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The first six Historical Characters: Felicity, Kirsten, Samantha, Addy, Josefina, and Molly.
"Follow your Inner Star!"
—The brand's tagline.

The American Girls Collection — generally referred to as American Girl — is a collection of dolls, accompanying toys, and Children's Literature that was first released in 1986 by Pleasant Company (founded and owned by Pleasant Rowland, an educator). The brand was sold to Mattel in 1998 and fully transferred to their ownership in 2000.

The first line, the historical character line, released in 1986 and focuses on the history of the United States in various time periods as seen through the eyes of a nine-to-ten-year-old girl living in the era. The line started with three characters and now ranges from pre-European settlement (and a specific Native culture) to The '90s. The collection was first referred to as "The American Girls Collection" when it was the only line available, then "Historical Characters" when other lines came out, and briefly redesigned as "BeForever" from 2014 to 2019 before reverting back to "Historical Characters." This is also the part of line most people who remember the brand from the 90s are thinking about or have nostalgia for, and is often parodied or referenced in other media.

The modern line, currently called Truly Me, was first called "American Girl of Today" and released in 1995. It has gone through the names "American Girl (of) Today", "Just Like You", and "My American Girl". The line focuses on modern children, and originally came with blank writing books and was intended to offer purchasers the idea of recording and reflecting history of the time, saying that the modern era was "part of history too!". It's now more of a modern nameless/create a character option. Purchasers choose from among a group of pre-designed unnamed dolls and can purchase accompanying clothing and accessories; this updates regularly to stay on top of modern day fashions, interests, technology, and activities.

In 2001 the Girls of the Year line released, the first modern line with designed characters. These focus on a modern-era 9-to-13-year-old girl and events of her time. Initially the line was an expansion on the modern line and were "limited edition modern girls," only gaining the one-a-year schedule with Marisol; they now last about two years, but a new one comes out about annually. From 2017 until 2018, American Girl also had the "Contemporary Characters" line which had two older characters and didn't have the then-firm limited "one year" availability. In 2021, American Girl introduced the World by Us line, featuring three friends focusing on social justice issues.

In 2017, a line was introduced called "Create Your Own", where purchasers can mix and match offered available features in the designer to design a doll to their desires. Both this and the modern nameless line—along with the multitude of options in the Create Your Own line—can lead to uniquely designed characters.

In 2016, American Girl released WellieWishers, a line aimed at the previously-overlooked 5-7 year old demographic (outside of the short-lived Hopscotch Hill Line); the target age was later lowered to four years. There is also a baby doll line, Bitty Baby; initially released as a brand to ease children who might have a new baby in the house soon into being an older sibling, it is now solely a baby doll focused brand line for ages 18 months and up. Discontinued lines of their own creation include the Girls of Many Lands and History Mysteries (historical-themed mysteries, set in at-the-time uncovered eras and locations). Part of the BeForever line also includes the My Journey Books, a set of Game Books starring a protagonist of the same age going back in time and interacting with the main historical character, learning lessons that apply to their own life along the way.

American Girl also briefly published the Amelia's Notebook and Angelina Ballerina series and released themed toys and/or accessories.

There are several film adaptations of the books, starting in 2004.

    List of Movies 

List of Movies:

  • Samantha: An American Girl Holiday (2004): An adaptation of Samantha's books, starring AnnaSophia Robb as Samantha.
  • Felicity: An American Girl Adventure (2005): An adaptation of Felicity's books, starring Shailene Woodley as Felicity.
  • Molly: An American Girl On The Home Front (2006): An adaptation of Molly's storyline, starring Maya Ritter as Molly.
  • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008): An adaptation of Kit's storyline, starring Abigail Breslin as Kit.
  • An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong: (2009): The first Girl Of The Year movie, starring Sammi Hanratty as Chrissa.
  • McKenna Shoots for the Stars (2012): The second GOTY movie, starring Jade Pettyjohn as McKenna.
  • Saige Paints The Sky (2013): The third GOTY movie, starring Sidney Fullmer as Saige.
  • Isabelle Dances Into the Spotlight (2014): The fourth GOTY movie, starring Erin Pitt as Isabelle.
  • Grace Stirs Up Success (2015): The fifth GOTY movie, starring Olivia Rodrigo as Grace. Also a tie-in with MasterChef Junior.
  • Lea To the Rescue (2016): The sixth GOTY movie, starring Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Lea.
  • Melody 1963: Love Has to Win (2016): BeForever movie starring Marsai Martin as Melody.
  • Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas (2016): BeForever movie starring Alyvia Alyn Lind as Maryellen.
  • Ivy and Julie 1976: A Happy Balance (2017): BeForever movie starring Nina Lu as Ivy and Hannah Nordberg as Julie.
  • An American Girl Story: Summer Camp, Friends For Life (2017): The first Contemporary Character movie, starring Zoe Manarel as Z Yang.
  • American Girl: Corinne Tan (2023): The (long delayed) seventh GOTY movie, starring sisters Miya and Kai Cech as Corinne and Gwynn Tan.

Short films based on Julie and Maryellen (2015), Joss and Courtney (2020), and Kira (2021) were uploaded on YouTube, with other promotional animated videos for additional characters.

While the target audience (at least for the historical characters) is the 8-12 year old age range, most of the fandom is well over the age of eighteen. This is due to many of the fans being people who were introduced to the brand as children, regardless of whether they got dolls as children or not. The dolls are relatively expensive at over $100 each (this is the other aspect that is most frequently parodied), and originally could only be mail-ordered; in 2000 Mattel updated the then-modest promotional website to offer online purchase, and the first in-person store opened in 1998 in Chicago. Stores are still mostly found in very large American cities. There is also a large demographic of middle-aged women, many of whom have children who have or had the dolls, as well as male and other gender collectors, and people who have nostalgia for the company even without owning items.

Compare Dear America, another series of historical fiction books starring girls written as diaries and aimed at an older demographic (while they did not have a dedicated line of companion dolls, selected characters were made by Madame Alexander), Girlhood Journeys, a short-lived series of historical characters around the world similar to Girls of Many Lands; Magic Attic Club; a doll and book line centered on girls who use costumes to experience both historic and fantasy stories; Stardust Classics, a line of fantasy dolls and books; and Maplelea Girls, the Canadian equivalent but focused solely on modern characters.

Has no relation to Meg Cabot's 2002 book or the Tom Petty song.

Has a character sheet in need of cleanup and expansion; characters that are part of a main character's series should be listed there (e.g. tropes about Samantha's Aunt Cornelia can be listed on Samantha's section).


Series pages for individual Historical Characters:


The American Girl franchise and toy line provides examples of:

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    A-C 
  • Accidental Time Travel: The protagonists of the My Journey Game Books don't initially decide to go back in time; they end up back there by interacting with something from that era such as a coin, miniature portrait, vintage camera, or brooch. (The exception being the one from Melody's, who goes back by singing "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing".) However, after the first trip, they (mostly) go back to explore the era willingly.
  • Acme Products: In-universe, items such as appliances, flashlights, food brands, and equipment are branded under the American Girl moniker, using the brand logo as such. Selected items are officially licensed scale model versions like Julie's Volkswagen Beetle and the Kodak film from Kit's reporter accessories.
  • Acquaintance Denial: In "A Smart Girl's Guide to Knowing What to Say", one hypothetical scenario involves the reader needing to apologise to her brother John after pretending not to know him because he's nerdy.
  • Actionized Adaptation:
    • The film adaptation of Kit's series of novels added some relatively mild chase and action scenes in the film's climax, where Kit and her friends chase after and confront Mr. Berk, along with his assistant Frederich and Miss Bond, who turned out to be the ones responsible for the robberies involving hobos.
    • Lea's movie has her confronting poachers and rescuing her older brother in Brazil. This does not happen in the books.
  • Adapted Out: Several minor characters aren't cast in the historical movies.
    • Agatha and Agnes, Hawkins the butler, and Elsa the maid in Samantha: An American Girl Holiday. (Agatha's name is used for Cornelia's neice, the flower girl for the wedding.) Admiral Beemis is mentioned but never seen. Nellie's mother suffers Death by Adaptation; in the books, she was alive until Changes for Samantha, while in the movie, she's already dead before Nellie and Samantha meet for the first time.
    • Felicity's movie removes the Lord and Lady Dunmore; they're stated to have already left the colonies (since the movie starts in spring 1775). Instead, the fancy ball is held by a local well off woman. Also Felicity's birthday has already happened, so Isaac from her birthday book is removed.
    • Molly's younger brother Brad isn't cast in Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front. The puppies Bennett and Yank are also removed from the film, as no birthday party is held.
    • In Kit's movie, Charlie and Aunt Millie both function as The Ghost; they're referred to, but you only see Charlie in a photograph in the background. Other characters have their significance cut down (Uncle Hendrick and Roger each only have a scene or two) but remain in the story.
    • All of the pets except Kit's dog Grace and Felicity's horse Penny are removed.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the original Felicity books, Felicity's best friend Elizabeth is a brunette, but in the movie (and later, for her doll) she's a blonde.
    • In the Chrissa books, Jayden is brunette; in the movie, she is dirty blonde.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In Molly's books Allison Hargate was Spoiled Sweet and occasionally bossy. In the movie, she's much more snobbish and condescending towards her peers.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In Changes for Samantha, Aunt Cornelia and Uncle Gard's maid Gertrude is antagonistic with Samantha and is the one who eventually goes snooping and finds out about Nellie and her sisters staying there; after the O'Malleys are adopted, Nellie suspects that Gertrude is resentful of serving girls that would have been of her social class. But in Samantha's movie, she is much friendlier, is downright indignant on Samantha's behalf when Miss Frouchy accuses her of stealing, and is happy for Samantha when her speech is chosen for the school assembly. She also has nothing to do with the discovery of Nellie and her sisters, as in the adaptation Samantha is forced to come clean of her own accord after Bridget becomes seriously ill and needs a doctor.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Felicity's family and close friends call her "Lissie."
    • "Kit" is not actually Kit's real name. It's Margaret Mildred Kittredge. Dad used to sing her a song with the lyrics "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile," and she loved the song so much the nickname stuck; it helps that it's less "flouncy" than her full name.
    • Molly's dad occasionally calls her "Olly Molly."
    • Maryellen's family often calls her "Ellie"; her older sister amends this with rhymes, such as "Ellie-jelly."
    • Melody's family calls her DeeDee, and her grandmother calls her "little chick" as she calls all her grandchildren chickadees.
    • Lindsey's uncle Bernie calls her "Pumpkin."
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Felicity and Kaya both have horses that are significant parts of their stories; Felicity likes horses more than anything. Nicki Fleming and Saige also have horses in their stories and enjoy riding them, and Lila goes to riding camp as part of her stories and has a horse in her collection. Since 1998 with the release of the American Girl Horse (whom was designed after Penny), the modern collection has continuously offered a horse to purchase for modern characters.
  • Alliterative Name: Rebecca Rubin and Molly McIntire. ZigZagged with Kit Kittredge; Kit is a nickname and her real name is Margaret, but her full name is Margaret Mildred Kittredge.
  • Alpha Bitch: The majority of series has someone who is nasty to the main character. This includes: Harriet Davis in Addy's series; Lavinia Halsworth in Cécile and Marie-Grace's series; Annabelle, Elizabeth's older sister in Felicity's stories; Edith Eddleton and Elsie Van Sicklen in Samantha's stories; the Water Fountain Girls and Mark in Julie's series; and Blair in Lindsey's story with Missy as her Dragon.
  • Always Identical Twins: Wing Feather and Sparrow, Kaya's younger brothers; Agnes and Agatha Pitt, Samantha's Aunt Cornelia's sisters; and Rebecca's twin older sisters Sadie and Sophie (which results in her having doubles of all their clothes). Nicki and Isabel Hoffman avert this; they are fraternal twins and have different hair and eye colors.
  • Ambiguously Brown: None of the "medium" unnamed modern dolls are given a specific race, and can generally be whatever the purchaser chooses. The medium- and dark-skinned dolls have more facial diversity than the light ones.
  • American Title: The franchise name (American Girl) and the initial subtitles for the meet books: Name: An American Girl.
  • Amicably Divorced:
    • Julie's parents, especially when Ms. Albright scolds Tracy for her Bratty Teenage Daughter behavior towards Mr. Albright.
    • Courtney's parents; she went back and forth between their households until her father had to move far away for his job.
    • Despite Corrine not thinking so to start due to their fighting in the past, her parents do get along (and her father and stepfather are not in conflict).
  • Animal Lover: Most of the doll collections come with a pet or animal companion of some kind. These range from fairly ordinary pets, like Marisol's cat or Addy's (neighbor's) canary, to context-appropriate farm animals, like Felicity's lamb and horses and Josefina's goat, to just plain unusual ones, such as Kanani's harp seal (not a pet, but saved by Kanani and her cousin), or Chrissa's mail-delivering llama.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: The main focus of Kirsten's series as she moves from Sweden to the US, and touched on with Rebecca's cousin Ana's journey from Russia. Discussed in Nellie's series (especially Nellie's Promise), but she herself didn't immigrate from Ireland—her parents did, and she was born in America.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Sometimes Wing Feather and Sparrow to Kaya, sometimes Nan and William to Felicity, Lindsey to Ethan (this one goes both ways, Lindsey thinks he's annoying too), Molly's older siblings view her as this trope, Maryellen's younger sister and brothers to herself, and Danny to the reader insert in A New Beginning.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Nanea gets peeved that her beloved teacher Miss Smith gave her usual classroom role of "right-hand girl" to the new girl Dixie. "Someone who didn't even know everyone's names? Someone who liked tap dancing?" All of this is treated like Serious Business.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Kirsten, in every release of her doll and her books' illustrations, has thick front bangs (what fans call "pie bangs" on dolls, as they look like a pie slice from the top). However, separate fringe-style bangs were not in fashion at the time for women or children—the most prevalent hairstyle at the time was a center part with the hair slicked or pulled back, with occasional wisps or curls at the side. (Other girls and women, including her mother, friends, and cousins, are illustrated with more accurate to the era center parted hair.) The guess is that Kirsten was given the same style wig—if not the same color—as Samantha and Molly; it's just never been updated because at this point, it's iconic to her look. (Later released characters that cover the same era, Marie-Grace and Cécile, have more accurate center-part hair with side curls.)
    • Samantha's collection and Samantha's Surprise state that the doll she desires in the toy store for Christmas and gets from Cornelia is a Nutcracker designed doll; it's carrying a mini wooden soldier which is described as "like the soldier from the ballet". However, Samantha—and indeed, America—wouldn't have known about The Nutcracker in 1904. The ballet wasn't known outside of its native Russia at the time; the first complete performance of the ballet was done in England in 1934,note  while the first United States performance was in December of 1944 by the San Francisco Ballet. It's more accurate for Molly to know anything about the ballet than Samantha—and she would likely know about it more because of Disney's Fantasia.
    • A large one regarding the creation of Felicity's holiday dress in the book Felicity's Surprise. Felicity's mother Martha initially asks the milliner for the pattern to make the fancy blue ball gown when she sees Felicity desires it after seeing it on the doll (as it's the first time tomboy Felicity has shown interest in wanting a dress) and the milliner says the pattern can be easily sized down to fit Felicity. Martha works on it frequently but when she falls ill before the holidays, cannot complete it; it is then completed in secret by Elizabeth Cole and her mother, which surprises Felicity and lets her go to the dance in it in time. However, further historical clothing research shows that neither Martha Merriman nor Elizabeth—who is nine—and her mother Mrs. Cole would have had the skills to put the dress together at home, as fitted dressmaking was a trained skill for working-class women that was taught by apprenticeships. Housewives often did small mending and crafting such as aprons, handkerchiefs, underlinens such as shifts, and caps such as mob caps, but well raised women like Martha and Mrs. Cole would not have the sewing skills to make an elaborate ball gown at home sewing by hand; even day dresses were generally made by dressmakers. There would have also not been a paper pattern to purchase as widespread paper patterns were not available until around the 1860s. Dressmakers of the time would have instead opted towards fold-and-cut and draping methods to shape the dress design and would have needed to fit the dress to the wearer in a more bespoke method, meaning it couldn't have been sewn without Felicity's knowledge. Also, milliners did not sell dressmaking supplies. This is explained in this video of a historical recreation of the Christmas gown by clothing historian Samantha Bullat, who points out these historical flaws.
    • Another for Felicity: the catalog originally said that her shoes were single-lasted and could be put on either foot, and this allowed colonial people to switch their shoes between feet. (This was also a complaint from some collectors when Mattel updated the doll to have shoes that were left and right molded.) While single lasted shoes existed at the time, it wasn't for people to freely switch their shoes; it was because this meant only one last—shoe mold—needed to be used for a pair of shoes. After some wear, the shoes molded to the wearer's left and right feet naturally.
  • Artistic License – Sports: A ten-year-old McKenna in 2012 would be aiming not for the 2016 Olympics, but the 2020 Olympics — all gymnasts who compete in the Olympic Games must turn at least 16 in the Olympic year, but McKenna would at most turn 15 in 2016. Likely artistic license by the narrators, as the film was also released in an Olympic year and the Rio Olympics were on every gymnast's mind.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Emily was originally a minor character who stayed with Molly's family for two weeks. She was later made into a doll, given her own book and starred prominently in the movie.
    • Elizabeth, Nellie, Ruthie, and Ivy eventually got their own doll and book, best friends to Felicity, Samantha, Kit, and Julie, respectively. All of the Best Friends were eventually retired.
    • Amazon's third special is called Ivy & Julie, not Julie. It adapts the books in which Ivy got A Day in the Limelight (Good Luck, Ivy and, to a lesser extent, Happy New Year, Julie) and makes her the main character and Julie the sidekick instead of the other way around. Strangely enough, this happened after Ivy and her small collection were retired, seemingly forever.
  • Audience Shift: The remarketing of BeForever and Truly Me—as well as the lack of illustrations and denser texts—were meant to try and avert this and keep the 8-12 target demographic interested in the characters and dolls instead of the demographic shifting towards younger kids who can't read the books, won't take care of their dolls, and may injure themselves with small accessories. This also was part of the drive behind the creation of the WellieWishers line.
  • Babies Make Everything Better:
    • Some of the girls' pets have babies during the series, including Kaya's horse Steps High, Felicity's horse Penny, and Josefina's ranch goat Florecita (who suffers a Death by Childbirth).
    • One of the main plot points of Happy Birthday, Kirsten! is Kirsten's mother having a baby and Kirsten's concerns about it.
    • Felicity's mother is expecting a baby during the events of Felicity Saves the Day. Her sister Polly is born between it and Changes for Felicity, and would eventually be depicted in the short story Felicity's New Sister. In Felicity's movie, Martha has the baby at Christmas as part of the arc based on Felicity's Surprise, with a post-childbirth illness taking the place of her unrelated sickness from the book.
    • At the end of Josefina's mystery book, Tia Dolores, having married Josefina's father in Changes for Josefina, announces that she is going to have a baby.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Kit pulls this off escaping from prison through a bathroom window in Kit Saves the Day.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Josefina is suddenly a lot less of a Shrinking Violet when you piss her off.
  • Big Applesauce: Multiple characters have their series set or pass through New York City.
    • Samantha moves there by her sixth book and Nellie's book and her mysteries are all set after she lives there.
    • Rebecca lives on the Lower East Side.
    • Claudie as part of the Harlem Renaissance is set there.
    • Kirsten immigrates through there, but leaves soon after to the midwest.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Mia's brothers are fairly protective of her. Especially when they accidentally get too rough with her during a game of floor hockey.
  • Big Little Sister: Tia Dolores is taller than her older sister, Josefina's mother; Josefina notices this the first time they meet (even though her mother has died).
  • Birthday Episode:
    • The fourth story in each Historical Character's series through Kit; this also resulted in them all having spring or early summer birthdays since the books were set in springtime. Kaya's culture didn't celebrate or track exact birthdays, so her fourth story focuses on her maturity and connection with a wild dog and its pups. (American Girl tends to give her a mid-August birthday celebration at store events.) Caroline, Marie-Grace, Cécile, Claudie, and Courtney's stories don't cover their birthdays. Melody's is shown at the start of her second volume; her birthday is January first, the earliest of any character. The Hoffman twins' series hasn't covered their birthday as of 2023.
    • The two modern characters with shown birthdays so far are Saige Copeland and Kavi Sharma, whose stories respectively end and begin with their birthdays. Tenney's Journal is said to be a birthday gift, but her birthday is not mentioned within the stories.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Kaya's mystery The Silent Stranger. While giving away her beloved pet dog Tatlo to the titular stranger is great character development for Kaya, it's a bitter pill for many readers to swallow.
    • Changes for Addy has Addy's family reunited once more after years apart, but the Walkers learn that Uncle Solomon died before he could reunite with the Walkers; Auntie Lula dies a few days after returning with Esther to the family.
    • Meet Kirsten has Kirsten's close friend Marta die on the second-to-last leg of the journey; this is followed by her arriving on her uncle's farm and meeting her aunt and cousins. Her next book, Kirsten Learns a Lesson does the same; while Kirsten is adapting to school, learning English and beginning to settle in her new home, her new Indigenous friend Singing Bird has to leave with her people because the encroaching settlers have caused a food shortage for the native population.
    • Several events in the Kaya series:
      • Kaya's Escape: Kaya escapes with another captive, but her adopted sister Speaking Rain, who is blind, and her horse Steps High must both be left behind in the enemy's camp. Both return eventually.
      • Kaya's Hero: Kaya's mentor Swan Circling dies after a fall from her horse. Kaya mourns her, but learns that she has been gifted her saddle and her name to use when older and ready.
      • Kaya and Lone Dog: Kaya loses her animal friend Lone Dog, but one of her pups stays behind.
      • Kaya Shows the Way: Kaya's sister Speaking Rain is reunited with her family; however, she has pledged to remain with a woman that cared for her, White Braids, and will not be there permanently.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Courtney's favorite video games along with the averted Pac-Man are "Gorilla Run" (highly likely to be Donkey Kong), and "Space Blaster", which could be any well known space shooting game but is likely Galaga. Her cassette player and boombox also doesn't have accurate era songs, but has made-up songs that simulate pop and rock music of the era.
    • Nicki and Isabel's computer, like Courtney's boombox, plays made-up songs to mimic the girl-group pop and alternative music of the late 1990s.
  • Blended Family Drama: Courtney and her stepsister Tina struggle to get along after Courtney moves in permanently.
  • Blithe Spirit: Julie. Her first book has Julie try to have her new school include girls onto the boys-only basketball team.
  • Blitz Evacuees: Emily Bennett in Molly's series, who has been sent from England to stay in America to remain safe from the Londond Bombings.
  • Blunt "Yes": After Kit's brother Charlie explains the concept of a mortgage to her and how their parents haven't paid theirs back, he says the bank will take the house back if their parents can't make payments.
    Kit: Well, the people at the bank won't just kick us out onto the street, will they?
    Charlie: Yes. That's exactly what they'll do.
  • The Board Game:
    • A set of games were released as the American Girls Historical Games, based on era-accurate games. This included two board games for Kirsten and Molly, "The Mansion of Happiness" and "Get in the Scrap" respectively. (Samantha got a parlor game.)
    • Board games based on the characters and line included the trivia board game The American Girls Game, American Girl Treasures Game (collecting each character's unique items), and American Girl 300 Wishes Game (a modern game of guessing each other's wishes.)
  • Born into Slavery: Addy's entire family has been enslaved their whole lives; her story starts with her parents planning their escape.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: The only Native American doll, Kaya, is set in 1764. Guess what she wears.
  • Bridezilla: Of a Mother of the Bride style in Maryellen's story. Kaye Larkin is planning to go out for her oldest daughter Joan's wedding, with home-tailored dresses and a fancy church wedding, since she and Stan didn't have the wedding they wanted because of The Great Depression. Joan wants and succeeds in getting a nice but simple backyard affair.
  • British Stuffiness:
    • Emily Bennett from Molly's story fits this at first, and the trope is also mentioned by Molly's mother.
    • The Admiral from Samantha's story averts this trope; he's more boisterous and cheerful and easygoing than his friend and later wife, the American Grandmary.
  • But Not Too Black: Biracial Evette worries that her younger brother Bud will face more discrimination as he's more obviously black than she is.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Jess and Kanani are both half white and Lea is 7/8, widely suspected to be to make them more palatable to racially biased parents and children. Sonali, according to rumours and her last name; fandom calls her "Half Indian, Half Whatever You Want Her To Be."
  • Caged Bird Metaphor: An inverted example in Changes for Kirsten: After a long, difficult winter during which the Larson cabin burned down, Kirsten's family has managed to save up enough money to purchase the Stewarts' old house. Kirsten is sad that her friends Mary and John Stewart are leaving to follow the Oregon Trail, but she's comforted by a good-bye letter and a bird-in-a-cage optical illusion toy they left for her.
    Kirsten looked carefully at the little toy. On one side was a picture of a bird cage. On the other side, a bluebird. When Kirsten spun the toy, the bird seemed to fly into the cage. There it was, safe an happy, like Kirsten in her new home. The secret good-bye from Mary and John made her heart even lighter, like a bird fluttering under her ribs.
  • Call-Forward: In Samantha's My Journey book, set the summer before her Meet book, Uncle Gard tells her that his mother and her grandmother Grandmary would never send her away if she finally married the Admiral, and if she did, Gard would have to go with Samantha. Between the fifth and sixth books, (which were published years before the journey book) Grandmary finally does accept the Admiral's latest proposal, and Uncle Gard and his wife Cornelia take Samantha in—which is permanent after the adoption of the O'Malley sisters.
  • The Case of...: The History Mystery book titled The Strange Case of Baby H.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold:
    • Samantha is expected to wear long underwear from September until June to prevent this.
    • Molly sleeps with wet hair to set it in pin curls for a performance, but catches a cold and can't be in the show at all.
  • Celebrity Lie: In Molly's movie, Emily pretends to be nobility, pressured into it because she doesn't want to let down the American kids who've built up high expectations for her.
  • Characterization Tags: A similar practice is used to denote unnamed modern line dolls who look a bit too much like named retired dolls (e.g. "Not!Mia").
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Some short story titles e.g. Kirsten and the New Girl, Samantha and the Missing Pearls.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In Meet Addy, Addy's brother Sam tells her a riddle ("What's smaller than a dog, but can send a bear on the run?") In Addy Saves The Day, Addy uses that same riddle as part of a puppet show, leading her to recognize and be reunited with her older brother Sam (who happens to be in the audience) when he says the answer—a skunk. He even says "my little sister knows that one," tipping Addy off.
    • In Danger at the Zoo, Kit's friend Stirling is leading a Zoo Guide tour and introduces the crowd to Rascal the baboon, who, despite his scary looks, is so fond of children that he throws things when he sees children being roughly handled. Later in the story, one of the zoo policemen grabs Kit, who he thinks is up to no good, preventing her from chasing the thieves who have been breaking into the zoo; as luck would have it, he does this in front of Rascal's cage and the baboon beans him in the head with a thrown ball, causing him to release Kit.
  • The Chew Toy:
    • Lindsey's plans all fail spectacularly, despite her desire to help.
    • Sarah Moore from the Addy series hardly seems to catch a break. She is the daughter of impoverished parents—the family, like Addy's, are escaped slaves, but don't have as steady or high an income, and her mother works as a washerwoman. She often has to put off her studies to help her Mother with the laundry orders and deliveries, and the more rich girls of their class such as Harriet snicker at the fact that she attends school in the same dress most of the time and it's sometimes stained. She ends up behind in her reading and spelling compared to Addy, she is often more self-conscious and has acquired a pair of Jade-Colored Glasses as a result of segregation and the social hierarchy in school, and she finally has to drop out of school to help her family earn the money they need to get by; when Addy pleads with Miss Moore that Sarah could become a teacher someday, Mrs. Moore states they need to pay rent and have food now and Sarah needs to contribute. Addy offers to come over and help Sarah keep up with schoolwork in hopes that she can someday return to school.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Zigzagged. While three major characters—Josefina, Marie-Grace, and Cécile—are Catholic and this features prominently in their stories, most of the Christian-specified characters are not Catholic. Addy is AMEnote ; Kirsten isn't specified but as a Swedish immigrant is likely Church of Sweden; Felicity is Church of England/Anglican; Melody is black Baptist, and Samantha and Molly are unspecified—and church doesn't feature prominently in their stories regardless, only as a few mentions. Julie, Claudie, Kit, Nanea, and Courtney never mention faith outside of celebrating Christmas, Rebecca is very much Jewish, and the Hoffman twins are interfaith with Informed Judaism. (Kaya is an indigenous faith).
  • Christmas Episode: Until Kaya's release and for several characters afterwards, each Historical Character's third book focused on Christmas (with the exception of Kirsten's book focusing on St. Lucia's day). Since Kaya lived in a time prior to Christianity's widespread influence in her area, she did not get this but did get a book about a winter gift holiday. Rebecca instead has a Hanukkah Episode, but the American focus on Christmas as a universal holiday and her conflict with it as a Jewish girl is examined. A Zig-Zagged Trope with Julie; she spends a Christmas tea with her father at the beginning her book Happy New Year, Julie! but the primary focus is her time celebrating Chinese New Year with Ivy.
  • Clothes for Christmas Cringe: In Molly's Surprise when the McIntire children are talking about Christmas presents, Jill says they're probably going to get boring presents like socks and handkerchiefs because the wartime rationing means that nobody has money to spare for fun presents—and the factories aren't making them.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes:
    • Sarah Moore in the Addy series, is the daughter of a washerwoman and helps her Mother with the wash. They often get so much to wash that they can't clean or repair a lot of her school clothing, and they don't have the money to spare for exatra clothing. Sarah frequently goes to school in shabby, stained dresses, or the same dress repeatedly, and the wealthier girls make fun of her because of it.
    • Discussed in Meet Rebecca where a poor woman comes with her son to get his ill-fitting shoes adjusted. She comments that one would think her son would have more shoes since his father works in a shoe factory, Rebecca's father (a shoemaker and shop owner) comments he used to work in one and had to use cardboard in the soles to walk about.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each historical girl has her own theme colour that decorates her book covers. The colours changed dramatically with the BeForever revamp and again after the depreciation. For example, Samantha, once associated with burgundy, became a soft pink which she remained at, and in Molly's absence, Addy went from a copper colour to Molly's dark blue.
  • Coming of Age Story: The historical characters' narratives. Their coming-of-age intersects with their era and America's change at the same time.
  • Companion Cube: The first six characters (Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Molly) all have a doll that the treasure and often interact with, usually received as a gift during their respective Christmas books. Josefina's and Samantha's in particular tie in to their plot arcs.
  • Continuity Nod: Historical Character's Short stories, Historical Mysteries, and My Journey books reference events of the main series.
  • Cool Big Sis: Some of the older sisters.
    • Josefina's sister Francisca in Josefina Saves the Day agrees to accompany Josefina into the center of Santa Fe in the middle of the night to try to prove that American trader Patrick O'Toole hasn't reneged on his trade with their father.
    • Melody's older sister Yvonne, who is a college student involved in the Civil Rights protests and lets her hair fluff out into a natural afro in 1964.
    • Maryellen's just-before her sister Carolyn gets along great with her, as opposed to their older sister Joan; Joan however has her moments, especially during their camping/road trip.
    • Kaya's older sister Brown Deer takes on a mentor role for Kaya.
    • Many of the girls themselves serve this role for younger relatives or relatives of friends, e.g. like Josefina for her nephews Juan and Antonio and Samantha for Bridget and Jenny even before they're adopted.
    • Many of the girls' big brothers or older male relatives serve as a Spear Counterpart in this role: Kirsten's big brother Lars is an easygoing guy that is fond of his little sister's wilderness knowledge and their younger brother Peter is fond of the youngest child, Britta. Addy's brother Sam watches out for her until he's not able to—and does again when he returns, swaps riddles with her, and later fights in the Civil War; he later serves as a cool big brother for Daniel, Sarah's twelve year old cousin. Rebecca's older cousin Max (her mother's cousin) encourages her acting ambitions and doesn't ignore her in favor of her other siblings. Melody's older brother Dwayne becomes a traveling Motown singer and invites his sister to the studio. Kit's older brother Charlie is open and honest with his sister about what their family is going through, rather than keeping her out of the loop.
  • Cool Teacher:
    • Addy's teacher Miss Dunn. She's a black female teacher in the North and also formerly enslaved. She's quite perceptive and progressive for her time. For example, she never shames Addy for her early poor literacy skills (since she teaches at a school where students of all backgrounds learn, including children very recently freed from enslavement) and catches Harriet Davis' nastiness quickly and lectures her on it rather than letting her act superior to the formerly enslaved students. She also demonstrates awareness and understanding of the affect slavery and racism have had and continue to have on black people both in Philadelphia and in America at large. Her behavior inspires Addy to seek a career as a teacher.
    • Samantha's teacher Miss Stevens assists Samantha when she asks for take home school materials to help teach Nellie, who is struggling under a Stern Teacher and was placed a grade behind in public school (after never attending previously).
    • It takes some time for Kirsten to see past Miss Winston being a Stern Teacher, but once she gets to know her, she's got her cool moments including finding a part of a poem that Kirsten is better able to recite, and teaching the girls of her class quilting.
  • Cool Toy:
    • Though Julie's Chinese doll Yue Yan is far more important to the story (meaning of that she actually appears), the doll that actually got merchandised as part of her Christmas collection was her Barbie styling head, due to it having been a real-life Cool Toy. Before it was retired, ads in the catalogue tried to use this to play on parents' nostalgia — did your mom or relatives have a Quick Curl Barbie Beauty Centre as a kid?
    • Molly and Samantha's Christmas stories have variants. Samantha really wants a new special doll; her previous doll, Lydia, which she received as a gift in the first book and soon gave to Nellie as a sign of friendship and companion when she was sent away. While the doll doesn't move or do anything cool, she has a beautiful dress and comes with a tiny wooden nutcracker. Cornelia, Uncle Gard's girlfriend and later wife, gives Samantha the doll for Christmas as she thinks it's a doll she would have liked as a child.
    • Molly does not want a specific doll, but makes the distinction she wants one she can "have adventures with" instead of a baby doll. She gets her wish thanks to her father, who sends secret Christmas presents for the whole family. Molly's present is Katherine, a WWII British nurse doll.
  • Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel: Some of the collections released after the first three but set before have this effect, especially in relation to the very first items released. For example, if decent shoes were around by Felicity's time, why were first edition Samantha's meet shoes made of generic plastic? Averted with newer items and redesigns released for older characters, which have the same quality as items for newer ones.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: The My Journey protagonists are flying the seats of their historically-accurate outfits when trying to act as if they belong in the era they've been been transported to (especially when they're impersonating a person they're mistaken for). The Historical Characters may initially find them suspicious but mostly chalk it up to the protagonist being a Naïve Newcomer (e.g. Addy assumes the time traveler of her book has recently escaped from slavery and so is new to the north and all alone without family, while Felicity assumes the traveler to her time came into town as part of the crowd protesting the gunpowder being taken and merely can't find her father in the crowd). The traveler still may make mistakes by knowing things from the future—Kit's traveler, for example, sees a book of The Wizard of Oz and says it's just like the film. Kit asks what she's talking about (because it's 1934 and the more famous film hasn't been released yet) and the protagonist has to cover her tracks.
  • Crisis Makes Perfect: In the Rebecca mystery The Crystal Ball, after watching Harry Houdini perform, Rebecca spends the whole book trying to figure out how to escape from having her hands tied behind her back like he could. She struggles with barely a hint given to her by Sadie and Sophie, but when the culprits have her Bound and Gagged and are going to skip town if she doesn't escape and expose them, she finally figures it out in time to get free.
  • Crossover:
    • With Wicked and AG's 2023 character, Kavi. Her collection received two outfits based on the stage costumes for Glinda and Elphelba. The items were also put on display at the Gershwin Theatre, with visitors suggested to go either online or to the NYC store to purchase.
    • One with Mattel's most notable brand, Barbie, was done in 2023 with a limited doll released designed after the 1959 Barbie.
    • In 2023 the company released three Disney Princess dolls based on Jasmine, Belle, and Rapunzel as limited edition dolls. In early 2024 they released three more based on Tiana, Cinderella, and Ariel (each with two additional outfits) as well as announced this would be a new core line that would be based on the Disney Princesses and later include Frozen.
  • Cut-and-Paste Suburb: Maryellen laments living in one of these, where all the houses look alike. This prompts her to try and paint the front door red to make it stand out.

    D-F 
  • Dad the Veteran: Many of the fathers fall under this trope, given the multiple conflicts in American History.
    • Felicity's father mentions being in a war when he chides Ben about being excited by a war with England.
    • Caroline's father gets involved in the US militia, and her grandmother states her husband (Caroline's grandfather and her mother's father) died in the Revolutionary War.
    • Kit's Father was in World War I (then called the Great War).
    • Molly's father is a variation; he's actively serving in the army during most of her series, but has come home by the time of later mysteries.
    • Both Maryellen and Melody have fathers who fought in World War II, with Melody's father being a mechanic in the Tuskegee Airmen.
  • Daddy's Girl: Kit, Molly, and Caroline are all very close to their fathers; to a lesser extent, Rebecca is too.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The Best Friends, who were side characters to the main, each got their own narrated book when they were released as a doll; the books focus on them and generally add an angle that is not covered in the series by the main character (e.g. Elizabeth's books focus on the British Loyalists and their conflict in the colonies, while Ivy's discusses Chinese Americans in the 70s.)
  • Dance of Romance: Josefina first realizes that her father and Tia Dolores are in love when she sees them dance a waltz together at a fiesta.
  • Darker and Edgier: The History Mysteries book series had darker plots than the Historical Character books. The series had older protagonists than the historical characters, and often touched on some of the darker, sadder, and more controversial eras of history the main historical series tend to play down or hadn't covered at the time.
    • Circle of Fire, deals with Ku Klux Klan activity and how it targets the protagonist's family.
    • Voices at Whisper Bend, which takes place during WWII, has a student of German descent bullied because of her ancestry, including when some classmates dump a whole can of sauerkraut in her desk. The book also covers how people with any German or Italian background were treated with disdain and suspected as enemies of the country and the in-story crime.
    • Secrets on 26th Street deals with the disappearance of the protagonist's mother, who was later found to be jailed for participation in the suffrage movement; this is appropriate to the book's 1914 setting.
  • Dead Guy Junior:
    • Addy is named after her great-grandmother, Aduke, who was captured and brought to America enslaved.
    • After Swan Circling dies, Kaya is given her name—the greatest gift a Nez Perce can give. She makes it her goal to grow into the name (she's still called Kaya throughout the rest of the series).
  • Death by Adaptation: In the Samantha movie. While both the book series and the movie have Nellie's mother die, in the books her death occurs in Changes for Samantha at the same time as Nellie's father. In the movie, she has already died by the time Nellie comes to Mount Bedford and her father is a widower.
  • Death by Childbirth:
    • Florecita, one of the goats on the ranch where Josefina lives, in Happy Birthday, Josefina!
    • Mary Steward, one of Kirsten's friends, mentions her aunt died in childbirth when having twins and took one of the twins with her; the remaining child is being raised as Mary's sister.
  • Death Glare: Molly's family housekeeper Mrs. Gilford gives her one when she complains about having mashed turnips for dinner. Dr. McIntire used to call it the "Gladys Gilford Glacial Glare."
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Many of these characters are discriminated against in-story in line with the values of the time. They usually have a more "progressive" older relative or friend to drive the point home that this wasn't okay then or now.
    • A big case in Meet Kaya. Kaya gets her Embarrassing Nickname "Magpie" because she rushed off to race her horse Steps High instead of looking after her little brothers. The tribe's response is to call in the Whipwoman to switch Kaya, but what makes it stand out even more is that all the other children are punished and whipped for Kaya's misdeed. Whipwoman also shames Kaya publicly, saying a selfish magpie would've taken better care of Wing Feather and Sparrow than Kaya did. While this was acceptable for the time and community (and their values of collective praise and punishment), it may make readers—and plenty of adults—cringe both for the whipping and that all the children were punished. The dissonance continues as the adults consider it acceptable for Kaya's Embarrassing Nickname to continue, and never chastise others for teasing her—she is expected to outgrow it, rather than others stop calling her that.
    • This is also the case in Felicity's series, though is not as overt for a reader who doesn't notice or overlooks the fact. Felicity's family owns two slaves—Rose and Marcus—and her grandfather owns a large plantation with several slaves, which is only briefly mentioned in Felicity Saves the Day when she's next to him while he speaks to the overseer in the fields. Felicity almost never acknowledges the issues with her family owning people (she finds her time on the plantation to be pleasant and even considers being there a break from responsibilities as the enslaved people can take on day-to-day tasks) and considers Rose and Marcus part of her family, though not at equal footing. In the Journey book, the time-traveling protagonist is extremely unnerved by the prospect of seeing slaves at work while touring the land of King's Cross plantation, and an encounter with two slaves that were "night-walking" to another plantation to visit makes her worry that Felicity will turn them in. (Felicity doesn't, but she does order them to go back to the slave quarters.) The protagonist , upon returning to her own time, talks to her black friend about the realities of enslavement and how uncomfortable the history of black people in Virginia is.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Samantha's first two books focused on her relationship with Nellie (a poorer Irish immigrant child her age) and had an antagonist in Edith Eddleton, a well-to-do girl with a snobbish attitude. However, the plotlines and focus on class issues proved controversial; the first author, Susan S. Adler, was replaced for the third book which barely included Nellie and changed Edith from an antagonist to a minor acquaintance. Valerie Tripp wrote the last three books: Nellie is never mentioned by name in Happy Birthday, Samantha (leading to the fan theory that Grandmary, who was still slowly getting through her classism, didn't allow Samantha to invite her to her birthday party and made her invite Edith instead), and is entirely absent from Samantha Saves The Day (as Samantha is out of town anyways) before coming back into the spotlight (at the center of a non-class-related plot arc) in Changes for Samantha.
    • At the release of Kaya's collection in 2002, Felicity and her collection was made available dominantly online, and she was no longer included in short story releases or compilations. She was partially restored with the release of her movie and best friend, but was retired yet again. Her third return gave her new-style books and a new meet outfit, but she is only available at the largest stores and online.
    • Samantha (round one), Felicity (twice), Kirsten, and Molly (twice) were all retired (or, as the company called it, "archived") in various years, with their collections made fully unavailable. Their books were initially available, but with the release of BeForever, any books in the older style were retired.
    • In the books, Molly's major best friends are Susan and Linda. In her collection, she was instead given Emily as her companion and Susan and Linda were never released as dolls.
    • With the releases of Melody, Nanea, and Courtney, Addy, Samantha, Kit, and Josefina have been demoted as Felicity was before—to online-only and flagship store availability, with only the doll, meet accessories, and books available. Even when Felicity and Molly came back, they were given this treatment on arrival and ended up being archived once again for low sales (not a surprise, given that a doll with no collection is likely to shelfwarm).
  • Denied Food as Punishment: In Changes For Samantha, Samantha's friend Nellie and her sisters are regularly punished by the cold headmistress during their stay at Coldrock House, which includes no meals When Samantha gives Nellie new gloves to keep her hands warm, Mrs. Frouchy accuses Nellie of stealing them and she doesn't get dinner that night.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: One of the pretend snacks that came with Courtney's lunch box has the label "Cheese Flavored Cheese Puffs".
  • Didn't Think This Through: In Lindsey's book, nearly all her problems come from the fact that she acts rashly when trying to solve a dilemma and doesn't think of the consequences, even when she's trying to be helpful. Especially when she's trying to be helpful.
    • When trying to protest the school's annual pet parade, where the students dress their pets in costumes, she takes Josh's lizard and runs up a tree with it. When they can't get her down, the parade has to be cancelled, and everyone gets mad at her for ruining it. Her mother asks her, "What Were You Thinking?"
    • When she stays after school to help her teacher set up for an upcoming class project, she sees that said teacher's desk is a complete mess, so she reorganizes it according to her own system. Her teacher doesn't like the change, because while it looked like it was just a mess, she was used to where everything was and Lindsey rearranging it completely threw her off.
    • Her grumpy Uncle Bernie is constantly sitting on the couch, so she tries to cheer him up by having him ride her scooter. He's never ridden a scooter before and crashes into a thornbush.
    • She notices that one of her male teachers is lonely and tries to get him together with her female teacher (the same one from the desk incident), who she thinks is also single. As Lindsey finds out, her female teacher is engaged, but can't wear a ring because she's sensitive to metal. (This one might not have been a big deal if she had just nudged them towards each other — that alone would have likely been a pretty minor thing at the end of the day — but she crossed the line when she flat-out lied to the male teacher to further the scheme.)
    • She tries to cheer up her grumpy neighbor by putting happy-face stickers on her trash cans, and nearly gets arrested for vandalism and "defacing personal property".
    • Finally, at her brother's bar mitzvah, she tries to set Uncle Bernie up with her Cousin Sophie, only to learn that not only does Sophie hate Uncle Bernie, she was the one who talked his wife into leaving him. Her appearance results in a food fight, but afterwards Uncle Bernie is actually glad it happens because, in his words, "I've been wanting to throw something at that woman [his ex-wife] for ages!"
  • Digging to China: Davy and some of Maryellen's siblings start digging a hole to China at the beach in her first story.
  • Dirty Communists:
    • Maryellen's school story talks about the Cold War and centers around an allegory for the same.
    • In Melody's first book, when she hears that there's been a bombing in Alabama, she asks if it's the Russians (it's the KKK).
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Stirling's dad from Kit's series (and Kit's dad himself in the movie, but not in the books).
    • Molly's dad until the end of Changes for Molly.
    • Gwen's dad from Chrissa's series; in the books he abandons the family, and in the movie he has died.
    • Addy is a partial case of this as only she and her mother make the initial journey north (as her father has been sold away alongside her brother). In Addy's Surprise, she is reunited with her father.
  • Discreet Dining Disposal: When Molly complains about her vegetables, her mom confesses to having done this with sardines on toast as a child. She got caught because the family cats smelled the sardines and pulled them out of her pocket before she could dispose of them.
  • Dolled-Up Installment:
    • Taken to a literal turn with The American Girls Premiere, which started life as Opening Night, a theatrical simulation game released by MECC in 1995. SoftKey—a company infamous for making a name for itself by grabbing whatever Cash-Cow Franchise it sees, and which has since absorbed itself under The Learning Company label—acquired MECC, and since their theatre sim didn't sell well made a licensed version of Opening Night for Pleasant Company in 1997. And as Lazy Game Reviews explained in his video, this verison sold like hotcakes and may have accounted for Mattel's subsequent acquisition of both The Learning Company and American Girl itself.
    • The dolls themselves are dolled-up. Pleasant Rowland made negotiations with Götz, a German dollmaker, in the 1980s; she purchased a face mold of theirs, the Romina mold, to use as the face mold for the first three AG dolls. The construction of the dolls, including the limb molds and the soft cloth torso, was similar to the soft-bodied version, Somina. They look enough alike that it's easy to mistake early Samantha dolls as redressed dark haired Somina dolls.
  • Don't Split Us Up:
    • In Changes for Samantha, when the orphaned Nellie was to be sent on the orphan train without her sisters, Samantha helps the three sisters to run away and hide out in her attic so they could be together.
    • In Meet Addy, Addy is devastated when she's separated from both of her siblings within a short period of time. There's nothing she can really do about it, though; she's helpless to prevent her brother from being sold to another enslaver, and she and her mother can't realistically take Addy's baby sister with them when they run away.
  • Dramatis Personae: At the front of every book, the protagonist's family and friends are depicted in a historically accurate way - individual portraits for the well-to-do Colonial Merrimans, but a group family daguerreotype for Kirsten's family, and so on. (Later books tend to stick with individual portraits for all the stories, Kirsten's group daguerreotypes being replaced with single portraits. The frames reflect the character's time period and culture, though.) BeForever books had no illustrations at all and didn't have this section, but they were restored in the 2019 remodeling to the books.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas:
    • In Maryellen's story, she wishes for a "real" Christmas with snow like she's seen in White Christmas and some TV shows, unlike the one in Florida where they have an artificial Christmas tree and go have a picnic on the beach. She takes a trip to Georgia where her maternal grandparents live to achieve this goal, and later, she and her grandparents drive down to Daytona Beach to spend Christmas with the family and see Joan get engaged.
    • Josefina's story mentions how chilly it gets this time of year and the snow isn't treated as unusual; the winter story only expects snow to be an inconvenience for their Three Kings Day party.
    • In Molly's Christmas story (set in Illinois), it doesn't snow until around the middle of the story; Molly upon seeing the snow, excitedly goes out to play in it with her older sister Jill.
    • Avoided in Julie's story, which is set in San Francisco.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first three dolls — Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly — were originally released with white muslin bodies that sharply contrasted with the body. All clothing was made high to the throat and with sleeves and skirts (and underpants) long enough to cover this up, which was historically accurate for the eras. When Felicity was released in 1991, the historically accurate lower necklines of the Revolutionary/Colonial Period resulted in the company changing the main cloth bodies to better match the skin tone of the limbs.
  • Edible Theme Naming: The Coconut pets were originally named after various food items, such as Licorice, Chocolate Chip, and Meatloaf.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Discussed in Meet Addy. Prior to the events of the book, Addy's brother Sam tried to run away and was caught and whipped in front of Addy and their parents. Addy, who was bawling the whole time, angrily asks her parents why they didn't cry and accuses them of not being upset. Her father tells her that they were "crying on the inside" but as enslaved people aren't free to express their emotions outwardly.
  • English Rose: What Molly and her friends assume Emily will be like before they meet her. Well, except for Susan, who expects a starving waif instead.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: From Lindsey's book, after everyone gets mad at her for ruining the pet parade.
    It didn't get any better when I got home, either. Mom met me at the door with her own version of the asparagus face. Even my dog, Mr. Tiny, the most loyal and fabulous wiener dog in the history of the world, lowered his tail and slunk down to the basement at the sight of me.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Invoked in Rebecca's Hanukkah story, where it causes problems both at school and at home. Rebecca feels pressured to go along with the crowd when her teacher announces that her class will be making a Christmas decoration to take home, and almost all the other Jewish girls in class just go along with it or risk being publicly shamed. (One, Rose, speaks up but is shot down same as Rebecca, and she throws her decoration away when taking it home.) On the other hand, Rebecca is concerned that her family will be angry and ashamed of her for coming home to them with a Christmas decoration, especially after her mother scolds her sisters for singing Christmas carols and wearing festive red and green ribbons. Ultimately, their grandmother is pleased that Rebecca obeyed her teacher and created something beautiful in the process, and she gives the decoration to a Christian resident of their tenement building.
  • Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: In Happy Birthday, Molly!, one of Molly's friends tries to curtsy while wearing pants when she meets the English girl Emily, and she says that she thought English girls always did that. Felicity and her peers have to learn for real, as part of their lessons in being gentlewomen. Samantha has to do this at the beginning of her parlor time with Grandmary.
  • Everytown, America: While most of the Historical Characters live in real-life locations (or outside of them), some of them fit this trope.
    • Samantha initially lives in New Bedford, NY, which is based on the real town of Mount Kisco and named after the nearby town of Bedford.
    • Molly lives in Jefferson, Illinois.
    • Courtney lives in Orange Valley, CA, which is based on the San Fernando Valley.
  • Fake Brit: In-Universe. Molly and her friends fake British accents while anticipating the arrival of Emily after hearing she's British.
  • Fan Fiction: In-universe, Maryellen makes up her own stories about The Lone Ranger with a more idealized self in the co-starring role.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: All modern bike, roller skate, and equestrian sets have helmets and safety gear (either included or sold separately). Julie's, Molly's, and Samantha's skate and/or bike items don't, but the catalogues and website included disclaimers saying that the exclusion is only for the sake of historical accuracy and reminding modern kids to please wear their safety gear.
  • Fashion Hurts: Many of the other girls complain of impediments caused by the outfits they wear.
    • Felicity would like to run around freely without having to wear stiff stays and not in long skirts, saying she wishes she could wear breeches like a boy.
    • Josefina is gifted her late mother's childhood skirt from her grandmother; it's snug, and when she dances in it (to her grandmother's disappointment, as she's considered too young to dance in public) the button on the waistband pops off.
    • Kirsten's traditional Swedish clothes are unsuitable for a New York summer; she put them on in March in Sweden and has been wearing them since.
    • Addy's mother during a trip to Cape Town, NJ, sets her hair in rag curls which Addy fusses about having to keep her hair nice; it lasts until she goes swimming.
    • Grandmary's rule for Samantha is to wear long underwear from September to June to prevent illness, and is considered passé by the more-fashionable Agnes and Agatha.
    • In Changes For Molly she's obsessed with curling her hair so she'll be more likely to get picked for the lead role in a patriotic tap-dance performance. After potentially trying a home permanent with no guidance, her older sister Jill talks her out of it and sets her hair in pin-curls. They work, but then she sets them while wet and catches a cold, so she's not able to perform at all.
    • Courtney gets her ears pierced in her first book, and describes her ears as bright red and throbbing in the moments afterwards. They heal fine, though.
  • Fear of Thunder: Josefina (although it's actually lightning she's afraid of).
  • Featureless Protagonist: Zigzagged with the protagonists of the My Journey books. They're supposed to be reader inserts for the target audience, so each one is a girl the same age as the historical character and are given backstory in order to relate to where they are (and return home to their own time with something they've learned to apply to their own lives). Most of them aren't given more detail than that. However, some characters are given more specific qualities to fit the story and era. For example, the time-traveler in Addy's book is a black girl from Tennessee with overprotective parents who are busy working, so her grandparents have come to stay with them and help. Her family is well-off enough to get her a tablet for her birthday, and her great-great-granduncle fought in the Civil War. (It's his coin that takes her back in time.)
  • Feud Episode: It's a common plot for multiple characters (eg. Kit and Ruthie over Christmas, Molly and Emily over birthdays, Felicity and Elizabeth due to Loyalist/Patriot conflict), though the friends always make up in the end.
  • Field Trip to the Past: The protagonist of the My Journey Game Books travel back in time from their modern time (the late 2010s) to the selected historical character's era. Their trips come with lessons they're able to apply to their own lives in some form.
  • First Love: This trope is alluded to in Josefina's stories; her mother has died before the series began. A traditional New Mexican poem about first love was a favorite of her mother's (even though she could not read). Her literate aunt Dolores wrote the poem down in a notebook (and uses it to encourage Josefina to read); it is implied that the poem is unique for Josefina's late mother through the series as it takes Josefina's father some time to grow to love her aunt, Tia Dolores.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule:
    • The Girl of the Year Line tends to reuse themes over the years including horses, dance, and feminine sports. Given that the demographic age of eight to twelve is likely to have aged out by the next time a theme comes around again, it makes sense—especially because aspirations of dance, certain sports, and/or bonding with horses continue to be girlhood fantasies.
    • 2007's The Light in the Cellar and 2018's The Legend of the Shark Goddess were both mysteries written for the 1940s characters (Molly and Nanea, respectively) where the plot revolves around suspicions of theft and black-market activity to circumvent rationing. They end differently: In Nanea's, nobody was guilty at all, and the characters who look suspicious all have valid reasons.
  • Flower Motifs:
    • Josefina's Tia Dolores explains to Josefina, using the flowers Florecita ate, that as long as the roots are present and strong a plant can come back from what appears to be destruction—while not outright said, it is a metaphor for the Montoya family slowly growing though their grief from Mama's death.
    • When Molly is confused by Emily being so shy and quiet, Mrs. McIntire compares her to a flower that hasn't bloomed yet but needs time and care to open.
  • Flanderization: Not by the company—who tries their best to represent characters evenly with balanced character arcs. It's most likely in parodies or references, by fans who only remember a few things, or poorly researched online articles, all of which reduce the characters to exaggerations of themselves. Felicity is only seen as a tomboy who hates anything feminine and loves horses (and stole a horse!), Samantha is so good and noble about class issues and feminism as to be a Purity Sue who never does wrong, Molly is overly patriotic and hates turnips, Kirsten is an ignorant immigrant who knows nothing of America (and never learns), and Addy gets reduced to being a runaway slave that the others overlook (with her past often stated to make the other white characters uncomfortable around her). Josefina is the token Spanish girl with the dead mom. Kit, if included, is also reduced to a poor reporter with no money; Kaya, if included, is made a Noble Savage who only cares for the earth and her horse. Characters after her are more often than not left out, since these Flanderizations are mostly done by people who stopped paying attention the brand by the time of Julie's release.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Addy's snood from her birthday outfit and some of Kaya's outfits have feathers on them, though they're downplayed. Samantha has a hat with a huge feather draped from it, and Felicity's riding outfit hat has some feathers.
  • Forbidden Friendship:
    • Kirsten and Singing Bird. While Singing Bird's father doesn't care, Mrs. Larson bans Kirsten from seeing Singing Bird when she finds out about their interactions due to her fears of the Natives. This carries through the series and it's only in the short story Kristen on the Trail when she relents, after Singing Bird helps locate missing Peter.
    • Samantha is considered odd for befriending Nellie, an Irish servant of a lower class than her. While Grandmary doesn't forbid their interaction, she's firm to say that Samantha is not playing with Nellie, she's helping her, and there's a difference. She comes around to considering the O'Malleys her grandchildren after their adoption.
  • Force Feeding: Addy's first book, when the slave driver forces Addy to eat slugs off the tobacco plants.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: The Montoya sisters: Ana, the oldest and the Team Mom (almost literally, since their mother has recently died and she's already married with two kids); Francisca, the beautiful, fashionable, rebellious one; Clara, the diligent, prudent, preachy one; and Josefina, the youngest and the main character, who's chirpy and cheerful and tries to keep the peace between Francisca and Clara when Ana's not around.

    G-L 
  • Gamebooks: The "My Journey" books, launched with the BeForever reimagining of the historical line, involve a female protagonist going back to the Historical Character's time and having several adventures with her. However, as the books are aimed towards younger readers (late elementary to middle school), no endings result in death or major injury and the protagonist is always assumed to return home safely to her own time; thus it is more like a Field Trip to the Past.
  • Genre Shift: Kit's movie is mostly a historical drama, but detours into a kid-power mystery adventure with villains not present in the books.
  • Gift for an Outgrown Interest: In "A Smart Girl's Guide to Knowing What to Say" has a section on how to say thank you to bad gifts. One of the hypothetical scenarios is a ten-year-old girl being given a stuffed bear that teaches kids how to count.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Kit states that she doesn't like pink, and her collection originally reflected this with no pink outfits and items. Once her movie came out, Kit got a batch of pink outfits and a pink quilted blanket.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Samantha's teddy bear, which was originally the "pet" in her birthday collection.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: While not always done in-universe—many clothes are practical everyday wear for their characters, this is how many collectors feel about the well made and often accurate historical clothing, especially the fancy Christmas and holiday dresses.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Caroline's Holiday Gown is a deep purple, despite Caroline being an adventurous and not-so-girly type. Felicity's meet outfit also changed to what had once been a minor outfit from a short story.
  • The Great Depression:
    • The setting for Kit's books and her movie.
    • Maryellen's parents were married during the Great Depression, which is why her mother Kaye wants to give her daughter a big fancy wedding.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Nellie and her sisters are adopted by Samantha's family at the end of Changes for Samantha. Samantha as well, is, since it's stated she'll live with her aunt and uncle from now on.
    • Meet Kaya notes that Speaking Rain isn't Kaya's biological sibling (her parents died when she was a baby), but she's as much a member of the family as Kaya.
  • Happy Holidays Dress: Almost every Historical Character has a holiday dress, and every year a new holiday dress and accessory ensemble is released.
  • Hated Item Makeover: Lindsey is an overly helpful girl who always tries to do what she thinks is best for others, sometimes without thinking. When she has to stay behind to talk to her teacher Miss Kinney, she sees that Miss Kinney's desk is a disorganized mess and reorganizes it according to her own system. When Miss Kinney gets back, she's upset by the changes because she already had her own system of doing things and now has to spend the rest of the afternoon putting it back the way it was. Later, she plasters glow-in-the-dark happy-face stickers all over her neighbors' trash cans, which they dislike so much that they call the cops on her.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: In the Rebecca mystery "The Crystal Ball", one paragraph mentions "the gay crowds". Since this story takes place in the 1910's, the language is accurate for describing a cheerful group of people. On the other hand, the story was published in 2012 - and today's average tween and young teen reading this book is likelier to be much more familiar with a very different meaning for the word "gay". This also pops up in the main Rebecca series.
  • Head Swap: As is common with most doll lines (for practicality reasons) the dolls share a common body design for their respective lines; differences are in face mold, hair, skin color and outfits. This saves designers the trouble of having to do different clothing designs and all clothes can fit all dolls.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Josefina's sister Francisca. Josefina Saves the Day has Patrick O'Toole, an Americano guest of Josefina's grandfather who is fluent in Spanish and an all-around Nice Guy, who forgets to say "Gracias" when Francisca serves drinks. Josefina thinks that Francisca's looks provoke that reaction often, even in men who speak perfect Spanish.
  • Heroic BSoD: In Lindsey's book, after all her attempts at helping others end in complete disaster, she locks herself in her room and decides she'll never try to help anyone again. It's so bad that when someone (her brother) actually asks for her help, she refuses because she thinks she'll only make it worse.
  • High-Class Fan: Samantha give out fans as party favors at her upper class tenth birthday party, in part invoking this trope. Elizabeth also has one in her accessories, as she's of higher class than her best friend Felicity.
  • Hollywood History: History gets (somewhat) prettied up when making it palatable for children.
    • The worst abuses of Edwardian Era workhouses are left out (except in the movie), but it's still pretty clear that they're rotten, awful places.
    • Although it makes a lovely story, it's unlikely that a society as class-driven as Samantha's would have seen a rich couple adopting immigrant street orphans. However, considering how liberal Uncle Gard and Aunt Cornelia are for the Edwardian era, it's not exactly out of character for them to say, "Screw Society, we're taking the kids."
  • Hypocrite: Annabelle thinks it's perfectly alright to call Elizabeth "Bitsy", but hits the roof when she finds Felicity mocking her with the name "Bananabelle".
  • Idiot Ball: While many books have smart lead characters, some have been known to do some really dopey things. However this is completely justified as the main characters, despite any and all smarts, are children and thus prone to mistakes and misinterpretations of what's going on around them.
    • It takes Kit some time to consider the possibility of the spare wood she and Ruthie were given by Ruthie's father (originally intended for the construction of their treehouse) to be used to enclose the Kittredge family's sleeping porch and make room for more borders.
    • Kit, Will tried to tell you that jumping onto trains is dangerous and illegal! Why did you decide to do it anyway?
    • Kaya's selfishness and recklessness endanger Speaking Rain, Sparrow, and Wing Feather, and this is what gets her stuck with the derisive nickname "Magpie".
    • Felicity probably should have known better than to take Jiggy Nye's comment that anyone who could ride Penny could have her as an actual offer, especially given that he didn't even know anyone was listening when he said it. However, she's a horse-obsessed child, Penny is being abused, and Ben stands up for her when Jiggy claims he never said it at all. Her father simply says she's a child who didn't understand.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: The Walker family not only hopes for freedom from enslavement, but achieves it.
  • Imaginary Friend: Molly and Emily briefly have imaginary dogs.
  • It Will Never Catch On: In Kit's Journey book, an encounter with her miserly Uncle Hendrick can result in this regarding Franklin D. Roosevelt and his presidency. Hendrick rants that Kit's brother's Charlie's job by FDR for the CCC isn't a real job, merely a "make-work boondoggle" created by FDR; Hendrick, who hates the president, is sure he'll be voted out of office at the next election because he's "clearly" ruining the country (and believes everyone else must agree with him, of course, because he's always right about everything.) The time-traveling protagonist, being from the future, knows that FDR will be elected four times and uses this knowledge to make a bet with Hendrick: if FDR is re-elected in the next election, Hendrick will then pay for Charlie to attend college—and if he's re-elected twice after that, he'll then pay for Kit to attend (but if she's wrong, Kit and Charlie will do chores for him for a year for free). Miserly Hendrick takes the bet (with Kit and Charlie as witnesses) and believes he's won already, since he's convinced FDR is a terrible president and more likely to be impeached rather than re-elected.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In Changes for Josefina, Tía Dolores feels that despite her feelings for Josefina's Papá, she has to leave the ranch so he can find a new wife. Ironically, Papá does love Tía Dolores, but he wants his beloved to be happy and let her go where she wants to go. Fortunately they end up Happily Married with each other when Josefina clears up the situation with her Papá.
  • Iconic Item: As part of the strict formula, each girl has a necklace and gets a doll at Christmas. Sometimes these have some plot significance, and sometimes they don't — e.g., Josefina's necklace is a gold cross with a garnet that's only mentioned in the first book and merely a gift, whereas Addy's is a cowrie shell her grandmother brought from Africa strung on one of her brother's shoelaces to remind her of her family; conversely, Josefina's doll is part of a family Christmas tradition for the girls from before her mother died, and Addy's just happens to be her Christmas present.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The orphanage that Nellie and her sisters go to is named Coldrock House for Homeless Girls and run by Miss ''Frouchy''. The girls escape with Samantha's help and, in the books, aren't even missed.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Zigzagged. The majority of babies born during the series to characters' families on page live without any issues—Kirsten's sister Britta, Addy's infant sister Esther, and a sick infant in Kaya's series. However, children do die such as Marta in Kirsten's series. and Marie-Grace had a younger brother who died in a cholera epidemic, and one of Kirsten's friends says her aunt died in childbirth and took one of the twins she birthed with her.
  • Informed Flaw: Brad is described as a "little pest" to Molly, but he never does anything in the books to antagonize or even annoy Molly.
  • Informed Judaism: Isabel and Nicki Hoffman are Jewish through their father's side and have an interfaith family, but the only mention in their collection so far has been that they received their pets (and journals) on the last day of Hannukkah.
  • Jerkass: Uncle Hendrick in Kit's series. He thinks less of his niece's husband for paying his workers with his own money, refuses to help the Kittredges keep their house as he thinks they wasted money in the first place in buying it, and hates Roosevelt out of a belief that poor people are lazy and don't deserve his or anyone else's help as it'd be a waste to give them funds. He also antagonizes Kit nearly every time he sees her, bombarding her with academic questions.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • When Kit brings her uncle's letters to the local newspaper, the editor is cold and abrupt with her, in clear contrast to some of the other staff who are friendly. But after reading and publishing Kit's letter, he tells her he thinks she has the skills to become a great reporter and that if she has something to say in the future (as opposed to carrying mail for her constantly complaining uncle), she should give it to him directly.
    • From Lindsey's book, Josh picks on her a lot, but he also finds her missing dog and gets his cousin's band to play for free at her brother's bar mitzvah.
  • Karma Houdini: Blair and Missy in Lindsey's story get away with everything they do to April. Blair even wins the Perfect World Collage contest.
  • Kids Hate Vegetables: In the book Meet Molly, Molly McIntire is disgusted by the sight of the orange colored blob of mashed turnips that the family's housekeeper Mrs. Gilford had made for dinner and refuses to eat it. Mrs. Gilford tries to shame Molly for being wasteful and unpatriotic, as this is taking place during World War II and the turnips came from their very own "victory garden". Mrs. McIntire takes a more pragmatic approach, seasoning the turnip mash up a bit so Molly will find it more palatable.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Samantha's and Felicity's servants (despite the fact that Felicity's were slaves) and Molly's neighbor all tend to have shades of this, though some are stricter than others.
  • Latino Is Brown: The three named Latino characters—Josefina (Mexican), Marisol (Chicano), and Luciana (Chillean) all have brown skin, brown hair, and brown eyes naturally. Notable in Josefina's books as her family members vary in looks and complexion and her sisters and grandmother often tell her to wear her rebozo over her face to keep her skin from tanning, since fair skin is considered prettier. (Her aunt Dolores has red hair, ruddy skin, and grey eyes; meanwhile her late mother was described as having pale skin and jet-black hair.)
  • Last-Name Basis: In the Kit Kittredge series, Louise Howard refers to her husband as "Mr. Howard" when talking with her female friends, as was customary for women of the time to do for their husbands.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Nellie's collection is way too nice for a poor servant, and spoils the ending of Changes for Samantha where Samantha's aunt and uncle adopt her and her sisters.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Meet Kit has a doozy of an example which encapsulates the entire historical line. After Ruthie learns from Kit that Kit’s dad has lost his job, they try to think of ways Kit can help her family. Ruthie says she’s read books about what people do when they have no money, but the girls are concerned, as the characters in those books live in “olden times”, and reading their stories doesn’t help Kit and Ruthie figure out what they can do to improve their situation in the then-present. It's an example that works on a couple of levels, as it speaks to both the impact people made before Kit's time which made it what it was and the impact people have made since then which has shaped the present in America and throughout the rest of the world.
    • In Molly's Surprise, Molly specifically complains that the only dolls she has are baby dolls and that she wants one that's more of a companion, so Molly can have pretend adventures with her...which, of course, is exactly what American Girl dolls are for many children.
  • Lessons in Sophistication:
    • Felicity is sent to learn "gentlewoman" lessons from Miss Manderly. She laments that she can't go to school like boys to learn Latin and Greek, but then finds she has interest in the tea service ceremony and other aspects.
    • Samantha's parlor time with Grandmary is intended to be the time in her day to practice her lessons in becoming a Proper Lady. She even curtsies before sitting down, as she's expected to.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Several historical characters have had very small wardrobes at launch outside of their meet sets, with only one or two extra outfits at best. Ivy never got more than a New Year's Dress and romper before she was retired. Claudie was only released with her pajamas and a jazz dance outfit.note  And Isabel and Nicki each had just pajamas and sport-themed sets. Nicki's skateboarding outfit kind of doubles as casual wear with the pads and skateboard removed since it's just an overall and t-shirt set, but Isabel's was a tennis dress—not exactly day-to-day wear. Claudie and the Hoffman twins both got later additions to their collections, but compared to the Unlimited Wardrobes of those before them, it can look practically puny.
    • Early Girls of the Year had minuscule wardrobes compared to later releases, back when they were considered an expansion of the modern line and not a line all to themselves. While the books might have shown extra items, the collections were small. Kailey only had a wetsuit as an extra, all Marisol's outfits were dance themed with no regular clothes, Jess just had pajamas and a swimsuit set—and Lindsey got no extra clothes at all. It wasn't until Nicki's release that more casual clothes for the characters became standard.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Samantha, Felicity, Molly and Kit got to appear in their very own films; Melody, Maryellen, and Ivy and Julie were in short films through Amazon Prime. Modern characters Chrissa Maxwell, McKenna Brooks, Saige Copeland, Isabelle Palmer, Z Yang, and Corinne Tan also received movies.
  • Long-Running Book Series: The series of books have been available in some form since 1986.
  • Ludd Was Right: Samantha's grandmother believes this as an appeal to tradition. She says during Samantha Learns a Lesson that it's a mistake to assume that change means progress, and the world was doing fine before a lot of new inventions that she thinks are more trouble than they're worth. She's not a fan of her son's automobile and refuses to ride in it, and she thinks that women have no need to vote until she comes around due to Cornelia. Notably, she reluctantly says the telephone is useful—but makes sure to say that it will never take the place of a proper and courteous letter.

    M-O 
  • Made a Slave:
  • Matryoshka Object: In the introductory BeForever commercial, Rebecca, being Russian, plays with a matryoshka doll and hands it off to the modern girl. She also has a set of the dolls mentioned in her stories and included in an accessory set.
  • May–December Romance: Fandom seems to center on three main pairings as favorites: Felicity/Ben, Josefina/Patrick, and Kit/Will. The first two pairings have an age disparity of six years whereas Kit/Will has five, but the May December Romance inherent in the pairings causes some fans to love these pairings even more, and Felicity/Ben is extremely popular within the fandom.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The name of Felicity's horse, Penny, is short for Independence; it's also because her coat is as bright as a copper penny.
    • The Title IX-ignoring basketball coach in Julie's books is named Coach Manley.
    • Rebecca's teacher who says "Christmas is a holiday everybody celebrates" to her students (who include at least three Jewish children—Rebecca, Rose and, Ana) is Miss Maloney, which rhymes with Baloney; this is something that's lampshaded on a now-defunct online board game from the website.
    • The main characters also have this. Felicity means "happiness" which derives from the Latin "felicitas" meaning "good luck" and she is a lucky and happy girl. Addy is short for "Aduke" meaning "much loved" and her family bonds are the core of the story. Kit's middle name is "Mildred" meaning "gentle strength" and she is as big-hearted as she's strong and determined. Then there's Melody, the music-themed girl.
    • Molly's puppy, Bennett, is named after Emily's surname; Emily's dog, Yank, comes from a term for Americans in her time, and is used to signify Emily being welcomed by Molly's American family.
  • Meekness is Weakness: Felicity envies "lads" because they're allowed to do more; she finds gentlewoman lessons and stitching to be boring. Ben points out he's not as free as Felicity thinks, given he's an apprentice and subject to her father's rules.
  • Memento MacGuffin:
    • A handmade doll named Niña fulfills this purpose in Josefina's Surprise. She is both a valuable part of a family tradition and a keepsake from the sisters' mother. The tradition is to for the sister with the doll to hand it down to the next youngest sister when she turns eight years old, but Clara breaks the pattern by hanging onto Niña after their mother dies to have something to hold on to from her mother. She completes her Character Development when she realizes she has Mama's skill at colcha embroidery and finally gives the doll to Josefina.
    • In the My Journey books, the time-travel device is sometimes a family heirloom.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The brand has this as part of the brand drive and has since the start (though the popular fandom idea is believing the brand is educational first and toy-driven second). The company, until the BeForever revamp, made sure to tie the images in the books to the historical character's collections to show off the new outfit, furniture, and accessories that "went" with each book's plot. Furthermore, initially each book cover had images of items from the collections displayed to show what purchasers could get to "recreate" the style from the character's story with the doll. For example, the cover of Happy Birthday Samantha has her in her birthday dress, holding her gifted teddy bear, and with her table and chairs decked out with her birthday treats—all things that could then be purchased as part of her collection to recreate the look. One big example is the holiday books, which all have the main character receive a doll as a Christmas gift—wouldn't you, book-reading girl, also want a doll for Christmas? This also occurs with Courtney, who gets a Molly doll for Christmas 1986—very soon after the brand would have launched. (Don't think too hard about the implications.) Girls of the Year also have the items in their collections shown in the books and movies.
  • Middle Child Syndrome:
    • Rebecca Rubin suffers shades of this. Her older twin sisters Sadie and Sophie always leave her out of their activities, Victor gets more attention than she does because he's at bar mitzvah age, and little brother Benny is coddled as the baby of the family. Ana's arrival helps somewhat, but Rebecca maintains the struggle to get her share of attention.
    • Averted with Molly for her first five books, but comes up in Changes For Molly. It's less about relative ages and more about the fact that her father's letter goes on about her siblings and how much he expects they've changed, but seems to have tacked his only mention of Molly on almost as an afterthought, putting it "in the same sentence as pot roast".
    • Kirsten is a middle child too, but doesn't display classic traits as much as Rebecca does since until her sister is born she's the only girl.
    • Same goes for Addy. In her case, this may actually be because she is separated from her older brother and younger sister in Meet Addy, and effectively spends four of the six books in her series as an only child (though she never stops thinking about Sam and Esther). Plus, given the broader context, it's hardly surprising that they'd come to rely on, rather than compete with, each other; the kinds of issues that lead to Middle Child Syndrome would probably not seem all that serious in comparison to the horrors of slavery.
    • Maryellen is a middle child (with two older siblings and three younger) and her stories prominently feature her cry for attention.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Josefina's mom died about a year prior to the first book, and her absence is felt in the family
    • Marie-Grace's mother has been dead for four years at the start of Marie-Grace's first book.
    • Samantha lost both her parents in a boating accident.
    • Courtney's stepsister Tina had her mother, Bonnie, die when she was six from cancer.
    • Inverted for Addy, as her mother is the only person in her family she's never separated from. However this was the case for Addy's brother Sam and sister Esther, who were separated from their parents for most of the series.
    • In Molly's movie, Emily's mother was killed in a blitz bombing the year before moving in with Molly.
  • Monochrome Past: Belief in this idea is why some fans decided the BeForever rebrand was inaccurate. The historical characters got new, brighter colored meet outfits as part of the rebrand, and many fans believed clothing couldn't have been that brightly colored before the invention of colorfast dyes outside of clothing for the very rich. This misses the fact extant garments of the eras are faded because said colors were not colorfast or stored away from light; better preserved clothing shows bright colored clothing was always around and cloth merely faded over the years.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Kevin Zegers as Ben Davidson in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. Likewise for Max Thieriot as Will Shepherd in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. This trope also appears in the books, where readers have admitted to crushing on male characters drawn beguilingly handsome such as Kit's older brother Charlie.
  • Multiple Endings: The My Journey books. Most don't have a True Ending, but one of Maryellen's branches leads to a Stable Time Loop, implying that one of the two endings that it leads to would be canon for that character.
  • Narnia Time: In the present for the protagonists of the Journey books; the time they leave at in the present will be the exact time they return to, even if they are gone for days in the past. No one even notices they're gone.
  • Never Learned to Read: Addy and Josefina never learned to read or write before their Learns a Lesson books. Kirsten might have known Swedish (it's never stated) but she couldn't read or write English.
  • Never Trust a Title: The short story "Addy's Little Brother". Addy doesn't have a little brother, and the "brother" in the title, Daniel, is not a relation of the Walkers and is her friend Sarah's cousin (and also older than her). The title represents how Addy's upset that Daniel appears to be the little brother she thinks her older brother Sam wants, since all he has is sisters. It was originally titled "The Little Brother" in the magazine, which still fits Addy's worry over Daniel supplanting her. It also fits when she learns that Daniel was a little brother, but his older brother died in battle, unlike Sam.
  • Newspaper Dating: The time traveling protagonist does this in a couple of the My Journey Books, if they can spot a newspaper, flyer, calendar, or something with the date on it (if one exists). Many times, they'll try to do a subtle What Year Is This? and get an answer, even if the character they're interacting with thinks they're addled for it.
    "Just inside the door of the church, flyers are posted on the wall. There's one for a benefit for the Freedom Society. It's happening in November. November 1864."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lindsey, over and over and over again. Although it's not just Lindsey — April indirectly gives her the idea to put smiley-face stickers on the neighbors' trash cans, which lands her in hot water with them, her mother, and the police.
  • Nice Mean And In Between:
    • Molly's three siblings are: Brad the nice and innocent younger brother, Ricky the mean and bullying older brother, and Jill, the eldest of the siblings who is well-behaved and assertive.
    • For the Mean Bees whom Chrissa has to take down, we have: Sonalli the nicest one who leaves the group in favor of Chrissa, Tara the meanest of the gang who's their leader and always in command, and Jayden, who stays on Tara's side but can put on a façade of niceness when she wants.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The class bully in the Melody movie is a tall blond blue-eyed boy named Donald. This came about because the actors kept using Donald instead of the original name in the script, Douglass.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Samantha's Mount Bedford is a fusion of two New York places (Bedford and Mount Kisco). Molly's city of Jefferson isn't real but there is a Jefferson County in Illinois, and Courtney's Orange Valley is clearly San Fernando Valley. Most of the books are set in real communities, but this also happens on a smaller scale with things like business names or street names.
  • No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: For the black protagonists in the Addy and Melody Journey books, who experience prejudice. Addy's My Journey book has a middle-class modern black girl travel to 1864 and while all the book's endings are happy the protagonist faces the segregation, prejudice, poorly funded schools, and even slave-catchers of the era which gives her major culture shock. The black protagonist of Melody's has her own when, if taking the path with riding with Melody and her brother Dwayne in a nice car, they're pulled over by the police and Dwayne is accused of stealing the car and forced to contact his boss to prove he has the car legitimately.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing:
    • A key note of the brand is that none of the leads end up in or even consider romantic relationships (to be fair, they are ten). Doesn't prevent fans from shipping, of course.
    • It doesn't even prevent shipping based around the idea of a Pseudo-Romantic Friendship; Felicity/Elizabeth, Samantha/Nellie and Molly/Emily in particular (in both their books and movies) can easily be viewed as the first steps in a romantic relationship between the lead girl and her best friend (although specifically in Samantha's case, she and Nellie become adoptive sisters in the end).
  • No Smoking: Despite the accuracy that adults would have smoked frequently in nearly every era before the 1990s when anti-smoking messages ramped up and it no longer was cool to smoke, no smoking is seen in any book; at most, tobacco leaves are part of the plantation Addy is enslaved on. Averted with Molly's movie where her father James, serving as an Army doctor, is shown smoking a pipe. Justified as the movie is set in the 1940s when smoking was not yet considered unhealthy and many doctors not only smoked, but promoted smoking on behalf of tobacco companies.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Usually happens once during the Meet book and once during the Changes book. For example, Kirsten ends her first book living in a new country, befriending her cousins, and mourning her close friend, and she ends her last book in a new house again after the previous one burned down.
  • Not the Intended Use:
    • In-universe with Kit's Aunt Millie (Kit's mother in the movie) who used fabric from feed sacks to make Kit's birthday outfit and scooter outfit. Truth in Television as housewives often repurposed various sack fabric into articles of clothing and home goods and had since the early 20th century; it became more popular during the Great Depression among the middle class, instead of being limited mostly to poorer rural families. This led George P. Plant Milling Company and other firms to start selling home goods and feed packaged in printed cotton sacks well into World War II to help promote the purchase of their items over other brands.
    • For doll maintenance and repair, benzoyl peroxide (normally used as acne treatment), has a mild enough bleaching effect that it's often used to fade ink and marker stains from a doll's vinyl.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The company used to allow buyers to send dolls into the repair hospital in any state, at any age, no matter when purchased as long as there were parts to repair them—including missing heads, limbs, or entire bodies (with people citing that the parts were too damaged to send in); only one part, head or body, had to be sent in for them to work with. However, unscrupulous people would send in headless bodies and state they were rarer and/or retired dolls, then place the new heads on other matching bodies to sell at a profit. Because of this, now any dolls sent in for repairs must include the entire head and body, regardless of cited damage, and no parts replaced are returned.
  • Official Cosplay Gear: At the start of the brand, Historical girl-sized outfits and accessories were released that matched the outfits available for the Historical Characters. This reduced down to only nightclothes and the modern outfits. When the historical line was revamped into BeForever, the characters all got new human-sized clothes "inspired by" their characters instead, which were less overt and could be worn in modern everyday life.
  • Off to Boarding School: Samantha fears this will happen to her in one of the paths of her My Journey book. The conversation she overhears is about Cornelia's sisters, Agnes and Agatha, going to boarding school.
  • Oh God, with the Verbing!: Somewhat in the Rebecca series from her grandparents. Sometimes the verb is a noun.
  • One of the Boys: One of the main conflicts in Mia's story is her choosing figure skating instead of hockey like the rest of her family—all brothers, and something they can't wrap their heads around.
  • One-Steve Limit: Played straight within each specific charcter series; unique names are used for most characters. This is averted for the franchise as a whole and can be frustrating when classifying items or looking up character information.
    • Cécile Rey (of the Historical line) and Cécile Revel (of the Spin-Off Girls of Many Lands line) are both of French background, though different times and locations and part of separate lines in the company.
    • Some characters share names, such as: Samantha "Sam" Parkington, her little sibling William Samuel Edwards (born to Cornelia and Gardner) and Addy's brother Sam Walker; Ruthie Smithens and Addy's mother Ruth Walker; Emily Bennett and Emily Holland; the Larson family from Kirsten's stories and Kit's neighbor Mrs. Larson; and Sarah Moore and Sarah Barrett. This is justified as these characters are from different times and places and have no interactions, and these names are common enough to carry through other times (e.g. Ruth is from the bible and was a popular name for centuries.)
    • There have been three characters named Isabel(le): Isabel Campion in the Girls of Many Lands for England 1592; Isabelle Palmer as Girl of the Year, 2014; and Isabel Hoffman as the Historical for 2000s.
    • Nicki Fleming as Girl of the Year, 2007 was followed by and Nicki Hoffman as the historical for the 2000s. They even have the same spelling.
    • Maryellen's stories avert this by having two Karens, two Skips, and two minor characters called Betty.
    • Josefina and her sisters, her aunt Maria Dolores, her grandmother Maria de la Luz, and likely late mother all have the first name "Maria." This was common in Catholic families for generations; girls were often all given the first name Mary/Maria after the Virgin Mary and then distinguished instead by their middle or extended names (often that of the saints' day they were born on).
  • Only in Miami: Averted with Maryellen Larkin. She and her family live in Daytona Beach, which is in the central part of Florida.
  • Only Six Faces: As with most doll lines, only a few face molds are used for a variety of of dolls. But it's more variety than some as there are twelve molds currently in use, and some have been used less than four times.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Nellie and her sisters get sent to one of these, Coldrock House for Homeless Girls. Samantha helps them escape before Nellie is sent away on the orphan train away from her sisters, and they all end up adopted by Samantha's well-off aunt and uncle.
  • Outdoorsy Gal: Most girls get outdoor hobbies or excursions with clothing and accessories to accompany the hobby. Lanie was themed to encourage kids to go outside and be more active.

    P-R 
  • Palette Swap: Molly and Emily's pet dogs Bennett and Yank in the collection are merely palette swaps of each other, bearing the same coat pattern with the colors inverted.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Samantha was orphaned at age five when her parents died in a boat accident. Later, Nellie's parents die of the flu, and her Uncle Mike sells their things for drink and then abandons them. This allows her and her younger sisters to be adopted by Gardner and Cornelia.
    • Marie-Grace's father is still alive, but he's so busy with his doctor work that she only sees him in the evenings. At one point he tries to send Marie-Grace to live with her relatives due to the yellow fever epidemic keeping him away from home so often.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Tia Dolores, Josefina's late mother's sister, serves as a maternal figure for Josefina when she moves to the rancho. She becomes Josefina's stepmother in the final book.
    • Lula and Solomon serve as this for Addy's baby sister Esther, who had to be left behind when Addy and her mother ran to freedom. It's also implied that they were parental substitutes for Ben and Ruth, who didn't have their parents there anymore either.
    • Samantha is raised first by her grandmother and then her aunt and uncle, since her parents died when she was five. In the movies and books, Uncle Gard serves as her major father figure, even before she goes to live with him and Cornelia.
  • Pass Fail: The situation that causes Addy's family's troubles in Shadows on Society Hill. Uncle Solomon's niece, Elizabeth, is passing as white and feared Addy and her family would expose her. Addy deduces this in defending her name after being accused of theft and Elizabeth wanting to evict their family to hide her past, and part of her understands why the woman did it; the "Looking Back" section discusses this phenomenon and its aftereffects. Ironically, Elizabeth's actions to remove the Walkers are what lead to the secret coming out; despite the familial link to Solomon, the Walker family had never met Elizabeth, didn't know she existed before now, and probably never would have come anywhere near piecing it together. But when Elizabeth learned of their connection to Solomon and started to try and drive the family away—including accusing Addy of stealing a valuable necklace—Addy's determination to clear her own name led to the truth being revealed.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Annabelle assists Elizabeth and their mother in sewing Felicity's blue ballgown when Mrs. Merriman is too ill to do it herself.
    • In Kit's Christmas book, her grumpy Uncle Hendrick gets a small moment when he tells Kit she can keep the money he gave her to pay for a shoe shine; she did it herself (because the store was out of business), and says she can earn more money in this fashion going forward when she asks to take other chores on for him. It's not exactly a massive expression of generosity (if Hendrick were truly generous, he'd help the family out more substantially without expecting anything in return). But despite his miserly ways, when he's given a clear opportunity to take advantage of Kit (as she tries to return the money with no expectations), he chooses instead to treat her in a way that by his value system he thinks of as fair to her (saying he doesn't care who does a job; as long as it's done correctly by his standards, he'll pay the same for it whether it's a professional or his nine-year-old niece).
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The holiday dresses for both modern and Historical characters. Justified as these are supposed to be formal outfits and initially were the fanciest style of dresses for the era (e.g. Felicity's is a fine ball gown).
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure:
    • In Kit's Surprise, Kit and Ruthie fight because Ruthie's attempt to cheer Kit up and save their Christmas tradition by giving her a hand-me-down dress and having her and her mother cover the whole day to the ballet and tea makes things worse, with Kit finding the gesture short-sighted, patronizing, and a wound to her pride when she's worried they're going to lose their house.
    • Addy Learns a Lesson has Sarah drift away from Addy when Addy is taken in by Harriet's tricks as the newest girl to the class—she doesn't know that Harriet looks down on recently freeded students and treats them poorly as her new "flunky" when they're dazzled by the fine things she has as a free girl of color her whole life. Sarah has already experienced Harriet's actions and warns Addy, but Addy doesn't listen and has to learn this herself.
    • Happens constantly in the Girl of the Year and Contemporary books, starting with Nicki's books and continuing onwards from Chrissa. Most obvious examples are Saige, whose first book focuses on her insecurity over her New Friend Envy, and Tenney, who had a whole book dedicated to her friendship with Jaya.
  • Pony Express Rider: The History Mystery book Hoofbeats of Danger focuses on a mystery set during the era; the main character Annie Dawson lives at the Red Buttes station and a major character, Billy Cody, is a rider for the Pony Express.
  • Pony Tale:
    • Felicity's first book, Meet Felicity, is about her befriending a throughbred horse she names Penny and freeing her from her cruel owner, Jiggy Nye. It hits multiple beats of a Pony Tale: finding her dream horse with obstacles in the way of her having it (first dealing with the fact she's owned by Jiggy Nye, and then that she's considered "lost" after Felicity helps her escape); her parents disbeliving she tamed Penny and how, her being accused of horse theft by Nye (which is true, as a child she misinterpreted what he said about giving her away to anyone who could ride her for her own hopes), her mother's displeasure at her focusing more on horses than her at-home studies, Felicity's fretting over freeing her and thus losing her, etc. The arc ends happily by the time of Felicity Saves the Day, where the two are reunited.
    • Lila's story has her befriending a quiet, pariah horse named Hollyhock at riding camp and learning through their connection more about herself and her gymnastic skills.
  • Princess Phase:
    • The Girliness Upgrade of Felicity's collection, which was criticized for putting frills and jewels before everyday practicality (since Felicity is the daughter of a middle class shopkeeper), was suspected by some collectors to be aimed at grabbing the younger end of the 8-12 range just as they would coming out of their Disney Princess doll collecting. The same is also leveraged at Caroline's satin blue holiday dress; collectors assumed ties to Frozen (2013) which was still in its popularity height.
    • Ruthie, Kit's best girl friend, loves princesses, fairy tales, and glamorous movie stars.
    • Molly and her friends have an active interest in the Princesses of England and want to emulate them.
    • Maryellen's little sister Beverly is not going through a Princess phase—she's going through a Queen phase.
    • 2023 saw a Crossover with the Disney Princess franchise with three dolls based on Jasmine, Belle, and Rapunzel released as limited edition dolls; this carried into early 2024 when AG launched the start of a Disney character focused line as part of the brand.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Nellie was written out after Samantha's Surprise after Samantha's series writer was replaced (for the second time). She was brought back at the end of the series to be adopted after her parents' deaths.
    • Merch-wise, the retirement of various Historical Characters through the years. While books originally stayed in publication, this has been slimmer since the BeForever launch.
    • With the destruction of the Best Friends Line, Cécile, Marie-Grace, Ivy (Julie's Best Friend), and Ruthie (Kit's Best Friend) were all retired from the line.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: All of the historical character movies are streamlined to some degree in order to create a single plot arc out of a series of (in most cases six) self-contained plots. Most of them also condense the two-year-long series into a year or less.
    • Samantha's movie begins with parts of Meet Samantha (namely Samantha's introduction to Nellie and the subsequent developing friendship), and then moves right into an arc based on Samantha's Surprise (modified to place the events in the spring instead of at Christmas). From there, it goes right into Changes for Samantha, with elements from Samantha Learns A Lesson intertwined in the plot arc.
    • The movie also removes Nellie and her sisters being sent to live with their Uncle Mike before the orphanange, instead having them go directly from Mount Bedford to Coldrock House and removing a few layers of complexity and events. note 
    • Felicity's movie goes a step further in terms of intertwining the different stories. The first part includes major elements of both Meet Felicity and Felicity Learns a Lesson, then the next part is drawn from Felicity Saves The Day, finishing with another arc that combines Felicity's Surprise and Changes For Felicity into a single holiday season.
    • Molly's movie is primarily focused around Changes for Molly and an expansion of the Emily storyline from Happy Birthday, Molly!. It also includes Aunt Eleanor's scene from Molly Takes Flight, and occasional brief scenes or mentions from the other books.
    • Kit's movie took a different approach altogether: elements of Meet Kit, Kit Learns a Lesson, Happy Birthday, Kit!, Kit Saves the Day, and Changes for Kit are mixed with an original plot.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some of Samantha's outfits. In "Changes for Samantha", she wears a white fur hat with a puffball at the top, and a white fur muff.
  • Prized Possession Giveaway: In Meet Samantha, Samantha begs Grandmary to buy her an expensive doll she saw in the local toy store, and agrees to work really hard at her various chores to earn the doll, which she does. She even names the doll after her mother Lydia, who died when she was five in an accident. When her impoverished new friend Nellie has to go back to the city and is scared she will have to work in a Nightmarish Factory again, Samantha gives Nellie the doll, knowing Nellie loves it and it will comfort her. Extra heartwarming when considering that this is the first and likely only fancy level doll Nellie would've ever known due to her family's poverty.
  • Product-Promotion Parade: Each main-series book and several of the short stories has merchandise associated with it, and sometimes scenes are dedicated just to showing it all off. The birthday books are especially guilty, and it becomes awkward when the items get retired.
  • Proper Lady: Several of the girls are being raised to be like this. This includes Elizabeth Cole and Felicity Merriman (whose grandparents came from England), and Samantha whose grandmother is already one.
  • Pursuing Parental Perils: Samantha's parents died in a boat accident returning from an isolated island in a storm. Samantha inadvertently does the same after going out with the Pitt twins to explore the places her mother painted.
  • Raised by Grandparents:
    • Samantha is raised by her grandmother as her parents died when she was five.
    • Josefina's friend Mariana is stated to live with her grandparents and no parents are mentioned, but it may be the case where Josefina has no reason to interact with them.
  • Recursive Canon: Courtney's divorced father sends her a Molly doll with a copy of Meet Molly for Christmas, confirming that the American Girl Collection exists in Courtney's world. The official website also includes some sight gags that show that the Melody, Ivy & Julie, and Kit movies also exist in her universe, despite those films not even having existed in the real 1986.
  • Redhead In Green: Felicity usually avoided this, but her riding outfit is a deep pine green and two minor outfits were green toned as well (the work gown and the limited-edition Town Fair Outfit).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Several, though not all, of the main protagonists are Red Oni to their Blue Oni best friends. Examples:
    • Impulsive Fiery Redhead Felicity and Cooler headed Elizabeth. In Very Funny, Elizabeth! when the girls discuss plans on how to prevent Elizabeth from being moved to England, Felicity brings up the idea to run away to the Kentucky frontier while Elizabeth comes up with a more convenient and hilarious plan.
    • "Chatterbox" and impulsive American Molly and the reserved and thoughtful Emily.
    • Impulsive Kaya and quiet Speaking Rain.
    • Active Tomboy Kit and more calm natured but fanciful Ruthie.
    • Bold and hopeful Addy and reserved and practical Sarah Moore.
    • Active and direct Samantha and reserved and withdrawn Nellie, although Samantha's traits are less pronounced than usual as a girl being raised to be a Proper Lady in the Edwardian Era.
    • Inverted with shy Courtney Moore and her more outspoken best friend Sarah Barrett.
  • Regal Ringlets:
    • Molly wants curls like Shirley Temple's instead of her own straight hair, thinking it'll make her more beautiful.
    • Cécile, a well-to-do free girl of color, has her hair in sausage ringlets.
  • Refusal of the Call: In both Caroline and Josefina's My Journey books, the time traveling protagonist can decide not to go back in time after the first trip and thus end the story immediately; however there are multiple endings and the reader is encouraged to go back to experience the others, thus having the protagonist "accept" anyways.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Samantha's ice cream maker was spoken of in her books first (since her birthday book was released in 1987), but released in Addy's collection first in 1994; it was not given to Samantha until 1998. When Samantha was rereleased (and Cécile and Marie-Grace archived), Samantha got their parasol, Addy got their underwear (specifically, a chemise and hoop), and the ice cream maker—still Addy's and part of a birthday set—was soon retired.
  • Repetitive Name: Kirsten's older brother is named Lars Larson. Justified as while his name would have originally been the patronymic Lars Andersson (as their father is Anders) in Sweden, the family was all given the last name "Larson" to match Anders's when they immigrated (as America considered a family's surname to be whatever the father's was, with everyone in the family matching).
  • Retcon:
    • Elizabeth Cole — Felicity's best friend — was changed from a brown-eyed brunette to a blue-eyed blonde. All the images and text in Felicity's stories were updated to portray her as blonde.
    • A more minor example is Emily. She was originally portrayed as having a bob-like hairstyle, she was later reillustrated to have shoulder-length hair following Molly's movie.
    • Another minor example is Felicity's original meet gown. The original books and dolls showed her in a rose-print gown: a pretty but not overly feminine print. She was later changed into a lavender gown with multicolored flowers and white stripes, looking much cuter and more steretypically feminine, and several illustrations were changed. note 
    • With the launch of BeForever, lines in original stories were modified to align to new looks; Addy's meet oufit was originally a cinnamon-pink dress given to her by Miss Caroline, but the text describes her new blue meet dress. The same can be seen in Rebecca's description of her purple dress over the prior maroon one.
  • Riddle Me This: Though he doesn't use them to block anyone's path, Sam Walker loves riddles and is often telling them. In Addy Saves The Day Addy, as part of a puppet show, tells a riddle that her then-missing brother Sam had told her in the first book. A soldier in the audience replies that that the riddle was so simple "even [his] little sister knows that one!" Addy recognizes the voice and is thus reunited with her brother Sam.
  • Rite of Passage:
    • Josefina being gifted the family doll, Niña, that was made for her sisters. Her mother made it when the oldest, Ana, was a child and it was intended to be passed down to each sibling the holiday season after they turned nine, with a new outfit and a refreshing of the doll. Clara however has kept her, thinking the doll is the last peice she has of their late mother. She has her own moment of growing up when she realizs she has her mother's embroidery skills, and gifts the doll to Josefina.
    • A darker one is with Addy, who at the start of her books is described by her father Ben as having reached the age where a enslaved child starts to realize they are.
    • Kaya's Meaningful Rename; she inherits the name "Swan Circling" from her mentor to use later as her own.
    • Among collectors, you'll often find people citing memories of poring over the catalogues, pining after their doll of choice, and either receiving a doll on Christmas morning (or some other gift-giving holiday), spending ages saving up the money to buy her themselves, or resigning themselves to the fact that they would never have a doll (until they were adults and maybe purchased dolls then).

    S-Z 
  • Scars Are Forever: Kaya's grandmother has pockmarks on her face from a plague brought by white settlers when she was a little girl (based on the description, it's likely meant to be smallpox).
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Harriet when she loses to Addy in the spelling competition; she's bitter, in part because Addy is formerly enslaved and couldn't even read before, while Harriet has been free her whole life and she thinks she's better than ex-slaves.
  • Sentimental Homemade Toy: Most of the girls live in historical eras where store-bought toys weren't widely available or prohibitably expensive to obtain. Several have special handmade dolls made by their mothers or family.
    • Addy owned two rag dolls, both made by her mother. The first, Janie, is a simple rag doll made when she and her family were enslaved. When she and her mother are forced to leave her baby sister Esther behind as they escape, she gives her Janie to hold on to until they're together again. Esther still has Janie when she returns with Lula, and says—having been told so over the time apart—that it was her "big sister" Addy who gave it to her, showing Lula has told Esther about her family while apart. Later, when she and her mother are living in freedom, her mother makes her another doll for Christmas: this one is wearing a beautiful purple dress and has little hoop earrings, and stuffed with beans. Addy happily names her Ida Bean. Her love for both dolls is a reflection of her love for her family.
    • Josefina's family has a doll named Niña that was made by her deceased mother and is passed down to each daughter at Christmas the year she turns eight, along with a new doll dress. When Christmas comes and Josefina is old enough to receive Niña, her older sister Clara says she can't find the doll, but it turns out Clara is secretly keeping Niña for comfort because she misses their mother so much. Josefina is upset, but Tía Dolores convinces her to let the matter go for the time being and keeps the sisters busy teaching them colcha embroidery to fix the damaged Christmas altar cloth. Finally, on Christmas Eve, Clara feels she is ready to give Niña to Josefina, and even continues the tradition by making her a new doll dress that matches Josefina's. She explains that she thought Niña was all she had left of their mother, but repairing the altar cloth helped her realize she has their mother's gift for embroidery.
  • Series Continuity Error: While the books are largely free of these, with most writers knowing the character's stories well and properly referencing stories both available and out of print in later books, this wasn't so for the side books by Scholastic Real Stories From My Time which shoehorned Felicity and Samantha into the real-life events the books covered, the Boston Tea Party and sinking of the RMS Titanic respectively. Felicity's has her witness the Boston Tea Party firsthand when she's eight, which surely would have come up in any other book if she had—and has her in Boston, which was a long trip from Virginia at the time. In her series she never travels further than her grandfather's plantation, which is considered a long distance trip, and she never goes out of Virginia. Samantha's has her in 1912—making her almost seventeen, well into being considered an adult at the time and encroaching on Rebecca's stories—slips up on her cousin's name, and says that Nellie has never been to Ireland before—except she got to at the end of The Stolen Sapphire which would be set previously.
  • Series Mascot: Samantha used to be it—she was even simulated in the company logo.
  • Servile Snarker: Elsa the maid for Samantha's Grandmary, is harsh (though she loves her family, for whose sake she's working) and frequently fed up with Samantha's antics.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • Edith Eddleton to Samantha. They are both wealthy, upper-class girls, but pleasant and kind-hearted Samantha befriends Nellie and her sisters while Edith looks down on them for being Irish servants.
    • Blair and Missy to Lindsey — Lindsey is a good friend to April and helps her feel better, but Blair and Missy get their kicks bullying her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Samantha's favorite book is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
    • Kit reads Heidi, A Little Princess, and Alice in Wonderland. Her favorite is a book of Robin Hood stories.
    • Rebecca reads Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Her phonograph plays clips of songs from the era: "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", "Maple Leaf Rag", and "You're a Grand Old Flag."
    • Julie, one of the earliest released characters to have influences from pop culture, likes The Brady Bunch. Her record player plays clips from "Saturday in the Park" by Chicago, Love's Theme by Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra, and "Shining Star" by Earth, Wind & Fire.
    • Courtney's series and collection mention My Little Pony and multiple pop-music singers of the era. Her collection not only includes items featuring the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake (her pajamas and her sleeping bag, which comes with a plush bear) but a Pac-Man arcade cabinet with actual working levels of the game. Furthermore, she has a miniature reproduction of the 1986 Molly Doll and Book set, complete with vintage-style packaging and a reproduction of the first Pleasant Company catalog.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • At the end of each historical book is a "Looking Back" section that goes into historical details about the time period and helps to place the character in the era.
    • Several character of color had cultural panels involved in their creation.
    • Kaya is the only historical doll with a closed mouth, as showing one's teeth in a smile is considered offensive to Nez Perce culture.
    • Author Lisa Yee took the effort of doing research at the Amazon Rainforest for her Lea Clark books, taking part in river raft rides while mingling with wildlife and the locals for her and the readers to better immerse with the setting and to add authenticity to the story.
  • Shrinking Violet:
    • Deconstructed in Felicity Learns a Lesson. Felicity becomes angry with Elizabeth for not speaking up when Annabelle lies about and insults Felicity's father and business. It's resolved when Elizabeth stands up to her abrasive older sister about the insulting nickname she has and the way she treats her.
      Elizabeth: I hate being called Bitsy. From now on, call me Elizabeth. Or I will call you Bananabelle in front of everyone. Annabelle, Bananabelle.
    • Josefina is very quiet and shy, mostly opens up to her family and close friends.
    • Molly noted that before World War II, her mother was a pretty shy person but now she's making a speech on behalf of the Red Cross.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Felicity, the line's first and most notable redhead, has green eyes. Birdy, the reader insert in Josefina's My Journey book, is implied to be one; she's mistaken for a Spanish captive, Francisca says her party outfit makes her eyes look very green, and she was cast as the lead in Annie.
  • Spanner in the Works: In the game of Color War played in Molly Saves the Day, the Red Team captures every member of the Blue Team including the captain—except for Molly and Susan, who didn't get caught with the group because Susan's bad canoeing leads to the two girls falling into the lake on the way to the beach. Molly is ultimately the player who devises a plan to free her entire team, capture the flag, and return to the camp victorious.
  • Special Guest:
    • McKenna Shoots for the Stars features Cathy Rigby—the first female American gymnast to medal at the World Championships—as McKenna's coach.
    • In-Universe, Corinne encounters Eileen Gu, a Chinese skilled professional freeskier.
  • Spelling Bee:
    • One's portrayed in Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front where Molly's school hosts one. Emily and Molly end up being the last two left standing; Emily is almost disqualified until one of the judges notes that she gave the correct British spelling for her word. It ends up being declared a tie between Molly and Emily after Molly's teacher, Miss Campbell, learns on stage that her fiancé has been killed in the war, as everyone present agrees it doesn't seem right to continue after that.
    • Addy's class has one at the end of Addy Learns a Lesson. Despite the fact that she's only just begun becoming literate, Addy wins over her rival Harriet—who has been disparaging both her and Sarah as formerly enslaved—by spelling "principle" correctly.
  • Spicy Latina: Josefina's beautiful, hot-tempered sister Francisca, is stated to be so pretty that she often causes native Spanish speakers to stumble over their words.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Of all people, Uncle Hendrick and Elsie Mundis in Kit's mystery Intruders at Rivermead Manor. When Hendrick and Elsie were teenagers, Elsie's parents forbade her from spending time with other young men. Elsie also turned down Hendrick's marriage proposal since she couldn't marry without her parents' blessings, resulting in Hendrick's Jerkass nature as an elderly man.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The Historical Series features several situations that lampshade the trope and show what it means for the girls.
    • Felicity and Samantha are expected to be "ladylike" in thier eras and are often admonished by adults for the tomboyish activites they take part in such as climbing trees, walking on fences, getting their clothes ruined, riding horses (for Felicity), and disliking their needlepoint.
    • Josefina and her sisters are shocked when their aunt, Tia Dolores (politely) makes business suggestions to their Papa on how to replace the sheep the family lost in a flood; Josefina remembers that her mother, Dolores' sister, kept the house side of the rancho and never discussed business with her husband in the way a patrona (Spanish for a woman boss) would. While she admits the idea is she isn't sure it was proper of Dolores to interject, and fussy Francisca accuses Dolores of acting like a patrona instead of staying on the domestic side of things.
    • The Gardner family's cook Mrs. Curtis tells her employer, Marie-Grace's father, that girls learn all they need to know at home and schooling fills a girl's head with "useless nonsense".
    • Lars's friend John tells Lars that Kirsten shouldn't come on their trapping trip and should stay home with the "women and children". Lars argues that Kirsten has keen sense for animals and knows her way around a forest—and brings along extra hands to carry pelts.
    • Molly's series is set in World War II and features many women working outside the home (Mom as a nurse) and even in traditionally male jobs (her Aunt Eleanor as a pilot). But closer to the end of the war, she sees propaganda telling women to give the men "their jobs back" and her friend's mom is upset the factory she's been working at is laying off women who've been devoted to the job and loved it.
    • Molly's brother Ricky expresses this attitude in the movie (he mocks his mother for going to work in a factory) and in the mystery The Light in the Cellar this is why he and a friend want to take the credit for solving a mystery that Molly and her friends spent more time gathering clues for (and noticed there was something wrong in their town in the first place). He outright disrespects his older sister Jill for exerting authority (their mother put her in charge).
    • Two instances for Maryellen: first, her mother Kaye quit what would've been a great job in aircraft because her fellow women workers were being fired to "make way for the men" returning from World War II, and she refused to stay. Secondly, her first mostly-male science group makes Maryellen the secretary without question and ignores her ideas because she's a girl. She puts together a group with her friends and their rocket launches the highest.
    • In Julie's series, her parents divorce because her dad wanted her mom to remain content as a housewife while she wanted to start a business. Julie also has a hard time joining the school basketball team because she's a girl, but eventually is allowed to join thanks to the then-recent Title IX ruling—since the school has no girls' team, she must be allowed to play on the boys'.
    • Courtney's mother Maureen is running for mayor of their town. During a TV interview when the reporters ask Maureen if she's capable of being a good mother and a good mayor, normally shy Courtney speaks up and says her mother is capable of both.
  • Stern Teacher: Several American Girls have these.
    • Kirsten has Miss Winston, who at first Kirsten feels expect her to learn English too quickly. Kirsten later learns otherwise when she boards with the Larsons and they both get to know each other better. She still must remain stern to keep control of the students in her classroom, who range in age and skill—one of them is as old as she is.
    • Julie has Ms. Duncan in fifth grade who is extremely fond of traditional, sentence-writing detentions and gives out said detentions like lottery tickets.
    • Rebecca has Miss Maloney who isn't extremely strict but conservative to the point of intimidation. When she guides the class in making Christmas decorations and Rebecca and her friend Rose both argue they don't celebrate the holiday, she states that Christmas is an "American holiday that everyone celebrates." Whether she understands why this statement would disturb Jewish Rebecca is debatable.
  • Stock Animal Name: Kirsten's horse is named Blackie.
  • Stock "Yuck!": Molly's first book begins with her refusing to eat the mashed turnips that Mrs. Gilford, her family's housekeeper, has prepared for dinner. Mrs. Gilford is unsympathetic, scolding her for wasting food during wartime and forbidding her to leave the table until they're finished. (Her older sister and brother have both eaten theirs.) Her mother arrives home and uses some sugar and butter from the rations to make the turnips more palatable, and also tells Molly about her own childhood experience with refusing to eat what she hated: sardines on toast.
  • Stranger in a Strange School: A mundane variant. In Nellie's Promise, Nellie might be Happily Adopted by a rich family—Samantha's aunt and uncle—but she's completely out of place at their new fancy school that focuses on teaching upper class girls to become refined young women, and thinks that some of the students don't know if she's Samantha's maid or sister. She also feels that the school doesn't teach anything she feels is practical, since she worries that someday she'll have to work properly to support her and her sisters. She most directly doesn't fit in when they are at lunch talking about prior birthday celebrations: the other students went on balloon rides and had ponies, but she was working in a factory at the time, and saying so disturbs and ruins the conversation. At the end she's now attending a school more suited to her interests, with hopes to be a teacher.
  • Strictly Formula: The central books for historical characters initially followed a pattern of Meet ____ (introduction to the character and era), ___ Learns a Lesson (school and world lesson), ___'s Surprise (Christmas), Happy Birthday, ___! (spring and Birthday Episode, which led to the first seven characters having spring birthdays), ___ Saves the Day! (summer adventure in new locationsnote ), and Changes for ___ (winter, about two year after the first book, and closure to the story and era). The books broke the pattern with Kaya because Native Americans of the era didn't have formal schooling or celebrate Christmas. Characters released after breifly followed a similarly loose formula (generally keeping the Meet ____ and Changes for ___ for the first and last book, with the four middle books being more flexible) until the BeForever revamp, which combined books into two-volume books and dropped the names. Maryellen had the same internal structure, but all characters released after her did not have the Idiosyncratic Episode Naming until Claudie, whose first volume is titled Meet Claudie.
  • Take a Third Option: Done by the company when planning Molly's movie and collection refresh. Molly has two best friends in her series, Linda and Susan. Rather than choosing between them, the company instead made one-book character Emily Bennett an Ascended Extra. The movie focuses heavily on her and Molly, she was included in one of Molly's mystery books, and she received her own book. It's fitting because Linda and Susan are in every book in Molly's series and don't offer a different angle like Emily does.
  • Teacher's Unfavorite Student: Yikes! A Smart Girl's Guide To Surviving Tricky, Sticky, Icky Situations has a passage on what to do if you think your teacher hates you. The illustration shows a girl offering a green apple to her cranky teacher (who is apparently unhappy because she wanted a red apple), with a poster of the girl's face in the background that says "The BAD CHILD: This could be you!" and a blackboard with only one name listed under "Bad Students".
  • Technology Marches On:
    • In-universe, it's the case with medicine, transportation, and other technologies and inventions. For example Samantha's era has new inventions like bicycles, motorcars, and electricity gaining widespread use, which are considered common by the time of later era characters. (This is discussed in Samantha Learns a Lesson when she's considering what new sign of progress to focus her essay on.) By the time of Kit's era—the 1930s—all of these items are common enough to not be remarked on, and remain so through the other characters (Kit thinks nothing of having access to electricity, and by Molly's era it's pretty ubiquitous even if not available easily in more rural locations like summer camp.)
    • In Historical Collections, this initially was done to show how items changed over eras but had the same purposes; for example, the hornbook of Felicity's era is comparative to Addy's simple but bound Union Reader, which is comparative to Molly's reading book. Rebecca's collection has a phonograph (she's gifted one for her birthday) that plays three era-accurate records—it's still expensive, but is something even rich Samantha did not have access to. Julie not only owns a "modern" state of the art portable record player with clips from three era-accurate songs, but her father brings her a "new" tape recorder to use, and in the collection it can record twenty seconds and play them back. She's then followed by Courtney who has a cassette and a portable tape player that plays era-simulating songs—who is then followed by the Hoffman twins having a CD player. Funny enough, the Hoffmans' CD player doesn't play any song clips at all—their (then-)state of the art computer does.
    • Courtney's books, aimed at children of the 2020s who would be used to widespread cellphones and social media, state in the Looking Back section how children of the 80's didn't have their own personal phones to connect with each other so often met up at the mall to hang out and meet up.
    • It's even seen in the modern collection, seeing as it's now spanned several decades. The original high-level Macintosh desktop or headset phone from the mid-ninties are nothing like the modern tablets, smartphones, and slim laptops from the 2020s. Lindsey's then high level laptop is practically clunky compared to the slimmer laptop in Joss's collection. Zigzagged again as the older items often had interactivity and batteries (Lindsey's doubled as a calculator, calendar, and digital phonebook), but the newer ones are often just solid plastic and may have one or two interactive buttons but most often have nothing outside of removable thin screens that simulate a working screen instead.
    • The early PC games are like this; they ended up being unplayable on modern operating systems unless the user tweaks it to run.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Implied with Ana, Josefina's oldest sister. Ana is 20 years old and already a married mother to two young boys who by the end of the series are five and three years old. Justified, since Josefina's stories are set in a time period where girls were eligible for marriage after having their quinceañera (a fifteenth birthday celebration), and she is married.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: A lot of the girls live in time periods where learning to sew, stitch, weave, or embroider is considered a necessary part of a young lady's education.
    • Addy's mother works as a seamstress in a dress shop, and Addy learns some sewing with her and Mrs. Ford.
    • Felicity, Elizabeth, and Annabelle sew stitch samplers as part of their lessons on how to be a Proper Lady—Felicity hates it. Elizabeth also helps sew Felicity's blue ballgown.
    • A major plot point in Josefina's Christmas book is the Montoya sisters, with their aunt's help, repairing the damaged Christmas altar cloth that their mother made using colcha embroidery. Josefina sees that Clara is especially good at it, even sewing a new dress for Niña the doll when she's ready to hand her down to Josefina at last. The sisters also learn to make dresses of their own and weave blankets from sheep's wool to sell.
    • Kirsten and her friends work togehter on sewing a friendship quilt at school. It's for Kirsten.
    • Caroline enjoys sewing, needlepoint, and doing anything to keep her hands going. She uses her map of the coast to direct her father in secret how to escape capture.
    • Samantha is working on needlepoint—an acceptable pasttime—when she spends an hour a day with her grandmother. She's not fond of it.
    • Molly's classmates, on Allison's suggestion, hold a knitting bee to knit socks to help the American war effort. (Molly, angry her idea wasn't chosen, tries with Linda and Susan to collect scrap metal and the girls do poorly before they're caught spying on the meeting and invited inside.) Knitting socks turns out to be too hard for most of the girls once they reach the point of having to turn a sock heel. Molly suggests making a blanket instead with the flat squares, which gets sent to an overseas hospital and gets them the prize as well as mentioned in the local news.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Agnes and Agatha Pitt; Sadie and Sophie Ruben.
  • Three-Month-Old Newborn: Averted; Kirsten's mother tells her that when she was born, she was "a red-faced little thing with white fuzz for hair".
  • Time Travel Episode: The My Journey Books all serve as this: they have a modern-era protagonist near the main Historical Character's age go back in time using an item from the past, and interact with the character and their time.
  • Title Drop: Occurs in the last line of Really, Truly Ruthie.
  • Token Minority:
    • Until the release of Cécile in 2011, Addy was the only black historical character for the entire line; she returned to being the only black historical character after Cécile's retirement in 2014, but has since been accompanied by Melody and Claudie. In the modern named line, the only black Girl of the Year has been Gabriela from 2017.
    • Josefina is the only Latina/Hispanic historical character (though there have been other Latina or Hispanic Girls of the Year), Kaya is the only North American Indigenous character, and Nanea is the only Hawaiian native/Pacific Islander character (Kanani was also native Hawaiian, but as a girl of the year was no longer available after 2011).
    • The only named East Asian Characters have been Ivy (the Chinese best friend of main character Julie, who is no longer available), Z (Korean, who was only availiable for two years), and Corinne, who is Chinese and limited as a Girl of the Year.
    • There have only been four explicitly Jewish characters: Lindsey (who was only available for a short time); Rebecca, and the Hoffman twins who are stated to be interfaith and only have Hannukah mentioned.
    • Frequently seen in a meta example in people's collections when people only have one or two dolls of color. This can often consist of limited edition dolls, one or two Historicals, or ambigiously brown modern dolls who can be stated to be any race.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Multiple characters in the series are set in this duality; the "tomboy" is often the main character.
    • Maryellen and her older sister Joan: Maryellen is young enough she plays with boys casually and has an interest in Westerns and rockets while much older Joan is prim and is more of a literature nerd, and is getting married soon after high school. Both love fashion though and Maryellen fulfills the Tomboy trope with her girl friends at school.
    • Molly's friends Linda and Susan, with Molly as The Kirk.
    • Felicity and her little sister, Nan, fill this role.
    • Agnes and Agatha in the Samantha series, with Agnes being more prim than her sister (not that it lasts long).
    • Caroline enjoys skating, fishing, and sailing, while both Rhonda and Lydia prefer hair styling.
    • Kit is a girl that loves playing baseball, and dislikes pink, chores, and frilly things, while Ruthie loves fashion, baking, and fairytales.
    • Felicity is a girl that dislikes sewing and doing anything else that is ladylike and would rather ride a horse, while Elizabeth and Annabelle are both proper and have the love for tea parties and sewing.
    • Nicki likes skateboarding and doesn't like fashion and is not really much of a girl for "girly things." Isabel, on the other hand, loves fashion, anything pink, pop music, and is very girly.
    • Julie is a sporty girl that enjoys basketball and hanging out with boys, while Ivy likes making bracelets, baking, and gymnastics.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak:
    • Nicki usually dislikes the "girly" stuff Isabel likes, like dancing and fashion. However her favorite color is purple, and she watches the Powerpuff Girls (but this is because of the Girl Power aspect).
    • Maryellen doesn't mind getting messy and active like a boy—her best friend Davey is one—but enjoys fashion due to the influences of her older sisters.
    • Julie is a sporty girl with a passion for basketball, but enjoys baking and making bracelets with Ivy, and dresses up with her for Chinese New Year.
    • Felicity openly dislikes most girly expectations of her era (like wearing dresses, being quiet, staying indoors, and sewing) and would rather ride a horse, but she enjoys Miss Manderly's tea lessons, and she is excited to go to the holiday dance lesson (especially when she finds interest in a fine blue dress).
    • Caroline is active and enjoys sailing, fishing, and ice skating, but she also enjoys embroidery and sewing.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Ricky in the mystery The Light in the Cellar, the main Molly series depicted him as an annoying and smart-alek but ultimately loving brother to Molly whereas the mystery depicted him as very rude to his sister and her friends without provocation and to their older sister Jill to the point of misogyny.
  • Town Girls:
    • Neutral Nanea with feminine Lily and tomboyish Donna.
    • Tomboyish Molly with feminine Susan and neutral Linda.
  • Toyless Toy Line Character: When the Best Friends line finally terminated, several characters had not gotten best friend companions. Which best friends were left out had a troubling pattern; they were almost all characters of color (with the exception of Ivy for Julie, but her collection was miniscule compared to other Historical Best Friends; she got only two outfits total).
  • Translation Convention:
    • Kaya is not speaking English, and neither is Josefina—they speak Nimipuutímt and Spanish respectively. The books are written in English, with added words in their native languages.
    • Kristen speaks Swedish at home and has to learn English in her series (it's a major plot point) and Singing Bird at best speaks smatterings of English. The books translate almost all the Swedish into English.
    • Cécile and Marie-Grace are bilingual, speaking fluent French and English—but their "French" is written in English for the sake of the readers.
  • Trapped at the Dinner Table: When Molly doesn't eat her mashed turnips at dinner, the family housekeeper Mrs. Gilford scolds her for wasting food during wartime and refuses to let her leave the table until she finishes them. She ends up sitting at the table for nearly three hours, while her older sister and brother eat theirs. When her mother comes home from work, she is more understanding about the situation and adds a small part of their rations of sugar, cinnamon, and butter to the turnips to make them taste better. She also tells Molly a story from her own childhood when her mother wouldn't let her leave the table until she'd finished her dinner of sardines on toast, so she secretly wrapped the sardines in a napkin and put them in her pocket. (Later, the family's cats smelled the sardines, pulled them out of her pocket, and ate them all.)
  • Trapped in the Past: Averted with the Journey books. Every character that goes back in time, even if it's not seen in the ending directly, is stated to get back to their own present without any conflict.
  • Treasure Hunt Episode: Some of the Historical Mysteries have this plot. For example, Julie's The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter has Julie and Ivy searching for a doll Ivy's grandma once owned, racing against an unknown third party who wants it for the valuable treasure hidden inside.
  • Trumplica: The "Donald" character in the Melody film is a thinly-veiled Take That! to Donald Trump, down to the blond hair. It was later confirmed that the racist bully Melody encounters was meant to be named Douglas, but a slip of the tongue led the cast to refer to him as Donald instead, intentional or not.
  • Truth in Television: Kit's dream of being a journalist is child's play compared to Hilde Lysiak, an American child author whose exploits have gained national attention such as when she covered a grisly murder of all things at nine years old.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe:
    • A good portion of the earlier historical characters have at least six to nine outfits in their collection. This is a lot for a quick-growing nine-year-old, especially in eras when clothes were not quickly made or mass-manufactured. This makes sense for girls like Samantha who were rich (enough her family has a private seamstress) or Julie and Courtney who lived in a time of easy clothes shopping, but applies even to characters who would logically have small wardrobes—such as those who lived rurally and didn't have easy access to brand new clothes that weren't handed down (Kirsten), were so poor at the time the family was at risk of losing the house (Kit), were on wartime rationing (Molly), or had to build a wardrobe from scratch after becoming free (Addy).note  The trend until Kaya was that every character had at least one new outfit for each book in their six-book series (with the "outfit of the book" highlighted on the cover), and the characters included in the 1999 and 2003 short story collections got new outfits based on those.note  They also had additional one- or two-scene outfits as part of the collection like Samantha's playing dress or Kirsten's traditional Swedish clothing, and some outfits were made that weren't seen in the books at all, such as the Limited Edition outfits. This is because the point was (along with showing various fashions of the era) for a kid to read the books and/or flip through the catalog and see the clothes that went with each "book" or story—and thus want them for their own. This has been toned down with newer characters—especially when there were no illustrations in the books—but ironically may have swung too far in the other direction for some characters who might not even have more than one extra daywear outfit.
    • The modern dolls have had new outfits come out yearly since 1995, updated as fashions for children change, and thus can access nearly three decades of outfits. In theory, a doll could have clothes older than they are even if the clothes are somewhat dated.
  • Unnamed Parent:
    • Zigzagged; most of the time the characters will not state their parents' name (only referring to them using standard parent terms), but other characters will use their given names. For example, Felicity doesn't call her mother anything but "Mother," but other including her husband and family friends call her by her first name, Martha.
    • Caroline's mother is never named in the series, and neither is her grandmother.
    • Also Zigzagged with Josefina's late Mama. It can be assumed that her first name is Maria (as Spanish Catholic girls were often all given the first name Maria after the Virgin Mary and then distinguished by their middle or extended names), but her middle name is never given.
  • Unwanted Assistance: One of the overarching themes of Lindsey's story is that she frequently tries to "help" people in ways that aren't actually all that helpful.
  • Updated Re-release: The BeForever revamp rereleased the books as text-only two-volume compilations and brought some retired products back in an updated format. For example, Addy's school lunch returned with the food and tin altered, Josefina's new meet outfit is extremely close to her old one, and Samantha returned—but with the older items in her her collection replaced with all-brand new items.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Alison Hargate in Molly's series is probably supposed to look like a Spoiled Brat (and comes off that way in the movie), but is more of a Lonely Rich Kid set apart because people like Molly think she's bragging whenever she so much as speaks honestly about her life.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Molly and Emily name their dogs after each other, though they don't literally call them Molly and Emily at least. (Molly's dog is named Bennett, Emily's last name, while Emily's is named Yank after a slang term for Americans.)
  • Wham Line:
    • When Kit goes to the soup kitchen and serves soup to a man who turns out to be her father.
    • Combined with Meaningful Echo and Brick Joke in Addy Saves the Day. In the first book, Addy's brother Sam teaches her a riddle, so in Saves the Day...
      Addy: (doing a puppet show) What's smaller than a dog, but can send a bear on the run?
      Soldier in Crowd: That's an easy riddle! Even my little sister knows that one! It's a skunk!
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Lindsey stops Blair from tormenting April, so Blair pretends that Lindsey attacked her on the way to school. It partially works.
  • You Are the Translated Foreign Word: Played with in Rebecca's books; sometimes she and her family are explicitly said to be speaking in Yiddish, but Ana and her immediate family in particular are said to be learning English, and it's not always clear whether Rebecca or any of her family are speaking Yiddish or not.
  • You Mean "Xmas":
    • Up until Kaya, each of the American Girl characters had a Christmas story as a part of her book series (though Kirsten's focused more on St. Lucia's Day). Since Kaya obviously wouldn't have celebrated Christmas (as she is from before the Nez Perce had much contact with Europeans and is not nominally Christian like characters before her), her books have a story about a winter "giving" ceremony as her obligatory "holiday" book.
    • A certain subset of fans and parents has called Political Overcorrectness on the switch from emphasizing only "Christmas" to pushing the more inclusive "holidays", despite the fact that Christmas is still celebrated by most of the characters, a Christmas-themed outfit is released yearly (often with accessories), and inclusiveness is never a bad thing.
    • Julie's holiday book centered more on Chinese New Year than Christmas (but the collection has always been Christmas stuff), Rebecca's on Hanukkah, and Kaya, as mentioned, has no holiday book but practises native spirituality. Each character is (or was) put into a holiday set in advertisements and stores during the holiday season. This includes Melody's gold and cream outfit (which the books says she wears for New Year's Eve "Watch Night" services at church; Christmas is not seen in her series, as time is skipped from September 1963 to January 1964 by the next volume). Nanea's formal Hawaiian holoku dress is also shown on her at Christmas time, even though Christmas is very much downplayed in the aftereffects of the Pearl Harbor attack and she wears the dress for performances.
    • Some modern sets celebrate non-Christmas winter holidays. There were a set of Kwanzaa, Hannukah, and "Chinese" New Year sets in the late 90s, and in 2021 the company released another set of modern Winter Holiday outfits which included Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, Eid-al-Fitr, Diwali, and Hannukah.
  • You Go, Girl!:
    • Julie's efforts to join the basketball team serve as a kid-friendly representation of second-wave feminism. Later on, her campaign for student body president and willingness to stick up for deaf classmate Joy serve as both a kid-friendly version of politics, the 1976 election, and a way to explain the disability rights movements that began in the 1970s.
    • Nicki and Isabel believe in finding their "girl power" (which was heavily emphasized in the 1990s). While for Isabel this is often aligned with dance, pop music, and the music of The Spice Girls, Nicki is more of the sporty and grunge side; she wants to perform skateboarding for the millenial celebration in part to prove that girls are capable of being part of the then boy-dominated sport.

Alternative Title(s): American Girl

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