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"For official purposes, these children do not exist."
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The CHERUB Series is a British series about teenage spies, in the same vein as Alex Rider and Young Bond. It centres around a secret organisation, only known as CHERUB, which takes young orphans (usually not older than about twelve, depending on how young they look) and trains them to become spies. The organisation has been in existence since shortly after WW2, and at the time of the books, it has several hundred agents.

The main characters are James Adams, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and a deliberate parody of James Bond, and his more mature and responsible little sister, Lauren Adams. Other CHERUB agents and staff also play a major role throughout the series.

The series can be considered something of a deconstruction of the teenage spy series, as it takes great care to consider the repercussions of the Cherubs being teenagers, and hence not always particularly responsible.

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It is also notable for its use of fairly realistic criminals, having drug-dealers, arms-smugglers and animal-rights terrorists instead of the Super Villain opponents of Alex Rider and Young Bond.

First series:

  1. The Recruit
  2. Class A (The Dealer in the USA)
  3. Maximum Security
  4. The Killing
  5. Divine Madness
  6. Man vs Beast
  7. The Fall
  8. Mad Dogs
  9. The Sleepwalker
  10. The General
  11. Brigands M.C.
  12. Shadow Wave

Second Series:

  1. People's Republic
  2. Guardian Angel
  3. Black Friday
  4. Lone Wolf
  5. New Guard

There is also a spin-off series, Henderson's Boys, that is set during World War II, and follows the adventures of the organanization that would become the predecessor to CHERUB.

A second series has begun, set several years after the end of the first series, featuring mostly all-new characters, though a few from the first series show up every so often.

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Casting for a movie version is under way. It is not known which book, or how many, will be adapted.


This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Lauren's dad, who beat her up more than once.
    • Some of the most detestable antagonists in the series are cemented as horrendous beyond redemption by the fact they beat their children, such as Hassam bin Hassam in The Sleepwalker (who is also the first villain to be killed instead of captured at the end) and The Führer in Brigands M.C.
  • Action Girl: Most of the female leads. All cherubs are trained to be superb martial artists and have gun training.
  • A.K.A.-47: The infamous Glock 9, though this was an author mistake instead of being on purpose. The same goes for "M15" and "M16" the incorrectly named MI-5 and MI 6 throughout the series.
  • Adult Fear: The CHERUB agency is adults sending children to infiltrate criminal hangouts, so inevitably ensuring the safety of their agents comes up a lot. In Maximum Security, "M15" incorrectly named (MI-5) agent John Jones is shown to be extremely uncomfortable with sending Lauren Adams, a ten-year old girl, on a dangerous mission to help capture an arms dealer on the FBI's Most Wanted list by helping her convicted murderer son escape from prison, especially because he has a daughter who's about the same age as Lauren.
  • Affably Evil: Many of the villains, most notably Keith Moore of Class A.
    • Jane Oxford is very cordial to James when they talk, but of course she sends a hitman to knock-off him and her sister later on because they Knew Too Much.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: This is arguably the central plot device of Brigands M.C and the first part of Shadow Wave. Both books depict biker culture as consisting almost exclusively of thugs like the Brigands (Fictional Counterpart to the Hell Angels) and their allied and rival gangs.
  • Alternate Timeline: Robert Muchamore wrote three possible futures for James (available on the website). They consist of James becoming either The Casanova, a family man, or the Chairman of CHERUB. Given the fact that James returns to CHERUB as a mission controller in Black Friday, the third option is the most likely.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The AFM (in Man vs Beast). At the beginning of the book they are shown blinding a woman who worked at a laboratory where animal testing is carried out. In the climax, they kidnap a celebrity and torture him live on the internet.
  • Arms Dealer: A favorite villain of the CHERUB series, which is not surprising considering Britain's opinion regarding guns:
    • Jane Oxford in Maximum Security is an International Arms Merchant.
    • Denis Obidin from The Fall is a Former Red With Rockets for Sale.
    • The Führer and many of his associates in Brigands M.C. and Shadow Wave are Gangland Gun Runners.
    • In Shadow Wave Tan Abdullah is a Minister of Defense looking to import weapons from Britain.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Bruce Norris.
  • Ascended Extra: Kazakov in the Aramov trilogy.
  • Attempted Rape: During The Fall, Lauren is almost raped by one of the sex traffickers after they kidnap her. However, she manages to stab him before he can follow through.
  • Author Appeal: Association Football is frequently mentioned, and even plays a central roll in Mad Dogs. Several characters, including the main character James, are huge fans of Arsenal, reflecting Robert Muchamore's own personal fanaticism for the Gunners. At one point, James almost starts a fight with fans of an opposing team.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Dante Welsh. He didn't pick his first name, he was actually born Dante.
  • Back for the Finale: A number of former CHERUB agents and staff return to campus to attend a wedding in Shadow Wave. Even Mr Large is invited, despite his departure from CHERUB several books earlier having been on very bad terms.
  • Badass Biker: See the All Bikers Are Hells Angels entry. Also, James poses an a Badass Biker in order to infiltrate the Brigands. The act is helped by the fact that he really is a Badass and he really does like motor bikes.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Irena Aramov is the leader of the Aramov clan, the bad guys of the second series. She is actually a nice old lady, who is all too willing to help Ethan and his mother. The real antagonist is Irena's son, Leonid.
  • Becoming the Mask: Defied in Divine Madness — James, Lauren and Dana start to infiltrate a cult and, once they've left, immediately realize that they were enjoying themselves way too much. The expert they talk to reassures them that now they've seen how it works and can recognize the techniques, it'll be much easier to not succumb in the future.
  • Beneath Suspicion: The whole point of CHERUB children.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't ever say anything bad about James's mother.
    • Don't ever hurt or insult Lauren, either. James is appalled when Lauren mentions wanting to see her abusive father, who's in prison.
  • Big Bad: Of each book:
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • Leon Tarasov from The Killing is a small-time crook who got a lucky break. He finds himself out of his depth in the big leagues, which means he poses little threat by CHERUB standards.
    • The Runts are a gang consisting of teenage hoodlums trying to make a name for themselves. They're violent and actually a real threat, but are small fish against the hardened criminals they're mixing themselves up with, and are too dumb to realize they're being used as unwitting cannon fodder by another more experienced gang.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Sleepwalker. The bad guy is killed, but his son lost his mother, and it turns out that he can't join CHERUB because he sleepwalks and sleeptalks, so he ends up living with Mac, who lost his wife, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in the plane crash.
    • A lot of the missions period end up bittersweet due to attempting to be realistic, such as The Fall ending up with most of the sex slave girls Lauren rescued being deported and most likely returned to being slaves, and Anna's brother Georgy never being located, but at least Anna and some of the other girls did end up safe, and the human traffickers involved get their comeuppance, or Divine Madness ending with a military siege that goes horribly wrong, resulting in dozens of people killed (including many children), but a major terrorist attack was averted, a doomsday cult was crippled, and they managed to rescue at least some of the children before it hit the fan.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The existence of CHERUB is highly suspect in legal terms, considering cherubs are technically governmental Child Soldiers, and some as young as ten are sent into incredibly dangerous undercover operations, where they often have to commit crimes, such as armed robbery, assault on civilians, drug dealing, breaking-and-entering, and planting evidence, if it's required for their mission to succeed. It's explicitly stated if ethics boards even got wind of CHERUB, they would tear the organization apart (although it's stated becoming a cherub is entirely voluntary, legally, children cannot give consent). However, the villains or crime organizations they often have to thwart are dangerous enough that CHERUB is considered necessary to bring them down.
    • James Adams himself is a very flawed human being, with a violent temper, repeatedly cheats on his girlfriends, has sexist and minor homophobic tendencies (at least at the beginning), and loves getting into trouble with the law (with indications that, if it weren't for CHERUB, he'd be spending a lot of life behind bars), but he (usually) has good intentions at heart, and he's often up against guys who kill and/or torture people without remorse.
  • Breather Episode:
    • The Killing is a lot smaller-scale and less dramatic than the stories immediately before and after it, and none of the main characters ever end up in real danger, even if the subject matter itself is still pretty serious, involving an armed robbery conspiracy, corrupt cops, police brutality, and a murder cover-up. Fittingly, the mission itself is only classified as "low-risk", while the missions in the novels before and after it are both "high-risk".
    • The main plot of The General involves several of the main characters in a simulated training exercise in the United States against soldiers of the American military, and has no involvement with any actual missions and no real antagonist. The first third does involve James in the middle of a mission, but it ends up being a bust and was never particularly dangerous.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Ning starts off as this- unlike her friends, who are all obsessed with doing as well as they can in school, Ning wants to sleep in and be a rock star.
  • British Education System: The major characters are for the most part all British school kids, so features of the education system like A-levels and GCSE exams play an important role.
  • British English: Books written by a Briton, for Britons, about Britons, so you can expect pretty much everything to be British English, even when depicting Australians, and sometimes even when depicting Americans.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Bruce again; as hardcore as he seems, he still goes to bed with a little blue teddy bear (although he himself denies this, saying it just "fell" onto his bed that one time).
  • Boarding School: CHERUB Campus is something of a boarding school, in that the students all live on Campus. However, because they are all orphans, Campus is their full time home, not just a place that their parents ship them off to during most of the year. It is also not particularly snobbish, posh or upper class in its culture, even if it is rather well funded and well equipped.
  • Book Dumb: James is good with numbers, but he's not so good at essays.
  • The Bus Came Back: James returns in Black Friday.
    • Due to the nature of the missions, being around the world and centring around single criminals who are usually captured at the end, very rarely do characters Locked Out of the Loop of CHERUB come up again. Two notable exceptions are Brian "Bungle" Evans, from The Recruit, who escaped justice at the end, enabling him to become relevant again for the events of Divine Madness, and Keith "Junior" Moore Jr., introduced in Class A, but becomes a major character again in Mad Dogs.
  • Cardboard Prison: The juvenile maximum-security facility in Maximum Security. James escapes with a literal piece of cardboard, exploiting a real security flaw. The scary thing is, two guards who were in on it weren't actually needed, they were just there to guarantee success.
  • The Cartel: The premise of Class A is James, Kerry, Kyle and Nicole infiltrating one of these.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In-universe. CHERUB agents wear different colour shirts to indicate their rank. Even visitors have to wear a specific colour (orange). The most distinguished kids get black shirts, and earning your black shirt is a very big deal to the agents.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: By default, you have to be orphaned (either with no living family members, or no suitable legal guardian) in order to become a CHERUB agent. Sadly, James believes that if any cherub had the choice, they'd prefer to live a normal life with a family than be a secret agent. However, in Mad Dogs, it's suggested that due to shortages of CHERUB candidates which fit the strict requirements of enrolment, in the future, the organization may allow ex-cherubs to enrol their own children as agents.
  • Cute Bruiser: Cherubs train in advance martial arts from a very young age.
  • Child Soldiers: Cherubs are intended to be more spies than soldiers, but they do get weapons training and tactical training.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: James almost falls for this in Class A and Brigands M.C. It doesn't help that his mother was the shoplifting ring leader and James has strong chav tendencies.
  • Darker and Edgier: Generally, the first series of books gets darker and edgier as it progresses, this is partially because the protagonists are also aging and thus are not only allowed on more dangerous missions but also have to deal with the typical social problems (e.g. sex) as they arise.
  • Death by Origin Story: The cherubs are all required to be orphaned or abandoned with no family members likely to turn up and claim them. This trope strikes main characters James and Lauren, as their mother dies just chapters into the first book and Lauren's father is sent to jail for smuggling cigarettes after hitting Lauren.
  • Death of a Child: While none of the main characters die (even with some close calls), a few one-off children are killed in some of the stories, such as in the prologue of Sleepwalker, and in the backstory of CHERUB, it's stated that four of their agents have died on duty. The trope is strongly deconstructed, as with every death, CHERUB is heavily scrutinized by politicians who are already uneasy with the idea of sending children into dangerous situations, and mission handlers always have to judge if sending a CHERUB agent into a situation is absolutely necessary when an adult is preferable, or safe enough.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Lauren Adams pulls this act a few times in the early books when she is young enough to get away with it.
  • Detective Mole: Michael Patel, who is a Dirty Cop, tampered with evidence to cover up a murder that he committed.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In The Killing, Kerry dumps James, who subsequently takes out his anger on a kid nearby who laughs at him. Horrible? Certainly yes, but James nearly gets killed for it and all of his friends turn against him, because the kid he thumped had a particularly tragic and horrible backstory. But keep in mind, James didn't have a clue who the kid was and had no idea about his past. And all his friends act like he went looking for that kid in particular to thump, when it was just random bad luck. Of course, when James tries to point this out, his sister retorts that he really does deserve it after letting his violent temper out one too many times.
  • Downer Beginning: Several of the novels start off with the situation in which the later mission revolves around, and they usually suck. The Killing starts off with a bunch of kids witnessing a guy splatter himself after falling from the roof of a tall building (including his own cousin, who was sitting only a few metres away), Man vs. Beast has militant animal activists violently attacking a family and permanently blinding the mother in a chemical attack, and The Sleepwalker begins with a commercial jet crash with no survivors that includes a detailed, graphic description of how one of the passengers (a child at that!) is gruesomely killed by the impact, just to name a few.
  • The Dreaded: This trope is played with when Zara becomes chairwoman of CHERUB. Mac had fixed punishments for any misbehaviour, and agents would break the rules if they thought they could handle the punishment. On the other hand, Zara is less predictable. If she's in a good mood, rule-breakers will get a slap on the wrist... but if she's in a bad mood, Disproportionate Retribution is the order of the day. This unpredictability means agents fear being punished by her far more than Mac, even though her punishments are usually more lenient than his.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty:
    • Mr. Large, especially after Lauren attacks him. He gets called out on it later by James and his subordinates, who point out that he's gone way too far with bullying Lauren. It's actually deconstructed, since his colleagues don't really like him because he continually goes overboard with his abuse, all the cherubs hate him, to the point where everyone roared with applause after they heard Lauren bashed him in the head with a shovel, and he's eventually forced to resign after the chairwoman has had enough of his violence and unchecked aggression towards the children.
    • Kazakov seems to have taken over the role, especially after Mr. Large is forced to resign. Unlike Large, though, Kazakov actually knows when enough is enough.
  • Drugs Are Bad: CHERUB will let their agents get away with a lot, both on campus and during missions (partly because finding new kids who can join is really tough), but one thing which will result in immediate expulsion without question is willing consumption of a Class A drug (such as cocaine).
  • Eating Lunch Alone: James has to do that at one point when he is being temporarily shunned by his friends.
  • Eco-Terrorist: The Help Earth! group, which first appears in The Recruit where they plan to make an attack on a conference between several major oil executives. They return in Divine Madness where they destroy Natural Gas facilities for Church of Happyology The Survivors.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Used as a tactic a few times.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While "evil" may be pushing it, many of the antagonists have families which they clearly care about because outside of their criminal activities, they're just normal people. CHERUB exploits this fact by having their agents befriend their targets' children and by extension, the targets themselves.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: All the cherubs know martial arts, some better than others.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Pretty much all the teens above the age of 16 (legal age for the UK) and even a few under. The obsession with teenage sexuality makes one wonder if Robert Muchamore is merely playing to the audience and trying to be realistic, or if there is some Author Appeal going on.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Averted. James loves maths and is extremely good at it. He mentions a few times how his math teachers take a shine to him for this reason (unlike most other teachers), and how most of his friends aren't so lucky.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: The events of Mad Dogs follows the collapse of Keith Moore's drug empire in Class A, with numerous smaller parties, including former associates of Keith, warring over chunks of his former territory. In fact, its suggested that gang violence in the area is actually much worse than it was before Keith was arrested because of infighting.
  • Faking and Entering: A favorite tactic of CHERUB, where house searches and planting bugs are disguised as burglaries or vandalism perpetrated by teenage hooligans.
  • First Girl Wins: At the end of the series, James and Kerry wind up together, and it's implied he even gets his act together, as although Kerry thinks he cheated on her during college, he never did. Seemingly enforced, too. They break up about four times in the first few books, and The General begins with James and Dana as a couple and Kerry is together with Bruce. Of course, Dana actually cheated on James, leaving him single. And Bruce and Kerry's break-up is shown in only a single throwaway line at the end.
  • Food Fight: A major food fight in The Fall gets several characters in trouble.
  • Foil: Keith "Junior" Moore Jr (from Class A and Mad Dogs) is this for James Adams. Like James, he is the son of a successful criminal (Keith Moore Sr is a cocaine dealer, while Gwen Choke ran a shoplifting ring). In Mad Dogs, Junior is trying to cling on to the title gang, like James did before joining CHERUB. Like James, this gets him arrested, though Junior gets arrested because after being rejected by said gang, he tries to strike off on his own in the most stupid way possible, unlike James who was betrayed by his fellow gang members. Bruce outright says that Junior is what James would be if he hadn't joined CHERUB.
  • Free-Range Children: CHERUB agents have adult supervision, but are often given a long leash and are allowed to get away with a lot, both during missions and on Campus.
  • Fun with Acronyms: CHERUB stands for Charles Henderson's Espionage Research Unit B.
  • Fur and Loathing: The most notable example is in Shadow Wave where one of the characters is a fur wearing Rich Bitch fashion model and wife of a corrupt politician. Of course, Lauren, being a vegan, has this attitude toward leather as well.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Terry Campbell, director of the CHERUB Technical Department.
  • Gay Aesop: James gradually learns to become more tolerant of Kyle's homosexuality.
  • Generation Xerox: The second series has only one character who is original (Ryan), with Alfie as the Arsenal-loving Kid-anova with an impulsive streak (like James) and Ning as the girl from Asia strong enough to fight any of the boys (like Kerry).
  • Genius Bruiser: You have to be one just to be a CHERUB.
  • Get into Jail Free: In one of the books, James' assignment is to go undercover in a maximum security juvenile prison and engineer the escape of himself and one of the juvenile inmates. The plan is that the inmate he is helping them escape will lead them to his fugitive mother, a wanted international black market arms dealer. He does this by posing as a juvenile with a felony record, which is faked by the FBI.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Two girls make-out at a Wild Teen Party in Brigands M.C., much to the delight of some of the teenage boys.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: CHERUB is obviously fictional, and MI-5 is frequently depicted in a fictionalized way.
  • The Good Old British Comp: The series depicts several schools, but pretty much all of them follow the common stereotypes described in this trope. Some are bad enough to qualify as an Inner City School.
  • Good with Numbers: James, who basically has a calculator in his head.
  • Great Escape: In Maximum Security, James's assignment is to go undercover in an Arizona maximum security juvenile prison and engineer the escape of himself and one of the inmates. The fact that the FBI and one of the prison guards is supporting him makes the escape a lot easier.
  • Harmful to Minors: Too many examples to list, but perhaps the worst involves a young child seeing his entire family brutally murdered.
  • Hero of Another Story: Every cherub (and ex-cherub) besides James and Lauren are the hero of another story at one point or another, since they all have/had their own missions, which are rarely mentioned in more than passing. Very often, one or more of their friends will be absent from CHERUB campus at any time because they're on a mission.
  • Home Base: CHERUB Campus, which also serves as Mission Control.
  • Infant Immortality: Despite being a series about children being put in dangerous situations, none of them actually get killed. It gets mentioned once that only about four CHERUB agents have ever actually died on a mission over the course of CHERUB's entire history. A couple of characters come pretty close though, and from what we see they go through, it's honestly miraculous more agents haven't been killed during a mission, and apparently none have ever been explicitly murdered in the entire organization's history.note 
  • The Infiltration: Another favorite tactic of CHERUB, and the central plot device of many of the CHERUB books.
  • Informed Attribute: Dave Moss is introduced in Maximum Security as being a legend among the cherubs and first black shirt introduced, but the first mission we see him in, he falls asleep on guard duty, almost allowing James to be killed, and is then incapacitated for the rest of the mission from a stab wound shortly afterwards.
  • Insistent Terminology: There is a Ukrainian character named Yosyp Kazakov. Call him Russian, and you'll get an earful and a half (if you're lucky).
  • In the Blood: Irena Aramov wants this. Unfortunately, Leonid is a psychopath with no cunning, Josef is an idiot, and Galenka wants nothing to do with the family business.
  • It Amused Me / For the Evulz: Jane Oxford in Maximum Security is one of the FBI's most wanted and amassed assets worth more than 1.4 billion dollars over the course of thirty years from theft of military technology. She couldn't care less about the money or the notoriety though, she did it purely for the thrill of the chase.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: McEwen seems to like them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: James. As prickish as he is, he accepts and acknowledges his mistakes and faults and does try to be a good person.
  • Just a Kid: The entire point of CHERUB is that no one will suspect them because they are Just a Kid.
    A terrorist doesn't let strangers into her flat because they might be undercover police or intelligence agents, but her children bring their mates home and they run all over the place. The terrorist doesn't know that one of these kids has bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address book. The kid works for CHERUB.
  • Just Plane Wrong: An F-16 is depicted taking off from an aircraft carrier, even though F-16's are not naval aircraft.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Frey, the abusive prison superintendent in Maximum Security, is never seen again after James decides not to jeopardise the escape by attacking him.
    • Eric Crisp, one of the corrupt cops involved in robbing the casino in The Killing, is still at large at the end of the book.
    • Despite the Survivors losing their leader and base of operations, the group are still active when last heard of.
      • Mike Evans, one of the terrorists in Divine Madness, also manages to escape.
    • In The Fall, the Russian guy who supplies the traffickers with their sex slaves is allowed to go free because he's in a different country and CHERUB can't identify him.
    • At the end of Mad Dogs, the Runts and Slasher Boys are still active, Major Dee and a couple of the Mad Dogs have escaped and Michael lets the Runt who stabbed Gabrielle run off.
    • The short story "The Switch" sees Ramiro, the Corrupt Politician and child slaver in charge of the diamond smuggling ring, walk away a free man due to Diplomatic Impunity while his associates all go to jail, escaping prosecution in his home country due to strong personal ties with the president.
    • Doods and Teeth from Brigands M.C. were never found by the police.
    • Eli and his gang are still active at the end of Lone Wolf, recieving no punishment beyond Eli's lieutenant and a couple of Mooks ending up in jail.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Mr. Large escapes any form of punishment for his borderline abusive training methods in The Recruit, however Lauren later seriously injures him in Class A by beating him with a shovel for forcing the injured Bethany to dig her own grave. This leads him to bully Lauren throughout basic training in Maximum Security, only to once again be punished in The Killing when James reports him for unfairly failing her during a training exercise, leading to Large's demotion. His downfall continues in The Fall, when he suffers a heart attack while drunk on duty and is hospitalised. This leads to Large blackmailing Lauren into testifying at his disciplinary hearing that he was sober in Mad Dogs, but she and Kyle get revenge on him by having James seduce his daughter Hailey, causing him to freak out and try and strangle Kyle. This gets him knocked out by Lauren again, and results in Zara finally sacking him.
    • Brian "Bungle" Evans, the leader of the eco-terrorists, escapes from MI5 and the police in The Recruit, but reappears in Divine Madness as the main antagonist Susie's lover. At the end, they both seemingly escape in Susie's private plane, but a news report reveals that the Australian Secret Service managed to capture them and Bungle is facing terrorism charges, as well as possible extradition.
      • This also applies to the terror group, Help Earth, who end up losing all their funding when their top fiancier is arrested, resulting in the group only being left in vestigal pockets.
    • The Fuhrer and Dirty Dave escape punishment for killing Dante's family and, in Dirty Dave's case, sexually abusing young girls, in Brigands M.C., but then get arrested at the beginning of Shadow Wave for being involved in a weapons deal, and end up getting exposed and charged with the murders.
  • Killed Off for Real: The first (and only) protagonist death in the series: Kazakov, shot in Black Friday.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Michael Patel from book 4, The Killing. He is the first antagonist not to be portrayed in a sympathetic or likeable light, and is therefore lacking in any redeeming qualities. He is also a corrupt police officer who can and will murder anyone who is on to him.
    • Hassam Bin Hassam from The Sleepwalker is abusive towards his wife and son murdering the former and makes a fortune from reselling shoddy plane parts, which can cause plane crashes. He is also a hypocrite who preaches that his son must respect his heritage, but is happy to ignore it himself. Hassam is one of the few villains to be killed off instead of arrested, pulling a Suicide by Cop after taking his son hostage and having him subsequently freed by a CHERUB agent.
    • Leonid Aramov, a psychopathic brute who shows no remorse about killing children.
  • Kung-Fu Kid: All CHERUB agents train in advanced martial arts and many would qualify, though Bruce Norris is the one most noted for his martial arts talent.
  • Little Miss Badass: Lauren, Kerry and many of the other female CHERUB agents.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Again, CHERUB agents are trained to be this.
    • Lauren takes the cake with her on-campus disciplinary record for scheming and plotting, as well as some moments in her missions.
  • Living MacGuffin: Ethan Aramov. CHERUB wants him to take down the Aramov clan, Irena seemingly wants him and his mother to take over after she dies, and Leonid just wants him dead.
  • London Gangster: Several of the bad guys, including the Keith Moore Gang in Class A and the titular gang of Mad Dogs fit this trope, though some of them are not actually from London proper.
  • Loophole Abuse: You can only get a black shirt if you perform exemplary on more than one mission. However, Dante performed so well on his three-year long mission that CHERUB's chairwoman Zara decides he deserves a black shirt nonetheless, so she makes up another "mission" on the spot: pick up and return a pen that fell on the ground under the desk.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Quite a few of the teens display chav-like characteristics.
  • The Mafiya: The Fall features organized Russian crime in both of its major plots. James targets a high level Russian oligarch believed to be selling weapons and military technology to rogue states. Lauren targets Russian human trafficking.
  • Meaningful Name and Meaningful Rename: Justified because CHERUB agents get to pick their own new name when they become agents and again when they leave CHERUB. For example, Mr. Large is very tall and muscular, and the CHERUB agent most obsessed with martial arts in the series is named Bruce Norris. Lampshaded in Shadow Wave by journalist Hugh Verhoeven who, after seeing Bruce's combat capabilities, remarks "Bruce Norris, eh? I take it that name's no coincidence?"
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: The IDOJ in Black Friday.
    • Islamic State are the main antagonists of New Guard.
  • Mission Briefing: Almost every mission includes a lengthy written mission briefing. While the mission briefings will not self destruct, agents are not allowed to remove them from Mission Control, a rule that James does not always follow.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: In Brigands MC, Dante Scott is introduced as an old friend of Lauren's from training, who was on a mission for three years. Lauren is naturally overjoyed to see him, but her boyfriend, Rat, gets very jealous and accuses her of cheating on him (she wasn't).
    • The end notes of Shadow Wave say that James did not cheat on Kerry in his first year at university (she hadn't yet retired from CHERUB yet), though she suspected otherwise.
  • Mugged for Disguise: This technique is used in Maximum Security against prison guards during a jail break.
  • murder.com: In Man vs Beast, an extremist animal rights group attempts to kill a TV chef by making him drink a very dangerous cleaning liquid and then broadcasting that over the Internet for everyone to watch. The chef lives, but it's a very close thing and he's got lasting damage from the effects.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: conversed, as Bruce asks for some little cards he can leave with people informing them who just beat them up.
  • Neat Freak: Kyle Blueman.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Subverted by many of the enemy gangs. Keith Moore's Gang in Class A is associated with a boxing club. The "notorious underworld figure" Sasha Thompson is allowed to run a neighbourhood football club, complete with teams for children. Also, the titular motorcycle gang in Brigands M.C. has redeveloped their clubhouse into a popular strip of restaurant, shops and apartments. However, the subversion comes in that none of these groups are above genuine criminal activity like racketeering, selling drugs and murder, and they're the bad guys.
  • No Endor Holocaust:
    • This is averted in The Recruit, as the ecoterrorists release a inoculator strain of anthrax bacteria into the building where they planned to attack for weeks beforehand so that all the regular employees were safely vaccinated before all the oil executives and workers arrived, and then they would have released the deadly anthrax strain. All the unvaccinated oil execs and workers would be killed by the bioweapon, but the innocent employees who just happened to work there would have already been immunized to the anthrax and be unharmed.
    • Again averted in Divine Madness when Help Earth! bombs natural gas facilities, because the explosion will be clean and not release fumes into the atmosphere.
  • Noodle Incident: Several past missions by some characters are only alluded to rather than seen or described, such as how Dave Moss somehow managed to bring down half the Ukrainian mafia, what Kyle's mission in the Caribbean that he mucked up before The Recruit was about, or what Dante's three-year long mission was about where he had one of his thumbs lobbed off.
  • Only Sane Man: From the perspective of the Aramov clan, Galenka Aramov. Mostly because she put as much distance between herself and Kyrgyzstan as possible.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Discussed in Maximum Security. Cherubs are always told not to try and disguise their natural accents because it's impossible to maintain a fake accent over long periods in stressful situations.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: CHERUB agents pretend to be these while on missions, and in most ways are much like any other teenagers.
  • Pædo Hunt: The opening scene of New Guard sees the Sharma twins helping an online vigilante group expose a guy as a paedophile.
  • Parental Abandonment: This trope is a job requirement for CHERUB agents. They must all be either orphans with no known living family members that can assume guardianship, abandoned children, or they must have some other situation that prevents their parents from being involved in their lives. By Brigands M.C. however, the rules have been relaxed (due to constant shortages of physically and mentally able orphans) so that ex-cherubs can enrol their own children if they so choose.
  • Perky Goth: Lauren Adams sometimes (but not always) shows characteristics of this.
  • Police Brutality: Michael Patel in The Killing.
  • Questionable Consent: James ends up sleeping with the daughter of one of the villains in Mad Dogs. While he normally wouldn't turn down an attractive, willing girl, he wasn't particularly keen on sleeping with this one in particular, and the circumstances make it worse- he's having a bath, and she walks in, starts taking her clothes off and makes it clear that no is not one of his options. However, it is also acknowledged that he didn't exactly have no choice, as she couldn't have really done anything had he refused.
  • Rape and Revenge: One of the reasons Tamara cites for killing Leonid in Black Friday is that he had repeatedly raped her, as well as several other women.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The sex trafficking mission in The Fall is one of the most harrowing missions in the series, especially when Lauren is almost raped by one of the traffickers.
    • Dirty Dave from Brigands M.C. and Shadow Wave disgusts several other characters due to his history of sexually abusing girls, and James is horrified when Dave assaults Kerry in Shadow Wave and insinuates that he's about to rape her before the Fuhrer tells him to back off because they've got a job to do.
    • Leonid Aramov is marked out as a Complete Monster in part by his raping of his wife and several Korean refugees.
  • Reality Ensues: In Class A, James is forced to shoot and kill a man in self defence. He had no other option and it was obviously justified, but he's affected by it for some time.
  • Reconstruction: Of the child spy genre after Alex Rider deconstructed it. Every mission is approved by an ethics board, and most of them are monitored by an adult mission controller who comes with the spies as supervision.
  • Red Herring: Many hints in the The Sleepwalker suggest that terrorists brought the plane down, such as the fact it was just two days before the anniversary of 9/11, there was an explosion recorded as it was in the air, and the main suspect is a Middle Eastern man who abhors Western culture (while also indulging in it), whose son is even bullied at school by being compared to Osama bin Laden. However, it actually turns out that while the man was technically responsible, it was only indirectly. He was actually illegally dealing in scrapped plane parts, and one of these faulty parts failing in flight is what caused the crash. The fact the plane went down right before 9/11 was a complete coincidence.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: Discussed — James says to Dante that as much as cherubs love going on missions, he thinks that if they were given the choice to return to their normal lives, most of them would go for it. (Depressingly, one has to remember that their normal lives would probably involve having living parents/families again.)
  • Refuge in Audacity: Michael Patel tends to go overboard when arresting perps. In one instance, he deliberately slams James' head into the top of his police car's door. Patel is smart enough to know that he can get away with any accusations of police brutality by dismissing the claims as racism against an ethnic cop, causing the case to boil down to a policeman's word against a criminal's. This gives him the perfect cover to keep doing it.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Dante is introduced in the penultimate book of the first series, but he hasn't even been mentioned up until that point because he's been on a mission that's lasted over three years.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: In Mad Dogs, Sash Thompson is dismissive of our James until he finds out that he was the one who burned Crazy Joe's car back in Class A.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Not quite. CHERUB agents must retire when they become adults (or, in essence, when they grow too much to pass as a child), but if a retired agent becomes a security risk by leaking secrets about CHERUB, CHERUB security will take care of the problem.
  • Romantic False Lead: Bruce to Kerry. They get together, only to enforce First Girl Wins with James, they break up off-screen and James is only told of this in the last, throwaway line of The General.
  • R-Rated Opening: Brigands M.C. so very much. The prologue has a younger Dante witness his entire family being brutally murdered in front of him, barely managing to escape with his baby sister, who hits her head and almost dies herself. There's so much gorn, it's a wonder Muchamore got away with it.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In The Killing, James tells a woman in at a laundromat about CHERUB:
    "You know, I can't really talk to you," James grinned. "You see, I'm a secret agent. I work for an undercover organisation called CHERUB and if I told you any more, I'd have to kill you." "You don't have to be so bloody sarcastic," the woman said sourly, crossing her arms as she stormed off in a huff.
  • School Is for Losers: James and any number of other teenage characters have this attitude, though in James's case it is somewhat modified in that he actually enjoys and does well at math, physics and Russian. He is just bad and lazy when it comes to anything involving lots of reading and writing. In spite of his attitude, he ends the series with an improbable number of really high A-levels.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: Because this is the British Education System, all the English schools depicted require uniforms. CHERUB Campus even has uniforms, though they consist of military style trousers and boots worn with t-shirts that are colored according to the rank of the agent- orange for a new kid who hasn't officially joined yet, red for a much younger kid who's too young to start training, blue for an agent in training, grey for a basic agent, navy for a relatively senior agent and black for the most accomplished and senior agents.
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • Several of the tasks James had to complete to test his aptitude for becoming a CHERUB agent had more than one way to succeed. For example, his spar against Bruce Norris; he would have passed if he had beaten Bruce, but that was the unlikely option, and what the chairman was really looking for was if James knew when to surrender when faced with indomitable odds. His refusal to dive into a swimming pool to snatch up a brick at the bottom (since he had a fear of water and didn't know how to swim) also meant he passed for the same reason; he would have passed if he successfully dove in and returned with the brick, but the staff knew he couldn't swim and were really looking for James assessing the situation, determining that it was beyond his abilities, and logically deciding against action (he would have failed if he dove in regardless and had to be rescued). Another test is to kill a chicken; James is initially reluctant but is eventually talked into it. Despite killing the chicken, he actually failed that test- he would have passed if he'd either killed the chicken without objecting, or refused on ethical grounds, but not taking a solid stance and being talked into it was what the chairman didn't want to see.
    • This is how Keith Moore from Class A determines worthy street dealers. He deliberately sends recruits on a fake drug deal where they're confronted at gunpoint by some of his goons in a staged robbery. If you get hysterical, you're out, but if you still want to prove your worth afterwards, Keith will know you have the determination for it. Kerry and James are the first ever to Take a Third Option: hunting down and taking revenge on the guy who robbed them. This immediately puts them into good graces with Keith and most of his organization (minus the guy who they took revenge on, for obvious reasons) because it was so impressive.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • At the end of The Recruit, James is accidentally exposed to anthrax that was being used in a bio-weapon attack while infiltrating the villain's workshop. While the doctors couldn't be certain he'd been infected, they had to treat it as a worst-case scenario because every second counted, injecting and feeding him with loads of toxic drugs in invasive procedures that left his body aching. It eventually turns out James had been infected, but by a harmless inoculator strain that the villains had been using to quietly vaccinate the employees of the location they planned to release the deadly strain (so that the anthrax would kill only the specific targets and not the workers that just happened to be present).
    • The plot of Maximum Security was started by the theft of a shipment of experimental Buddy missiles, which were linked to the antagonist of the story. While it's downplayed because the antagonist is captured in the end, it's not clear if she did steal them and they are never recovered.
    • In the Batman Cold Open mission of The General, James spends six weeks befriending the leader of an anarchist organization, Chris Bradford, after M15 discovers he intends to purchase explosives from a former IRA member named Rich Davis to upgrade his organization to domestic terrorism. However, it turns out Chris was all talk; he didn't actually have any money needed for the deal and was relying on good faith alone that Rich would just give him the weapons (which Rich obviously did not). On top of this, the anti-terrorism unit had its own simultaneous undercover investigation of Chris and Rich at the same time as (and unknown to) M15 and CHERUB, and swooped in to arrest the two right after this deal fails, meaning there was doubly no point in putting James in place.
  • Shoe Phone: For the most part, the focus on exotic spy gadgets disguised as ordinary object is averted. CHERUB agents do have enhanced capabilities on some of the technology, such as their mobile phones, but rarely something really strange. One favorite gadget of many of the fans is the "lock gun," but this is actually a real life technology that is not disguised as anything else.
  • Silent Treatment: James himself experiences this from all his friends in The Killing after he beats on a random kid in a moment of anger after being dumped by Kerry. James' sister reveals that the two teenagers looking after the kid (who had a particularly tragic backstory and was implied to be on suicide watch) were going to destroy James until Kyle eventually convinced them that ghosting James for it would be more effective. James gripes that he would have preferred the beating because at least it would have been quick.
  • Sleazy Politician: Tan Abdullah in Shadow Wave.
  • Spree Killer: The novel "Maximum Security" features a fourteen-year-old boy named Curtis Key. Mentally unwell and suicidal, Curtis is the son of the novel's main villain Jane Oxford, an Arms Dealer whose number #2 on the FBI's most wanted list. After escaping from an abusive Arizona military boarding school, he went to a nearby liquor store and requested vodka from the clerk behind the counter. When the clerk asked for proof of age, Curtis shot the clerk dead with a handgun and heavily drank the vodka. On the way out, Curtis spotted a man with a Jaguar car. He then killed both the driver and his girlfriend and took the Jaguar and drove more than twenty miles at a dangerous high speed while slugging down a mix of vodka and coke at the same time before his arrest. Following revealing what he had been through to his lawyers, they managed to arrange for him to be sent a mental health facility.
  • The Spymaster: Mac, the Chairman of CHERUB. And then Zara, once Mac retires.
  • Spy School: CHERUB Campus is a spy school, but for the most part it works like any other British school in terms of classes, teachers, subject, assignments, exams, etc. The biggest difference is that some additional subjects such as martial arts and infiltration skills are also taught, and at the age of 10 students go through basic training before they can become fully qualified agents.
  • Sting: Being a book series, CHERUB does not have a soundtrack, but in Shadow Wave Dante spoofs this trope by saying "Dun, dun dunnnn!" after an announcement that a tsunami will arrive in a few minutes.
  • Simulated Urban Combat Area: CHERUB has access to SAS urban training sites and uses them for their own training in The Killing.
  • Spy Fiction: Well, obviously.
  • Take a Third Option: Described early on as Lauren's favourite way of doing things.
  • Take That!:
    John Jones: "What did you get [from the mall?]"
    Rat: "Books mostly. I got a new copy of Oliver Twist and four other Charles Dickens novels. Plus that The Lord of the Rings book that Dana raved about at the hospital."
    John Jones: "Pretty brave attempting The Lord of the Rings. Never managed to plough through it all myself."
    • And later, when James tries to read it, the end notes say that he's a hundred pages in, but can't find it in him to tell Dana that he thinks it's boring.
  • Team Mom: Because of the young age of the agents, most of the female staff has to play this role at one point or another, particularly Zara Asker, who starts out the series as a CHERUB mission controller and is later promoted to CHERUB Chairwoman.
  • Team Pet: While the cherubs themselves are not allowed pets, we do get a close equivalent with the beagle Meatball, who Lauren helped rescue from an illegal puppy mill on a mission in Man vs. Beast, and ended up becoming the CHERUB chairwoman's family pet, allowing Meatball to reappear frequently.
  • Teens Are Monsters: There is no shortage of chavs and yobs among the Council Estate wastelands depicted, not to mention teenage drug dealers, drug users, gangsters etc. Even many of the "good guy" CHERUB agents show a bad streak sometimes.
  • Teen Genius: James is a mathematical genius- ask him a maths question and he can do it in his head in about five seconds.
  • Teen Superspy: The entire point of CHERUB.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Mr Large calls trainee cherubs 'cupcakes' or 'muffins' a lot.
  • The Handler: This role is filled on missions by CHERUB mission controllers. CHERUB handlers are not responsible for running operations, but instead act as Parental Substitutes.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. James sees therapists on a regular basis (though usually off screen) to deal with some of the traumatic experiences he goes through, and some of his anger management issues. Other characters are sometime sent to counseling.
  • Totally Radical: Robert Muchamore tries hard to get the slang right, but sometimes messes up, particularly in his earlier books. For example, his fans at CherubForums.com complained about him having teen characters use the word "dude."
    • Attractive girls are always described as "fit".
  • Tracking Device: Another common CHERUB tool.
  • Training from Hell: Basic training and other aspects of CHERUB training, even to the point that Drill Sergeant Nasty does things to 10 year olds that would get a Real Life military drill sergeant fired for hazing.
  • Took a Level in Badass: All the cherubs do this after the aforementioned Training from Hell.
  • Trojan Prisoner: In Maximum Security James Adams becomes a prisoner in order to break someone out of prison.
  • Twin Switch: One of the bonus stories, aptly named "The Switch", has nearly identical twins Connor and Callum switch places as part of a mission. The fact that Real Life twins are rarely perfectly identical is acknowledged, and a makeup artist is used to make the two boys look even more alike.
  • Tsundere: Kerry.
  • TV Teen: Averted in a big way.
  • Useful Book: Subverted in The Recruit, when James and Kerry lighten their packs during the final basic training exercise and decide to leave behind a hefty tome that they later realize was meant to be used as toilet paper during their jungle trek.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Pretty much the entire point of the series. Teenagers deal with the normal pressures of teen school and social life on top of their challenging missions.
  • Western Terrorists: All the actual terrorists depicted in the first series are Western terrorists, including the eco-terrorist group Help Earth! (Fictional Counterpart to Earth First!) and the Animal Freedom Militia (Fictional Counterpart to the Animal Liberation Front). In The Sleepwalker it appears that a plane might have been destroyed by Muslim terrorists, however it turns out that the real villain is really just a Corrupt Corporate Executive that was selling shoddy parts to the airliners.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • In Mad Dogs, Michael has the opportunity to shoot at the gangster who almost killed his girlfriend Gabrielle. There are no eyewitnesses around, the gangster completely deserves what's coming, and all evidence would indicate that it was completely in self-defence so he wouldn't Michael wouldn't be blamed for his decision. Nonetheless, he realizes he doesn't have the nerve to kill someone in cold-blood.
    • During a hazing exercise in The Sleepwalker similar to manhunt, Lauren is right about to reach the exit when she overhears over the radios that none of the others have managed to escape and most have already been captured at least once. She has the decision to just leave by herself and no one would judge her for it, but instead she risks everything by charging back into the fray to rescue her brother James and several of his friends so they can escape together. This earns her high praise by CHERUB's chairwoman and greatly impresses the exercise's coordinator.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Every book ends with one, explaining the aftermath of that book's mission, the fates of the criminals, and what the CHERUB agents involved did next. As the Grand Finale of the first series, Shadow Wave takes it a step further, covering almost every notable CHERUB agent throughout the series, even the ones who had been Out of Focus for a while.
  • White Gang-Bangers: Keith More's Gang, the Mad Dogs, and The Brigands.
  • Wild Teen Party: Multiple examples.
  • Witness Protection: Dante joins CHERUB in part as a means of witness protection, though instead of just living his life in fear and hiding, CHERUB turns him into a Teen Superspy.
  • The Yardies: The Slasher Boys, a Jamaican gang, is featured in Mad Dogs, though the term "Yardies" is never used.
  • Young Entrepreneur: Kyle, who always has an ethically challenged scheme to make money, usually selling counterfeit merchandise and illegal copies of DVD's, games and other media.

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