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"Kicking evil very hard in the face."

Skulduggery Pleasant is a book series written by Derek Landy. Phase 1 of the series consists of nine novels plus a spinoff novel and a short story collection, the final installment of which was released on August 28, 2014. Phase 2 of the series began in June 2017 with Resurrection.

The books revolve around Skulduggery Pleasant, "the Skeleton Detective", a sorcerer who has been dead for over three hundred years and now lives as a reanimated skeleton, and his sidekick, 12 year old Stephanie Edgley.

When Stephanie's uncle, famous horror writer Gordon Edgley, dies, she is left both his mansion and his fortune. But following the reading of his will, and the sighting of a strange man in an overcoat, she starts to discover the world her Uncle was really involved in: the books he wrote weren't as fictional as their fantastic plots let on, as becomes clear through the mounting pile of strange events she witnesses, starting with a break in at the mansion. Determined to find out what's going on, she enlists the help of Skulduggery Pleasant, wisecracking detective, to show her the new world she has stumbled upon: magic.

Stephanie soon finds herself drawn into the crazy underworld of sorcery that exists within the undercurrents of Ireland as she discovers her own magical ability and becomes partners with Skulduggery Pleasant, even taking on the name Valkyrie Cain. As she faces the wonders and terrors of the magical world, Valkyrie soon discovers that sometimes magic's not all that it's cracked up to be.

The books so far are:

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    Phase 1 

  • Skulduggery Pleasant (2007) note 
  • Playing with Fire (2008)
  • The Faceless Ones (2009)
  • Dark Days (2010)
  • Mortal Coil (2010)
  • Death Bringer (2011)
    • The End of the World (2012) note 
  • Kingdom of the Wicked (2012)
    • Tanith Low in The Maleficent Seven (2013) note 
  • Last Stand of Dead Men (2013)
    • Armageddon Outta Here (2014) note 
  • The Dying of the Light (2014)

    Phase 2 
  • Resurrection (2017)
  • Midnight (2018)
  • Bedlam (2019)
  • Seasons of War (2020)
    • Apocalypse Kings (2021) note 
  • Dead or Alive (2021)
    • The Skulduggery Pleasant Grimoire (2021) note 
  • Until the End (2022)

Now has a character sheet, as well as a Shout Out page.

Examples from both series:

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  • Above Good and Evil: The Death Bringer, Melancholia St. Clair, believes herself this.
  • Action Girl: Tanith. Stephanie aims for this, most noticeably in books one and three, and settles fully into it as of the fourth.
  • A God Am I: Batu's entire reason for summoning the Faceless Ones is that he believes that merging with one would make him a god. It doesn't work out for him and during Dark Days, it's mentioned that the Faceless Ones use his corpse as a vessel to torture Skulduggery with.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Baron Vengeous, in his final moments.
      Vengeous crawled to the Grotesquery. "Tell them I'm sorry," he whispered. "I've failed them..."
    • Tesseract is given a rather poignant final moment at the end of Mortal Coil.
    • Scapegrace gets this when the White Cleaver beheads him. Hilariously subverted, since he doesn't actually die.
    • After having lost everything she worked for, Abyssinia spends her final moments with the man she loved, who confesses that he once loved her in turn.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: On the cover of Book Four.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Averted in that the High Sanctuary has mage psychiatrists working for it and there's Greymire Asylum for really extreme cases.
  • Alternate Universe: Skulduggery gets sent to a parallel world at the end of The Faceless Ones.
    • Valkyrie spends most of Kingdom of the Wicked being shunted into another universe in which Mevolent never died. China is the leader of the resistance, Skulduggery is still Lord Vile, Serpine is alive and Baron Vengeous is married to a crazier version of Eliza Scorn. As of Phase 2 of the series, this particular dimension is labelled the Leibniz Universe.
  • Alternative-Self Name-Change: A sort of roundabout example, but briefly before Stephanie Edgley undergoes her Meaningful Rename and becomes Valkyrie Cain, she brings her reflection to life, essentially functioning as a magical clone — while she's off on magical adventures, the reflection will stand in for her at school and the like. For most of the series, the reflection is simply called "the reflection" or "it," despite displaying capacity for genuine emotion, since everyone simply views it as a knock-off of Valkyrie. However, as time goes on, the reflection becomes more and more human, and begins to think of itself as such, before asking to be called by a name: Stephanie. Unfortunately, by the time Valkyrie finally starts treating her reflection better and even begins to oblige by calling it "Stephanie," it's already become very resentful of the life and family Val has and doesn't even appreciate, and that gets it to thinking...
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Ghastly is strong. Turns out, the Diablerie's Brute is stronger. But it's ok, because Mr Bliss is even stronger. The Faceless Ones then come in and win the fight immediately.
    • It's a recurring theme in the series, not just the battle of Aranmore, although another one comes to mind. Tanith is fighting with murder rose until rose decides that she wants to stop toying with her, the white cleaver comes in and stops her, overpowering her. Of course tanith later manages to decapitate the black cleaver so this could be considered kinda inverted
    • Becomes a recurring case of Summon Bigger Fish in the later books, when Skulduggery's absolute last resort in the fight against first the Death Bringer and then Kitana's gang is to unleash Lord Vile.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Remnants.
  • Amicable Exes: Valkyrie and Fletcher become this by The Dying of the Light.
  • Anti-Magic: There are runes that stop magic from working. They're mainly used on handcuffs and in prison cells.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: Book 5 takes place during Christmas. This annoys Valkyrie, because it means she misses out on Christmas with her family.
  • Ancestral Weapon: The Sceptre of the Ancients.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different:
    • Two chapters of Mortal Coil are from the perspective of random citizens caught up in the Remnant's clash.
    • The Dying of the Light have several chapters (such as Chapter 1) from the perspective of a mortal named Danny, in present tense rather than past tense, but clearly involves Valkyrie.
  • And Then What?: The short story 'The Lost Art of World Domination' chronicles a conversation between Skulduggery and a sorcerer who wants to Take Over the World. Skul's only response to his Just Between You and Me bit? "Are you sure you've thought this through?"
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
    • Valkyrie gives one to Skulduggery in The Dying of the Light when it seems like he's about to sacrifice himself to stop the Accelerator from overloading. Fortunately, he doesn't.
    • She does it again in Resurrection as he holds a gun to her head after brainwashed. It's enough to snap him out of the corruption, and he even says it back to her this time.
  • The Antichrist:
    • Darquesse for the Remnants. They believe her to be a kindred spirit i.e. evil and want to help her bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
    • The Death Bringer for the Necromancers, although they don't quite think of him/her in that way. They believe the Death bringer will be able to eliminate death itself and bring about paradise. All it involves is killing half the population of the world.
    • Years after her defeat, there are people who wish to bring back Darquesse, partially because they see her as the closest thing to a god they'll ever experience.
  • Anyone Can Die: The tagline for book eight? No one is safe.
  • Arc Words: "Until the end." First appears in Dark Days, but it's not really hammered home until Last Stand of Dead Men onwards.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Skulduggery arrests Serpine at the end of the first book.
    Skulduggery: I'm placing you under arrest for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and, I don't know, possibly littering.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The eventual fate of Darquesse, after having been tricked into sending herself to the dimension inhabited by the Faceless Ones. Almost everyone believes her to have been killed by them, but it's discovered some time later that she's not only still alive, but has actually left her mortal shell and taken a new form - a giant made of pure light - to battle the Faceless Ones more evenly. Sebastian Tao convinces her to return to her home dimension, at which stage she re-inhabits her old body as a God in Human Form.
  • Astral Projection: Miss Wicked says they're going to be attempting it in her Sensitive class at some point.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Darquesse of all people. The epic Evil Versus Evil showdown between her and Lord Vile in Death Bringer almost gets put on pause because she gets distracted by a helicopter, and decides to beat it up instead, forgetting about Lord Vile as she flies off.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Most of the people in the magical world. Justified as they choose their own names.
  • Back for the Finale: The Dying of the Light brings back just about every character mentioned in the series, including many who are dead.
    • Ghastly, Anton, and Skulduggery's murdered family make a brief appearance towards the end of the book. They're all ghosts.
    • Melancholia the Death Bringer comes back after being put in a coma at the end of Death Bringer. She joins Vile in the fight against Darquesse. She doesn't make it.
    • Argeddion makes a very brief appearance toward the middle of the book after having his mind wiped at the end of Kingdom of the Wicked. His part in the book is relatively minor, as he gets killed almost immediately.
    • Even the Faceless Ones play a part in the book's resolution, despite not having been seen at all since the third book.
    • The alternate reality from Kingdom of the Wicked also plays a major role, despite having been put on the shelf during Last Stand.
    • Anathem Mire a character who appeared in The Faceless Ones and was never mentioned again, finally gets his story wrapped up.
    • Kenspeckle Grouse plays a minor part in the story. he's still dead, but Darquesse steals his memories from Tanith's Remnant and uses them to further her plan.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Happened to Skulduggery Pleasant after his death several years before the series begins, causing his soul to remain bound to his skeleton.
    • Darquesse gains this power in The Dying of the Light, although it takes her a while to get the hang of it at first...
    • Abyssinia was stabbed through the chest and thrown out of a window, before later coming back stronger than ever. When she was killed a second time, her corpse was chopped down into tiny pieces and her heart never stopped beating until it was severed from her chest. The goal of the anti-Sanctuary in Resurrection is to bring Abyssinia back again, which they eventually succeed in doing after retrieving her heart from where it had been sealed away.
    • In Bedlam, Abyssinia manages to resurrect her father - the Unnamed - in turn.
    • The version of Mevolent from the Leibniz Universe, introduced in Kingdom of the Wicked, is killed every single day on his own orders and then resurrected in a special ritual designed to supposedly allow him to cheat death. This doesn't come into play until Seasons of War, when that Mevolent is killed by an army of necromancers and is swiftly brought back from the grave by his loyal followers.
  • Badass Boast:
    • China, in Death Bringer.
    China: You know, there was a time where nobody threatened me. I just wouldn't stand for it. The amount of people I killed, of bodies I twisted and bones I snapped, all because they had allowed their anger to momentarily overwhelm their good sense. I regret it all now, of course. I was out of control. I was indulging the darkness inside me far too often. I was not, Mr. Prave, a very nice person. But I have changed. I have allowed the years to mellow me. Now I find joy in simple pleasures. A good book. A fine wine. Good company. All of these things make me smile. They make me happy. But once in a while, I get the urge. You know what I'm talking about, don't you. The urge for destruction. The urge to hunt, maim, kill. It's quite a thing, to experience that urge, to let it wash over you, to give into it. It's addictive. It's all-consuming. You lose yourself to it. It's quite, quite wonderful. I can feel it, even as we speak, tapping around the edges of my mind, trying to prise me open, to slip it's fingers in. And it would be so easy to let it happen. But we're all like that, aren't we? We're all barbarians at our core. We're all savage, murderous beasts. I know I am. I'm sure you are. The only difference between us, Mr. Prave, is how loudly we roar. I know I roar very loudly indeed. How about you? Do you think you can match me?
    • Skulduggery in Kingdom of the Wicked. Especially considering that by "the truth", he's referring to Lord Vile.
    Nadir: So?
    Skulduggery: Well, the stories are nothing compared to the truth, and the truth is nothing compared to what I'll do to you if Valkyrie gets hurt. I'm the worst enemy you could ever make, Silas. Look at me and answer honestly. Do you believe me?
  • Bad Humor Truck: After the Freezer Van breaks down, Scapegrace and Thrasher steal an Ice Cream truck so the cold air would slow Scapegrace's decomposition.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: The Children of the Spider.
    • To a lesser extent, the Necromancers.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: In this universe, HP Lovecraft's Eldritch Abominations were inspired by tales he heard of the Faceless Ones.
  • Berserk Button: Don't damage China's books, whatever you do. And don't free her daughter from the asylum China had her locked up in.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: Serpine is deserted by the White Cleaver this way at the end of the first book.
  • Betty and Veronica: Landy has fun with this one in Death Bringer.
  • BFS: One of the God-Killers is an obscenely long sword. It makes people using it look ridiculous, apparently.
  • Big Bad: Every book in the series has one. The first nine gradually build up to Darquesse, Valkyrie's true name and Superpowered Evil Side, who becomes more powerful and more uncaring towards human life as the series goes on.
    • The first book in the series has Nefarian Serpine, one of the deceased Mevolent's Three Generals and Skulduggery's Arch-Enemy, who killed Gordon Edgley in order to take the Scepter of the Ancients.
    • Playing with Fire: Another of the Three Generals, Baron Vengeous, attempting to resurrect his Grotesquery and summon the Faceless Ones. Billy-Ray Sanguine and Dusk are introduced as his Co-Dragons.
    • The Faceless Ones: The Diablerie led by Batu, with the titular Faceless Ones serving as the Final Bosses by possessing them in the climax.
    • Dark Days: A Big Bad Duumvirate between Sanguine and his dad, Dreylan Scarab, who form the Revengers' Club (consisting of Dusk, Springheeled Jack, Vaurien Scapegrace, and Remus Crux) to get revenge on the Sanctuaries (specifically for Dreylan being framed and imprisoned for an important assassination during the war).
    • Mortal Coil: The Remnants, accidentally released into the world by the Necromancers. Tesseract, an assassin hired by the Roarhaven mages to tie up loose ends in the Sanctuary bombing from the previous book serves as the main antagonist up until they're released, and continues to serve as The Heavy with the Remnants' unofficial leader possessing him for the climax.
    • Death Bringer: A Big Bad Ensemble between Lord Vile and the new Death Bringer, Melancholia St Clair. Melancholia is Valkyrie's Necromancer Sitcom Arch Enemy who is experimented on to become the Death Bringer, before getting Drunk on the Dark Side. Lord Vile, the last of the Three Generals and Skulduggery's Superpowered Evil Side, wants to kill Melancholia for usurping his title. Melancholia is ultimately the bigger threat as she tries to kill every living thing, but Vile serves as the Final Boss after depowering her, chasing down Valkyrie as she tries to save Melancholia's life.
    • Kingdom of the Wicked: A Big Bad Ensemble between Argeddion (a pacifistic sorcerer who discovered his true name, granting powers to teenage psychopath Kitana Kellaway as an experiment before he tries to give everyone magic) and an alternate universe Mevolent (who conquered the world in the universe Valkyrie is shunted over to by Argeddion, putting her world in risk of an invasion).
    • Tanith Low in The Maleficent Seven has the titular Remnant-possessed Tanith as a Villain Protagonist, forming the "Maleficent Seven" to destroy the God-Killers so they can't be used to destroy her Dark Messiah, Darquesse.
    • Last Stand of Dead Men: The Man With the Golden Eyes, Erskine Ravel, the leader of the Roarhaven sorcerers who want to rule over mortals. The war between the Irish Sanctuary and the Supreme Council was orchestrated to seize control of both, with the ultimate plan of tricking Charivari and his Warlocks into attacking mortals so that sorcerers could swoop in, take over, and be regarded as heroes.
    • The Dying of the Light: Darquesse takes center stage, having taken over Valkyrie's body, with everyone trying to stop or kill her before the prophesized day when she will destroy the world.
    • Resurrection: Lethe, a Brainwashed and Crazy Savant Vega, who leads the anti-Sanctuary as they try to resurrect Abyssinia, Skulduggery's ex-girlfriend from back when he was Vile.
    • Midnight: Cadaverous Gant, Abyssinia's former Dragon who betrays her after he realizes that she won't honor her promises to him, setting up his own revenge scheme against her and Valkyrie.
    • Bedlam: A Big Bad Ensemble between Abyssinia, who begins entering the final stages of her plan to create an Unmasqued World, and Crepuscular Vies, the Man Behind the Man to Abyssinia's minion Martin Flannery and the mortal Blackbrook mercenaries she's scheming to stage her first attack with. Vies ultimately sabotages Abyssinia's plan before it can successfully take off.
    • Seasons of War: The Leibniz universe version of Mevolent returns, as the Dead Men are sent to assassinate him before he can invade their world. A secondary threat is his world's Vile, who is the Death Bringer behind the draugar invasion that has decimated his universe.
    • Dead or Alive: A Big Bad Ensemble between Cadaver Cain and Damocles Creed. Creed, now Supreme Mage, intends to convert the entire city of Roarhaven into Kith so he can find the Child of the Faceless. Meanwhile, Cadaver is a future version of Skulduggery who has taken up Vile's quest to kill everything on behalf of the Viddu De, hijacking Creed's plan in order to create a universe-wide death field.
    • Until the End: A Big Bad Ensemble between Damocles Creed, as the High Priest of the returned Faceless Ones; Crepuscular Vies using the inept President Martin Flanery to start a war against sorcerers; and Auger Darkly, infected by the Void knife and becoming the omnicidal Obsidian.
    • The novellas also have their own credible threats:
      • The End of the World: Vincent Foe, the leader of the nihilist gang that seeks to end the world.
      • Get Thee Behind Me, Bubba Moon: The titular Bubba Moon, an affiliate of the anti-Sanctuary who leads a cult in service to the entity Balerosh (later revealed to be allied with Abyssinia).
      • Apocalypse Kings: The three titular gods (the Deathless, the Cythraul, and the Sathariel), ancient enemies of the Faceless Ones who seek to destroy the world and deny them their homeland.
      • The Age of the Maggot: Tunnrak Rakhir, the king of the Rakhirrian demon gods (also known as the Order of the Maggot), who wants to force humanity to go through a huge evolutionary change so they will begin worshipping him again.
      • Abrogate Raze: Gog Magog, the God of the Apocalypse who was stripped of his power by the other Pantheons - which set off a chain reaction ending with the Faceless Ones slaughtering the other gods. The loss of his power made him believe he was a normal sorcerer: Skulduggery's father, the titular Abrogate Raze, who becomes more unhinged and evil as he learns more about his past.
  • Big Bad Friend: In Last Stand of Dead Men, none of the Dead Men were expecting the Big Bad to be one of them.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Ian Moore, the mugger in Death Bringer. He hurt Valkyrie almost as bad as Melancholia did and nearly killed her despite being a mere mortal. Vandermeer Craven is a far straighter example, trying to manipulate everything by using Melancholia St Clair as his Death Bringer only for her to turn against him due to her belief that she's above life and decide and therefore can decide who lives or dies.
    • This is ultimately the status of the King of the Darklands, otherwise known as the Unnamed. After several books are spent building up his legend and the sheer power he wields, and previous Big Bad Abyssinia gives up her power to resurrect him at last, he disappears until the climax of Seasons of War. At which point, he is ganged up on by a group of schoolchildren and killed rather abruptly.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Fletcher's teleportation makes him pretty good at this. Lampshaded in book 5.
  • Blade Reflection: Darquesse is distracted by her reflection in Tanith's sword.
  • Blatant Lies:
    Darquesse: Much was asked of you, and you stepped up, Valkyrie. You understood that with great power Comes Great Responsibility.
    Darquesse: What?
    Valkyrie: It's what Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker.
    Darquesse: No it's not. I made that up right there.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Necromancers (Or at least, the experienced ones). This is because the passage is when the 'Death Bringer' uses Necromancy to kill 3 billion people at once. Solomon Wreath, possibly the closest thing to 'good' Necromancers have, is alright with killing 3 billion people, but not millions because then the plan wouldn't work. Valkyrie calls him out on this, but at the end of the book he's still up for it.
  • Body Horror: A Faceless One taking over someone's body. The host's face literally melts.
    • Almost every other death in the books can count, as some of them are quite... gruesome.
  • Book Ends: The final word of both the first and last books of Phase One? "Magic."
  • Borrowed Without Permission: "The Maleficent Seven" has two of the heroes who were responsible for getting transport stealing a jet. They claim the jet is "Not stolen, almost stolen, semi-stolen, quasi-stolen" before they claim that they technically always borrow, because what they take is always returned, just not always in one piece or to the right person.
  • Break the Badass: Skulduggery at the end of Book Five, upon witnessing Lord Vile, still alive.
  • Break the Haughty: China at the end of Death Bringer. Damn.
    • China, again, at the end of Seasons of War.
  • Brick Joke: In the first book, upon Skulduggery's first visit to Stephanie's room, he comments on the general untidiness of the place, causing Stephanie to kick some underwear underneath her bed. Two books later, Stephanie (Now Valkyrie) tells her reflection to hide underneath her bed. It comments on finding some of her missing underwear.
    • An absolutely hilarious one in Kingdom of the Wicked. Valkyrie shows Alternate Meritorious her phone, playing a game of Angry Birds. Later on in the book, Skulduggery tells Eliza Scorn that his phone has a secret passage finder on it. After she accidentally gives away the secret passage, he reveals that his phone doesn't have any such program, saying that the only things phones are for is making calls and playing Angry Birds.
    • Or the part where The sparrow flies south for winter crops up, again, used also by Ghastly and Ravel, with a comment by one of them along the lines of "Wow, I can't believe that worked...".
    • Remember the nameless Mook from the first book who broke into Gordon's house, attacked Stephanie and eventually fell into a river, causing him to fall apart due to his fire-immunity? His name is finally revealed as Vindick Leather in The Maleficent Seven, over six books later.
    • In Mortal Coil Valkyrie notes that, while Skulduggery has his gun and Tanith has her sword, she doesn't carry a weapon, and announces that she wants a stick. Amused, Skulduggery promises to buy her a stick for Christmas. Then, three books later in Kingdom of the Wicked, we get this:
      Valkyrie: You have no idea about presents or what they mean. The last present you gave me was a stick.
      • In Last Stand of Dead Men, he gets her another one. This one is essentially a magical Tazer, and as it turns out, makes a pretty effective weapon.
    • In The Dying of the Light Skulduggery throws a handcuffed mook through a window when he could have easily used the door. Why did he not use the door?
    Skulduggery: You know why.
    Axle: Why did he do that? Why?
    Stephanie: (*glowers*) Because doors are for people with no imagination.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Tesseract is rather... quirky for an assassin.
    • The Deadpan Snarker boxing champ Ghastly Bespoke is actually a tailor. Think about that for a second.
    • Skulduggery himself has a quirky sense of humour that may or may not be a symptom of insanity, but absolutely no one doubts his power or efficiency.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Rare hero-on-villain version in 'The Lost Art of World Domination'. Scaramouche is crushed to discover Skulduggery doesn't list him as an Arch-Enemy, wasn't actually trying to stop his plans (they just happened to run into each other while Skul was on a different mission) and didn't even know Scaramouche was still alive.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Scapegrace is a prime example of this. In his first book, Book 2, he gets beaten up, arrested, and misses a chance to escape. Book 3, he's freed, beaten up, arrested, beaten up in his cell, then is helped escape. Book 4, killed, reanimated as a zombie, embarrassed by the pathetic zombie horde he builds, burned in the face. In Book 5, his list of ways to come back to life quickly shrinks as science can't help, and nor can Kenspeckle. Book 6 Dr Nye won't help them, and he later ends up lost underground and gets decapitated by the White Cleaver. Book 7, Nye gives him a new body, but accidentally makes him a woman.
    • Fletcher's hair.
    • Thrasher.
    • Prave, bless his fundamentalist heart.
    • Omen Darkly, despite his best efforts.
    • Sebastian Tao.
  • Came Back Wrong: By the time Skulduggery was resurrected, his body was just bones. It's mentioned that he has "none of the strengths of a human body, but all of the weaknesses" - including still being able to feel pain. He does, however, have incredible proficiency with Necromancy...
    • It's revealed in Midnight that Valkyrie caused this inadvertently for her sister Alice. She killed Alice as a baby at the end of The Dying of the Light with the intention of resurrecting her immediately. However, Skulduggery concludes that this may have caused her to grow up without a soul - meaning that Alice never feels sad or afraid of things that would frighten most adults.
  • Cannibal Clan: Valkyrie and Skulduggery run into one in the short story Myosotis Terra
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • Nefarian Serpine.
    • Even moreso is Scaramouche Van Dregg.
    • The magnificent Killer Supreme.
  • Cast from Sanity: Anton Shudder and Temper Fray's discipline involves summoning an evil ghost duplicate called a gist to fight for them. It gets more powerful each time it's used and will eventually have to stop being summoned or it will permanently take over their body.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In Dead or Alive, Donald Trump is mentioned at one point despite Martin Flanery being a Trumplica who is President of the United States. It can be inferred that in this universe, Donald Trump never became president.
  • Chekhov's News: The All-Ireland, a sports match between Dublin and Kerry, is mentioned a few times in Book 4. The Revenger's Club is going to use a bomb to kill the 80,000 people at the event.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Skulduggery's head at the end of book three, introduced early in book one. Used in book four.
    • The Book of Names: a MacGuffin in the first book, used in the Wham Ending of book 4.
    • Lord Vile's armour: the MacGuffin from book two which returns at the end of book five, now animated .
    • In Dark Days, the vampire Dusk drinks from Valkyrie's blood briefly before backing away, and Valkyrie is soon informed that he tasted something in her blood that marked her out as being "special". It isn't until Bedlam, a full eight books later, that he reveals the truth to her: she's a Faceless One.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Sceptre of the Ancients.
  • Civil War: The war between the Irish Sanctuary and the Supreme Council during Last Stand of the Dead Men. Much is said of the two sides having friends on each side forced to fight each other.
  • Clean Food, Poisoned Fork: Finbar Wrong takes out an assassin with a poisoned cup of tea. Not "a cup of poisoned tea", but a cup of tea with contact poison on the handle.
  • Cliffhanger: Pretty much standard for the end of each book if not a Wham Line to end things off though The Faceless Ones takes the cake with Skulduggery trapped within a parallel dimension with the Faceless Ones.
    • Book Four ends with Valkyrie finding out that she's Darquesse.
    • Book Five ends with Lord Vile returning and killing Tesseract.
    • The last chapter of Book Seven has Valkyrie's reflection gaining sentience and killing Carol to charge the Sceptre, which she plans to use on Valkyrie and Skulduggery.
    • Last Stand of Dead Men ends with Darquesse taking over Valkyrie's mind for good, China becoming Grand Mage, and Skulduggery teaming up with Stephanie to hunt Darquesse.
    • Bedlam ends with Omen and Auger Darkly being brutally injured by Jenan Ispolin, followed by the revelation that Valkyrie is descended - not from the Ancients, as was previously believed - but the Faceless Ones.
  • Cloning Blues:
    • Gordon's echo stone clone often suffers from not being sure if he can be considered "The Real Gordon" even though the original Gordon is dead. It doesn't help that he's a copy of Gordon's mind, but not his physical body.
    • Valkyrie's reflection starts believing it is a real person, believing that the life Valkyrie left behind belongs completely to it, and that Valkyrie puts the life of it and its family in danger.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Clarabelle. Dear God, Clarabelle.
    • Valkyrie's father.
    • Finbar Wrong, especially in earlier appearances.
    • Hell, everyone has their moments. Even the bad guys.
  • Co-Dragons: Mevolent had Nefarian Serpine, Baron Vengeous and Lord Vile. Serpine was the cunning one, Vengeous was the loyal fanatic and Vile was the one who he pointed in the general direction of whatever he wanted dead.
    • Kitana has the more brutal Doran and the more thoughtful Sean.
    • Erskine Ravel has the Black Cleaver (for killin' dudes) and Madame Mist (for political intrigue). Mist herself has Syc and Portia.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • In Book Four, Skulduggery is revealed to have undergone this at the hands of the Faceless Ones for an entire year.
    • Tanith gets a bit, because the author doesn't like her.
    • Serpine's favourite pastime.
    • Valkyrie gets this in book six at the hands of Melancholia the Death Bringer.
    • Toward the end of Last Stand of Dead Men Darquesse curses Ravel with excruciating pain for twenty-three hours out of every day. His body can't even adjust to it, as the pain will just increase. The Sanctuary staff can't do anything to help either.
    • Valkyrie receives this again in Seasons of War, after being captured by Mevolent's forces in the Leibniz Universe.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Most characters qualify.
    • Skulduggery carries a gun as well as using magic, and is quite willing to use it against enemies who insist on melee weapons.
    • In book 4, Fletcher puts his teleportation to good use by teleporting away from attackers and coming back with increasingly effective weapons. Fletcher gets another moment of this in book six. He gets a baseball bat to hit vampire Caelan, but Caelan is too fast. So Fletcher starts swinging and then teleports to him, and away again before Caelan can hit back.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Plenty to choose from.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Tanith: Tell us what Vengeous is planning and we'll let you walk away.
    Sanguine: But I drove here.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Serpine from the first book wears one glove, which does in fact cover his Red Right Hand.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Mortal Coil, Craven mentions that he wears thermals underneath his Necromancer robes. We see them in Death Bringer when Valkyrie sets fire to them.
    • Eliza Scorn is mentioned in Mortal Coil. She's back in Death Bringer
    • The one thing that was able to defeat the White Cleaver was Lord Vile, Skulduggery's Superpowered Evil Side. When it returns as the Black Cleaver in Last Stand of Dead Men, it goes up against Skulduggery. Skulduggery wins, naturally enough, by using Necromancy.
  • Cool Car: Skulduggery's classic Bentley. Though at one point he's forced to swap it out for an absolutely terrible, bright green and yellow one.
    • And a hideous purple one in book 3.
    • It's suggested that he keeps a bunch hidden around. They're probably all just as terrible.
    • Book 7 has an orange one show up.
    • Book 8 gets the Oompa Loompa.
  • Cool Mask: Tesseract.
    • Parodied in Last Stand of Dead Men, when Vaurien Scapegrace decides to pull a Heel–Face Turn of sorts. Turns out his main point of reference for how heroism works is Batman.
    Scapegrace: We'll need masks.
    • Sebastian Tao wears a Plague Doctor mask that he seemingly can't remove, for unknown reasons.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Scapegrace has a problem that causes him to invent a twin brother. Of course he gets every detail right and thinks of everything... except one of the names.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The Fifth book's cover suggests that Skulduggery is going to be hauled off in the Coach-A-Bowers.
    • The cover of The Dying of the Light depicts Skulduggery's disembodied skull lying on the ground with smoke pouring from its eye-sockets, implying that he's going to die. But that only ever happens in a vision the Sensitives use to trick Darquesse.
    • The Maleficent Seven depicts Tanith Low wielding a katana, when she sword she uses is always described as a long sword.
  • Crapsack World:
    • The Alternate Universe in Kingdom of the Wicked is fairly dreadful. Mevolent won the war. Mortals are used as servants. The new regime has Sensitives Mind Rape their enemies. Skulduggery has given in to his Superpowered Evil Side and Lord Vile pretty much kills everything Mevolent tells him to. Including Ghastly. Serpine is bewildered at the notion of children getting presents at Christmas. And there's no sarcasm. By the time the dimension is returned to in Seasons of War, things have somehow gotten even worse, as now that version of Earth has been all but destroyed by a Zombie Apocalypse engineered by the necromancers.
    • The dimension Skulduggery gets dragged into, which had once been a thriving world before the Faceless Ones arrived.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Caelan.
  • Creator Provincialism: Subverted, the books are mostly set in Ireland, but other countries are mentioned as wanting to take over the Irish Sanctuary and even briefly seen in book 3.
    • Book 8 has some action taking place in other countries when the Dead Men attack the London Sanctuary, later when they visit the town of Wolfsong in France, and when Skulduggery and Valkyrie go rescue Fletcher in Africa.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:

  • Dark Is Not Evil: In Dark Days, Valkyrie becomes a necromancer of sorts, and she doesn't really change too much for it.
    • Made into a joke with the tagline of the first book, traditionally paired with an image of Skulduggery looking particularly dark:
    And he's the good guy.
  • Darker and Edgier: Death Bringer is by far the most violent of the series up to that point and the heroes are turning progressively greyer.
  • The Dead Can Dance: Skulduggery sure can.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much everyone, but Skulduggery and Valkyrie certainly qualify.
  • Deal with the Devil: At the start of Seasons Of War Valkyrie and Skulduggery take down a group of mortal actors who are helping a mage sacrifice girls to Satan in order to boost their careers. Turns out he's using I Know Your True Name to make directors give them jobs in exchange for 40% of the actors' wages and the sacrifices were completely unnecessary.
  • Death Glare: Vengeous. It makes people rupture.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: The Cannibal Clan in Myosotis Terra often talk about "The Beast" and how "The Beast must be fed!" What they mean by this is that if they don't feed their small, fluffy pet monster, it will starve, and the leader of the Clan really doesn't want that.
  • Death Takes a Holiday: "The Passage" that the necromancers are trying to bring about involves sacrificing half the world's population to make the other half immortal.
  • Deconstruction: Valkyrie Cain is what happens when you recruit a young child to help fight against life-threatening magic users and Eldritch Abominations, most of which Would Hurt a Child and the various situations where she's nearly died. She ends up becoming a Blood Knight and she eventually gains a dark half called Darquesse who after finally taking her over and eventually being freed from her decides to lay waste to the world. She eventually gains PTSD from this and doesn't heal from the trauma until "Seasons of War". It's pointed out by several characters in Phase 2 that she could easily give up and lead a normal life yet she chooses to come back and fight, as if she enjoys the adventures and the violence included in them.
    • As the series goes on, Valkyrie's life of adventure starts catching up with her mentally. Starting off as a Kid Hero and handing off mundane activities to her Reflection, she isn't well equipped for a life that doesn't involve fighting bad guys, and eventually realizes she hasn't met any of her schoolfriends. In saving the day she's had to make a lot of bad decisions and spends a lot of the later books hating herself for it. Post-Darquesse, she winds up with PTSD and is reluctant to go back to that life, not recovering mentally until "Seasons of War".
    • Batu is a deconstruction of Godhood Seeker. As a mortal man in a family of sorcerers, Batu never had any magic of his own and later on decided to hire the Diablerie in order to resurrect the Faceless Ones. He hopes that by merging with them, he can become a God. When the moment finally comes, he's unceremonious killed and his corpse is later used in "Dark Days" whenever the Faceless Ones want to torture Skulduggery.
    • The Valkyrie and Caelan subplot in "Death Bringer" deconstructs Twilight's main romance between Edward and Bella by showing it as creepy, with Valkyrie being disgusted and uncomfortable with Caelan's behavior. Caelan acts like [[Literature/Twilight Edward]], and though Valkyrie is at least initially attracted to him, she otherwise acts not like Bella, but like any normal human being would when confronted with his behavior (borderline stalking, obsessiveness, Purple Prose-style declarations of eternal love), and becomes progressively more uncomfortable around him. He finally, like real-life stalkers, becomes violent when she tries to push him away, and attacks her. With Fletcher's help, Valkyrie end up killing Caelan in self defence.
    • Skulduggery Pleasant's redemption from being Lord Vile deconstructs Easily Forgiven in that despite choosing to reject his formerly Omnicidal Maniac ways and be a good person and also having turned the tide of the war against Mevolent, he spends every day atoning for his past actions.
    • Argeddion's plot in "Kingdom of the Wicked" deconstructs Actual Pacifist and Horrible Judge of Character in that Argeddion doesn't actually do any fighting himself so the story's main conflict comes from his horribly naive notion that spreading magic across the world would make it more peaceful. It's little surprise that giving a bunch of teenage sociopaths superpowers end up going badly. Argeddion's plan to spread magic across the world goes wrong to due to him picking the worst kind of people for his plan, leading to the death of his wife and his alternate universe self (Walden D'Essai) who wants no part in his plans due to living in a society where mages oppress mortals due to magic being out in the open. Despite his pacifist ideals, he ends up killing Walden by accident due to his repressed violent instincts.
    • Erskine Ravel believes himself to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist, intending to improve Roarhaven for mages and making mortals second class citizens. Skulduggery is pissed at him for killing Ghastly and Anton and decides to kill him. The heroes feel no sympathy for him at all when Darquesse forces him to feel pain 23 hours a day every day and he's unceremoniously disposed of to shut down the Accelerator. Despite feeling guilt for his actions yet claiming them to be necessary, he's shown to be nothing more than a self-serving coward when Skulduggery actually confronts him.
    • Valkyrie Cain's life in Phase 2 deconstructs Easily Forgiven and Identical Stranger; she isn't forgiven for Darquesse's actions and she believes she deserves their abuse from angry citizens, most of whom had family who were killed due to Darquesse's attack on Roarhaven. Darquesse for reference is Valkyrie's Superpowered Evil Side who emerged from her and became her own separate entity and is physically identical to Valkyrie herself.
    • Lord Vile's Liebniz counterpart is what would happen had Skulduggery Pleasant continued to stay loyal to Mevolent. He already existed due to the trauma of Skulduggery losing his family and due to being surrounded by Mevolent's faction could only go further down. Due to [[spoiler:his links to the Viddu De and his omincidal nature, he only cares about killing everyone in every universe, a goal which borders on Stupid Evil due to him creating a Zombie Apocalypse and betraying his boss. This self-destructive goal causes Leibniz!Lord Vile to be killed by Valkyrie's usage of the Scepter of the Ancients, causing the once-mighty Death Bringer to die an ironically anticlimatic death.]]
    • Ancient Evil gets deconstructed twice over. In "Bedlam", Abyssinia ends up disadvantaged due to Technology Marches On granting US soldiers the means to restrict her magic, eventually leading to her being stabbed to death by Martin Flannery, a mere mortal who only had the advantage due to her losing her regeneration powers. Later on, in "Seasons of War", The Unnamed is defeated anticlimactically. This is no surprise due to him using Caisson's dead body as a vessel, greatly reducing his power along with him having not seen action for aeons. This leads to him being killed by Augur Darkly whose spent most of his life training for this one fight.
    • Augur Darkly is a deconstruction of The Chosen One. His parents made him train for most of his life to fulfil the Darkly Prophecy (i.e kill the Unnamed with the Obsidian Blade) at the cost of neglecting his younger brother Omen. This causes Omen to become The Un-Favourite and Augar to live under immense pressure and to become disillusioned with his parents, calling them out for using him to promote themselves at the cost of his and Omen's wellbeing. It also leaves Augur unsure of what to do with his life after the prophecy has been fulfilled, due to that being his main purpose in life.
    • Rancid Fines is a deconstruction of Piggybacking Off Hitler and Those Wacky Nazis. He joined up with the Nazis to find the Crystal of the Saints, and still continues to be one in the present day. Suffice to say, he's only a minor villain at best and is viewed as nothing more than a pathetic little worm by the other characters.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: The Necromancers wear robes that completely fail to keep them warm in their freezing cold temples during winter. Subverted when it's revealed that at least a few of these necromancers are deeply wrapped in thermals beneath their robes.
  • Dem Bones: Skulduggery himself.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • The Remnants.
    • Apparently this happens to Finbar on a regular basis.
  • Description Cut: One paragraph in The Wonderful Adventures of Geoffrey Scrutinous ends with Geoffrey assuring a mortal police officer that Skulduggery Pleasant will be able to solve the cause of a murder, as he does things like that all the time. The next paragraph begins with Skulduggery confessing that he has no idea what is going on.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In Last Stand, Dusk, having not appeared until then, ends up killing Moloch, meaning the vampire reinforcements the heroes were expecting aren't coming, and if they get free they have another problem.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: Valkyrie returns to her own dimension at the end of Seasons Of War and is surprised to find out its Christmas Eve and complains she hadn't seen any decorations.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In book 2, Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Tanith, Mr. Bliss, China, a small army of Cleavers, and a mage called the Torment manage to kill the Grotesquery, a creature partially constructed from the corpse of a Faceless One's host. In book 3, Valkyrie manages to kill two Faceless Ones using the Scepter of the Ancients, a weapon specifically designed to do so. Skulduggery manages to force the third back through the gate into their prison dimension by hitting it with a strong gust of wind.
    • At the end of Kingdom of the Wicked, Skulduggery manages to induce an epileptic fit in Argeddion and Darquesse, thus beating the most powerful sorcerers in the universe.
  • Dimensional Traveller: There's a magical discipline called Dimensional Shunting that's dwindling in popularity as the mage might materialise inside a solid object if they're going to a world they've never been to before. It's getting big again in the phase 2 books.
  • Dirty Coward: Necromancers, or at least the necromancer elite. They're willing to murder billions of people to cheat death themselves, simply because death terrifies them so.
  • Dissonant Serenity: In book 6, Death Bringer, Valkyrie is surprised at how calm she is after Melancholia tortures her. It's implied that Darquesse is the one calming her down.
  • Disorganized Outline Speech: In the second book, when Skulduggery loses track of his pep talk.
    "I seem to have lost track of this speech, I'm not sure where it is going, but I know where it started and that's what I want you to remember. Has anyone seen my hat?"
  • Distant Epilogue: The B-plot of The Dying of the Light is one for Phase One of the series, but it takes place roughly five months before Phase Two begins.
  • Distressed Dude: Skulduggery, who gets chained and tortured in the first book, and Fletcher.
    Valkyrie: Don't worry, if the bad man comes, I'll protect you.
    Fletcher: If the bad man comes I'll bravely give out a high-pitched scream to distract him. I may even bravely faint, to give him a false sense of security. That will be your signal to strike.
    Valkyrie: We make a great team.
    Fletcher: Just don't forget to stand in front of me the whole time.
    • Danny gets kidnapped and held hostage by Gant in The Dying of the Light.
    • Temper Fray is captured by the anti-Sanctuary in Resurrection after being discovered as a mole by the group.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • They even call the Desolation Engine a weapon of mass destruction, and its development seems to recall what scientists working on nuclear bombs have said they felt about it.
    • In Book 5, Mortal Coil, Caelan the vampire kisses Val and becomes obsessed with her; hanging around her house and watching her family, and leaping to her defense with vim and vigor, thought she doesn't ask him to. It's faintly reminiscent of Edward Cullen in Twilight.
      • In Book 6, Death Bringer, she breaks up with him, telling him they're "not Edward and Bella". (Or Buffy and Angel.) The chapter is even called "My Twilight."
    • The zombies are massive sources of this.
    Sanguine: Look at it swingin' there. For God's sake, man, put it away. That's disgusting.
    Thrasher: I am who I am.
    Sanguine: Hey, you go fly your freak flag high, but you just tuck that little bit of yourself back in so you don't scar no minds. Have some dignity. note 
    • Once he stops being a zombie, Scapegrace accidentally gets stuck with a female body. The confusion this causes him - and everyone else - sounds almost like a satire on media bumbles regarding transgender people.
  • Domain Holder: Cadaverous Gant's main power is that he's invincible in his own home, often forcing Valkyrie to find other ways to defeat him.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In Skulduggery Pleasant and the Faceless Ones, we find out early on that the elusive Batu is the man behind the Diablerie, but the mystery remains: Who the hell is Batu? It was a mortal Farmer who wanted to bring back the Faceless Ones as a means of getting his own magical powers.
  • Double Entendre:
    • Dark Days gives us this exchange.
      Thrasher: (about being a zombie) We're happy the way we are.
      Scapegrace: Happy with power.
      Thrasher: Very happy, just the two of us, and there's nothing wrong with us either. It's very natural in fact. Nothing to be ashamed of-
      Scapegrace: Thrasher, shut up.
    • And the first book gives us this:
      Serpine: ...What can I say? I crave instant satisfaction. I'm shallow like that.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Several:
    • Playing with Fire refers to Valkyrie regularly putting herself in dangerous situations, but as Elemental mages, herself and Skulduggery literally play with fire.
    • Death Bringer can be in reference to any of three characters who were all at different stages considered to be candidates for the Necromancers' saviour - Lord Vile, Valkyrie Cain and Melancholia St. Clair.
    • Resurrection is the first entry in Phase Two of the series, and is therefore the "resurrection" of the franchise and its title character. However, it also refers to the goal of the book's villains - bringing back Abyssinia from the dead.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Most of the books end with the heroes at least saving the day or postponing the inevitable. "The Faceless Ones" ends with Skulduggery being dragged into an alternate dimension currently home to Eldritch Abomination, evil Gods. "Mortal Coil" ends with Tanith being possessed. "Last Stand of Dead Men" ends with Darquesse taking over Valkyrie, Ravel betraying and murdering his friends and what looks like Desmond finding out what his daughter has been doing for the past six years.
    • Subverted in The Dying of the Light. The book ends with Darquesse slaughtering the heroes, a group of psychics, everyone who tries to stand against her, waging war on entire countries, destroying the planet and eventually the entire universe before teleporting herself to the Faceless ones' dimension. Then it's revealed that everything after Darquesse getting surrounded by the psychics was a figment of her imagination they forced on her. The only thing she really did was teleport herself to the Faceless Ones.
  • The Dragon:
    • Billy-Ray Sanguine to pretty much every Big Bad since Vengeous (not counting the Remnants, obviously). Doubles as Dragon with an Agenda to Vengeous, in actuality working for the Diablerie.
    • The White Cleaver to Serpine and later, Tenebrae. Even later, to Craven and Melancholia. Sort of..
    • Melancholia to Craven. Turns into a Dragon with an Agenda and Dragon Ascendant.
    • Jeramiah is one to Cadaverous Gant during "Dying of the Light" though he winds up dead. Mentioning his death is a Beserk Button for Gant, which Valkyrie uses to his advantage. Cadevorous himself becomes one to Abyssinia during "Resurrection" only to betray her in "Midnight" to become the Big Bad.
  • The Dreaded: Skulduggery himself. It's a large reason why Valkyrie's still alive. Also Lord Vile who is Skulduggery without any of the morals.
    • Darquesse is so powerful and terrifying that for a year and a half before she even surfaces every psychic on the planet starts to have horrifying visions of her ending the world. It goes downhill from there, really...
  • Dump Them All: How Valkyrie ends up dealing with her Love Triangle. Caelan disapproves.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Valkyrie to Skulduggery before he makes the sacrifice needed to shut down the Accelerator. Of course, she had no way of knowing that him shoving Ravel into it instead would qualify...
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: A few notable examples from the first book in the series, though some can be retroactively explained:
    • The rule of Adepts being locked into a single branch of magic after their Surge (with one or two related abilities) wouldn't be established until later, with Adepts in the first book portrayed as all having multiple unrelated powers that could apparently be learned as normal. It's later demonstrated that some Adepts have multiple unrelated powers, and others really are locked in to just the one power - Serpine's Red Right Hand is later confirmed to be essentially enchanted, as he doesn't redevelop the power after Leibniz Serpine loses his hand and has it regrown by Valkyrie, or main Serpine ends up possessing his spare body that Valkyrie accidentally grew.
    • Scenes like Skulduggery using a rhyming incantation to cast a spell on Valkyrie's mirror would be very out of place in the later books, where magic and magical objects are portrayed as innate and needing no activation besides a person willing it - though it does get a nod via the Languages of Magic and Batu's symbol to attract the Faceless Ones into hosts.
    • The magical community is at first portrayed as extremely small. Once the council had fallen and Ghastly was out of commission, Skulduggery is adamant that he, Valkyrie and Tanith are the only ones left to oppose Serpine. As the books progress, the world expands and a great many close allies are introduced (the Dead Men in particular), this seems quite strange in retrospect.
    • The Faceless Ones are initially a myth, believed in by very few besides zealots such as Serpine. Come the second book, and the possibility of them returning is treated as 100% serious by the entire cast, without a shred of doubt as to their existence.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how.
  • Ear Worm: Valkyrie says Mevolent's supporters have some catchy chants and that one about killing all mortals was an Ear Worm that had her humming all day.
  • Eat Brain for Memories:
    • Skulduggery interrogates Scapegrace by making him think that Tanith Low had the power to do this, and would do so if he refused to talk.
    • Apparently the Crenga do this to pass on their memories and continue to exist in a way after death. One of the Nyes ends up eating the other's brain to make itself to valuable to die.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Valkyrie with Dexter Vex, repeatedly.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Faceless Ones.
    • And the Jitter Girls imply there are others out there.
  • Elemental Powers: The most common type of sorcerers, Elementals, use this type of magic.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Valkyrie and Melancholia at the end of Death Bringer. Kind of.
    • This also happens with Billy-Ray Sanguine a few times, most notably in Mortal Coil but happens again in The Dying of the Light.
    • Skulduggery and Valkyrie team up with Serpine and China in the Alternate Universe.
    • The Sanctuary teams up with Kitana and her gang against Argeddion at one point.
    • Valkyrie and Alternate Universe Serpine do this on multiple occasions.
    • Toward the end of Last Stand of Dead Men Skulduggery helps Ravel defend Roarhaven from the Warlocks. Even though Ravel recently murdered Ghastly and Anton.
    • Skulduggery reluctantly partners with Valkyrie's murderous reflection to hunt Darquesse.
    • Dusk and his vampires join the Sanctuary in The Dying of the Light
    • During the climax of The Dying of the Light Skulduggery frees Ravel so he can help the Sanctuary fight Darquesse. Vile and Melancholia fight together against Darquesse.
    • It's revealed in Resurrection that, several hundred years before the series began, the Diablerie and the Dead Men teamed up in order to take down Abyssinia, who was a threat to both sides of the war with Mevolent.
    • And then in Midnight, Abyssinia is forced to team up with Skulduggery in order to track down Cadaverous Gant - who has taken her son hostage.
  • Entertainment Above Their Age: By age twelve, Stephanie Edgely was already an avid fan of her uncle Gordon's adult horror novels. Since Gordon's stories were mostly based on the exploits of real sorcerers, Skulduggery sometimes uses Gordon's books to help explain certain magical concepts to Stephanie.
  • Epic Fail: In Last Stand Of Dead Men, Fletcher makes a bad Pun. Ghastly complements him on his Roger Moore impression. Fletcher had been trying for Sean Connery.
  • Equivalent Exchange: When Skulduggery and Valkyrie want a secret from Clockwork House, Mellifluous tells them they need to give it back a secret each.
  • Everyone Is Bi: By nature of having longer lifespans than mortals, sorcerers have largely embraced sexual fluidity and most of the characters in the series are therefore bisexual. In fact, it's more unusual for a sorcerer to remain attracted to a single gender for their whole life.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Gender seems to not have any effect on China's ability to make others fall madly in love with her. However, as it's not exactly romantic love all the time. More like helpless adoration, like a puppy.
    • On the other hand, it's worth mentioning that in Death Bringer, she says that she only employs unmarried/single mortals to make sure nobody leaves their partners over her. This includes the women.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Valkyrie is really scared of becoming Darquesse... although the fear starts to get replaced by temptation in Book Six. When Skulduggery comes face-to-face with Lord Vile for the first time, it's enough to terrify him.
    • Stephanie, the reflection, starts to get very unhinged and scares the crap out of Valkyrie, who thinks her reflection is an evil counterpart holding her family hostage. Turns out later that Stephanie thinks that Valkyrie/Darquesse is the evil one and is terrified of her.
  • Evil Old Folks: Of course ignoring the centuries' old sorcerers, old people just seem to be bad news.
    • In Mortal Coil, Valkyrie is attacked by an old woman possessed by a Remnant.
    • Mercy is briefly disguised as an elderly tenant in The End Of The World.
    • An elderly hitwoman is sent after Valkyrie in Last Stand Of Dead Men.
    • Cadaverous Gant was already a murderous old man when he discovered magic, so now he's stuck like that for the rest of his now-extended lifespan.
    • Valkyrie has a run-in with a pair of elderly cannibals in Midnight.
  • Evil Versus Evil:
    • All over the place in Death Bringer. Darquesse (evil Valkyrie) versus the Jitter Girls, Lord Vile (evil Skulduggery) versus the Death Bringer and (the most disturbing of the lot) Darquesse versus Lord Vile.
    • Darquesse and Vile take on Kitana's gang. Lord Vile fights Darquesse again when she tries to take off his armour. She rather enjoys it. This particular fight sequence also includes Well-Intentioned Extremist Argeddion, who probably still counts as evil given the number of people killed by his experiments, as a separate side altogether. Oh, and MEVOLENT.
    • Alternate Serpine joins the resistance and helps Skulduggery and Valkyrie (somewhat unwillingly). He still worships the Faceless Ones but thinks that Mevolent is insane.
    • In The Dying of the Light, Lord Vile and Melancholia very nearly kill Darquesse. In the end, Darquesse goes to fight the Faceless Ones, after being made to believe that she had already destroyed the world and absorbed its power.
  • Exactly Exty Years Ago: It took the Engineer "nearly three decades" to get bored of doing its job.
  • Exact Words: The requirement for shutting down the Accelerator is that is must have a soul, willingly given. Skulduggery gets around it by giving it Ravel's soul. Nobody said that the soul you willingly gave had to be your own.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Averted. The other universes aren't treated as less important than ours, although they aren't really doing so well.
  • Eye Scream: During their fight, Lord Vile sticks his thumb in Darquesse's eye. She lets him do it to see if it will heal.
  • Faint in Shock: The revelation that Skulduggery Pleasant is a talking, sentient skeleton causes Stephanie to faint.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Some of the deaths, like the first book's water related death, seem just slightly on the creepy side considering the books' target audience. Another good example is in Book Three, when Mr. Bliss is grinded to a mush of bone and flesh by a Faceless One.
    • Most of the deaths in book five. Darquesse kicking Burgundy Dalrymple so hard in the jaw, that she literally boots his brain out of his head like a football, comes to mind.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Every now and then. Special mention goes to Tanith getting nailed to a chair, Valkyrie getting cut all over to the point where she nearly bleeds to death, Lord Vile sticking his thumb in Darquesse's eye, everything involving Darquesse in Kingdom of the Wicked, numerous people getting graphically burned alive and Valkyrie losing limbs in Last Stand of Dead Men
  • Fan Disservice: The, err... butterfly from Kingdom of the Wicked. Also... Alternate Universe Serpine in his towel. And without it.
  • Fan Girl:
    • Tanith Low is apparently one to Gordon Edgley.
    • Valkyrie meets a fan in The Last Stand of Dead Men. While she is a little weirded out she's more upset that the fight didn't go completely her way.
  • Fantastic Ghetto;
    • Mages have their own neighbourhoods in mortal towns that are intentionally made to look bad so mortals leave them alone.
    • There's a tower block that's run by vampires. The mortal residents consensually donate their blood in exchange for the vampires keeping the area crime free.
    • Roarhaven has a shantytown called the City Of Tents where refugees from the Leibniz Dimension are kept and aren't allowed to leave. They then get house din an area called the Humdrums.
    • Roarhaven also has a vampire area called The Fangs.
  • Fighting Your Friend:
    • Valkyrie and Skulduggery versus Remnant!Tanith (and Remnant!Everyone Else for that matter) at the end of Mortal Coil.
    • The end of Death Bringer brings us the far more disturbing battle between Darquesse and Lord Vile. This happens again in both Kingdom of the Wicked and The Dying of the Light.
    • Valkyrie is forced to fight a corrupted Skulduggery in Resurrection.
  • Finger-Snap Lighter: This is Elemental sorcerers' traditional way of summoning a fireball.
  • Fireball: Common method of attacking for elemental mages.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Valkyrie and Stephanie after a fight with remnant!Tanith. Stephanie dies a few chapters later.
  • First-Episode Twist: Stephanie changes her name to Valkyrie Cain halfway through the first book.
  • First Kiss: Valkyrie misses hers, since her reflection receives it instead.
    • She gets her actual first kiss from Fletcher in a later book.
  • First-Name Basis: Skulduggery and Serpine. They utterly loathe each other. It's more familiarity that anything else.
  • Five-Man Band: Changes up between books. Only The Hero and The Lancer remain the same (Skulduggery and Valkyrie, respectively.
  • Flat "What": Played for Drama as Fletcher's reaction in Death Bringer when Valkyrie blurts out that she's been seeing Caelan behind his back.
  • Flight: Skulduggery perfected flying using wind magic while trapped in the Faceless Ones' dimension and later taught it to other elementals when he got home.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first book Steph wakes up to Wagner's Ride of the Valkryies at thunderous volume, the day she gains her third name. In fact, in the very next paragraph she is wondering what name to take. Slightly later on somebody makes the statement that 'Trouble follows' in Skulduggery's wake. It's reasonable to guess that this foreshadows Valkyrie's second name, Cain, which is an intentional reference to her being troublesome, and at the point it's said Stephanie is basically just following Skulduggery around. Indeed Skulduggery describes her as "troublesome" very soon afterwards.
    • In the second book Tanith wonders what would top fighting a god, and in reply Valkyrie makes a comment about fighting two gods. They then proceed to fight more than one god in the next book.
    • The ball of energy that destroys the Sanctuary at the end of Dark Days is visible on the front cover of the paperback edition.
      • In Dark Days Solomon Wreath, Valkyrie's necromancer magic teacher and possessor of a rather better moral compass than most Necromancers (this is not hard) warns that if Lord Vile hears about the preparation of Valkyrie to become Death Bringer, he will come back to destroy them all. When he returns at the end of Mortal Coil, this is his stated intention according to Skulduggery. The Death Bringer is also the title of book six.
    • In book one, Skulduggery mentions a rare ability where a sorcerer can be both an Elemental and an Adept. He has it.
    • "You want to know my nature? It's a dark and twisted thing."
    • And most blatantly:
    Valkyrie: You didn't tell me you had history with the Necromancers.
    Skulduggery: I'm over 400 years old, I haven't told you a lot of things.
    • After Corrival Deuce nominates Skulduggery and Ravel as the Elders, Skulduggery and Ravel spend a lot of time discussing it. At one point Skulduggery suggests they nominate China Sorrows. Guess who gets picked as Grand Mage by the last book.
    • At the end of Book 5, Tesseract asks how Skulduggery knew Vile enough to have a conversation with him. He reveals that Skulduggery 'arrived' when Lord Vile was 'gone'. Cue the revelation of Book 6 where we find out Skulduggery WAS Lord Vile. In the same discussion, he asks if Lord Vile brought Skulduggery back from the dead with Necromancy. It wasn't Vile, but it was Necromancy, or rather, a Necromancer: Tenebrae.
    • Skulduggery threatens to shoot Craven in the head if he attempts to attack him and the other Sanctuary Agents. Guess who gets shot in the head by Skulduggery at the end of the book?
    • Lord Vile is eventually revealed to be the Superpowered Evil Side of Skulduggery Pleasant.
    • When Valkyrie is Only Mostly Dead and facing off Nye in Mortal Coil, she is incredibly overpowered and he warns her against using necromancy because she's 'a dead person'. Who is another person using necromancy while dead? Lord Vile. No wonder he was so powerful.
    • The first time the reflection tries to smile, it's described as being "eerie". Later events aren't that much of a surprise.
    • Erskine Ravel is described as having "beautiful eyes" long before their colour is made apparent.
    • Darquesse's voice is heard in Valkyrie's head early in book 1.
    • The voices in Valkyrie's head don't go away after she and Darquesse are split, which is confirmed in the chapter where Valkyrie kills Alice and they speak to her. Sure enough as we find out in the second series a remnant called Kes remains.
  • Freudian Trio: Valkyrie and her alter egos form one all by themselves.
    • The Super Ego: The Reflection. Cold, emotionless and logical.
    • The Ego: Valkyrie herself.
    • The Id: Darquesse. Cares for nothing but her own pleasure and amusement.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Both Caelan and Fletcher show signs of this with Skulduggery, the best friend. Valkyrie dumps Caelan and Fletcher.
  • From Bad to Worse: Last Stand of Dead Men. The moment Mantis's forces get trapped in the Keep is the last Hope Spot before everything goes progressively more and more to Hell. Relentlessly.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": More like the Fun In Will Reading in book 1. Gordon had quite the sense of humor, apparently...
    Gordon's will: "So now that you've successfully stolen my girlfriend, maybe you might like to take her to my villa in France, which I am now leaving to you."
    Gordon's will: "I'd just like to take this opportunity to say that, in my own way, I love you all, even those I don't particularly like. That's you, Beryl."
  • Future Me Scares Me: The wham ending to book four.

  • Gallows Humor:
    • Skulduggery tends to do this after he's made a comment referring to death.
      Skulduggery: "We're not dead yet. Well, I am, but the rest of you have a bit to go."
    • From book 5:
      Doctor Nye: You'll forgive me if I don't make any jokes about how I've stolen your heart. I've used them all up on previous patients, I'm afraid. Rest assured, every last one of those jokes was suitably morbid and witty.
    • From Kingdom of the Wicked
    Alternate China: I refuse to answer ridiculous questions.
    • Also from Kingdom of the Wicked.
    Alternate Serpine: There you are. After all these years... What? Did you get lost on your way to kill me or something?
  • Gambit Pileup:
    • Death Bringer has the Church of the Faceless clashing with Jaron Gallow and China Sorrows clashing with Skulduggery himself clashing with the Necromancers clashing with the Sanctuary clashing with the Death Bringer clashing with her own mentor clashing with Solomon Wreath clashing with Lord Vile clashing with Darquesse...and Kenny the journalist is in there somewhere... and it's unclear where Madam Mist and Doctor Nye's loyalties lie. Oh, and Vaurien Scapegrace.
    • The Man With The Golden Eyes is still lurking around as of Kingdom of the Wicked. He's been quietly intervening into the affairs of the series since Playing With Fire, and there's still been no hints as to who he is or what he really wants, and it turns out he's Ravel
  • Genre Roulette: Derek Landy himself has stated that each entry in the series occupies a different genre, while still falling under the same Urban Fantasy genre as ever other book in the series.
  • Genre Savvy: All of the cast, all of the time.
  • Genre Shift: Mortal Coil initially continues the dangling plot threads left over from the previous book and functions as an Urban Fantasy Detective story, much like the majority of the series. However, roughly halfway through the plot abruptly changes into an Invasion of the Body Snatchers Homage and remains as such until the ending.
  • Ghostapo: During World War II, Skulduggery fought some Nazis who were trying to use the Crystal of the Saints.
  • Ghost Memory: Valkyrie's reflection uses this.
  • Ghost Pirate: Skulduggery and Valkyrie arrange passage on a ship run by ghost pirates in Bedlam. They were cursed to be like this if they couldn't find a certain treasure in a time limit while they were alive. Their attempts to kill our heroes were thwarted by an attack from a second ship of ghost pirates.
    • Skulduggery implies that actual ghost ships exist but are useless for transport because people just pass through them.
  • God in Human Form: Darquesse is described as such, and indeed the label could be applied to any sorcerer who discovers and seals their True Name, thereby gaining direct access to the Source of magic and essentially obtaining limitless power. It's one of the more realistic instances of this trope, as these so-called gods' human forms come with the expected limitations: on one memorable occasion, both Darquesse and her fellow world-breaker Argeddion are knocked unconscious and thereby rendered powerless by suffering an induced epileptic fit.
  • Godwin's Law: "You put me on a list with Hitler?"
  • Godzilla Threshold: Book Six a few instances of this. Melancholia is about to kill three billion people and they can't stop her. Skulduggery decided that it's time to give Lord Vile free reign. When it looks like Lord Vile is going overboard, Valkyrie lets out Darquesse to stop him. It ends surprisingly well considering the good guys unleashed two Godzillas on the world.
    • In Kingdom of the Wicked, stopping first Argeddion and later Kitana is deemed to be worth pretty-much anything. Argeddion anticipates this and does his best to neutralise both of the Godzillas they released last time. This doesn't work for very long.
    • The heroes do it again in The Dying of the Light when they send Melancholia and Vile to beat up on Darquesse.
    • When Skulduggery is attacked by the version of Lord Vile from the Leibniz Universe, he becomes Lord Vile again to even the odds - making it Lord Vile vs. Lord Vile.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The Faceless Ones, for the first three books. Insane, murderous gods bent on destroying reality for their capricious whims, their return was the subject of plots behind the first three books. They soon become Out of Focus after their appearance in, appropriately enough, The Faceless Ones.
    • Darquesse for the rest of the series (Although the Necromancers are involved heavily as Big Bads and have much more plot relevance for books 4 through 6), a powerful sorceror prophesied by Sensitives to bring ruin and catastrophe to the world with her hands. She is Valkyrie's Superpowered Evil Side and takes over whenever Valkyrie is in extreme duress and definitely has the power to ruin the world.
    • The Man With The Golden Eyes, a mysterious Man Behind the Man who works behind the scenes and helps initiate some of the schemes in several books, all to some nebulous plan to have mages create a new dominion over mortals. Revealed to be Erskine Ravel in Last Stand of the Dead Men.
  • Great Offscreen War: The war between Mevolent and the Sanctuaries which serve as great fodder for many a Noodle Incident and source of backstory for a lot of characters.
    • And in Kingdom of the Wicked we see the last of the resistance put down by Vile and Mevolent, again mostly off screen.
    • Much of what happens in the war during the events of Last Stand of Dead Men happens either off-screen, or is quickly mentioned by the characters or the narrative.
  • Gut Punch: The infamous Chapter 51 of Last Stand of Dead Men, "The Man with Golden Eyes". Ravel murders Ghastly and has Anton Shudder killed by Cleavers. No one is safe, indeed.
  • Hand Blast: Energy-throwing or Ergokinesis is a common adept discipline.
  • Headless Horseman: Mortal Coil features the Dullahan as the servant of a banshee: twenty-four hours after hearing the banshee's wail, the Dullahan drives up in his Coach-a-Bowers to get you. Anyone who enters the Coach-a-Bowers dies (though it is reversible, if you weren't supposed to.)
  • The Heartless: Remnants are beings of pure evil, who only truly become whole when they possess living humans, at which point they become evil versions of those people.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The White Cleaver. Justified, as he becomes the servant of whichever Necromancer is the strongest.
    • If you count Darquesse and Lord Vile as being the same as Valkyrie and Skulduggery then they definitely count here.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted in the ending of The Dying of the Light:
    Valkyrie: There was nothing in the rules that said the soul you willingly gave had to be your own.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The Monster Hunters are this to each other.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Fergus of all people can do magic!
    • For a largely pacifistic hippie, Finbar does pretty well for himself when the Supreme Council sends an assassin after him.
  • Hope Spot: A tragic example In Last Stand. It seems there might not be a war after all, and everything is going to work out-no, wait, never mind. Some bad guys just slit a foreign prisoner's throat live on TV broadcasting everywhere. So close.
    • In Seasons of War, Saracen Rue is bitten multiple times by draugar, giving him roughly two weeks to live before he succumbs to the infection and becomes a mindless zombie himself. It's made clear that his only hope of survival lies with Valkyrie and her newly-awakened healing powers, but Valkyrie had become separated from the rest of the group. It seems as though things will become a race against the clock to save Saracen, but Valkyrie never makes it back to the group in time (or even finds out Saracen is dying until much later), and Saracen is therefore given a Mercy Kill.
  • Hourglass Plot: Between Valkyrie and the Reflection. As the series progresses, Valkyrie has less and less of original Stephanie Edgley left, while the Reflection essentially becomes Stephanie.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
  • Hyde Plays Jekyll: Darquesse pretends to be Valkyrie in The Dying of the Light, once the gang believes that Darquesse has been removed from Valkyrie's mind. They catch on fairly quickly, though, and the mistake is corrected. The only person who actually notices the switch is Skulduggery, who picked up on the fact that "Valkyrie" never asked to go home after everything she'd been through.
    • Later on in the same book, Valkyrie pretends to be Darquesse and challenges the Alternate Universe Mevolent in order to lure him into a trap. Unfortunately, Valkyrie's even worse at imitating Darquesse than the other way around.
  • I Am Not Right-Handed: Pulled by a swordsman in book 5 as a deliberate Shout-Out to the Trope Namer.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Anton Shudder lets Billy-Ray Sanguine into his hotel shortly after Skulduggery informed him someone was going to try and steal one of the Remnants imprisoned there. Half the book would never have happened if he listened to Skul.
    • What, pray tell, made Tenebrae think that putting a malevolent force of evil energy into a person, where it would probably break free, was a good idea? Especially since he tempted fate right after!
    • Valkyrie dating Caelan. Nice one.
    • Sanguine in The Faceless Ones has a flash grenade when he's captured so everyone will be blinded. It's a good trick, because he doesn't have eyes, but then the book notes: neither does Skulduggery. Previously, he revealed in the last book the fact that shackles have no effect on him, meaning he can't trick them with it in this book.
    • Around the climax of Last Stand of Dead Men, Stephanie the reflection and Dexter Vex are on top of a wall, looking down at Darquesse killing a bunch of people. They have in their possession a weapon capable of killing Darquesse. Granted, at the distance they're dealing with there's a high chance they'd accidentally hit someone else, but all those people are going to die anyway if Darquesse isn't stopped. Stephanie's not trying to take the shot makes sense because, given her relationship with Darquesse, she may well be in shock. Dexter's failure to slap her out of it and make her take the shot, however, can't really be explained by anything other than Idiot Ball.
    • Valkyrie having a grappling match with Darquesse (while invulnerable!) in the final battle, then putting on the instant-death-on-touch gauntlet after that. Brilliant stuff.
  • If I Do Not Return: Skulduggery has pulled this on Valkyrie, asking her amongst other things to not fiddle with the radio because he's just got it set right.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Played with in regards to Dusk, who fully embraces his vampire heritage (or at least uses it without problem) but ends up killing his sire, Moloch, because he hated being made a vampire.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Moore's attack on Valkyrie house definitely came across as this.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight:
    • Lord Vile fights Darquesse. Skulduggery talks her out of it.
    • Happens more and more as Darquesse's appearances become more frequent.
    • In Resurrection, Valkyrie is forced to fight Skulduggery after he is corrupted by Smoke. Her attempts to reach him while they battle seem to fall on deaf ears, but later Skulduggery is able to break out of the corruption by sheer force of will.
    • Valkyrie has several of these with her friend Tanith, after the latter is possessed by a Remnant. Unfortunately, none of them succeed.
    • Valkyrie and Skulduggery do this to each other in Death Bringer - or rather, Darquesse and Lord Vile do. Skulduggery manages to talk Valkyrie back to her normal self by simply talking to her and reminding her of the memories they've shared together.
    • This trope occurs again in Resurrection, after Skulduggery is corrupted by Smoke and turned against Valkyrie. She eventually manages to get through to him by telling him she loves him.
  • I Know Your True Name: Both of the given-name and pre-determined 'true' name type.
    • In book four, we find out Valkyrie's true one.
  • In a Single Bound: Elemental mages can use wind to jump higher and further.
  • Inheritance Backlash: The series kicks off with our heroine's uncle dying. He leaves her his house, which nearly gets our poor girl killed. Several times.
  • In the Blood: The usual effects are notably averted. While Stephanie is descended from the Ancients, it mostly doesn't mean much as she still has difficulty in using magic and has to learn it slowly. At one point, her blood line actually works against her.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Valkyrie with pretty much all the cast - even Tanith is actually 80.
    • Almost none of them act their age however.
  • Internal Reveal: Valkyrie - and the audience, with her - discovers in Dark Days that her true name is "Darquesse", the sorcerer predicted to destroy the world. She reveals this fact to Skulduggery in the next book, but the secret remains hidden from the rest of the cast until Last Stand of Dead Men, when Darquesse takes over Valkyrie's body seemingly for good.
    • Valkyrie finds out that Skulduggery and Lord Vile are the same person in Death Bringer, which so far has remained a secret from almost everyone else. China Sorrows is implied to have learned the truth in Last Stand of Dead Men, and Tanith Low discovers the truth in Seasons of War.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Tanith, when you think about it. Normal women are not supposed to survive being beaten up, stabbed, thrown into walls and cut up so many times.
    Skulduggery: She'll be fine. Tanith Low has fallen off more cars than you've ridden in.
    • Word of God states he's doing it on purpose, as Tanith was meant to die in the first book (Killed by the White Cleaver). However, his agent said it was too depressing, so he brought her back on the condition he would be able to torture her in every book.
    • Scapegrace survives through the end of Phase One of the series, outliving quite a few characters despite being the most unluckiest ever.
  • Ironic Echo: During the Broken Pedestal scene.
    Valkyrie: But, Skulduggery... you're the good guy...
  • It Has Been an Honor: The good detective pulls Stephanie aside for a sobering moment just before the Boss Battle with Serpine.
  • It's Personal:
    • Dusk is known for holding grudges forever until they're settled.
    • Any time Skulduggery or Valkyrie is injured, the other steps up.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Skulduggery tends to use this.
  • Jerkass: Davina Marr.
  • Jumped at the Call: Stephanie
    • And much later, Omen Darkly jumps at the chance to work with Valkyrie Cain and Skulduggery Pleasant after having spent his entire life living in his brother's shadow.
  • Jump Scare:
    • The first thing Skulduggery does when Valkyrie finds him in the Faceless Ones' dimension is shout "Boo!" just when she's reaching out to touch him.
    • Caelan accidentally does this to Valkyrie near the end of Mortal Coil just by walking absurdly quietly.
    • In Kingdom of the Wicked, Scapegrace is so preoccupied with trying to come up with a comeback for whatever Sanguine is about to say that he's forgotten that he's still an unrecognisable corpse head, so Sanguine doesn't realise he can speak. As a result, his Lame Comeback scares Sanguine so badly he falls over.
  • Karma Houdini: Due to being a Villain with Good Publicity and having power over Roarhaven due to his role in the Irish Sanctuary, Damocles Creed manages to escape justice at the end of "Dead or Alive" due to Skulduggery Pleasant not having an actual case against him (in spite of Damocles's plan having a high body count if it hadn't found Valkyrie).
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Tanith's sword is apparently one. Her silhouette in the first book's cover makes it more obvious.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Averted: Valkyrie changes out of her dress and into her fighting clothes in book 5. China Sorrows frequently notes how difficult it is to fight or run in tight skirts or high heels.
  • Kill It with Water: The logical way to kill someone who's fireproofed himself, apparently.
  • Killed Off for Real: Averted multiple times with Scapegrace, but played straight with too many people to list.
  • Knowledge Broker: China Sorrows. Myron Stray used to be this before Mr. Bliss found out his true name.
  • Kung-Shui: Darquesse and Lord Vile basically demolish everything in the immediate vicinity.
    • Any fight involving anything to do with the Faceless Ones or the Ancients.

  • Ladykiller in Love: Billy-Ray Sanguine is a notable skirt chaser and getter, but he seems genuinely infatuated with Tanith, which is kinda cute. Then Tanith gets possessed by a Remnant and runs off with him, and it gets pretty squicky.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Comes with the entire cast being Deadpan Snarkers.
  • The Legend of Chekhov: Skulduggery recounts the legend of the Sceptre of the Ancients to Valkyrie, insisting that it's completely untrue and the Sceptre is "highly unlikely" to exist. Naturally, he's holding the non-existant Sceptre in his skeletal hands soon afterward.
  • Legion of Doom: The Revengers' Club, basically.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Valkyrie tries this with Caelan. She fails.
  • Literal Metaphor: Skulduggery says in book 1 that he didn't lose his head. It was stolen.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Skulduggery and Valkyrie tend not to function particularly well without each other. They're a wee bit codependent. This is best demonstrated in "Dead or Alive" where in the alternate future 72 years later, Skulduggery goes dark (again) and renames himself Cadaver Cain, having lost Valkyrie who had been transformed into a vicious harpy.
  • Logical Weakness: The vast majority of sorcerers are still ultimately humans living in bodies that have the usual weaknesses. Skulduggery manages to incapacitate two world-breakers by inducing an epileptic fit in them both, knocking them unconscious and ending the fight.
    • Tesseract's powers as demonstrated in "Mortal Coil" allow him to break bones by touch. Skulduggery ends up getting it the worst out of the heroes due to being made of only bones and therefore very likely to die if enough of him is broken. In "Dead or Alive", Skulduggery winds up getting some of his bones broken by Coda Quell, though he's able to use a set of replacement bones to keep himself alive.
    • A sorcerer's power stems from their magic - therefore, cutting even one of the most powerful sorcerers off from their magic renders them as vulnerable as a mortal would be. The Blackbrook mercenary troops in Bedlam exploit this weakness by using projectile binding runes that can be fired like bullets onto a sorcerer's body to seal away their magic - allowing even a normal gun to almost fatally wound Abyssinia.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Everyone hates Necromancers and the Children of the Spider. Everyone.
    (when it is suggested that a Child of the Spider should become an Elder)Ravel actually recoiled at this suggestion. "But...Madam Mist is a Child of the Spider."
  • Loophole Abuse: Dying of the Light has Skulduggery use this to sacrifice Ravel's soul to shut down the Accelerator.
    Skulduggery: "There was nothing in the rules that said the soul willingly given (to shut down the Accelerator) is your own."
  • Love at First Sight:
    • Played with. China Sorrows has this as an ability; she can magically induce anyone she lays eyes on into such a state, bending them to her will.
    • Remnant Fletcher suggested he had this for Valkyrie, but he may not be telling the truth.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The Faceless Ones give the setting a Lovecraftian flavour but they can be just barely defeated.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Myra for Fletcher.
  • MacGuffin: well, the Sceptre for starters... and Skulduggery's head becomes this.
    • Lord Vile's armour and the Book of Names both crop up as plot points in later books.
  • Mad Doctor: Nye, also a Torture Technician.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: In the world of Skulduggery Pleasant, the most common form of magic is derived from one's true name, which connects them to the Source of magic. If someone were to discover their own true name, they would gain access to the Source directly and be potentially able to use any magical ability (provided they seal their true name so that nobody can use it against them). However, hardly any sorcerers in history have ever succeeded in doing this.
    • Most sorcerers are either Elementals or Adepts. However, these are only the most commonly-accepted methods of performing magic, and other types of sorcerors (such as Witches and Warlocks) exist on the fringes of society.
    • Furthermore, there have been known to exist very rare examples of sorcerers who have no true name at all - such as Mevolent's master - and have access to a unique type of magic not yet understood. Once Valkyrie's true name is separated from her, she becomes one such sorcerer.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: In ''Dead Or Alive, Valkyrie interviews a low level mage called Fernando Marvellious who uses wing magic to levitate objects for a mortal audience.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: The tunnels under Uncle Gordon's house are filled with various monstrosities attracted to magic and those that use it.
  • Magic Wand: Sorcerers experimented with using them centuries ago but abandoned it because they made them subconsciously limit their own potential.
    • Necromancers need an object to channel their powers. It's usually a ring but at least one of them used a wand.
  • The Magocracy: The Sanctuaries are magical governments all over the world.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Darquesse gets beheaded. Her thoughts? Oh, hell.
  • Master of One Magic: Most adult mages can only do one type of magic apart from a few examples of The Red Mage mentioned below.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Skulduggery's preferred form of answer, seemingly.
    Valkyrie: What is it?
    Skulduggery: It's a box.
    Valkyrie: What kind of box?
    Skulduggery: A wooden one.
    Valkyrie: (giving him a Death Glare) OK, I'll try this. Why are we hiding from a box?
    Skulduggery: We're not. We're hiding from what's inside the box.
  • May–December Romance:
    • There's about three hundred years between Ghastly and Tanith, give or take a century or two. Though, given the age of most sorcerers, this is most probably still acceptable in their society.
    • On a somewhat more dysfunctional and squicky note, sixteen year old Valkyrie and one hundred year old Caelan.
  • Meaningful Name: Invoked and encouraged in-universe. Magic users can cast harmful spells on people if they know the person's given name. As a result, most of them take a second, self-chosen name (or a 'taken' name), as doing so means their 'given' name can no longer be used. Most of these names are not real names at all, but generally some form of cool-sounding descriptor.
    • Smart sorcerers use names that describe them; the less intelligent ones use names that sound cool. Skul knows a woman named Jet who was overweight.
    • There is a third name that all people have, a 'true' name, and if someone learns that, God help you.
      Valkyrie: What happened (to him)?
      Skulduggery: Mr. Bliss found out his true name.
      • The true name has a second role: learning your true name (and sealing it, preventing anyone from using it against you) means you can become much more powerful by being more connected to magic... but you get a little unhinged and develop a new personality which might have a god complex (Argeddion) or just be plain omnicidal (Darquesse)
  • The Medic: Kenspeckle. After he dies Doctor Nye fills this role. A Doctor Synecdoche becomes this for Valkyrie, since she refuses to be treated by Nye.
  • Mêlée à Trois: In Kingdom of the Wicked: Argeddion vs Kitana's gang vs Lord Vile vs Darquesse vs Alternate Mevolent.
  • Memetic Badass: Lord Vile is one In-Universe.
    Ghastly: There was a rule that we had back then. You don't go up against Vile alone. You wait until your army is gathered behind you, you all attack together and you pray that someone gets in a lucky shot.
    Tanith: Vile was that dangerous?
    Ghastly: Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to separate the fiend from the legend, you know?
  • The Men in Black: There are in-universe rumours of a mortal government agency called Department X that experiments on captured mages but Skulduggery says they don't exist.
  • Mental Space Travel: Jericho Hargitsi says it's possible for your soul to visit other planets or universes during Astral Projection.
  • Mercy Kill: In Last Stand of Dead Men, Skulduggery does this to his own soldiers who were going to be burned alive by the Wretchlings.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Vaurien Scapegrace, Killer Supreme (who only actually kills someone for the first time half way through Dark Days).
    • Possibly more suited to his minion, Thrasher, who can't be scary for shit and indeed begins to cry when the other zombies refuse to listen to him.
    • Elsie turns out to be just plain bad at being part of a gang of magical psychos. It provokes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Mirror Match: Stephanie and Valkyrie beat the crap out of each other in Last Stand of Dead Men.
    • Another one happens in "Seasons of War" in which Skulduggery transforms into Lord Vile to combat the Leibniz!Lord Vile. It doesn't last, ending with Skulduggery reverting to normal.
  • Mood Whiplash: Mortal Coil gives us a fun little sword fight, complete with The Princess Bride references and a chance to see China Sorrows and Skulduggery being cool and badass. Skulduggery loses his temper and breaks the guy's arm. Err...
    • And in Last Stand of Dead Men we have a cheerful chapter featuring the reunited Dead Men. Stories are told, laughs are had, misunderstandings are cleared up. And then they tell Valkyrie about an encounter they had with Lord Vile. Skulduggery grows very quiet.
  • Muggles: The third book plays up the split between muggles and magic users a lot.
    • This turns into a Mind Screw when you realize it was the Big Bad making the anti-magic comments all along.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: You can be Elemental or Adept, not both, except in special circumstances. Like Skulduggery/Lord Vile.
  • Mysterious Past: China and Skulduggery.
    • China's in revealed in book four, it's revealed her secret is that she's the one who lead Skulduggery's family into the trap that killed them.
    • Skulduggery's past is that He was Lord Vile, and we even learn why he's not properly dead.
  • Named Weapons: God-Killer.
  • Name of Cain: Valkyrie.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Oh so many. This series loves this trope. Justified in that most of the main characters go by names they chose.
    • Valkyrie Cain herself and, as revealed in Dark Days, her true name. It's basically 'Darkness', whether you spell it with a 'q' or not.
    • Ghastly has a pretty threatening name, even though he's actually pretty nice.
    • Practically all the villains. Nefarian Serpine, Baron Vengeous, Lord Vile, Mevolent, The Diablerie, The Torment. It's like they're self aware.
      • Lord Vile's choice of name might be justified, since it seems like Skulduggery is his subconscious and he was apparently fully aware just how evil he was... he just didn't care.
    • Lampshaded and subverted with Bison Dragonclaw, as Valkyrie and Skulduggery think his name is stupid and after a few traps laid by him they take him down easily.
    • Argeddion.
  • Narrator All Along: Valkyrie, as of The Dying of the Light.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: After her True Name is forcibly removed from her body, Valkyrie is seemingly left with no magic at all. She then unlocks an entirely unknown type of magic that involves being able to throw white bolts of lightning. Later books reveal that she's now also a Sensitive, and that she is able to essentially "copy" a person's discipline of magic for a temporary time just by touching them - or, later, being in an undefined range. It's implied that she's essentially tapped into the Source, which she either wield as brute force white lightning,or a lesser degree of the Power Copying that sorcerers with Sealed True Names have, while the Sensitive powers are just Required Secondary Powers for the latter.
  • Not So Above It All: Tenebrae, so far being a The Stoic Reasonable Authority Figure, who freely admits he's not one for gloating, expresses a certain amount of glee at 'scratching an itch' because he revealed to Valkyrie Lord Vile is Skulduggery, which until then only he knew, and how Skulduggery was brought back. By Tenebrae himself.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • When the Ancients banished the Faceless Ones to another dimension where they could do no harm, they ended up breaking through to another reality and destroying entire galaxies of innocent lives.
    • Making the Reflection, breaking all rules associated with using reflections and then treating said Reflection like crap half the time. Nice one, Skulduggery. Nice one, Val.
  • No Name Given: Mevolent's master, the Unnamed, for obvious reasons. Skulduggery describes it as 'the aberration' that's in every rule. His other title, "the King of the Darklands", is similarly non-indicative.
  • Non-Action Guy: They occasionally turn up amongst the badasses for humorous purposes. Vaurien is the most prominent one, while Fletcher is this while still having his badass moments.
    • A minor character in Dark Days stands out for being one of the few people in the story's world who learned magic that has absolutely no combat potential - namely, the ability to speak any known language on the planet. Sadly, this backfires when she's attacked by zombies and has no way to defend herself.
    • Downplayed with Saracen Rue, who stands out amongst his fellow Dead Men, and most of the rest of the cast, by his secret discipline seemingly not being anything combat-related. He's still capable of kicking ass when the time comes, of course, but there's only so much help that having x-ray vision can do in a fight.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: Mages. The original series Word of Gay saying "There IS no straight when you're 400 years old". The revived Phase 2 series of books say In-universe that most mages experiment after a while and bisexual and gender-fluid mage teenagers seem common.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word;
    • Mermaids prefer to be called the Maidens of The Sea.
    • The Leibniz Universe calls zombies draugar. Conventional Skulduggery Pleasant zombies exist too but are less common. Some cross contamination gave draugar the ability to convert humans with a bite.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: The Dead Men tell Valkyrie a story about battling Lord Vile in front of Skulduggery.
    Skulduggery: She doesn't need to hear this story.
  • Oh, Crap!: A lot of these, usually about 3/4 of the way through every book when it looks like the world is basically screwed.
    • Skulduggery Pleasant is pretty much badass incarnate, a virtually unkillable Deadpan Snarker who's laughed in the face of every supernatural threat he has encountered, no matter how big the threat or how dwarfed he is in comparison. So to see him break down completely at the mere sight of Lord Vile is quite disturbing.
    • Skulduggery has beaten the crap out of Mevolent, Serpine, Scapegrace, and countless others over the years. Tesseract holds his own. Cue Oh, Crap!.
    • In Kingdom of the Wicked, Valkyrie thinks she hears Skulduggery coming to rescue her from Mevolent's palace. It turns out to be Alternate Universe Lord Vile.
    Valkyrie: Oh, no.
  • Only Killable at Home: Inverted with Cadaverous Gant, whose power makes him invincible inside his own home. In Dying of the Light, Valkyrie exploits this by tricking Gant out by damaging his car, forcing the old man to leave his house. In Midnight, Valkyrie has to use the Midnight Hotel's properties to outdo Cadaverous because he's warped it into his own Mental World.
  • Older Than They Look: Almost all the main characters, and it's lampshaded in the first book. A good proportion of the cast even tick over into Really 700 Years Old territory. Valkyrie, her family, and Fletcher seem to be the only ones who avoid it, and even then...
  • Omnibus: The first two books were released in an omnibus edition.
  • On a Scale from One to Ten: Used in Playing With Fire when discussing the new villain on the block, Baron Vengeous:
    Valkyrie: How about on the Evil Villain Scale? Ten being Serpine and one being Scapegrace?
    Skulduggery: The Baron, unfortunately, turns it all the way up to eleven.
    Valkyrie: Seriously? Because, you know, that's one more evil.
    Skulduggery: It is indeed.
    • And again in Kingdom Of The Wicked, this time on Yetis.
    Valkyrie: Is it dangerous? It looks dangerous. On a scale of one to ten, how dangerous would it be?
    Skulduggery: Well, if one is a kitten, and ten is a Yeti, then I'd say it's a ten.
  • One-Liner: If it's not exposition, the dialogue tends to be lots of these.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Start off looking like humans but at some poi t in their adulthood, shrink to a few centimetres tall, get Pointy Ears and wings. They're strong enough to knock a human back and some can learn how to switch back and forth between human and fairy sized.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Liches don't really seem to exist in the series, but Lord Vile was an incredibly powerful, skeletal, undead necromancer who put a bit of himself into his armor to make it evil and magic.
    • Serpine experiments with necromancy and creates the White Cleaver so he can kill and resurrect himself safely, making him effectively immortal. It does nothing for his necromatic powers, just makes him really hard to put down.
    • The necromancers in the Leibniz Universe in Seasons of War deliberately infect themselves with the Zombie Plague that turns most people into mindless draugar. Necromancers, on the other hand, maintain their minds and often their personalities, too, while being undead exponentially increases the power of their magic - just like Lord Vile.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The call themselves the Maidens of The Sea, are all beautiful and their tails turn into human legs when they're on land.
    • There's also the Sea Hag, an ugly green mermaid. There seems to be only one of her and she says she used to be beautiful once, so maybe she used to be a normal mermaid.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • They're very normal (aside from being unnaturally graceful) during the day, but at night, they tear off their skin and become a pale-skinned, cat-like, savage monster. Sunlight doesn't kill them (salt water does), and apparently the best method is to just pump them full of bullets and hope for the best. This is pretty helpful against any enemy really.
  • Out-Gambitted:
    • This is actually referenced when the heroes start to trade off Fletcher for Thurid Guild in The Faceless Ones, with everyone aware the bad guys will try to doublecross them, so they'll do it first, and it really comes down to how many of them the winning side has. Batu had one more up his sleeve than the rest.
    • China Sorrows loses out to Eliza Scorn. For a while.
    • After a Gambit Pile Up involving the Sanctuary, Kitana's gang, Argeddion and two warring factions from an Alternate Universe, the last gambit standing at the end of Kingdom of the Wicked turns out to be a surprise entry from Skulduggery of all people. Guess he got bored of the Indy Ploy method.
      • Although the one who really comes out on top in the end is Stephanie, aka the Reflection who manages to steal the Sceptre of the Ancients when no one was looking and thereby plant the seeds of her inevitable betrayal of Valkyrie. Better still, she does it all without anyone even realizing she was involved!
    • The Man With The Golden Eyes AKA Erskine Ravel's plan seems pretty straightforward in a twisted way when revealed, but then it goes south when the Warlocks, who he purposely tried to goad into attacking mortals, do their own research, find out who really killed their brethren, and attack the Sanctuary with a massive army.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: The protagonists (and others) frequently have to use such tactics, being so often faced with seemingly-unstoppable foes.
    • Skulduggery manages to defeat both Darquesse and Argeddion - two world-breakers - by inducing an epileptic fit in them and knocking them unconscious.
    • Darquesse is ultimately done in by getting a team of psychics to implant false memories into her head, tricking her into thinking she had destroyed the world, and then convincing her she was bored enough to go looking for a challenge by fighting the Faceless Ones. She opens a portal to their dimension and passes through, leaving Earth behind relatively unscathed.
    • Even the most powerful sorcerer can be reduced to a mere mortal by cutting them off from their magic by using a binding sigil. Abyssinia is almost killed by conventional weaponry when binding sigils are fired onto her body by a special type of ink-firing gun.

  • Papa Wolf:
    • Kenspeckle for Valkyrie. He occasionally tears Skulduggery out for not taking proper care of her.
    • Mr Bliss for China.
    • Desmond for Valkyrie and later Alice, most explicitly in The Dying Of The Light. Melissa is a quite effective Mama Bear, as well.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Granted she has her reflection to live her normal life, so her parents just think she's just a bit distant. Given that all the books are set during her teens, most parents would consider this normal.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Several such people exist in this universe, and are later nicknamed "world-breakers".
    • The harbinger of doom known only as Darquesse, prophesied by worldwide Sensitives to be the one who will destroy the world. Anytime she takes control over Valkyrie she proves she's more than capable of doing so.
    • The Death Bringer, prophesied by the Necromancer Order to bring out the Passage and knock down the walls between life and death. This involves killing three billion people to clog up the cycle of death and ensure immortality for the remaining three billion.
    • Lord Vile is stated to have been so powerful that nobody ever fought him one-on-one - they brought an entire army against him and hoped for the best. As it turns out, he's more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Darquesse.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Tesseract's dying moments are not filled with regret for all the lives he's taken, but a longing to see his (nameless) cat.
    • Darquesse, who had more or less embraced violence as the best policy until then, heals China Sorrows from the brink of death in Last Stand of Dead Men. Her whole reason for being there is because she was really upset that Ravel betrayed Ghastly
    • In turn, China seems to genuinely care about Valkyrie and Skulduggery and actually hesitates before trying to kill Darquesse, even though she knows what she's capable of.
  • Physical Heaven: The Necropolis is an underground populated by ghosts who seem happy enough. There's implied to be a lot more to their existence than living people can see.
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: Rancid Fines has been trying for over a century to use the Crystal of the Saints to bring back the Faceless Ones, so he's teamed up with whoever could provide him with the resources he needed to study the Crystal, including Hitler. In the present, he has trouble finding help with his experiments because few people want to team up with a former Nazi.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Cormac the tiny fairy works as a bouncer for the Sadists' Club and fights Skulduggery to a standstill.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Valkyrie's relationship with Skulduggery is explicitly stated to be more important to her than any love interests. If Fletcher's correct, Skulduggery even gets the honour of being the first person she ever said "I love you" to and meant it.
  • Plague Doctor: For reasons known only to himself, Sebastian Tao dresses as one and even asks to be called "The Plague Doctor".
  • Poor, Predictable Rock: One guy makes himself immune to fire. Results in seriously squicky results when he jumps in the water.
  • Power Nullifier: There are special handcuffs that can cancel out the magic of those who're cuffed with them, with the exception of Billy-Ray Sanguine, and all prison cells made for holding sorcerers are similiarly bound.
    • Batu also has a ring made to block all magic that the wearer tries to use
  • Power of Love: For a rather tongue-in-cheek series that is so fond of subverting dramatic tropes, this one is played heartwarmingly straight in Resurrection, when Valkyrie manages to break the villains' hold over a Brainwashed and Crazy Skulduggery during an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight by saying "I love you".
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    • "Be honest. You've been looking forward to this, haven't you?"
    • "That is not Lord Vile. This is Lord Vile."
    • Parodied with Scapegrace, as usual.
    Scapegrace: Valkyrie Cain, welcome to death.
    Valkyrie: That is such a stupid thing to say.
  • Precision F-Strike: By Dexter Vex in Last Stand of Dead Men to Ravel.
    Vex: *quietly* What are you trying to do? Are you trying to make friends with us? You murdered Ghastly and Anton, you son of a bitch. There's no coming back from that.
  • Prison Ship: Coldheart is a flying, mobile prison.
  • Professional Killer: Tesseract. Differs from Billy-Ray Sanguine (see Psycho for Hire below) in that he is a consummate professional, he avoids killing anyone he hasn't been contracted for if he can help it, and tends to be very polite. Although the chapters written from his perspective show him in an entirely different light, making quite a few mistakes and making it seem as if he's bumbling through his job. None of the other characters pick up on this however, to them he's just an indestructible badass.
  • Psycho for Hire: Sanguine, albeit a cowardly one.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Skulduggery does this from time to time. As does Darquesse.
  • Punched Across the Room: Lord Vile and Darquesse like throwing each other into things.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Played straight with Sanguine, who dies to save Tanith, but defied by Skulduggery, who unceremoniously shoves Ravel in his place.
  • The Red Mage: Most mages are Master of One Magic after their magical puberty called the Surge though there are exceptions;
    • Elemental Powers are the most common discipline and the mage gets access to all four elements rather than just one. Skulduggery specifies that a mage becomes Elemental automatically if he doesn't specify in a discipline before his Surge.
    • Some rare mages are "magically ambidextrous" where they have two disciplines like Skulduggery having Elemental magic and necromancy. This is implied to run in families as Skulduggery mentions an ancestor with three disciplines and his brother, Carver says all the siblings are ambidextrous to some degree. He thinks they inherited this from their father who later became a Reality Warper after making a Deal with the Devil.
    • Young mages who haven't gone through their Surge yet aren't locked into one discipline but since each discipline takes years of training to master, they're rarely good at more than two.
    • Protagonist, Valkyrie Cain spent most of the series pre-Surge with Elemental magic and Necromancy. After the Surge she had a new unheard of discipline that started as a combination of Shock and Awe and Psychic Powers before becoming New Powers as the Plot Demands including the ability to temporarily copy a better version of other mages' powers.
    • Mages who learn and seal their true names before anybody else does it for them are reality warpers who can do pretty much anything. Argeddion can even copy other mages' powers by watching them once.
    • Some magical disciplines have a sub-discipline that can be learned alongside it. The only example we get is Tanith Low who got to learn how to lock and unlock doors as a sub-discipline of her ability to walk up walls. She could have chosen to just learn wall-walking which would be faster than learning both.
  • Red Right Hand: Serpine has one (literally).
  • Red Shirt Army: The Cleavers, although in later books it's mentioned that after so many of them being decimated they're being treated as 'a special commodity' and used only for important things.
  • Refusing Paradise: The Necropolis offers Scapegrace a chance to be a real zombie king, for apparently no reason other than that he gave himself that title and because he defeated the Guardian. But he had a friend who needed him more; Clarabelle.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Played with. In Mortal Coil it's implied by Skulduggery that "destroying the brain" will kill zombies, but in Kingdom of the Wicked it's lampshaded that decapitation is effective against most things....except zombies; Scapegrace gets his head cut off. It doesn't stop him talking.
  • The Reveal: In Dark Days, Valkyrie remembers her true name as she saw it in the Book of Names during the events of the first book. It's Darquesse.
    • In Death Bringer, she finds out that Skulduggery became Lord Vile after he was resurrected as a skeleton.
    • In Last Stand of Dead Men, the mysterious Man with the Golden Eyes is revealed to be none other than Erskine Ravel.
    • In Midnight, Abyssinia reveals that her father, the so-called King of the Darklands, was Mevolent's mentor - the Unnamed.
    • Bedlam drops several: Caisson's father was Mevolent, Abyssinia survived her assassination attempt by receiving power from her father before he died (but not before making her promise to kill her son and give him her father's soul), Darquesse is alive and has been battling the Faceless Ones alone since she entered their dimension, and finally, Abyssinia is not the Child of the Faceless Ones - Valkyrie is.
  • Rogues Gallery:
    • In Phase One, we have the Diablerie and later, the Revenger's Club.
    • In Phase Two, we have the anti-Sanctuary.
  • Rule of Cool: Skulduggery is pretty much this personified. Take any aspect about him. He's an undead skeleton, who wears a suit and a hat, drives a vintage Bentley, and his favourite pastimes are shooting/punching people, setting them on fire and flying. This is his job. Oh, and he's saved the world a few times as well. Indiana Jones would be proud.
  • Schematized Prop: The Bentley. Lampshaded by Stephanie.
  • Science Marches On: An In-Universe example - the Weaksauce Weakness of vampires in the world the story takes place in was long thought to be salt water, but it's later discovered to actually be sea salt.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • The Faceless Ones again.
    • Argeddion is a Well-Intentioned Extremist version. Subverted, as it appears he wasn't properly sealed, just manipulating his jailers.
  • Sealed Evil in Another World:
    • This was the original fate of the Faceless Ones. Long before the series begin the Ancients banished them to a dimension where they could do no harm. A few of them return in the third book, The Faceless Ones, but are killed by the Sceptre of the Ancients. The next book, Dark Days, reveals that during their imprisonment they managed to tear through into another reality, where they killed galaxies full of innocent beings. They fully return at the end of the fifth book of phase two, through Valkyrie, but they seem content with just hanging around for the time being.
    • This is how Darquesse is defeated at the end of the last book of phase one, The Dying of the Light: Three Sensitives invade her mind and trick her into believing she has won, wiped out all life on Earth and conquered the stars. She then opens a portal to the realm of the Faceless Ones, intent on killing them next. Since she can open the portal herself, she isn't stuck there, but the hope is that since she isn't as powerful as she believes she has become, the Faceless Ones will kill her. Even if they don't she shouldn't have any reason to return, believing she has wiped out all life in the universe. She returns in book three of phase two, Bedlam, though has lost her genocidal tendencies for the moment.
  • Secondary Character Title: Valkyrie, not Skulduggery, is the protagonist.
  • Self-Deprecation: An implied one that also acts as a Shout-Out to Batman. In "Last Stand of the Dead Men", Scapegrace tries to become a hero, and describes himself as the Hero Roarhaven deserves, but not the one it needs. Considering that Roarhaven is a nasty town that doesn't really deserve anything positive, this doesn't say much.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • Oooh, Landy was having fun with this. After a little Ship Tease, China/Skulduggery was brutally sunk at the end Death Bringer. Skulduggery found out she handed his family over to Serpine and walked away while she was getting beaten to a bloody pulp by Eliza Scorn. Valkyrie/Caelan was also sunk. Valkyrie/Fletcher hit an iceberg but a life raft may be available.
    • Valkyrie/Fletcher seems quite thoroughly sunk after Kingdom of the Wicked, too. As is Valkyrie/Hansard.
    • The nail in the Chinduggery coffin was Last Stand of Dead Men.
    Skulduggery: I need you, China.
    China: How I longed to hear those words...
    • The Last Stand of Dead Men could realistically be called The Last Stand of Fan Preferred Couples. So far, the list of ships to be sunk (brutally sunk) include Valkyrie/Fletcher, Ghastly/Tanith, China/Skulduggery, and probably any ship involving Valkyrie in fact.
      • Also any conceivable ship involving Ravel.
  • Ship Tease:
    • China sure does gush about Lord Vile in the second book... which becomes Harsher in Hindsight when you find out who he is.
    • Skulduggery and Valkyrie do have some rather heartwarming/occasionally eyebrow raising moments. Whether or not it's platonic is a matter of intense debate.
    • China and Skulduggery, especially at the Requiem Ball. It doesn't end well.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    If she bothered with idle conversation, she would have told the poor boy (Fletcher) that this thing with Valkyrie was never going to go anywhere, not when Skulduggery got back. Valkyrie's life revolved around Skulduggery now- she was caught in his orbit, and someone like Fletcher didn't have a chance. Skulduggery and Valkyrie were meant for each other. China could see that now. They were meant to find each other, to form this bond and affect each other's lives. The best the boy could hope for, the best anyone could hope for, would be to stand in the wings and look on.
    • Valkyrie and Skulduggery ship Ghastly and Tanith.
  • Shipping Torpedo:
    • A few characters have made disparaging remarks about the Valduggery ship. Solomon Wreath refers to Skulduggery's tendency to show up outside Valkyrie's window uninvited as "a bit unhealthy". Davina Marr refers to Valkyrie's supposed crush as "sad and pathetic and highly amusing".
    • No one but Sanguine ships Tanith/Sanguine. Ghastly makes his feelings known by beating the crap out of Sanguine.
    • Ghastly is not a fan of Chinduggery. In Last Stand of Dead Men, Ravel implies that Ghastly thought the reason for her initial Face–Heel Turn was Skulduggery falling for his wife.
    Ghastly: Please tell me you're not trusting her these days.
    Skulduggery: I know what I'm doing.
    • Skulduggery doesn't have the highest opinion of Fletcherie. He never interferes but he has made his opinion known.
    Skulduggery: Fletcher was always going to be your ex-boyfriend, from the moment you met him. He's just caught up with where he's supposed to be.
    • China's not too convinced about Fletcherie either. She's compared Fletcher to a puppy and, going from the Dark Darks quote above, thinks that Fletcher shouldn't bother with Valkyrie while Skulduggery is around.
    • Stephanie the Reflection is rather scathing when it comes to Fletcher and Valkyrie. Partially because she hates Valkyrie and partially because she's completely smitten with Fletcher.
    • No one ships Caelan and Valkyrie. Even Caelan has fired a few torpedoes during his Edward-esque self loathing rants. Tanith, Skulduggery and Gordon have been the most vocal.
    Skulduggery: I think that it's a huge mistake that going to end extraordinarily badly but if that's the only way you'll learn, so be it.
    Valkyrie: I can't believe you're not mad.
    Skulduggery: I comfort myself with the thought that I may have to kill Caelan at some stage.

    Valkyrie: There's a vampire who's in love with me.
    Gordon: Dump him. Any other problems?

    Tanith: The vampire, Val? Really? The vampire?
    • China isn't too fond of Tanith and wonders at Ghastly's taste in Death Bringer.
    China: *In response to the kiss in Mortal Coil* Oh, good God. *eye roll* I do hope the Remnants kill me first.
  • Slashed Throat:
    • Lord Vile slashes Darquesse's throat at one point. She got better.
    • Ravel slits Ghastly throat after he stabs him in the back.
    • Before that, Sult, a foreign prisoner from another sanctuary, gets his throat slit as retaliation for something, starting a war.
  • Smug Snake: Quite a few but Baron Vengeous and Davina Marr certainly seem to qualify.
    • When Kitana shows up, most of her lines are explicitly noted to make Valkyrie wish to punch her.
  • So You Want to Live Forever: Necromancers.
  • Spring-Heeled Jack: Dubbed "the Terror of London", Spring-Heeled Jack appears as a minor recurring antagonist. This version is a legendary Serial Killer of unknown species and origins (he lampshades it and is trying to find out) whose magic empowers his ability to jump great heights and distances. He haunts the rooftops and streets of London looking for people to murder. Imprisoned by Tanith Low, he is freed by Billy-Ray Sanguine to act as his hitman, but turns on him when he learns of his plans to release the Faceless Ones. Returning a few times, he is finally decapitated by Tanith.
  • Spy Speak:
    • Skulduggery uses be brave as a code word when they're surrounded by enemies and one of them has a plan.
    • In Death Bringer, Skulduggery suggests the phrase the sparrow flies south for winter as code for I'm going to punch this person now.
    • Also used in Kingdom of the Wicked by Ghastly and Ravel when three Roarhaven mages try to kill them. Also accompanied by a Lampshade Hanging.
    Ravel: What do you know, Skulduggery's silly code worked.
  • Statuesque Stunner;
    • As an adult, Valkyrie is six foot tall and gets hit on often enough.
    • Miss Wicked is a tall Hot Teacher at Cortical Academy.
    • Serafina is described as being tall and attractive.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Darquesse, easily one of the most powerful characters in the entire series, considers Teleporters to be the most dangerous of sorcerers. And for good reason, given the many conflicts that Fletcher easily solves and the many more that would've ended far more quickly if Fletcher hadn't been incapacitated at the time.
    Teleporters were the most dangerous of sorcerers, [Darquesse] had decided. Fletcher's was not a power designed to hurt or kill, but all it would take was one sinister motivation and no one could stand against him. She had figured that out a while ago, and she'd made a decision to kill Fletcher without warning the first chance she got.
  • Sufficiently Analysed Magic;
    • There's a branch called Science Magic that Kenspeckle Grouse studies.
    • Skulduggery stretches the boundaries of Elemental magic while stranded in another dimension and brings his findings home with him.
    • Valkyrie averts this with her new powers after her surge, refusing China's offer of analysis on the grounds that while she doesn't know much about them, she knows enough to know that they are incredibly dangerous and the world does not need more people with powers like hers.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: Lord Vile. Skulduggery did not take the death of his family well.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Inverted in The Dying of the Light. Skulduggery's final plan is to use Sensitives to make Darquesse send herself to the Faceless One's realm.
  • Superhero Episode: A subplot in Last Stand Of Dead Men has Vaurian Scapegrace and Thrasher become The Dark and Stormy Knight and The Village Idiot. Learning martial arts and trying to protect the town of Roarhaven.
  • Super Toughness: The standard for any sorcerer of world-breaking power - particularly Lord Vile, as he possesses a suit of shadowy armour that responds to his will. Of course, he's already dead to begin with, which likely helps matters.
    • Played with in the case of Darquesse, who is initially as completely susceptible to ordinary injuries as your average sorcerer, but possesses a powerful Healing Factor that allows her to recover almost immediately from practically any injury, up to and including decapitation. It isn't until she takes the time and effort to experiment with and improve her power that she ascends to this trope fully.
    • Auger Darkly attempts to throw a punch at a fully powered-up Abyssinia - she is completely unaffected, while poor Auger breaks his hand in the process.
  • Superpowered Evil Side:
    • Darquesse for Valkyrie.
    • Lord Vile for Skulduggery.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Tanith is surprised to feel so much anger after Sanguine is killed by the Black Cleaver.

  • Take That!: The fifth book seems to take a few subplots straight from Twilight, and then make them hilariously, hammily awesome. Any subtlety about the subplots in question are gone by Death Bringer which deconstructs Twilight's main romance by showing Caelan's attraction to Valkyrie as a limerent obsession in which Valkyrie is clearly uncomfortable and disgusted with. The chapter where Caelan is killed by Valkyrie and Fletcher is even called "My Twilight" and Valkyrie later mentions Edward and Bella by name in the same chapter, effectively confirming that the subplot was a parodic deconstruction of Twilight.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    Beryl: What kind of disturbed person would read the same book twice?
  • Taken for Granite: This is what happens to anyone who uses Earth magic specifically Ghastly Bespoke in the first book. He eventually gets better.
  • Teleport Spam: Fletcher's favoured tactic once he's able to teleport more than a few yards at a time.
  • Teleporter's Visualization Clause: Teleporters can try to teleport to places they've never been before, but without an accurate picture in their mind, they may end up in the wrong place, like inside a solid object. The exception is Nero, a Neoteric whose teleportation works differently from the norm. He can track and follow other teleporters no matter where they go, even if he has no idea where they're going.
  • Tempting Fate: Tenebrae at the end of Chapter 1 in Mortal Coil.
  • There Was a Door: In Book 1, Skulduggery discusses about entering from the window, instead of simply entering from the door. He explains to Val that doors are for people with no imagination.
  • Third Eye: Cadaverous and Nero mention having killed a three-eyed man in France.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Aside from helping to save the world Scapegrace and Thrasher each get one in the final book. Scapegrace's is finally getting recognition as "the Zombie King", while Thrasher finally gets some consideration from his boss.
  • Tin Tyrant: Mevolent and Lord Vile both have evil-looking, head-to-toe armour as their battle dress. In both cases, it's actually fairly practical as actual armour.
  • Title Drop:
    • Book One: Ghastly (to Valkyrie) "You're playing with fire." Valkyrie: "Everyone plays with fire around here."
    • Book Two is an odd case: the title is taken from a quote from the first book.
    • Book Three: They say it tons of times.
    • Book Four: "Good luck to you, Valkyrie Cain. You got a lifetime of dark days ahead of you, if I'm not mistaken."
    • Book Five: "He had shuffled off this mortal coil."
    • Book Six: Left, right and centre.
    • Book Seven: So close, but no. Skulduggery tells Greta "You think they will create a kingdom of the good, of the noble, but they won't." Greta cuts him off before he can actually utter the title phrase as an alternative.
    • Book Eight: Skulduggery laments that "The Dead Men have had their last stand."
  • Token Evil Teammate: China Sorrows. She used to be a murderous psycho cultist, and her fighting style makes it clear she didn't shed the "murderous" when she shed the "cultist".
  • Tomato Surprise: Erskine Ravel has golden eyes. Everyone who meets him knows this, including Valkyrie, but the reader is never told so.
  • Too Many Belts: Murder Rose.
  • To the Pain: Darquesse performs one of these on Erskine Ravel in Last Stand Of Dead Men, and makes good on it. Few would say he didn't deserve it, but you can't help but feel a little sorry for him.
    Darquesse: What mercy? But no, death is too good for someone like you. You know what isn't too good for you, though? You know what's just right? Pain. Lots and lots of pain...Agony. Constant agony for twenty-three hours a day. No painkillers or sedatives will do anything to alleviate what you're feeling. If and when your body compensates, if you find that you're starting to get used to it, the pain will increase. One hour a day, it'll stop. You can eat, drink—sleep, if you can. But mostly you'll just dread the agony returning.
  • Tranquil Fury: You can tell how angry Skulduggery is by how quiet he gets. Lord Vile especially.
    Skulduggery: You're waiting to see if I'm angry.
    Ghastly: I already know you're angry. You're sitting very still and you're talking very quietly. You're getting ready to kill someone.
    Skulduggery: I just need a name.
  • Trumplica: The U.S.A. President in Phase 2, who Valkyrie fleetingly describes as a narcisstic psychopath - and only later we learn his name...which is Martin Flanery, which might have come as a surprise.note 
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Although in the series it's more like Ugly Guy, Hot Almost Girlfriend due to Tanith being possessed by a Remnant before she and Ghastly could officially get together.
  • Unequal Rites: Necromancers and the Children of the Spider are not exactly respected by other magic users. Warlocks too, although they prefer to be left alone.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Valkyrie and Fletcher. Valkyrie regrets cheating on and dumping him almost immediately, even to a point that she asks him whether they could still be friends, at least, but he doesn't forgive her and moves on.
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • China insists that Skulduggery is capable of this, and hints towards it being something of a permanent state several weeks after his 'resurrection' and his family's deaths. Also, Shudder, in book four, and as of the end of book five, maybe even Valkyrie.
      • Skulduggery is Lord Vile. It was a permanent state for years after his family died.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Kitana's gang can easily take Skulduggery and Valkyrie. Darquesse and Vile? Not so much.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In Dying of the Light the most we hear of Skulduggery's plan to have the sensitives trick Darquesse into thinking she's won so she'll leave to conquer the Faceless One's dimension is him and Valkyrie theorizing that to be her next move after winning. Valkyrie even walks into the room just as the sensitives are teleported out to prepare.
  • Urban Fantasy: It really is a modern setting with some nifty magical stuff.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Argeddion really did want a paradise.
  • Villain Ball: In Last Stand of the Dead Men, a hitman is sent after Finbar Wrong, and Finbar has a vision of the hitman immediately coming in and murdering him and his wife. But when Finbar takes the opportunity to sent his wife and child somewhere safe while canceling his appointments for the day, the future is changed and the hitman takes things slowly, pretending to be a customer at first, and accidentally gives Finbar the opportunity to kill him with a poisoned mug of tea.
  • Villainous Rescue:
    • Lord Vile and Darquesse keep saving the good guys.
    • Sanguine and remnant!Tanith save Valkyrie because Eliza Scorn doesn't want to risk pissing off Skulduggery.
    • In The Dying of the Light, alternate Serpine saves Valkyrie so she can help him get his hands on Mevolent's magic-sucker. Yes, that is the technical term for it.
  • Villain Team-Up
    • Dark Days has the Revengers Club which consisted of Sanguine, Jack, Dusk and Scarab... and Scapegrace.
    • Darquesse and Vile team up against Kitana's gang. Asskicking ensues.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • In the long run, it's clear that Valkyrie and Skulduggery are great friends. However, you wouldn't know that by how much time and effort they spend simply snarking at each other.
    • Valkyrie and Melancholia in The Dying of the Light.
  • Wangst: invoked Invoked with Caelan.
  • The Watson : Valkyrie, to some extent, but also Fletcher when he's around. Valkyrie lampshades this several times.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Poor Argeddion.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Dark Days - All Sensitives around the world start having visions at the same time of an all-powerful sorcerer named "Darquesse" who will reduce the world to ruin in the near future. Valkyrie eventually remembers, after having seen it written in the Book of Names before it was destroyed, that Darquesse is her True Name.
    • The section around the middle of Death Bringer, where's it's revealed that Skulduggery became Lord Vile after he was resurrected.
    • The epilogue of Kingdom of the Wicked, where Valkyrie's Reflection murders Carol Edgley after tricking her into creating a reflection of her own (which will now assume her identity) before declaring itself no longer a mere Reflection, but a human being. The Reflection - now calling herself Stephanie Edgley - reveals that she now possesses the Sceptor of the Ancients and plans to use it to murder Valkyrie and usurp her life for herself.
    • Last Stand of Dead Men - Ghastly and Shudder die at the hands of none other than Erskine Ravel, who was The Man with the Golden Eyes all along. Valkyrie loses control and becomes Darquesse, seemingly for good, and Skulduggery and Stephanie are made to team up to try and take her down at any cost.
    • Bedlam - Caisson is murdered, and Abyssinia is killed shortly afterwards, but not before resurrecting her father - the Unnamed, King of the Darklands - using Caisson's body. Sebastian Tao finds Darquesse alive in the Faceless Ones' dimension and succeeds in persuading her to return to the Prime Dimension. Valkyrie sees a vision of a teenaged Alice, following in Valkyrie's footsteps by becoming a sorcerer too. Omen and Auger Darkly are brutally stabbed by Jenan Ispolin, and Dusk finally reveals to Valkyrie what he discovered through her blood in Dark Days: she's not descended from the Last of the Ancients, but rather the Faceless Ones.
  • Wham Line:
    • Dark Days:
      • The final word of the book.
      • "China Sorrows, China Sorrows. She's the one, she's the one. Nefarian Serpine killed Skulduggery Pleasant, but China Sorrows led his family into the trap."
    • Death Bringer:
      • "Tell me how many people she's going to have to kill!" (beat) "Three billion ought to do it."
      • "Skulduggery Pleasant walked off the battlefield, and Lord Vile walked into my temple."
    • Kingdom of the Wicked:
      • "I can't ask Valkyrie to charge it, because she'd know I was planning to kill her with it."
    • Last Stand of Dead Men:
      • Not a quote by a character, but in the narration itself: "Those golden eyes."
    • Resurrection:
      • "Lethe is Savant! Lethe is your husband!"
    • Bedlam:
      • "The legends are wrong, Valkyrie. You are not descended from the Last of the Ancients. You are descended from their enemies. You have their power and you have their blood. You are a Faceless One."
    • Seasons of War:
      • "I was Skulduggery Pleasant's partner. And he left me to die."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Fletcher gives an incredible tongue-lashing to Valkyrie when she dumps him for purely selfish reasons.
    Fletcher: If you're expecting me to teleport away, you can forget about it. You're the one doing the dumping, so it's up to you to walk out first. So go on, Val. Walk.
    Fletcher: You look at Skulduggery and that's who you model yourself on. He's brave, you're brave. He's cold, you're cold. He's ruthless, you're ruthless. Well done, Val. You share the emotional range of a dead man.
    • Dexter Vex gives one to Skulduggery, for knowing that Valkyrie was Darquesse and not dealing with her appropriately. Of course, he doesn't know that Skulduggery was Lord Vile, which was one of the reasons why Skulduggery could empathise with Valkyrie's situation.
    • Even Sanguine gets in on this, when he confronts Valkyrie at the end of Dark Days. He calls her and the rest of the gang out for siding with Skulduggery, when he's (supposedly) even more of a crazed psychopath than Sanguine.
    Sanguine: Y'all call me a psycho an' yet you keep missin' the point. Your friend Skulduggery is an ice-cold killer. I mean, that guy is seriously unhinged. Takes one to know one, right?
    Valkyrie: He's adjusting.
    Sanguine: (laughs) Now that's a good one! That's one I should try! "I didn't mean to kill all those nuns and orphans, Detective - I'm adjustin'!"
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…:
    • Oh look, a bad guy. Let's try punching him, then throwing fire at him. And then, to mix things up a little, shoot at him.
    • How do you catch a Remnant? Soul catcher. How do you catch a whole army of Remnants? Really big Soul Catcher.
    • At least twice, the heroes have been in a position where literally all they have, advantage-wise, is the existence of Lord Vile. Both times Skulduggery used it, without much of a plan for how to escape afterwards. It seems that when all you have is a Godzilla, everything looks like a Godzilla Threshold...
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Landy said on Twitter that Haggard is based on his hometown, Rush in North Dublin.
  • Who Shot JFK?: When Mellifluous Golding is explaining how her Clockwork House works, she points to a random cog and says it could contain the truth about who shot JFK or an exam somebody cheated on 20 years ago.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: A rare villainous example in Argeddion.
  • The Wild Hunt: Cadaverous makes Valkyrie take part in their entry test as one of the trials to get Alice back. It involved being chased through a hedge maze by the members. Anyone who got to the center alive, got to join.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Death Bringer.
    • Greymire Asylum is full of mages whose magic drive them insane.
  • Wizards Live Longer: How long they live varies from mage to mage. The worst one mentioned ages at only half the speed of a normal human while Word of God says that the oldest mages live to be around two thousand.
    • If a mage stops doing magic for a few years, they'll start aging again but will stop if they use magic.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Skulduggery and potentially Valkyrie.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Tanith is introduced in the first two books soundly beating a powerful monster. She spends the rest of the series being horribly maimed, wounded and tortured. (With a hammer and nails no less!) Finally comes to a head in Mortal Coil as after all the threats that a Remnant may permanently possess someone, Tanith is the ONLY character that this happens to.
    • Tesseract is barely slowed down by inconveniences such as being outnumbered, poisoned and/or buried alive. Lord Vile takes about five seconds to mortally wound him.
    • The White Cleaver is introduced as an unstoppable badass. Skulduggery, Ghastly and Tanith can't take him on. Lord Vile takes less than five seconds to kill him.
      • The Black Cleaver kills Anton Shudder and beats the crap out of Skulduggery. Skulduggery uses Necromancy. Fight over.
    • If it can beat Mr Bliss, you know you're in trouble. Serpine managed it due to cunning. The Grotesquery managed to injure him. The Faceless Ones squished him dead. Alternate Universe Mevolent keeps Alternate Mr. Bliss's naked corpse in a tank as a trophy.
    • Just to hammer home how dangerous Darquesse is, Kingdom of the Wicked shows her to be capable of surviving (if not winning) a one-on-one brawl with Mevolent.
  • World of Badass: To the extent that it actually becomes funny every time someone turns out not to be.
  • World of Snark
    • Played straight everywhere else but inverted in the Alternate Universe, where they don't even know what sarcasm is. Valkyrie is mortified.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math:
    • Several of the books mention the time gap between the previous book, which is always less than a year. The gap from book 4 to book 5 is 5 months, but book 4 takes place in September, while book 5 takes place on the last week of December (3-4 months).
    • For the first 5 books, Valkyrie ages one year per book (aging from 12 to 16), which can't be possible seeing as the gap between books is never more than a year. Seeing as Book 3 says she's just turned 14, she would have been 13 and a half in Book 2, six months earlier. As the gaps between books 2,3,4, and 5 are listed respectively as 6, 11 and 5 months, this means Valkyrie aged from 13 and a half to 16 in 22 months. Derek Landy may have caught on to these mistakes however, as book 6 keeps her at 16, though on the other hand reading in between the lines puts book 6 only 4-5 months later.
  • You Talk Too Much!: China tells Skulduggery this in Last Stand of Dead Men when she's telling him how terrified she was of what he'd do to her and how sorry she was about his family, and he's too busy trying to think of a way to save her.
  • You Would Do the Same for Me: Averted. Valkyrie goes to visit China after China is shot. When China tells her it really is unnecessary, Valkyrie replies that she knows China would do the same for her. China points out that she's not the type to make house calls, and true to her word, when Valkyrie is later hospitalised there's no sign of China.
  • Zerg Rush: Thousands of Draugar continuously sacrifice themselves by throwing themselves against the forcefield surrounding Tahil na Kurge, wearing it away over the weeks.

Valkyrie: You save my life, I save yours. That's how this works.
Skulduggery: Until the end.
Valkyrie: Until the end.