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Literature / Sweet Valley High

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Look right down any crowded hall
You'll see there's a beauty standing
Is she really everywhere
Or a reflection?
One always calls out to you
The other's shy and quiet
Could there be two different girls...
Who look the same at...
TV series opening theme

Book series running from 1983 to 2003, created by Francine Pascal. Spawned a TV series made by Saban Entertainment, several Spin-Off book series, a board game and other merchandise. Almost 200 books were published in the main series alone; over 600 were published including the spinoff series. Stories were handed off to ghost writers and generally hit bookstores once a month.

The series centers on Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, identical twins living in Sweet Valley, California. Elizabeth is serious, studious and levelheaded. Jessica is flirtatious and free-spirited; often her zany schemes drive the plot.

Until book #95, plots alternated between two types. In some, the main plot focused on the twins. In others, the focus was on another student at Sweet Valley High School, with a subplot devoted to the twins. In some of the latter type, Elizabeth Wakefield helped the focus character with some personal problem. Social issues such as racism, anorexia, and drug abuse were addressed in this manner.

Beginning with book #95, the series' format shifted. Books were grouped into miniseries, usually of three books, based on a theme. The first such series, which spanned seven books, was about a sociopath named Margo, who happened to look just like the twins, traveling to Sweet Valley intent on assuming Elizabeth's identity. (This Evil Twin later turned out to have an Evil Twin of her own.) With the shift in format, the storylines became increasingly fantastic, some dealing with such topics as werewolves and vampires.

In addition to the standard, numbered books, special editions included:

  • Super Editions. The twins go on vacation and/or celebrate holidays. Later in the series, the Super Editions focused on supporting characters.
  • Super Thrillers. The twins become entangled in mysteries.
  • Super Star Stories. These focus on supporting characters.
  • Magna Editions. Large-scale stories. Included the Sagas, which revealed the twins' family history, and the Secret Diaries, which were basically clip shows.
  • A Night To Remember: Special super-sized novel, the only one of the rare few specials which is canon in the main series. Taking place inbetween #94 and #95 of the main series, it tells the story of the "Jungle Prom", a dance that destroys the status quo of the main books and sets up the "Evil Twin" arc.

Series in The 'Verse included:

  • Sweet Valley High: the flagship. The twins are 16-year-old juniors at Sweet Valley High. Jessica is a cheerleader and Elizabeth writes for the school paper. (181 books)
  • Sweet Valley Twins: the first Spin-Off. The twins are 12-year-old sixth-graders at Sweet Valley Middle School (and in case you were working on the math, no, it's not right; they should have been 11 years old.) Jessica is in a clique called the Unicorns, who got their own Spin-Off. (144 books) Starting in 2022, the series became remastered into middle grade graphic novels.
  • Sweet Valley University: the twins go off to college. Jessica quickly loses her virginity and briefly gets married. Elizabeth attracts a cyber-stalker. (81 books)
  • Sweet Valley Kids: the twins are 7 year-old second-graders. Sometimes they solve mysteries. (88 books)
  • Unicorn Club: Spin-Off of Sweet Valley Twins.(25 books)
  • Sweet Valley Junior High: the twins are now eighth-graders at a new school following rezoning. (30 books)
  • Sweet Valley Senior Year: the twins are now 17-year-old seniors. After a devastating earthquake hits Sweet Valley (on the twins' birthday, no less,) many students from flattened El Carro High transfer to Sweet Valley High. With this entry, the series reverted to less fantastic storylines, and the characters were more culturally diverse. (48 books)
  • Elizabeth: Elizabeth travels to England, works as a maid, and loses her virginity. (6 books)
  • Sweet Valley Confidential: this is a stand alone novel which was released in March 2011 and chronicles the lives of the twins and their friends at age 27.
  • The Sweet Life: a six-part ebook series that began in July 2012, which is a Spin-Off of sorts. It picks up three years after Sweet Valley Confidential and the twins and their friends are 30.

These book series provide examples of:

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  • Actually Pretty Funny: One book in the "Twins" series had Elizabeth working with two bickering girls on a project. At one point, they draw mean caricatures of each other, leading to more arguing. Elizabeth gets fed up so she draws two babies fighting and says that it's them. The girls find this hilarious.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Ned and Alice, the twin's parents, are remarkably absent a lot of the time. And the twins' parents can't even tell when complete strangers are impersonating their daughters. Todd notices a difference in the fake Elizabeth before her own parents! They were also quick to make excuses for Elizabeth's misdeeds while reading Jessica the riot act for hers—in one especially bad example, they blame Jessica for something they KNOW Elizabeth did (though Jessica usually manages to weasel her way out of punishment), not to mention completely oblivious and insensitive to Jessica's genuine insecurity about Elizabeth's "perfection." It took Jessica running away—twice— for it to dawn on them how troubled she was.
    • Although Jessica and Elizabeth are adults in The Sweet Life, their lives are falling apart. Where are Ned and Alice? On a cruise. They don't even bother to come home when Steven and Aaron's baby is kidnapped!
    • Also many of the parents in the series (to the point of neglect or even abuse in some cases). The inevitable outcome of this can clearly be seen in Sweet Valley Confidential, which is set a decade later and where we see how screwed up everyone has become as adults.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Jessica would frequently try to pull off a zany scheme. More often than not, it would blow up in her face, yet it wouldn't be long before she was trying to pull off another stunt. Sadly, some of these stunts were genuine efforts at improving herself or trying something new—cooking class, music lessons—so it seems rather unfair that this should go as badly as her usual conniving.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • In the super-special Winter Carnival, Elizabeth gets fed up with Jessica's selfishness and flat-out tells her, "I wish I'd never HAD a sister!" (Ironically, this is after misinterpreting Jessica's genuine attempts to fix the mess that has resulted from her self-centered behavior.) She then promptly has a lengthy dream sequence in which Jessica dies. Naturally this leads to a reconciliation.
    • The Sweet Valley Kids book A Curse On Elizabeth features a museum trip gone bad, involving the twins being chased by an Egyptian mummy. It is revealed to be All Just a Dream, but ends with an Or Was It a Dream? twist when Elizabeth realizes that she's lost her jacket, which she took off to save them from escaped cobras in the dream.
    • The Sweet Valley Kids mystery The Case of the Alien Princess features the twins and a group of their friends being taken aboard a spaceship.
    • The Sweet Valley Twins book The Class Trip involves Elizabeth going on a boat ride with Tom Sawyer, only discovering at the end that it was a dream induced by a head injury.
  • Alpha Bitch: This franchise had many, despite there typically only being one at a time—understandable because of the scope of the franchise and the various ghost writers working pretty independently from each other. Let's just be happy this series doesn't take place in a coherent timeline, meaning most of these girls have never met each other.
    • In the high school books, the Lila Fowler/Cara Walker/Amy Sutton/Jessica Wakefield Girl Posse socially rules the school, and they can make or break the lives of the other students (girls especially). All four are superior—or feel/act they are—to the other students, but within them, Lila Fowler is the queen bee, mostly because she's the Rich Bitch of the lot (and that says a lot, given that by normal standards everyone in Sweet Valley is rich and Jessica herself lives a luxurious life). Elizabeth often remarks that she doesn't understand that Jessica is so deferential to Lila. Jessica acted as the Alpha Bitch to other characters, though, most notably in "Wrong Kind of Girl" against Annie.
    • In the University books, Enid/Alex Rollins became one (surprisingly, because in high school she had a bland personality and hated the popular cliques) and Allison Quinn had a leading role in another (and was Jessica's main rival).
    • Janet Howell and Ellen Riteman int the "Twins" (middle school) books
    • Kimberly Haver in the "Unicorn Club" (middle school) books; there's also Amanda Harmon who leads the rival "Eight Times Eight" club.
    • Melissa Fox in "Senior Year"; Initally Jessica's rival, but they eventually reconcile by the final year of the series.
    • Lacey Frells in "Jr. High"; once again as a foil for Jessica. Fortunately, both girls have Kristin Seltzer as a mutual friend which forced them to relucantly tolerate each other's company.
    • And this doesn't even go into secondary characters such as Heather Mallone, Tamera Chase, Rachel Grant, etc.
  • Always Identical Twins: The premise of the series is two identical twins who look exactly alike (but have vastly different personalities).
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: She's younger only by 4 minutes, but Jessica frequenly annoys Elizabeth to the point of making her think "the four minutes sometimes seem like four years difference".
  • Attempted Rape: In Dear Sister (#7) Bruce nearly rapes Elizabeth, and in Don't Go Home With John (#90) Lila is almost raped.
  • Back from the Dead: There are a number of examples that are a result of the different series being written at different times by different authors and in non-chronological order. Thus a character might be killed in one series only to appear in a chronologically later book. Some of the most infamous examples:
    • Olivia Davidson made a brief appearance in the Sweet Valley University series, despite having been killed in the earthquake that ended original series.
    • Roger Patman was declared dead in Senior Year, but gets an epilogue in Confidential.
  • Beauty Is Bad: In a series where practically everyone is gorgeous, the story in question will always make the nice protagonist feel unattractive in comparison to their bitchy rival—even Elizabeth and Jessica, described ad nauseam as among the prettiest girls at school, have felt like this. Even Elizabeth has felt like this in comparison to Jessica, even though they're identical twins (this is pulled off by the fact that Elizabeth dresses and acts in a far more conservative manner than Jessica).
  • Big Brother Instinct: Steve can be very protective of the twins when it's necessary, and the twins themselves are very protective of each other when it counts. Also, one of the characters in the 'Evil Twin' saga, Josh, goes out for revenge when Margo kills his little brother.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A perfect example in the book "Too Good To Be True", when the visiting Suzanne Devlin initially appears to be a classic Nice Girl, then turns out to be a lying, conniving bitch of the highest order—she secretly has nothing but contempt for everyone and she lies that Mr. Collins tried to rape her after he rebuffs her advances.
  • Bittersweet Ending: One book involves a girl getting her reputation smeared after the Alpha Bitch spread vicious rumors about her and becoming the school pariah after her boyfriend dumps her. Even though the Alpha Bitch was caught and her name was cleared, she and her boyfriend never reconciled, and she became disillusioned by how easily turned he was.
  • The Board Game:
    "You can be a Sweet Valley girl. Living in a Sweet Valley world. Our school! is so! cool! Sweet Valley High!"
  • Break the Haughty: Lila Fowler, up until then a bitchy girl, has a nervous breakdown after nearly being raped.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Jessica. Although her primary concerns are boys, clothes, and parties, it is stated in one of the early books that she gets good grades in most of her classes. Later books indicate that she's a poor student, but one who could do better if she applied herself (which in fact does happen several times throughout the series). In particular, one book has her getting an excellent score on the SATs and considerably outscoring Elizabeth, despite barely studying, and everyone assuming that she must have cheated somehow, as this is inconsistent with her typical academic performance.
    • Later, Jessica and Elizabeth had to retake the test (due to the aforementioned cheating accusations). This time it was Jessica who studied like crazy and Elizabeth who relaxed and didn't care. The result? Poor Jessica gets horrible scores and Elizabeth gets great scores, lending even more credence to the (untrue) cheating accusations.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Averted. One book involves a girl, Susan Stewart, having vicious rumors spread about her by her rival. Sure enough, she's ostracized and her crush dumps her. While the rumors are eventually proven to be false and the Alpha Bitch punished for her actions, the girl and her crush never reconcile. Aside from being hurt and angry over how he treated her, she realizes how spineless he is and that she can't trust him.
    • Continually played straight with Todd and Liz.
  • Broken Aesop: Repeatedly. Elizabeth would go on and on ad nauseam about how people deserved to be forgiven for their mistakes and given a second chance. Apparently, this only applied to her friends, as she never once showed the same compassion to Jessica's clique. Additionally, Jessica was constantly criticized for her bad behavior (promiscuity, snobbery, unfaithfulness, etc) whereas similar behavior from Elizabeth was glossed over.
    • A perfect example is book 10, Wrong Kind of Girl: Annie Whitman is called "Easy Annie" because she goes out with a different boy every night and dresses provocatively. Jessica, who does the EXACT same thing, condemns Annie for it and goes as far to keep her off the cheerleading squad, while on the other hand Elizabeth insists that Annie shouldn't be judged for her behavior—even though she constantly chastises Jessica for the same thing.
    • An even better example if you compare how Elizabeth treated her friend Enid to how she treated Jessica's friend Cara. Elizabeth practically demanded that everyone give Enid a second chance and went berserk if anyone dared to even mention her wild past, but she refused to acknowledge that Cara had changed and was just as deserving of redemption.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Elizabeth, in Sweet Valley Confidential. Alone in New York, estranged from her sister and basically making her living sneaking into off-Broadway plays for a third-rate magazine that reviews off-Broadway plays, and socially isolated from everyone, even the various one-night stands she has.
    • Winston; in Sweet Valley Confidential, he's gained power and wealth and the ability to get revenge on anyone who ever tormented him. But he's lost everyone who ever cared for him and when Elizabeth rejects him for reformed former tormentor Bruce Patman, he kills himself.
  • The Bus Came Back: About a dozen books after Todd left for Vermont and thus seemed to be gone for good, Todd suddenly returns and from then on again is one of the main characters.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Bruce serves Elizabeth alcohol with the intention to get her to sleep with him in Dear Sister.
  • Butt-Monkey: Jessica, of all people. Her schemes and stunts consistently blow up in her face, leaving her humiliated (though given her often malicious intent, this is frequently deserved). Her genuine efforts at improving herself (music lessons, cooking classes) end up the same way. Virtually everyone, even her own parents, appear to blatantly favor Elizabeth over her—not until she runs away, TWICE, does it finally dawn on anyone how troubled she is. When she aces the SATs, instead of congratulating her, everyone, including her own sister, assumes she must have cheated somehow. Speaking of which, Elizabeth herself frequently treats her like something she stepped in. And the few times she genuinely likes a guy enough to have a steady relationship with him, it never works out.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • Elizabeth drives while drunk once, crashes her car and gets arrested. For worse, Jessica's then-boyfriend was with her and died; that's punishment for Jessica, who had pranked Elizabeth by spiking her drink.
    • Regina Morrow isn't much better. The first and only time she tries cocaine, she dies.
    • Isabella Ricci in SVU decides to go to a party and let her hair down after a nasty breakup with her boyfriend. What happens? She gets her cigarette spiked with drugs, hallucinates, jumps off a roof, falls into a coma, becomes paralyzed, loses her memory and then has to leave Sweet Valley as her wealthy parents send her to Switzerland to recover in a private clinic.
  • Catchphrase: Jessica uses the strangely specific "one hundred and thirty seven" to mean what most others would denote with "many" or "tons of" ("I'll be one hundred and thirty seven years old before [that happens]!"). She says it at least one time per book, and it's always completely spelled out in words instead of a numeric 137.
  • Cartwright Curse: Jessica has had quite a few boyfriends die on her, most notably Chris, a guy from a rivaling high school.
  • Christmas Every Day: In one book of Twins, Jessica is forced to relive Christmas Eve day until she figures out it's because she's selfish.
  • Comic-Book Time: Just how many birthdays/junior proms/summer vacations, etc. have the twins had?
  • Continuity Snarl: The series has the occasional snarl like dead people coming back to life for no reason. Hi Olivia!
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Stephen's girlfriend Billie has one in Sweet Valley University. Especially convenient because it's likely that she would otherwise have decided to have an abortion.

  • Dead Person Impersonation:
    • Gia Allen in the Sweet Valley University series, who assumed the identity of a popular sorority girl at her old university in order to continue stalking a guy who had taken out a restraining order against her.
    • Margo's character arc was based around her desire to kill Elizabeth and assume Elizabeth's identity forever. When she discovers that she has a twin sister of her own, they agree to kill both twins and "replace" them (although now Margo wants to be Jessica).
  • Domestic Abuse: Some sub-plots throughout the main series and Twins involve various characters dealing with abuse at home. In Sweet Valley University, Jessica and Mike's brief marriage ends after he becomes violent.
  • Downer Ending:
    • A Night To Remember (the prequel to the Evil Twin Novel): the big prom that Elizabeth planned, to the point of going all Captain Ahabian, goes horribly horribly wrong when a rival school crashes the prom and a full-scale riot breaks out with Todd leading the charge. Furthermore, the violence of the riot causes Lila (mentally unstable from being nearly raped) to have a nervous breakdown and attack a guidance counselor who she thinks is trying to rape her, and she basically has to be placed in a mental institution that very night. And Elizabeth, after Jessica spikes her drink, drives home with Jessica's boyfriend (the only one who was actually good to her) and kills him dead.
    • On the Edge ends with Regina Marrow dying.
    • In The Sweet Life, Elizabeth successfully clears Bruce's name after he is framed for sexually assaulting a woman, only for him to dump Elizabeth (who risked everything to clear his name, to the point of becoming estranged from everyone around her) for Annie Whitman, his LAWYER! At the freaking press conference being held in his honor after Elizabeth cleared his name! Also, Jessica and Todd reaffirm their relationship (much to the horror of those who were hoping they would break up) and Lila, who has been faking a pregnancy to keep her husband from leaving her, is exposed BUT is forgiven, as it turns out that the sex Lila had with her husband, right before she started the pregnancy scam, DID lead to her becoming pregnant. So she escapes punishment by way of her husband forgiving the big lie after it came true, by pure luck!
    • The Original Series: An earthquake hits Sweet Valley on the twins' 17th birthday. It destroys most of the town and the following characters die: Olivia Davidson and Ronnie Edwards; Roger Patman is believed dead but turns up later. Devon abandons Elizabeth, Todd wants nothing to do with Elizabeth and leaves Sweet Valley for a while, Jessica tries (and fails) to save a little girl and falls into a deep depression.
    • "Friend Against Friend". Andy and Neil's long time friendship is over.
  • Drama Queen: Jessica is prone to throwing temper tantrums, either when she's enraged at somebody and swearing to take revenge, or when she's wallowing in self-pity.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • When Bruce breaks Regina's heart, she befriends a guy who takes her to a drug party. She dies as a direct result.
    • In Sweet Valley University, Isabella's cigarette is spiked with drugs at a party, causing her to jump off a balcony in her drugged state and be left with serious injuries and Identity Amnesia.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Beautiful with sun-streaked blonde silky hair, blue-green eyes and a tiny dimple in the left cheek, Jessica and Elizabeth are easily two of the most beautiful and popular girls in the school.
  • Evil Twin: Margo and Nora look exactly like Elizabeth and Jessica, and are evil. And Jessica herself may be this to Elizabeth in the early books when her schemes are less zany and more downright nasty.
  • Extruded Book Product: Did we say new books hit stores once per month? We actually meant one new book per month per sub-series!!. This practice reached it's peak by the mid-90s, when one could expect up to five new books in a given month.note 
  • Face–Heel Turn: Amy Sutton between Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High, Lila Fowler in Sweet Valley High Senior Year, Enid Rollins in Sweet Valley Senior Year and Sweet Valley University, Winston Egbert in Sweet Valley Confidential.
  • Fake Triplet Gambit: In one of the Twins books, Elizabeth and Jessica invent a third sister, Jennifer, and take turns pretending to be her. In SVH #45, Family Secrets, the twins do this with their visiting cousin Kelly and confuse everyone at school.
  • Fallen Princess: When Jessica goes from being popular girl to outcast in Sweet Valley Junior High, Sweet Valley High Senior Year and Sweet Valley University.
  • False Rape Accusation:
    • Jessica falsely accuses Todd of sexually assaulting her when she realizes he really is in love with Elizabeth and she can't win him over.
    • In "Too Good To Be True" Suzanne Devlin (a visitor) makes up that teacher Mr. Collins has assaulted/raped her, after he rejects her attempt at seducing him.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: In Rumors, Susan finds out her "aunt" is really her mother, but hid the truth in order to pass off Susan as coming from a more respectable background.
  • First Girl Wins: Jessica was interested in Todd before Elizabeth was, and she's ultimately the one he ends up marrying and having children with.
  • First Guy Wins: Elizabeth has a happy relationship with Jeffrey French after Todd moves away; but this trope comes into play when Todd returns and Elizabeth almost immediately gets back together with him.
  • First Love: Todd is Elizabeth's first love and first boyfriend (at least within the main book series).
  • First Period Panic: A slight case when a secondary character gets hers in a "Twins" book. Her panic is not from being ignorant, but from being completely unprepared as she wasn't expecting it (she's only in sixth grade and while it's not impossible for a girl to start at this age, it's slightly younger than normal).
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Jessica is impulsive, temper-tantrum prone and loves to party; Elizabeth is much more even-tempered and serious. They also have an older brother, Steven, who seems to consider himself the responsible sibling to both his younger sisters.
  • Formerly Fat: Robin Wilson is introduced in book 4 as an overweight character, but by the end of that book has drastically lost weight. The rest of the series (the vast majority of the books), she's always referred to as the girl that used to be fat. She struggles with anorexia in a later book.
  • Friend to All Children: In the "Twins" series (and its Unicorn Club spin-off), Lila turns out to be very good with children and has several storylines involving them.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: In the "Sweet Valley University" book The Roommate, the bill from Isabella's car accident leaves her unable to pay the rent, and she is forced to get a roommate. Isabella doesn't have a job and refuses to take money from her parents; this leaves the reader wondering how she has thus far paid for the spacious, beautifully decorated apartment described in the book.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Steven's one-time girlfriend Billie's name can easily be taken for a boy's name. When she accepted to be his roommate, he actually thought it was a boy.
  • Generation Xerox: A spin-off focused on the twins' great-aunts Elisabeth and Jessamyn, identical twins who have the same personalities, romantic woes, etc. as Elizabeth and Jessica and nearly the same names. Other books reference the likeness too.
  • "Getting My Own Room" Plot: The first Sweet Valley Twins book, Best Friends, has a plot of the middle school twins twins wanting separate rooms (as Elizabeth is tired of Jessica's mess spilling over onto her side of the room all the time).
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Elizabeth and Jessica have such a relationship throughout the books, and it also regularly occurs in subplots with other pairs of sisters or stepsisters.
  • Gossipy Hens: Jessica and her friends, especially Cara Walker, are know to love to gossip; but special mention goes to Caroline Pearce, especially in Sweet Valley Confidential and The Sweet Life.
  • Guilt-Induced Nightmare: Elizabeth gets so fed up with Jessica's antics that she wishes she didn't have a sister. She then falls asleep and has a lengthy and detailed nightmare in which Jessica is killed in a car accident, leaving her feeling hideously guilty for ever wishing such a thing. The nightmare is so realistic that she doesn't realize it was All Just a Dream until after she wakes up in a panic, and apologizes to Jessica for losing her patience.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Played straight with Elizabeth (blonde who is sweet, caring and responsible,), subverted with Jessica (blonde who is mischievous).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Attempted in The Evil Twin when Jessica tries to shield Elizabeth's body with her own
  • High-School Dance: Most plots in SVH revolve around or climax with this. Eight of the first 10 books alone has a dance as part of the story.
  • Homework Slave: In one book of the Sweet Valley Twins series, the Unicorn clique bullies Nora by making her do their homework.
  • Identical Grandson: Almost every book in the series mentions that the twins' mother was frequently mistaken for their older sister, and that their brother Steven is a carbon copy of their father. Taken to extremes in the Saga books, in which almost every generation of the twins' maternal and paternal lines tend to be nearly-exact copies, particularly the two other sets of blonde Polar Opposite Twin girls on their mother's side of the family tree.
  • Identical Stranger:
    • New girl in town Margo looks exactly like twins Elizabeth and Jessica. And later she turns out to have a twin (Nora) herself too, resulting in four identically-looking girls. Not only that, but given that both sets of twins are described as looking exactly like their mothers, it appears Alice had a double too.
    • Elizabeth becomes infatuated with a guy who looks like her (ex-)boyfriend Todd until she discovers he's a jerk.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: They look identical, but how to tell them apart: Elizabeth wears a watch, Jessica doesn't. Their clothing styles also differ sharply, with Elizabeth dressing more modestly and Jessica more hip and sexynote . And at a certain point in the series, Jessica temporarily dyes her hair black (the twins are natural blondes) so no confusing her with Elizabeth then.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Pulled many times on many characters over the course of the series. William White, who gets a whole mini-series about his obsession with Elizabeth, is a prominent example. In Sweet Valley University, Jessica has an affair with her professor Louis Miles, who's subsequently murdered by his deranged ex-wife because she can't stand to see him happy with Jessica.
  • Informed Attribute: Readers are often told that Elizabeth is loyal to Todd and, unlike Jessica, has no interest in dating every cute boy she meets. However, there are many examples of Elizabeth leaving and/or cheating on Todd with other boys, among them Luke Shepherd (books 104-106), Joey Mason (books 123-125), and Devon Whitelaw (books 138-142).
  • Irony:
    • In #88:Love letters for sale, Elizabeth and Jessica start a letter-writing business for people who can't or don't want to write the letters themselves i.e. One man wants to quit his job but can't write the resignation without telling his boss what he really thinks of him. Elizabeth takes part because she's saving up to buy Todd a designer warm-up jacket (possibly NBL merchandise?) as a surprise gift. But by the time she's earned the money, Todd has picked a bad fight and teeters on the verge of breaking up with her because he feels so neglected. Todd even anonymously hires the letter-writing service (he doesn't know it's Elizabeth and Jessica running it) to write a break-up letter... and simply signs his name to and sends Elizabeth the typed copy he's issued, not even bothering to copy it in his own handwriting. (Of course, they make up and in the final scene they debut not only his jacket, but the matching jacket Todd bought for Elizabeth as an apology for throwing such a hissy fit and even going on a date with another girl, instead of just talking to Elizabeth about feeling abandoned in the first place.)
    • The twin actresses (Brittany Daniel and Cynthia Daniel) who portray the Wakefield twins in the series, have repeatedly mentioned in interviews how they're the exact opposites of the Wakefield twins they each portray—Brittany Daniel portrays the extraverted, outspoken, scheming Jessica Wakefield while she's the exact opposite; while Cynthia Daniel portrays the shy and intellectual Elizabeth Wakefield while she's the exact opposite.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: One of the Twins special editions did this with Elizabeth in the George Bailey role.
  • Jerk Jock: Bruce Patman is a good tennis and football player, and is a jerk who acts rude and condescending to everyone.
  • Jerkass:
    • Bruce Patman before he fell for Regina Morrow, and after her death he fell back into his old ways for quite some time (In #86:Jessica against Bruce, he deliberately puts Jessica in several situations that could get her seriously and permanently injured).
    • During the late #30's to mid-#40's books, Bruce's position as head jerkass is taken by Kurt Anderson, who is so arrogant that Jessica refuses to go out with him even once, despite being a tennis team star who has 'movie star looks'. In one of his most memorable appearances Kurt organizes a nasty catfishing scheme (pre-internet, even!) that infuriates Elizabeth so much that she runs a similar prank of her own, leaving Kurt humiliated and considerably out of pocket at the most recent school dance. Kurt's such a jerk that Elizabeth's scheme is a candidate for the Awesome page.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lila really can be nice when she wants to be. Bruce as well in later books. Jessica has her moments.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: In The Evil Twin, Margo's scheme to pose as Elizabeth is frequently hampered because she doesn't act like Elizabeth; people often think she's Jessica trying to pull a "twin switch." Margo also decides she'd rather have Jessica's best friend and clothes rather than Elizabeth's. Despite all this, she doesn't think to try taking Jessica's place instead - which could have succeeded. (The one time she does consider it, it's only because she's briefly alone in the house with Jessica; and quickly goes back to her original plan of becoming "Elizabeth.") Averted in Return of the Evil Twin where Margo has decided she'd make a much more convincing Jessica, although this causes friction with Nora because she wants to be Jessica.
  • Karma Houdini: Jessica Wakefield spikes Elizabeth's punch at the prom and lets her drive off with Sam; Sam is consequently killed as a result of the crash and Elizabeth is arrested and put on trial for manslaughter. During this whole ordeal, Jessica does not speak up and completely abandons her twin. In fact, she even blames Elizabeth for killing Sam, and to get revenge, she hooks up with Todd. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has to deal with the guilt of "killing" Sam, being an outcast at school and possibly being sent to prison. Later, in book 100, The Evil Twin, Elizabeth realizes that Jessica spiked the punch. She never really confronts her about it, but after Margo "dies" she forgives Jessica.
  • Kidnapper's KFC: In Kidnapped!, Elizabeth's Stalker with a Crush, Carl, buys her fast food and leaves her hands tied so he can feed her by hand.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Elizabeth is the sweet and demure Light Feminine, Jessica is the mischievous and flirty Dark feminine.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Mild-mannered Roger turns out to be the missing son of Bruce's uncle.
  • Long-Running Book Series: 200+ books were published over two decades (1983-2003) if you count the original series alone. Three decades if you include the "epilogue" books published in 2011-2012.
  • Lovable Jock: Todd is a tall, muscled, well-built, good basketball player and also a Nice Guy, considerate and a very sweet boyfriend to Elizabeth.
  • May–December Romance: Subverted. In #72:Rock Star's Girl, Jessica sneaks onto the estate of the rock star that's recently moved to Sweet Valley, and sees the thirty-something star by the pool with the new girl at SVH. Jessica immediately jumps to the conclusion that sixteen year old Andrea is his secret girlfriend... when any sensible reader quickly realizes that she's his secret daughter. note 
  • Missing Mom: Lila's mom, Grace. she returns and remarries Lila's dad in the Evil Twin miniseries.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: In Rumors, Elizabeth and Jessica think Alice is pregnant after they discover she's bought baby equipment. They try to show support for her by talking about how nice it would be to have a baby around - making her suspicious that one of them is pregnant. It turns out Alice isn't pregnant either and was just preparing to host a friend's baby shower.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Elizabeth's dream is to be a journalist of some sort. She writes for her High School newpaper, and occasionally even for Sweet Valley's "real" newspaper (despite her still being a high school girl). By the time of Sweet Valley Confidential she is working as an off-Broadway theatre critic.
  • The Movie: Apparently stuck in Development Hell. It's rumored to be a musical.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Alice Wakefield looks at least a decade younger than her actual age and is often mistaken for the twins' sister.
  • Non-Indicative Title: The Wakefields of Sweet Valley is about a family of women not named Wakefield who for the most part don't live in Sweet Valley.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. In the "Twins" series, a secondary character gets hers and is dismayed as she thinks this means having to give up playing baseball as well as hanging out with boys. In a later book, Elizabeth starts hers and Jessica is upset as she hasn't (though she does by the book's conclusion). In another book, Jessica refuses to give evidence in court about a store hold-up because she was embarrassed about buying pads at the time.
  • Old Money: The Patman family (most notable character within the series: their teenage son Bruce) has always been extremely rich. In Universe this is sharply contrasted with the Fowler (Lila's) family, who have only recently gotten rich, and whom the Patman family looks down upon because of that.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In the first Sweet Valley Twins book Best Friends, Jessica shows up for ballet class decked out in sparkles and ribbons. The teacher proceeds to publicly humiliate her, blasting her for this, and for several months afterward acts completely oblivious to the fact that Jessica is the best dancer in the class, instead blatantly favoring the less skilled Elizabeth.
  • Palette Swap: Margo and her long lost twin Nora are identical to Elizabeth and Jessica but with black hair and gray eyes, which they have to conceal when impersonating the Wakefields.
  • Perspective Flip: The first Saga novel is about Alice's lineage. The second is about Ned's and every interaction that his and Alice's ancestors had in the first book is now shown from his predecessor's point of view, literally and figuratively. Right down to Ned himself. The Patman book does the same thing with all the Alice and Hank scenes.
  • Pass Fail: One book focused on Rosa Jameson, a white-passing Latina girl who lies about her background in an attempt to hide her Mexican ancestry. (Naturally, the book's called "Rosa's Lie") She does eventually learn to be proud of her heritage.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: The twins are polar opposites.
  • Precision F-Strike: Alice in Sweet Valley Confidential: "Bring out the FUCKING CAKE!"
  • Product Placement: Except for Bruce, pretty much every other character with a cool car drives a Miata.
  • Psychologist Teacher: Apparently Sweet Valley High doesn't have a guidance counselor, because the kids all go to Mr. Collins — the English teacher — for advice.
  • Put on a Bus: Todd moves away to Vermont at a certain point, so his character is absent from then on. Or, at least until he comes back later.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Book #40, On The Edge, was inspired in part by the Len Bias tragedy.
  • Recycled In SPACE: A common device in many of the later books, especially the Super Editions, was to take a movie plot and replace the main characters with the twins or one of their friends. In addition to the Yet Another Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Plot mentioned in their own tropes, there was also:
    • The Roommate and both Evil Twin books: Single White Female in SWEET VALLEY.
    • Running for Her Life: The Pelican Brief in SWEET VALLEY.
    • BIG for Christmas: Big in SWEET VALLEY.
    • The "Fear" Miniseries: Cape Fear in SWEET VALLEY.
    • She's Not What She Seems: All About Eve in SWEET VALLEY.
    • The Ghost Of Tricia Martin echoes Vertigo, what with Steve's obsessive efforts to mold Andrea into Tricia.
    • Dead Before Dawn: D.O.A. in SWEET VALLEY.
  • Replacement Goldfish:
    • Surfer Bill Chase falls in love with Elizabeth because she resembles (in looks and personality) his late girlfriend.
    • The twins' brother Steve repeatedly dumps girlfriend Cara to pursue girls who resemble his late girlfriend Tricia. Adding insult to injury, he refuses to see any of these girls as their own person and instead tries to mold them to his memories of Tricia, including the way they wear their hair ("Don't put your hair up, Tricia always wore it down."), the things they do ("Let's go to the aquarium! Tricia loved the aquarium!"), and even the food they eat ("Vanilla? But Tricia always had chocolate ice cream!"), making them feel bad when they don't comply, all the while insisting "She's just like Tricia!" Only when one of the girls finally blasts him for this and declares that she deserves better than being used as a substitute does he realize how unhealthy his behavior is.
    • One of the books in the Twins series had Mary, a classmate of the girls', constantly coming over to spend time with them. It soon became obvious that her motive was to spend time with the girls' mother. Even Elizabeth eventually got irritated with this, until it was finally revealed that Alice Wakefield bore a strong resemblance to Mary's mother, whom she hadn't seen since she was a little girl. (In an especially dark plotline for this genre, it was revealed that Mary had been abducted by a friend of her mother's, then eventually abandoned and shipped from one foster home to another.)
  • Retcon:
    • The Secret Diaries: interspersed with clips from prior books, these diaries each tell how, while those events were happening, one twin was hooking up with the other's boyfriend.
    • Sweet Valley Confidential does the same by altering the events of Sweet Valley University to introduce a long-standing affair between Todd and Jessica that began while they were in college.
  • Rich Bitch: Lila, the richest girl in Sweet Valley, is sometimes portrayed as this; particularly in the Twins books where she and the other Unicorns ostracize less popular girls.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Margo had one, complete with a Stalker Shrine and hundreds of photos she took while spying on Elizabeth.
  • Runaway Bride: In the first Saga book, Alice (the twins' mother) ditches her fiancé Hank Patman (who would later become Bruce's father) at the altar, partly because she's suddenly realized he isn't the man for her, but mostly because she's fallen in Love at First Sight with Ned Wakefield—and as you recall from the book, their ancestors have missed numerous chances to get together in the past.

  • School Bullying Is Harmless: Played with. It's averted every time a tertiary character acts like this, showing how it affects both the victim and the perpetrator—no one wants to be his friend, no one believes his sincere efforts at redeeming himself. But it's sometimes played straight with the main or secondary characters—Jessica and her friends often get called out for doing this to others—but rarely explicitly punished, whereas behavior from Elizabeth that could be considered this is rarely even acknowledged.
  • School Grade Hacking: In #14, Deceptions, Jessica convinces Randy Walker to change her failing grade so she can remain in the cheerleading squad. Randy ends up deciding to confess to the principal and Elizabeth, who finds out by accident, forces Jessica to go to the principal's office.
  • Second Love: After her First Love with Todd ends because he moves away, Liz soon finds love with a second great guy, Jeff. Later when Todd returns, she must choose between her first and second love.
  • Secret Pet Plot: Jessica gets a free puppy from a guy giving them away without getting her parents' permission. With Elizabeth's help, she hides the dog for a week in the basement, planning to spring him on their parents so they can see she is capable of caring for a pet. She manages OK, until the dog (named Prince Albert) slips off his leash during a walk and gets lost. She is inconsolable until the twins' parents surprise them by going to the dog pound and adopting a dog: Prince Albert! The parents marvel at how the dog seems to act like he already knows Jessica.
  • Series Continuity Error: Could be the trope namer for how much stuff gets mixed up or wrong, mostly the result of the series being written over decades of time by different ghost writers. Amongst other things, sometimes characters that previously died suddenly are present and living again with no explanation (like Olivia).
  • Setting Update: The graphic novel series updates the setting to the 2020s. Examples include how one of Jessica's three tasks to get into the Unicorn Club is stealing her teacher's tablet and moving it to her bag without getting caught (updated from stealing her physical lesson plan), and the girls initially share one smartphone they both must use to let their parents know where they are.
  • Shout-Out: The girl's father is named "Ned".
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: As the reader is constantly reminded of, Elizabeth is 4 minutes older than Jessica; and In-Universe, whenever Jessica does something stupid again, Elizabeth reminds herself that she "is 4 minutes older than Jessica, but it often feels like 4 years..."
  • Slut-Shaming:
    • In Wrong Kind of Girl, Jessica and her friends bully Annie Whitman (nicknamed "Easy Annie") because they worry that her reputation for promiscuity will make the cheerleading squad look bad. After she makes a suicide attempt because of this, they learn to stop being so judgmental.
    • Elizabeth frequently comments negatively on Jessica's boy-craziness, conveniently forgetting that she herself often cheats on her boyfriends.
    • In "Return of the Evil Twin", Margo and Nora argue over which of them should get to Kill and Replace Jessica. Margo says that Elizabeth is so boring that Todd has never got her out of her clothes, and Nora replies with a spiteful "I bet you could convince him!"
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Annie Whitman pulls this when she gets a black stepsister by inviting a lot of kids she doesn't know to a party because they're black.
  • Spoiler Title:
    • One book has Elizabeth rejecting a would-be boyfriend who gets his revenge by going around telling Elizabeth's friends about all the embarrassing things Elizabeth "told" him about them. Jessica is sure Elizabeth wouldn't have told these secrets, but how could he have known them otherwise? It might have been quite the mystery, had the book not been titled The Stolen Diary.
    • There's a book where Lila is trying to get her divorced parents back together. Title: The Wedding.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Both twins have at least one during the series.
    • Elizabeth gets abducted by a man who works at the hospital she volunteers at.
    • Jessica has a stalker who pursues her relentlessly and finally kidnaps Elizabeth by mistake.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: At the beginning of Sweet Valley University, after Elizabeth finally breaks up with her tall, athletic, brown-haired, brown-eyed, hopelessly devoted boyfriend whose first name begins with To- and whose surname begins and ends with W-s (Todd Wilkins), she gets another tall, athletic, brown-haired, brown-eyed, hopelessly devoted boyfriend whose first name begins with To- and whose surname begins and ends with W-s (Tom Watts).
  • Swapped Roles: Throughout all books, Jessica usually was firmly established as the foolish sibling while Elizabeth was the responsible one, with Jessica being the one to pull Zany Schemes and take advantage of Elizabeth. However, book #7, "Dear Sister" reverses these roles after Elizabeth wakes up from a coma and has undergone a personality transformation; in this book, Elizabeth's the one manipulating Jessica, instead of the other way around.
  • Sweets of Temptation: In Twins, Jessica joins the Unicorn clique and wants Elizabeth to join too. To become a member, Elizabeth has to prank Lois Waller: invite her out for milkshakes, and when she’s not looking, scrape off the whipped cream on Lois’ milkshake and replace it with shaving cream. Elizabeth refuses to do it, but Jessica impersonates her and plays the prank, which nearly ruins Elizabeth’s friendship with Lois until she explains that it was Jessica, not her. She helps Lois get revenge on the Unicorns by playing the exact same trick on them.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: In the original versions, Mr. Collins is described as looking like Robert Redford. In the new, updated editions he's just described as looking like "a movie star".
  • There Are No Therapists:
    • You would think that everything the twins have gone through (trials for manslaughter, abductions, attempts on their lives, being stalked by identical impersonators) would qualify them for months and months of therapy. Nope, doesn't happen.
    • Steve has psychological issues after a girlfriend of his dies. He tries to mold every girlfriend he has after that to her image. He doesn't seek help for this unhealthy behaviour.
    • Played straight in The Sweet Life as Jessica and Todd (and Lila and Ken) are having marital problems but they don't see a therapist.
    • The Wakefield parents don't seek therapy or counseling during their marital problems.
    • This could probably apply to all the characters at some point—Emily Mayer's family could certainly have used some counseling, Bruce could have, etc.
  • Token Black Friend: Nina Harper for Elizabeth during Sweet Valley University.
  • Token Minority: In the original series, it's Patty Gilbert, Maria Slater, and Annie Whitman's stepsister Cheryl (all African-Americans), Jade Wu (Asian-American), and Rosa Jameson (Latina-American). In Senior Year, it's Maria Slater (African-American), Tia Ramirez (Latina-American), and her friend Andy Marsh (gay). In SVU, it's Nina Harper, her boyfriend Bryan Nelson, and Tom Watts' best friend Danny (all African-American). When the twins are sophomores at SVU, their gay friend Neil lives with them.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth:
    • Sam, Jessica's boyfriend who dies in a drunk driving accident. Unlike a lot of men Jessica dates, Sam is pretty much a nice guy who brings out the best in Jessica and makes her want to be a better person. So naturally, he ends up dead.
    • Sweet Valley High: Tricia Martin (Steven's girlfriend), Regina Morrow, Christian Gorman (another one of Jessica's boyfriends who died as a result of a school war), Roger Barrett Patman, and Olivia Davidson (the last one died in the earthquake when the original series ended and Senior Year began). Roger Barrett Patman's death is later retconned in Sweet Valley Confidential.
    • Sweet Valley University: Gin-Yun Suh (Todd's girlfriend) tells him on her deathbed to get back together with Elizabeth.
  • Trash of the Titans: Margo's propensity for this is treated as a sign of her evil nature.
  • Twin Switch: Elizabeth and Jessica frequently and repeatedly pull this throughout the series, although some people (usually including their parents and Lila) aren't fooled.
  • Twins Are Special: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are shown to have instances of Twin Telepathy and it only seems to manifest at plot-relevant moments.
    • Lampshaded at one point, when Jessica and older brother Steven are separated from the rest of the family during an earthquake, and Steven asks Jessica if she can use her telepathy to sense if Elizabeth is okay. Jessica snaps, "It's not like a psychic telephone hotline I can dial up whenever I want to."
  • The Un Favourite:
    • Several books in the series deal with Jessica's feelings of insecurity about Elizabeth's perfection—#21, Runaway and #83, Kidnapped By The Cult—as well as several in the "Twins" series.
    • An extreme example occurs in The Roommate: Lisa/Helen Mueller's parents locked her in a dark basement while lavishing affection on their other daughter.
  • Vanity License Plate: Bruce Patman has a 1BRUCE1 license plate on his Porsche (the car itself is also often called that), which fits his arrogant personality.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: A rare literary example. See Drinking Game - Sweet Valley High, under "take a drink", for the worst offenders.
    • Try to find a volume in the main series that doesn't mention that the Wakefields live in a split-level, ranch-style home on Calico Drive; have a Spanish-style kitchen; that Jessica's room is completely brown and dubbed "The Hershey Bar" (in later books, it's completely purple) and is always a complete mess; that the twins drive a Spider Fiat (Jeep Wrangler in later books); and have identical gold lavalieres they received from their parents on their 16th birthday. These facts will be burned into your mind forever.
    • There's also the twins' appearance: they're both 5'6", with perfect size 6 figures (later reduced to a size 4), matching dimples, sparkling blue-green eyes, golden tans, and sun-kissed blonde hair.
    • And that their only difference is that Elizabeth has a small birthmark on her shoulder which Jessica doesn't and that Jessica NEVER wears a watch (it's how their cheating boyfriends can tell them apart, or realise they've been duped into snogging the wrong girl... again).
    • The fact that Jessica always is "borrowing without permission" Elizabeth's clothes - despite Jessica also always putting down Elizabeth for the latter's clothes being too plain. It's probably due to a combination of Jessica's room being such a mess that she can't find her own stuff and her not keeping up her laundry, and Jessica's indecision and fickleness.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Gender-flipped as Lila's mom is the divorced parent who visits her following Lila's near date rape experience.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: Anytime Jessica gets her act together and begins to behave in a more responsible and mature manner, pretty much everyone has this sentiment. Worst of all is that the most vocal are the ones who did the most complaining about how badly she acted before—her parents and her sister.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In SVU, Steven had a live-in girlfriend named Billie. They were engaged and expecting a child but she had a miscarriage. Then she just disappeared with no explanation. note 
    • Jessica's ex-husband Mike got Put on a Bus and in a later book, The Bus Came Back.
    • Nina Harper also suddenly disappeared. She lived with the twins and two male friends but got fed up with Sam's messiness and moved out with no further mention. Although she was Elizabeth's best friend, there was no explanation given for her disappearance.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Margo murders both her foster sister and a child in her care as a nanny.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Done with Jessica in a Sweet Valley Twins Special Edition. She's not shunning Christmas like most "Scrooge" characters, but instead, is only thinking of her own pleasure. Sure enough, she's visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past (showing how she used to love sharing her gifts with her sister), Present (Jessica is now selfish and refusing to share), and Future (Jessica is loathed by everyone, even those she was once friends with, because of her horrible treatment of people).

The TV series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Comic Relief: Aside from Elizabeth (who is the Only Sane Woman in the TV series), most characters are sillier and more comical than in the books. Jessica and Lila are ditzy airheads, Todd is a stereotypical jock obsessed with basketball, and Enid is a perky Cloudcuckoolander, although this mostly applies in later seasons due to Flanderization. In early episodes, they were closer to their book counterparts.
  • Adapted Out: In the TV series, the twins' older brother Steven doesn't appear and isn't even mentioned; in this reality, the twins probably either are their parents' only two children, or Steven is away to college (permanently, in contrast to the books where he often barges back in at his parental home). Likewise, the twins' parents, Ned and Alice, don't appear (see There Are No Adults), though we can assume they must exist and live in the same home, since the twins are only 16.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: The It's a Wonderful Plot episode shows the school without the twins has an empty trophy case because without Jessica to lead the cheerleaders, all the good players left the team. When Jessica asks the angel about Enid's cheerleader outfit, he explains she only wears it to look hot.
  • Always Identical Twins: Despite their opposite personalities, Jessica and Elizabeth always keep identical hairstyles to each other, even having the same Expository Hairstyle Change throughout the seasons. Both have long hair without fringe in season 1, long hair with fringe in season 2, and shorter hair without fringe in season 3 and 4. They need the same appearance in order to make the Twin Switch plots and gags possible. The Trope doesn't apply to their clothes, though: like it is described in the books, Elizabeth dresses "conservatively", while Jessica dresses flashier/sexier (think lots of mini skirts and bare midsections, even in scenes taking place in school).
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Todd and Jessica, at times. They are, respectively, the star basketball player and the star cheerleader who can't stand each other, despite their similar egotistical personalities (though Jessica is meaner than Todd). It's played up in "A Simple Twist of Mates" when there is a passionate Accidental Kiss, due to Todd mistaking her for Elizabeth, and they both really enjoy it, until they see each other's faces. Later in the episode, they try to kiss another time to repeat the experience, but it doesn't work and they start trading insults.
  • Book Dumb: Jessica. At the end of "IQ Commeth", it's revealed that she got "the lowest score ever in Sweet Valley history" on the college compatibility test.
    Teacher: I'm going to let you take a make-up test.
    Jessica: Perfect! I know all about makeup.
    • In the books, while fun-loving and boy-crazy, it was mentioned at least once that Jessica got decent grades in her classes.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Winston is the Straw Loser who tends to be the butt of the jokes, but it's downplayed because he's still a friend of most of the core characters.
    • Jessica, although it's mostly comeuppance for her own actions, making her more a Karmic Butt-Monkey.
  • The Cameo: In Seasons 2 & 3 two actors from the mothership made an appearance as a separate character from their PR role: Catherine Sutherland and Jason David Frank, who made four appearances.
  • Candy Striper: In Season 1, Episode 19, "Kidnapped", Elizabeth and Jessica volunteer as Candy Stripers at the Sweet Valley Community Hospital. Jess schemes to get herself on TV by sucking up to hospitalized talk show host Frank, while Liz finds herself on the receiving end of unwanted attention after showing kindness to lonely orderly Peter.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the other Saban shows at the time. They didn't shy away from using guns, possibly killing characters et al.
  • Denser and Wackier: Compared to the book series, which is actually quite an accomplishment. The TV series was less dramatic and more comedic in tone than the books, and to fit the books in roughly 20-minute episodes, it often left out sub-plots and details of the plot.
  • Flanderization: Jessica was much more of an airhead in later episodes.
  • Genki Girl: Enid, especially in later episodes, is an extremely perky and goofy Naïve Everygirl who can't stop talking about her relatives. She's also the biggest case of Adaptation Personality Change from the books.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jessica wears crop tops and short skirts very frequently, which fits her flirty Attention Whore personality. What is more surprising is that Elizabeth, who is supposed to be a Girl Next Door, has many moments of this trope too, including exposed midriffs both at school and at home (just less often than her sister), not to mention the white minidress she wears at the dance in the pilot.
  • No Ending: The TV series was cancelled after season 4, and the final episode seems just a filler Zany Scheme episode and not a real conclusion. Jessica has just started a relationship with Devon towards the end of season 4, but we don't see much of their relationship at all.
  • Official Couple: By the fourth and final season, Enid/Manny, Elizabeth/Todd (who get back together in the middle of the season), and eventually Jessica/Devon (who start dating in the last few episodes) are official relationships.
  • Put on a Bus: Bruce leaves the show after the first two seasons due to him joining the army, is replaced by his Surfer Dude cousin Reginald "Shred" Patman. The latter is put on a bus too after season 3.
  • Satellite Character: Manny is mostly The Generic Guy who goes from being the right-hand man to Bruce to being an occasional friend of Winston (the nerd bullied by Bruce early on), and in later seasons he becomes a Satellite Love Interest to Enid.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Todd starts off as this in the first season, where his scenes mainly revolve around him being Elizabeth's boyfriend. Averted in the last two seasons after the actor change; in most episodes of seasons 3 and 4, Todd and Elizabeth are not together after their break-up (though they eventually get back together), and Todd interacts a lot more with the other characters.
  • School Grade Hacking: In the It's a Wonderful Plot episode, Todd changed from the football team captain to a computer nerd. Toward the end of the episode, he is arrested for breaking into the school records and changing the grades for the sake of Enid, the timeline's Alpha Bitch.
  • Stock Footage: One episode recycled footage from the Metal Heroes shows (via VR Troopers) to represent footage of an arcade game.
  • Second Love: Jeffrey French becomes this for Elizabeth after Todd moves away, although ultimately Todd returns to Sweet Valley and Elizabeth almost instantly goes back to him.
  • There Are No Adults: Notably applies to the twins' parents, who aren't seen and even rarely referred to throughout the series. The same applies to the parents of everyone else, although we rarely see the other characters at home, aside from the twins.
  • Token Black Friend:
    • Patty Gilbert, a black cheerleader in season 1, is a Satellite Character at best and only shows up occasionally to hang out with the main characters.
    • From season 2 onwards, Patty is replaced by Cheryl Thomas as the token black girl. Cheryl's only A Day in the Limelight is her debut episode, but for the rest of the show, she only serves as a friend of Elizabeth and Enid. In the books, Cheryl Thomas was actually the step-sister of Annie Whitman (who is Adapted Out in this show).
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Jessica. She's basically a mean and ditzy Alpha Bitch who happens to be the main character of a sitcom instead of an antagonist. All her schemes and antics are Played for Laughs.


Alternative Title(s): Sweet Valley Twins