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A highly successful and popular series of middle grade books aimed at pre-teen girls, about a group of kids who run a club that offers their services as babysitters. The series was written by Ann M. Martin and published between 1986 and 2000.

The series has inspired a 1995 feature film, two TV series in 1990 and 2020, a short line of dolls, 2 board games, 4 educational CD-ROM games, a soundtrack, a series of graphic novels (that have been illustrated by various artists such as Raina Telgemeier, Gale Galligan, Gabriella Epstein and Chan Chau), and more.

The original series itself started getting reprints (not including the 1995 revamps during ongoing publication). The first was from 2001 to 2002 (first three of the original series and selected Little Sister books), 2010-2011 with stylized covers (through the first eight books), and 2020 (along with the Little Sister's series and initially advertizing the Netflix series with new cartoon style covers and is ongoing as of 2023.

Every story is told from the first-person perspective of the narrator of the book, and around Chapter Two goes into a description of the rest of the club members and the backstory of how the club was started.

In most of the books, the titular club consisted of:

  • Kristy Thomas: Rags to Riches tomboy with an endless supply of "great ideas". President.
  • Claudia Kishi: Japanese-American, artistic, defied the "Model Minority" stereotype by being hopeless at school. Vice President, mostly because she has her own phone line.
  • Mary Anne Spier: Author Avatar and Kristy's shy best friend, yet the only one with a steady boyfriend. Secretary.
  • Stacey McGill: Stylish kid from New York, resident math whiz, but most importantly... diabetic. Moves back to New York briefly before returning to stay. Treasurer.
  • Dawn Schafer: Stereotypical "California girl," becomes Mary Anne's stepsister. Eventually gets her own spinoff series after she moves back to California permanently. Alternate officer, then treasurer, then alternate again, then leaves.
  • Mallory Pike: Wannabe writer who comes from a huge family. Formerly a client, she joined after Stacey left to New York. Junior member; can only take jobs before 9 because of her age.
  • Jessi Ramsey: The token black kid who experiences racism because of it in town. Aspiring ballerina, and Mallory's best friend. Joined after Stacey left to New York. Junior member; like Mallory, can only take jobs before 9.
  • Abby Stevenson: Final and latest Sixth Ranger. Jewish, twin, asthmatic, athlete, prone to cracking jokes that are So Unfunny, They're Funny. Joined after Dawn moved back to California as the new alternate officer.

Secondary characters included:

  • Janine Kishi: Claudia's genius older sister, alternately a source of frustration and support, but she wants to be supportive. Narrates in a Super Special.
  • Charlie Thomas: Kristy's responsible oldest brother, who often drives her and her friends around in exchange for gas money from the club dues.
  • Sam Thomas: Kristy's second-oldest brother, who often prank calls the club meetings and has a semi-mutual crush on Stacey. Narrates in a Super Special.
  • Karen Brewer: Kristy's little stepsister and a member of her softball team. Title character of the Baby-Sitter's Little Sister series.
  • Jeff Schafer: Dawn's younger brother, whose homesickness for California and acting out was a running subplot between #9-#15. Narrates in a couple Super Specials.
  • Logan Bruno: Mary Anne's boyfriend from Kentucky and part-time club member. Narrates two "Special Edition Reader's Request" books and in several Super Specials.
  • Shannon Kilbourne: Part-time club member and rich-kid friend of Kristy. Narrates a "Special Edition Reader's Request" book and in a couple Super Specials.
  • Cokie Mason: Popular girl who was a rival to most of the club, who often attempted to win Logan away from Mary Anne.
  • Laine Cummings: Stacey's best friend from New York.
  • Sunny Winslow: Dawn's best friend from California. A main character of the California Diaries series and source of much of the drama.
  • Anna Stevenson: Abby's identical twin sister.

There were at least three Spinoff series: Baby-Sitter's Little Sister (all narrated by Kristy's seven-year-old stepsister, Karen Brewer); California Diaries (about Dawn and her friends in California after she moved back); and Friends Forever (in which the club had been reduced to its original four members after others left). As well as these (and the main series), there were additional Mysteries, a short autobiographical series for the eighth grade members called the Portrait Collection, and Super Specials books (where all the characters, as well as some others, narrate through one big event or trip together). The Little Sister series also had its own short spinoff, The Kids In Ms. Colman's Class. Many of the 300+ books were ghostwritten, although Martin wrote the original 22 books herself (and stopped writing altogether around book 58, though she consulted and planned all the books with her editors). A Prequel, The Summer Before, was released as part of the 2011 re-rerelease and focuses on the original four club members during the summer before seventh grade and showing what their lives were like right before they started the club.

     The Main Books In The Series 
  • Kristy's Great Idea (1986)
  • Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (1986)
  • The Truth about Stacey (1986)
  • Mary Anne Saves The Day (1987)
  • Dawn and the Impossible Three (1987)
  • Kristy's Big Day (1987)
  • Claudia and Mean Janine (1987)
  • Boy-Crazy Stacey (1987)
  • The Ghost At Dawn's House (1987)
  • Logan Likes Mary Anne! (1987)
  • Kristy and the Snobs (1988)
  • Claudia and the New Girl (1988)
  • Good-bye Stacey, Good-Bye (1988)
  • Hello Mallory (1988)
  • Little Miss Stoneybrook... and Dawn (1988)
  • Jessi's Secret Language (1988)
  • Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery (1988)
  • Stacey's Mistake (1988)
  • Claudia and the Bad Joke (1988)
  • Kristy and the Walking Disaster (1989)
  • Mallory and the Trouble with Twins (1989)
  • Jessi Ramsey, Pet-sitter (1989)
  • Dawn on the Coast (1989)
  • Kristy's Mother Day Surprise (1989)
  • Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger (1989)
  • Claudia and the Sad Good-Bye (1989)
  • Jessi and the Superbrat (1989)
  • Welcome Back, Stacey! (1989)
  • Mallory and the Mystery Diary (1989)
  • Mary Anne and the Great Romance (1990)
  • Dawn's Wicked Step-Sister (1990)
  • Kristy and the Secret of Susan (1990)
  • Claudia and the Great Search (1990)
  • Mary Anne and Too Many Boys (1990)
  • Stacey and the Mystery Of Stoneybrook (1990)
  • Jessi's Baby-sitter (1990)
  • Dawn and the Older Boy (1990)
  • Kristy's Mystery Admirer (1990)
  • Poor Mallory! (1990)
  • Claudia and the Middle School Mystery (1991)
  • Mary Anne vs Logan (1991)
  • Jessi and the Dance School Phantom (1991)
  • Stacey's Emergency (1991)
  • Dawn and the Big Sleepover (1991)
  • Kristy and the Baby Parade (1991)
  • Mary Anne Misses Logan (1991)
  • Mallory on Strike (1991)
  • Jessi's Wish (1991)
  • Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street (1991)
  • Dawn's Big Date (1992)
  • Stacey's Ex-Best Friend (1992)
  • Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies (1992)
  • Kristy for President (1992)
  • Mallory and the Dream Horse (1992)
  • Jessi's Gold Medal (1992)
  • Keep Out, Claudia (1992)
  • Dawn Saves The Planet (1992)
  • Stacey's Choice (1992)
  • Mallory Hates Boys (and Gym) (1992)
  • Mary Anne's Makeover (1992)
  • Jessi and the Awful Secret (1993)
  • Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever (1993)
  • Claudia's Friend (1993)
  • Dawn's Family Feud (1993)
  • Stacey's Big Crush (1993)
  • Maid Mary Anne (1993)
  • Dawn's Big Move (1993)
  • Jessi and the Bad Baby-sitter (1993)
  • Get Well Soon, Mallory! (1993)
  • Stacey and the Cheerleader (1993)
  • Claudia and the Perfect Boy (1994)
  • Dawn and the We Love Kids Club (1994)
  • Mary Anne and Miss Priss (1994)
  • Kristy and the Copycat (1994)
  • Jessi's Horrible Prank (1994)
  • Stacey's Lie (1994)
  • Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever (1994)
  • Claudia and Crazy Peaches (1994)
  • Mary Anne Breaks The Rules (1994)
  • Mallory Pike, #1 Fan (1994)
  • Kristy and Mr. Mom (1995)
  • Jessi and the Troublemaker (1995)
  • Stacey vs. the BSC (1995)
  • Dawn and the School Spirit Squad (1995)
  • Claudia Kishi, Live from WSTO! (1995)
  • Mary Anne and Camp BSC (1995)
  • Stacey and the Bad Girls (1995)
  • Farewell, Dawn (1995)
  • Kristy and the Dirty Diapers (1995)
  • Welcome to the BSC, Abby (1995)
  • Claudia and the First Thanksgiving (1995)
  • Mallory's Christmas Wish (1995)
  • Mary Anne and the Memory Garden (1996)
  • Stacey McGill, Super Sitter (1996)
  • Kristy + Bart = ? (1996)
  • Abby's Lucky Thirteen (1996)
  • Claudia and the World's Cutest Baby (1996)
  • Dawn and Too Many Sitters (1996)
  • Stacey's Broken Heart (1996)
  • Kristy's Worst Idea (1996)
  • Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout (1996)
  • Mary Anne and the Little Princess (1996)
  • Happy Birthday, Jessi (1996)
  • Abby's Twin (1997)
  • Stacey the Math Whiz (1997)
  • Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade (1997)
  • Mind Your Own Business, Kristy! (1997)
  • Don't Give Up, Mallory (1997)
  • Mary Anne to the Rescue (1997)
  • Abby the Bad Sport (1997)
  • Stacey's Secret Friend (1997)
  • Kristy and the Sister War (1997)
  • Claudia Makes Up Her Mind (1997)
  • The Secret of Mary Anne Spier (1997)
  • Jessi's Big Break (1998)
  • Abby and the Best Kid Ever (1998)
  • Claudia and the Terrible Truth (1998)
  • Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer (1998)
  • Stacey's Ex-Boyfriend (1998)
  • Mary Anne and the Playground Fight (1998)
  • Abby in Wonderland (1998)
  • Kristy in Charge (1998)
  • Claudia's Big Party (1998)
  • Stacey McGill... Matchmaker (1998)
  • Mary Anne in the Middle (1998)
  • The All-New Mallory Pike (1999)
  • Abby's Un-Valentine (1999)
  • Claudia and the Little Liar (1999)
  • Kristy on Bat (1999)
  • Stacey's Movie (1999)
  • The Fire at Mary Anne's House (1999)

Say hello to these tropes:

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    A-F 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Ross Brown in Abby's Un-Valentine. There's nothing wrong with the kid himself (except for the fact that he keeps pushing after being told no, which, while obnoxious, can probably be put down to him being a 13-year-old), but the trope fits in because Abby's really not happy about his interest in her.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • In Claudia and the Terrible Truth, the charges' father is verbally and physically abusing his seven- and five-year-old sons. Claudia is there to call in the cavalry and get the mom and kids the help they need.
    • The Addisons come across as neglectful at points because their desire to have "alone time" has them constantly foisting their children onto babysitters or after school activities whether they want to be there or not. At one point it leads to their son throwing books in garbage cans and setting them on fire. Rather than realize the negative effect not spending time with their children is having on them, they move away.
  • Academic Athlete: Kristy has the management skills to create the club and be its president. Her sport is softball and she even starts a kids' team. It's also mentioned in at least one book that she's a straight-A student.
  • Accidental Bid: Referenced in Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever. When Stoneybrook Middle School holds a charity auction, Kristy reflects that her only knowledge of auctions is from a movie scene where the heroine sneezes and then has to buy something worth $40,000.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The softball teams that Kristy and Bart coach are called, respectively, Kristy's Krushers and Bart's Bashers.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Mrs. Arnold not realising that her identical twin daughters are acting out because they're sick of being treated like they're one person, to the point people refer to them as "CarolynandMarilyn" with only one word.
    • Mrs. Addison failing to realize that her kids want to spend some time with her instead of being dumped on sitters all the time. (Later books indicate that she and her husband continue to do this even after Claudia calls them out, so it's unclear how much is genuine lack of awareness and how much is just not caring.)
    • Mrs. Barrett, when she's first introduced, is in the middle of an unpleasant divorce; as a result she is highly disorganized and does things like neglecting to leave the sitters with contact information or her ex's visitation schedule (or, in one case, leaving them the wrong contact information) and even forgetting to inform Dawn of one kid's food allergies.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Wilder not realizing that their attempts to "nurture" their daughter's talents are actually overloading her and making her miserable. (Claudia refers to it in the narrative as "squeezing" Rosie's passions out of her.)
    • Mrs. Prezzioso not noticing her older daughter Jenny's obsessive finicky behaviour and acting out (at least at first), as she's too distracted by becoming a pageant mom for her younger daughter Andrea in Mary Anne and Miss Priss. She and her husband don't do all that great a job of preparing Jenny for big sisterhood either. One of the most glaring examples is that they leave for the hospital while she's still asleep — without waking her up and telling her first. Yeah, the kid definitely isn't going to feel abandoned after that.
    • Averted with the girls' parents; they are imperfect, but are generally pretty good parents, and the sitters will not hesitate to take advice from them.
    • Sometimes played straight in the Mysteries series if the girls going to an authority figure would break the plot.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • One example that stands out is the relationship between Claudia and her genius sister Janine. There are many books where the two of them bond over junk food, have a heart-to-heart talk, and realize that they're not that different. By the next book, their relationship is back to where it was, with Janine being too smart and Claudia being too flighty.
    • A feature in many Little Sister books, where Karen learns not to be a brat only to promptly forget it by the time the next book comes around. She also repeatedly decides she wants something from someone but doesn't tell them that she wants it, even though every time she's honest about what she wants, things turn out better for her (e.g. not explaining to anyone that all she wants for her birthday is for her families to be together, instead trying to make trouble to force her parents to talk). It may be partially Justified by her age, though.
    • There were also multiple books where the sitters pushed Charlotte Johanssen into some sort of public performance, only for it to blow up in their faces and for them to have to apologize to Charlotte and her parents. Not only did they not learn any general lessons about respecting boundaries, but even the specific lesson, "Don't force Charlotte to do stuff she doesn't want to do," never seemed to sink in.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Mallory and Jessi both love horses and several books mention their attachment to horse books like Misty Of Chincoteague.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • Charlie's car, the Junk Bucket.
    • Subverted with the Pink Clinker, which, while not exactly stylish, actually works perfectly well; Nannie just likes to call it that.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Cokie Mason is a shallow, stuck-up Manipulative Bitch who often antagonizes the club, especially Mary Anne and Kristy. Her friend Grace is a Beta Bitch and Rich Bitch who follows Cokie's instructions and hates the club too.
    • Shawna Riverson is portrayed as an Academic Alpha Bitch in Claudia and the Middle School Mystery where she is the main antagonist. The "academic" part is removed when she appears again in Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies, where she's just The Ditz.
    • In the Little Sister spinoff, Pamela Harding.
  • Always Identical Twins:
    • Abby and Anna; Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold (who are very upset to be perceived this way); and Mariah and Miranda Shillaber. The Pike triplets (Adam, Byron, and Jordan) are also identical.
    • From the Little Sister series and spinoff, Terri and Tammy Barkin.
    • Invoked in the Little Sister book Karen's Twin. One of Karen's classmates wants to be "twins" with her and starts pushing her to dress identically (which even Terri and Tammy don't do) and pouting about the fact that they don't look enough alike. Throughout all of this, not one person brings up the fact that non-identical (fraternal) twins exist.
    • Rather amusingly, the first exception mentioned in the series are Ricky and Rose Salem... who are infants, and because of this, despite the fact that they're not identical in the traditional sense, many people still have difficulty telling them apart.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Abby definitely has shades of this. Like Kristy, she is a major tomboy who usually dresses in simple, athletic-type clothes. But perhaps most notable is the fact that, unlike Kristy, she never has a boyfriend of any sort — and in Abby's Un-Valentine she makes it quite clear that she is not particularly interested in having one. Fanfic writers have taken note and often ship her with Kristy.
  • Amicably Divorced:
    • Fairly nuanced with Watson and Lisa. Kristy describes their divorce as friendly, and Watson goes out of his way to help her when she's injured and her second husband is out of town, but the Little Sister spinoff series shows that there's still tension there. In one early book, Karen starts acting out as the impact of the divorce begins to hit her (not exactly shining behavior, but normal enough given her age and the major life disruption she's been through), and her parents react by fighting and blaming each other. In a later book, both Watson and Lisa want Karen and Andrew to spend Thanksgiving with their family and both of them want to celebrate on the actual day, so Karen and Andrew end up going to two Thanksgiving feasts in one day. Karen overeats and gets a stomachache, while Andrew ends up falling asleep. To their credit, Watson and Lisa realize that their pettiness put the kids in a bad situation and promise to try to compromise better in the future. There's another book where Karen describes how awkward it is to have both of her families trying to enjoy a camping trip together, but at least they're trying. They're also willing to adjust the custody arrangement when Karen and Andrew express distress over the fact that they have so little time with their father.
    • Dawn's parents seem to be a straight example. While we don't see them interact much, when they do, they seem to be on good terms; they never talk badly about each other (with Jack even defending Sharon when an angry Dawn blames her for the divorce in The Baby-Sitters Remember Super Special, while Sharon tells Jeff that living with his father full time is going to be different than visiting a Disneyland Dad, indicating she respects him and his parenting), and they're both willing to work together (without fighting or being petty) and make sacrifices when it comes to doing what's best for their kids. Consider their custody arrangements over the course of the series — Sharon seems to have gotten primary, if not full, custody, and promptly moved the kids to the opposite side of the country, but ended up ceding custody to Jack once Jeff and, eventually, Dawn became too homesick after such an abrupt disruption to their lives. Even on the rare occasions that they DO fight, it's virtually always due to them being in a high-stress situation that would test just about anybody (such as when Dawn stole her father's credit card and flew back to Connecticut without telling a soul, leaving Jack frantic). The longest scene of them together is the first chapter of BSC in the USA, which is a lot of awkward silence until Dawn (playfully) throws a bagel at Jeff, but it ends with everyone laughing.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • David Michael and Karen, for Kristy. However, it's worth noting that Karen annoyed the readers more than she ever annoyed Kristy — Kristy and Karen are just different enough to get along and just far apart enough in age that their similarities (namely, being bossy and stubborn) don't come into conflict, since Karen hero-worships her stepsister. It also helps that they only live together half the time, at most.
    • Kristy actually experiences this from both ends of the spectrum as Sam can be a bit of a Big Brother Bully at times.
    • Karen herself gets this from Andrew (rarely) and Emily (somewhat more frequently). Notably, many of the cases involving Emily end up deconstructing this a bit; if Emily is acting in a way that's annoying and unusual, it's usually because something is upsetting her and, being a toddler who is still getting used to a new language (presumably she didn't hear much — if ANY — English when she was in Vietnam), she can't communicate well enough to explain what it is.
    • Dawn's brother Jeff, particularly in early books — mainly because of the emotional trauma he was going through due to the divorce and missing his father, which caused him to act out. He usually got along decently with Dawn herself, however; it was toward other characters that he was more often annoying. Only when Jeff wants to move back to California is Dawn very annoyed and angry at him, but Jeff moves anyway at the end of the book.
    • Claudia can be this to Janine sometimes, though it's more common for Janine to be the one annoying Claudia.
    • All seven of Mallory's siblings qualify, except maybe Vanessa; but she has her moments too. The triplets see Nicky in particular as this, since he's the only brother in the family who isn't a triplet and he desperately wants to hang around with them. Byron is better about it than Adam and Jordan, eventually even agreeing to share a room with Nicky note  when the other two balk at any changes.
    • Deconstructed a bit in one scene between Haley Braddock and Jessi. Haley admits that while she knows Matt doesn't deliberately try to annoy her (they're actually pretty close most of the time), she's occasionally frustrated about having a sibling with a disability and the fact that her own life sometimes gets caught up in the challenges that come with Matt's deafness. In return, Jessi tells a story about being frustrated with her own siblings' needs interfering with her plans, to reassure Haley that what she feels is fairly normal for an older sibling.
  • Arc:
    • Some plotlines spread over a couple of books, such as Kristy adjusting to her stepfamily. At the end of the series Mary Anne's house burns down, which forms the background for the Friends Forever spinoff.
    • The Dawn-considers-moving-back-to-California plotline lasted for so many books that many fans were extremely glad when she ultimately did move back and finally stopped agonizing about it.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: In one of the Little Sister spin-off books, Karen and her classmate Addie devise a scheme to catch a pair of older girls who are stealing things from other kids' desks — a scheme which involves intentionally missing their buses and lying to their parents. In the end, they get praised by the school for catching the girls and stopping the thefts, but their parents are not happy and they both face punishments at home for their lies.
  • Artistic License – Child Labor Laws:
    • Some of the BSC members have, or have at one point had, an official job with a paycheck, despite them all being 13 or under. In real life, the minimum age to work in Connecticut is 14. It's especially obvious when certain characters get jobs that would never hire someone in their age range in real life, such as 13-year-old Stacey getting a job at a fancy department store or Laine working at a trendy New York boutique.
    • The minimum age to work in New Jersey is 14, so in there's no way 12-year-old Chris from Mary Anne and Too Many Boys could have actually worked at the Ice Cream Palace.
  • Artistic License – Law: In Mary Anne Saves the Day, her father comes home grousing about losing a grand larceny case where the person was clearly guilty, and then takes a phone call, presumably from someone in his office, about appealing the ruling. If he was upset about a criminal going free, then he was obviously a prosecutor, and as such would have known that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime if they were found not guilty. This is called "double jeopardy", and is part of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Richard also could not be a prosecutor and own his own law firm (mentioned in the subsequent book), since prosecutors don't have private practices; they're employed by the government. (It is possible it was a civil trial involving larceny, i.e. a victim suing the perpetrator, which would explain both of these; but if that's the case, he's talking about it in a very casual/imprecise way, not at all like someone with his supposed level of experience and familiarity — and fastidiousness is repeatedly established to be one of his major character traits.) Possibly justified by the notion that he is dumbing down the whole thing while talking to his twelve-year-old daughter.
  • Ascended Extra: Mallory is a baby-sitting charge during the first several books, although her parents eventually agree that she can be the second sitter (they always hire two sitters when all eight children are home). Later, when the club needs additional members, she gets brought in as a main cast member.
  • Asian Airhead: Claudia. Early books treat this very mildly; later books make her seem almost borderline developmentally delayed. Made worse in the movie.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Janine Kishi is Asian and extremely brainy.
  • Author Appeal: Ann M. Martin had the girls, as well as their classmates and the kids they babysat, watch the same TV shows and movies she enjoyed as a child. The result is a bunch of preteens from The '80s and The '90s whose pop culture references mostly come from Leave It to Beaver, I Love Lucy, and other shows that were canceled decades before they were born; Stacey's favorite movie is Mary Poppins to the point she watches it once a week. However, there's also some Truth in Television here, because the books were written for the most part in The '80s. At the time, kids were watching reruns of classic sitcoms because basic cable stations, especially the TBS Super Station and USA Network, showed them nonstop as a source of cheap daytime programming filler. Additionally, Nick at Nite debuted in the mid-80s and took over children's programming with reruns of some of these same sitcoms starting at 8 PM.
  • Babysitter Friendship: The girls all are friends with the majority of their charges, and many of the books involve one of them befriending the main kid of the story. However, the most consistent example is Charlotte Johanssen and her favorite sitter Stacey; they are so close throughout the books that they consider themselves sisters.
  • Babysitter's Nightmare: Many examples. In particular new children, who are introduced in different books, often start off as insufferable (the Feldman children, the Delaney children, Rosie Wilder, the Arnold twins, Betsy Sobak, etc.) but usually get better thanks to Character Development. However, there are some examples who are consistently seen as nightmares throughout the series, like Jenny Prezzioso or Jackie Rodowsky, who are recurring characters and nobody ever wants to babysit them (although multiple sitters mention that they all love Jackie and just don't want to deal with the disasters that happen to him, while most of them actively dislike Jenny).
  • Barely-There Swimwear: In the second book, Stacey's swimsuit is described as "skimpy (and we're talking very skimpy) and yellow, with tiny bows at the side of the bottom part". Claudia even mentions that "the top part was filled out pretty nicely".
  • Beauty Contest: In book 15, Dawn helps Margo and Claire get ready for The Little Miss Stoneybrook contest.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Mary Anne can get extremely vindictive when she is pushed too far. In Mary Anne Saves the Day, she snaps at all the other members of the club.
  • Big Applesauce: Stacey is constantly reminding the readers how awesome New York is. The other book narrators make a big deal out of Stacey being from the city as well.
  • Blended Family Drama:
    • Downplayed with Kristy and her new stepfather Watson. She initially acts like a brat to him when he starts dating her mother, but this is fully resolved by the time he and Elizabeth get engaged, and she eventually accepts him as part of her family. She also bonds pretty easily with her new stepsiblings.
    • The series mines some drama from this trope when Mary Anne's single father Richard marries his high school sweetheart, Sharon (Dawn's single mother). Although Mary Anne and Dawn are good friends, they take some time to get used to the notion of a stepfamily. They soon get over it, though, and Mary Anne also develops a good relationship with Sharon (except for the occasional book where a conflict suddenly crops up between them for no clear reason). However, Dawn later begins to miss California enough to move back there to live with her biological dad.
    • Downplayed for the Barrett-DeWitt family. There's a little bit of tension initially, but most of the major conflict comes with the problems that arise from trying to cram nine people (including two toddlers) into a much-too-small house. When they draw up plans to expand the house, the five older kids object to the layout because, while it's set up to give each child their own small bedroom (they've decided that while their current rooms are too small), they like the underlying idea of having a room together and would rather have two larger bedrooms to share — one for the boys, one for the girls.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Rosie in Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street. Being a Child Prodigy who's talented at everything isn't so great when your parents force you to take dozens of extracurriculars to "improve your skills", constantly push you to be perfect at everything you do (to the point that even things you enjoy doing are no longer fun), and you have no friends because everyone at school either hates you or is jealous of you.
    • In ''Poor Mallory!", Amanda and Max Delaney admit that while being rich definitely has far more positives than negatives, it does come with one big downside in that they never know which of their friends are true friends and which ones just hang around in order to get access to their cool stuff, particularly their pool. Mallory suggests that they test it by telling their friends that their parents said the pool is off-limits indefinitely and then inviting them over to do other things and seeing who takes them up on it. To their pleasant surprise, it turns out a lot more of them accept than they expected; however, one girl does tell Amanda flat-out that she doesn't want to come over if they can't use the pool, so Amanda knows that girl isn't a real friend and won't invite her over anymore.
  • Blithe Spirit: Abby is noticeably sassier and more irreverent than the other girls, particularly where (post-Flanderization) Kristy's rules and bossiness are concerned.
  • The Board Game: Two, actually — a regular one and a mystery one.
  • Book Dumb: Claudia is hopeless at school, hates math, and has serious spelling problems.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In The Truth about Stacey, Stacey and her former friend Laine reconcile when they each admit they each have a reason to be upset at the other. Stacey understands that she shouldn't have hidden her diabetes from her friend, while Laine apologizes for treating Stacey's diabetes as a "disease" to avoid catching.
  • Brainy Baby:
    • Gabbie Perkins speaks in complete sentences, addresses people by their full names, is toilet trained, and is on Kristy's softball team... at two and a half years old.
    • It's stated that Karen was already able to invent stories when she was two years old.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Karen. Good grief, Karen. Jenny Prezzioso is seen as such by the sitters.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: All of them have their moments, some more than the others, depending on the book.
    • Claudia is the most stereotypical example. Besides art, her main interests include clothes and boys; she hates studying, whines every time she has homework, thinks her parents don't understand her, hides things in her bedroom of which her parents don't approve, and acts bratty to her older sister because she's jealous of her.
    • Dawn has probably the worst example of this trope in Here Come the Bridesmaids! when her father is getting remarried. She all but pitches a fit because her stepmother-to-be doesn't want to have Mary Anne as a bridesmaid as well as Dawn. Remember, Mary Anne is Dawn's stepsister on her mother's side and is not remotely related to Dawn's father, let alone his new bride. Furthermore, Dawn never asked if Mary Anne could be a bridesmaid. She just assumed that Mary Anne would be sharing the moment with her and bought her a dress. To Dawn's credit, she never brings up her (frankly, stupid) assumption to her father or stepmother. But Mary Anne still ends up wearing the bridesmaid dress, because she assumed it'd be a church wedding, not a beach wedding, and didn't pack appropriately. One has to wonder just what Dawn's father and stepmother thought about that. Even Mary Anne has a moment of this in the same event. She's watching the wedding and she just can't help feeling like she should be "up there with my sister, sharing her special day." But it's not Dawn's special day, it's Carol and Jack's. They were nice enough to allow Dawn to invite a couple of her friends, which was more than they were required to do.
    • In the first book in the series, Kristy is flat-out opposed to her mother's developing relationship with Watson. She insults the man, refuses to eat dinner when he treats them, and is generally unpleasant. It seems to be less a matter of her disliking Watson personally and more of a desire to keep her fractured family from experiencing any additional changes. Jealousy also plays a large role — she admits that it's hard for her to see Watson being such a loving, present father to Karen and Andrew (her own Disappeared Dad rarely even writes or calls, forgetting birthdays and holidays "all the time"). Happily, she warms up to him in time (finally meeting Karen and Andrew helps), and before the end of the book, she's decided she's okay with the idea of him marrying her mother. In a later book, she admits that she loves him a lot.
  • Broad Strokes: The books make a few vague references to the 1995 film. BSC in the USA has Kristy mention her father's "sneak visit" where she had to lie to all her friends, and she also writes about it for her autobiography project in Kristy's Book. The only thing that really gets talked about, though, is the Kristy and her father plotline — the greenhouse, the day camp, Cokie Mason, Cousin Luka, and especially Dawn going on a date with Alan Gray are left in canon limbo.
  • Busman's Holiday:
    • Probably the worst example was when the girls were in New York and a British diplomat oh-so-conveniently staying in the same building as Stacey's friend Laine needed two thirteen-year-old baby-sitters to show his kids around the city.
    • A couple of books feature them intentionally setting this up. During the time when Stacey is living in New York, she invites the others up for a weekend to babysit the kids in her building while the adults are at a conference, and Stacey later comes to Stoneybrook to help out when they plan a special event for Mother's Day.
    • The BSC assume that they will be taking a Busman's Holiday wherever they go, such as when Dawn goes to visit her dad in California and remarks that she may babysit for some of her old clients while she's there. You know, because their parents wouldn't have found new sitters since she left the state, and would be so thoughtless as to intrude on her two weeks with her non-custodial parent by asking her to work. (It does make sense that she might want to see some of the kids, particularly the ones she was close with, but there's no reason it has to be in the context of baby-sitting.)
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Mallory has bad things happening to her in many books. The other girls have their moments too.
    • Mallory's brother Nicky is always picked on by his older brothers.
    • Jackie Rodowsky only appears to be clumsy, unlucky, and attract all kinds of disaster.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard:
    • Stacey mentally snarks at how much smaller Mary Anne's chest is in her bikini top than her own.
    • Kristy, being the only older club member who does not yet require a bra, often agonizes over her flat chest. The fact that she's only five feet tall — making her shorter than even Mallory and Jessi — doesn't exactly help matters any. In one book she bemoans, "Won't I EVER grow up?"
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Kristy and her older brothers finally get to do this to their Disappeared Dad in Kristy's Big News, where they spell out in no uncertain terms just how much their lives (and their mother's) got turned upside down when he abandoned the family. They (particularly Charlie) also make it clear that they are furious that he seems to have completely forgotten David Michael.
  • Caretaking is Feminine: The titular babysitting club is mainly comprised of teen/preteen girls. Mary-Anne's boyfriend Logan is an 'associate member' (i.e. he'll sub in if really needed) but can't fully join because the club would conflict with his sports. In one of his focal books, Logan Bruno, Boy Baby-sitter, it's mentioned that the guys at school make fun of him for being a babysitter.
  • Cats Are Mean: Boo-Boo, Watson's cat, who is mostly mean because he's old and wants to be left alone. Boo-Boo is probably the only straight example, though; most of the other cats in the series are at worst aloof, and some (like Mary Anne's cat Tigger) are downright friendly.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • In the first few books, Kristy is a Tomboy with a Girly Streak. While she likes sports and has a tomboyish personality, she also has a few traits in common with her friend Mary Anne, like wearing skirts and similar clothes, and apparently liking dolls, both being considered "childish" by Claudia. In later books, Kristy is a total tomboy who always wears jeans and Tomboyish Baseball Cap.
    • Several involving Dawn:
      • In Mary Anne Saves the Day, the narrator Mary Anne meets Dawn for the first time and explicitly says she's pleasant-looking, but not pretty. In later books she is always described as drop-dead gorgeous.
      • In the early books, Dawn is a semi-vegetarian who eats chicken and fish; she avoids red meat because she thinks it's unhealthy and doesn't like the taste. She specifically says in one book that her vegetarianism doesn't have anything to do with feeling sorry for cows, and in fact she doesn't even like animals all that much. This is somewhat hard to reconcile with the radical environmentalist she is in the later books.
      • Early books also show her and her father as very organized and practical, as a contrast to her absent-minded mother. She's not as organized as Mary Anne, but she's close, and Jack Schafer plans a trip to Disneyland like a war campaign. But after her mother marries Mary Anne's father, Dawn and her dad both get hit hard by the "California casual" stereotype. They're never quite as bad as Sharon, but they're written to contrast with Mary Anne and her extremely organized father.
    • In Jessi's first appearance (Hello, Mallory), we learn that she loves to tell jokes, and apparently "knows more jokes than anyone in the world". The joking is to the point that Mallory asks her if she wants to become a comedian and then Jessi reveals that she actually wants to be a dancer. In all the other books, "the dancer" becomes Jessi's defining trait, while her fondness for telling jokes is never brought up again.
    • In Kristy's Great Idea and Kristy's Book, Elizabeth Thomas relies on babysitters in order to prevent Charlie, Sam, and Kristy from feeling like parents to David Michaelnote  In Kristy's Big News, however, Charlie rages at his father about having had to quit baseball in order to stay home with the baby David Michael, giving readers a more troubled impression of the Thomas siblings' childhoods than had been previously depicted. (Of course, given the time lapse between when Patrick left and the start of the series, it's possible that Charlie did bear a greater burden at first, especially given that Kristy and possibly also Sam would have been too young to share responsibility, and it was only later that Elizabeth was able to organize things to lighten his load.)
    • In her earliest mentions, Jill, a member of the We (Heart) Kids Club, is established as serious and thoughtful; at one point, Dawn describes her as being like Mary Anne. In the first California Diaries book she is portrayed as very childish, which contributes to Dawn, Maggie, and Sunny drifting away from her.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase:
    • In the main series nearly every character has at least one book titled like this.
    • None more so than Claudia, whose books for a long time were titled Claudia and [Noun Phrase]. The first one of hers to avert this was #56, Keep Out, Claudia!, her ninth narrated title. Out of the books she narrates in the main series, fourteen out of twenty-one books—two-thirds—have this title styling, which can be very noticeable if a reader focuses on Claudia-focused books. There's two more of hers that have the pattern in the Forever Friends series.
    • All but three books in the spin-off mystery series have this title style, with the aversions being #2 Beware, Dawn; #6 The Mystery at Claudia's House; and #26, Dawn Schafer, Undercover Baby-sitter.
  • The Chew Toy: Jackie Rodowsky, an extremely clumsy and danger-prone kid.
  • Chickenpox Episode: In Karen's Chicken Pox from the Little Sister spinoff, Emily gets chicken pox and Karen ends up catching it from her (much to her dismay, as this means she has to miss out on Halloween).
  • Child Care and Babysitting Stories: The books involve a bunch of 11- to 13-year-old girls (and one boy) who form a babysitters' club, share expenses, and publish a single contact number that can be used to hire any of them. The stories all include the girls babysitting children of varying ages and personalities.
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Rosie Wilder is a smart and multitalented little girl. Naturally the kid gets paired with Claudia.
    • Jessi seems to be this to some level with ballet. She's the youngest person in the advanced class, is frequently getting invited to special classes, and gets several lead roles over the older dancers.
    • Susan Felder with music (specifically the piano) and with keeping track of dates.
    • While not to Rosie's genius level, Myriah and Gabbie Perkins are incredibly smart and talented for their age. Despite being only five, Myriah is The Ace (especially in Little Miss Stoneybrook... and Dawn), being very good at singing, dancing, acting, and gymnastic, and is very bright in general. Gabbie is only two and a half years old but she speaks in complex full sentences like her sister, is able to memorize songs like her sister, and calls people by their full names.
  • Christmas in July: The BSC throw a "Christmas in Summer" party for sitting charge James Hobart, who is Australian, to cheer him up when he has a broken leg. This happened again at summer camp in one of the Super Specials.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: This is pretty much the case for most of the girls' non-BSC friends, with the major exceptions being Laine Cummings, Stacey's on-again, off-again best friend from New York, and Sunny Winslow, Dawn's Troubled, but Cute best friend from California. But Sunny starts her own baby-sitting club, anyway, so she doesn't really count.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Dawn shows a dose of this in Mary Anne's Makeover, in which she admits that she's jealous of all the time Mary Anne's been spending with her father and that it makes her miss her own terribly. Dawn comes off as being resentful of Mary Anne for having her father around...while apparently forgetting that this is Mary Anne's only living parent.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dawn's mother, with Dawn being her Cloudcuckoolander's Minder. Mrs. Barrett is like this when first introduced, although she improves in later books.
  • Comic-Book Time: The series spans nearly 20 years but the girls never become high schoolers.
  • Competence Zone: Age eleven. Ten-year-olds are practically infants in comparison.
  • Contrived Coincidence: It just so happens that Dawn's private school on the other side of the country in California is also making the eighth graders do an autobiography project the same time Stoneybrook Middle is doing theirs, so they all end up with portrait books. (But not Mallory and Jessi who are two grades behind or even Logan — who has to do the same eighth grade project, mind, but didn't get a portrait book.)
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Kristy, Dawn, Mallory, and Jessi, to their respective siblings.
    • Janine is slowly revealed to be this, though Claudia initially doesn't see her this way.
    • Later books in the series have Stacey as this to Charlotte Johanssen; both are only children, and take to calling each other "big sis" and "little sis".
  • Cool Old Lady: Nannie (Kristy's grandma) is the young in spirit "active old lady" type; Mimi (Claudia's grandma) is the "sweet old lady" type.
  • Costume Porn: Any given book will have several detailed descriptions of all the girls' outfits, but especially Claudia's. There's usually a shopping trip to the local mall, too, which enters Fridge Logic territory when one wonders how they manage to afford all that stuff on their $4-an-hour babysitting gigs.
  • Crying at Your Birthday Party:
    • Stacey throws Mary Anne a surprise birthday party, completely overlooking the fact that the extremely introverted Mary Anne hates being the center of attention. Mary Anne's reaction is to have almost a full-blown panic attack and run out of the house in something like blind terror.
    • The Arnold twins get upset at their birthday party because the whole thing makes it clear that they're being seen as two halves of a set rather than as individuals. The only time they show any real happiness is when they open Mallory's presents, as she's the only one who bought something different for each twin instead of giving identical gifts.
  • A Day in the Spotlight: Associate Members Logan and Shannon narrate a series of three books outside of the series as part of the Special Edition: Readers Request side series. Logan has Logan's Story and Logan Bruno, Boy Baby-sitter, while Shannon has Shannon's Story. They also narrate chapters in Super Specials and occasionally as part of other character's books.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Amelia Freeman was largely a background character until Mary Anne and the Memory Garden in which she dies partway through.
  • Death of a Child: Mary Anne and the Memory Garden has an Ascended Extra classmate, Amelia Freeman, die in a car accident.
  • Dinner Order Flub: In one book, Claudia goes out with a guy she likes to a French restaurant. The guy is a smart and intellectual type, and Claudia is trying to keep him from realizing she's not. She figures hey, she's not a picky eater, so she picks something on the menu at random. The "something" in question turns out to be escargot, or snails, which she then forces herself to eat to keep up the pretense.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Kristy's father, Patrick Thomas, abandoned his wife and four children and almost never calls or writes. It gets even worse in Kristy's Big News, where it's revealed that he has all but forgotten his youngest, David Michael.
    • Abby and Anna's father died in a car accident when they were nine.
  • Disneyland Dad: Dawn's father, Jack Schafer, has strong shades of this early on in the divorce where he tends to spoil his kids rotten when he sees them. It tapers off when they begin to stay with him full time and he gets married and has another child. In one book, Dawn's narrative literally invokes the trope, calling him "Disneyland Daddy."
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul":
    • Stacey is not fond of being called Anastasia.
    • King, one of Logan's football teammates, does NOT like it when people call him by his given name Clarence.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • One subplot involves Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold sneaking a look at a horror movie and getting freaked out of their minds by it — to the point where they sleep in the same room with all the lights on, tape up electrical sockets, and set up traps for "ghosts" — until they watch a documentary on how the movie was made. They become riveted by the special effects and demonstrations and declare it the coolest thing they've ever seen. Not only does it lift their fears, it makes them into horror movie fans, and they decide they want to direct their own horror movies when they grow up. Hmmm... that sounds a lot like the biography of a pair of Canadian twin sisters who are not only horror movie directors themselves, but host their own horror-themed game show, Hellevator!
    • The whole plotline about Stacey's diabetes and the associated stigma leading to her moving away from New York lest she lose all her friends. In retrospect, the series' origins in the late eighties makes it likely that the diabetes stood in for something else.
    • It's mentioned constantly that Mary Anne's father loosened up considerably when he started seeing Dawn's mother. Adults rereading the series could easily read between the lines there.
  • Drunk Driver:
    • One of their classmates, Amelia, is killed by a drunk driver in Mary Anne and the Memory Garden.
    • Abby's father was killed by a drunk driver prior to her series debut. According to Abby's Book, his death is the reason their mom moves Abby and Anna to Stoneybrook in the first place — to distance herself from the memories.
  • Dub Name Change: Although many of the non-English publications of the series kept the characters names, some had them changed to be more localized.
    • The original French Canadian translation, Les Baby-Sitters, localized the characters' names and changed the town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut to Nouville, Quebec:
      • Kristy Thomas — Christine Thomas
      • Mary Anne Spier — Anne-Marie Lapierre
      • Claudia Kishi — name unchanged
      • Stacey McGill — Sophie Ménard, who is now from Toronto.
      • Dawn Schafer — Diane Dubreuil, who grew up in California but moved to Hull before moving to Nouville when her parents divorced.
      • Mallory Pike — Marjorie Picard
      • Jessi Ramsey — Jessie Raymond
    • The Dutch translation, De Babysittersclub, also localized the characters' names and changed the series location to Steendam:
      • Kristy Thomas — Gertie Bouwman
      • Mary Anne Spier — Inge Praet
      • Claudia Kishi — Joke Kishi
      • Stacey McGill — Petra van Rijn, who is now from Amsterdam.
      • Dawn Schafer — Betty Mulder, who is now from Brussels.
      • Mallory Pike — Tine Pieters
      • Jessi Ramsey — Jessie Marsman
      • Logan Bruno — Tim Grootjans
      • Shannon Kilbourne — Eline Hoefnagels
    • The Finnish translation is a bit interesting in this aspect, as some characters keep their surname but have a different first one (Kristy becomes Lisa, Mary Anne is shortened to Anne, Claudia becomes Valerie, and Dawn becomes Violet), have similar but different names (Stacey McGill becomes Susan Gill and Logan Bruno is reversed to Bruno Logan), or keep their original names altogether (Mallory, Jessie, Shannon).
    • The Spanish translation has kept most of the characters' original names but changed their surname either to something slightly different or something else altogether (Kristy Parker, Mary Anne Cook, Claudia Koshi, Jessica Ramsay). Meanwhile, Dawn keeps her surname but is now named Carla, Stacey McGill is now Lucy McDouglas, and Mallory's full name is completely unchanged.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first cover of Kristy's Great Idea has her wearing a blue jumper over a striped pink blouse with a headband and kneesocks, and she's described as — like Mary Anne — wearing a blouse, skirt, and saddle shoes when they first meet Stacey. Claudia describes Kristy as, like Mary Anne, wearing "little girl clothes" that consist of kilts and plain blouses compared to her and Stacey. The 1995 reprint — now that Kristy has been firmly established as a Tomboy who doesn't like skirts and dresses much — changes this to her wearing jeans and sneakers, with the cover showing Kristy in her now iconic turtleneck and sweatshirt, jeans, and visor.
  • Ear-Piercing Plot: In Mallory and the Trouble with Twins, Mallory negotiates with her parents for permission to finally get her ears pierced. They agree on the conditions she pays for the piercing, takes care of them properly, gets only one hole in each ear, and doesn't stick to small simple earrings (as she'd offered to do) because, as her mom says, part of the fun of pierced ears is wearing wacky earrings sometimes. (Behind the scenes, Jessi similarly makes a similar negotiation with her own parents, as she and Mallory get their ears pierced at the same time.) Other members also get their ears pierced: Dawn (who spontaneously gets two in each ear) and Claudia who gets an extra one in one ear, giving her two in one and one in the other.
  • Education Mama: In Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street, Claudia babysits a Child Prodigy named Rosie. Because of her incredible intelligence, her parents force her to take tons of classes and extracurriculars, to the point that she gets sick of it and declares that she just wants to be a normal kid.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Dawn's middle name is Read. Figure that one out.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Boontsie (Stacey), Sunshine (Dawn), Shannie (Shannon)
  • Enhance Button: In one of the Super Mysteries specials.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • In one of the mysteries books, a movie star is condescending towards his co-star (whom the BSC know and are babysitting) and refuses to work any harder than absolutely necessary. But when one of his fans is revealed to have been sabotaging said co-star, with two of the events (replacing breakaway glass with real glass and cutting his limo's brakes) potentially being lethal, for "stealing [Actor]'s spotlight", he's noticeably horrified.
    • Another mystery book is about fires being set at the local library, which has started a program to get kids reading. The program also attracts the attention of some book-banning protesters, who stand outside of the library and demand that the employees remove certain texts from the reading list. Naturally, the girls treat them as suspects in the book burning crime, and at one point ask them about it. The group's leader admits that while she has burned books in the past, she now realizes the dangers of that tactic and advocates peaceful protest instead — they want the books out of kids' hands, not destroyed.
    • Janine is an Insufferable Genius, but even she finds Rosie Wilder (an openly rude and condescending Child Prodigy) irritating. The fact that Rosie manages to look down on Janine, who apparently wasn't knowledgeable enough for Rosie, doesn't help. Claudia states that she had never seen Janine as irritated before.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: There are two out of four white girls from out of state: Stacey, the sophisticated New Yorker, and Dawn, the breezy Californian. Lampshaded in one book where Kristy reminisces about how she first met Shannon (whom she intensely disliked at first) and snarks about the trope in relation to Shannon and her friends, all but one of whom are blonde.
  • Everytown, America: Stoneybrook, CT.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Lampshaded by Jessi in Hello, Mallory, when she snarks that naming a babysitting club "The Baby-sitters Club" is incredibly obvious when she and Mallory are making their own club (after Mallory has been rejected by the BSC).
    Jessi: I mean, it's like calling a restaurant The Restaurant.
  • Extracurricular Enthusiast:
    • Rosie Wilder's parents more or less try to force her to be this — virtually anything and everything she shows the slightest bit of aptitude or interest for becomes a full-scale club, team, or recurring lesson, with predictably poor results. Rosie becomes this for real at the end of her first book after she finally talks things out with her parents and they agree that she can stop doing so many things and pick a few things to focus on instead; with the pressure gone and no longer constantly jumping from one thing to the next, she begins to enjoy her chosen activities (math club, violin, and art lessons).
    • Sean and Corrie Addison's parents also force them to be this. However, in contrast to the Wilders (who, misguided though they were, genuinely thought they were doing what was best for Rosie by "nurturing" her talents), the Addisons seem to do this not for some perceived benefit to the children, but primarily just to keep their kids occupied and out of their way so the parents don't actually have to deal with them. Sadly, unlike the Wilders, they don't get better about it.
    • Shannon Kilbourne is involved in several school clubs in addition to the BSC, even having leadership roles in a few of them, entirely by her own choice. The only time she's seen struggling with it is during Kristy and the Sister War; the rest of the time, she handles it all very well and even seems to enjoy having a packed schedule.
  • Extreme Doormat: Mary Anne tended towards this in several books. Lampshaded in one book where she agrees to help an old lady around the house in exchange for sewing lessons, and soon is taking calls from her at all hours of the day, even interrupting a date with Logan to go over and help her with something; it apparently never occurs to her to say no until Logan insists.
  • Extruded Book Product: What eventually happened to the series; books came out nearly monthly in the main series with ghostwriters having completely taken over most books by the mid-90s. This doesn't include the multi-character Super Specials, the Mystery sub-series, and spin-offs such as Little Sister (which was also being put out monthly) California Diaries, and The Kids in Ms. Coleman's Class.
  • Faceplanting into Food: Stacey mentions in "The Truth About Stacey" that she once fainted into a bowl of soup, prompting a hospital visit.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The BSC were allowed to succeed most of the time, but once the problems get big, like trying to keep an autistic savant from being sent Off to Boarding School or reform a racist family, the Aesop is always along the lines of You Can't Make A Difference When You're Thirteen Years Old. Little Sister was even worse about this, with Karen failing at nearly everything she tried to do because You Really Can't Make A Difference When You're Seven Years Old. The only time Karen actually succeeded was during a Whole-Plot Reference to The Secret Garden, since you can't very well have your Mary Lennox surrogate not shake things up.
  • Fanservice: Somewhat creepily, Stacey. She notes how well she fills out the top of her string bikini.
  • The Film of the Book: The Babysitters Club, a 1995 feature film which revolves around the sitters running a summer day camp and Kristy dealing with her father's unexpected return.
  • First Girl Wins: Dawn's mother was Mary Anne's father's first love, but they drifted apart because her parents didn't approve. Some twenty years later, they finally tie the knot.
  • 555: All phone numbers in this series begin with 555 (or KL5, to be more specific).
  • Five-Token Band: Let's see. We have a Japanese-American girl, an African-American girl, a boy, three girls with divorced parents, two girls with one deceased parent each, one Jewish girl, a diabetic girl, and an asthmatic girl... and that's just in the club itself.
  • Flanderization: All of the girls' quirks suffered this to some degree with the ghost writers:
    • Kristy was always a take-charge type, but the earlier books had her being more of a Reasonable Authority Figure. In later books, she became intensely controlling and bossy. (For example, in one of Jessi's early books, she mentions that she often arrives a few minutes late to Friday meetings because of her dance classes, and Kristy is understanding of it; in later books, being even a minute late is treated as a cardinal sin.)
    • The early version of Dawn was personally passionate about the environment, but didn't constantly harp on everyone else about it like she does later in the series. The same goes for the way she eats; Dawn always had a thing for eating all-natural and healthy, but in the early books she went out of her way not to force it on other people (she sneaks Claudia junk food while Claudia is in the hospital, buys cotton candy for a sitting charge, and treats her brother's love of candy bars as no big deal), and she indicates that she just doesn't like the taste of junk food rather than her eating habits being based on a value judgment. By the end of the series, she's reached the point of lecturing the other club girls for eating hot dogs and cotton candy at a carnival.
    • Claudia's difficulties with school. At the beginning of the series, she's not exactly a good student, but she's not a terrible one either; she comes across as someone who probably gets around a B or C average, it's just that this doesn't measure up to her parents' high expectations or the standard set by her Child Prodigy sister Janine. As the series progresses, she's in perpetual danger of failing her classes and is even demoted briefly to seventh grade. Making it worse is the fact that Claudia's Book retcons her as having struggled with school all along, so it can't even be put down to an issue specific to the transition to eighth grade. Her bad spelling also gets this treatment; it goes from occasional mistakes (often in an understandable way, like forgetting a silent/double letter or mixing up a homophone) to misspelling practically every other word, including easy words and even people's names, and to a pretty extreme degree (like having two different misspellings of the same word in close proximity to each other).
    • Margo Pike's motion sickness. In Boy-Crazy Stacey, Margo almost gets carsick on the way to Sea City, but feels better once she moves to the front seat. Somehow, this turned into pretty much her only character trait, to the point where it was surprising she could walk down the street without getting sick.
    • In early books, Vanessa's talking in rhyme is something she does only occasionally. In later books, she almost never stops.
    • Jessi says in one of her early appearances that she isn't serious about ballet and is more into it on a hobby level. In later books, ballet is all that she's known for and is considered a Child Prodigy of sorts at it.
  • Foul Cafeteria Food: It's a minor running gag that Stoneybrook Middle School serves wretched food in the cafeteria. Kristy in particular is prone to inventing elaborate comparisons for it, such as suggesting that something tastes like a gym sock which has been left in the rain and then stored in a locker for weeks. In most cases, the reader isn't even told what the food in question actually is.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: The original four members: Kristy is known for her leadership skills and great ideas, which along with her outgoing nature make her a good softball coach. Mary Anne is very organized and has a sensitive and shy nature. Claudia is a passionate artist and is known for her creativity and fashion sense as well as being boy-crazy. Last of all there is Stacey, who is like Claudia but a more sophisticated math genius who is admired because she's from New York.
  • Free-Range Children: The club members themselves are actually the worst offenders of this. It's one thing (particularly given the time the books were written) for this to be the case in a relatively small town like Stoneybrook seems to be, but even when they're on vacation in other places, these eleven- and thirteen-year-olds are still allowed to roam around freely without adult supervision — including in New York City.
  • Frozen in Time: The girls spent literally dozens of birthdays, holidays, and summers in eighth grade. At one point Claudia was demoted to seventh grade, but the others stayed in place. They finally finished middle school in the last book of the Friends Forever spinoff.
  • Full-Name Basis: Gabbie Perkins refers to everybody by their first and last names.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: We don't really see the parents do this; in an odd variant, it's Claudia who will occasionally drop a "Kristin Amanda Thomas" on Kristy when the latter goes too far.
  • Funetik Aksent:
    • Used for Jessi's ballet teacher, who is French. (When combined with Jessi's very loopy penmanship in the handwritten chapter openings, it's practically indecipherable.)
    • Also Logan's southern accent, the Hobarts' Australian accent, and any allergy speak.
    • In the Super Special where they go to camp, one girl has a pronounced lisp.

    G-O 
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Claudia and Janine; Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold; Dawn and Mary Anne exhibit signs of this in the early days of their stepsisterhood. Averted with Mallory's family, where it's the boys who tend to have the most conflict with each other, while the girls generally get along well enough.
  • Good Stepmother: In both the main franchise and the Little Sister spin-off, there are many examples to be found in both male and female form.
    • Watson Brewer is the first and most notable. He holds the Thomas children in the same regard that he does Karen and Andrew, treating them just as kindly as his own children. He does, in fact, call Kristy his daughter, not "stepdaughter."
    • Richard Spier becomes one to Dawn and Jeff when he marries their mother. He's a little uptight but very kind and respectful to both his stepchildren.
    • Sharon Schafer-Spier becomes one to Mary Anne, doting on her just like a mother would, especially when both Jeff and Dawn eventually go back to California to live with their father. She's a particularly prominent example since Mary Anne's mother died so long ago; Sharon is the only mother Mary Anne has ever known.
    • Elizabeth Thomas-Brewer is one to Karen and Andrew in the Little Sister series. Since their mother is in their lives, she doesn't have as much of an impact as Watson does with the Thomas children, but she's still very important to both of them.
    • Seth Engle in the Little Sister series is regarded very fondly by Karen and Andrew as a man who loves children and animals that cares deeply for them like another father would. In Karen's Book, Karen says he "wanted to marry us," indicating he was always cognizant of the fact that committing to Karen's and Andrew's mother meant a commitment to Karen and Andrew as well. His parents are even regarded as another set of grandparents for them.
    • Dawn and Jeff are initially (and hypocritically, in Dawn's case) resentful of Carol Olson, their dad's new girlfriend and eventual wife. While Dawn harps on Carol both being too young for her father and trying too hard to seem young and hip (she's "maybe 32"), the rotating narrators of California Girls! don't quite pass judgment on Dawn, but do indicate that the problem is more hers than not. When Stacey gets into a car accident and Carol immediately tells her they're going to have to explain everything to Dawn's father, Dawn finally starts respecting her and appreciating that Carol just spent two weeks driving her friends all around town. She backslides again when her father indicates he wants to marry Carol, and she basically throws a tantrum by stealing her father's credit card so she can fly back to her mother and stepfather in CT. Carol and her father break up shortly afterward, but do eventually marry, and Carol comes through for Dawn again by helping her study for her midterms right after her own wedding. (This is not even mentioning Jeff's brattiness towards her, calling her the "Hair Queen" because of her frequent dye jobs and being the one to warn Dawn off her.) In other words, Carol is a saint to put up with them both, she's never anything but enthusiastic and friendly to them and their friends, and it's a miracle that she looked at them and decided she wanted to have a baby of her own with their father.
  • Goshdang It To Heck: Liberal use of "darn" and "heck" in place of actual swearing. "Oh, my lord!" was nearly Claudia's Catchphrase.
  • Grade Skipper: Both Karen and Charlotte Johanssen are mentioned as having done this. It's actually a plot point for Charlotte, as in The Truth About Stacey she's shown to be having issues with her classmates disliking her for being so smart; once she's able to skip to the next grade, she flourishes and makes friends.
  • Grammar Nazi:
    • Janine frequently corrects the club members' grammar. Most notably in the first book, she spends a serious amount of time puzzling over whether the girls are "The Baby-Sitters Club," a club of several or more babysitters, or "The Baby-Sitters' Club," a club belonging to several or more babysitters. (Either is technically correct.)
    • Karen also gets a special softball uniform that says "Kristy's Crushers," not "Kristy's Krushers," because she's upset by the idea of wearing a misspelled word.
  • Granola Girl: Dawn loves the beach and California living, and is a health food nut, an environmentalist, and a strong opponent of guns and violence.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: During Mimi's recovery from a stroke, she struggles to remember the proper English words for items and usually remembers their Japanese equivalents first (i.e. kodomo for "child" or shiroku for "white"). This makes for a fun bit of Bilingual Bonus for the reader, too.
  • Happily Married: Claudia's, Mallory's, and Jessi's parents. Also Elizabeth and Watson, and Sharon and Richard. Richard was also this with Mary Anne's mother until her death. Similarly, Abby's parents were this until her father died. Dawn's dad Jack and his second wife Carol also qualify.
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • In one of the 2010 reissues, "thongs" was changed to "flip-flops", for obvious reasons.
    • In one of the Super Mysteries, the angels in a church Christmas pageant are described as wearing robes and thongs. Makes for some rather interesting (and slightly disturbing, considering that the aforementioned "angels" are all little kids) mental imagery in the 21st century, to say the very least!
    • Logan also says that "I decided to act as if I’d seen a million little kids fly through the air and nearly cream themselves on pianos" when Jackie Rodowsky (who else?) leaps off the couch and nearly crashes into the piano in Super Special 11: The Baby-Sitters Remember.
    • Not to mention the harmonica going "WAAAAAAAAAANK!" in Stacey vs. the BSC.
    • And in one book, a particularly big crying fit by Mary Anne was described as "Mary Anne became a gusher."
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Mallory writes a play that makes her look ideal. Her family? Not so much.
  • Hollywood Autism: Kristy and the Secret of Susan is a blatant example of this. Martin gave Susan every single symptom imaginable (this does not happen in reality) and portrays her as the stereotypical savant with all sorts of impossible abilities.
  • Hospital Visit Hesitation: In "Claudia and Mean Janine," Claudia's beloved grandmother Mimi has a stroke. When Claudia first goes to see Mimi in the hospital, Mimi is still blank-faced and hooked up to all sorts of machines, and Claudia runs out crying. She does try again later and even finds a way to communicate with Mimi.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Mallory doesn't regard herself as good-looking, often complaining about her curly red hair and glasses.
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • The fandom loves to snark about the outfit Mallory wore to her first meeting: a red jumper with her name on it and white tights with little hearts.
    • Mary Anne's "famous cities" skirt is pretty well-known and liked in the fandom.
  • Identical Grandson: One of the later books has Claudia thinking she might be adopted due to some flimsy circumstantial evidence (it's implied that what's really driving it is feeling like she doesn't fit in with her family). When she finally talks to her parents about it, they assure her that she's not — and as proof, they show her old photographs of her beloved grandmother Mimi, who looked exactly like Claudia when she was young.
  • Infant Sibling Jealousy:
    • Jamie Newton has this toward his infant sister Lucy in early books (especially Claudia and Mean Janine) but he gets over it. A lot of it is revealed to stem from knowing that his mother wants an older sitter on hand to take care of the baby, while he wants his beloved Kristy and Claudia, who have watched him practically his whole life. Once it's clear that the BSC is still going to be babysitting him, Jamie feels a lot better and is cool with being a big brother (though his jealousy does occasionally come back in later books, which is understandable — he's only four, after all).
    • In Kristy and the Mother's Day Surprise, this is Andrew's reaction after learning that their parents are adopting a two-year-old girl. He gets better after Kristy comforts him.
    • There's a brief moment where Andrew's older sister Karen is worried that her baby sister will become Watson's Daddy's Girl instead of her, but she gets over it very quickly. This is gone into more in-depth in the "Little Sister" spin-off series — an entire book is dedicated to Karen's complicated feelings about Emily Michelle.
    • In the Little Sister series it's also mentioned at one point that Karen was quite jealous of Andrew when he was first born.
    • Jenny Prezzioso's jealousy over the upcoming baby is the main subplot of Mary Anne Vs. Logan, thinking the baby will get all her parents' attention. Once she sees her baby sister, she comes to love her, though her jealousy occasionally comes back in later books. (It doesn't help that her mother turns into a Pageant Mom for baby Andrea.)
    • In Dawn's Book, Dawn remembers feeling left out when Jeff was born.
    • Notably averted with the two older Perkins girls, who love "their" baby even before she's born (and are quite shocked when Jamie Newton does not share their enthusiasm about baby siblings).
  • Informed Ability:
    • Claudia is supposed to be a great artist, but we're not given much evidence. Justified, as the books usually contain few or no illustrations, so there's no way for the readers to see her art for themselves.
    • Mary Anne was made club secretary because of her supposedly neat handwriting. Many readers found that, of all the girls' handwriting that appear in the books, Mary Anne's is one of the most difficult to read.
    • When Mal first meets Jessi in Hello, Mallory, Becca says Jessi knows a lot of good jokes. This is never brought up again later in the books at all.
  • Informed Attribute: Dawn is supposed to be the "individual" of the group, but she changes her appearance and behavior not once, but twice — just to get a guy.
  • Informed Judaism: Abby usually has this going on, although one book does give her a Bat Mitzvah.
  • Initiation Ceremony:
    • In one book, Kristy tries to join a girls' softball team at SMS, which holds a hazing ritual for new members to spray-paint an old shed. This leads to disaster when the shed subsequently burns down and Kristy blames herself, assuming it must be from the highly flammable paint. It isn't; a group of high schoolers set the blaze as a prank.
    • Kristy also makes up an initiation ceremony on the spot for Mallory and Jessi joining the Club, which hurts Dawn's feelings because there was no formal ceremony for her — they just took a vote and toasted it with pizza. Dawn wonders to herself if it's because Kristy still resents her for being Mary Anne's other best friend. (Dawn did get a brief ceremony when she was 'promoted' to replace Stacey as treasurer, though.)
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Very common in the series.
    • Claudia's sister Janine is a Teen Genius with an IQ of 196 who frequently confuses the others with her Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. She has not much of a social life and spends most of her time on her computer. She's secretly jealous of her less intelligent sister Claudia because she has a lot of friends.
    • Charlotte Johanssen. In the third book it's revealed that she's ostracized and bullied by her classmates for being so smart. They make fun of Charlotte and call her a Teacher's Pet. She gets to skip a grade, which resolves the issue.
    • Rosie Wilder is a Child Prodigy not just at academics (she's as smart as Janine), but extremely talented at everything. However, she's also a Broken Ace hated by all her classmates. It helps that, unlike the two examples above, Rosie is kind of an obnoxious Jerkass and as a result no one gets along with her (not even fellow genius Janine) until she forms an Odd Friendship with Claudia.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: Much of the drama of Baby Sitters' Island Adventure would have been avoided if the group had secured Claudia's boat after arriving on the island. Had they had a boat, they could have sent a couple of people back to the mainland once the storm let up to tell everyone what happened and send a boat directly to the right place to pick up the others. Instead, they're stranded on the island with no way to communicate, so a full-blown grid search has to be mounted to find them.
  • Jerkass:
    • Kristy's father Patrick is portrayed this way in the Friends Forever book where he remarries, and even more so in the 1995 film. It's also hinted in Claudia's Book, where she notes that as a little girl she seriously disliked Mr. Thomas.
    • In BSC in the USA, Jack Schafer is a condescending and rude jerk not only to Richard (who was nice enough to let Jack stay at the house) but to Mary Anne as well by mocking her father, her only living parent, during a pit stop. Dawn also picks up the Jerkass Ball and not only doesn't defend her stepsister or stepfather but even joins in being rude to Richard behind his back. Considering how Richard's been nothing but nice and generous to Dawn and Mary Anne is also one of her best friends, it's incredibly jarring.
  • Junior High: The entire series takes place while the main girls are in seventh and eighth grade, and mentions a number of tropes related to the time period.
  • Just Friends: One book is based around Kristy's relationship with Bart and whether or not they would become an Official Couple. Kristy finally decides they should remain "just friends" when it becomes clear that Bart expects more from the relationship than she wants.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Betsy in "Claudia and the Bad Joke" gets no punishment from her parents, even when one of her pranks ends up (accidentally) breaking Claudia's leg, causing her to be hospitalized and unable to walk for weeks. Even after that, Betsy still keeps pranking the other club members for most of the book and get away with it.
    • Hilary, the villain in Jessi and the Dance School Phantom. After Jessi gets the lead role in her ballet school, she starts being stalked by another mysterious girl of her class who also wanted the role. Throughout the book, Jessi is repeatedly the victim of threatening messages and dangerous pranks, even causing Jessi to get injured or having her dance outfit cut to pieces. When Jessi finds out that the "Dance School Phantom" was Hilary (whose only Freudian Excuse is a Stage Mom), she never says anything to her parents or her ballet teacher. In the last chapter, she even ends up forgiving and befriending Hilary, who doesn't get any punishment for trying to hurt Jessi.
  • Kid Detective: Along with some mysteries in the main series, the entire spinoff Mystery series is based on this trope.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • The classmates of the babysitting charges (especially Charlotte's before she skips a grade), though this is existent in the BSC's classmates as well, especially in Mallory and Jessi's sixth grade class. They actually are so relentlessly cruel to Mallory that she ultimately gets her parents to send her to boarding school to get away from them.
    • In Poor Mallory!, after Mallory's dad loses his job, Mallory gets bullied at school because of it. (Possibly her siblings do as well, although there's no mention of it; Becca indicates that Vanessa at least is receiving more sympathy than taunts from her classmates.) This one comes across as somewhat odd, because the reader is left wondering why Mallory's classmates know — or care — about her father's employment status.
    • Lou McNally and Sean Addison in particular both show shades of this, and some of the Pike kids (particularly the triplets) occasionally behave this way towards their siblings.
    • Betsy Sobak doesn't intend to be cruel, but is obsessed with practical jokes to the point where she often fails to consider the feelings of her targets. Unfortunately, Claudia is inadvertently injured by one of her pranks — Betsy doesn't tell Claudia that the chain of a swing is broken, thinking it'd just break immediately under Claudia's weight when she sat on it. Instead, the swing initially holds, and Betsy gets distracted and forgets about the chain, which finally gives out mid-swing. Claudia breaks her leg so severely, she has to stay in the hospital with the leg in traction. The club responds by joining forces with some of their other charges to get Betsy to stop playing pranks. She eventually seems to take the lesson to heart, and her later appearances don't mention prank-playing.
  • Kiddie Kid: Claire Pike is a notable example, often acting almost half her age with how she has had points of running around naked and calling people "silly-billy-goo-goo." She acts more like a two-year-old than the two (and a half)-year-old Gabbie Perkins, who acts more like she's five.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response:
    • The Club had Andrew, who was pretending to be a monster, terrify the life out of Jenny Prezzioso because she didn't want to wear a smock and paint.
    • Jessi accused one kid of being racist because the kid didn't want to play.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Little Sister series. The Kids In Ms. Colman's Class was even lighter and softer than that.
  • Limited Social Circle:
    • The members of the club become like this in later books, so much so that the snark communities often call it "the BSCult." The first five books show them having friends outside the club: in seventh grade, Kristy and Mary Anne eat lunch with the Shillaber twins (and later Dawn), while Claudia and Stacey hang out with a large group of boys and girls instead. They ditch all their other friends in eighth grade, when the BSC start sitting together at lunch every day, with only Mary Anne's boyfriend being allowed to join them occasionally. Any new friends who do come around are usually for the sole purpose of driving a wedge between the girl in question and the club members.
    • In Mary Anne and the Memory Garden, Mary Anne decides she wants to try to make at least one new friend in addition to the club, and befriends her classmate Amelia Freeman. Unlike most other examples, Mary Anne's friendship with Amelia is not in itself the source of any conflict, because everyone likes Amelia. Instead, Amelia ends up dying in a car crash.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: In Jessi's Wish. Other books had children with deafness (that boy and his sister become regular BSC charges and major recurring characters), Down's Syndrome, and autism. In one of the Super Specials, Stacey befriends a wheelchair-bound boy who is about to have surgery for a heart condition. May extend to Stacey herself, who is diabetic. In another book, a babysitting charge has to adjust to blindness. Abby and her twin sister Anna both have scoliosis, but while Abby's is mild, Anna's is severe enough to require her to wear a brace to correct it.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: The series has three live-action versions: the movie, the 1990s series, and the 2020s Netflix series.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Several times:
    • In the Very Special Book that warned against drunk driving, a (mostlynote ) new character is introduced as one of the nicest, friendliest girls at SMS. She is killed almost immediately in a drunk-driving accident.
    • New, never-before-seen families ask for sitters in the books dealing with racism (Keep Out, Claudia!) and autism (Kristy and the Secret of Susan) and then pretty much fall off the planet. Susan actually does pop up again a hundred books later, in Babysitters European Vacation. She's home for the summer and attending a day camp where Dawn spends a day.
    • Averted with Jessi's Secret Language; while it does feature a new family with two children, one hearing and one deaf, the kids become recurring characters afterward — Matt becomes a close friend of the Pike triplets and Haley is friends with Becca and Charlotte.
    • Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever deals with disability, and introduced Whitney, a new character with Down's Syndrome whom Dawn is asked to babysit despite their being the same age. At the end of the book, Whitney forgives Dawn for not telling the truth about being hired as a babysitter for her, and they become proper friends; but Whitney is never mentioned again in the main series, although she makes an appearance in a Super Special and is mentioned in another.
  • Long-Running Book Series: At least one book a month from the mid-eighties until the 2000s!
  • Lost Wedding Ring: One book involves Stacey being accused of stealing a valuable ring. As it turns out, it was the cat's fault.
  • Manchild: Kristy's biological father, Patrick Thomas. He abandoned his family because he didn't want the responsibility of being a husband and father, tends to get bored easily (Kristy mentions that he picks things up, tries them out for a little while, then puts them down, so to speak, and moves on), and is prone to throwing tantrums when things don't go his way.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The Pikes have eight children, including identical triplets. The Brewer-Thomases and the Barrett-DeWitts, who have seven children each, are also examples of this trope, although they are blended families.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Appears pretty much whenever the girls deal with something weird. They usually get a mundane explanation that covers most, but not all, of what's been going on. Particular examples would include The Ghost at Dawn's House and Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery.
    • Surprisingly averted in most of the mysteries — many of them are more along the lines of Nancy Drew than anything paranormal, and even the ones that appear to have paranormal elements usually turn out to have a rational explanation. Played straight, however, in Mallory and The Ghost Cat, where Mallory hears a cat meowing in the attic of a family with no pets. She finds a stray cat has wandered in, but then she notes that the strange meowing noise is still coming from the attic, even when the stray is right in front of them in another room. They then track down the stray cat's owner, who turns out to be a dead ringer for a photograph they had found of a man who previously owned the house — and said owner also had a cat identical to the found stray (both the cat and the man are long dead). And then, lest you think that the meowing noise was just a weird noise the house was making that happened to resemble a cat, Mallory returns to the house to find that the family has adopted a cat from a shelter... and according to them, they haven't heard the meowing noise even once since.
    • The first book in the Little Sister series, where the only undebunked evidence Karen has at the end is that she saw the lady she thinks is a witch flying on a broom... and that might have been a dream. A later book in the series has Karen suspect that Mrs. Porter's granddaughter, Drusilla, is also a witch. Drusilla eventually admits that she's not, but says she's never been sure about her grandmother...
  • Meaningful Name:
    • This is most likely completely unintentional, but "Mallory" is Norman French for "unlucky".
    • Also probably completely unintentional note , "Claudia" is derived from the Latin for "lame." Given her learning difficulties...
  • Melodrama: There's no other word to describe the scene in Boy-Crazy Stacey where the girls are saying goodbye. They're all going their (temporary) separate ways and the waterworks are endless. Sobbing, hugging, wailing. How long will they be apart? Two weeks.
  • Middle Child Syndrome:
    • Tiffany Kilbourne is both the middle child and the quiet one in contrast to her two much more outgoing sisters, which can cause her to be overlooked. In Shannon's Story, for instance, Shannon's mom pays a lot of attention (sometimes to the point of being overbearing) to Maria's swim meets and all of Shannon's various activities, but barely seems aware of Tiffany's gardening hobby.
    • Kristy has a bit of this going on: she's too young to hang out with Sam and Charlie who are in high school, but too old to play with David Michael, Karen, Andrew and Emily Michelle on their level.
    • Karen is the middle child in her dad's new, blended family, especially after Emily is adopted (her dynamic with Andrew is a little different), and is sometimes jealous of his relationship with Kristy and Emily, who live with him full-time.
    • Nicky Pike seems to suffer from this as well, since his brothers are triplets and don't especially want to hang around with him leaving him the odd brother out, and he's right at the age where he frequently doesn't want to play with girls, not even his sisters.
  • Missing Child:
    • A major plot point in in Dawn and the Impossible Three. Buddy Barrett goes missing while Dawn is babysitting the Barretts and is missing for hours. It's not until later he calls from a gas station and says he's coming home — his father took him while he was outside alone. Not only is it horrifying for Dawn — who feels guilty for letting him go out and play by himself for just a few minutes while she bundled up his sisters and didn't know where Buddy was — but she's angry and upset when she learns that disorganized Mrs. Barrett simply forgot her husband was supposed to have the children. Mr. Barrett returns with Buddy and says that he took Buddy to teach his wife a lesson for forgetting the time he's supposed to have with the kids (and without knowing they were being baby-sat, so he legitimately terrified a thirteen year old girl with his actions). He does apologize once he realized that he scared Dawn with what he did and is given a warning by the police for doing it at all and retaliating against his wife; the two are told to get their custody arraignment worked out reliably.
    • The Mystery story Kristy and the Missing Child. It's pretty much exactly what the title says; one of the BSC charges disappears on his way home from baseball practice. Several fairly horrifying theories are mentioned or considered. What actually happened, once they figure it out, turns out not to be quite as bad as some of the scenarios that were considered, but it's still pretty terrifying in its own right.
    • Baby Sitters' Island Adventure — Claudia and Dawn, along with a handful of their charges are trapped on an island with no means of getting home for a long weekend. As part of the book shows, the parents and friends who can't reach them are scared out of their minds. This is especially worrying for Jessi, who is left in charge for the whole weekend and becomes horrified when Becca, one of the stranded charges, doesn't come home. Her aunt Cecilia, whom she calls for help, blames her for letting Becca go, despite her parents giving permission. Dawn and Jeff's mom is also heard worrying that, even if the kids are fine, her ex-husband will use the incident as proof she's an unfit parent and sue for full custody.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Mary Anne's mother died of cancer when she was a baby. She left a letter to Mary Anne that she was to have received on her sixteenth birthday.
    • The DeWitt kids appear to have no contact with their biological mother.
    • Two of the kids the girls sit for in NYC in Stacey's Mistake are sisters who live solely with their divorced father.
  • Mistaken for Thief:
    • One mystery involves someone thinking Stacey stole a diamond ring, which was actually pushed under the carpet by a cat.
    • In Jessi and the Jewel Thieves, Jessi and her friend Quint are terrified when they overhear two men apparently planning a huge jewel heist. Turns out the men are actors and were merely practicing some lines. Oops.
  • Mood Whiplash: Claudia and the Terrible Truth, where the Very Special Episode-esque main plot (the girls finding out that two of their new charges are being abused by their father) is interspersed with the sitters helping kids preparing for a St. Patrick's Day parade.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: The characters are eleven to thirteen, but act several years older and, even by 1980s standards, they're given a lot of freedom.
    • Some of the BSC charges also act older than their stated age. The most blatant example is probably Gabbie Perkins, who is supposedly only 2 1/2 but often seems to have a vocabulary and general awareness of how things work that would be more in line with a child at least a year older. While this by itself could just be a case of a child who's ahead of the curve, the series never indicates that there's anything exceptional about her and in fact seems to outright characterize Gabbie as not being outside the norm; for instance, in one book where the sitters are worried about Emily Michelle seeming to have some delays, they use Gabbie as an example of a typical two-year-old's development.
  • Mouthy Kid:
    • Karen is ridiculously mouthy.
    • One of Kristy's biggest flaws is this, though to a lesser degree than Karen.
  • Multigenerational Household:
    • The Thomas-Brewers, once Nannie moves in.
    • The Kishis, until Mimi's death.
  • Must Have Lots of Free Time: Charlie, Kristy's seventeen-year-old brother, apparently has all the time in the world to drive Kristy, Shannon, Abby, etc. wherever they need to go.
  • My Beloved Smother:
    • In the early books, Richard Spier is a male version as he's extremely overprotective of Mary Anne, to the point of dictating (in extremely rigid terms) what she wears, how she styles her hair, and how she spends her baby-sitting money. He relents somewhat after Mary Anne proves, by way of her solid handling of an emergency while baby-sitting, that she's more mature than he gave her credit for, though he's still stated to be a bit more restrictive than the other girls' parents.
    • While not to the same extent, Mallory's parents have their moments, such as not allowing her to have contact lenses or (initially) pierced ears.
    • Stacey's parents, especially her mom, can be a little overprotective too. In their case, it's somewhat Justified, given that the situation involves a major medical condition that requires a large amount of ongoing maintenance, and that this is a fairly recent development at the start of the series. As everyone involved becomes more used to the reality of her diabetes, they start to let up.
    • In Shannon's Story, Shannon's mother is often overbearing, wanting to be involved or have a say in everything while seeming to have difficulty grasping the idea that her children are old enough to do some things on their own. From the specific actions, it seems like she's trying to build closeness and a bond with her daughters, but is oblivious to the fact that she's annoying them by never giving them space to develop on their own.
  • My Nayme Is: It's Stacey, Jessi, and Mary Anne — not Stacy, Jessie, or Mary Ann/Marianne/Mariann/Maryann/Maryanne/Mary-Ann/Mary-Anne/etc.
  • National Stereotypes: The Australian family in Kristy and the Secret of Susan has the surname Hobart (the capital of Tasmania), eat vegemite, use slang that no one in Australia has used for ages (like "brekky" and "funny as a funeral"), and have to endure tons of "Crocodile" Dundee references.
  • Never Trust a Title:
    • Dawn and the Impossible Three: The title refers to the three Barrett kids whom Dawn watches in the book, but they are just three normal kids. Every single problem in that book is actually caused by their irresponsible mother.
    • Claudia and Mean Janine: Janine never does anything mean, and a large part of the book has Claudia being mean to Janine.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Several, although Mary Anne's cat Tigger is probably the most frequently showcased — partly because Mary Anne, unlike the other pet owners, is an only child.
    • In the Little Sister spin-offs, Karen has a pet rat named Emily Jr. (after her adopted sister). The rat is technically not her only pet, but because the other pets belong to the households she goes back and forth between, having one that's hers is significant to her.
  • No Periods, Period: It's plausible for a thirteen-year-old girl not to have started her period yet, which makes a reasonable justification for each of the girls individually. But it's decidedly less plausible that none of them would have started menstruating by that age, especially since some of them (Stacey in particular) are mentioned to be fairly well-developed, suggesting they've been in puberty for a few years already. Presumably it's not mentioned because the target age range for the books was a bit younger than thirteen, and Scholastic didn't want to freak out the kids (or their parents).
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: The first ten books have the original five progress through and complete seventh grade and start eighth, but once that's happened, the passage of time stops and the girls spend literally dozens of birthdays, holidays, and summers in eighth grade.note  They finally finished middle school in the last book of the Friends Forever spinoff (which is the Grand Finale to the entire series). In an interview with Ann M. Martin in 2014, she explained that when she started writing the BSC books, she had initially written the series as a short four-book run, but as it took off and became popular she ended up having to freeze their ages after they started eighth grade as the series showed no signs of slowing down—this meant that the characters, while they could have multiple adventures and situations, were not allowed to grow up much emotionally or progress through other markers of adolescence. This stagnation also fueled the the motivation for creating California Diaries.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue:
    • When Kristy's mom gets married, her underwear is her "something blue."
    • Dawn's mother also does this, though in her case the underwear is "something new."
  • Off to Boarding School:
    • Mallory, although this is actually her decision.
    • Logan almost gets shipped off to his father's old boarding school, but he and Mary Anne manage to talk his father out of it.
    • In Kristy and the Secret of Susan, the titular babysitting charge was sent to boarding school due to a severe case of Hollywood Autism.
  • Official Couple: Mary Anne and Logan. Kristy and Bart are an official sort-of-couple, and Stacey's part of a few.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Stacey shows heavy signs of this during the books where she and Mary Anne accompany the Pike family on their summer vacations to Sea City. It's very obvious that she's used to not having to show consideration for siblings, as she keeps prioritizing her own plans over Mary Anne's and even over minding the children. Averted with Mary Anne, who, though she's an only child, is one of the most generous and least selfish club members; this may have something to do with the fact that she also has only one parent (and one who works a demanding job and so isn't around a ton at that) and/or the strict environment in which she was raised.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Kristy (short for Kristin), Stacey (short for Anastasia), Jessi (short for Jessica), Abby (short for Abigail), and many minor characters. Claudia's and Janine's aunt and uncle are universally known as "Peaches and Russ," not even "Aunt Peaches," etc.
    • Peaches's real name, Miyoshi, has only been used once or twice and the nickname came from Russ.
    • In Dawn and the Impossible Three, Buddy Barrett's real name is revealed to be Hamilton Barrett, Junior. It's never mentioned again from that point on.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted.
    • Two characters are named Sabrina Bouvier — a child beauty queen that BSC meets in Little Miss Stoneybrook... and Dawn, and later a classmate at SMS. A Fan Fic mocks this, having Dawn come to baby sit the teenage Sabrina and implying that the BSC members and those around them are the only ones Not Allowed to Grow Up in Stoneybrook.
    • Lampshaded in Here Come the Bridesmaids! where the narrative acknowledges that the BSC and the W♥KC each have a regular sitting charge named Ryan DeWitt, and no, they're not related.
    • Not one, not two, but FOUR of the babysitters — Claudia, Dawn, Mallory and Jessi — have fathers named John (though Dawn's dad goes by Jack and it's not until Here Come the Bridesmaids! that it's revealed that his given name is, in fact, John). And as if that weren't enough, Abby's late father's name was Jonathan and he went by Jon. (The Netflix series amends this a bit, with Mallory's father being renamed Forrest.) However, since most of the adults are addressed by their last names (Mr. Kishi, Mr. Pike, etc.), it's not particularly noticeable nor is it confusing.
  • Opposites Attract:
    • Mary Anne's father and Dawn's mother are a textbook example. Richard is organized and a perfectionist, while Sharon is messy and absent-minded.
    • Shy and quiet Mary Anne paired with jockish and outgoing Logan.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Amelia Freeman's fate in Mary Anne and the Memory Garden. Her parents were doing everything right, but thanks to another driver who wasn't, they got into a horrible accident and their thirteen-year-old daughter died.
  • Out of Focus: The strangest example is the Shillaber Twins, especially since it's implied that Kristy and Mary Anne were closer to the twins than to Claudia (and newcomer Stacey) before the start of the club. While Claudia is their childhood friend and next-door neighbor, it's mentioned that they drifted apart in middle school, as Claudia started to hang out with boys and other friends, while Kristy and Mary Anne were always having lunch with the Shillabers at school, and never with Claudia. You have to wonder why Kristy never considered the twins as potential members of the club in the first place. Furthermore, in the fourth book, when there's a big fight between the girls of the club, and Mary Anne befriends Dawn (future club member), Kristy starts hanging out with the Shillabers all the time, until she makes peace with Mary Anne and the others. However, in eighth grade, Kristy and Mary Anne start having lunch with the other members of the club every day and completely ignoring the Shillaber twins, who are rarely mentioned again.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: During the otherwise-serious Kristy and the Missing Child, Mallory is at one point trying to get a favor from her brother Adam, and butters him up by calling him her "favorite triplet-with-a-name-beginning-with-A". The other triplets' names? Byron and Jordan. The narration even Lampshades this fact. note  Fortunately, Adam is willing to roll with it instead of giving Mallory a hard time like he usually would, presumably recognizing that they're in a fairly high-stress situation (the Pikes are babysitting the eponymous missing child's siblings) and perhaps also being amused by it.

    P-Z 
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Dawn's mother's parents disapproved of Mary Anne's father, in part because he came from a poor family, which is a big part of why they split up after high school. However, when they meet him again after Sharon's divorce, they're impressed by how well he's done and more or less acknowledge that they might have judged him too harshly.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Claudia's grandmother Mimi was this to Mary Anne, whose mother died shortly after her birth and whose father didn't understand her for a long time, until Mary Anne was 12. Mimi liked to drink tea with Mary Anne, and she taught her how to knit (since her own granddaughters are not interested in knitting), while also telling Mary Anne what she remembered about Mary Anne's mother when she was alive. For these reasons, Mary Anne is the one of Claudia's friends who loved Mimi the most.
    • Sharon becomes this to Mary Anne after marrying Richard.
    • After Patrick and Elizabeth's divorce, Charlie became this, and was Promoted to Parent for all three of his younger siblings — but especially for David Michael, who was only an infant when Patrick left. In the Friends Forever spinoff, Kristy realizes that being forced to become a father at age ten has left Charlie with some anger problems.
    • Watson becomes this to Kristy and her siblings after he marries Elizabeth, since their biological father is out of the picture. He refers to them as his children even in letters, not treating them any differently than he does his biological children, and in turn they regard him as more of a father than they do Patrick.
  • Physical Therapy Plot: In Claudia and Mean Janine, Claudia's grandmother Mimi has a bad stroke, and one plot thread concerns her recovery in the hospital. When she first wakes up she is confused and unable to speak, but by the end she has improved enough to go home.
  • Playing Pictionary: It is suggested that one say something along the lines of "What a nice picture! Can you tell me about it?" when confronted with a child's drawing, because "you don't want to say 'what a lovely elephant!' and have it turn out to be a picture of their grandmother."
  • Polar Opposite Twins:
    • Abby and her twin sister Anna. Anna is musical, bookish, and introspective; Abby is athletic, noisy, and enjoys babysitting. About the only things they have in common are that they both have scoliosis (although Abby didn't need it corrected by a brace while Anna did) and poor eyesight. Interestingly, this never creates a conflict between them — when they first realized they had branching interests as little girls, their initial reaction was to panic and double-down on making sure they had identical everything. They did grow out of that, because while they liked being identical, they didn't like being treated as a single entity and didn't want to chain themselves down to being completely identical when they realized that having separate interests wouldn't create a break between them. It's worth noting that Anna also enjoys babysitting like Abby, but she sees violin as a higher priority, causing her to turn down the invitation to join the club.
    • One book is based around the club babysitting for the Arnold twins, whose mother insisted on dressing them identically and trying to treat them as one person, despite their completely different interests and personalities (Marilyn is bookish and quiet while Carolyn is more outgoing). This gets better at the end of the book, with the twins finally allowed to express their individuality. In later books, they struggle with sharing a bedroom, and finally convince their mother to let them have separate rooms.
    • Byron Pike is a lot quieter and more sensitive and somewhat less interested in sports than the other two triplets, for which they sometimes give him grief. He's also frequently nicer to younger brother Nicky than they are.
  • Practically Different Generations:
    • Jessi is ten years older than Squirt.
    • Downplayed with the Watson-Brewers due to them being a blended family. Kristy is 11 years older than Emily Michelle, and her brothers Sam and Charlie are a decade or more older than Andrew, and Emily (and in Charlie's case, also Karen and David Michael). David Michael was this to some extent, as he's six years younger than next-youngest sibling Kristy, with an even bigger age gap to Sam and Charlie. It's particularly noticeable before his family blended with the Brewers, since he was the only member of the family that far away from everyone else's ages.
  • Prone to Vomiting: Mallory's younger sister Margo is famous for her motion sickness. In later books it becomes exaggerated to the point where she can barely walk down the street without heaving.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality:
    • In book #12, the girls get bitchy over Claudia spending time with a new friend and go as far as to short-sheet her bed, mess with her belongings, and leave her a series of nasty notes. But in the end, Claudia is the one who owes them an apology for "being a bad friend."
    • And Mary Anne's Makeover proves that they haven't learned a thing from that book, especially Dawn. Everyone tells Mary Anne that she would look terrible with short hair and Dawn pinches a massive fit when Mary Anne and Richard have a father-daughter day which includes her complaining that she never spends time with her father like that. She completely forgets that Richard is Mary Anne's only living parent and Dawn can easily take time to visit her father, while Mary Anne's mother has been dead for over a decade. And just like before, it's Mary Anne who owes her awful friends an apology for daring to cut her hair (but she still keeps her hair shorter for the rest of the series).
  • Real Men Hate Sugar: In one of the books, Nicky Pike and Buddy Barrett refuse to help bake cookies after having been teased for attending a "girly" sewing class. Becomes a partial inversion when they decide they are not averse to eating said cookies.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Happens in both Boy-Crazy Stacey and Dawn and the Older Boy. In the former, Stacey falls in love with an older guy who turns out to be a jerk who's just using her (although admittedly Stacey thinks about it and decides that he probably does like her as a friend or even as a kid, but he's more in it for the errands she runs), but she eventually ends up happy with another boy introduced in the last few chapters. In the latter, the plot is basically the same, only with Dawn instead of Stacey (although the boy's explanation there is that he just thought Dawn could use some suggestions to make the most of her looks).
  • Retcon:
    • There was a short spinoff series where each of the girls writes an autobiography. They must have been written by different writers, because Kristy, Mary Anne, and Claudia have conflicting memories of their elementary school years (when they all knew each other).
    • Certain characters mentioned in early books were given different names in later books, such as Mary Anne's mother originally being called Abigail and later being changed to Alma. Reprints of the early books included the newer names.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Vanessa Pike. At first it's occasional, but later on this becomes a major character trait.
  • Rich Bitch: Shannon Kilbourne starts out as this, although it was less because she genuinely looks down on Kristy and more because she doesn't want Kristy and her friends to take away her baby-sitting jobs.
  • The Rival: Cokie. Also, one book featured the girls facing off against a rival babysitting club.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Claudia frequently writes like this.
  • Same-Sex Triplets: Adam, Byron, and Jordan Pike.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The bully E.J. in Logan Bruno, Boy Baby-Sitter, which prompts a brief discussion among the baby-sitters, including Stacey pointing out that the mother of one of the kids they babysit is a doctor and is always being addressed as a nurse; meanwhile, the three male nurses are always being called "doctor."
  • School Play:
    • Starring the Baby-sitters Club was about the club members, family members, and babysitting charges appearing in Peter Pan being held by Stoneybrook Middle School and allowing students at the elementary and high school to take on roles (so it's more like community theatre).
    • Claudia and the First Thanksgiving involved the girls trying to put on a Thanksgiving play with the elementary school, only to end up having problems because their idea was a more creative version (a modern girl going back in time to the first Thanksgiving) and some of the parents pitched a fit at the idea of anything but a traditional Thanksgiving play.
    • A few of the Little Sister books involve Karen taking part in some kind of school play or performance. In another, it's mentioned that David Michael is involved with a theater group at his school, and is doing a Winnie the Pooh play at the time.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Little Miss Stoneybrook... and Dawn has the sitters helping their charges prepare for a beauty pageant. First prize is a savings bond and the chance to compete in another pageant. Second Prize was a shopping spree at a local toy store. Unsurprisingly, most of the 6-to-10-year-old girls entered in the pageant (including all of the BSC clients) massively prefer the second prize. As the eventual second place winner explains to all the adults who are indignant about the fact that she didn't win, "But then [if I had won] I wouldn't get any toys!"
  • Secret Santa: As shown in Mallory's Christmas Wish, for Christmas the Pike kids draw the name of one sibling to get a gift for, instead of getting gifts for all seven of their siblings.
  • Secret Test of Character: In Poor Mallory!, the Delaney siblings start to wonder if their supposed friends are just using them because they have a pool. With Mallory's help, they devise a scheme where they tell their friends that their parents have forbidden them from going in the pool while they're being babysat but that the friends who were planning to come over can still come over and do other things. To their pleasant surprise, almost all of their friends accept; however, one girl does tell Amanda flat-out that she doesn't want to come over if the pool isn't available. After a little while, Amanda and Max claim their parents relented on the rule and they can use the pool again, but the girl who made it clear she was only coming over for the pool is no longer invited.
  • Self-Deprecation: Claudia and Mallory, for very different reasons, are the most prone to this. Claudia thinks poorly of her academic abilities and intellect, while Mallory is convinced that she's ugly because of her red hair and glasses, so the books from their points of view often contain references to these opinions.
  • Series Continuity Error: Thanks to the various writers over the span of over a decade, the series has its slip-ups.
    • In the Super-Special Baby-Sitters Summer Vacation Kristy gets the idea for them all to go to camp after watching the 1961 version of The Parent Trap and mentioning that she's never been to camp. Apparently she forgot that she went to softball camp when she was ten; there was a whole chapter of it in Kristy's Book, which was written later.
    • In Kristy for President the girls complain that putting on Mary Poppins for the school play is too immature for them. A few books prior, Stacey mentioned she watched Mary Poppins every week.
    • In Mary Anne Saves the Day, Mary Anne tells Dawn that her mother grew up in Maryland. In the mystery Mary Anne and the Secret of the Attic, Mary Anne's mother's birthplace (and childhood home) is given as Maynard, Iowa. Of course, "Maryland" and "Maynard" DO sound awfully similar, so it could be that Mary Anne simply misheard and this was deliberate.
    • Like most of the characters present in the series from the beginning or near the beginning, the Barrett kids aged a year in the early books. Buddy goes from seven to eight, Suzi from four to five, and Marnie from eighteen months to two years. However, in the first books from the ghostwriter era, Suzi's age alternates between four and five several times.
    • Melody Korman (one of the kids in Kristy's new neighborhood) is mistakenly named Maria in one book. Melody isn't the only Korman to be the victim of writer goofs either — her baby sister Skylar is mistakenly referred to as her and older brother Bill's baby "brother" in another book (though in this case the writers at least had somewhat of an excuse; Skylar is, after all, a unisex name).
    • In Starring The Baby-Sitters Club, the play is supposedly specifically a collaborative School Play for the three main Stoneybrook public schools, not an open community production. However both Karen Brewer and Matt Braddock take part and have roles, despite the fact that they don't attend the schools in question (Karen is in private school, and Matt goes to a special school for the Deaf). Potentially it could be some kind of sibling exception, since both of them have a sibling/step-sibling who go to Stoneybrook Elementary, but you'd expect it to at least be mentioned.
    • In Kristy and the Snobs, Shannon Kilbourne says that both she and her younger sister Tiffany baby-sit. Tiffany's sitting career is never mentioned again after this point, and she actually becomes one of the BSC's charges (even though she's eleven, the same age as Mallory and Jessi).note 
    • Also from Kristy and the Snobs Kristy has to call Claudia near the end of the book to tell her she can't make the meeting and Dawn has to take over as President (shortly before they learn they have to put down Louie), but in another book one character says Kristy has never missed a meeting!
    • In several books Charlotte has a pet dog named Carrot. But in #25 Mary Anne and the Search For Tigger Charlotte says if a fairy came she would wish for a kitten like Tigger, a pet of her own, and Jessi mentions Charlotte doesn't have a pet. You could argue that Carrot died, but in #42 Jessi and the Dance School Phantom he's alive and seen when Charlotte enters him in a town pet show!
  • Setting Update:
    • Mildly with the graphic novels. The technology level initially implies they take place in the 1990s or maybe the early 2000s. For example, the Mary Anne Saves The Day book was released in 1987; however, the graphic novel has a reference to DVD players and the 1998 The Parent Trap film. However later volumes make more modern references.
    • The 2020 Netflix Series is a more blatant example, moving the setting to the early 2000s.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Truth About Stacey is dedicated to Dr. Claudia Werner. The series features characters named both "Claudia" and "Dr. Werner." The Perkins family is also based on friends of the author's; at one point, it's noted that they own a lot of children's books because they have a friend who writes and edits them.
    • The name Gabbie Perkins was namedropped in an unrelated standalone book as the best friend of a little girl who was missing.
    • While a contest was being held to determine their names, Abby and Anna Stevenson were referred to with the code names Lucy and Ethel.
  • Sick Episode: Most notably Claudia and the Bad Joke (where Claudia breaks her leg), Stacey's Emergency (in which Stacey's diabetes lands her in the hospital), Get Well Soon, Mallory (in which Mallory has mononucleosis), and the subplot to Dawn's Wicked Stepsister (in which, thanks to a series of bizarre coincidences, every member of the Pike family gets sicknote  or injured note  within a span of a couple of weeks).
  • Slumber Party: Many of them are held across the series and its spinoffs, often combined with a pizza party and/or an "emergency meeting" of the club. Slumber parties are the plot focus of Karen's Sleepover (7-year old Karen hosting her first ever sleepover) and Dawn and the Big Sleepover (the plot of a sleepover being held in the local elementary school overnight.)
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Minor reoccurring character Erica Lumberg is hired to babysit for the Nichols family in "Claudia and the Terrible Truth" after Claudia gets fired. On Erica's third sitting job, she finds out that Joey and Nate have been physically abused by their father (one has bruises, the other a black eye) and immediately calls Claudia asking for help. Claudia gets her mother and they get Mrs. Nichols, entering the house to safely get Erica and the boys out of there. If it hadn't been for Erica contacting Claudia, there's no telling what Mr. Nichols would've done.
  • Snooping Little Kid:
    • You'd be hard pressed to find a book in the Mysteries series that doesn't feature at least one instance of this.
    • In the Little Sister spin-off series, Karen often gets herself in trouble by engaging in some form of this.
  • Spinoff: The Little Sister and California Diaries series, which focus on different characters, as well as the "Mystery" series that focuses only on mystery stories. The Kids In Ms. Colman's Class is itself a spinoff of the Little Sister series.
  • Spoiler Title:
    • Stacey is Put on a Bus (from Stoneybrook to New York) in book #13. In book #28, Stacey's parents divorce and most of the plot is about her choosing whether to stay in New York City with her father or move back to Stoneybrook with her mother. The title of the book? Welcome Back, Stacey.
    • In a book, Jessi is asked to participate in a synchronized swimming competition. Almost all the book has Jessi practicing and being nervous about the competition and if she'll win. The title is Jessi's Gold Medal.
    • Stacey is excited to spend a week with her best friend from New York, Laine. By the title Stacey's Ex-Best Friend, you can tell how much they will get along and in fact by the end of the book they are no longer friends.
    • Stacey has this trope often. The cover blurb of book #99? "Will Stacey and Robert be together forever?" The title? Stacey's Broken Heart.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • At the end of Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, it turns out that Alan and Trevor, who have crushes on Kristy and Claudia respectively, stole the BSC record book, made several calls to houses where Kristy and Claudia were sitting, only to hang up the phone every time, because they were too shy to ask them out. The girls were genuinely frightened by the phone calls throughout the book, but when they find out about their admirers, they happily accept invitations to go out with them.
    • Deconstructed in Kristy's Mystery Admirer. Kristy starts receiving lovey-dovey letters signed by a "mystery admirer", but at some point the letters go from romantic to completely creepy, to the point that Kristy assumes some psycho adult wants to kidnap her. It turns out the first romantic letters were written by her serious admirer Bart, while the creepy letters were written by Alpha Bitch Cokie. In fact, after receiving the first letters, Kristy was talking about them loudly at school, so Cokie started sending Kristy her own letters to terrorize her.
  • Start My Own:
    • When the BSC goes crazy testing Mallory about whether she's a good enough sitter and decide to reject her from joining, she and her new friend Jessi start up "Kids Incorporated."
    • When Dawn tells Sunny — her best friend in California — all about this great new babysitting club she joined, Sunny loves the idea so much that she starts the We (Heart) Kids Club with a couple other friends of hers, Maggie and Jill. Kristy is alternately flattered and annoyed, both because she thinks Sunny and her friends are too casual and disorganized... and because they got a lot more positive publicity than the BSC, even getting interviewed on television (and subsequently so overwhelmed with new business that they adopt several of Kristy's innovations, including regularly scheduled meetings).
  • Stock "Yuck!":
    • In one of the specials, Stacey describes how, while in New York, she invited her new friend to a sleepover at Laine's. Laine and the others disliked the girl, partly because she asked for anchovies on the pizza they ordered.
    • It's a minor running gag that the sitters have incompatible pizza needs, especially once the club has the classic seven-member lineup — Stacey can't eat processed cheese; Dawn won't eat meat; Abby is allergic to both tomatoes and cheese; Kristy likes anchovies, etc. Mary Anne and the Playground Fight has this get uncivilized to the point where they all just order separate meals, while Abby and the Mystery Baby has Abby order a plain pizza and she just prepares the other toppings at home, letting her friends do their individual slices as they please.
  • Straw Fan: One of the books deals with Mallory claiming to be the biggest fan of a fictional children's author, then meeting the author and giving her a hard time about not 'writing what she knows.' Fortunately, she learns her lesson in the end.
  • Stress Vomit:
    • Happens to a young Mary Anne in Mary Anne's Book when she comes down with a severe case of stage fright right before a dance recital (she ends up dropping out of the recital after her father assures her it's perfectly okay to do so).
    • A particularly heartwrenching example in Abby's Book: Nine-year-old Abby throws up after being told about her father's death.
  • Sudden Name Change:
    • Kristy's mother is called "Edie Thomas" in the first book, Kristy's Great Idea. Later books identify her as Elizabeth.
    • The Brewer children's mother and stepfather are named as Sheila and Kendall in Kristy's Big Day, later retconned to Lisa and Seth when they feature more prominently in later titles (the names are also corrected in later editions of Kristy's Big Day).
    • Mary Anne's late mother was named Abigail in the fourth book, but later books identify her as Alma. This is also fixed in reprints.
    • Granny, Dawn's grandmother (and Sharon's mother), is given the first name of Rita in Dawn's Book. However, in the mystery Mary Anne and the Music Box Secret, she is named Grace.
  • Superstition Episode: There's a book where Mary Anne thinks she's gotten a bad luck charm. It turns out some cruel girls just told her it was bad, and were using it as an excuse to play pranks on her.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In Hello, Mallory, when the girls don't allow Mallory to join the club (at first), Mallory and Jessi start their own baby-sitting service called "Kids' Incorporated". Unlike the unrealistically successful BSC, Mallory and Jessi's only clients are their own families asking them to babysit for their younger siblings. This is probably what would have happened to the BSC itself in real life, since we are talking about twelve/thirteen-year old girls, and Mallory and Jessi are even younger.
    • At the end of Claudia and the Sad Good-Bye, Claudia confronts Mrs. Addison about the way that she and her husband constantly dump their kids at sitters and activities in lieu of actually spending time with them. However, unlike other books where the parents change their ways in response to the sitters calling their attention to problems (see examples under Adults Are Useless), later books suggest that the Addisons are still persisting with this behavior — because while calling parents out works if the parents genuinely want to do the right thing by their children (as is the case in other examples), it's not going to be as effective if the parents just don't care enough.
    • Keep Out, Claudia! ends with the club dropping a racist and bigoted family, the Lowells, as a client after several attempts at helping the kids and sending different sitters. While it’s admirable that they tried, it’s pretty clear that Mr. and Mrs. Lowell were never going to change. As much as the girls feel badly for the three Lowell children (the older two, who are eight and six, seem to recognize on some level that their parents' restrictions are costing them something even if it's only "fun experiences with other kids"), there's nothing they can do and they needed to just stay away for their own safety as baby-sitters.
    • In Claudia and the Terrible Truth, Claudia ends up having to go her mother for help after learning that two of her charges are being abused (both verbally and physically) by their father. Sometimes, there are some situations where you have to get help, especially ones where you don’t know exactly what to do or that you could get hurt trying to fix on your own.
  • Sweet Tooth: Claudia adores sweets. Her parents don't like her having so many and forbid them, so she stashes them in various places around her room.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Each book is narrated by whichever member of the club is being focused on.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Kristy and Abby, with sports. In Kristy's own words, she's a sportsperson, while Abby is a natural athlete.
  • Teen Genius: Claudia's sister Janine suffers from most TV Genius symptoms, including Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, Intelligence Equals Isolation, Nerd Glasses, Insufferable Genius, Omnidisciplinary Scientist, and she has an IQ of 196. Surprisingly, though, with such a high IQ all they have her do is take a few courses at the local community college.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold, Abigail and Anna Stevenson, Mariah and Miranda Shillaber, Terri and Tammy Barkan, Ricky and Rose Salem, Tasha and Terry Hoyt. Averted with the Pike triplets: Adam, Byron, and Jordan.
  • Token Good Teammate: The Babysitters Agency apparently had just one sitter who wasn't incompetent or negligent: an unseen seventeen-year-old boy who sat for the Newton family. Mrs. Newton decides she'll call him on his own, despite no longer employing the agency when she learns about the cigarette burn on one of her chairs and how Cathy Morris let Jamie play in the streets by himself.
  • Token Minority:
    • Much is always made of Jessi being the only black member of the BSC (and the only black girl in her grade level) and Claudia being Japanese.
    • Some of the books lay it on rather thick about Emily Brewer being adopted from Vietnam.
  • Token Minority Couple:
    • One of the Super Specials introduces a Japanese guy solely to be a love interest for Claudia.
    • Jessi and her dancer boyfriend Quinn, who is also a black dancer. Outside of dating her, he's rarely seen.
  • Town Girls: The three Childhood Friends and original neighbors: Passionate Sports Girl Kristy (butch), The Fashionista Claudia (femme), and Naďve Everygirl Mary Anne (neither).
  • Toxic Friend Influence:
    • Ashley encourages Claudia to leave the club and spend more time on her artwork.
    • At one point in the series, Stacey falls in with a "bad girls" group, leaves the club, then comes back.
  • Training from Hell: A comparatively mild case (but still significant, given the age of the trainees who are 6-8 years old) occurs in the Little Sister book Karen's Swim Meet. Karen joins a summer swim team at a local community center — but despite it being pitched to the kids as a low-pressure, fun situation, the coach turns out to be obsessed with winning. He frequently yells and barks at the kids over every little thing, belittles them for not working hard enough, and at one point forces Karen to do consecutive flip turns until she's dizzy. The last straw comes when — on a day when the weather is clearly unsuited for swimming in an outdoor pool — the parents catch him trying to force the kids to do so anyway even though they're visibly shivering and miserable. After a long talk with the community center leaders, both sides agree that there was a mismatch in expectations (the community center simply wanted to put on a fun summer activity for the kids and wasn't concerned with outcomes, while the coach was concerned with winning above all else and just assumed that any competitive team would share this mentality) and the coach resigns.
  • Trickster Twins: Adam, Byron, and Jordan are Trickster Triplets.
  • True Companions: No matter what happens, the girls are there for each other.
  • Twin Switch:
    • Identical twins Marilyn and Carolyn did it once while Mallory was babysitting, just to mess with her. When Claudia replaces Mallory once, they switch again to prank Claudia, with Carolyn going to piano lessons pretending to be her sister (when their mother learns about it, she blames Claudia). They get better by the end of the book, when they start to express their individuality and stop pranking the sitters.
    • Abby tells of a time she and Anna did this in Abby's Book (mainly because Abby wanted to prove to Anna that their first grade classmates and teacher saw them as one person rather than two).
  • Two First Names: Kristy Thomas and her brothers (David Michael actually has three); Logan, Hunter, and Kerry Bruno; Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • It's hard not to feel sorry for Kristy's little brother David Michael in Kristy's Big News, when their long-lost father suddenly calls and announces he's getting married. Kristy and her elder brothers are invited to be in the wedding; David Michael is not only not invited, but their father doesn't ask to speak to him, never even mentions him, and, until he's called out on it toward the end of the book, acts as though the poor kid doesn't even exist. For a bonus of The Unreveal, it's never explained why, either.
    • This is a recurring element of the ongoing issues between Claudia and Janine, as Claudia feels like she's this to their parents because she's not as brainy as her sister. Janine, on the other hand, feels like she is the unfavorite with Mimi.
    • It’s heavily implied in Kristy and the Secret of Susan that Susan Felder will be one to her parents if her baby sister is born neurotypical (or at least doesn't have the same degree of disability as Susan). To twist the knife even further, they indicate they plan to name her Hope.
  • Unishment: When Mary Anne tries to sneak over to the boys' side and Logan starts a food fight at summer camp, they are punished... by being barred from their least favourite activities.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • Several books showcase a particular social issue, including racism, hazing, eating disorders, and single parenting. They do not deal with topics like illicit drugs and sexuality, and only briefly touch on alcohol, which might have been considered inappropriate for the target audience.
    • By far the heaviest issue touched upon is child abuse. In Claudia and the Terrible Truth Claudia is horrified to discover that her two new sitting charges are being both verbally and physically abused by their father.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: The main members of the club and their stand out traits and backgrounds get repeatedly introduced and described in every book. Lampshaded by the various snark communities as being the standard contents of chapter two. But also justified as this allows the books to be easily read out of order and allow people to know the members from whatever book the pick up — new readers don't have to go track down a copy of Kristy's Great Idea just to understand what's going on. Face it — you haven't read them all.
  • Walking Disaster Area: One of the club's regular charges is an extremely klutzy and accident-prone boy named Jackie Rodowsky, who is nicknamed "the Walking Disaster" for this very reason.
  • Wham Episode: Mimi's death in Claudia and the Sad Goodbye was this for a large portion of the fan base, as Mimi was very well-loved.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?:
    • Stacey's dad is a workaholic who rarely spends time with her (with his habits being one of the main reasons for the breakdown of his marriage).
    • Abby's mother is like this. Possibly justified to an extent, since she's a widow with two teenagers to support.
    • Shannon Kilbourne's father is never home, either.
    • Claudia and the Sad Goodbye has a subplot in which the sitters begin taking care of the Addison kids, who are constantly forced to attend extracurricular classes and sports activities. Their parents are basically selfish flakes, and all they ever want is time for themselves, so they shuttle their son and daughter off to every extracurricular possible (their first introduction to the club is them asking Claudia to teach their daughter art, in order to give her another recurring commitment). This becomes particularly painful in Mary Anne and the Library Mystery, when Sean Addison starts lighting books on fire in the trash cans of the crowded library because of how much he hates all of the activities his parents are forcing him to do. It's particularly scary because the library has just started a program encouraging kids to read, so there are dozens of small children in the building during all of the fires. The next time the Addisons call the club they ask for a regularly scheduled once-a-week sitter, and the club won't commit to it until they discuss it amongst themselves — mentioning that the Addisons, while incredibly ballsy to call them again, have been getting counseling. Sean has gotten to the point where he resents them because one of his classmates is bullying him for always needing to be babysat, and it's not until Stacey calls the classmate's father (with Sean listening on the extension) and pretends to offer BSC's services, only for him to thank her and reassure her that his son loves being babysat by his niece, that Sean realizes his classmate is just bullying him for no reason and he starts to behave better once he gets to tell him off.
  • Wicked Witch: Karen Brewer believes that the next door neighbor Mrs. Porter is one, and that her real name is Morbidda Destiny. The sitters would waver on whether or not they really believed this (and one of the Little Sister books revealed that even Mrs. Porter's granddaughter could not be sure whether it was true). Kristy eventually reasoned that Mrs. Porter could not be a real witch because when the Brewers' cat left a dead mouse on her doorstep, she brought it over to demand that they dispose of it rather than keeping to use in her potions.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: All these thirteen-year-old and eleven-year-old girls seem way too mature for their age.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math:
    • The number of bedrooms in Watson's house never seems to add up. Kristy says his house has nine bedrooms, which should mean one each for Watson and Elizabeth, Kristy, Sam, Charlie, David Michael, Karen, Andrew, Emily Michelle and Nannie. However, in another book Kristy says that each of her brothers could have a whole suite of rooms if they wanted, and occasionally they've had entire families stay over with no discussion of people moving or sharing rooms. It may be that the "nine bedrooms" refers only to the bedrooms on the first and second floors. It's mentioned that there is a third floor and an attic that are never used (which is most certainly not because the ghost of Ben Brewer haunts them), so her brothers could have suites, but would have to move to the upper floors. Presumably, these upper floors are where guests are quartered for the duration of their stay.
    • In book #13, Goodbye, Stacey, Goodbye, The girls are debating whether they should let Mallory join the club, and Stacey says Mallory is the oldest of 8 and could probably diaper a baby better than any of them. Mallory even says in the next book that she known how to change diapers and mix formulas. For the record, Mallory is 11 and her youngest sister, Claire, is 5. That means Mallory was only 6 when Claire was born! Who would trust a six year old to diaper a baby, or to actually mix a formula?! True, you could give the 6 year old the formula in the bottle and tell her to shake it, but what 6 year old would be called upon to actually make it themselves?!
    • If you consider the Pike kid's ages, the parents were having a baby (or babies) almost every year except for Claire, who might have been a surprise seeing as how she's the only one born two years apart from the others.
  • Written Sound Effect: Ghostwriter Peter Lerangis loves using onomatopoeia.
  • Yoko Oh No: A platonic version in the book Claudia and The New Girl, the very tagline of which is "Claudia might give up the Club — and it's all the new girl's fault!". As indicated by the title, Claudia befriends Ashley, a new student at school and begins spending more time with her than her other friends as Ashley, like Claudia, is an artist. Eventually, enough tension rises that both Ashley and the other club members demand that Claudia choose one or the other. By the book's end, Claudia makes it clear that she will not give up either and that both parties were out of line to ask such a thing. Ashley reappears in several books, and while she never again suggests that Claudia give up babysitting or the club, it's still obvious that she holds them and the club in contempt.
  • You Are Fat: Mary Anne, showing off her Bitch in Sheep's Clothing tendencies, drops this on Dawn of all people, during the period of adjustment after the two become stepsisters.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious:
    • Claudia has a habit of dropping Kristy's full name on her when she's calling Kristy out about her behavior in some respect.
    • When Stacey's parents call her "Anastasia," she knows that she's pushed them too far, and it's time to back down.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant:
    • Shows up in Jessi Ramsey, Pet Sitter when Jessi pet-sits a hamster and it has babies.
    • Happens in one of the Little Sister books as well, this time with a guinea pig.

Alternative Title(s): Baby Sitters Club

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