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A series of heavily-illustrated novels by Jeff Kinney based on his webcomic of the same name hosted on FunBrain, aimed at preteens. They tell the story of Greg Heffley, a self-proclaimed "wimpy kid" attempting to navigate the pitfalls and perils of middle school life. The books are presented as Greg's own journals, filled with handwritten notes and stick drawings of his daily adventures.

Greg's family includes his mother, Susan; his father, Frank; and his two brothers, Rodrick and Manny. Rodrick is older and often picks on Greg, whilst Manny is the baby of the family who can get away with anything. Other kids in the neighborhood include Greg's friend Rowley, and the strange kid Fregley, who lives down the block.

One of the most popular and influential children's book series ever, spawning a massive movement of similar children's realistic fiction book series presented as diaries that combine text and drawings.

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The books to date are:

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2008)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (2009)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2009)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (2010)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (2011)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel (2012)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (2013)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2014)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School (2015)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (2016)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway (2017)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown (2018)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball (2019)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End (2020; upcoming)

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To date, there have been the following movie adaptations:

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012; combines material from The Last Straw and Dog Days)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017; all-new cast)

There is also a Do-It-Yourself Book (2008; expanded in 2011) and, tying in with the film adaptation of the first book, a making-of Movie Diary (2010; updated in '11 and '12 to include the sequels, and a separate one called The Next Chapter about the making of the Long Haul film in '17), as well as a Spin-Off book set in a Perspective Flip from Rowley called Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid (2019), which in turn got a sequel called Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure (2020).

See also Zombie Kid Diaries, a parody of this series which the author actually sued the creators over.

For tropes concerning the original webcomic, go here.


This series provides examples of:

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    Multi-book tropes 
  • Adults Are Useless: Most of the grownups in the books are idiots, to put it lightly. It's not only a genre trait of school-themed works, but also stories from the point of view of a teen. Averted with Vice Principal Roy, who is a Reasonable Authority Figure and punishes Greg when he deserves it.
  • Affection-Hating Kid: Greg finds it absolutely disgusting when his parents kiss or say, "I love you so much!" to one another. He also hates being kissed by his relatives because he's afraid they'll spread germs.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Greg's mother shows up to school to bring Greg his lunch, while wearing her workout clothes.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: A few "weird" characters qualify for this trope.
    • Manny refuses to eat his food unless it's prepared in an extremely specific way, like having the cereal in the bowl before the milk is poured in, and refuses to interact with any other kids his age.
    • Fregley exhibits a number of creepy or weird behaviors like flashing his chest hair, asking questions that consist of bizarre non-sequiturs (like "Does this scab smell funny to you?"), having his own made-up language and also having No Sense of Personal Space.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Sometimes, Rowley's actions are a bit suspect, especially with Greg. You'd think that a 12-year-old boy would realize that sharing a "Best Friends" locket (in the shape of a heart) with another 12-year-old boy isn't something that looks like platonic friendship or realize that being a fan of a rather effeminate pop singer isn't exactly manly. It could be argued that he's just completely unaware of these things considering that he is a Cloudcuckoolander and is completely sheltered, however. Also supporting this is that he's the one who gets a girlfriend in The Third Wheel.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Manny is Greg's younger brother, who gets his way no matter what. Greg's mother even drives to Manny's preschool just to cut his sandwich because it wasn't how he wanted.
  • Art Evolution: The art used in the novels is less sketchy than the one in the webcomic, and as the series has gone on, the illustrations have gotten much cleaner and more detailed.
  • Back for the Dead: The plot of Wrecking Ball is kicked off by the death of Aunt Reba, a minor character who only appeared in The Last Straw.
  • Big Bad Ensemble:
    • Greg Heffley has plenty of enemies, mostly bullies or adults that look down on him. Namely Rodrick, Patty, Mr. Jefferson and in Cabin Fever, Manny.
    • The movies make the main villains more clear: Pete Hosey in the first, Bill Walter (the closest you're gonna get) in the second, and Heather Hills and/or Stan Warren in the third.
  • Big Brother Bully: Greg details various mean things Rodrick has done to him, from punching him to pushing him off a diving board to stealing his food.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Rodrick has eyebrows thicker than his lips, to judge from Greg's art.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Heffleys are definitely not a stable family. Frank's a Jerkass and Bumbling Dad, Susan's absolutely oblivious to how teenagers are nowadays, Rodrick's a step away from dropping out of school, Manny is a spoiled brat who can't seem to stay in school and Greg is a slacker who could very well end up like Rodrick.
  • Birthday Party Goes Wrong: In the book Dog Days, the trope is exaggerated for Greg's birthday. His presents are lame, his birthday money in confiscated, his uncle's dog eats the cake, and his 'make-up' present of a fish is eaten by Rodrick's fish
  • Black Bead Eyes: Most of the characters have these. Unless they're wearing glasses of course, but even with that Patty Farrell is an exception.
  • Black Comedy Pet Death:
    • In "The Long Haul", the Heffleys try to lead some lost funeral people to the cemetery, only to find a pet cemetery instead.
    • In "Dog Days", Greg gets a fish, only for it to get eaten by Rodrick's fish.
    • In "Hard Luck", Greg remembers keeping an inchworm named Squirm as a pet two years ago, only for him to be stepped on by a baby Manny.
  • Black Sheep: Several members of the extended family — especially Uncle Gary who is explained as having been married at least four times. It gets worse in The Third Wheel when he moves in with Greg and his family.
  • Bland-Name Product: Several products throughout the series; these especially cropped up within the webcomic-to-book transition presumably to avoid copyright issues.
  • Books vs. Screens:
    • "Dog Days" features two examples. First is when Greg and Rowley watch a horror movie and Mrs. Heffley thinks it's because twelve-year-olds aren't reading enough and so starts a reading club (which she then captions the photo of with "The Reading is Fun Club says, 'no' to video games), then later when the boys stay at a hotel without computers and TV, the Jeffersons suggest Greg read instead, which he thinks is ridiculous.
    • In "The Long Haul", Rodrick watches movie versions of books and does book reports on them, rather than reading the books. This causes him trouble when he's asked to read The Lord of the Rings but instead rents a wrestling movie called Lords of the Ring.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Taken Up to Eleven with Manny. He throws tantrums over things such as having mustard applied on his hot dog "wrongly" (he wants it vertically down the middle, not horizontally across) and not having his sandwich cut into slices.
  • "Brave the Ride" Plot: Zigzagged in "Dog Days". Greg wants to ride a ride called the Cranium Shaker, and he does but he gets nauseous. Rowley on the other hand is too scared to ride it but gets a shirt saying he survived the Cranium Shaker anyway.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: A lot of Greg's problems in school would be avoided if he wasn't so lazy. It's shown in books like Hard Luck and Double Down that Greg can be creative...when he's not forced to be.
  • Bumbling Dad: Frank spends most of his time trying to force his sons (mainly Greg) to do activities he considers “manly”, trying and failing to dismantle video games, and screaming about the “dagnab teenagers”.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Background characters throughout the series are very rarely recycled.
  • Character Development: Throughout the books, Rowley learns to stand up for himself and grow a spine instead of blindly following people. By the end of The Third Wheel, he's also learned how to talk and relate to girls via the student council, becoming a couple with Abigail.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Throughout the series, Susan constantly says that Manny is special and very smart for his age. This finally pays off at the end of The Long Haul, in which Manny being completely fluent in Spanish saves everyone.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Early on in The Last Straw, Greg talks about a teenage hellion named Lenwood Heath who was the bane of Frank Heffley's existence until his parents shipped him off to military school. Lenwood reappears later on as a ticket-taker at the movie theater, having done a complete 180 in terms of personality; it's this that convinces Frank to send Greg to military school, kicking off the major conflict of the book.
    • At one point in The Third Wheel, Greg presents an incomplete relationship chart regarding the kids at his school. Not only are Abigail and her boyfriend Michael on it, but the girl Michael ended up cheating on Abigail with is marked down as having a crush on Michael.
  • The Chew Toy: Greg is such a Chew Toy he could give Charlie Brown and Al Bundy a run for their money. Whenever he does something even mildly unethical karma goes into overdrive and screws him over, while whenever he does something good or productive he still gets screwed over anyway.
  • Children Are a Waste: Greg says that when he grows up, he wants to spend his money on himself and not a bunch of ungrateful kids. He also makes sure to dispose of his gum and Popsicle sticks properly out of fear of being cloned when he's rich and famous, and said clones come to his house asking for money.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Several.
    • Patty Farrell has not appeared in the books following The Last Straw and the movie adaption of Dog Days.
    • Chirag, one of Greg's friends who was at times a plot central character, later disappeared following a brief scene in Cabin Fever.
    • Trisha, a girl from New Mexico was introduced and set up to be a major character at the end of The Last Straw. After a brief appearance in Dog Days, she's never heard from again. Justified since she ditched Rowley and Greg at the country club in the summer between the end of The Last Straw and the beginning of Dog Days.
    • Double subverted with Aunt Cakey — she made an early appearance in the webcomic, disappeared from it and never appeared in any of the other media...and then had a minor role in 2013's Hard Luck. As of The Meltdown, she hasn't reappeared.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Fregley is this, asking Greg "Wanna to see my secret freckle?" Furthermore, he's got his own weird slang, so when he needs to go to the bathroom he yells "Juice! Juice!"
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Rowley. He doesn't seem to be all that interested in girls, yet in Rodrick Rules he's managed to socialize with some of the most popular girls in his year. At the end of Book 7, he ends up in a relationship with Abigail. It doesn't last, but that he'd be used to make another boy jealous is impressive.
  • Cool Big Bro: Rodrick can be this when he wants to in the films, serving as something of a mentor to Greg. The books, however, have him remain a Big Brother Bully.
  • Cool Loser: Subverted. Greg wants to be seen as such by others (the reader included), but most will tell you that Greg is a dork.
  • Copycat Mockery: When Rowley breaks his hand but Greg doesn't realise it's broken, he tries to cheer him up by saying, "Look, I'm your dad! Durr, durr, durr".
  • Cosmic Plaything:
    • Greg.
      • In Old School, Grandpa chooses Greg's bed and Greg must sleep with Manny.
      • In The Ugly Truth, the Jeffersons hire someone to be Rowley's replacement friend.
    • The Heffleys as a whole seem to be this. For the crime of wanting to enjoy their vacation, renovate their house, and move to a nicer house, they get utterly screwed over because of pure bad luck.
  • Cut-and-Paste Comic: The artwork in the illustrations is reused constantly. (Explains why there is a Christmas Tree in the background when Greg is opening his Wonder Woman Underoos birthday present in July.)
  • Darker and Edgier: Cabin Fever has a far more serious and realistic tone than the rest of the series, with Greg and his family facing the genuine threat of freezing to death in a blizzard.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Greg, but his dad isn't really far behind him in levels of snarkiness.
  • December–December Romance: Grandpa Heffley is still into dating, as shown in Hard Luck and Old School. Greg's surprised to see this.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • In the books, Fregley slowly became this, meriting only one mention in The Third Wheel. Though in Hard Luck Fregley does get a lot more attention. He becomes the most popular kid in school, because he can launch stuff from his belly button across the room. After disappearing completely for the next four books, he returns in The Meltdown for two jokes and has a cameo in Wrecking Ball.
    • Collin was a major character in the webcomic as Greg's second best friend but he only makes a brief appearance in the first book and most of the stuff he did in the webcomic is given to Rowley. He has a different design in the books as well.
  • The Dreaded: The Mingos, a gang of possibly feral children who appear in Hard Luck and The Meltdown.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Heffleys, and as later books would show, this goes for almost everyone in their extended family as well.
  • Early Personality Signs: Greg has been a Lazy Bum for a long time, as shown when he was four and would sing the clean-up song with his classmates but never do any actual cleaning.
  • Easily Embarrassed Youngster: Greg is extremely easily-embarrassed, which is why he can be bossy (believing nonconformity is a no-go) and a lot of the comedy comes from him getting into embarrassing situations.
  • Embarrassing Pyjamas: Rodrick once pranked Greg by telling him that the next day is "Pyjama Day" at school. Greg later redoes this prank on his friend Rowley.
  • Emphasize EVERYTHING: Good luck finding a single page in any of the books that doesn't contain at least one word IN ALL CAPS.
  • Everytown, America: Greg's town is called Plainview in the movies.
  • Fat Best Friend: Rowley is Greg's best friend, and is chubby both in the book's art and in the movies.
  • Fictional Video Game: Various video games shown in the series include Twisted Wizard, Formula One Racing, Discovering the Alphabet, and Net Kritterz.
  • Film of the Book: Actually, film of the book of the webcomic.
  • First Day of School Episode: Throughout the series, Greg has flashbacks about his first days of preschool and kindergarten.
  • First-Person Smartass: Greg frequently makes snarky comments about the events that befall him.
  • Flanderization:
    • Rowley was simply gullible and slow on the uptake before becoming a kiddy kid. This Flanderization is countered by his Character Development, however; The Third Wheel even implies that he is maturing faster than Greg is.
    • Susan Heffley, in many ways.
      • At first she only showed concern if Greg did something she objected to, and was sometimes embarrassing and behind the times of what teenagers were into, such as trying to get Greg less interested in video gaming. Her stern attitude only showed if something severe had happened (such as Rowley's broken arm in the first book or the party that happened in Rodrick Rules). As of Hard Luck, however, Susan's character has essentially delved into a Think of the Children! type mother who shows extreme distaste to anything electronic to the point she gets the town as a whole to unplug (which she simply bribed her way through by getting elderly party-goers of Grandpa to sign the signatures she needed).
      • Susan has gotten more selfish over time. While initially Susan only forced her family into embarrassing activities out of cluelessness to their feelings in the matter, by The Long Haul Susan forces the entire family into going on a surprise road trip, well aware of their complaints and not caring because she desires a perfect family.
    • Greg has become more of an unsympathetic person. In Cabin Fever, he and Rowley get in trouble and Rowley accidentally confesses with Greg's name. Greg is upset, but decides to accept his punishment without bringing Rowley into it. In Hard Luck, he's upset when people start abusing the school's system of rewarding people who are nice, and also fears that Meemaw's ring will break up the family and hides it where nobody will find it. In Double Down, he thinks about his deceased Nana and feels bad that he wasn't nice to her, saying that he hopes she's happy in Heaven and doesn't have to watch over "an ungrateful middle-schooler." But in Wrecking Ball, he tries to scam kids by selling them broken toys and celebrates his aunt's death.
    • Manny has had all his character traits exaggerated Up to Eleven. He started off as a Jerkass Spoiled Brat who played up how cuteness to get away with being a jerk to a borderline sociopath who leaves his family to die in a blizzard For the Evulz and blames it on not knowing how to tie his shoes. His mild Cloudcuckoolander traits were initially things you would expect a child to do, but nowadays he comes off as batshit insane and does things like hijack the family car and try to crawl down a toilet. His intelligence went from Susan claiming he’s smart for his age to justify his oddness to him building a house out of spare construction materials for shits and giggles.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Heffley Family
  • Gag Nose: Many background characters are drawn with one.
  • Games Of The Elderly:
    • In the movie adaptation, Greg's grandmother isn't home because it's "Bingo Night".
    • In The Last Straw, Greg invites his grandma over to stay, in order to avoid his dad chewing him out. When she leaves to go to bingo, he comes too, and ends up playing with a bunch of seniors.
    • In Rodrick Rules, Greg's grandpa plays gin rummy with the Heffley boys while staying over with them.
  • Gossipy Hens: A variation. Albert Sandy has a lot of stories to share at lunch, such as how a guy practiced jumping out of a hole that he made slightly deeper everyday until he was able to jump several feet in the air. Whether or not they’re actually true or if he's spicing it up or not is never revealed. Of course, the other kids believe him straight, though Greg has come to realize by The Meltdown that most of what he has to say is just completely phooey.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Greg and Rodrick, but the latter especially—in fact, Greg claims that Rodrick ended up sleeping for 36 hours straight during one autumn (from Sunday night to Tuesday morning) and didn't realize that he missed an entire day of his life until he couldn't find Monday Night Football on Tuesday evening.
  • Intellectual Animal: The pig seems to be this in Double Down. He can walk on two legs, is seen holding a toothbrush at one point, and uses a "See and Talk" toy correctly to say "Pig eat ice cream". In Old School, Greg receives a letter from the pig while on a school camping trip, reading "OINK OINK OINK." He isn't sure if Frank wrote it as a joke or if the pig can actually write.
  • Jerkass:
    • Greg can be a hard guy to like sometimes. When he and Rowley often try to accomplish tasks together, he usually makes him do all of the work while he takes all the glory. Also, there's his treatment of Chirag Gupta and pelting Patty Farrell with apples. (The movie makes this a little more justified, by portraying Patty Farrell as a Jerkass who is stuck on an insult he did in kindergarten.)
    • Let's just say that Rodrick would drive anyone to commit fratricide. He always abuses his brother for no good reason (and it goes way beyond the normal siblings-pick-on-one-another thing), and he never gets in trouble for it. He also has never been nice to Greg ONCE in the book. Even when Greg does something really nice for him at the end of Rodrick Rules, he doesn't ease up, even for a bit.
    • Manny is a horribly spoiled and bratty Karma Houdini, to the extent that he did not get punished in Book 6 when he left his entire family for dead in a blizzard.
    • Greg's dad is a bit of an asshole to his sons, and frequently forces them to engage in activities they dislike (i.e. sports).
    • Aunt Cakey in the webcomic (and later the books). Even though it's Manny she's responding to, passing off his displays of affection as a sign that he needs speech therapy is pretty cold.
    • Patty Farrell in the movies is selfish and annoying, and she could nearly make Greg look like a saint in comparison.
    • The Pig that Manny forces the Heffleys to keep is, despite being insanely intelligent and almost human-like, a total jerk who only causes problems for the Heffleys, particularly Greg, for no reason at all.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Kenny Keith seems to fit the description. However, Greg is a jerk to Kenny whenever he gets the chance and we don't see how Kenny acts around people he actually gets along with.
    • Subverted with Bryce Anderson. Greg tries his best to make him seem like one, but so far there's no real evidence that Bryce is one of these.
  • Karma Houdini:
  • Kiddie Kid: Greg's best friend Rowley acts like a seven-year-old. It's justified by the fact that he's extremely sheltered because of his overprotective parents. Manny might be a "baby kid", being older than 5 (two years have passed after he mentions that he's only 3), but still acting like a toddler.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • This is middle school, so kids mock, bully, and humiliate each other for kicks. Greg himself isn't above it; Chirag Gupta will tell you that firsthand.
    • Manny, especially in Cabin Fever, when he leaves the rest of the family to freeze to death.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Since The Long Haul, the books are usually single events rather than the usual random plot-relevant events. Double Down and The Meltdown avert this.
  • Lighter and Softer: The books when compared to the webcomic. And the movies to the books, which gives some hints that Greg's cynical worldview taints his journals and distorts reality.
  • Market-Based Title: The series has gone through many name changes.
    • First, there's the book series as a whole, the title of which often is changed in translation.
      • The Swedish title translates to "Diary for all my fans." This is a reference to how Greg says that when he becomes rich and famous, he'll give reporters his old diary to read so that he won't have to waste time answering their questions.
      • The Dutch title means "The life of a loser."
      • In Vietnam, it's called "Diary of a shy boy."
      • The French translation is "Journal d'un dégonflé," meaning "Diary of a wimpy kid." The "dé" appears to be crossed out, making the title translate to "Diary of a courageous kid."
    • The first book is just called Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so translators have often made up their own titles for it.
      • In Sweden, it's called "The feats of Greg".
      • In the Netherlands, it's called "Bram Boterman's logbook".
      • The title in Brazil replaces "Wimpy Kid" with a slang for idiot, "Banana".
  • Messy Pig: The pig that Manny and Susan accidentally win at the country fair and are stuck with, which they then leave at a petting zoo, then eventually come back for. It became the family pet, and has yet to be named. By The Meltdown, it had ran away over being excluded from the Heffleys' trip in the previous book, The Getaway.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Greg. His older brother Rodrick frequently bullies him and gets away with it through intimidation and covering his tracks. Meanwhile, his younger brother Manny makes himself a pest, but Greg can't do anything to him without getting into trouble with his parents.
  • The Millstone: The pig causes nothing but trouble for the Heffleys by eating food it shouldn’t that belongs to them and making the most simple of tasks difficult. And that’s when it’s not actively trying to cause trouble. When it does, it usually results in a lot of property damage.
  • Moral Guardians: In-universe: Susan tries to be this as well with various rates of success.
  • Myspeld Rökband: Rodrick's band is called Löded Diper (although Greg remarks that his brother probably doesn't know how to spell "Loaded Diaper" anyway).
  • Never My Fault: You can probably count the number of times that Greg has (whether voluntarily or forced to) taken responsibility for something bad he's done or otherwise acknowledged that he made a mistake on one hand. Again, this book is probably (intentionally or not), an excellent exploration of the Protagonist-Centered Morality trope and the thought process of a borderline sociopath.
  • Noodle People: Almost everyone. Subverted with Rowley, Mr. Beardo, and a few other minor characters.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Greg started middle school in the first book and stays there. Jeff Kinney is on record saying Greg will be in middle school forever.
    • This was the reason why everyone had to be recast for the film adaptation of The Long Haul, since a Floating Timeline doesn't translate well and age is an unstoppable factor.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Fregley is the master of squick without even trying.
    Fregley: Wanna see my "secret freckle"?
  • Only Sane Man: Greg sees himself as this. Even if he often does stupid things, he can be the snarky narrator to his clueless parents, his Dumbass Teenage Son of an older brother, and his odd and spoiled little brother. Greg's dad can also play this role, both in the books and the movies.
  • Parental Favoritism: Greg's parents clearly favor Manny, to the point where he's becoming a Spoiled Brat. Manny is allowed to get his way, such as throwing tantrums over minor things like how his sandwich wasn't cut the right way. And his parents let him do it.
    • Manny is also Gramma's favorite (all you need to do is look on her fridge for proof), to the point where everyone in the family (yes, even Susan) is aware of it.
    • Grandpa, however, will tell you straight up who his favorite is.
    Grandpa: Gregory is my favorite!
  • Parental Obliviousness: Susan seems to be completely unaware of modern teenage behavior. One notable example in Rodrick Rules is that she thinks that the other students at Greg's school would agree that walking into the ladies bathroom at the retirement home by accident was an honest mistake and they'll let him off easy.
  • Periphery Demographic: An in-universe example: Rowley's favorite musician is a European singer named "Joshie", but Greg looks at the album cover and immediately tells Rowley that Joshie's music is more than likely targeted at eight-year old girls. More or less confirmed in The Ugly Truth, when Rowley talks about the time when he went to a Joshie concert and is the only boy at the concert. (And the only one over 10, to boot.)
  • Perpetual Frowner: The default state of most characters sans notable exceptions like Susan.
  • Perspective Flip: The spin-off Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid is set from Rowley's point of view.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Zig-Zagged. Greg's mom doesn't appear to have a job, but he mentions that she runs an article in the newspaper, and it's implied she might have been a therapist (but one for younger kids if anything) but is implied to go to school. Otherwise... she's not really doing anything. Greg's dad escapes this because The Third Wheel shows a flashback of him bringing Greg to his office for Bring Your Kid to Work Day, boring Greg because he just works on his computer (although what he's doing on it is unknown). This is a justified example. The story's told from Greg's point of view. What would he know about what his parents do on a day-by-day basis?
  • Pretty Boy: Rowley's favorite singer, Joshie, is more or less described as being one of the sort. Emphasized in The Ugly Truth when Rowley goes to a Joshie concert and notices that he is the only boy in the audience.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Greg suffers from this big time. For example, in the second book, he mistreats Chirag Gupta by pretending he doesn't exist. If the same thing happened to him, he'd almost certainly complain about it and call the kid(s) doing it to him bulllies. The book series might actually be one of the best explorations of this trope, especially if one treats it as a look into the worldview, life and perceptions of a borderline amoral Middle School student.
  • The Quiet One: Manny. Averted at the end of The Long Haul where he has a conversation with two mechanics in fluent Spanish for almost an hour.
  • Really Fond of Sleeping: This applies to all three Heffley brothers:
    • Greg dislikes waking up early and often takes naps in the afternoon to feel rested.
    • Rodrick likes napping even more than Greg and once accidentally napped for a day and a half.
    • Manny hates being woken up from his naps.
  • Sadist Show: The books rely heavily on misfortune and the misery of everyone, but since it's Greg's diary, we see most of his misfortune and misery - he also could be an Unreliable Narrator for all we know.
  • Santa Ambiguity: While the webcomic clearly states that Santa isn't real, the books leave it ambiguous. A doll named Santa's Scout who initially reports to Santa at night changes position but Greg never sees him move and wonders if it's really Rodrick who moves him. Greg also doesn't believe in Santa, but he's very far from always being right.
  • Series Fauxnale: Wrecking Ball has the feel of a Grand Finale, having Continuity Nods and Call Backs to previous books, the amount of misfortunes the Heffleys can experience apparently reach their peak, a far more somber tone than the ref of the series, and focusing on an event (the Heffleys moving away) that could end the series. But in the end the Heffleys are forced to stay in the neighborhood and nothing really changes, except for the Heffleys’ house being destroyed.
  • Slice of Life: The entire series is written around the perspective of an average teenager.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Extremely cynical for a children's book series (however, this might just be Greg's view on the world, as he's displayed some sociopathic styled tendencies, and thus this leaks into his journals). The main character, Greg, is a lazy, selfish, self-absorbed Jerkass with almost no redeeming qualities. Almost all the other child characters are Jerkasses & bullies as well. All authority figures are incompetent, and the school itself is a Sucky School. The only truly nice character in the main cast, Rowley, is coddled by his parents and abused by Greg (who doesn't seem to like him despite calling him his best friend). Greg's family is quite dysfunctional, and his father and older brother seem to actively hate him. Almost everyone who does something bad is a Karma Houdini.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Greg thinks everyone is an idiot except him. In The Last Straw, he's talking about his family's New Year's resolutions and about finding ways to improve himself...but it's not easy for him to improve himself because, in his own words, "I'm pretty much one of the best people I know". So he starts thinking of ways to "improve other people" and telling them what he doesn't like about them. In Wrecking Ball, he wants to have a holiday named after him. In Double Down, he outright says that he thinks the world revolves around him and that he believes his life is being broadcast on TV.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": It's Rodrick, not Roderick.
  • Spoiled Brat: Manny. Though one could argue he's not to blame; his parents are the ones who spoil him rotten and never tell him the difference between right and wrong.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter what happens by the end of a book (ex. Greg meets a pretty girl neighbour wanting to be friends with him and Rowley), its always negated by the events of the next book (ex. she doesn't have any romantic interest in him at all and he immediately forgets about her).
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Rodrick in the book is Greg with thicker eyebrows and hair, so it's hinted Greg sees the resemblance between him and Rodrick, but considers Rodrick a nastier version of him.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Do-It-Yourself book features comic strips by some of the characters. Most of them fall under this. In Rowley's strip Action Fighterz, the only action was one character hitting the other with a Frying Pan of Doom. The rest of the page is just them discussing what's about to happen.
  • Symbol Swearing: When done in the series, characters have a speech bubble filled with random symbols.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Greg may not like his siblings very much, but he does feel sorry for them when they get the short end of the stick. He thinks Rodrick is grumpy because he's The Unfavorite in the family and he feels bad for Manny for being too afraid of other kids to make friends.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Besides the bullies at school, a lot of teenagers outside of Greg's school are portrayed as juvenile delinquents. Also, Rodrick, as an older teen, often acts aggressive and reckless. Frank believes this Up to Eleven and is noticeably more upfront with Greg after he turns 13 in the webcomic.
  • This Loser Is You: The readers are meant to identify with Greg, who is not only a self-proclaimed "wimpy kid", but who regularly gets tormented from the bigger kids around him and hangs out with the likes of Rowley and Fregley. Probably not the best example of this trope though if he's meant to represent the average Middle School reader since Greg is just really lacking in places most would at his age would be decent or excel at and it's telling that most readers and tropers are quick to identify him as quite immoral.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Holly is taller than Greg in the movie adaptation of Rodrick Rules. They are almost the same height in Dog Days though.
  • The Un Favourite: Rodrick and Greg always get the short end of the stick, while Manny is pampered and spoiled. Especially Rodrick, more so than Greg (not by much though).
  • Themed Stock Board Game: Scrabble of all things. There's also one for Hot Potato.
  • Token Good Teammate: Susan. She's the only one who isn't a total Jerkass in the family. However, she is also the epitome of Stupid Good and can still be rather selfish at times.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: With the exception of Rowley, Rodrick, and Frank, the entire cast has grown far more selfish and cruel.
  • Too Unhappy to Be Hungry:
    • In one of the movies, Greg feels guilty about not owning up when Rowley gets punished for something he (Greg) did because Greg was wearing Rowley's coat. His mother Susan observes that he hasn't "badgered [her] for any snacks" and asks if he's OK.
    • In "Dog Days", Greg's fish dies, leaving him "bummed out", so he picks at his food over brunch.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The books are a downright Sadist Show filled with incompetent characters whereas Greg seems to view himself as the Only Sane Man, but even his journal entries leave hints to the reader that all is not what it seems in his world. An example where it's Played for Laughs is during The Ugly Truth, Greg says that they got a good thing going whereas Rowley is shown pulling Greg up the hill.
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption: The Heffleys adopt a pig in The Long Haul. It seems as though the pig will stick around, but he escapes in The Meltdown.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Greg. The movies downplay this a bit and make him a more fleshed out Jerk with a Heart of Gold, so if we take the movies as to what really happens behind the scenes, then Greg really needs to work on writing himself better in his journals.
  • Wearing It All Wrong:
    • In "Hard Luck", Fregley has a hard time putting on a shirt and ends up with his head sticking out of an arm hole.
    • "Old School" has Greg put his socks on over his shoes because he can't remember which order they go in.
  • Web First: This series started a webcomic. Then it adapted into a successful book series, which in turn was made into a series of films.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Because this is told in Greg's point of view, we never find out what Frank's job is. The Third Wheel reveals that he works in an office, though.
  • Women Are Wiser: Girls are portrayed as well-behaved and sensible, barely breaking any rules; meanwhile, the boys (except for Greg, Rowley, and Fregley) are portrayed as mischievous and complete troublemakers. The Meltdown Subverts this by introducing some girls who are just bad as the boys.
  • Written Roar: A character's screaming or shrieking is written as "SCREAM!!!" or "SHRIIIIIEK!"
  • Youngest Child Wins: Only in that Manny winds up getting treated much better than his siblings.

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid 
  • Adaptation Species Change: Frank's childhood pet Nutty is a cat in the webcomic, but a dog in the books.
  • Adapted Out: Ben, Greg's former best friend who moved away never appears in the books.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: In the first book, Greg wants to be elected treasurer so he can use his power to do favors for the cheerleaders.
  • Asian and Nerdy: One girl in Rodrick's middle school, Kathy Nguyen, was voted onto the "Most Likely To Succeed" page in the school yearbook.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Parodied. When Greg runs for treasurer, he makes posters that use fabricated stories to smear his opponent. This gets him kicked out of the election.
  • Author Tract: In-universe: The school paper's Wacky Dawg comic is cancelled because the author has been using his comic as a mouthpiece to talk to other students.
  • Balloon Belly: Rodrick's fish gets one after he eats Greg's fish.
  • Be Yourself: This stock aesop is discussed and mocked in the first book, where one chapter has Greg complain about his class watching a movie titled It's Great to Be Me and how the message of being fine just the way you are and not needing to change anything about yourself is a terrible lesson to tell the kids in his school. His point is proven by an illustration of two bullies declaring "It's great to be me" while beating up another kid.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Rodrick's Christmas list is for new drums, a new van, and a shrunken head.
  • Broken Aesop: Greg's class watches a video about how you should be happy about who you are. All the kids at Greg's school (most of which are bullies) misinterpreted it as it's fine to be a jerk if you are.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the start of the book, Greg talks about a moldy piece of cheese and how it started a "Cheese Touch" craze, which thankfully ended when the last recipient moved away. He hopes he doesn't have to deal with it again, but at the end of the book, Rowley is bullied into eating it.
  • Christmas Episode: Greg's Christmas doesn't go as he hopes when he ends up getting a Big Wheel and an 8x10 photo of his uncle.
  • Copycat Mockery: When Rowley breaks his hand but Greg doesn't realise it's broken, he tries to cheer him up by saying, "Look, I'm your dad! Durr, durr, durr".
  • Creator Breakdown: An In-Universe example. In the first book, the school newspaper needs a new cartoonist after the kid who drew Wacky Dawg starts using it to handle his "personal business."
  • Comically Missing the Point: The mean kids at Greg's school mistake the message of the "It's Great To Be Me" video to say that its alright to be a bully if you are already one.
    Bully 1: (shoving a kid) It's great to be me!
    Bully 2: Ha ha ha!
  • The Dreaded Thank You Letter: Greg doesn't want to write his Christmas thank-you notes due to wanting to spend time on his snowman-building project instead. He hurriedly writes fill-in-the-blank letters with the format, "Dear A. Thank you very much for the awesome B. I love the way the B looks on my C. All the other boys will be jealous that I have my very own B. Sincerely, Greg Heffley", which comes out looking awkward when he thanks his aunt for a pair of pants.
  • Faked Rip Van Winkle: Rodrick's "you slept through summer vacation" prank on Greg. In the movie he doesn't explain why the summer has ended, he just counts on Greg being to sleepy to know.
  • Hood Ornament Hottie: Referenced. Manny gets ahold of one of Rodrick's magazines, which Greg mentions has a picture of a woman in a bikini spread out on the hood of a car on the cover. Manny brings it to show-and-tell Although Greg said it was "nothing to get worked up over", their mother is not pleased.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Greg says that at his school there was an "No Smoking" poster contest. Ironically, though, the guy who won actually smokes a lot himself.
  • Losing Your Head: In the Xtreme Sk8ters comic strip, one of the stick figures gets decapitated by a telephone wire. His head still manages to talk.
  • Loud of War: When Rodrick's garage band attracts loitering teenagers, Greg's dad fights back by playing classical music from a boom box in the window.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe: "Zoo-Wee Mama!" from the comic that Greg and Rowley created, and which Rowley later used in his own comic, becomes a meme at school, much to Greg's dismay.
  • Misleading Package Size: Greg recalls opening a video-game sized gift-box only to find a memory card. When he opens his gift, he's sure it's a video game he wants... but it's actually a framed picture of his uncle.
  • Moral Guardians: In-universe example when a teacher yells at Greg and Rowley for listening to rock and roll because it's "evil" and is going to "ruin [their] brains".
  • Multiple Choice Form Letter: Greg types out his Christmas cards on the computer with parts missing so he can just fill in the necessary adjustments to it later. (It doesn't work completely well though, such as when he fills out a thank you card for a new pair of pants and he has to say that all his friends would be jealous of it or that he likes how it looks on his legs).
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Pete Hosey and his goons forced Rowley to eat the cheese and attempted to force Greg to do the same. The aftermath ultimately led to Greg and Rowley becoming friends again.
  • Injured Limb Episode: Rowley breaks his left hand falling off a tricycle. This happens in the first movie, too.
  • Playing a Tree: Greg is a tree in his school's production of The Wizard of Oz. Subverted in that he wanted this role (it meant he got to throw apples at Dorothy AKA Patty Farrel), in part because he didn't want to be in the show but was forced to audition by his mom. Another student ends up with the role of a shrub due to too many students applying which outweighed the actual number of characters. He ends up delaying the start of the play due to stage fright. Greg even comments on how ridiculous the whole situation was. In the movie adaptation, Greg wanted a main role in the play to make Rowley jealous. He can sing extremely well, but he's a male soprano. The theatre director said the only soprano parts in the play were Dorothy (he quickly made her drop that idea) and the Trees.
    Greg: You'd think that someone whose job it was to sit on the stage and do nothing could just suck it up for one performance.
  • Potty Dance: Fregley does this while screaming "JUUUIIICE!"
  • Potty Emergency: Happens several times.
    • When Fregley has the urge to go in the first book, he says "Juice! Juice!"
    • Rowley has to use Grandma's bathroom during Halloween.
  • School Play: Greg's school does a play of The Wizard of Oz. Greg's role is a tree and he only has one word. He's satisfied with how the play goes when he and the other trees start throwing apples at someone, although his parents don't approve.
  • Shrunken Head: While one doesn't physically appear, Rodrick asks for one on his Christmas list. This is normal for him.
  • Stealth Pun: On page 52, there's a picture of a guy with a hockey mask and a chainsaw chasing Greg and Rowley with the written sound effect "RRRRRRRRRRRRR!" (with exactly thirteen "R"s).
  • Stick-Figure Comic: The Xtreme Sk8ters comic strip has characters without faces and very simple bodies.
  • Stylistic Suck: The various comics that Greg looks through as submissions for the newspaper are all drawn in different, cruder styles than Greg's usual drawings.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Discussed by Greg, mentioning that Frank often tries to dismantle Greg's video game system, but fails, due to his ignorance of technology and the fact that the manufacturers deliberately proofed it against this scenario.
  • Toilet Humor: Greg is disgusted when he has to scrape cereal out of Manny's plastic potty.
  • Totally Radical: Greg receives a book for Christmas called Math is Rad.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Fregley's cries of "JUUUIIICE!" when he has to use the bathroom.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Greg lies and says he threw away the Cheese in the first book (in the movie he says he ate it) to cover for Rowley being forced to eat it. Only he, Rowley, the teen bullies and, in the movie, Angie know the truth.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The comic Xtreme Sk8ters, which is made by some kid at Greg's school.
    The Last Straw 
  • Abandon the Disabled: Greg is nearsighted and wears contacts. He mentions that he is glad that he isn't a caveman, because then his family might abandon him because he wouldn't be able to hunt.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Greg can't see without his contacts.
  • Brick Joke: Greg turns in a biology report 4 pages long (cover included), with the last page saying "Well, it looks like I'm out of paper, so I guess this is THE END." The book ends the same way, with a similarly-sized "THE END" and Greg writing that it's "corny" to end on a happy ending.
  • Detention Episode: A scene in this book deals with Greg in detention. He is annoyed by the students sitting next to him, but manages to get out early when he tricks the teacher into thinking one of the students punched him.
  • First Day of School Episode: Manny gets scared by his classmates' Halloween costumes on his first day of preschool.
  • High-School Dance: Greg attends one to meet Holly Hills... only for her to not recognize him anyways.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: The father-son Boy Scout trip does not go as Greg expects, when he has to bring Rodrick along and their campsite gets rained out.
  • Hot Drink Cure: When Greg is sick and talks about how his parents usually fuss over him when he gets sick, he draws Susan offering him a steaming mug and saying, "Are you strong enough to hold this cup?"
  • Ignoring by Singing: When Greg and Rowley are being driven to a roller skating rink to impress Holly Hills and Susan overhears the conversation:
    Susan: Holly Hills? Holly Hills was the only four-year-old at preschool who wasn't potty trained.
    Greg: LA LA LA...I CAN'T HEAR YOU!
  • Illness Blanket: While Greg likes being wrapped in a blanket anyway, he plays this trope straight when he's sick and is seen sitting on the couch in a blanket with a thermometer in his mouth.
  • Karma Houdini: Greg wrote very rude anonymous Valentine's Day cards to everyone in his class (case in point: "Dear James, you smell.") He was savvy enough to write a card for himself so the teacher wouldn't suspect him. It worked.
  • Loophole Abuse: Rodrick finds a way around mom's ban of the word "ploopy" as an insult in "The Last Straw". He calls Greg "ploopy" over the course of three days, beginning with "pl" on the first day, moving onto "oo" the second, and finishing with "py" on the third.
  • Mistaken for Thief: Mrs. Craig, a teacher, notices her dictionary gone. The bullies accuse Peter Lynn and Corey Lamb as both use big words a lot. Actually, it wasn't stolen. Alex Aruda had simply been using it to study. Unfortunately, Corey gets put in detention because Mrs Craig saw him put it back.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe. A younger Greg gets scared because Shel Silverstein looks scary to him. His father uses this to his advantage by telling him if he gets out of bed he's run into the writer in the hall, who visits each day. Greg still doesn't leave his bed at night.
  • Platonic Valentine: Zigzagged. Greg is made to write Valentines for his whole class, which does include Holly, his crush, but it also includes his friends, and his rivals. He decides to just say what he thinks of everyone, which ends up offending the rivals. He also wrote a Valentine for himself, saying, "Dear Greg, I hate your guts", to cover his tracks after offending the rivals.
  • Potty Emergency: Discussed when Greg dreads the bathroom situation at Spag Union and says he highly doubts he can hold it in all summer.
  • Reluctant Gift: Greg is supposed to put a twenty-dollar bill into the church collection basket but is trying to hold on to it. His mom Susan does it for him.
  • Serious Business: Toilet paper for the students at Greg's school. One candidate for student council president didn't bother campaigning at all and his entire speech was him promising to make the school replace the regular toilet paper with the quilted kind. He won the election by a landslide. It's decided that, since the school doesn't have enough money to replace the toilet paper, kids can bring in their own from home. The kids bring in so much of it, they have to carry bags of the stuff to class with them because it wouldn't fit in their lockers.
  • Sick Episode: Greg gets sick with the flu before a camping trip, and is forced to skip it.
  • Silly Prayer: Twice.
    • When Greg's grandmother can't find something, she prays to find it, and apparently it works every time.
    • When Greg owes his friend's dad money, he prays for him to be hit on the head so he forgets about the money, and also to be able to beat a video game. He then ends his prayer with "Amen, and thank you in advance."
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Greg is talking about his family's New Year's resolutions and about finding ways to improve himself...but it's not easy for him to improve himself because, in his own words, "I'm pretty much one of the best people I know". So he starts thinking of ways to "improve other people" and telling them what he doesn't like about them.
  • The Swear Jar: Susan sets one up because Manny is learning too many bad words from Rodrick and Greg. And Manny gets the money.
  • Soap Punishment: Greg ends up with this as a result of a failed attempt to tell on Rodrick for saying a bad word. Rodrick got off scot-free.
  • Symbol Swearing: Rodrick does this when he drops a glass on the floor and it breaks. Manny imitates him.
  • Trip Trap: Greg does this prank on Rowley's dad, tripping him with a wire while he's walking home. He doesn't understand why Rowley's dad doesn't find it funny.
  • Uncool Undies: Greg is given a pair of Wonder Woman-themed underpants that he is too ashamed to ever wear. However, after running out of clean clothes to wear, he is forced to wear them to a birthday party where his pants end up slipping down and revealing the underpants to everyone.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Manny invents "ploopy." The meaning of the word is never explained, but he seems to use it as an insult.
  • Vacation Episode: This book has a scene with Greg, Rodrick, and Frank on a camping trip. It doesn't go very well when they have to stay in a hotel due to rain.
  • Warm Water Whiz: Greg is at a sleepover with Rowley and a bunch of younger (around six to eight years old) boys. Some of the boys sneak up on Greg with a bowl of warm water, clearly intending to invoke this trope, but Greg is still awake and scares the kids off.
    Dog Days 
  • 555: The number on the VIP Lawn Service poster starts with 555.
  • Absent Animal Companion: Rodrick and Greg get a fish each. Greg's fish dies, but Rodrick's fish survives, yet still is never seen again.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode: Greg celebrates his birthday, although his age is never stated.
  • Author Avatar: In-universe, Greg's "Hey, People!" comic features a main character that resembles him.
  • Bile Fascination: In-Universe - Greg and his dad can't resist reading the dreadful comic Li'l Cutie (a parody of The Family Circus) just to see how bad it is. (One of the captions for a Li'l Cutie comic was, "Daddy, is rain just God sweating?")
  • Car Ride Games: Manny tries to entertain his family in the car by telling nonsensical jokes.
  • Chatty Hairdresser: Greg befriends some at his mom's beauty salon.
  • Christmas Creep: A "Back to School" variant. Greg, in his newspaper, discovers a Back to School ad, two months before school actually starts. He thinks that who ever advertised that doesn't like children.
  • Chekhov's Gift: Greg gets a "Ladybug" phone that can only call home and 911 as a birthday present. At the end, he calls 911 with it because he thought Frank was going to sell him (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Greg and Rowley watch a horror film about a muddy hand and become paranoid about it. Way later in the book, Greg pranks Rowley into thinking his hand is the muddy hand, and Rowley whacks his hand with a mallet. Due to the injury, Greg is unable to play well in a video game tournament that day.
  • Contemptible Cover: Greg's comment on the cover of the fantasy novel Shadowdoom, a cover that features a female barbarian warrior in a Chainmail Bikini:
    Greg: I've read Shadowdoom, and from what I can remember there aren't even any women in the story. In fact, I kind of wonder if the person who designed the cover even READ the book.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Greg is aware of this trope. When his mom tries to organize a summer reading club in Dog Days and assigns him Charlotte's Web, he predicts that either the girl or the pig pictured on the cover won't live to the end of the book. He never learns he's wrong — it's Charlotte the spider who dies — because he only gets three chapters into it.
  • Dog Got Sent to a Farm: Greg's father tells him that he used to have a dog named Nutty who ran away to a butterfly farm. Greg's grandfather speaks up and says the truth that he accidentally ran over the dog while backing out of the driveway.
  • Downer Ending: The book ends with Greg and Rowley's friendship temporarily in shambles and Greg's vacation being absolutely atrocious.
  • Duck!: Greg and his dad in this scene in Dog Days.
    Greg: (Dad is standing up in the canoe and about to hit his head on a tree branch) Duck! Duck!
    Dad: (looking through binoculars) Where? Where?
  • Extremely Overdue Library Book: In Dog Days, Greg has a book, titled How to Make Sock Puppets, that he checked out when he was eight. He is most likely 12-13, which means the book is 4-5 years ago. He is afraid he will get arrested if he returns to the library. He even gets nervous around librarians.
  • Genre Savvy: Greg knows that most classics his mom will force him to read will have the Death by Newbery Medal trope. He does mess up on one prediction, though. He says that because Charlotte's Web is a "Classic", either the girl or the pig won't make it to the end of the book. He doesn't finish it, so he doesn't realize that it's Charlotte the spider who dies.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: In Dog Days, Greg and Rowley watch a B-Movie called Hello, You're Dead that they found in Rodrick's room, featuring a muddy hand. Rowley has his eyes covered the whole movie. Greg doesn't find the movie all that scary... until the end, when the "muddy hand" crawls straight to the screen, meaning the "hand" is coming for the viewer next.
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Greg does not look forward to attending a beauty salon instead of his normal barbershop, but ends up enjoying it due to the gossip he hears.
  • Ludicrous Gift Request: Greg wants a dog and a leather recliner for his birthday. He gets neither, although he does get a dog later, but never a recliner.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe. Greg watches an old B-Movie about a muddy hand who kills the person who sees it right after it kills someone else. The last shot of the movie implies that the hand will go after the viewer next, causing Greg throughout the rest of the book to try to prevent a muddy hand attack.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Rowley. In the fourth book and in the webcomic, when Rowley has a nightmare, his parents rush to his aid and ignore that Greg was thrown on his face.
  • Shout Out: To Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing: Greg and his family have a Father's Day brunch. Dad tells the story of his dog Nutty running away to a butterfly farm when he was a kid, and Grandpa reveals that Nutty didn't actually run away to a butterfly farm; he was accidentally run over by Grandpa's car. Angry, Dad leaves Grandpa with the brunch bill, goes out and buys a dog. Rodrick suggests that the dog's name be Turtle.
  • Stylistic Suck: Li'l Cutie, a ridiculously saccharine newspaper cartoon about a cute little boy. One example of its style is a panel where the titular cute child asks "Daddy, is rain just God sweating?" This is the only thing that Greg and Frank agree to hate.
  • Take That!:
    • Li'l Cutie, a saccharine newspaper cartoon about a ridiculously cute little boy, is a Take That parody of The Family Circus.
    • Precious Poochie is a parody of Ford Basset and other pet-focused comic strips that have likable main characters but not particularly funny punchlines.
  • TMI: Greg makes a comic strip telling people not to talk about that sorta stuff in public.
    Caption: When in public, please refrain from discussing details of your recent surgery.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In-universe, the movie about the muddy hand. The last person who sees the hand is always the next victim. At the end of the movie, the hand crawls straight towards the screen, implying that Greg and Rowley are the next victims. This kept them nervous and paranoid for the rest of the book.
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption: When the Heffleys adopt a dog named Sweetie, they find him too annoying and give him away to Grandma.
    The Ugly Truth 
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Greg feels that the girls and Rowley did this in regards to the egg sitting project; instead of just taking care of their eggs, they also decorated them.
    • Grandma buys some LEGO so the boys have something to do when she comes over - then, to keep them from getting scattered, she glues them all into one giant block.
  • Covers Always Lie: Greg is seen with his egg that he has during the brief Egg Sitting plot. It goes on for two journal entries, has no impact on the plot, and is never mentioned again.
  • The Dentist Episode: In this book, Greg changes dentists. He is very uncomfortable with his new dentist, whose office is full of unsettling posters and tools. He has X-rays taken, but bites on the dentist's finger instead of the thing he's supposed to.
  • Egg Sitting: Used for a mini-plot. All the boys break their eggs except for Greg and Rowley; Susan accidentally scrambles Greg's egg for breakfast.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo:
    • Gammie advises Greg to not let anybody take his picture while he is going through puberty, showing old photos of Greg's father and other relatives.
    • Greg learns that one of his uncles looked exactly like him as a kid. He plans to save up for plastic surgery.
    • An illustration depicts a picture of Greg and Rodrick freaking out on Santa's lap, captioned "Season's Greetings."
  • Generation Xerox: It turns out that Greg looks exactly like Frank's cousin, Terence. He's not happy about it.
  • Mega Meal Challenge: Greg mentions that his Uncle Gary finished the "Monstrilla Burger" in one sitting and got a tattoo for it.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: Discussed; Greg says that his mom often claims that her mother (Greg's maternal grandmother) has ESP. Greg remarks that if it's true, she's not using her powers to their full potential.
    Greg: So, Gramma, what do you think the lottery numbers will be tonight?
    Grandma: I'm not sure, but I "predict" you're going to enjoy these cookies!
  • Noodle Incident: Throughout the book, Greg and Rowley avoid each other following a massive fight at the end of last summer (which was never shown in Dog Days.) Then again, it's strongly implied to have been the incident where Rowley crushed Greg's hand with a mallet after Greg pulled a prank on him.
  • Not What It Looks Like: a group of boys take a photo of one boy's bent arm for a class game, but the teacher mistakes it for a photo of someone's butt crack, and doesn't believe otherwise until the boys recreate the position of his arm, using a mole on the elbow as proof.
  • One Episode Fear: Greg becomes afraid of eggs due to accidentally stinking the neighbours out by putting devilled eggs in a plastic plant. However, previously and since then, he has not been afraid of eggs.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Several things could have been avoided if Greg just told people what was going on.
    • In The Ugly Truth, this is what leads to Uncle Gary's second divorce.
    Lydia: I've got about thirty thousand in the bank.
    Gary: And I've got forty-five!
    Greg: As it turns out, Uncle Gary only had forty-five dollars, not forty-five thousand.
  • Sick Episode: Greg wakes up sick after attending the Lock-In.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Greg finds out that one of his relatives was physically identical when they were his age. He then makes plans for plastic surgery for the future.
  • Where There's a Will, There's a Sticky Note: In The Ugly Truth, the narration reveals that Greg's great-grandmother, Gammie, is so old that people have started putting sticky notes on her stuff. Greg points out that it's disrespectful before admitting that he also did it himself.
    The Third Wheel 
  • Ambiguous Disorder: A girl named Ruby Bird who seems to be a Distaff Counterpart to Fregley. She's the only girl who's ever been suspended from Greg's middle school, for biting a teacher's arm so hard that her front tooth ended up in his elbow. She also seems to be drawn with a vacant stare and a mouth that's constantly gaping open.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Corny's Family-Style Restaurant turns out to be where Greg goes with Abigail and Rowley for dinner before the dance.
  • Foreshadowing: Greg at one point creates a chart detailing the relationships between the kids in his grade. On the chart, he shows that students Abigail Brown and Michael Sampson are currently dating, though a second girl, Cherie Bellanger, is also shown to be interested in Michael. This comes back around just before the Valentine's Day dance when Michael has a family obligation and can't go to the dance, leaving Abigail date-less and leading to Greg and Rowley taking her out to the dance. Cherie factors into this because it turns out that Michael was actually planning on going out to the dance with Cherie (and was lying about the family obligation) instead of Abigail, who catches the two-timer red handed when he (who was clearly not expecting Abigail to be there) shows up at the dance with the other girl. Ultimately, this sets up Abigail's brief relationship with Rowley.
  • High-School Dance: The Valentine's Day dance, where The Climax takes place.
  • Market-Based Title: The Spanish title for The Third Wheel is "Three is Not Company."
  • Multiple Choice Form Letter: The candygram messages used to raise money for the Valentine's Day dance are designed for the giver to fill in their and the recipient's name. Greg tries to cover multiple bases by filling in the blank with one girl's name, then writing in a P.S. telling her that if she doesn't want to go to the dance with him, she should give it to a particular girl who sits nearby.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Greg claims this applies to him at the beginning of the book. He goes on to explain that he was born three weeks early because he couldn't take all the noise he heard from the outside world (especially because Mom was using prenatal speakers to talk to and play classical music for him) and that as a result he has been trying to catch up on all the sleep he missed out on ever since. His love of long baths also stems from memories of peacefully floating in the womb.
  • Serious Business: Toilet paper for the students at Greg's school. One candidate for student council president didn't bother campaigning at all and his entire speech was him promising to make the school replace the regular toilet paper with the quilted kind. He won the election by a landslide. It's decided that, since the school doesn't have enough money to replace the toilet paper, kids can bring in their own from home. The kids bring in so much of it, they have to carry bags of the stuff to class with them because it wouldn't fit in their lockers.
  • Sequelitis: In-universe with the Slumber Party Pals series. Greg thinks the first 30 books were good, but that the quality went downhill when the author ran out of ideas. Volume #87 is titled Lindsey Loses a Mitten.
  • Sick Episode: Rowley gets chicken pox. Greg catches it from him at the end of the book.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: Corny's Family-Style Restaurant. Greg has a traumatic experience trying to rescue Manny from the indoor playground, and the serving staff and overall chaos easily makes up for the lack of animatronic robots and video games. Remember, anyone who comes in wearing a tie clearly isn't having fun and will get it snipped off.
  • Love Triangle: Greg, Rowley and Abigail. Greg loses.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The "Mad Pantser" was never caught!
    Hard Luck 
  • Brick Joke:
    • The Easter egg hunt plot goes nowhere. However, near the end of the book, the egg is found in a pile of wood in Gramma's yard. It's actually hinted at earlier, visually, where the egg will be found- the egg is seen in the same pile of wood.
    • Fregley claims he can blow a bubble with bubble gum in his belly button. It doesn't work, and Greg comments that he should have known that was impossible. Later, Greg's taking his picture for the yearbook, and he does it, much to Greg's shock.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover has Greg using his diary to shield himself from a rain of 8-balls. This doesn't happen in the book.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: In an incident from the original webcomic that becomes a flashback in Hard Luck, a younger Greg has to stay with his Aunt Cakey for the night while his parents are away. Right before Greg goes to bed, Aunt Cakey tells him not to touch the iron because it's still hot. Guess what Greg does after Aunt Cakey goes to sleep.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Greg and Rowley do become friends again, but Greg doesn't make any effort to improve himself. He just thinks he and Rowley will get in another fight later, and they're good for now.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Greg refuses to cheat on a science project using one that had been made by another student, after he notices his brother's science project (the school dumped tons of old projects and papers in a storage room, and some bullies were using it as a monkey-making venture). He knows it's going to land him in huge trouble, and thinks it's stealing. (He thanks his instincts as he later notes the teachers staged a raid after a tip-off from another student, and the bullies landed in summer school.) He also hides a precious diamond ring near the end, so Mom's family won't kill each other over it. In Rodrick Rules, he also refuses to buy a paper off of Rodrick, noting that even though he's copied off of other people during quizzes, buying a paper from someone is too far, even for him. Also, he does not like the fact that a nice kid got put in detention for earning his hero points (which the same school bullies as above counterfeited, which caused the teachers to get suspicious) legitimately.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Greg is introduced to a shady science fair project black market run by some students which puts past projects on sale. Understandably, Greg turns down the offer and gets shooed away. A short time later, an anonymous tip caused a group of teachers to raid the market and managed to get everyone connected to it acquitted with a mandatory term at summer school.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: Greg has to finish all of his missing assignments or else he has to go to summer school.
  • Implausible Deniability: Greg mentions that a kid named Aric Holbert got suspended for breaking into the school and spray painting "Aric Holbert is cool" on the lockers. He tried to deny it was him, but as Greg points out, "it was pretty pointless."
  • Lucky Charms Title: The U in Hard Luck is a horseshoe.
  • Operation: Jealousy: It's implied that Abigail Brown only dates Rowley to make her ex jealous. It works.
  • Reverse Psychology: Greg recalls his parents using this technique on him and Rodrick as kids. He then wants a cell phone, but tells his parents that he doesn't because it's too much responsibility: this works, and his mother buys him a new phone.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: When Greg's great-granny Meemaw was alive, she hosted an Easter egg hunt for the family every year and filled the eggs with prizes herself, but in her old age, she started to put strange things in the eggs, including green beans, tissues, and her extremely valuable diamond ring.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: A good example of the cynical attitude in the books is the Hero Points story. The teachers start giving Hero Points to kids whenever they catch them doing good deeds, and the points can be exchanged for rewards like extra recess time. Not even this manages to make them nicer: most decide to fake good deeds when teachers are around, or just buy counterfeit Hero Points. After the program is shut down due to the rampant counterfeiting, Greg remarks that "now that extra recess is off the table nobody's willing to do anything nice".
  • Slipping into Stink: Greg steps in dog poop and mentions that "normally, [he finds] poop as funny as the next guy," recalling laughing at people walking and almost tripping into dog poop.
  • Superstition Episode: The main plot of the book is Greg getting a magic 8 ball and using it to make decisions for him. He just wants something to answer all his questions for him and acts upon its responses.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: In a flashback, Aunt Gretchen told the Heffleys that her rabbit, one of the many pets she offered them to look over, was male. The Heffleys weren't happy when it gave birth to a litter.
    The Long Haul 
  • Absentee Actor: Rowley only appears in a flashback in this book, on one page.
  • Ambiguous Ending: It's never revealed in this book or the later books whether Greg tells his family that the key to the locker at the water park was in his shorts after all, which would have saved everyone so much trouble had it been found earlier, or not.
  • Author Tract: The book is heavy with the New Media Are Evil message: Greg, the Unreliable Narrator who's a bad person and is meant to be an anti-role model, says that "electronics are the key to family happiness." Susan bans technology from the road trip, to Greg's dismay.
  • Car Ride Games: The Heffleys are on a road trip and they play two games: Alphabet Groceries where people have to think of food that begins with each letter of the alphabet, and I Must Confess which is similar to the real-life game Never Have I Ever.
  • Destination Ruse: Frank and Susan tell the kids that they're going to a retirement home for their summer trip, when really, they were going to Disney World, as to surprise them. This backfires on them as Manny actually wanted to go to the retirement home, so everyone had to do that before going to Disney World.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: Greg goes into a gas station bathroom only to find out that it's full of graffiti, toilet paper sprawled on the floor, and the mirror is partly broken. He decides to go in there anyway.
  • Downer Ending: Greg's parents lose their credit cards and wallets at a water park. After everything is sorted out, Greg finds the key to the locker where they were and wonders what he should do with it: accept the consequences, blame Rodrick for it, or flush it down the toilet. He compares it to Choose Your Own Adventure books and, as he explains earlier in the book, he always seems to make the wrong choices and get the bad endings.
    Greg: And whichever way I go from here, it's hard to see this story having a happy ending.
  • Fake Interactivity: Greg recalls watching TV shows that pretended to be interactive. He believed that the characters actually listened to what he told them, so his mother had to tell him that they couldn't.
  • Market-Based Title: The Spanish title for The Long Haul translates to "Road and Blanket," a Spanish expression meaning "to travel."
  • Mistaken for Thief: The Heffleys think the "Beardos" stole their luggage, but in actuality, they just got the locker number wrong.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Anyone with even just the most basic knowledge of Spanish can tell that Susan Heffley doesn't understand it nearly as well as she thinks she does—she thinks "Tengo hambre" means "Tango hamburgers" (it actually means "I'm hungry") and she thinks that "Te amo" means "What is your name?" (it actually means "I love you"). It embarrasses a younger Greg when he once tried asking a Spanish-speaking waiter what his name was by repeatedly saying, "Te amo."
  • Out of Focus: Everybody save for Greg, his immediate family and the Beardos in this book, in which Rowley only turns up in a flashback illustration and no other recurring characters appear. However, Rowley is in the film adaptation, as he gets to come along with the Heffleys to a restaurant. * Potty Emergency: Both Greg and the pig have one while on a road trip, and end up using a Disgusting Public Toilet in the gas station.
  • Red Herring: In The Long Haul "The Beardos" would appear to be villains, stealing the Heffleys' beach chair, locker key and in turn wallets and cellphones. But, aside from the beach chair (which could have easily been a misunderstanding) and being slight jerkasses they aren't.
  • Retcon: Greg mentions that the previous summer, his parents tricked him into believing they were visiting relatives, when they were actually planning on going to Disney World. This equates to the summer during Dog Days, which has no mention of this.
  • Retool: The book focuses on just one summer trip, whereas all the other books unfold over longer timespans — one year for the original, six months for 2 and 3, and two-to-three months for later installments. Some wondered if this was an effort by Kinney to get another movie squeezed out of a series formula which was getting repetitive by that point. (If it was, it worked and the results were awful).
  • Road Trip Plot: The entire book is about Greg and his family going on a road trip. Cliches such as a dirty motel, Disgusting Public Toilet jokes, and Car Ride Games, all happen on the vacation.
  • Shout Out:
  • Symbol Swearing: Frank shouts various symbols in a flashback of one of Greg's family barbecues gone wrong.
  • Toilet Humor: Greg and the pig go in a disgusting gas station bathroom.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Greg tries to remember the family locker number at a water park when he loses their key. The locker he remembered turns out to be empty, leading the family to believe their stuff was stolen, which means Mom and Dad have to cancel their credit cards and get new cell phones. At the end of the book, it turns out that Greg had the key the whole time and got the locker number wrong. He doesn't know what to do about it, but he knows it'll turn out badly. By the next book, the whole thing is completely forgotten.
  • Vacation Episode: This book unfolds over the course of a road trip for the Heffleys (and thus takes place in the shortest time span of the series — less than a month — up to that point).
    Old School 
  • Appeal to Tradition: The driving trope of the book. First of all, Mom wants her family to take a break from electronics and live like the old days. She successfully convinces the town to set an Electronic-free Weekend. Second, Greg goes to Hardscrabble Farms, which is old-styled and doesn't allow anything modern.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Greg's opinion on his mom's anti-technology views.
    But if Mom had HER way, we'd be living like people did before there were computers and cell phones and baby wipes.
  • Comic-Book Time: Lampshaded.
    Greg: And to be honest with you, I feel like I've been in middle school FOREVER.
  • Covers Always Lie: The book has a cover illustration of Greg holding a cassette tape, which doesn't actually appear in the book.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: Greg's father reveals that when he went to Hardscrabble Farms, the only available toilet was a gross outhouse.
  • Follow the Leader: Discussed in-universe when Greg complains about a kid copying his lemonade stand even though opening one wasn't his idea in the first place — his father did the same thing as a child and suggested it to him.
    See, this is the problem when you have an original idea. Five seconds later you've got a million copycats.
  • Foreshadowing: The kids start discussing the tale of Silas Scratch, one of them says that his dad told him about a child named Frankie encountering him, traumatized to the point of being unrecognizable. Later the children start noticing inconsistencies with the story, and when Greg's dad has to substitute for Mr. Jefferson as the overseer for Greg's hut, he seems to know everything about the camp already. It's pretty weird that the name of the kid was explicitly stated, since it was actually a clue that Frank made the story up when he was at the camp.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: The trip to Hardscrabble Farms. The cabin bedding is bad, Greg's bedmate is Rowley's father, the foods served include a stew made from leftovers from when Greg's father was Greg's age, and the attendees try to get sick to go home early.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Greg complains about a kid copying his lemonade stand even though making one wasn't his idea in the first place — his father did the same thing as a child and suggested it to him.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Greg lampshades that it seems he's been in Middle School forever. That book represents the fourth time we've seen Greg start a school year and each successive book spans a shorter period of time (the first being a year, the latter books spanning months or weeks). Then again, it's pretty normal for some schools to consider Middle School as being up to the 9th or (on MUCH rarer occasions) even 10th grade.
  • New Media Are Evil: Susan petitions the town to not use any electronics for a weekend. Greg dislikes this and says that electronics are a good thing. Later, at the old-fashioned Hardscrabble Farms, Greg's cabinmates try to look up survival techniques on a phone, but get distracted and watch funny videos instead.
  • Potty Emergency: Discussed. After Albert Sandy claims that Silas Scratch might move through the pipes, the kids get too scared to use the bathrooms. Some of them decide to hold it in until they get home, but Greg writes that it doesn't sound so smart because they're only on day 2 of a week-long trip.
  • The Scrappy: In-Universe, Old-Timey Tobias, the mascot for the Old-Timey Ice Cream Parlor, gets pelted with ice cream left and right every time he comes out to entertain the kids at the restaurant.
  • Shout Out: The Pig the family adopts in The Long Haul begins walking on its hind legs, wearing clothes, and starts acting oddly human, with Greg theorizing pigs would take over the world because of them. A shout out to the climax of George Orwell's Animal Farm, in which the pigs (a representation of Stalinist leadership) begin separating from animalism (communism) by walking, dressing and acting like the former human overlords (the capitalists), ensues.
  • Sick Episode: Rowley's father inhales poison ivy.
  • Suck E. Cheese's: Old-Timey Ice Cream Parlor, where Rodrick gets a job dressing as the restaurant's creepy mascot, Old-Timey Tobias. He doesn't enjoy it.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Susan tries to convince the neighborhood to shut down electronics for a weekend, but flubs it when she uses a pet-tracking app on her phone to find Greg.
  • Urban Legends: An urban legend occurs at Hardscrabble Farms, that a deranged and maniac farmer with long, sharp claws, known as Silas Scratch, roams the farms and will kill anyone who goes near his shed. It is revealed that it was a hoax created by Frank, so he could use the high-quality maintenance shed he found as a child. Greg decides to keep the legend going, since he wants to use the maintenance shed himself when he grows up.
  • Vacation Episode: The second half of the book has Greg on a school camping trip to Hardscrabble Farms.
    Double Down 
  • 90% of Your Brain: Greg hears that humans only use 10% of their brains. He hopes that people don't figure out how to get the last 90%, imagining it being complete chaos.
  • Amateur Film-Making Plot: The end of the book has Greg and Rowley storyboarding and filming a horror movie. They only get to the end of the introduction before things start going wrong.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Enforced in-universe. While working on their No Budget indie horror film Night of the Night Crawlers, Rowley is so freaked out that Greg has to shoehorn in a joke to keep him from running away. This joke turns out to be an unnamed man reacting to his wife's horrifying death by saying "Well, I guess this means I'm single!" and winking at the camera.
  • Bland-Name Product: Greg reads a series of scary books called Spineticklers, a parody of Goosebumps.
  • Brain Bleach: Greg remembers scaring his father after his father just got out of the shower. He writes that he would pay money to get rid of that memory.
  • Brick Joke: Very early in the book, Greg says that he sometimes does ridiculous things to keep people entertained because he thinks his life is being broadcast on TV. When Rowley goes on the news at the end of the book, he says that "you'd never see ME making a fool out of myself to get a cheap laugh from the people watching at home."
  • Call-Back: The Cheese Touch from the first book is referenced. Greg says that people are trying to start it again with different foods, but the teachers always catch them.
  • Catchphrase: Greg thinks that his life is a TV show and comes up with a catchphrase of "Well, bite my biscuits!" It just confuses people.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Greg's mother tells him that he'll end up being a garbage collector if he doesn't think of a job to get earlier. Greg thinks being a garbage collector would be pretty cool.
  • Continuity Nod: Greg says that the Underpants Bandits books (from The Long Haul) are old news now and that Spineticklers has replaced them.
  • Dream Sequence: A small scene in the book is Greg recalling various strange dreams he has had: one about sneezing his teeth out, one where he's a turtle, one where he is made to walk the plank, and one where he grows a tail.
  • Follow the Leader: In-universe. Greg says that the school book fair only has Spineticklers books and Spineticklers knockoffs: he doesn't think those are legal.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Susan thinks that Maddox Selsam, a homeschooled boy with No Social Skills whatsoever who does nothing but practice his violin and build Lego sets, is a good role model for Greg. Probably because Maddox's mom doesn't let him play video games or watch TV.
  • Literal-Minded: Greg thinks his parents saying "maybe we should go away for the weekend and recharge our batteries" means that his parents could be robots.
  • Losing Your Head: Greg's bizarre dream involves himself kicking his own head, which is shouting, "Mustards on my turnips, please!"
  • Movie-Making Mess: In Double Down, Greg tries to make a horror movie titled Night of the Night Crawlers. He has to shoehorn jokes into the script because the only actor, Rowley, is easily frightened and doesn't even want to make a horror movie. Rowley keeps forgetting his lines and refuses to wear a dress when he plays an unnamed woman. The terrible special effectsinvoked include throwing gummy worms at Rowley's face in an attempt to make a scene where worms come out of the shower. After Rowley runs out of the house with barely any clothes on and climbs a tree to escape the geese that ate the gummy worms on the ground, Greg's dad gets home and the attempt to make a movie comes to an end.
  • No Budget: In-universe, where Greg and Rowley try to make an indie horror film. Their low-end equipment is "borrowed" from their parents, the only actor is Rowley, and their "special effects" are gummy worms and ketchup.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A chain of events at the fall concert leads to Rowley playing the flute while coloring in Greg's underpants in the band room. Frank interrupts and grounds Greg, accusing him of "goofing off."
  • It Won't Turn Off: The witch Rodrick gets cackles at the slightest movement, even after Frank removes the batteries.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Greg takes up playing the French horn to get invited to Mariana Mendoza's Halloween party. Then he learns that only the woodwind section will be invited and that his best friend plays the flute, meaning that he can just go with his friend.
  • Shout Out:
    • The book starts with Greg wondering if his life is a TV show, recalling that he once saw a movie where a man's life was filmed without him knowing it. Greg must have watched The Truman Show.
    • Maddox's only hobby besides playing his violin is building LEGO sets.
    • The Spineticklers series is a clear nod to Spinetinglers and Goosebumps. The Swedish translation even calls it "Kalla Kårar," which is the Swedish title of the Goosebumps series.
    • Real life musician George Deveney appears in this book.
  • Special Effects Failure: In-universe where Greg tries to create a homemade horror movie on No Budget:
    • Rowley is the only actor, and has to act for many. Since Greg has no video editing skills, this means that no scene in the movie can feature more than one character.
    • Rowley plays an unnnamed woman. Unfortunately, he refuses to wear a dress, and they don't have a wig for him. He ends up wearing yoga pants and a hooded sweater, and having the character never show her face.
    Woman: I hope you don't mind if I don't turn around but I am really concentrating on doing these dishes.
    • They try to make a scene in which an unnamed man tries to take a shower, but worms come out instead of water. Greg can't find a way to make it looks natural, and settles for throwing gummy worms at Rowley's face and hoping it'll look realistic once they make the final cut.
    • They use ketchup as fake blood.
    • Discussed when Greg points out that he still hasn't figured out how to film the climax of the movie, which would feature a battle against a giant worm. Sadly, they never get around to attempting this scene at all.
  • Situational Hand Switch: Greg, who is right-handed, buys a French horn and learns the hard way that it's a left-handed instrument.
  • Symbol Swearing: Greg is shocked when he watches a video with swearing, pictured by a speech bubble full of symbols and exclamation points coming out of the computer.
  • Toilet Humor: Greg was once lied to by Rodrick that sitting on the toilet with the seat down is "for girls," and Greg sat in the toilet instead. He would've believed it for the rest of his life if he hadn't accidentally left the door unlocked and had his mother come in.
  • "Truman Show" Plot: Greg wonders if the world really does revolve around him and thinks that people are watching him on TV. This leads to situations such as him inventing a Catch Phrase, Greg wondering if his family members are actors or robots, Greg suggesting new plots to the "writers" by talking into a mirror, and doing funny things to make sure people keep watching.
  • Title Drop: The back cover of the book contains the line "But is doubling down on movie-making a smart plan?"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Maddox after Greg's "playdate" with him?
  • Wild Teen Party: Mariana Mendoza is known for hosting annual Halloween parties, which are rowdy and wild. Her parents don't care, as long as the party stays in the basement. A year before the books' events, the party got so large, that it spread to outside the house and the police had to end the party. This year, Mendoza only invites the band (actually only the woodwind part), so Greg tries to join the band.
  • You Are Grounded: Greg's punishment for "goofing off" instead of playing at a school concert is being grounded with no video games. Greg says that the only thing he can do is practice his instrument, which he thinks is the point.
    The Getaway 
  • Absentee Actor:
    • Rowley only appears two times in the book: once on the first page and again pictured on a Christmas card. He is mentioned at the end of the book.
    • The pig that the Heffleys adopt in The Long Haul had previously appeared in Old School and Double Down, but is absent from this book. The Meltdown explains that the pig was upset over being left behind and was sent to an obedience school, and eventually escaped.
  • Adults Are Useless: When Greg is cornered by a spider in the hotel room, he calls room service for help. The room service guy is scared of the spider, too. However, Greg does work with him to trap the spider.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: A monkey is regularly served at a swim-up bar. This is frowned upon in real life.
  • Brick Joke: Taken Up to Eleven. Greg finds a giant spider in his slipper and attempts to flush it down the toilet with the help of the room service waiter. Later, Dad says he tried to use the toilet, but that same spider was on the underside of the seat, so he hit it with the room's bathrobe and it seemed to disappear into thin air. This joke continues near the end of the book when Greg attempts to scale a fence to evade security, and Rodrick tries to help Greg over as he cannot quite reach the top. The spider crawls out of his sleeve and onto Greg, causing him to fall. This is because Rodrick had to wear the bathrobe dad hit the spider with to a fancy restaurant as he could not find any trousers, and he carried the spider with him all along.
  • Chest Burster: Greg gets startled by a sea horse while snorkeling, and in a panic, swallows some water. Worried that he might've accidentally swallowed the seahorse, Greg imagines it bursting out of his midsection at school.
  • Christmas Episode: Doubles as a Vacation Episode by having the Heffleys take a Mexican resort vacation to avoid traditional Christmas trappings and hassle.
  • Children Are a Waste: Greg says that if he has children, he'll send them out of the house as soon as they become old enough to order at fast food restaurants.
  • Downer Ending: The Heffleys' vacation to Isla de Corales is ruined by Contrived Coincidences and bad luck; Rodrick is left with severe sunburns and finds out his new girlfriend is cheating on him, Manny loses all of the animals he tried to take home as pets, the resort is left in shambles, and the Heffleys have been banned from Isla de Corales and are wanted criminals, meaning Frank and Susan can never return to the place they had their honeymoon. The only one who gets what they want, ironically, is Greg, who briefly gets to swim with the dolphins, the thing he wanted to do the most, while fleeing from the local police and to add salt to the wound, The Meltdown reveals this led to the Pig running away.
  • Episode on a Plane: Part of the book deals with Greg's first plane ride. He is seated between a family with a baby, has fantasies about everything that could go wrong, has a bathroom break ruined by turbulence, and is not happy with only getting pretzels for food.
  • New Media Are Evil: Greg complains about how many people are on their phones and not watching the airplane safety video. Later, the "Teen Zone" at the resort is just a bunch of teenagers on their phones, and camera flashes cause sea turtles to lose their way to the ocean.
  • Plane Awful Flight: It's Greg's first time going to the airport and taking an airplane. Not only is he seated between a couple with a baby, but he also gets anxious over something happening to the plane after he watches the safety demonstration video (and he also gets worried about the turbulence and the pilots being allowed to move about the cabin), the passenger behind him puts his feet up on Greg's armrests, and he can't lean his seat back because he's sitting in the emergency exit row. Also, meals are only given to first class passengers. The Heffleys also have to alternate between who gets to sit in first class, but Greg never gets his chance due to the doorway getting blocked by the food cart after the turbulence hits.
  • Shout Out: Manny's obsession with collecting sea creatures and turning them into "pets" is a reference to Animaniacs where Dot has a obsession of collecting monsters and putting them into her box as "pets", which in numerous occasions, scares people (or animals) with them. The gimmick works for Manny, except it's backwards because the parents see what's inside his bucket. Later in the book, the Jerry Lewis caricature (AKA Director of Fun) pokes around in Manny's bucket and gets scared because there is a box jellyfish in his bucket.
  • Shown Their Work: Yes, there really are box jellyfish around the Caribbean.
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption: Manny tries to keep multiple pets, including a sea turtle and a box jellyfish. Susan returns them to the ocean.
  • Vacation Episode: This time, the Heffleys fly to the island resort while Frank and Susan spent their honeymoon. The first leg of the book is about the flight and then the story turns to the actual vacation. Doubles as an unconventional Christmas Episode; Frank wants a break from traditional Christmas trappings and hassle.
    The Meltdown 
  • Author Tract: The book begins with Greg ranting about climate change.
  • Brick Joke: Greg introduces various kids in his neighborhood at the start of the book. They all reappear during the snowball fight climax.
  • Call-Back: Greg talks about his Christmas vacation from The Getaway.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Meltdown features Greg's face on a snowman.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A kid called Mitchell Pickett sells pre-made snowballs. When there's a big snowfall he expands his business to include more advanced weaponry like snowball launchers, icicles and even custom-made snowballs with a slushy center. He sells to the kids on the Surrey Street hill and the kids on Lower Surrey Street who are in a constant feud with the kids on the hill. He buys a snowmobile with the money he makes. Greg comments that this proves war CAN pay. One imagines Mitchell would be very successful as an amoral Arms Dealer should he decide to go down that route when he grows up.
  • Escalating War: The climax of The Meltdown ends up being about this, as the different factions of kids' in Greg's neighborhood go to war over long-simmering tensions on a snow day— soon all sorts of other factions join and it devolves into a massive free-for-all, which is ended by the snowplow coming up the road and blindsiding everybody.
  • Foreshadowing: All the Surrey Street residents that Greg brings up near the start of the book, even the Mingo Kids and the Safety Patrols, return in the snowball fight climax.
  • Human Snowman: The cover for The Meltdown has Greg as one. In the book proper, Fregley is seen as one when Greg passes by him while walking to Rowley's house.
    Fregley: Wanna finish "building" me?
  • Literal-Minded: Greg plays "The Floor is Lava" with Manny. Before he can explain the rules, Manny screams and refuses to touch the floor at all, thinking it really is lava.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Greg and Rowley sneak into Gramma's house while she's gone so that they can get warm. Greg figures that they could warm their clothes in the dryer in the basement, but since they’re naked otherwise, they decide to use some of Gramma's clothes. Cue Greg's mom walking in on them. Initially, it seems that she’s in Tranquil Fury that they went into Gramma's house without permission to do shenanigans, but she later sits down with Greg to tell him that it's okay for boys to "play pretend" and that it's part of growing up. Greg doesn't understand what she means, but it's obvious to older readers what she was thinking.
  • New Media Are Evil: Greg says that selfies and phones caused a lice outbreak in school.
  • Playing Sick: Greg tries acting sick to get out of going to school. It doesn't work and his parents catch him.
  • Potty Emergency: Rowley really has to pee while walking home from school with Greg. He ends up peeing behind a large rock.
  • Toilet Humor: Rowley pees behind a rock.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Greg doesn't find anything strange about Rowley showing up to his door dressed as a member of the Queen's Guard.
  • Urban Legends: The Goat Man is brought up. Greg thinks it's the top half of a goat and the bottom half of a man, but Rowley thinks it's split down the middle.
    Wrecking Ball 
  • An Aesop: Parodied. Greg says that he's sure that he can learn a lesson from the experience, such as "be happy with what you have" or "there's no place like home," but what he says is the moral is "don't be late to an old lady's funeral or she'll make you pay."
  • Art Shift: The Grout is drawn in a much more realistic, gritty style than the rest of the series. Justified in that it's what Greg thinks, so he imagines it being really scary.
  • Blatant Lies: Rodrick tells Greg about "sewer wasps" that come out of the toilet. Greg believes him and is very cautious when he goes to the bathroom.
  • The Bus Came Back: Nasty Pants appears for the first time since Cabin Fever. He's dancing at Greg's going-away party.
  • The Cameo: Fregley only appears once in this book.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • A picture on Rowley's collage depicts him and Greg in their two-headed monster costume from Double Down.
    • Various characters from The Meltdown appear attending Greg's going away party.
    • There are three references to Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid. Two illustrations (Greg's baby pictures and Rowley with an ice cream cone on his head) from said book reappear here in Greg's style, and a picture that Rowley draws in cement is done in the Awesome Friendly Kid style.
    • The Family Frolic magazine from The Long Haul and Double Down appears once again, with Susan using it to help Greg with the yard sale.
  • Downer Ending: The Heffleys' house, which the family were planning to sell, getting a giant hole through the middle from their old hot tub being dropped from the roof. This caused both the family buying the house to back out, and leaving the Heffleys unable to afford their new house. On the other hand, Greg is glad to have not left Rowley, as he initially thought.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Rodrick once fell asleep in a hot tub, getting his skin wrinkly for two weeks, and got his picture taken a few days later.
  • Forged Message: Rodrick once wrote a bunch of notes signed by Greg, supposedly saying that he "owes" a bunch of stuff to Rodrick.
  • Garage Sale: The book opens with Greg holding a yard sale after doing spring cleaning. Among his objects for sale are one of his old diaries, broken toys, old birthday cards, and socks full of random objects. He is unable to sell anything, unconvincingly trying to use Very False Advertising. Greg's yard sale is eventually rained out and ends early.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Heffleys wound up with a large sum of inheritance money and they host a meeting to decide what to do with it. Susan says that the money needs to be spent on something that everyone in the family agrees on, but gets upset when nobody likes her new kitchen idea and leaves.
  • Lies to Children: At Greg's Garage Sale, he puts broken toys on a table labeled "FUN TOYS" and outright says that he hopes kids who can't read will buy them.
  • New Media Are Evil:
    • Greg thinks that if he got electrical powers, people would just have him charge their phones.
    • He also wants a moving sidewalk in his house so that he can pay more attention to his phone, with an audio indicator when the sidewalk is ending.
    • Greg goes on his phone instead of learning about how the car works.
  • One Episode Fear: Greg is afraid of wasps in this book.
  • Pest Episode: Subplots involve the Heffleys dealing with wasps and rats. Greg wishes that his house would be infested by something cute like koalas.
  • Property Line: It turns out that an extension to the Heffleys' house is over their neighbor's property line, so they have to tear it down and patch up the hole in the wall.
  • Status Quo Is God: Greg is about to move away from Surrey Street and to a new neighborhood. Until, in the last two pages, it turns out that the family that was going to move in cannot afford the house and that their house is in no condition to live in anyways. So Greg's stuck on Surrey Street for a while.
  • Symbol Swearing: Frank does this while trying to fix an appliance.
  • Title Drop: The titular wrecking ball is mentioned a few times.
  • Toilet Humor:
    • Manny uses a toilet on display while at a hardware store.
    • Greg shows a page of his biography, depicting him having stepped in dog poop.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Discussed. Greg reads a Preston Platypus book where Preston's best friend, Pelican Pete, moves away. He thinks it's fine until the ending in which Preston makes new friends and just forgets all about Pete, and that it's never shown if Pete is happy in his new neighborhood. He considers writing the author an angry letter over this.
  • With a Foot on the Bus: The book sets up Greg's family moving away from Surrey Street. Rowley is very upset about it, and he has a going-away party with other people in his neighborhood. But when the last bit of construction goes wrong, the house is in disrepair and is not sold, so Greg and his family have to stay.

    The films (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules, Dog Days, The Long Haul) 
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Rodrick. His film self plays up the All Girls Want Bad Boys / Loveable Rogue angle, with a few gratuitous Shirtless Scenes for extra fanservice.
    • Bill Walter is quite a bit more handsome in the movie than he is in the book, where he's depicted as a hairy middle-aged man with a beer gut.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Rodrick. The movies have him start off as an antagonist like his book counterpart, but the second and third films add more depth to his character by having him bond with Greg, becoming more of a Cool Big Bro.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Chirag. In the books Greg plays a cruel prank on him for no reason, so Chirag's hostility towards Greg is very understandable. In the movies he is extremely condescending and arrogant.
    • Patty Farrell. In the books, at worst Patty is a Teacher's Pet and is only implied to be an Attention Whore — in fact, she's never directly interacted with Gregnote  — while in the movies, she's a nasty two-faced egomaniac who goes out of her way to antagonize Greg.
    • Heather Hills. In the books we don't learn much about her but what we did learn never implied she was the snobby stuck-up bitch she is in the movies.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • In the books the titular wimpy kid is a huge Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. In the movies, many of his Kick the Dog moments are removed and others are made more justified by the circumstances. Because of this, Greg's rivals (Patty, Chirag) get the Adaptational Jerkass in order to make Greg's actions more understandable.
    • Greg's dad. In the films, he's actually less strict on his sons than Susan is.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Especially in the second movie.
    • In the books, at Rodrick's Wild Teen Party, Greg is locked in the basement all night until Rodrick needs help cleaning up from it. In the movie, Rodrick locks Greg in the basement, only for him to find a phone down there and call Rowley to come rescue him. When his parents call, Greg threatens to tell their parents about the secret party if Rodrick doesn't let him out, so Rodrick lets him out. Also in the book, their parents don't find out until they go through the camera and see a picture accidentally taken of the party. In the movie their mom finds out when a bathroom door they had to replace has no lock on it, which their father had questioned in the books.
    • The movies also expand on the school that Greg goes to; it's called "Westmore Middle School" and has a hornet as its mascot.note 
    • Rowley only appears briefly in a flashback in The Long Haul, but the movie has him actually show up in person. Granted, his movie appearance isn't particularly long, but he does have more of a role in the film.
    • The characters in the movies are much more layered than how Greg portrays them in his diaries, making them seem more human and more like people you would most likely meet in real life.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The second movie for Rodrick. It even has his name in the title.
  • Alpha Bitch: Heather Hills in the third movie. She is pretty, rich and popular, and uses this as an excuse to treat everyone, including her sister, like dirt.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Subverted in the first movie. While at a school dance, Rowley dances with his mom and Greg expects it to go terribly... only to find out that she and Rowley are actually really good dancers and that everyone else likes it.
  • Art Evolution: In the first movie, the Imagine Spots done in the style of the books were done inCG that was cel-shaded. In the sequels, while they are still cel-shaded, the fact that they were computer-animated is less obvious.
  • Art Shift: Sometimes the perspective will change from live-action to animated versions of the book illustrations.
  • Be Yourself: The moral of the hilariously Eighties-tastic movie Greg watches in one of his classes.
  • Bird-Poop Gag: The second movie has Rowley's bird poop on Patty.
  • Bratty Food Demand: In the first movie, when Greg is imagining his adulthood with him as a pampered rich man, he demands that his servant replace his ice cream sundae as he wants the vanilla on the bottom and chocolate on the top.
  • Bridal Carry: In the second movie, Greg's dad has to do this to him while in the middle of a roller-skating rink.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Spoken by the Safety Patrol teacher in the first movie.
  • Creator Cameo: Jeff Kinney appeared in the second and third movies as Holly Hills' dad.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In the movie when Rodrick catches Greg and Rowley in his room, Rowley clings to Rodrick's leg to hold him off.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Patty holds a massive grudge over Greg because he insulted her in kindergarten. And the movie deals with the characters entering middle school.
  • Embarrassment Plot: A sub-plot in The Long Haul includes Greg becoming a meme known as "Diaper Hands" from getting a diaper stuck on his hand at the ball pit.
  • First Day of School Episode: The first movie focuses on Greg's first day of middle school.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In the first movie, when Greg and Manny are having breakfast, you can see Ice Age playing on a TV in the background.
    • During The Stinger of Rodrick Rules when Greg and Rowley are checking out their YouTube video, you can see that while the video only got 4 views, it received 24,963 comments.
    • In the third movie, the news report near the end has a ticker filled with strange news items, such as "High school kid accidentally eats salad", and "New 'square' wheel fails to impress".
  • Garbage Hideout: In the film adaptation of Dog Days, Rodrick hides in a dumpster while he waits for Greg to sneak him into the club. He gets trash dumped on him when Greg takes too long and is not amused.
  • Humiliation Conga: Greg suffers one at the beginning of the second movie, which finishes with him falling into a cake and subsequently getting beaten up by the irate birthday girl and her friends.
  • Implausible Deniability:
    Frank: (displaying a photo of Rodrick's party on the TV screen) Can you explain what you're doing in this photo?
    Rodrick: That's not me.
    Frank: (lowers eyes) That's not you?
    (beat)
    Rodrick: (averts eyes) Nope.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: In the second movie, Greg and Rowley get a successful viral video out of Susan and Löded Diper, "Lame Band with Crazy Mom Dancing!" Rodrick is enraged.
  • Kiss of Life: Rodrick gets one of these when he pretends to be drowning in order to attract Heather Hills, who's working as a lifeguard. Unfortunately, Heather ignores him, and he gets the Kiss of Life instead from a big burly guy who adminsters it on him despite Rodrick being both conscious and obviously breathing.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: For Greg in the second movie: Chirag Gupta is actually the one who gets the last laugh in Greg's "invisible Chirag" prank by tricking Greg into acknowledging him by pretending to have Holly want to meet Greg, only for it to be Chirag dressed like Holly instead. The result is Greg losing the little game as Chirag celebrates and the nearby Circle of Shame laughs at him.
  • Ludicrous Gift Request: In the adaptation of the first book, Rowley is seen sitting on Santa's knee and asking for a puppy, a cat, and a gumball machine.
  • Missing Child: In the movie adaptation of The Long Haul, Rodrick and Greg sneak off to a video game convention and their mother Susan notices they're gone. However, she sees them on TV and goes to the convention to tell them off.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Rodrick, in the movies (well, the first three).
  • Pottery Barn Poor: In the first movie, Greg and Rowley go off to the "rich part of town" on Halloween because the families living there give away more candy, when the decor of Greg's and Rowley's own houses (including Rowley's Cool Starship bed), tends to say that their own section of town isn't too badly off. In the Movie Diary book about the making of the movie, it's pointed out that Greg's pants were specifically faded to show that his clothes are hand-me-downs from his older brother, Rodrick. We can only assume that it's just the pants because all of Greg's shirts look brand new.
  • Product Placement:
    • A TV set in the first film plays Ice Age, another 20th Century Fox production.
    • Greg and Rowley are seen playing the Wii in the same movie.
  • Serenade Your Lover: In the third movie, Rodrick tries to win Heather Hills with Justin Bieber's "Baby". Given she loathes Rodrick and the series' tendency for Comedic Sociopathy, it goes downhill pretty fast.
  • Retraux: In the film version, "It's Awesome to Be Me" appears to have been made in the 1980s, complete with obviously outdated fashion.. The book describing the film's production even lampshaded it.
  • Shout Out: In the movie adaptation of the first book, Greg's mom tells him something along the lines of: "It's our choices who make us who we truly are..."
  • Stereotypical South Asian English: Chirag Gupta speaks in a heavily-exaggerated Indian accent, which is a major difference from his book counterpart, who is a minor character whose name is the only indicator of his ethnicity. His actor, Karan Brar, had to work with a dialect coach to get the accent right despite being South Asian.
  • Title Drop: A partial one in the second movie when one of Rodrick's friends scribbles "Rodrick Rules" on the Heffleys' bathroom door.
  • Totally Radical: The It's Awesome to Be Me filmstrip in the first movie.
  • Trailer Spoof: A trailer for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul film starts out as a yet another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, until the Black "W" Symbol appears and fades to cartoon Greg Hefley in disguise of muscle and cape. When the announcer says "Wimpy", Greg deflates like a balloon as the disguise failed (the animation is actually reused from the first movie). Then the real trailer starts.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: In Rodrick Rules (the movie), Chirag dresses up as Holly to play a prank on Greg.

Well, we're out of trope examples, so I guess this is THE END.

Alternative Title(s): Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Dog Days, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Long Haul, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Last Straw, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Ugly Truth, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Third Wheel, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Hard Luck, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Old School, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Double Down, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Getaway, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid The Meltdown

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