns out to be utterly wrong, such as Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
  • It's All About Me: Adrian, his parents, and many other characters.
  • I Was Quite a Looker:
    • Adrian's mother apparently had great legs when his father first met her.
    • Sharon Bott, though when this set in depends on which book. She is noted to be attractive in the second book, but just a couple of years later has put on weight. In The Cappuccino Years, Adrian notes that she had nice breasts at eighteen, but at thirty, his description of them is a lot less flattering. In the tv series, he is visibly shocked at the change.
    • Daisy gains quite a bit of weight between the last two books, though she starts to shed it before she leaves Adrian.
  • I Will Tear Your Arms Off: In the lesser-known Adrian Mole and the Small Amphibians, Adrian's mother asks him in a letter what he will wear for her wedding to Martin Muffett, adding "If you turn up in that mangy duffle coat, I will tear your head from your shoulders".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Several characters, including Adrian himself. He comes off as rather jerky when we read his inside thoughts, but he'd pretty much stick up for anyone he cares about. Adrian's parents are basically neglectful but do actually love Adrian.
    • Daisy comes off as being very brash and hedonistic, but she's easily the least self-centered of the Flowers family. She shows interest in Adrian's life rather than making everything about herself, and asks him about his son in the army. She's also very friendly towards Adrian's parents.
  • Just Ignore It: In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian ignores his mounting debts, recklessly uses credit cards, refuses to open letters, until it spirals out of control.
    I think, but I'm not sure, that I'm now hopelessly in debt.
  • Kafka Komedy: There's a distinct element of this. While he makes a lot of trouble for himself, at other points life just appears to enjoy raining shit on Adrian.
  • Killer Outfit: Bert Baxter finally died one day short of his 104th birthday following an accident involving a stairlift, and a dressing gown cord.
  • Known by the Postal Address: Zigzagged. In the earlier books, no addresses are mentioned at all; indeed Adrian's home town is fairly vague, only referred to as "in the Midlands", and the town of Leicester is barely mentioned. However, in later books, specific addresses are mentioned a lot, such as "Old Compton Street, Soho", "Wisteria Walk, Ashby de-la-Zouch", "33 Rampart Terrace", "Rat Wharf", "The Piggeries".
    Tropes L-R 
  • Laborious Laces:
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian decides to wear his Doc Marten's boots the day he runs away from home, and spends fifteen precious minutes doing the sodding laces up.
    • In True Confessions, Adrian mentions that his best friend Nigel frequently yanks his laces so hard that they break; and he then passes the shoes on to Adrian, because he cannot be bothered to re-thread new laces.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Bridget Jones dines in the restaurant where Adrian works in The Cappuccino Years. Adrian and his boss briefly ponder the implications of a person getting famous after their private diaries are published and become best-sellers.
  • Likes Older Women: Martin Muffet, Adrian's stepfather during The Wilderness Years.
  • Littering Is No Big Deal:
    • When Adrian loiters with Barry Kent's gang in Growing Pains, Barry tips a rubbish bin over for a laugh, adding that without him, his uncle Pedro would lose his job as a street cleaner. Adrian returns later, and picks up the broken glass, to protect little kids.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian throws his shoes and socks out of the window, as a mark of his love for Bianca. He notes that many hours later, they are still in the gutter.
    • In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian tears up a letter from the bank, and throws the pieces from his window into the canal. His neighbour calls him out, and later a police officer brings the scraps to him in a bag, one of them bearing his name, as evidence.
  • Logic Bomb: Downplayed in Cappuccino Years. When nobody can agree how to celebrate Christmas, everyone states what their ideal Christmas would be. Ivan Braithwaite inputs all the Christmases on his computer, and ends up saying that the computations are beyond it.
  • Lonely Funeral: A minor character in Cappuccino Years is Archie Tait, an elderly man who has devoted his life to supporting Socialist Labour, and sacrificed everyone he knows to this cause, but who takes a liking to Adrian and his family. Adrian and a very few other people attend his funeral.
  • Long List: Detailed lists frequently appear in Adrian's diaries, including:
    • New Year's resolutions: indeed, the first book begins with this.
    • What he will take on a survival weekend.
    • Shopping lists, such as his new school uniform, complete with prices.
    • A detailed and time-logged third-person report of the chaotic school trip to the British Museum, including:
      Coach driver stops coach and asks pupils to stop giving V-signs to lorry drivers.
      Coach driver refuses to drive on motorway until "bloody teachers control kids".
      Adrian Mole makes reverse-charge call to headmaster. Headmaster in strike meeting, can't be disturbed.
    • Christmas presents: given, wished for, and received.
    • Lists of possible baby names for his sister by both him and his mother.
    • Reasons for and against living.
    • What he will take when he runs away from home.
    • An absurdly detailed log of what he does on the morning he runs away from home.
    • Twice, he inventories his possessions, with astonishment at how little he has collected in his working life (even though the first item in both cases is "a few hundred books").
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian lists imagined tortures for Pandora's lover Cavendish.
    • In a letter, Pandora lists many reasons why Adrian can afford therapy, including living rent-free, cutting his own hair, not drinking, smoking, wearing decent clothes, gambling, taking drugs, running a car.
    • Pros and cons of a possible relationship with Bianca.
    • In Wilderness Years, he has a serious row with Bianca, who lists his crimes including never wanting to go out, excessive reading, excessive writing, contempt for Britain's industrial heritage, farting in bed. Another list appears in Prostrate Years, from Daisy.
    • At the beginning of Cappuccino Years, all the characters are listed, including those who only appear briefly, for the benefit of the reader.
    • In Cappuccino Years, his employer Savage displays a long list of what is banned from the restaurant, including (to name but a few):
      No Welsh
      No mobile phones
      No comedians
      No lesbians
      No handbags with bamboo handles
      No children
    • In Weapons of Mass Destruction, a staggeringly long list of his financial outgoings, and his creditors.
  • Lost Food Grievance:
    • In Secret Diary, Adrian's father flies into a rage when he has looked forward to black forest gateau all day, and there is none left.
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian sheds many tears for Pandora, and recalls how he has not cried so much since the wind blew his candy floss away at Cleethorpes.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian is very fond of eating bananas. When he travels to Russia, he hears that they are in short supply there, so he takes a huge bunch with him, which ends up stolen. When he voices his anger, he was told that he should have put them in the hotel safe, and they will be changing hands on the black market by now.
    • In Cappuccino Years, Adrian becomes dependent on Opal Fruits sweets, and buys them in bulk, occasionally becoming desperate when he runs out.
  • Lost Toy Grievance: The twenty-year-old Adrian is horrified to find that his mother has cleared out his toy cupboard, including his pink and grey two-legged rabbit, Pinky. Fortunately, Pinky is then rescued from the dustbin.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Eleanor Flood, who resorts to stalking Adrian and eventually burns his (non-insured) house down. Adrian has bordered on this himself with some of his own love interests.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Barry and all the Kent family.
  • Lower Half Reveal: In The Wilderness Years, Adrian's love interest Bianca is working in a shop, where her legs are hidden behind the counter. When they are suddenly revealed as she helps to carry goods into the shop, Adrian is not very impressed by her legs, thinking they are too bony.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Adrian occasionally quotes his age in full, such as "I had my first proper hangover aged fourteen years, five months and nine days". The full title of the first book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged Thirteen and Three-Quarters reflects this. He usually quotes prices in full, including pence.
  • Made in Country X: Adrian says in Secret Diary that his birthday presents were the usual Japanese rubbish, although he did get a model aeroplane that was made in West Germany. Note also this scene from the great Teletubby toy shortage:
    I asked where the Teletubbies were to be found. The shop assistant said "in China, sir, where they make 'em". He said they'd had a few Laa-Laas on Monday, but they'd gone within minutes. I asked why we couldn't manufacture Teletubbies in this country. He said, "They'll work all week for a bowl of rice in China; we can't compete".
  • Manipulative Editing: Adrian mentions that this happened when the local news aired an interview with Bert Baxter. Justified because it had to be done in order to turn Bert's foul-mouthed ranting into something halfway fit for the evening news.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Adrian suffers sexual frustration in the earlier books, as Pandora absolutely refuses to partake in any "lovemaking". Adrian never explicitly states that he masturbates, but it is very subtly implied:
    • In Secret Diary, he says he will have to fall back on self-indulgence.
    • In Growing Pains, he writes to an agony aunt that he has fallen to self-manipulation, but it soon wears off.
    • In Wilderness Years, he says that he has no sex life; at least, not with another person.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Mr. Niggard the bank manager early on in the series.
    • Mr. B'astard the landlord later on.
    • Adrian's manager at the Book Shop, Mr. Carlton-Hayes. Carlton Hayes hospital was the psychiatric hospital just outside Leicester.
    • Adrian notes that Peter Savage is a fitting name for a man of his temperament.
    • Police Constable Drinkwater, in Weapons Of Mass Destruction.
  • May–December Romance: Two examples from This Wilderness Years:
    • Pandora and Cavendish have an affair. He's a college professor in his sixties, whereas she's around 24.
    • Adrian's mother is twenty-three years older than her second husband, Martin Muffett.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Pauline goes to an anti-nuclear protest at Greenham Common and several women join her at the Mole house afterwards. Several of the neighbourhood husbands show up at the house needing their wives to help them with simple household tasks. Mr. O'Leary can't find his pyjamas and Mr. Singh doesn't know how to use an electric kettle.
  • Milestone Birthday Angst: In the earlier books, Adrian longs for the "maturity" which will come with significant birthdays, but when he actually reaches them:
    • When Adrian turns sixteen in Growing Pains, he happens to have run away from home, and does not feel happy at all. He also notes that certain things he is now allowed to do, such as ride a moped, or live away from home are not appealing, now that they are available to him.
    • When Adrian turns thirty-five in Cappuccino Years, he writes "I am now officially middle-aged. A pathetic slide towards gum disease, wheelchair ramps and death."
  • Missing the Good Stuff: Part of the chronic bad luck that dogs Adrian involves him missing critical moments in live TV broadcasts, and other significant events.
    • During the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Grandma Mole starts to tear up, so Adrian leaves the room to find a box of tissues; by the time he returns, the royal couple have already been declared man and wife.
    • In The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, he is eagerly anticipating the first ever broadcast of The BBC's Breakfast Time, only to be called out of the room by his parents for just long enough to miss the first few minutes.
    • In The Cappuccino Years, he writes that he missed the exact moment of his son William's birth, because his mother chose the same moment to telephone the maternity unit to ask for a progress report.
  • Mistaken for Related: Averted by Adrian himself in Secret Diary, when he refuses to go on holiday with his father, his father's mistress "Stick Insect" Doreen Slater, and her son Maxwell, because people will assure that Doreen is Adrian's mother, and Maxwell is his brother.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: In the second book, Adrian's Irish neighbour Mr. O'Leary makes a brief return to his home country to vote in the national elections, but on his return is detained at the airport on suspicion of being an IRA member. Fortunately, things are cleared up quickly, and he's warned not to bring Action Man accessories into the country again...
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Throughout the series, Adrian fancies himself as a writer, as well as a diarist. In his Stylistic Suck novel Lo! The Flat Hills of my Homeland, his protagonist Jake writes a novel Sparg from Krong, in which Sparg writes a novel A Book with no Language.
  • Moustache Vandalism:
    • The whole school is summoned before the headmaster when it is discovered that somebody drew a moustache on the portrait of Margaret Thatcher above his desk and wrote "three million unemployed" on her cleavage. Adrian, true to form, doesn't put two and two together when Miss Elf resigns a few days later.
    • When a Conservative election candidate leaves his poster at the Mole household, Adrian draws horns on his head, and puts it up in the window.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Subverted in Growing Pains, as Adrian is not sure where to look when Doreen Slater is breastfeeding her baby son. Wondering if it is good or bad manners to ignore a suckling baby, Adrian keeps his eyes on Doreen's neck to be on the safe side.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: In Wilderness Years, Adrian mentions that the newsagent is a fat man. Cassandra corrects him, saying he is not fat, but "dimensionally challenged". Adrian laughs, then is horrified by Cassandra's mouth turning into a grim slit, and he realises she is serious.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: Adrian frequently bemoans the quality of presents he receives, dismissing them as "the usual Japanese rubbish", or "the usual tat". Some specific examples of presents he dislikes are:
    • A boy's book of carpentry from his Grandma.
    • A Boy’s Book of Sport published in the 1950s from his Grandma Sugden.
    • Bible stories for boys. Feeling unable to tell his Grandma Sugden that he has lost his faith, he says thank you, and wears a false smile for so long that it hurts.
    • A book token for ten shillings from Bert Baxter which expired in 1958, although he adds that it was a kind thought.
  • Named Like My Name:
    • In True Confessions, the student living with Adrian's mother is Martin Muffet; and adds "and spare the jokes about tuffets and spiders, will you?"
    • In Prostate Years, Adrian's consultant is Dr Rubik, who sighs "yes, as in the damn cube".
  • Nature Tinkling:
    • In Secret Diary, Adrian goes on a survival weekend in the Derbyshire hills, and describes himself as like an ignoble savage for having to perform his "natural functions" out in the open, and wiping his bum on leaves.
    • In Wilderness Years, he has to urinate into the darkness on a canoeing trip in Russia, which he had believed would be on a cruise ship.
  • Neat Freak: Adrian. In "Growing Pains", his mother comments "This room is like a bloody shrine! Why don't you leave your clothes on the floor like normal teenagers?" In "Wilderness Years", his landlady Mrs Hedge is very untidy, and thinks she's struck lucky when she finds him mopping the kitchen floor. He says he finds it difficult to tolerate disorder.
  • Needlework Is for Old People: Adrian's grandmother frequently knits clothes for the family to wear.
  • Neglected Garden: In Wilderness Years, when Adrian lives in the somewhat chaotic and decrepit house of Dr Palmer, lone father to three children, Dr Palmer mentions that his children still believe that fairies live at the bottom of the garden. Adrian is astonished by this, noting that the garden is hardly fairyland, being covered in all sorts of rusting rubbish, and nearly tells the children that any fairy living there ought to have a tetanus jab.
  • Never Mess with Granny: After Adrian's grandma learns he's being tormented by local bully Barry Kent, she goes out, returning a little while later with the money Barry took from Adrian, and assurances that he won't be bothering Adrian again. Next day, Adrian writes, "It is all over school that a seventy-six-year-old woman frightened Barry Kent and his dad into giving back my menaces money," although precise details of what happened are never given.
  • Nobody Poops: Inverted in that toilets (or more usually "lavatories") are mentioned frequently.
  • No Can Opener: Happens in one of the early books when Adrian goes on a camping trip, causing him to note "Thank God cheese doesn't leak, break, soak up water or come in a tin."
    • Perhaps because of this incident, when he ran away from home in the second book, he made sure to take a can opener with him.
  • Nocturnal Emission: In the first book, Adrian's mother is reading The Female Eunuch (a famous feminist book) and says that "it is the sort of book that changes your life". Adrian glances through it and has his first wet dream the next night. He notes that his mother was right, the book did change his life. He has a second, about Pandora, soon after.
  • No Name Given: Adrian considers not giving a name to the hero of his novel.
    The tea was welcome. He sipped it gratefully.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian has a very severe depression, soon after he ran away from home. He later receives a letter from John Tydeman of the BBC, which refers to a poem called "Autumn Renewal", glue-sniffing, Adrian contemplating suicide, and John Tydeman carefully explaining why he will not tolerate being addressed as "Johnny". Adrian cannot remember writing anything about these at all, speculating that he must have written this while the balance of his mind was disturbed.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian has a moment of his brain recalling past humiliations, and bouts of his own moral cowardice, such as the time he crossed the road to avoid his father because he was wearing a red pom-pom hat, and other unexplained incidents.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: In Growing Pains, Adrian and Pandora give Bert Baxter a bath. Bert insists that Pandora covers her eyes for getting him in and out of the bath.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Adrian has only one copy of his manuscript for Lo! The Flat Hills Of My Homeland, which makes it frustrating for John Tydeman every time Adrian sends it to him, especially when Adrian asks him to photocopy it for him. Presumably, it's destroyed when his house burns down at the end of The Cappuccino Years.
  • No True Scotsman: In The Wilderness Years, twice Adrian feels compared unfavourably to real males.
    • When he unsuccessfully tries to unblock the sink, Pandora says casually "we'll have to get a proper man in". Adrian then writes that she has disenfranchised him from his gender, and cut his poor, useless balls off.
    • When Adrian's therapist tells him to pretend that an empty chair is his father, Adrian recalls how when he was three years old, his father yanked his dummy out of his mouth, saying "Real boys don't need a dummy". He then angrily beats the chair with a stick.
  • Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: In Growing Pains, Adrian has to have one of his front teeth pulled, and some of his classmates tease him about it. Two days later, still embarrassed and depressed, he stays in bed all morning instead of going to school. He manages to pull himself together and go to school in the afternoon, so he asks his mom for an excuse note. She writes a note that says, "Adrian did not come to school this morning because he didn't get out of bed until 12:45."
  • Obfuscating Disability: In True Confessions, Adrian describes how when all second class compartments were full on a train journey, he sat in first class and pretended to be a lunatic; and fortunately the ticket inspector had a lunatic in his family, so was quite sympathetic.
  • Oblivious to Love: Adrian is pretty dense when women are making the move on him. Notably, Bianca drops several huge hints towards him before they get together and he is called out for his not picking up on this by both his mother and his landlord. He's partly also afraid to make the first move himself being afraid of misjudging the situation.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: Subverted in Wilderness Years: When Adrian loudly declares his love for his therapist Leonora, her husband Fergus enters the consulting room, drying a little blue jug, and asking if Leonora is all right. When Adrian leaves twenty minutes later, he passes Fergus, who is still drying the little blue jug, presumably as a cover for checking Leonora is safe.
  • Obsessive Love Letter: Twice in "Wilderness Years", Adrian sends Pandora a poetic love letter. The first time, Pandora replies "If you continue to send such filth to me, I will pass it on to the police". The second time, she advises him to seek psychiatric advice.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: In spades:
    • A nurse who will not discharge him from hospital after having his tonsils out, until he has eaten a bowl of cornflakes, while simultaneously accusing him of hogging a bed. In the end, she forces one spoonful of cornflakes down his throat, before stripping his bed.
    • A whole saga lasting weeks over payment of social security benefits; eventually his mother contacts the local radio station, and "abandons" Adrian in the social security office.
    • A librarian who will not accept payment by cheque without a banker's card, for an absurdly small sum. Adrian tries to vouch for himself by showing her a photograph or himself, taken pre-beard.
    • In Cappuccino Years and Weapons of Mass Destruction, there are many obstructive bank staff.
    • In Prostrate Years, there is an ongoing saga when Adrian tries to get an appointment with a doctor, about an issue which turns out to be of monumental importance.
    • Adrian's attempts to get something done about the aggressive swans around his Rat Wharf flat in The Weapons Of Mass Destruction results in replies from the council telling him to resolve his differences with them, mistaking the swans for a person with the last name of Swan.
  • Oddball in the Series: The third book, The True Confessions Of Adrian Albert Mole, has a different feel from the rest of the books. There are several Time Skips, a couple of segments that don't fit with the canon of the later books (such as Adrian apparently speaking on Radio Four), and a sudden change of POV characters about midway and two thirds of the way through the book. The author's notes even state that it's not really a Mole book.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Adrian sees his grandmother's corset, thinks it looks like a parachute harness, and asks his grandma how she gets in and out of it. She replies that it's all down to self-discipline, and believes that since corsets went out of fashion, England has lost its backbone.
  • Offended by an Inferior's Success: Throughout the series, Adrian Mole aspires to be a great writer, with little or no success. When his old enemy and school bully Barry Kent learns to read and write while in prison, Adrian encourages him to write poetry. In The Wilderness Years, Barry becomes a hugely successful writer, to Adrian's great resentment, especially as Barry's expletive-laden first book Dork's Diary contains a character "Aiden Vole" which is an outrageous caricature of Adrian.
  • On a Scale from One to Ten:
    • In Wilderness Years, asks his psychotherapist Leonora how mad he is.
      Adrian: How mad am I, on a scale from one to ten?
      Leonora: You're not mad at all. As Freud said, it is impossible for a therapist to treat either the mad, or those in love.
    • Adrian often rates things out of ten, such as books, or Bianca's legs; he only gives her five, as her ankles are bony.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Marigold Flowers reacts with absolute horror when Adrian offers her a glass of wine while she's pregnant (although she's faking it so he will agree to marry her). Adrian states that his mother did not adhere to this belief, and drank three cans of Guinness a night during her pregnancy.
  • On One Condition: In The Cappuccino Years, an elderly man Archie Tait who has no friends or close family at all leaves Adrian his house, on condition that Adrian lives there, and cares for Archie's cat for the rest of its life. This is a mixed blessing to Adrian, as the house needs a lot of repair.
  • Papa Wolf: Adrian and his father have both had moments. Unfortunately, one of these moments was averted, leading to the incident mentioned in Never Mess with Granny.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger:
    • In Growing Pains: When a solicitor's letter arrives from Adrian's mother's former lover, Adrian's father tears it up. Adrian later retrieves the pieces and sticks them together.
    • In Wilderness Years: Adrian does this to a letter from a publisher rejecting his manuscript.
    • He also tears up a letter from the bank in Weapons of Mass Destruction, before throwing the pieces into the canal. Later, a police officer accuses him of littering, when the pieces have been retrieved.
  • Passing Notes in Class: When Adrian believes Pandora is being a bit distant, he sends her a note in science asking if she still loves him. She replies with "I will love you for as long as Britain has Gibraltar". The next day, it is announced on the news that Spain wants Gibraltar back.
  • Percussive Therapy:
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian's mother throws the telephone across the hall after a call from her ex-lover Lucas.
    • Literally in Wilderness Years, when his therapist tells Adrian to imagine that an empty chair is his father, and gives him a stick to beat the chair with; and he makes himself sore doing so.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Adrian prides himself on his massive "intellectual" vocabulary, and in Prostrate Years, uses the word "contrapositional" during an argument with Daisy, who is not impressed. Another word is "expectorated", seen in True Confessions.
  • Perpetual Poverty: In the early books, Adrian's parents are constantly broke, especially given how they both tend to be out of work or in crappy jobs that they hate. This likely turns Adrian into the spendthrift that he is. Adrian himself goes through this as an adult as well.
  • Personalized Pledge: In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, when Adrian is in hospital, he gives his diary to his mother to look after, making her swear on the dog's life not to read it.
  • Persona Non Grata:
    • In Prostrate Years, Adrian laments that other people get banned from pubs; but he gets banned from a dry cleaner's. Yes, a dry cleaner's. His crime was to leave one of Gracie's sweets in the pocket of a jacket, which jammed their machines, causing them to be replaced at great expense.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian bans himself from an Oxfam charity shop, because he had left a condom in the top pocket of a blazer he had donated; or at least, vows never to enter to shop again until the volunteer helper he gave the blazer to dies or retires.
  • Pet the Dog: Although Adrian and Pop-Eye Scruton the headmaster are usually enemies, Scruton gives Adrian two merit marks for his highly detailed report of the trip to the British Museum (see "long list").
  • Photo Op with the Dog: Adrian wants to do this in Weapons of Mass Destruction, with a dog. When he has attracted bad publicity by disturbing a shrine to the dead, he asks his blind friend Nigel if he can be photographed with Nigel's "blind dog" Graham. Nigel replies bad-temperedly:
    Nigel: Graham is not a blind dog. A blind dog would be no use to me, would it? Graham is a guide dog, and no, you're not using him to improve your poxy self-image.
  • Pitiful Worms: In The Wilderness Years, Adrian decides that when two holidaymakers inform the group that they "love all living things", anything they have to say is irrelevant, because they equate his life to that of a lugworm.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: This happens many times in the books, almost as a throwaway gag, as part of Adrian's lousy stinking bad luck. Notable examples are:
    • In Secret Diary, the coach breaks down on a highly chaotic school trip to the British Museum.
    • In Wilderness Years, one cause of Adrian's chronic unpunctuality is the exhaust pipe falling off the bus.
    • In Adrian's book Lo! The Flat Hills of my Homeland, Jake running out of petrol while attempting to commit suicide by gassing himself in his car.
    • In Cappuccino Years, Adrian's mobile phone fails him just as he calls home to discover that his young son William is awake at 1am and roaming the house, and his father is asleep or dead.
  • Pocket Protector: Bert Baxter has a Bible with a bullet hole through it, and claims that it saved his life during WWI. Adrian notices that the Bible was printed in 1956.
  • Politically Correct Villain: Cassandra, a tyrannical character in Wilderness Years enforces the use of politically correct descriptions:
    He's not fat, he dimensionally challenged.
    You're not going bald, you're follicularly disadvantaged.
    It's not Winnie the Pooh, it's Winnie the Shit: I hate ambiguity.
    Adrian speculates that she might replace "ugly as sin" with "facially impaired".
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Ms Fossington-Gore occasionally has aspects of this; for instance, when Barry Kent wears a Union Jack t-shirt because it's St George's Day, instead of ignoring it, or simply saying it's not part of the uniform, she tells him he's wearing a symbol of fascism.
  • Polyglot: Pandora studied Russian, Mandarin, and Serbo-Croat at Oxford and eventually earned a DPhil (and not a PhD as Adrian states).
  • Porn Stash:
    • Adrian's mother discovers the porn mags he has hidden under his mattress. She also discovers the phone bill (hidden for completely different reasons) and assumes there may be some additional perversion. At least, until she finds out it was a collect call from TUNISIA.
    • Adrian's new neighbours the Singh family find a stash of "brown and cream magazines which were very indecent. An heirloom from that creep Lucas!" These are also placed under Adrian's mattress.
  • Practically Different Generations:
    • Rosie and Brett are both born when Adrian is 15 years old. While in hospital waiting for Pauline to give birth, he is even asked by a nurse if he is the baby's father.
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian visits Barry Kent's home and mentions that Barry (who is 15-16, the same age as Adrian) has baby/toddler-aged siblings.
    • Due to Glenn being the result of a Teenage Pregnancy, he's ten years older than William and 17-18 years older than Gracie.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: In the early books, Adrian's classmate Danny is a Jamaican Rastafarian who happens to have albinism. After he calls Adrian a "honky" Adrian writes: "what a cheek, he's twice as white as I am!"
  • Product Placement: Items are frequently referred to including brand names, with the brand often mentioned more than once:
    • "I am sick of sleeping with my Sony Walkman on."
    • "In my haste, I knocked a pile of Outspan oranges on to the floor. When I left the shop, it was with horror that I realised I had an Outspan orange in each hand."
    • Adrian has an Adidas sports bag, and specifies Adidas trainers on his Christmas list.
    • "She took off her Sony headset and invited me to listen."
    • "I have just used a whole Andrex toilet roll to mop up my tears."
    • Products bought from Woolworth's or Marks and Spencer are frequently mentioned as such.
    • Adrian buys himself Doc Marten's boots in Growing Pains, but comments negatively on Bianca's Docs in Wilderness Years.
    • "His Montego had been wheel-clamped."
    • "This cruelty of fate versus the magnificence of the human spirit forced me into silent sobs into the Dralon cushions."
    • "Her breasts were, as I recall, slightly larger than Jaffa oranges, but not quite as large as Marks and Spencer's grapefruits."
    • "His bald patch was now the size of a digestive biscuit (McVities)."
  • Pronoun Trouble: In Weapons of Mass Destruction Adrian's employer, Mr Carlton-Hayes, always refers to his unseen partner Leslie (a unisex name) by name rather than "he" or "she," leading to a Running Gag throughout the book whereby Adrian wonders whether Leslie is male or female. The Prostrate Years reveals that Leslie is a man. Not only that, but Adrian looks forward to going to Mr. Carlton-Hayes' house to find out Leslie's gender.
  • Punctuality Is for Peasants: Adrian believes he is the victim of this when his psychotherapist reschedules their first meeting at short notice, without giving a reason, and he rants about it in his diary.
    Why? Is she having her hair done? Have her parents been found dead in bed? Is double-glazing being installed in her consulting room? Am I so unimportant that my time is a mere plaything to Mrs De Witt?
  • Put on a Bus: Several characters. The most prominent is probably Adrian's younger son William, who moves to Nigeria to be raised by his mother and is never seen again. Sue Townsend justified this in an author's note a the end of The Prostrate Years by stating that William restricted the storylines she could do with him.
  • Pyromaniac: Eleanor Flood has a tendency to set things on fire when anyone wrongs her. She burns down Adrian's house when he spurns her advances.
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian joins a prison pen-pal scheme and begins writing to a serial arsonist named Grace. She's about to be released on parole and keen to visit him, causing Adrian to panic. Thankfully for him, she immediately burns another building down and gets sent back to jail.
  • Racist Grandma: In Secret Diary, Adrian mentions that his grandmother is "not keen on black, brown, yellow, Irish, Jewish or foreign people", when the brown-skinned Singh family turn up during the televised royal wedding of Charles and Diana.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Adrian mentions God several times, usually negatively.
    • He sees a vicar about his loss of faith, who replies "Oh God, not another one!"
    • When struggling to study for his exams, he writes "My problem is that I'm too intellectual: I keep thinking things like, was God married?"
    • When given a Christmas present of a book Bible Stories for Boys, he writes "I could hardly tell [my grandmother] that I had lost my faith, so I said thank you and wore a false smile for so long that it hurt."
    • When his former bully Barry Kent has his novel published, he is then "utterly convinced that there cannot be a God".
    • His son Glenn is suspended from school for saying that "God is a bit of a bastard for allowing famines and motorway crashes to happen".
    • When his mobile phone doesn't work in an emergency, he writes "I cursed God".
    • In spite of the above, he regularly writes "Thank God".
  • Really Gets Around: Pandora, at least according to Barry Kent in one of his letters to Adrian from prison, slept with many people of varying nationalities while at Oxford. In her autobiography, Out Of The Box, she tallies up the number of lovers she's had to 112.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Adrian gives "Pop-Eye" Scruton an epic one in letter format. This causes him to have a Villainous Breakdown and retire due to mental stress.
    • There is also an epic confrontation between Adrian and his mother in Wilderness Years. He accuses his mother of being neglectful and with loose morals; she counter-attacks by telling him that she had read his manuscript, and thought "it was crap from start to finish".
  • Reel Torture: In Wilderness Years, Adrian imagines torturing Pandora's middle-aged lover Cavendish by showing him a video of Pandora marrying Adrian.
  • Relative Error: Adrian, when aged fifteen, is allowed to witness the birth of his sister because the nurses assume he's actually the baby's father.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Wayne Wong from the later books is established to have gone to school with Adrian, but he doesn't appear in the early books.
  • Revenge: Adrian is occasionally revengeful.
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian runs away from home, clearly with the intention of causing distress to his parents, for being "neglectful".
    • In Wilderness Years, he writes a long list of imagined tortures for Pandora's lover Cavendish, including showing Cavendish a video of Pandora marrying Adrian.
    • In Cappuccino Years, Adrian's father is given the task of babysitting Adrian's son William, but falls asleep on the job. Adrian returns to find that William has scribbled on Adrian's father's bald patch: as a punishment to his father, Adrian does not tell him about it.
  • Retcon:
    • In The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, Jo Jo's second husband is named as "Colonel Ephat Mapfumo." In later books he is Wole, to which Adrian's son William changes his own name in honour of the stepfather.
    • Rosie is initially described as "looking exactly like Baby Spice" (Emma Bunton, who is blonde and pale) but by The Prostrate Years she has dark hair and skin which leads Pauline Mole to suspect that Mr Lucas is Rosie's real father, later confirmed by a DNA test on The Jeremy Kyle Show
    • There's some confusion over the ages of Adrian, his son Glenn, and Rosie at different stages in the books. The Other Wiki goes into more detail. Glenn appears to gain 5 years (born in 1990 but joins the army aged 17 in 2002.)
    • To say nothing of the death of Ivan Braithwaite ...
    • Scruton retires during Growing Pains, but during True Confessions, Adrian mentions that he is still headmaster at Adrian's school.
    • The Wilderness Years is set in 1991, during which time Adrian moves to London from Oxford thanks to a change in career and a new girlfriend. He's also established to have only passed one of his A Levels; English. In The Cappucino Years, he mentions in 1997 that he's been living in London for the past eight years. He also mentions that he has two A Levels, both of which took him three attempts to pass, though it is possible that he attempted Biology again in the intervening years.
    • Adrian's grandfather's name was Arnold in the second book, but he's later referred to as Albert and Arthur.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Downplayed in Growing Pains. When Queenie Baxter dies, nobody can afford the cheapest possible funeral for her, costing £350; and her funeral insurance is only worth £30, because she had taken it out fifty years previously, when £30 would buy a far more extravagant funeral.
  • Rip Tailoring: In Growing Pains, Adrian sets about a black, a white and a grey T-shirt with scissors, to wear as rags, deciding that this is now fashionable.
  • Rise of Zitboy: Adrian is plagued by spots in the early books, which he describes in his diaries in detail. He is convinced that a good bout of lovemaking would clear them up.
    Pandora says she is not going to risk becoming a single parent for the sake of a few spots. So I shall have to fall back on self-indulgence.
  • The Rival: Barry Kent, for most of the series. Adrian's half-brother Brett occasionally fills the role instead.
  • Rollerblade Good: Inverted with Adrian in Growing Pains, when Nigel sets him up on a roller skating blind date with Sharon Botts. Despite practising with his skates as much as he can beforehand, he is not good at skating at all, unlike Sharon, who whizzes around and does the splits. Needless to say, the date is not a success.
  • Romantic False Lead: In The Wilderness Years, Pandora's boyfriend Jack Cavendish. Her husband Julian may also count; Adrian is clearly jealous, although Julian is a Flamboyant Gay and it's a marriage of convenience.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Adrian dreads games, especially rugby, and wishes for a non-painful illness such as a weak heart, to be excused. In True Confessions, he believes he has picked up too many female hormones: his doctor prescribes having his head kicked in a rugby scrum.
  • The Runaway: Adrian runs away from home in Growing Pains, at a time when he is going off the rails, and believes that his parents do not care about him. He sleeps rough for a few days, and tries to get himself "rescued" by the police by reporting himself missing. When he returns home, he is massively depressed for a long time, and stays in bed for a week.
  • Running Gag:
    • Adrian's talking to many people about the Norwegian Leather Industry, and how they're all bored/annoyed by it.
    • In The Prostrate Years, most people Adrian talks to mispronounce the word "prostate." It's even in the book's title.
    • Everyone comments on the swans hanging around Adrian's flat in Rat Wharf saying "They can break a man's arm, you know."
    Tropes S-Z 
  • Sadist Teacher: Reginald "Popeye" Scruton generally tends to make Adrian's life hell in the early books. He's implied to have been in his prime during the days when teachers caned students on an everyday basis (the cane remained in use until 1987 but was used far less frequently from the late 1970s onwards). Adrian's diagram of interpersonal relationships in Growing Pains lists him as a villain alongside Barry Kent, Margaret Thatcher and the Manpower Services Commission.
  • Satire: In Growing Pains, Adrian satirises "the Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher (whom he despises), in the form of a poem:
    Do you weep, Mrs Thatcher, do you weep?
    Do you wake, Mrs Thatcher, in your sleep?
    Do you weep like a sad willow? On your Marks and Spencer's pillow?
    Are your tears molten steel? Do you weep?
    Do you wake with "three million" on your brain?
    Are you sorry that they'll never work again?
    When you're dressing in your blue, do you see the waiting queue?
    Do you weep, Mrs Thatcher, do you weep?
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Bert Baxter.
  • The Scrooge: Adrian is notoriously tight fisted with his savings in the earlier books. He buys a "gold" necklace for Pandora for Christmas at a cost of £2.50, which gives her a rash as she is allergic to non-precious metals. He gives his building society a month's notice of his intention to withdraw money for his running away from home fund so as not to lose the interest.
  • Second Love: Bianca Dartington in The Wilderness Years is this in both a romantic (first requited romance after Pandora) and biological sense (she is literally the second woman Adrian has ever been intimate with). Perhaps not a straight-up example - Adrian and Bianca separate at the end of the book when Bianca goes off with Adrian's new stepfather, who, ironically, was his mother's second husband.
  • Secret Diary: As referenced in the title of the first book, Adrian's diaries are secret. References to secret diaries belonging to Adrian and others are:
    • In Secret Diary, when Adrian is in hospital, he gives his diary to his mother to look after, making her promise (on the dog's life) not to read it.
    • Secrecy is averted in True Confessions, when he sends his diaries to his American pen-pal Hamish Mancini, who then demands a glossary of the British references.
    • At the beginning of Cappuccino Years, Adrian writes:
      I take up my pen to record a momentous happening in the affairs of men, and because this is intended to be a secret diary, I am not required to add "and women".
    • After ranting about the very existence of elderly people, wishing they would all commit suicide to give the young and able-bodied a break, he writes:
      I thank Pepys, the god of diarists, that my journal will not be read in my lifetime. I would not like to be thought of as an uncaring ageist.
    • A diary belonging to Adrian's barely literate son Glenn is discovered, saying "when I am grown up, I wood like to be my dad".
    • Adrian finds out that Marigold Flowers lied about her pregnancy from her secret diary, in Weapons of Mass Destruction.
  • Secret Ingredient: A feature of every Christmas is the Mole Christmas Gravy, whose recipe is a closely guarded secret. In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian's mother reveals it to him. Adrian's childhood dreams are shattered when he learns that it is made up of very standard ingredients, which can all be bought at the co-op supermarket, rather than a secret magical ingredient he was expecting.
  • Seduction Lyric: Adrian twice writes a poem to Pandora in Wilderness Years to get her into bed with him. Her reply to the first is that she will in future pass any such filth on to the police; and the second time, she says that if it was not meant to be funny, he should seek psychiatric advice.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Hamish gets hold of Adrian's diaries and sends him a long letter with a list asking what most of the terms Adrian uses mean.
  • Series Fauxnale: The Wilderness Years wraps up many long running plot threads from the first half of the series. Notably Adrian's grandmother is killed off, Adrian goes through severe Character Development and finally gets over Pandora and finds love with someone else first Bianca, then Jo Jo. There is even a suggestion that he just might have some talent at writing after all when Angela Hacker, after rubbishing his prose admits that that at least one of ideas is brilliant. The gap between The Wilderness Years and the following book is also the longest in the series.
  • Shared Universe: With Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones novels, according to a throwaway gag in The Cappuccino Years where Adrian and Bridget are briefly in the same room.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill:
    • In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Adrian runs up a huge phone bill accepting reverse charge calls from Pandora in Tunisia. He desperately tries to hide this from his parents, until the phone is cut off.
      I called the post office and pretended to be my father. I spoke in a very deep voice, and told a lot of lies. I said that I, George Mole, had been in a lunatic asylum for three months, and that I needed the phone to ring the Samaritans etc. The woman sounded dead horrible, she said she was sick of hearing lame excuses from irresponsible non-payers. She said the phone would only be reconnected when £289.19 had been paid, plus £40 reconnection fee, plus a deposit of £40!
    • In Cappuccino Years, the following printed notices are placed on the seats at William's Nativity play, which are blatantly ignored by the audience:
      Please do not take flash photographs. Kidzplay will be selling official photographs in the new term, at £28 per pack. Please note, it is not possible to split packs.
  • Shoo the Dog: Growing Pains, Adrian plans to take the dog with him when he runs away from home, perhaps because he fears his parents would neglect the dog. When he has packed all the dog's things, he cannot carry his suitcase, so he decides to leave the dog behind. But when the dog cries and his parents shout at it to be quiet, Adrian decides to take the dog after all.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Bridget Jones makes a brief appearance as a character in The Cappuccino Years, when Adrian hears of her diaries being published and later sees her out on a lunch date in the trendy London restaurant where he works. He then tries imitating her writing style in his own diary but very soon decides that it's irritating and reverts.
    • When Adrian incorporates his work at Savage's restaurant into his book, he creates an Expy for his co-worker Luigi named Mario.
    • One of Adrian's school friends is called Claire Neilson, in homage to the actress Claire Nielson.
  • Shower Shy: In Growing Pains, Adrian is delighted when the water workers go on strike, and showers are banned at school, saving Adrian from having to display his inferior muscle development.
  • Side Effects Include...: In The Wilderness Years, Adrian obtains a prescription for medication for depression. He asks if there are any symptoms, and the chemist rattles off a long list, ending with "a bit depressing, isn't it?" Adrian agrees, and tears the prescription up.
  • Silence of Sadness: When Adrian's parents are separating, Adrian writes "The house is very quiet. My mother sits in the bedroom smoking, and my father sits in the spare room smoking."
  • Sitcom: When discussing possible careers with his careers adviser Mr Vann, the teenage Adrian asks what qualifications you need to write situation comedy for television. Mr Vann replies that you don't need qualifications at all, you just need to be a moron.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: More like divorce divorce kiss. Adrian's parents are always splitting up and then reuniting.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Adrian is, or wants to be, this - he considers himself a celebrity (due to once presenting a show on cable about how to cook offal) and a gifted author (although his unpublished work is terrible, and his only published book was written in his name by his mother. Ironically, his personal diaries are very well written.) He frequently writes to famous people to offer "suggestions" about their lifestyles, ask for favours (e.g. to speak for free at the Christmas dinner for his book club) or ask radio/TV executives to give him his own show.
    • Michael Flowers is this. He claims to have written the best novel ever, saying that Philip Larkin said it was better than anything that he personally wrote. The manuscript was rather conveniently destroyed by the ex-wife of Flowers, though between Adrian and Nigel's prying questions, it's unknown if the thing existed in the first place. Flowers also tells Adrian that the fact that his father's bloodline is made up of unskilled factory workers is nothing that Adrian should be ashamed of, when it never even occurs to Adrian to be ashamed of this.
  • Snail Mail: Adrian receives a letter from the BBC, over a month late. The postman says:
    I believe there was a derailment of a mail train in July. It is possible that your letter was in one of the unfortunate mailbags which rested at the bottom of the embankment, before being discovered by a homeward-bound ploughman.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Adrian has moments of these, often in writing:
    • See "Stay in the Kitchen" below.
    • Pandora writes him a letter, giving him an ultimatum to return the key to her flat by 7pm, accusing him of stealing food. He returns the key at 6:59pm, with a reply admitting to helping himself to a slice of bread, and enclosing a ten-pence coin, "as remuneration for the slice of granary".
    • Some of the exchanges between Adrian and John Tydeman of the BBC are like this: their letters are polite, but making their feelings clear.
      In correspondence:
      Adrian: You could read my manuscript in the BBC coffee break lounge during your coffee breaks.
      Tydeman: What exactly is a "coffee break"? I drink coffee at my desk. Find yourself a publisher. I am not a publisher. Though sometimes I wonder if I am Marjorie Proops [Agony Aunt].
      Adrian: Would it be too much for you to photocopy my manuscript?
      Tydeman: You have more neck than a giraffe.
    • Having offended his son's nursery teacher Mrs Parvez by requesting a "more cuddly or loveable" animal than an anteater to be displayed on his coat peg, Adrian is determined to have the last word about whether or not all birds sleep in their nests.
  • Something We Forgot: There are many occasions when an important item is forgotten, but one dramatic moment is in Cappuccino Years. During a massive row about Rosie having a termination, Adrian realises that the only person not making a noise is his son William; and they have forgotten to collect him from his nursery school. Adrian hurries there, to find William asleep in his teacher's arms, having cried himself to sleep, thinking that Adrian had gone away, like his mum.
  • Spring Cleaning Fever: In Growing Pains, Adrian's mother, who is normally too feminist to clean, suddenly cleans the entire house from top to bottom, the day before she gives birth to Rosie.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Adrian is almost this to Pandora in the early books, after they break up as teenagers (and Pandora eventually marries another man.) In The Cappuccino Years he acquires his own Stalker with a Crush, Eleanor Flood.
  • Starter Marriage: Adrian's love interest Pandora deliberately has one of these; it's a marriage of convenience, since her husband is gay, and she believes that first marriages should "be got over with quickly."
    • Adrian and Jo Jo's marriage also counts. It lasted only a few years, due to them having too many social and cultural differences to be sustainable.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Adrian's first wife, Jo Jo is almost six feet tall and noted as being way out of Adrian's league. Part of the reason that his marriage with her breaks down is that he's insecure of the fact that she's taller than him.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Part of the reason Adrian's teen relationship with Pandora fails is that he wants to marry her straight out of school and expects her not to work outside the home, whereas Pandora has ... higher aspirations (see The Ace above.)
    I said I wouldn't mind her having a little job in a cake shop, but she said that she intended to go to university and that the only time she would enter a cake shop would be to buy a large crusty.
    Harsh words were exchanged between us. (Hers were harsher than mine.)
  • Steam Never Dies: Adrian lampshades this in True Confessions, describing his train steaming into London, then remembering that steam is an erotic memory.
  • Straw Feminist:
    • Adrian's mother goes through a phase of this in the first two books after reading The Female Eunuch, even giving Rosie the middle name Germaine after Germaine Greer. Although it's toned down in later entries, she does include an entirely irrelevant chapter about gender politics when she writes a cookbook in Adrian's name.
    • Pandora, to a lesser extent, although most of this is just not conforming to Adrian's expectations for her.
    • Pauline and Pandora can probably be seen respectively as the author's opinions of second and third wave feminism.
  • Straw Misogynist:
    • Adrian is a mild example in the early books, given that he wants Pandora to marry him and have children right out of school. He also expects her to take his name: Mrs Adrian Albert Mole in private.
    • George is quite sexist, especially towards Pauline, having only married her for her looks. He goes mad when he hears that the Navy have appointed a woman to captain one of its warships.
    • Bert Baxter comes across this way at Christmas dinner while ogling Gloria. Most of this is down to his age.
  • Straw Vegetarian: In the second book, Pandora blames all of Adrian's problems on the fact that he eats meat.
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: In Wilderness Years, Adrian is sexually obsessed with his therapist Leonora, and often tells her so. She emphasises that theirs is a strictly professional relationship, tries to encourage him to find another therapist, and eventually dismisses him as a client when he declares his love for her.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: There are many of these in the books, as letter-writing is Adrian's preferred method of communication with many people.
    • In Growing Pains, Adrian writes a series of goodbye letters to the people in his life just before he runs away from home, including a scathing one to his headmaster Mr Scruton, asking him if he knows that his nickname is "Pop-Eye". Later, Adrian is extremely worried about this, and a psychologist promises to write to Mr Scruton to inform him that Adrian was under great stress at the time.
    • Also in Growing Pains, Adrian has been entrusted with looking after the Braithwaites' house while they are on holiday, and he comes across a strongly worded letter from Ivan Braithwaite tendering his resignation from the local Labour party. Seeing a stamped addressed envelope nearby, Adrian posts the letter; unfortunately, Mr Braithwaite had written it, but decided not to post it.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian writes a short and scathing letter of resignation to his manager Mr Brown. He writes "for the attention of Mr Brown", stares at it for a full hour, then puts it under his blotting pad. Later, while away from his desk, he finds that somebody has delivered the letter, and his resignation has been accepted, and he is ordered to leave the premises immediately. He never finds out who delivered the letter.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian receives a strongly worded letter from John Tydeman at the BBC, telling him he has more neck than a giraffe, after Adrian has contacted him once too many about his manuscript, finally asking him to photocopy it for free.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian receives a short letter peppered with F-words from Barry Kent, after he has suggested that Barry funds Glenn's education at Eton; then, it was not known whether Glenn was Barry's or Adrian's son.
    • In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian struggles massively with writing a letter to end his relationship with Marigold Flowers. Daisy takes charge, and sends him her draft of an extremely strong letter, which horrifies Adrian.
  • Stylistic Suck: All of Adrian's writing. Some notable examples:
    • He tries to write a book with no vowels. Dsn't g wll.
      • Ditto for his awful pseudointellectual novel Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland.
      • And his epic poem The Restless Tadpole, which one publisher dismissed as "effete crap".
    • The Prostrate Years has Adrian's mother trying to write her own book, a Misery Lit memoir entitled A Girl Called "Shit"! The publisher wasn't impressed. Probably because it was full of Blatant Lies.
    • Twice, he gives a character three hands.
      "He dug both his fists into the womb-like pockets of his anorak, and with his remaining hand he adjusted the fastening on his Adidas sports bag."
      "Jonquil stretched out one lissome white hand and picked up the phone. Her other hand dialled the number; and with her other hand, she fondled an orchid which stood beside her bed in a jam jar."
    • Barry Kent's poetry is similarly awful, yet he is incredibly successful at it. It is marginally better than Adrian's, but that's more a measure of how bad Adrian is.
    • There's also Adrian's tv show, Offaly Good, where he is utterly wooden and on an obscure channel.
    • When Adrian reads the whole of his own manuscript, his own verdict is that "it is crap from start to finish", Foreshadowing the same comment by his mother. But the following day, he writes "Perhaps I was too harsh last night: it has about five passages of pure brilliance".
  • Suspiciously Specific Tense: In Growing Pains, Adrian is writing about "Stick Insect", the woman he thinks is his father's ex-mistress: "I have just realized that Stick Insect used the present tense when she was referring to her relationship with my father. It is absolutely disgraceful. A woman of thirty not knowing the fundamentals of grammar!"
  • Swans A-Swimming: Averted in Weapons of Mass Destruction. When Adrian lives near a canal, swans are no thing of beauty, but his enemy, and he writes that he is constantly being "harrassed" by them, and they will not let him pass. He tries to contact the council to have an injunction taken out against them, adding that as swans belong to the Queen, she is responsible for their behaviour, and Her Majesty may well end up in court. Adrian nicknames one of the swans Gielgud, and it becomes a Running Gag that everyone who hears where he lives says "a swan can break a man's arm, you know".
    I saw Gielgud and his wife standing in a frozen patch of water. They looked like a bad-tempered Torvill and Dean.
  • Sweet Tooth: Adrian has a sweet tooth, as he gets through a regular supply of Mars bars (with his dentist warning him he might be toothless by age thirty), and in The Wilderness Years, Opal Fruits. Bert Baxter also takes three heaped teaspoons of sugar in tea.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: A non-permanent version, when Adrian writes "Pandora" in the air with his sparkler. Unfortunately, Pandora mis-spells his name as "Adrain" when she returns the gesture. In Weapons of Mass Destruction, Adrian writes "Daisy" in the froth of his coffee, which is spotted by Marigold.
  • Take a Number: In Growing Pains, Adrian's mother has to take a ticket in the Social Security office: about every ten minutes, a number appears, and somebody goes through a door marked "private interviews". Adrian notes that none of those people come out again, and his mother remarks that they probably have gas chambers out there.
  • Take Care of the Kids: Played with in Cappuccino Years, in that a highly reclusive man Archie Tait dies, and leaves his house to Adrian, on condition that Adrian lives in the house, and takes care of Archie's cat Andrew, until Andrew dies.
  • Teen Genius: Adrian's classmate "Brain-Box" Henderson, who reappears as an adult in Weapons of Mass Destruction.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Rosie is pregnant in The Cappuccino Years, and confides this to Adrian, who makes her care for a role-playing electronic doll (see Creepy Doll above).
    I did all the traditional things: hand to forehead, said "Oh my God". "How did it happen?" I asked.
    "The usual way. Like, I wasn't visited by an angel or nothing!" Rosie said. "We've only done it four times."
    "Minus contraception, I presume?"
    "You sound like Jack Straw!"
  • Teeny Weenie: Adrian regularly measures his penis in the first books and he worries that it's too small. Subverted in The Wilderness Years, when he visits a nudist beach and discovers he's no less well endowed than anyone else. In Weapons Of Mass Destruction, he worries that he might be too big for Marigold.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: In the first book, Adrian receives a confusing telegram from his mother stating "Adrian stop coming home stop" and disregards it: "? How can I 'stop coming home'? I live here." This leads to later problems when his estranged mother turns up "without warning".
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: In Growing Pains, Nigel tells Adrian that he looks like Dustin Hoffman, to which Adrian's mother scoffs "You should be so lucky, dearie." In The Wilderness Years, random passers-by mock him for looking like John Major.
  • Time Skip: After Growing Pains, which is an Immediate Sequel to the first book, subsequent books take place several years after the previous books. Adrian's section of True Confessions starts off while he's still in school and has sporadic entries over a number of years, noting Adrian's post O Level schooling and the beginning of his subsequent employment at the Department Of The Environment. Weapons Of Mass Destruction features a time skip of a year after Robbie's death during which Adrian has sold his Rat Wharf flat, gotten back with Daisy, moved into the spare converted pigsty that his parents have bought, and had a daughter.
  • The Baby Trap: Marigold tries this on Adrian, but turns out to have been faking it.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: When Pandora wants to deflect allegations of racism, she invites herself and a news crew over to the home of her and Adrian's Asian Muslim friend Mohammed. Downplayed in that she stays for only one evening, but she still repeatedly fails to take hints that they don't want her there, and Mohammed's wife is annoyed at being expected to cook.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Adrian suffers from prostate cancer in The Prostrate Years.
  • Theme Naming: Daisy, Marigold and Poppy Flowers.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Many years after they had ended their sexual relationship, Adrian and Sharon Bott are forced to sleep in the same bed for a night. Sharon's current boyfriend almost starts a fight with Adrian when he finds out.
  • Third-Person Person: In Cappuccino Years, Glenn asks Adrian who he thinks Glen will field. Adrian wonders if Glenn is referring to himself in the third person, as Margaret Thatcher used to do; then he learns that Glenn is referring to Glen Hoddle, the England Football manager.
  • 13 Is Unlucky:
    • Adrian sometimes notes that Friday 13th is unlucky. On one occasion, Pandora no longer sits next to him at school, and on another, she tells him that she is not going to marry him aged sixteen; she intends to have a career instead.
    • Although luck is not mentioned, when a specific room or house number is mentioned, it is sometimes 13. Rosie is born in hospital room 13, and the bully Barry Kent lives at number 13.
  • Threaten All to Find One: A downplayed example in Growing Pains. The headmaster Mr Scruton summons the entire school and demands to know who defaced the portrait of Margaret Thatcher in his office, with Mustache Vandalism, and writing "three million unemployed" on her. He rants that defacing the greatest leader the country has ever known is a terrible crime, and when the culprit is found, they will immediately be expelled. His eyes bulge out so far that some of the first-years start to cry, and then the whole school is made to have handwriting tests. Soon after this, the teacher Miss Elf resigns, implying that she is the culprit.
  • Throw the Book at Them: Adrian contemplates knocking somebody out with a well-aimed blow of his hardback edition of War and Peace.
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: This happens in the first book, serving as an illustration of the woeful state of National Health Service hospitals. At the age of fourteen, Adrian suddenly finds out that he has been on the waiting list for a tonsils extraction for nine years, and has had to endure tonsilitis all that time. Grandma and Bert Baxter both tell him they knew someone who bled to death after a tonsils extraction. No ice cream is mentioned, and after the operation, Adrian is in so much pain than he cannot eat anything for several days.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: It's subtle, but Barry Kent displays racist tendencies during Growing Pains when he shouts slurs at the Singh children, then later in the same book threatens a racist political candidate with physical harm and subsequently joins an organisation called Rock Against Racism.
  • Tormented Teacher: In The Prostrate Years, the teachers frequently have to sea with the antics of Adrian's strong-willed daughter Gracie, including carrying her when she insists on dressing as a mermaid, who cannot walk.
  • Tough Spikes and Studs: In The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, Barry Kent wears his Hell's Angels clothes to school, with layer after layer of clothes covered in studs. Other pupils in the school then copy him, prompting the headmaster to introduce a rule that studs are only allowed on the soles of sports boots.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Bert Baxter really likes beetroot sandwiches.
    • In Wilderness Years, Adrian eats a lot of bananas. In Cappuccino Years, he also becomes addicted to Opal Fruits sweets.
      At midnight, I ran out of Opal Fruits. Within two minutes of leaving the Soho flat I was offered lesbian sex, heroin and a Rolex watch, but an innocent packet of Opal Fruits took half an hour to track down.
  • TV Telephone Etiquette: Discussed in Growing Pains. Adrian runs away from home, and notes that when he phones his parents, the phone is not snatched up immediately like it is in the films about runaway children.
  • Unflattering ID Photo: Adrian's passport photographs in True Confessions. Everybody but him has a good laugh over them.
  • Unions Suck: In Wilderness Years, Adrian asks a potential employer if she objects to him belonging to a union. She says she does, saying that the greatest achievement of Margaret Thatcher was to tame the unions.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Julian, Pandora's first husband.
  • Uptown Girl: At least four of Adrian's love interests are this. Pandora, Daisy and Pamela Pigg are all from wealthy upper-middle-class families (with Adrian writing to an agony aunt at one point because he fears class will keep him and Pandora apart.) Adrian's first wife, Jo Jo, is a titled aristocrat in her native Nigeria. Interestingly Adrian is himself one of these for Sharon Bott (in Adrian's words he is "upper-working/lower-middle class", she is "lower-working/underclass".)
  • Valentine's Day Vitriol: Adrian dislikes Valentine's Day most years, often only receiving a card from his mother. In Wilderness Years, he rants extensively about it in his diary; but then changes his tune when he receives a card from a secret admirer the following day.
  • Villain Episode: Margaret Thatcher is given A Day in the Limelight in the third book.
  • Villainous Goldtooth: Discussed. When Adrian enquires about suing Barry Kent, he notices that the solicitor he visits sports a gold tooth. He remembers advice his grandmother gave him not to trust anyone with a gold tooth and promptly leaves.
  • Visual Pun: Adrian laughs on hearing that William has changed his name to Wole in honour of his Nigerian stepfather and become "Wole Mole." This is purely a visual joke for the reader, since Wole is pronounced "wol-eh."
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: Happens on a field trip in the first book, beginning with the school bully and ending with a teacher.
  • V-Sign:
    • Adrian gives Bert Baxter's Alsatian dog Sabre the V-sign through a window, and hopes he doesn't remember.
    • A coach driver also demands pupils stop giving V-signs to lorry drivers.
    • When inventing ways to torture Pandora's lover Cavendish, he imagines showing Cavendish a video of Pandora marrying Adrian, who is in top hand and tails, putting two gloved fingers up at Cavendish.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: As Adrian prides himself as the greatest writer that ever lived, he has a lot to say about punctuation:
    • "The exclamation marks give me some pain", on a note from Bianca where every sentence ends with an exclamation mark.
    • He himself uses a string of exclamation marks, writing "My mother is pregnant! My mother!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
    • Sharon Bott is a virtual stranger to the comma and the full stop, and probably thinks a semi-colon is a partial removal of the intestines.
    • Adrian's excuse for struggling to write the recipe book Offally Good. His mother ends up writing the book for him.
      You non-writers don't understand. There's the question of tense and tone and clarity, knowing when to use a semi-colon, and when only a colon will do!
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: Adrian usually wears clothes which are unfashionable, sometimes through poverty, sometimes through choice. When he covets a grey zip-up cardigan from Marks and Spencer's (Adrian's preferred clothes shop, along with charity shop Oxfam), his mother accuses him of looking like a sixteen-year-old Frank Bough (veteran TV presenter). In Wilderness Years, Adrian wears a Royal British Legion blazer, to much ridicule. In True Confessions, he describes his outfit to Radio 4 listeners, detailing his balaclava helmet, lucky cravat, purposely odd socks, and training shoes.
  • Wardrobe Wound:
    • In Secret Diary, Adrian is pleased when his mother's lover Lucas spills candle wax over his new suede shoes.
    • In Wilderness Years, a beetroot stain appears on Adrian's new white shirt when Bert Baxter flings a beetroot sandwich across the room.
    • In Cappuccino Years, Adrian decides not to tell someone standing next to him who splashes urine on to his suede Gucci loafers, because it would spoil the evening for him.
  • War Is Hell: A key theme in Weapons of Mass Destruction, as seen through Glenn's experiences in Iraq, involving the death of his best friend Robbie.
  • When I Was Your Age...: When Adrian buys himself new pyjamas for hospital because the old ones are too childish, his father says that when he was a kid, he slept in a nightshirt made out of two coal sacks stitched together.
    I phoned my grandma to check this suspicious statement and my father was forced to repeat it down the phone. My grandma said that they were not coal sacks but flour sacks, so I now know that my father is a pathological liar!
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?:
    • Cindy, Barry Kent's ex, names her child Carlsberg.
    • Adrian's mother wants to name her daughter Christobel; Adrian thinks it sound like someone out of Peter Pan, the poor kid.
    • Adrian's landlord in The Wilderness Years has three children named Tamsin, Griffith and Alpha.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: While in the first three books, Adrian is a schoolboy, during the Time Skip in the third book, Adrian starts to work as a clerical officer for the Department Of The Environment until his resignation letter (that he was not going to submit) is accepted in the fourth book and he is promptly ejected from the building. From there, he gets a job washing dishes at Peter Savage's restaurant and, in the next book, has been promoted to Head Chef until the place closes, when he somehow manages to become a celebrity chef on a terrible show on an obscure tv channel. In the following book, he is working at a roadside burger van before finally settling into working at a bookshop.
  • Woken Up at an Ungodly Hour:
    • Growing Pains:
      • Adrian has toothache in the early hours of the morning, and his pain-racked sobs wake his parents, who crash into the room demanding quiet, showing no sympathy.
      • While make his final preparations to run away from home in the early hours of the morning, he gets into a rage and kicks his suitcase across his bedroom floor, waking his parents, who shout from the bedroom.
    • In True Confessions, Adrian tries to sleep at his girlfriend Sharon Bott's house, but the Bott family spend most of the night quarrelling and watching violent videos, before finally going to bed at 4am. At 6am, Adrian is woken by Mr Bott switching on breakfast television.
    • Wilderness Years:
      • Adrian writes Pandora a pompous note, asking her not to disturb him with wild lovemaking. In the early hours of the morning, she bursts into his room, and screams abuse at him. Later in the book, he puts another note through her door: in her reply, she tells him that he woke her at 4am with his clumsy manipulation of her letter box.
      • Adrian's mother calls him at 1am, to tell him that Martin Muffett (whom Adrian dislikes) has been found after going missing for a day, having been trapped in an underground train for several hours.
      • Adrian returns to his parental home, to find that his family have become chaotic, with a noisy nocturnal lifestyle, and that sleeping there is impossible.
    • In Cappuccino Years:
      • Adrian's sister Rosie is pregnant, and has a Creepy Doll electronic baby to prepare her for motherhood, which cries several times a night, and has to be fed with an electronic bottle. When Rosie throws the doll out of the window in the middle of the night, an ear-splitting alarm sounds, which wakes everyone in the house.
      • Adrian is woken by his mother typing at 5am. He confronts her, but she sends him back to bed, telling him she is writing her round-robin Christmas letter. She is actually writing his book, which he found extremely difficult to write himself.
  • Women Drivers: Tania Braithwaite is a mild example in that she refuses to drive above 30 mph.
  • Would Rather Suffer: Adrian "would rather eat live toads" than go to family therapy, and "would sooner have climbed into the bear pit at Whipsnade Zoo naked and covered in honey" than have an awkward conversation with Michael Flowers.
  • Wrench Wench: In Wilderness Years, Adrian's lover Bianca Dartington is a qualified hydraulic engineer, albeit reduced to working in a newsagents and then as a waitress. Adrian asks her to fix his shower as soon as he finds out, but with his Straw Misogynist tendencies, he does not really appreciate her ability, and is coldly indifferent when she points out engineering "miracles" to him, such as London's Tower Bridge, and St Pancras station (one of the largest unsupported arches in the world).
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: An in-universe example, in that Adrian is not good at maths.
    I could save £75 per week. In a year, that is... as usual, when faced with mental, or even physical arithmetic, my mind has left my body and walked out of the room. Thank God for calculators. Nine hundred pounds!
  • Write Who You Know: In universe, "Aiden Vole" from Barry Kent's highly successful novel, Dork's Diary, is basically a Captain Ersatz of Adrian.
    • Which also makes Barry Kent into something of an Author Avatar. The books actually exist in universe, written by Sue Townsend, whom Adrian thinks is stalking him, stealing his journals, and passing them off as her own work. (His memory is bad enough for him to really think this, even if events are only vaguely similar.)
    • Adrian tries this with his own novel, basing characters on people he knows and puts his protagonist into similar situations to the ones he's just witnessed. For example, when he hears that Barry Kent has written a character based on him, he adds a character named Kent Barry to Lo! The Flat Hills Of My Homeland purely out of spite, who is stated to be a failed writer.
  • Yandere: Eleanor Flood develops an obsession with Adrian, believing them to be in a relationship when they're not. She burns his house down when she sees Pandora leave.
  • Yet Another Baby Panda: In The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, Adrian falls into a severe depression when he returns home from having run away. To try to bring him back to the real world, his parents suggest he watches the news. It is full of terrible stories such as bombing and murder, and he notes that the only cheerful item is about a man with no legs who walked from John O' Groats to Lands End note ; this magnificence of the human spirit versus the cruelty of fate reduces him to silent sobs.