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Literature / Men at Arms

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"Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City watch needs MEN!" But what it's got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detritus (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman ... most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving). And they need all the help they can get. Because there's evil in the air and murder afoot and something very nasty in the streets. It'd help if it could all be sorted out by noon, because that's when Captain Vimes is officially retiring, handing in his badge and getting married. And since this is Ankh-Morpork, noon promises to be not just high, but stinking.

The 15th Discworld novel and the second in the City Watch theme after Guards! Guards!

Within the week, Sam Vimes will marry Lady Sybil and retire from the Watch. At the same time, the Watch has been forced to take on three new constables from ethnic minorities - Cuddy the dwarf, Detritus the troll, and Angua the w- (oman)? Meanwhile, a penniless noble and retired assassin, Edward d'Eath, spots Corporal Carrot around the city and deduces that heís the true heir to Ankh-Morpork's vacant throne. After failing to convince other nobles that they should work to restore the kingdom, d'Eath achieves full marks at the postgraduate course at the Assassins' Guild and finds a reference to a certain banned weapon...

Notable for setting up the Watch status quo that forms the setting for many future books.

Preceded by Lords and Ladies, followed by Soul Music. Preceded in the Watch series by Guards! Guards!, followed by Feet of Clay.

Contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Edward d'Eath needs to get Beano out of the way for a while in order to steal his identity so he gives him a Tap on the Head. Only instead of putting Beano out like a light for twenty minutes, d'Eath accidentally kills him. (Beano even hears a crunch just before he dies, implying d'Eath broke his skull.)
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Big Fido is an obvious dog analogue of Adolf Hitler being a small nervous poodle who nonetheless rants about the Natural Superiority of the Canine Race and how all dogs are spiritually wolves (just as Hitler was short and dark but presented tall blond Aryans as being the superior German race). Angua, who has run with wolf packs, is amazed at how off his idea of wolves is. It's basically just a collection of traits that humans don't want to acknowledge in themselves (and wolves lack altogether because they're not inventive enough to be cruel).
  • All There in the Manual: It's not explained why Arthur Winkins the vampire, who in Reaper Man had a house which he was reluctantly fitting with all the things his wife thought a vampire's home needed, like a moat and a crypt, is now staying at Mrs Cake's undead lodging house. The Discworld Companion says that they finally knocked out the last load-bearing wall when Doreen decided they needed a torture chamber.
  • Analogy Backfire: Vimes's attempt to use metaphor in ordering a really dark cup of coffee runs full-force into this trope. He's so annoyed that, just to be perfectly clear, he launches into Shaped Like Itself when ordering a doughnut to have with it.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Discussed. Vetinari considers Carrot's list of "requests and proposals" to be one, since both of them are now well aware that Carrot is the rightful King of Ankh-Morpork, has the evidence to prove it, and that the new members of the Watch have effectively sworn loyalty to him, not to Vetinari. Carrot clarifies that he has no intentions of capitalizing on the situation, and why it would be disastrous for the city if he did. His reasoning is what convinces Vetinari.
  • Anthropic Principle: The prologue explicitly invokes this trope. After Edward d'Eath spectacularly fails to rally the other nobles to overthrow Vetinari in favor of Carrot, the Lemony Narrator waxes philosophical for a paragraph about how the story ended in "millions of universes" with d'Eath becoming a harmless shut-in and Carrot having a career of no particular note, ending with him dying in an incident involving an anteater. The next paragraph mentions the millions of universes where Contrived Coincidences from later in the book didn't happen, or where the City Watch simply failed. The paragraph after that sums up the main issue at hand:
    In a million universes, this was a very short book.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Edward d'Eath is probably the closest any Discworld villain comes to this, as his reasons for wanting to restore monarchy are based on a misguided and idealistic impression of that system, and he's used as a pawn by less well-intentioned characters. Plus, it turns out he's been dead most of the book, and the only person he actually killed was a horrible accident.
    • Vimes (despite hating Assassins) admits that Dr. Cruces was probably a decent man before the Gonne took hold of his mind - or, at least, that he had good intentions.
  • Apothecary Alligator: The billiards lab in the Alchemist's Guild features a stuffed one in the corner, seemingly for no reason.
  • Arc Words: "One of a kind. One of a kind is always special".
  • Artifact of Doom: The Gonne is not as powerful as magic, but it can be used by anyone without any effort. This really gets to the head of anyone holding it. For bonus points, it's sentient.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Beano's mortal remains are cremated and then poured down another clown's trousers.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • Cuddy is repeatedly asked if he's a dwarf. He answers: "It's the nose, isn't it? It always gives me away." Another time he responds "Are you a giant? No? Ah, so I must be a dwarf then." You get the impression that he gets asked that a lot.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Among the trollish members of the Watch, anyway. Their oath runs along the lines of, "I will do what I'm told, or else I get my goohuloog head kicked in." Detritus puts in a practical demonstration mid-oath at one point.
  • Asymmetric Dilemma: Detritus needs to find something to write with. Then he needs to find someone who can teach him how to write.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Frequently averted. On several occasions, the plot revolves around the fact that the crossbow has either just been shot or will leave the wielder unarmed for a time if itís shot. What makes the Gonne dangerous is that it lacks that disadvantage on top of being longer range and almost always lethal.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Nobby of the Ankh-Morpork City Ordnance Inspection City... Audit Bureau Special Audit Inspection.
  • Beneath Notice: It's established early on in the book that Carrot knows just about everyone in Ankh-Morpork. Then, later on, it's shown how low down the totem pole the late Lettuce Nibbs was that Carrot doesn't know who she was when he and Angua are called in to investigate her murder.
  • Beware the Honest Ones: Carrot at the Fools' Guild demonstrates a real aptitude with Exact Words.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: This is the first book to insinuate that there may be just a little something more to Carrot's personality than meets the eye. See also Just Between You and Me below.
  • BFG: Not the gonne, but Detritus's "crossbow", which is actually a siege ballista.
  • Black Shirt: The Day Watch, who are basically the opposite of the Night Watch.
  • Blatant Lies: Carrot is established to be bad at lying, metaphor and general dishonest thinking. During the final showdown, Dr. Cruces very distinctly and clearly calls him "sire" in Vimes's presence, when Vimes is in full possession of all his faculties. Afterward, Carrot says he must have misheard him in the excitement.
  • Bold Inflation: Edward D'Eath has... some issues. Even the Assassins Guild is wary of the man.
    "He could think in italics. Such people need watching. Preferably from a safe distance."
  • Boob-Based Gag:
    • Angua's breasts are the subject of a throwaway joke related to their size.
    • The Fools' Guild main gate door-knocker is "shaped like a pair of artificial breasts, the kind that are highly amusing to rugby players and anyone whose sense of humour has been surgically removed."
  • Boomerang Bigot: Played for Laughs by Detritus, once he puts on Cuddy's clockwork helmet.
    Detritus: You can't trust 'em.
    Skully: Who?
    Detritus: Trolls. Nasty pieces of work in my opinion.
  • Bothering by the Book: Carrot's talent for this first begins to be really apparent here, as well as his way with Exact Words.
  • Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Night Watch admits three new officers, each of whom is a "first": Cuddy (first dwarf), Detritus (first troll), and Angua (first woman and also first werewolf). They were explicitly added to the Watch in the name of diversity, since the city is itself increasingly diverse, but Commander Vimes doesn't approve (although his prejudices add up to disliking everyone equally, and he's also annoyed at having the decision pushed on him rather than being allowed to decide for himself).
  • Breast Plate: Angua doesn't have one, and won't until someone takes one to the armourer and has him beat it out really well here and here.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Probably one of the most extreme ever written. There's a brief aside near the beginning of the book where Vimes and Carrot look at the disused Post Office building and its sign reading "NEITHER RAIN NOR SNOW NOR GLOM OF NIT..." (a parody of the motto on the US Postal Service building in New York). In its place, this seems to be just a typical joke about bad mediaeval spelling on the Discworld, but a full eleven years later, Terry Pratchett wrote Going Postal, in which it's revealed that the sign is spelled like that because several letters were stolen to make up the sign of a nearby hairdresser's called Hugos (no apostrophe).
    • That tiny little thing about "cohorts", as it was Moist von Lipwig who mentioned that he used to think it was a piece of armor, and would imagine people polishing them... like the Watch did near the end.
    • See Prophecy Twist below for an single-book example.
    • The story of Fingers-Mazda stealing fire from the gods, here a one-off footnote joke, forms the basis of the plot of The Last Hero.
    • This is also the first mention of Koom Valley, which becomes a major plot point in Thud!. Subverted, in that when it comes up then, it's no longer a joke.
    • Carrot spells "role" as "Roll" in both his letter home at the beginning, and the letter to Vimes at the end. At least his terrible spelling is consistent...
    • Someone declaring that the Watch is dealing with a criminal mind, and it's not Nobby's.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Much is made of this gag at the Fools' Guild. The Fools are sort of contractually obliged to try it on every visitor, but most of them are too Genre Savvy to humor them.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Librarian wanting to be a Best Man at a wedding, seeing as he'd been one before.
    • Detritus recruits two trolls named Flint and Moraine to the Watch. Could be the same two from Moving Pictures, though "Flint" changed his name a couple of times in that book.
    • Silverfish of the Achemist's Guild is still experimenting with uses for octo-cellulose.
    • The Post Office is apparently just as terrified of Mrs. Cake as Ankh-Morpork's various priesthoods.
  • Canine Confusion: Used in-universe, when Big Fido urges dogs to rise up and tear out the throats of their human masters, preaching the superiority of wolves in the wild. Angua, who's actually met wolves, knows it's only a delusion. Big Fido, being a small wimpy dog with a bad case of flatulence and crazy eyes, is essentially Adolf Hitler as a Psycho Poodle. Dogs are also apparently capable of being cowed by a human voice (like Gaspode's), especially someone telling them they've been a Bad Dog.
  • Caught Monologuing: Vimes has an Internal Monologue about the trope; always hope the guy who has you at his mercy is an evil man, because it means he's going to take some time to gloat about it and enjoy having power over you, while a good man will kill you straightaway (as Carrot does later). In other words, Vimes actually likes people who monologue, because it gives him a chance to use it against them.
  • Character Development: Compare Vimes and Carrot here to how they appear in Guards! Guards! — right from his first moments in the book, Carrot has significantly more depth than he did in his first appearance.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Lord Rust here is shown as one of the more cynical and intelligent of Ankh-Morpork's nobles. In Jingo by contrast he's presented as Too Dumb to Live, while in Monstrous Regiment he's about halfway between the two. By the time of Snuff, Rust is elderly, wheelchair-bound, facing reality square on and accepting Vimes has a perfect right to arrest his son for serious crime: it could be said he gets a degree of humility in his final years.
    • Early in the book, Carrot talks down about the undead—saying they're just not "our type of people," and they should go back to where they came from. This is a marked contrast with how open, tolerant, and understanding Carrot is of just about everyone in later books. (To be fair, becoming romantically involved with a werewolf probably gave him a new perspective.)
    • Vimes is very outspoken in his disdain for kings and seems to be well versed in how Ankh-Morpork got rid of them. In Guards! Guards! he was surprised to hear that Ankh-Morpork ever was a kingdom. Possibly justified in that itís possible that the events in that book (and the encouragement of his soon-to-be-wife) lead to him developing those traits.
    • The dogs are shown to be able to discuss with each other on relatively complex subjects (though this could be interpreted as Translation Convention) and have a lot of human-like behaviours, such as raptly listening to their leader giving speeches on the superiority of the Canine Race. In Moving Pictures it was a plot point that normal, non-magically enhanced dogs were mostly concerned with eating, sleeping, and mating, while Witches Abroad showed that the results of forcing human thoughts on a wolf was not pretty.
  • Cheerful Funeral: Members of the City Watch witness the funeral of a clown, which deteriorates into slapstick. Ritualistic, macabre slapstick devoid of any sense of humor or joy.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Chekhov's Gonne, rather. The retirement present watch and how it runs accurately whereas the rest of the city's clocks are slightly ahead.
  • Coffin Contraband: Carrot gets rid of the gonne by putting it in Constable Cuddy's coffin, thereby also giving Cuddy's spirit a really mighty burial weapon.
  • Companion Cube: Detritus, getting carried away with his recruitment-drive for Carrot's militia, swears in a mannequin from a menswear shop.
  • Compelling Voice: Because everyone knows dogs can't speak human, almost nobody can understand Gaspode, but they still hear him subconsciously when he talks to them, letting him make suggestions to them from the harmless (getting them to give him a treat) to the irritating (convincing Captain Quirk he has an itchy bum). The reverse is also true, since his ability to speak in human to dogs makes them react to declarations like "SIT!" and "BAD DOG!" the way that humans have conditioned them to.
  • Continuity Nod: Though he doesn't make a physical appearance, it's noted that the Dean wanted to join the Watch while everyone's getting deputised, with his habit of getting caught up in the latest fads.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: "Prickle, prickle, prickle." Also, it's mentioned that during the troll and dwarf riots, someone tipped over CMOT Dibbler's cart and forced him to eat some of his own sausages-in-a-bun. Without mustard.
    • The latter incident actually serves as a Godzilla Threshold for how bad the situation has become and that they, The Watch, need to do something about it now.
  • Cool Chair: The "golden" throne of Ankh-Morpork. Subverted in that it's made of gold foil over wood, and so rotten and woodwormy that it would immediately fall apart if sat on.
  • Cool Sword: Carrot's nameless blade, which is very specifically and completely non-magical. It's just "bloody efficient" at cutting things, which is more than most Discworld swords, the vast majority of which are magical and thus don't quite exist. In contrast, Carrot's blade is very definitely a sword; the platonic ideal of sword. You can't doubt its existence while you're looking at it.
  • Covers Always Lie: The 1997 US paperback edition.
    • Also there are a couple of errors on the Josh Kirby version, such as Cuddy not having a beard. Several of Kirby's covers show dwarves as completely different to how Pratchett describes them.
  • Crowd Song: Referenced. Carrot could make one happen if he tried, while anyone else would wind up as another stain on the street.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cuddy, so so much.
  • Death Glare: Mr Cheese the bartender insists that a drunken Vimes has to pay his bar bill. Angua and Carrot merely look at Cheese and he immediately changes his mind.
  • Determinator: Big Fido.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Sign at the Post Office:
    troll's with sticks
    All sorts of dragons
    Mrs Cake
    Huje green things with teeth
    Any kinds of black dogs with orange eyebrows
    Rains of spaniel's
    Mrs Cake
  • Disappointing Heritage Reveal: Big Fido the poodle is a canine supremacist who praises the ideal of wolves over civilized dogs. While he never finds out about the real thing, Angua's narration makes it clear he would suffer from this, as real wolves are nowhere near as big or strong as Fido makes them out to be and don't match his highly romanticized concept of the Noble Wolf.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Angua the w...erewolf. A running joke involves characters stating that, no, no, they have no problem with a w... someone like Angua joining the Watch, of course not. It's only towards the end that the specifics of the prejudice involved are explained.
  • Disney Villain Death: Big Fido falls off a roof to his death.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Carrot and Quirke both have shiny breastplates. Colon holds that Quirke having a shiny breastplate makes him a pillock, until it's pointed out Carrot does the same. His only defense is that Quirke is a pillock.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Subverted with the Dog Guild, but you might wish it wasn't.
  • Dogs Love Being Praised: Gaspode the Wonder Dog has the ability to force an entire pack of angry strays into submission with two words: "Bad Dog!" He threatens them with it several times before following through.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Assuming this applies to the Assassins is why they got the Gonne to guard. It actually does apply to most Assassins, as their reaction to similar weapons in later books demonstrates, but unfortunately Edward D'Eath is rather unhinged and doesn't hate the gonne too much to steal it. Dr. Cruces also can't resist it when Edward tries to dump it.
  • Doorstopper: How To Kille Insects, all 2000 pages of it.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: The gonne. Vimes warns Carrot not to touch it, but Carrot picks it up anyway. Fortunately, heís immune to its seductive voice.
  • Dramatic Drop: Vimes is only a guard (and not allowed to kill) until noon.
    Vimes: But when the bells stop... I won't be a guard any more.
    ...The little metallic sound as Vimes' badge bounced on the floor filled it from edge to edge.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty:
    • Colon and Detritus try to pull it off, but...
      Colon: This, men, is your truncheon. Hand you will look after it. You will eat with hit, you will sleep with hit, you—
      Cuddy: How do we eat with it, sergeant? Do we use it as a knife or fork or cut it down the middle for chopsticks or what?
      Angua: And how exactly do we sleep with it?
      Nobby: (sniggers)
    • Subsequently misremembered by Detritus as:
      Detritus: Dis is your club with nail in it! You will eat it! You will sleep on it!
    • Along with:
      Detritus: Where you from, Bauxite?
      Bauxite: Slice Mountain, but —
      Detritus: Slice Mountain! Slice Mountain? Only two things come from Slice Mountain! Rocks... an'... an'... other sortsa rocks! What kind you, Bauxite?
  • Drunk with Power: Detritus, a little too high on the thrill of deputizing trolls, tells a freshly deputized dwarf to shut up. In front of a crowd of angry dwarfs. Fortunately, Carrot is able to stop things getting violent.
  • Dumb Muscle: Detritus had previously appeared in Guards! Guards! and Moving Pictures, but it's here that we start to get particularly acquainted with him and his... difficulties. Poor thing can't even read, and knocks himself out trying to salute. Subverted in that when locked in a freezer, his silicon-based brain becomes a superconductor and he reaches near-godlike levels of intelligence.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Werewolves operate a little differently than in later books. Also, Carrot is more relatable here, having hangups about the undead (see Characterization Marches On) and having a few sections told from his point of view, whereas later books take care not to show his thoughts in order to promote ambiguity about what he's thinking.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Played for Laughs with the shadowy lemma, an animal mentioned in one of the footnotes. The creature exists in only two dimensions and eats mathematicians.
  • Embarrassing Slide:
    • A less filthy but recognizable example: in the middle of Edward d'Eath's slides is an upside-down picture of a vase of delphiniums.
    • Another contains a Stealth Pun. He shows the "bust" of a past noblewoman, presumably meaning a statue of her head and shoulders, but the man who made the slides got confused. "More of her face, however, would have enabled us to be certain of the likeness..."
  • Entertainingly Wrong: The book pulls one of these on the reader (and Corporal Carrot). We're introduced to Angua, a new female recruit to the Night Watch, very much a Boy's Club. Both Vimes and Colon complain about her being the worst of the new recruits brought in to diversify the Watch, because she's "a wó" before being interrupted by an explosion. As it turns out, they're complaining about her being a werewolf.
  • Evil Weapon: The Gonne. When you hold it, you start getting strange things in your head.
  • Exact Words: Carrot gets some facts out of the head of the Fools' Guild with the implied threat of "If you do not tell us the truth, I shall have to carry out my orders." The order was to give up and leave.
    Sergeant Colon was lost in admiration. He had seen someone bluff on a bad hand, but he'd never seen anyone bluff with no cards.
  • Fair Cop: Angua's attractiveness is pointed out several times by the narrative.
  • Fantastic Firearms: The Gonne happens to be the first ever firearm in the fantasy setting. While that seems mundane, the gun itself is implied to have a power to corrupt its wielder through voices in their heads, and is later revealed to be an Evil Weapon with a mind of its own, working to prevent Uniqueness Decay.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Analysed. Vimes muses that gonnes would change the world because, instead of simply storing the power of your own muscles like crossbows, they 'give you power from outside' - the comparison to magic is obvious, and just as wizards try to restrict the availability of magic, assassins hate the gonne as it would make killing so easy. So there are forces actively keeping gonnes from becoming available. One of which is the Gonne itself, which wants to be THE Gonne. It murders the dwarf who fixed it so he couldn't make more of them.
  • Firearms Are Revolutionary: It's revealed that the Disc's greatest inventor came up with a revolver rifle, which briefly terrorizes Ankh-Morpork when it's stolen by an unhinged assassin. Something about the "gonne"'s singular nature and sheer killing power turned it into an Evil Weapon capable of possessing its wielders, and it actively enforces Fantasy Gun Control by killing an artisan that was trying to duplicate it. When the thing is finally defeated, it's buried forever with a fallen guardsman so that he can have a peerless weapon in the afterlife.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Detritus and Cuddy, despite being a dwarf and a troll.
  • Five-Token Band: One male human who was raised (er, figuratively speaking) as a dwarf, one actual dwarf, one troll, one female werewolf, and one Nobby Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving). Lampshaded, as the nonhumans were hired due to affirmative action. Vimes and Colon are the only normal people on the Watch, and that's using "normal" loosely.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Since troll brains work better in the cold, Detritus turns into a super-genius when he gets locked in a meat freezer, only to lose his intelligence when he is rescued. Downplayed, since Cuddy later makes him a fan-cooled helmet that keeps him, if not a genius, at least nearly normal.
  • Fluorescent Footprints: How Angua perceives scents.
  • Foreshadowing: In spades.
    • A minor example from early in the book. Angua is incredulous at Carrot's claim to like long walks. Later on we find that it probably wasn't because she's a w -oman but a w -erewolf.
    • Vimes sees a clockwork toy soldier early in the book and decides to disobey Vetinari's instruction to ignore the theft at the Assassins Guild: "What did Vetinari think he was? Some kind of clockwork soldier?". Later in the book, Vetinari tells Leonard that some people must be wound one way to make them go the other way, like winding up clockwork.
    • Gaspode tells Angua that other dogs don't bother him because "I got the Power". When he is eventually forced to use it against Big Fido's minions, this turns out to be The Power of Speech, something Hidden in Plain Sight all along because we always knew Gaspode can speak like a human; to dogs, this is effectively a Compelling Voice.
    • "You'd have to be a fool to break into the Assassins' Guild." The person who broke in was dressed as a literal Fool.
    • The nobility of Ankh Morporkh consider that the man who can put a sword into a stone is much more worthy of being a king than the man who can pull one out. Carrot does both at the end of the book - he pins Cruces to a stone pillar with his sword, burying the blade up to the hilt, and then pulls it back out.
    • The narration very deliberately avoids referring to the Gonne's wielder by name, disguising the twist that Cruces killed Edward D'Eath and took it.
    • While discussing the merits of kings, Colon and Nobby chat about how if you make yourself useful to a king, he makes you a Knight. At the end of the book, Vetinari knights Vimes at Carrot's "request".
  • From the Latin "Intro Ducere": Carrot points out that, as a policeman — from polis, city — heís a man of the city. Later, Vetinari points out "politician" comes from the same root.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": The Fools try to do this with the funeral of Brother Beano, but their rote approach to all humor takes all the joy out of it.
  • Funny Background Event: Carrot's attempt to confront Quirke has his attempts mixed with Detritus "recruiting" trolls into the Watch, and Carrot quite resolutely not noticing in any way.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Leonard, of course. The only place where his genius falls down is in coming up with names for his inventions. (Except mechanical flying machines, which appear to be the only things that have actually maintained his interest — possibly because he has never successfully built one.)
  • Glowing Flora: The narrator at one point explains that dungeons and caves (such as the abandoned sewers the protagonists are currently running through) always have bioluminescent mushrooms, or glowing muck, or just glow in general, so passing heroes can see their way. As the protagonists at the moment consist of a dwarf and a troll, both of whom can see in darkness just fine, the effect is somewhat wasted.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: A variation happens to Angua; she turns into a wolf to sneak into the Assassins' Guild and leaves her clothes in an alley. Foul Old Ron steals them and she has to stay in wolf form to make it back to the Watch House for new ones.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Sam Vimes smokes cigars to replace his drinking.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Angua gets shot several times. Luckily, the bullets aren't made of silver.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Detritus with Cuddy.
  • Hates Everyone Equally:
    • Used to contrast Vimes with a straight out bigot. See Pretend Prejudice below.
    • Cuddy and Detritus later seem to realise where he's coming from on this.
  • Heat Wave: The book takes place during a very hot summer in Ankh-Morpork.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": The Bursar is highly amused by Ridcully "Cleaning the organ," and furthermore, by his comment that it's a "Mighty organ." Ridcully's talking about the Great Hall's pipe organ, and orders the Bursar sent away.
  • Heroic BSoD: Detritus, after Cuddy is killed. Subverted with Carrot after Angua is shot; there's a different reason why he missed a wedding to stay with her. Those bullets weren't silver.
  • Heroic RRoD: In the scene where Detritus goes into low-temperature genius mode, it was so cold that he almost froze to death.
  • Heroic Willpower:
    • Vimes when he gets the gonne. He manages to stay in control enough to avoid killing people at random, and in the end he puts it down instead of killing his enemy.
    • Carrot too, see Don't Touch It, You Idiot! above. Though with Carrot, it was less Heroic Willpower, and just that the gonne didn't affect him at all. He is a good man through and through, so the gonne had no way to influence him. Whereas Vimes has hatred for wrongdoers that he constantly has to keep in check with rules and willpower.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Detritus isn't nearly as stupid as he might appear, he's just not in the right environment and counts in twos instead of tens (probably because his silicon brain thinks in binary!).
    • This is the first book where Carrot's Hidden Depths start getting hinted at.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs:
    • "Is the High Priest an Offlian? Does a dragon explode in the woods?" is the Discworld version of "Is the Pope a Catholic? Does a bear shit in the woods?"
    • Colon worries that, as ranking officer once Vimes retires, he's "well and truly up the Ankh without a paddle".
  • How Many Fingers?: After being forced to turn in his badge, Sam Vimes gets so drunk that the only answer he can give to the question "How many fingers am I holding up?" is "Bleargh". When Carrot follows it up with "How many hands?", Captain Vimes manages to guess "four".
  • I Am the Trope: When some young Assassins see Vimes in their guild house and one asks who he is, the by now quite angry Vimes yells "The Law, you sons of bitches!"
  • I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!!: Inverted to show just how drunk Vimes is.
    Colon: Vimes? Do you want another drink?
    Vimes: (incoherent mumbling)
    Colon: I've never known him not to give a loud clear "Yes"!
  • The Immune: Carrot to the effects of the Gonne.
  • Implausible Deniability: When the situation in the city is getting beyond bad, one passer-by tries claiming the Patrician's palace has been set ablaze. Carrot then looks at the palace, which is in full view and very resolutely not on fire in any way. Shortly thereafter, Throat Dibbler claims the Brass Bridge has been burnt down. This would be the very bridge he's just come running over.
  • I'm Thinking It Over!: "Dwarfs are very attached to gold. Any highwayman demanding 'Your money or your life' had better bring a folding chair and packed lunch and a book to read while the debate goes on."
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: When Vimes falls Off the Wagon:
    Carrot: I think he's a bit drunk.
    Vimes: Drun'? 'm not drun'! You wouldn' dare call m' drun' if I was sober!
  • Impoverished Patrician: The d'Eath family. Edward is very angry about this.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Carrot, specifically when he stuns Vimes with the phrase "Personal isn't the same as important."
    • The gonne had previously taken the minds of every person who touched it, and even those aware of its poisonous influence could not bring themselves to destroy such a perfect, unique weapon. Carrot picks it up and smashes it against a wall, instantly and effortlessly.
  • Incredibly Lame Pune Or Play On Words:
    • "Fingers-Mazda, the first thief in the world, stole fire from the gods. But he was unable to fence it. It was too hot."
    • "He really got burned on that deal." (One gets the impression Pterry just couldn't stop himself.)
    • Bjorn, the dwarf who believes in reincarnation. Meaning he'll be Bjorn-again. Made more hilarious the fact that the one making the comment is Death, and he's saying it to a race that generally doesn't understand figures of speech, puns, etc. And Death himself, generally completely unable to get even the simplest of humor and wordplay, is immensely proud of having come up with "Bjorn-again" all by himself.
    • On Vimes's retirement gift: "A Watch from, your Old Freinds in the Watch" (sic)
    • After Cuddy explains about Detritus' brain-cooling helmet-mounted fan to Colon: "Oh, so now we've got a clockwork soldier? We're a real model army, we are". (Also a reference to Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, and Vimes' ancestor Old Stoneface is a Captain Ersatz of Cromwell).
  • Inner Monologue: Parodied. After Carrot chases Angua out of his bedroom, his inner voice chews him out for driving away the one he loves. No, wait, it's Gaspode.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Angua pulls it off a couple of times, although (Angua being Angua) it's implied that she might just be winding the listeners up. You can hear the others thinking "Heh Heh, You Said "X"" from the other side of the fourth wall.
    Colon: Forward, Lance-Constable Angua. Tell me, Lance-Constable, do you think you could kill a man?
    Angua: How long will I have?
  • In the Style of: Cuddy writes his police report in the style of a Norse saga (because Our Dwarves Are All the Same) but mixes in stereotypical police terms like 'eventuated' and 'proceeding'.
  • Ironic Name: Big Fido. While Fido is, of course, a stock dog name, it actually means "faithful" or "loyal", something Big Fido most definitely is not. The original Fido was famed for always waiting for his owner to return home from work in the evening, and continuing to do so for fourteen years after said owner's death. Big Fido savaged his owner, and is training his "Dog Guild" to hate all humans.
  • It's Personal:
    • Subverted by Carrot: even after it has become personal, he still believes "personal isn't the same as important."
    • Beano the clown isn't comforted when Edward d'Earth says his death was "nothing personal." In fact, that makes him feel even worse - he died for what amounts to no reason.
  • Just Between You and Me: Analysed when Vimes muses that if you're held at crossbow-point, hope like hell that your captor is an evil man - because he'll talk, and gloat, and you have time to think of an escape. But a good man will kill you with barely a word... which, indeed, Carrot does to Cruces at the end.
  • Keep the Reward: The reward scene seems to be repeating the scene in Guards! Guards!, until it turns out Carrot is just warming up. The new dartboard is just the first and cheapest of Carrot's long list of requests, but he knows that Vetinari will grant them.
  • Kick the Dog:
  • Killed Off for Real: Cuddy gets killed while trying to catch the villain.
  • Killed Offscreen: The scene with Bjorn Hammerhock turns out to be the last time we see Edward d'Eath alive. By the time the narrative returns to the Gonne, Dr. Cruces has killed him and taken over as the Big Bad.
  • Killer Rabbit: Big Fido, the psychotic Nazi-esque toy poodle. Small militaristic dogs aren't unheard of. See, for example, this poodle.
  • King of the Homeless: Queen Molly, leader of the beggars guild.
  • Klatchian Coffee: Used to sober up Captain Vimes after he falls Off the Wagon. They give him too much, and have to then provide half a glass of whiskey to take his brain from knurd to sober.
  • The Lethal Connotation of Guns and Others: The Gonne has a preternatural ability to make its wielders go Drunk with Power, thanks to the ease, speed, and accuracy with which it can kill from a distance. This and the metaphysical power of its Uniqueness Value make it more of an In-Universe threat than, say, the Troll Constable Detritus' handheld ballista that fires an incendiary javelin cloud.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Cuddy and Detritus, literally. This just results in Cuddy's learning about a) Detritus's Genius Bruiser status when it's cold and b) what it's like to be thrown through a window.
    • Interestingly, Detritus mentions he had worked in the Pork Futures Warehouse previously, but was fired for being too stupid. He probably worked outside.
  • Lonely Bachelor Pad: Carrot and Angua discover that Captain Vimes lives in a one-room undecorated apartment with no furnishings but a bed. He puts all his disposable income into the Watch Widows and Orphans fund.
  • Loss of Identity: The clowns at the Fools' Guild consider a clown's distinctive and unique makeup, his 'face', to define his identity. None of them would ever think to copy another's face, thinking it a taboo. This means they are easily fooled when d'Eath kills Beano and copies his makeup, stealing his identity.
  • Madness Mantra: (In an inner monologue form) "It was like being a god".
  • Magnetic Hero: Very subtly played out with Carrot, and part of what attracts Angua to him.
    • It also gets Deconstructed a bit too, in that Carrot doesn't really like the idea of people following his lead simply because it's him. In later books, other characters start somehow resenting him for this too.
  • Meaningful Name: The gonne. It could stand for: those it's pointed at are gone. It could also mean: those who hold it are gone. Or it could just be a heavier pronunciation of the word gun. 'Gonne' is in fact a real early word for the earliest hand-held guns.
    Carrot: Put down the gonne, captain.
  • Medieval Stasis: Like Moving Pictures and Soul Music, the book involves an invention threatening to break the Disc's stasis, but the Reset Button is pressed at the end. Arguably Soul Music is the last time in the series that this trope is played straight, with later inventions like semaphore lines (the Clacks), the printing press, postage stamps and (presumably) paper money sticking around.
    • The actual gonne even remains, despite Reset Button, in the form of the "spring-gonne" crossbow.
  • Metaphorgotten: Parodied with Captain Quirke, whose nickname is "Mayonnaise".
    Angua: Don't tell me. He's rich, thick and oily, right?
    Colon: And smells faintly of eggs.
  • Mister Muffykins: Big Fido may have been one... once. He's something altogether different now. Completely batshit, for one.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Cruces is the head of the Assassin's Guild and user of the gonne and the terrifying head of the Fools' Guild, Dr. Whiteface.
  • Murder by Mistake: Lettice Knibbs, lady's maid to the leader of the Beggers' Guild, is killed by a bullet intended for her employer. She'd been trying on one of "Queen" Molly's velvet gowns on the sly.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Werewolf!Angua can tell immediately when Carrot's been hurt, even if she's halfway across the city.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Uncharacteristically, Vetinari's attempt to manipulate Vimes into solving the murders backfires to a nearly catastrophic degree as he actually drives Vimes over the edge into genuine retirement.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: In the absence of Captain Vimes, Corporal Carrot Ironfoundersson assumes command not only of the night watch, but also the whole City Watch and an increasingly large and well-armed Citizens' Militia. He does this by force of personality and the (unspoken) fact that heís the heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork. Effectively heís assuming a police rank he has no official title to, but heís only called out twice: once when Sergeant Fred Colon attempts to re-assert his superior rank (but Fred bows to the inevitable and ends up calling Carrot "sir" and taking his orders). A second attempt is made by the soon-to-be-disgraced Captain Quirke, but Carrot deals directly with this. The next morning, even Lord Vetinariís certain that Carrotís out to usurp his rank too...
  • No Indoor Voice: SILAS! CUMBERBATCH! "Didn't you used to be the town crier?"
    Silas Cumberbatch: THAT'S RIGHT!"
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Like most of Leonard's inventions, the Gonne is of this type. Hell, the Gonne itself takes efforts to ensure no more are made.
    "You killed Bjorn Hammerhock! The boy said you fired yourself! And he'd repaired you!"
    You expect gratitude? He would have made another gonne.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In one of the other universes, "Corporal Carrot became Sergeant Carrot and, in the fullness of time, died in uniform aged seventy in an unlikely accident involving an anteater." And a localised hurricane painted the Watch-House pastel (as well as fixing a window and doing some other odd jobs around the place).
    • A few pages later, a minor character is said to have died when an armadillo fell on his head, so perhaps a similar incident happened to Carrot in the other timeline.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: When Vetinari is shot. Vimes' inner monologue says that he feels as though the very fabric of history is breaking up from being confronted with the invincible Magnificent Bastard bleeding at his feet.
    • Vetinari seems to be considerably off his game throughout this story. Whether he actually is or not is never directly specified, though tantalising inferences can be made by reading Feet of Clay.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Angua mistakes Vimes's list of women, girls, and prices for a list of prostitutes and is disgusted by it. Then she learns he's giving away half his pay to widows and orphans of the Watch.
    Angua: Annabel Curry couldn't have been much good, for only two dollars.
    Carrot: I shouldn't think so. She's only nine years old.
  • Off the Wagon: Still early in his resolution to become teetotaler (made at Sybil's insistence), poor Vimes falls prey to temptation in the face of his impending retirement.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Detritus recovers from his Heroic BSoD, he gets up and proceeds to the Assassin's Guild with bloody murder in mind. Itís then we learn that some of the best trained killers in Anhk-Morpork have absolutely no way of dealing with a Troll... and they learn it too. Specifically, they have no way to fight a troll head-on. An assassin in Soul Music was confident he could kill a troll by surprise if he hit the right spot in the back of its neck. (In a display of possible continuity, Soul Music happens after the events of Men at Arms, when the assassins probably figured out the back-of-the-neck thing because the Detritus made them realise how helpless they were against Trolls.)
    • When Colon orders two other Trolls to try and stop Detritus, they request time off to go to their grandmother's funerals. As one put it, "It her or me sir."
    • Then there's Vetinari when he realises he's miscalculated his pushing of Vimes' buttons (previously in the book, Vimes always punches the wall outside Vetinari's office in anger after leaving).
      Vetinari: ... Oh, no. He didn't hit the wall. I may have gone too far.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Lord Vetinari attempts to invoke this trope when he is shot in the leg. He fails. (Evidence that the gonne really was a Game-Breaker, as Vetinari was never wounded or incapacitated before.) Furthermore 
    "There's no need," said Vetinari, trying to smile and stand up. "It's just a flesh-"
    The leg collapsed under him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Vetinari realises he's gone too far when he tries to invoke the Turn in Your Badge trope, when he notices that Vimes didn't punch the wall after he left. (Which is what he usually does when he's angry and determined.)
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Angua
  • Painting the Medium: Edward D'eath can think in italics.
    Such people need watching. Preferably from a safe distance.
  • Picky People Eater: The shadowy lemma only eats mathematicians.
  • Power Born of Madness: Big Fido. "Madness — true madness — can drive a fist through a plank."
  • Preemptive Apology: Edward d'Eath before clubbing Beano on the head.
  • Pretend Prejudice:
    • Vimes is a self-described speciesist, with the caveat that he doesn't like humans, either. But when he hears an Upper-Class Twit go on about how terrible trolls and dwarfs are (despite never meeting one of either in his life), Vimes makes a series of outrageously prejudiced and contradictory comments to make the nodding nobles look like idiots.
    • Meta example: The reader is led to believe that Vimes objects to Angua joining the watch because she's a woman. It's really because she's a werewolf.
  • Probability Pileup: It's mentioned that only a genius like Leonard da Quirm can invente a weapon so radically different from everything else Ankh-Morpork had ever seen —aka the gonne. However, once the gonne is invented, all it takes to make more of them is a clever craftsman, which the city has plenty of. Bjorn Hammerhock is murdered by the gonne specifically to prevent him from reverse-engineering and reproducing the invention.
  • Prophecy Twist:
    • Nobby and Colon are discussing Royal Blood prophecies such as the king being able to pull a sword from a stone. Colon argues that being able to shove a sword into a stone is a more impressive feat. Then at the end, Carrot stabs his sword through Cruces, who has his back to a stone pillar, and when he withdraws it there's a perfect rectangular slot all the way through.
    • "A man would have to be a fool to break into the Assassins' Guild," he said. (Itself a re-use or Call-Back to the same Prophecy Twist from Wyrd Sisters).
  • Psycho Poodle: The leader of the "Dog's Guild" is a miniature poodle who calls himself Big Fido and gives speeches about the "inherent superiority of the canine race" and makes up claims about wolf packs that Angua, a werewolf who's friends with a few wolves, knows are bullshit.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Men-at-arms" is a real phrase for soldiers or guards, but "arms" can also refer to weapons. So we have "men at arms" who are also men (though Angua would object) "at" (against) "arms" (the Gonne). The "Men" part itself refers to a major plot thread in the book; the hiring of non-men (a dwarf, a troll and a werewolf in particular) into the Watch, aka the "men at arms". Making this an even more convoluted pun.
  • Punch a Wall: Something Vimes usually does, which becomes a warning when he doesn't do it.
  • Putting On My Thinking Cap: Justified with Detritus' hat, which has a fan in it to keep his brain cool.
  • Red Herring: It turns out Edward d'Eath, despite all the foreshadowing surrounding his unstable mind and, you know, family name, only ever killed one person during the story, and that was quite by accident.
  • Repeat After Me: The Watchmen's Oath. Gets Played for Laughs quite often.
  • Resist the Beast: Vimes does this when the Gonne tries to take control of him. It will become a running theme for his character in later books.
  • The Reveal: Edward d'Eath died early in the book and Dr. Cruces is the one who has been committing the murders.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    • Dr. Cruces asks Vimes what makes him think he can come in like he owns the place. Vimes's reply is to produce the document that shows that in fact he does own the place.
    • There's also this, which is caused by Rouge Angles of Satin on Carrot's part:
      Vimes: That's not how you spell "gone".
      Carrot: Yes it is, sir.
      Vimes: I mean, it's not how "gone" is normally spelled.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: When the clowns ask Colon to search for their late compatriot's real nose, despite the fact he had one, Vimes, reading the report, reflects that "the whole nose business looked like a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma, or at least in Sergeant Colon's handwriting, which was pretty much the same thing".
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge - Subverted: Detritus is about to lay one down on the Assassins, but Carrot talks him down.
  • Room Full of Crazy: When Detritus is locked in the freezer, he starts working out math problems. He gets all the way through calculus and out the other side, and was probably up to a Unified Theory of Everything when they got him out and the warmth erased all his work, which he promptly forgot.
  • Running Gag: Whenever someone addresses Lance-constable Detritus — don't salute!
  • Sacrificial Lion: Cuddy, who seemed on his way to become a major character like Detritus and Angua.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Sam orders a "doughnutty doughnut" from Sham Harga.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Patrician sits in a plain chair at the foot of the steps leading up to the ancient golden throne of Ankh-Morpork, taken from the Steward's seat in The Lord of the Rings. However, at the end Carrot learns that the throne is actually just gold foil over (seriously decayed - the throne is several centuries old, after all) wood, the real gold having been stripped and sold long before. As usual on Discworld, it's belief that's important.
    • The showdown between Vimes, Cruces and Carrot is an homage to the end of For a Few Dollars More. Vimes' watch even plays the same tune as El Indio's music box. With nothing but a few italicized bings Pterry managed to accurately reproduce musical sound in text.
    • When beginning his investigation, Vimes was about to leave the Assassins' Guild, but then turned around because he had a question he almost forgot to ask.
    • "Detritus! You don't have time to ooze!"
    • The counting scene between Detritus and Cuddy is very similar to "If I have two more beans, and I add two more beans, what do I have?" "Some beans."
    • According to Carrot, "Mr. Vimes always said a man has got to know his limitations."
    • Detritus' dialogue when he's schooling the troll recruits for the militia is very similar to that of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, most notably the line ("Only two things come from...")
    • The city dogs tell stories about Big Fido after his Disney Villain Death that are reminiscent of those the Efrafans tell about Woundwort from Watership Down.
    • To In the Heat of the Night: "They call me Mister Vimes".
    • To Twin Peaks when Vimes orders coffee "as black as midnight on a moonless night."
    • Colon tells the new recruits "Let's be careful out there".
    • An Assassin tells Vimes "Your uniform doesn't scare me". Vimes agrees that it's not a scary uniform, and calls over Carrot and Detritus. "Now these, I think you'll agree, are scary uniforms." There's a similar exchange in Police Academy III between Mahoney and a cabbie, where he calls over Hightower for the same effect.
    • Angua's lodgings at Mrs. Cake's have brown oilcloth flooring, brown walls, a brown bed, a very brown painting, and a brown wardrobe, full of coats; the narration notes that, if you fought your way through, you'd break into a magical fairyland full of talking animals and goblins.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The scene with SILAS! CUMBERBATCH! the town crier being recruited for Carrot's militia is quite similar to a gag in Henry IV, Part 2 where a former herald with No Indoor Voice is being drafted into the king's army.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: "After a while, the bedsprings went glink."
  • Simple, yet Opulent: Sybil's lifestyle is discussed this way, as well as why expensive boots last so long compared to cheap ones (although Vimes prefers the latter).
  • Smash Cut: Narrative version — it cuts straight from Nobby finding the on switch for the Klatchian fire engine to "They put out the flames eventually".
  • Smug Snake: Captain Quirke of the Day Watch. Don't worry, he gets a hilarious comeuppance.
  • Soulless Bedroom: Captain Vimes' room contains a bed, a chest with a notebook, and not much else. Angua looks through the notebook and is horrified to learn that Vimes is spending half his pay on women, including 9-year-olds. She's then mortified when Carrot icily tells her those are the Watchmen's widows and orphans.
    Vimes had a room.
    More or less. It was hard to tell. Even a prisoner in a cell manages to stamp his personality on it somewhere, but Angua had never seen such an unlived-in room.
    "This is where he lives?" said Angua. "Good grief."
    "What did you expect?"
    "I don't know. Anything. Something. Not nothing."
    There was a joyless iron bedstead. The springs and mattress had sagged so that they formed a sort of mold, forcing anyone who got into it to instantly fold into a sleeping position. There was a washstand, under a broken mirror. On the stand was a razor, carefully aligned toward the Hub because Vimes shared the folk belief that this kept it sharp. There was a brown wooden chair with the cane seat broken. And a small chest at the foot of the bed.
    And that was all.
    "I mean, at least a rug," said Angua. "A picture on the wall. Something."
  • Standing Between the Enemies: Carrot had a truly epic example when he successfully shamed two armies of trolls and dwarves. They were ready to rip each other apart until he came and basically told them to stop it or he'll arrest the lot of them. When it works, the other Watch members are astounded and a little alarmed.
  • Still the Leader: Carrot seems on his way to take both Vimes and Vetinari's potitions in the city. In the end he never tries to take Vetinari's place and actually manipulates Vimes into staying as a leader. He does use the fact that he could do this whenever he wanted as a threat to Vetinari, though.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Detritus tries to stop the dwarf/troll street fight with this.
  • Sub-Par Supremacist: The main subplot involves a flatulence-prone dog named Big Fido advocating that dogs should rise up against their human masters, and makes long speeches about the nobility and savagery of wolves despite never having met one and being a tiny poodle himself. No prizes for guessing which short, grandiloquent politician Big Fido was based on.
  • Take That!: Quirke's thoughtless level of stupid evil is noted to be less like actual evil, and more something that merely tarnishes the soul of all who comes near, "like British Rail."
  • Taken Off the Case: Vetinari takes Vimes off the gonne case because it was upsetting the rich and powerful. Being the Manipulative Bastard that he is, this was specifically done to further motivate Vimes — a delicate process, as Vetinari realized it could just as easily discourage him, even break his spirit. At Vetinari's realisation that he'd accidentally sent Vimes into a Heroic BSoD:
    Vetinari: He didn't thump the wall. I may have gone too far.
  • Tap on the Head: Subverted: It accidentally kills someone.
  • Throw the Book at Them: How To Kille Insects
  • Thwarted Coup de Gr‚ce: Vimes with Cruces.
  • Tiger by the Tail: When Nobby starts swinging around his Epic Flail, he finds he can't safely stop. Fortunately, Carrot is big enough to safely intervene.
  • Tranquil Fury: Angua finds Vimes' notebook with the names of women and sums of money, and is upset that he's spending his money on prostitutes despite being engaged to be married. Carrot, without looking at her, without even raising his voice, shows her that those are the pensions he pays (out of his own salary) to the widows and orphans of the Watch. It's worth noting that this is quite likely the angriest Carrot has ever been in the entire series- he grips Angua by the wrist and refuses to release her or budge an inch until Sergeant Colon comes in and explains who all the women on the list really are.
  • Turn in Your Badge: The attempt to invoke this trope goes a tad too far and results in a 10-Minute Retirement.
  • Understatement: Carrot's reaction to losing his virginity to Angua.
    It had been an interesting night.
  • Upper-Class Twit: The majority of the nobles seen in the book.
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: Trope Namer. It's one of the many problems with Carrot's writing.
  • Wham Line:
    • In the narrative:
      Lord Vetinari stood up as he saw the Watch running towards him. That was why the first shot went through his thigh, instead of his chest.
      Then Carrot cleared the door of the carriage and flung himself across the man, which is why the next shot went through Carrot.
    • Carrot's "Personal isn't the same as important", which helps Vimes fight against the Gonne's will.
  • World of Pun: As usual in Discworld, but a particularly memorable pair:
    The Ramkins were more highly bred than a hilltop bakery, whereas Corporal Nobbs had been disqualified from the human race for shoving.
  • Wrecked Weapon: The gonne is placed into a casket this way, near the end of the book.
  • You Get What You Pay For: The foundation of the "Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socio-economic unfairness": poor people can't afford a good pair of boots, which means they actually have to pay more since they have to buy new boots more often, which means they stay poor.
  • You Know What They Say About X...: It takes Cuddy a while to find out what they say about dwarfs, and he apparently never really understands what is meant by "well-endowed."
    • When he first hears it he says it's true. Why, he himself has saved more than seventy-eight dollars!
  • Your Head Asplode: The fate of Lettice, the Beggar girl who Dr. Cruces kills with the Gonne, when aiming for Queen Molly.

Alternative Title(s): Men At Arms