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Literature / The Famous Five

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The Famous Five is the name of a series of children's novels written by British author Enid Blyton. The first book, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942.

The novels feature the adventures of a group of five children (well, four children and a Team Pet) — Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and the dog Timmy note . Blyton created several similar groups for her detective series, including The Secret Seven, The Adventurous Four (not to be confused with The Adventure Series) and Five Find-Outers, but the Famous Five is the best-known and most popular of these.

Blyton only intended to write about 6 to 8 books in the series but, owing to their high sales and immense commercial success, she went on to write 21 full-length Famous Five novels. By the end of 1953, more than 6 million copies of these books had been printed and sold. Today, more than two million copies of the books are sold each year, making them one of the biggest-selling series for children ever written. Over a hundred million books have been sold, and nearly all of the original novels have subsequently been adapted for television (the first TV series in the late 1970s adapted all but three of them, missing out two due to rights issues and another because it was impractical to film on the available schedule, and a later mid-90s series managed a full house). A stage musical combining the first two books toured in the UK in 1997, known as ''Famous Five Smuggler's Gold", starring Alison Hughes and Jon Lee.


    Novels in this series 
  • Five on a Treasure Island (1942). Takes place during the Summer holidays.
  • Five Go Adventuring Again (1943). Takes place during the Christmas holidays.
  • Five Run Away Together (1944). Takes place during the Summer holidays.
  • Five Go to Smuggler's Top (1945). Takes place during the Easter holidays.
  • Five Go Off in a Caravan (1946). Takes place during the Summer holidays.
  • Five on Kirrin Island Again (1947). Takes place during the Easter holidays, initially written to be the conclusion to the series.
  • Five Go Off to Camp (1948). Camping vacation. The time of the year is left vague.
  • Five Get Into Trouble (1949). Takes place during the Easter holidays.
  • Five Fall Into Adventure (1950). Takes place in September.
  • Five On a Hike Together (1951). Takes place during the October mid-term break.
  • Five Have a Wonderful Time (1952). Takes place during the Easter holidays.
  • Five Go Down to the Sea (1953). Takes place during the Summer holidays.
  • Five Go to Mystery Moor (1954). Takes place during the Easter holidays.
  • Five Have Plenty of Fun (1955). Takes place during the Summer holidays.
  • Five on a Secret Trail (1956). Camping vacation. The time of the year is left vague.
  • Five Go to Billycock Hill (1957). Takes place late in May.
  • Five Get Into a Fix (1958). Takes place during the Christmas holidays.
  • Five on Finniston Farm (1960). Takes place during the Summer holidays.
  • Five Go to Demon's Rocks (1961). Takes place during the Easter holidays.
  • Five Have a Mystery to Solve (1962). Takes place during the Easter holidays.
  • Five Are Together Again (1963). Takes place during the Easter holidays.

Such was the series' popularity in France that after Blyton's death Claude Voilier, who had translated the original books into French, wrote a series of 24 more officially-licensed Five books, which were published between 1971 and 1985, and all but six of which were also translated into English. Two original books apparently written by the series' German translator in the late seventies also exist, but they were recalled almost immediately due to not being properly licensed.

This series includes examples of

  • Abusive Parents: Some of the children which the Five meet are in abusive parent situations, usually where the parents or guardians are the villains of the story. Examples are Nobby in Five go off in a Caravan, Martin in Five On Kirrin Island Again, and Jo in Five Fall into Adventure.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Uncle Quentin, though more bad-tempered than most examples. In Five On Kirrin Island Again this manifests itself as Forgetting To Eatuntil his wife tells him to throw away some cans of soup which have spoiled, at which point, of course, he promptly eats it.
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  • Accidental Kidnapping: In the 14th book the thugs mistake George for their intended target because they see her carrying the other girl's dog. Granted it happened at night but it still says a thing or two about their intelligence. Of course George being George, won't let them know they messed up.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Julian. He's only 11-13 (yes, really), but has all the aplomb of an eighteen year-old, using his wit to impress the police and run circles around criminals.
  • Adventure Towns: The children seemingly cannot go anywhere without having a new adventure, even if they try to avoid it.
    "Adventures are definitely off this time. If anything comes up, we'll pooh-pooh it and walk off."
  • Amateur Sleuth: Times five. Well, four.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Two of the books have elderly ladies who are terrified of their grown-up sons: Five on a Hike Together, and Five go to Billycock Hill.
  • Anti-Interference Lock Up: This happens to somebody in almost every book: the Five are locked up by the villains, or the villains are locked up by the Five; either in their bedrooms, or a dungeon.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: One older reference not changed in modern reprints is "field glasses" to mean binoculars.
  • Arch-Enemy: In Five Go Adventuring Again, the extremely headstrong George has an utter loathing for their tutor Mr Roland, mostly because the tutor does not like dogs. She comes very close to alienating herself from the rest of the family as well, even threatening (and meaning it) to run away. However, in a gesture of Everyone Has Standards, when Mr Roland gives her a Christmas present of a book about dogs, she thanks him stiffly, having "made up her mind not to spoil Christmas Day by being difficult".
    George: I've seen Mr Roland's lips, they are thin and cruel. I don't like thin-lipped people. They are always spiteful and hard. And I don't like his cold eyes either. You can suck up to him all you like. I shan't.
  • The Artful Dodger: Thieves and other rogues appear in all of the books; in Five go to Demon's Rocks, a policeman refers to the thief Jacob as an artful dodger.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In Five on a Hike Together, the queer lake Gloomy Water remains as still as glass, even in the wind. However, George suspects that it might obey the laws of physics in that sound travels easily over water, warning Tim not to bark.
  • Axe Before Entering: Many locked doors are smashed down.
    • In Five on a Treasure Island, the Five use an axe to open a locked wooden door protecting the treasure. As they valiantly attack the door, Dick is injured by a flying splinter of wood.
    • In Five get into Trouble, Julian takes refuge from the mad villain Rooky by locking himself in the study. Enraged, Rooky tries to smash the door down with a chair.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: In Five run away Together, the little girl Jennifer Mary Armstrong is kidnapped in this way, by a man throwing a shawl over her head.
  • Barefoot Captives: In Five go to Smuggler's Top, Uncle Quentin is barefoot because he is kidnapped while in bed. After he escapes, he has to walk through the town barefoot and in pyjamas. He is later given a Foot Bath Treatment.
  • Berserk Button: Most evident in George's hair trigger in the Famous Five books whenever someone is mean to her pet dog Timmy, or worse dares to call her a girl.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Anne is a Proper Lady but every once in a while, well you know how the Trope goes. In one book, she purposely tries to be a "tiger". Also Dick at times.
  • Big Eaters: The Famous Five never fail to finish off their tea sandwiches for lunch.
  • Big Fancy House: These feature in Five get into Trouble, Five fall into Adventure, and Five have plenty of Fun, inhabited by wealthy villains. In Five go to Smuggler's Top, the Five stay in a big fancy house, which is full of secret passages.
  • Blindfolded Trip: In Five Have a Wonderful Time, Terry-Kane mentions being blindfolded when he is kidnapped.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Subverted in Five have a Wonderful Time: a gun is whipped out of an enemy's hand, by fair-folk member Bufflo, who is particularly skilled with a whip. The narrative lampshades how dangerous this trick is, in that the gun might have gone off.
  • Boarding School: The characters all attend one, and George is improbably allowed to keep Timmy at hers.
  • Book Snap: In Five Go Adventuring Again, Mr Roland the tutor does this after a revelation of a serious incident during the children's lessons.
    Mr Roland shut the books on the table with a snap. "We can't do any more lessons this morning," he said.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens many times to the Kid Detectives, especially George and Dick.
  • Bowdlerise: "Modernized" by Hodder in 2010 to changed the slang (e.g. swotter to bookworm) and bring in more gender equality. Other changes (in the 1980s) were:
    • "Kit bag" to "rucksack".
    • "Shilling" to "five pence".
    • "Shorts" to "jeans".
    • "Spanking" to "telling off".
    • "Scholarship exams" to "important exams".
    • "Golliwogs" are removed from the list of Dick's toys in the first book.
  • Boyish Short Hair: George.
  • Break Them by Talking: Julian does this a lot; as he has such a "ready tongue".
    • In Five run away Together, he has words with Edgar who is singing songs about George for being upset about her mother being in hospital.
      Julian: (To Edgar, through the kitchen window) Come out here. I'll teach you to sing another song.
      Edgar: No fear! You want to fight me.
      Julian: Yes, I think a bit of good, honest fighting would be better for you than singing songs about a girl who is miserable. Are you coming out? Or shall I come in and fetch you?
      Edgar: Maaaaa!!!
    • In Five get into Trouble, Julian ruthlessly tries to scare the villains' downtrodden housekeeper Aggie into making admissions.
      Aggie: It's funny that you should come just after... (suddenly stops herself)
      Julian: Just after that other boy came, you mean?
    • In Five fall into Adventure, he and Dick and Jo set out to rescue George from the Large Ham villain "Red Tower". They invade Red's home, and Julian practically interrogates Red before he has even seen him.
      Red: (Unseen) SO! YOU DARE TO COME HERE! Who are you?
      Julian: Who are you? Come out and show yourself. We've come to see a man called Red. Take us to him.
      Red: (After a stunned pause) Who sent you?
      Julian: Nobody. We came because we want our cousin back, and her dog too.
      (Red appears. Julian takes one look into his eyes, sees that he is mad)
      Red: So you think I have your cousin? Who told you such a stupid tale?
      Julian: I'll tell you that when the police come. (The police have not been called)
      Red: The police! What do they know? Why should they come here? Answer me, boy!
      Julian: There's a lot to know about you, Mr Red Tower. Who sent men to steal my uncle's papers? Who sent a note to ask for another lot? Who kidnapped our cousin? Who brought her here? Who...
      Red: (with panic in his voice) Aaaaaaah! How do you know all this? It isn't true! But the police - have they heard this fantastic tale, too?
      Julian: What do you suppose? (Wishing the police do know, and he is not merely bluffing)
  • Broken Lever of Doom: In Five on Kirrin Island Again, the villains set up Uncle Quentin's equipment to cause a massive explosion, and have altered the mechanism to the dungeon entrance so that it cannot be opened from the inside, preventing Uncle Quentin and the others from escaping.
    In vain, Uncle Quentin swung the lever to and fro. Nothing happened. The stone did not move.
  • Busman's Holiday: The children have a tutor in Five Go Adventuring Again during Christmas break. Justified because Julian and Dick were sick with the flu twice during the term and missed lots of schoolwork.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: In Five Go Adventuring Again, Timmy is under the table, unknown to Mr Roland; and when the class is at its very quietest, Timmy makes noises. To hide this, George clatters her feet on the floor, Julian coughs and knocks over a book, and Dick speaks to Mr Roland.
    Mr Roland: Why all this sudden noise? Stop tapping the floor with your feet, Georgina.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: Anne. Julian tells her "Anne, the only way to stop you giving away secrets is to sew up your mouth, like Brer Rabbit wanted to do to Mister Dog." Even when she isn't about to tell a secret, her brothers suspect her of meaning to.
  • Can't See a Damn Thing:
    • In Five go off in a Caravan, Julian's torch runs out of battery power as he and Nobby are exploring an underground cave, and they have to find their way back in darkness.
    • In Five go down to the Sea, Julian and Dick try on a stage horse costume, which has eye-holes in the neck. But when this goes very wrong, Julian cannot get the eye-holes in the right place, leaving him "absolutely blind".
  • Catchphrase: Lots of them, said by the Five, or in the narrative.
    • "Golly!"
    • "How sickening!"
    • It was most disappointing. It was bitterly disappointing. They felt disappointed in him.
    • "Woof," said Timmy, and thumped his tail on the floor.
    • The characters do many things vigorously. Julian cleans his teeth vigorously. Joan rolls out pastry vigorously (at least twice). George causes the others to have fits of choking because she is so vigorous in her dusting. Uncle Quentin stirs his cup of cocoa vigorously.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: At the beginning of Five have a Wonderful Time, George has been in bed with a cold, having bathed in April. Many of the other books warn of the children being in bed with bronchitis or pneumonia if they swim in cold water.
  • Cat Up a Tree: Inverted in a non-comic way in Five get into Trouble. Anne climbs a tree, and while she is up there, Dick is captured by two villains. Anne is too horrified to climb down, and has to be rescued by Julian.
  • Character Tics: In Five go to Smuggler's Top, the hot-tempered Mr Lenoir has a unique angry tic: the tip of his nose turns white, which happens many times in the story.
  • The Chick:
    • Anne, oh so much.
    • Also Marybelle in Five Go to Smuggler's Top. Even Anne teases her for being so shy.
  • Christmas Episode: Five Go Adventuring Again and Five Get Into a Fix are the only two books that take place during Christmas holidays.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: In Five go off in a Caravan, one of the villains Lou has a cigarette just before the difficult task of moving a caravan by hand, and again just after moving it back.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: When the Five stay in caravans, their colours are often mentioned.
    • Five go off in a Caravan: The boys have the green caravan (with red curtains), and the girls have the red caravan (with green curtains), because Anne loves red. One of the caravans becomes very important in the second half of the book, although interestingly, it is not stated until very late on which colour caravan it is.
      Anne: I do like the red one, bags I the red one!
    • Five have a Wonderful Time: The Five stay in old-fashioned caravans. The red one, picked out in black and yellow, is Julian and Dick's. The blue one, picked out in black and yellow, is George's and Anne's. Oh sorry, Timmy's too.
  • Comic-Book Time: 21 adventures all occurring during the holidays of boarding school.
  • Constantly Curious: George and Dick, to a lesser degree Julian. Not Anne, as she would much rather 'stay out of adventures'.
  • Cool Old Guy: Jeremiah Boogle in Five go to Demon's Rocks; his age is emphasised by being the great-grandfather of the village mechanic. He might be old but he is still hefty: he and Constable Sharp break through a locked door by shoving it.
  • Crappy Holidays: Subverted in Five Go Adventuring Again. The children think that they will have horrible holidays because they have a tutor. They have another adventure instead.
  • Creepy Monotone: Block in Five Go To Smuggler's Top, who speaks in a monotone. He is allegedly deaf, and has an expressionless face, which as Anne says, might have been a wax mask.
  • Circus Episode: Several books feature a circus, especially Five go off in a Caravan and Five are together again. Five have a Wonderful Time features the "Fair-folk", a lower-key circus.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The Five frequently wander into nests of thieves and rogues, and just happen to be there when the criminals are doing their dirty work. However, one of the biggest coincidences (lampshaded by the Five, see below) is in Five Have a Wonderful Time: when they are looking through field-glasses ("binoculars" to us), they look at a castle window, and they just happen to see the face of somebody held prisoner inside.
    Julian: It was a chance of one in a thousand that we saw his face there.
    Dick: In a million.
  • Cool Gate: The iconic mechanical gates in Five Get Into Trouble, leading into the high-walled estate of Owl's Dene, a mysterious villain hideout, in a lonely spot in a wood, almost completely isolated from the outside world.
    The gates had been shut and locked by some kind of special machinery, and nobody and nothing could open them apart from that special machinery.
    "There's no telephone here, no gas, no water laid on, nothing. Only secrets and signs and comings and goings and threats of..."
  • Covert Distress Code:
    • A standard covert distress call is for George to sign her name 'Georgina' (something that she hates doing) whenever the bad guys inexplicably ask the captured children to send a note to the non-captured ones, to alert them that something is wrong. This is not agreed in advance, but George does it anyway, and it works.
    • In Five On Kirrin Island Again, Uncle Quentin signals from Kirrin Island to Kirrin Cottage (under threat of being visited every day by his wife) that he is all right, by flashing with a mirror six times in the daytime, and shining a lantern at night. When he needs help, he flashes eighteen times instead of six.
    • Twice, when George is kidnapped, she manages to write a one or two-word message for the others to find (against very high odds), in both cases of something she overheard.
      "She's written 'Red Tower' ever so many times, and the R's and the T's are just like hers." (See "Meaningful Name" below.)
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In the penultimate book, Five Have A Mystery To Solve, the otherwise timid and helpless Anne gets a much-needed injection of spirit and assertiveness — much of it thanks to her finally meeting someone who annoys her so much she just snaps. She loses her temper several times during the book and with the aid of Timmy actually ends up chasing away the bad guys with her spectacular display of anger. Her brothers joke that she's "turning into a tiger," something that she discovers she actually kind of likes being told.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: In Five on Kirrin Island Again, in which Dick has several moments of OOC Is Serious Business, he treads jolly hard on Timmy's tail to make him yelp, so that George will stop "blabbing like a girl" to somebody Dick believes is an enemy. Needless to say, George is then absolutely livid.
    "Oh you beast, Dick! How could you hurt Timmy?"
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: In Five fall into Adventure, Julian and Dick rub their stiff, aching wrists after Jo has released them from being tied up; they prioritise this over finding a safe place to hide from their enemies.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon:
    • In Five Go Adventuring Again, Julian tells Anne that there is only one way to stop her giving away secrets: to sew up her mouth, like Brer Rabbit wanted to do to Mister Dog.
    • George has a moment of this in Five have a Wonderful Time. Dick sees a peculiar sight through George's field glasses, and keeps the others in suspense about what it is for a long time, even having a second look, and saying it's gone. George then threatens to roll Dick down the hill if he does not say what he saw. Dick sees a desperate face looking out of the window of a castle tower.
  • Cut Phone Lines: This happens in Five Fall into Adventure, when George is kidnapped, and the kidnappers are watching Kirrin Cottage to make sure nobody leaves the house to tell the police.
  • Curtain Camouflage: This happens twice in Five Go To Smuggler's Top:
    • Dick and Julian hide behind curtains when they are trying to find out who is signalling from a tower.
    • Block hides behind a curtain when he is trying to catch Timmy in the house. However, his shoes give him away, and the children ambush him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dick occasionally.
    • Aunt Fanny has some moments of this with Uncle Quentin, such as this in Five Go To Demon's Rocks, where there is an unexpected shortage of beds at Kirrin Cottage:
      Aunt Fanny: (to Uncle Quentin) It looks as if somebody will have to sleep in Timmy's kennel, and I've a good mind to make up a bed for you in the coal-house!
  • Debt Detester: In the very first book, George refuses to accept an ice cream from Julian, because she has no pocket money with which she can return the favour. He has to work very hard to persuade her to take it, which she does eventually.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, Mr Lenoir mutters about doling this out when one of the children knocks on his study door and runs away. He follows through when he discovers George hiding in his study.
    "Bed and bread and water for them!"
  • Deserted Island: George's island. There are only rabbits there.
  • The Determinator: George. If there's something she wants - don't get in the way. Just don't.
  • Distress Call: In Five go to Demon's Rocks, the Five stay in a disused lighthouse, and the villain locks them in to stop them finding hidden treasure. To alert the village that they need help, they manage to light the lighthouse itself, and they sound the lighthouse bell; they are rescued soon after this.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The Gipsy child Jo who appears in three of the books is barefoot for most of Five Fall into Adventure.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": George hates being a girl so much, that she will not answer to her real name, Georgina. In Five Go Adventuring Again, their tutor Mr Roland refuses to respect this.
    Mr Roland looked under the table. "The brute snapped at my ankles. He has made a hole in my trousers. Take him out, Georgina."
    Georgina said nothing. She sat as though she had not heard.
    "She won't answer if you call her Georgina," Julian reminded him.
    "She'll answer me whatever I call her," said Mr Roland, in a low and angry voice.
  • Don't Wake the Sleeper: The Five regularly sneak past sleeping scientists and villains, who are often (but not always) napping in the daytime.
    • In Five on a Treasure Island, Julian sneaks into Uncle Quentin's study to retrieve their confiscated box from the wreck, risking an awful spanking. A bit of the box drops to the floor, waking Uncle Quentin; and Julian hides behind his chair until he falls asleep again.
    • In Five run away Together, Julian raids the larder in the company of a sleeping Mr Stick. He keeps the light turned off to reduce the risk of waking him, but he goes the wrong way in the dark, and walks straight into him.
    • In Five go to Smuggler's Top, George hides in Mr Lenoir's study, and tries to find the entrance to a secret passage when he has a nap. Unfortunately, he wakes. In the same book, Sooty creeps into Uncle Quentin's bedroom, to find the other end of the secret passage.
    • In Five go off in a Caravan, Lou and Tiger Dan sleep by the caravans after they have brought some goods from underground. Nobby climbs the cliff, not realising that they are there, and hauls himself right on top of them.
    • In Five get into Trouble, Julian explores the villains' house at night, when everyone is asleep. He tries to open the mechanical gates, but discovers that they make far too much noise.
    • In Five on a Hike Together, the Five retrieve the loot from the lake at the only time the villains Maggie and Dirty Dick will not be watching them: at night. They have to be very quiet, as the couple are sleeping in tents beside the lake.
  • The Door Slams You: In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, the Five's friend Sooty tries to peep through a keyhole to find out who is in a tower room. As he does so, the person suddenly comes out, and Sooty has to hide behind the door in a niche.
  • Do They Know It's Christmas Time?: In Five Go Adventuring Again, the Five are spending Christmas at Kirrin Cottage. George spends most of the book sulking because nobody will share her intense dislike for their tutor Mr Roland. She has never had a Christmas tree before, and looks forward to it, but it is spoilt for her because Mr Roland buys all the things that make it look beautiful. The others plead with her not to spoil Christmas; she compromises by being civil on the day itself, and stiffly thanks Mr Roland for his present to her, before reverting to her stubborn self the following day.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Julian talks about the incident in Five Go Adventuring Again when a fellow student's mouse escaped and scared a matron at the school.
  • Eerily Out-of-Place Object:
    • In Five Run Away Together, the little black trunk hidden in the ship wrecked off Kirrin Island; and even more so the contents. Inside, the Five were expecting to find smuggled goods, but instead they find a child's clothes and dolls.
    • In Five Have a Wonderful Time, the Five look through binoculars, and happen to spot a face in the window of a distant castle. When they visit the castle, the tower where they saw the face appears to be completely inaccessible.
    • In Five Fall into Adventure, a helicopter looks very out of place in the courtyard of the villains' hideout.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: When Uncle Quentin is working on Kirrin Island in Five on Kirrin Island Again, the children arrive to find no sign of Uncle Quentin at all. When he does suddenly appear, and vaguely says "oh, I was in my workroom", they cannot imagine where it might be. Later, they work out that it is underground, and that being surrounded on all sides by water (including above and below) is necessary to his experiment. George discovers the base when she goes there in the middle of the night.
  • Enter Stage Window: Two occasions when this happens.
    • In Five fall into Adventure, the gipsy child Jo can squeeze through little windows to break in, as well as climbing ivy to get up to a window.
    • In Five get into Trouble, the children try to rescue Dick from the large house Owl's Dene. They believe his is behind a lighted attic window, and throw up a stone. Somebody comes to the window, but it is not Dick. Then they discover an open window on the ground floor, and they are caught when they sneak in that way. Julian later believes that the villain opened the window so that they might climb in, and they fell neatly into the trap.
  • Everyone Has Standards: George is normally extremely fierce, stubborn and rebellious, letting nobody stand in her way. However, at the beginning of Five Run Away Together, her mother is ill, and she quietly puts up with the sour cook Mrs Stick and her vile son Edgar, so that her mother will not be left without help.
    Julian: I shan't stand much of him! I'm surprised you haven't stamped on his face, bitten his ears off, and done a few other things. You used to be so fierce!
    George: Well, I still am really. But I know that if I complain, Mrs Stick will leave, and then mother will be left alone. So I hold myself in, and hope that Timmy does so too.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When the Five are held captive for a long time, the villains often make a point of leaving them food, especially in Five go off in a Caravan, if only to avoid being accused of starving them to death.
    Lou: Let them starve underground, the interfering little beasts.
    Tiger Dan: Can't do that, we'll have the police after us worse than ever.
    (Later, to the Five:)
    Lou: We wouldn't starve you, we're too fond of you.
  • Evil Cripple: Subverted in Five Go to Smuggler's Top, the villain's henchman Block feigns deafness to avoid suspicion and eavesdrop on the secrets of the Lenoir family.
  • The Every Man: Dick. By far the most normal of the group.
  • Faked Gift Acceptance: In Five Get Into Trouble, the villains give the Five money, to compensate them for the "inconvenience" of kidnapping them. Julian accepts it without a word of thanks, but later gives it to Aggie, the downtrodden housekeeper. The Five also give away money given as a gift in Five Go To Billycock Hill.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Anne. The Five would have starved to death long ago, if not for her.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: In Five On A Hike Together, very loud bells are suddenly heard on a dark wet night, on a moor. Only the day after do they find out the reason for this: a convict had escaped from the local prison.
    So that was why the bells had made such a clamour and a clangour. Anne shivered.
  • Foreshadowing: In Five Go Adventuring Again, the Five are to have a tutor. When they are wondering what he will be like, George's main concern is whether he will like Timmy. Needless to say, the tutor does not like dogs; and even though he tries to make friends with Timmy, Timmy will have none of it.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Choleric: George
    • Sanguine: Julian
    • Phlegmatic: Dick
    • Melancholic: Anne
  • Food Porn: Famous for the lavish descriptions of the gang's (many) meals.
  • Free-Range Children: A staple of Blyton's world.
  • Fresh Clue:
    • In Five on Kirrin Island Again, Uncle Quentin finds a fresh cigarette end, leading him to suspect that somebody else is on the island. In the same book, the trope is inverted when the Five conclude that nobody has been down in the dungeons for a long time, because there are weeds deeply embedded around the stone closing the entrance.
    • In Five go Adventuring Again, a bottle of camphorated oil is found in Uncle Quentin's study, which George left behind when she sneaked Timmy in at night to rub his chest.
    • In Five have a Wonderful Time, the Five find branded chocolate wrapping when exploring the ancient secret passages of a castle, showing that somebody has been there relatively recently.
  • From Stray to Pet: In the first book Five on a Treasure Island, George reveals that she found Timmy on the moors when he was a puppy, and she made a pet of him.
  • Funny Foreigner: The American girl Berta in Five Have Plenty Of Fun, and the others often correct her when she says "wunnerful" and "plenny".
  • Gamebook:
    • Some of the Famous Five books were made into adventure games with numbered paragraphs, with a "rucksack" containing items such as a torch, binoculars, compass, codebook, map. They also had a lunchbox containing provisions such as ginger beer, cherry cake, sandwiches; and if they ran out of these, the adventure was over. These would often be lost through carelessness, such as tripping and breaking their bottles of ginger beer.
    • The first six books were made into The Famous Five and You, with numbered paragraphs where you had to make decisions for the Five, and avoid collecting "red herrings". Some of these books had interesting characters added, and contained modern items such as the Five wearing trainers.
  • Gaslighting: In Five Run Away Together, the Five sneak into the dungeons, and make noises of cows, sheep and horses to frighten the Stick family who are camping out there. Their son Edgar is well and truly taken in.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The human members of the Five make up this. Timmy tips it in favour of males.
  • Giving Them the Strip: In Five Get into Trouble, Richard wriggles out of his coat to escape from the villain Mr Perton.
  • Going in Circles: The Five get lost in many places, but notably in a wood in Five Fall Into Adventure.
    Julian: We seemed to walk for miles through this horrible wood.
    Jo: You did. You went round in an enormous circle, and were almost back where you started.
  • Go to Your Room!: Various characters are sent to their rooms as punishment, most often George.
  • Gym Class Rope Climb: The Five regularly climb ropes on their adventures. In the first book, Dick is glad he is so good at gym at school when he slides down a rope.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: George, she gets better but still, you do not want to piss her off. She inherits it from her father, Quentin.
    It was always best to leave George severely alone when she was in one of her tempers.
  • Hand Signals: In Five go off in a Caravan, Nobby is surprised to see Julian on the roof of one of the caravans. Julian frantically gestures to him to stay away, but Nobby does not understand, and climbs a hill to meet him, stepping right on top the sleeping villains Lou and Dan (on whom Julian had been spying).
  • Hate at First Sight: In Five have a Wonderful Time, the Five are caravanning alongside the "fair-folk" (a small travelling circus), who dislike the Five on sight, and are openly hostile to them. This escalates until Jo turns up, who happens to be the niece of one of the fair-folk, and vouches for the Five. The fair-folk change their tune and become friendly, but Julian has had enough, and swears that they will leave tomorrow "unless something unexpected happens to make us stay. And it won't.'' And, of course, it does.
    "I suppose it's a case of us-folk and you-folk. There's too much of that sort of thing nowadays."
  • Have a Gay Old Time: George's mother is called Fanny. More recent adaptations change her to Frances.
    • The boarding school that the girls go to is called "Gaylands School". Back then of course, "gay" meant happy.
    • "Five Go Off To Camp" has a character called "Cecil Dearlove" who is portrayed as a long haired sissy.
    • Let's not mention how many places, things and people —even poor George the first time her cousins met her— just look "queer" in every adventure. George is a queer girl, for not wanting her mother to go with her. Tim is behaving queerly, so it's a good thing Mr Roland hasn't come to teach him. That's the queerest thing Dick ever saw.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Sort of - one of the heroes is a dog, and the other four love him.
  • Heroic Dog: Timmy
  • Hive Mind: In Five Go to Smuggler's Top, Timmy somehow senses from afar that George is in danger, and rushes to her rescue.
    His ears did not tell him, nor did his nose. But his heart told him. George was in danger!
  • Homeschooled Kids: George in the first book. Later she goes to boarding school.
  • Honking Arriving Car: In Five Fall into Adventure, the taxi driver toots when arriving to take Uncle Quentin to the airport, starting a chaotic scene at Kirrin Cottage. Uncle Quentin is shut up in his study, sorting out his precious notebooks; his wife tells him they will miss the plane, and the driver keeps on hooting, causing Timmy to bark, and Uncle Quentin to tell the driver what he thinks of people who keep hooting their horns.
  • Honorary Uncle:
    • In Five go to Smuggler's Top, the Famous Five's friend Sooty is kidnapped with George's father. In his desperation to talk to somebody, Sooty wonders what to call him, not knowing his surname; then he remembers that George's cousins call him Uncle Quentin, so Sooty does too.
      Sooty: I hope you don't mind me calling you that, I don't know your surname.
    • In Five go off in a Caravan, Nobby refers to Tiger Dan as his uncle Dan, but reveals later that he is not actually his uncle.
    • In Five have plenty of Fun, George's mother tells the visiting girl Berta to call her Aunt Fanny.
  • Hot-Blooded: George.
    • In the first book, she uses an axe to smash up the villains' motor boat, to prevent them from escaping from Kirrin Island. Even the policeman comments "Fierce lady isn't she, that Miss Georgina? Done the job pretty well". Nowadays the police would probably nick her for vandalism - much easier than going after the bad guys.
    • In the final book, she single-handedly (well, Timmy helped) pushes two hardened criminals off a cliff....for trespassing on her island.
  • Identical Stranger: Jo the Gypsy girl is a dead ringer for George.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Five Go To Somewhere Or Do Something (parodied with the Comic Strip's Five Go Mad In Dorset).
  • Ill Girl: Downplayed in Five Go Adventuring Again when the children's mother has scarlet fever. Five Run Away Together has George's mother becoming very ill, eventually having to go to hospital, eventually prompting the Five to leave for Kirrin Island to get away from the temporary horrible cook and her equally horrible family.
  • Immaturity Insult:
    • In Five Run Away Together, Julian tells Anne that she is a good little girl for keeping their cave so tidy. Anne enjoys the praise, but does not like being called a little girl (despite frequently being The Chick).
    • In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, their host Mr Lenoir tends to speak to the children as if they are very small.
      Mr Lenoir: Ah, you are enjoying your dinner, and eating it all up, like good children.
    • In Five On Kirrin Island Again, pompous Julian talks down to Dick and George when they are brawling about George wanting to be a boy.
      Julian: Let me tell you, you're both behaving like babies, not like boys or girls!
    • Also in Five On Kirrin Island Again, Uncle Quentin accuses his wife of treating him like this, although he probably deserves it.
      Aunt Fanny: It would be just like you to forget about that nice soup when it was fresh and good - and only remember it when it was bad.
      Uncle Quentin: What a thing to say! Anyone would think I was five years old, from the way you talk to me.
  • Immune To Jumpscares: Subverted in Five go to Smuggler's Top. Dick drops a plate behind the supposedly deaf manservant Block, making a big noise, but Block does not flinch at all; Dick takes this as confirmation that Block is indeed completely deaf. However, later it is revealed that Block is not deaf at all, and must be very skilled at not reacting to sudden noises around him.
  • Institutional Apparel: In Five Get into Trouble, an escaped prisoner is seen disposing of his prison outfit down a well.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Uncle Quentin's hot temper makes him something of a jerk at times, but it couldn't be plainer that he loves his family. George is also one for the same reasons.
    • Also the gipsy girl Jo in Five fall into Adventure: described by the police as a bad little girl with a very good heart.
  • Jingle the Coins: In Five on a Treasure Island, Julian jingles his money as he runs to catch the ice-cream man.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: All of them.
  • Kid Detective: Yep.
  • Kid Hero: Obviously.
  • Kidnapped While Sleeping: In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, Uncle Quentin is kidnapped in his sleep, having been drugged and gagged. The Famous Five's friend Sooty happens to be in the room when this happens, and is kidnapped himself.
  • Kill the Lights: As the Five regularly explore dark underground places, there are many occasions when the villain suddenly extinguishes their torch or lantern, plunging everything into darkness. The Five also regularly "snap off their torches" to hide in the dark.
  • Lighthouse Point: In Five Go to Demon's Rocks, the Five stay in a disused lighthouse.
  • Lightswitch Surprise:
    • In Five Go Adventuring Again, George switches on the study light to reveal her tutor Mr. Roland on the floor with Timmy standing over him. When she asks him why he was using a torch instead of putting on the light, he says he couldn't find the switch, which is on the wrong side of the door.
    • In Five Run Away Together, Julian sneaks into the kitchen at night, and switches on the light to reveal Mr. Stick, the cook's husband, sleeping on the sofa. To avoid waking him, Julian switches off the light, and tries to find what he wants in the dark. The trope is then repeated when Julian accidentally wakes Mr. Stick, who switches the light on to reveal Julian.
    • In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, Sooty is creeping about in Uncle Quentin's bedroom trying to avoid waking him, when suddenly he realises somebody else is in the bedroom as well, kidnapping Uncle Quentin. He switches on his torch to reveal Mr. Barling, and yells out the name in surprise. He is then kidnapped himself.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: In Five On a Hike Together, the Five receive a message: "Two-Trees, Gloomy Water, Saucy Jane, and Maggie knows", along with a hand-drawn map. At first, none of these make any sense, but when they realise that Two-Trees is a place, the rest becomes clearer when they arrive there, and the clues lead them to hidden loot.
  • Littering Is No Big Deal: In Five on a Hike Together, a policeman who disbelieves the Five's story tears up an important piece of paper, before throwing the pieces into the road. Dick then says severely "Don't you have laws against scattering litter in your village?".
  • Little Miss Badass: George: Of the five, she swims the best, climbs the best, fights the best...and she's a girl.
  • Luminescent Blush:
    • In Five Go Adventuring Again, Anne goes very red as she remembers a secret George had told her, when Uncle Quentin is interrogating the children about missing papers. Her redness is noticed by their tutor, Mr Roland.
    • In Five On A Hike Together:
      "You're not afraid of anyone," said Dick, "you're the bravest girl I ever knew. Aha! That's made old George blush like a girl! Let me warm my hands, George!"
      And Dick held his hands up in front of George's scarlet face, pretending to warm them at her fiery blush.
  • Made of Indestructium: In the first book Five On a Treasure Island, the Five find a locked wooden box in a wrecked ship (which was on the bottom of the sea for many years, and thrown up to the surface in a storm). When they manage to open it, they find the box is tin-lined, and the vital map inside is quite dry. But how do they open the box? After trying many tools, they hurl it out of the attic window to the ground.
    At once the french window opened, and their Uncle Quentin burst out like a bullet from a gun.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In Five Fall into Adventure, the name of the Big Bad is Red Tower, known mostly as Red.
    "Red Tower is not a place! Red Tower is a man. His name's Tower, and he's got red hair, flaming red - so he's called Red Tower.
    • In Five Go to Demon's Rocks, the local policeman is called Sharp. Dick comments that it's a good name for a policeman. Also Mischief the monkey.
      Dick: I have to say that Mischief is always up to mischief.
  • Men Don't Cry: And neither do boys, according to George, who desperately wants to be a boy. Julian and Dick are never seen crying. Anne cries frequently; George occasionally succumbs, but mostly resists fiercely.
    "Boys do cry sometimes," said Anne, looking at Dick, who had been a bit of a cry-baby three or four years back. Dick nudged her, and she said no more.
    "Well, I've never seen one cry," said George. "It's so babyish."
  • Mouthy Kid: George again. Julian counters this, by being unbelievably polite and pompous.
  • Moving the Goalposts: In Five Go Adventuring Again, Timmy is made to live outside in the winter because of George's bad behaviour towards their tutor, Mr Roland. When George puts on an act of behaving especially well for a day, Mr Roland still insists that Timmy stays outside, until George behaves for a week. George is furious, and lampshades that Mr Roland will move the goalposts again.
    Dick: They said a week. Can't you try for a week?
    George: No. At the end of the week, Mr Roland will say I must try for another week. He's got a real dislike for poor Tim. And for me, too. I'm not surprised at that, because I know that when I try to be horrid, I really am horrid. But he shouldn't hate poor Timmy.
  • My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: In Five Go To Demon's Rocks, Kirrin Cottage is hosting not just the Five, but nine-year-old Tinker and his father Professor Hayling, whose absent-mindedness rivals that of Uncle Quentin. Tinker and George briefly brag about their respective fathers' vagueness.
    Tinker: I've got plenty of money.
    George: You would have! I suppose your father just hands out money whenever you ask him. He's so vague he wouldn't know if he paid you three times a day!
    Tinker: Well, yours seems pretty vague too. He poured coffee over his porridge instead of the milk. And what's more, he ate it without even noticing it was coffee!
    Julian: That's enough. We don't tell tales about our parents in public.
  • Mysterious Note: In Five Fall into Adventure: after George is kidnapped, the Five receive a threatening typewritten note, demanding a specific notebook belonging to Uncle Quentin, and warning them not to leave the house to warn the police.
  • Never Learned to Read: Jo in Five Fall into Adventure.
    "Mum tried to learn me to read, but she wasn't very good herself."
  • Nice Guy: Dick, he cracks the jokes and looks after his little sister. Julian is intended to be one, but comes off more bossy and arrogant.
  • No Animals Allowed: George cannot bear to be separated from Timmy, so she rarely visits places where pets are not allowed, providing some examples where this trope is inverted and played straight:
    • George is allowed to take Timmy to her boarding school, which is her main reason for agreeing to go. The boys mention that no pets are allowed at their school.
    • In Five Have a Wonderful Time, George is not allowed to take Timmy into Faynights Castle. As the others disappear inside, he imagines the castle is an enormous church, as George sometimes disappears to on Sundays. He finds his way into the castle anyway, which later leads them to a secret passage.
  • Nobody Poops: Even though the characters are often in the wild for a long time, or in captive situations for hours or even days, often underground, nothing is said about their bodily waste. Five Fall into Adventure mentions "Timmy going for his last walk" of the day, but this appears to be only for exercise; not the reason anybody would take their dog for a "last walk" each day.
  • No Name Given / Only One Name: Averted with Toddy Woodgate, Timmy's actor (not voice actor, actor) in the series. Like most dogs with surnames, he takes his handler's.
  • Nonindicative Name: The titles often have nothing to do with the plot, or are generic enough to fit any of the books. For example, the plot of Five Have a Wonderful Time involves the recent disappearance of prominent scientists and Five Have Plenty of Fun involves protecting a girl from a gang of kidnappers.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted in Five on Kirrin Island Again by Uncle Quentin, who has made all the notes of his great experiment in a small book. He does not want the book to be found by his enemies, but he also dares not destroy the book, in case anything should happen to him, meaning that his ideas would be completely lost.
  • The Notable Numeral: The Famous Five.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Averted in the first few books, as they start the series at around 9-11, and end up 12-14. Played straight for the rest of the series, as they apparently stop ageing. This is an artefact of Blyton's original plan to only write six to eight books in the series which could have plausibly taken place in that period of time, whereas the eventual twenty one books could not conceivably do so, leading to Comic-Book Time being instigated for the rest of the series.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: There are times when the boys decide not to tell Anne something. In Five Fall Into Adventure, when they are lost in a wood:
    "We might go deeper and deeper and deeper," said Anne, with a sudden gulp of fear.
    "If we do, we shall come out on the other side," said Dick. "It's not an endless wood."
    "Let's go straight through, then," said Anne.
    The boys didn't tell her that you couldn't really go straight through a wood.
  • Oh, Crap!: There are many such moments, usually when the Five are cornered by the villains. One of the most long-drawn out moments is in Five go to Demon's Rocks, when the Five are locked in a lighthouse, realising that they will run out of food, there is no telephone, shouting would never be heard; and that even though the villagers have seen them coming and going, if they suddenly stop appearing, the villagers would assume they had gone home because of the bad weather. Their only small comfort is that they had promised to send a postcard to Aunt Fanny every day, who would worry if she did not hear from them.
  • Old, Dark House: This could apply to several houses in the series, including Smuggler's Top, but most of all the villains' hideout Owl's Dene in Five Get into Trouble from The Famous Five: a lonely old house on a hill, with no telephone, gas, running water or electricity, surrounded by a prison-like high wall with mechanical gates, and contains a secret room for hiding wanted criminals.
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Earlier editions describe them wearing "bathing suits", and the original illustrations show them wearing full-body bathing suits. Modern reprints have changed this to "bathing trunks".
  • Omni Disciplinary Scientist: Uncle Quentin, although it's more an Informed Attribute. He's also something of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer as well.
  • One of the Boys: George. She'll be insulted if she's anything else.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, Julian and Dick's friend Pierre Lenoir is known to everyone as Sooty, because of his dark hair.
  • Only Sane Man: Dick. Although Julian seems to think its him. (See The Quiet One below).
  • One Steve Limit: An aversion triggers the plot in one book where the adventure starts after a guy with a message for villain Dirty Dick finds Dick from the Five instead, and Dick, unaware of the former's existence, accepts the message.
  • Pacing a Trench: In Five Fall into Adventure, the villain Red is locked in a tower room with his two minions, Simmy and Jake, who watch Red as he paces up and down the room like a caged lion.
  • Percussive Therapy: Two of the baddies take out their frustrations on an inanimate object, when Julian outwits them:
    • In Five Run Away Together, Mrs Stick bangs a saucepan viciously on the sink, wishing that it was Julian's head under the saucepan instead of the sink.
    • In Five Get Into Trouble, Mr Perton spits out his cigarette and stamps on it viciously, as if he wishes he was stamping on Julian.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Dick can fall into this.
  • Plucky Girl: George. Anne to a lesser degree, as she's too busy being a wimp most of the time.
  • Police Are Useless: Because when it's a group of five teenagers and a dog that are finding all the clues and solving all the crimes, you know the police in the world of Blyton can't handle even the simplest of problems. Usually the police they meet are polite and helpful, except in Five On a Hike Together, where they meet one who is very rude and disbelieving.
    "Oh, you've seen the escaped prisoner too? You wouldn't believe how many people have seen him. 'Cording to them he's been in every part of the moor at the same time. Clever fellow he must be to split himself up like that."
  • Power Source: The experiments Uncle Quentin is doing in Five on Kirrin Island Again turn out to be developing a new clean power source to replace fossil fuels. In 1947. We don't get to hear details, except that it requires the apparatus to be surrounded by water, hence why he's testing it on an island.
  • Private Tutor: Mr. Roland in the book Five Go Adventuring Again.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Applies to several of the villains, especially when they have been outwitted by the children:
    • Mr Barling the smuggler in Five go to Smuggler's Top.
      Mr Barling: If the marshes go, my business will go too! My ships will no longer be able to creep in, bringing valuable cargoes! Not only will all my money go, but also the excitement, which is worth more to me than life itself!
    • Tiger Dan in Five go off in a Caravan.
    • Rooky in Five get into Trouble.
    • Maggie and Dirty Dick in Five on a Hike Together. When the children have found the loot before they do, they pursue the children furiously.
      Julian: Are they sorry we've gone, and want us back again?
  • Punk in the Trunk: In Five Get into Trouble, Richard hides in the boot of the villains' black Bentley, to escape from Owl's Dene.
  • Quicksand Sucks:
    • In Five Go to Smuggler's Top, mist-covered marshes feature prominently; and Timmy accidentally falls into the marsh, and has to be rescued.
    • In Five on a Hike Together, the villains Maggie and Dirty Dick end up thigh-deep in marshes while trying to pursue the Five.
  • The Quiet One: Dick. In any situation, you can bet George is yelling, Julian is lecturing, Anne is crying and Dick is stuck in the middle.
  • Reading Lips: In Five go to Smuggler's Top, the children suspect that the deaf servant Block can read their lips. Actually, he is not deaf at all.
  • Rebellious Spirit: George.
  • Red Alert: A non-tech version appears in Five go off in a Caravan. Having previously waved a white shirt to signal to the Five that it is safe to visit the camp, both Nobby and Pongo the chimpanzee wave red cloths to tell the Five to stay away.
    Julian: Both Nobby and Pongo are waving red cloths - doubly dangerous!
  • Retcon: There were some small inconsistencies across the books:
    • In Five on Kirrin Island Again, the Five retrieve the map of Kirrin Island from a tin-lined box; which previously in Five on a Treasure Island had been sold as an antique to the villain.
    • In Five on a Treasure Island, Uncle Quentin is referred to as the brother of Julian, Dick and Anne. In Five Get into Trouble, Uncle Quentin refers to the mother of Julian, Dick and Anne as "his wife's sister". Of course, this might be down to his vagueness.
    • In Five Run Away Together, the Five do not sleep in the only whole room in Kirrin Castle, because the roof has fallen in. However, they plan to do so in the later book Five On Kirrin Island Again.
  • Rudely Hanging Up: Uncle Quentin does this to Julian in Five Run Away Together, when Julian is desperately trying to persuade Uncle Quentin to get rid of the unpleasant housekeeper, Mrs Stick.
    "But sir," said Julian, wondering how in the world to deal with his hot-tempered uncle, "I must tell you that..."
    There was a click at the other end of the phone. Uncle Quentin had put down his receiver and gone. There was no more to be said.
    "He's gone!" said Julian. "Cut me off just when I was trying to reason with him."
    "Serves you right!" came Mrs Stick's harsh voice.
  • Running Gag:
    • George being called Georgina and/or a girl; also her never wanting to be parted from Timmy.
    • The five of them deciding not to have an adventure this holidays.
  • Sad Clown: In Five Go Off In A Caravan, one of the scariest villains in the series is Tiger Dan (known as such because of his rages), whose day job is chief clown in a circus. Cue this dialogue between Anne and Julian:
    Anne: I simply can't imagine Tiger Dan as a clown. Clowns are always so merry and gay and jolly.
    Julian: That's just acting. If you look at photographs of clowns when they're being ordinary men, they've got quite sad faces.
    Anne: Well, Tiger Dan hasn't got a sad face. He's got an ugly, cruel, savage, fierce one (looking fierce herself).
  • Sand Bridge at Low Tide:
    • In Five Go To Demon's Rocks, the lighthouse is built out to sea, and can be reached on foot at low tide; otherwise, a boat is necessary. Some nearby underground caves are also flooded at high tide. When the Five are locked in the lighthouse, Julian and Dick try to escape through the foundation shaft of the lighthouse, but are thwarted by their enemies; and as they try to escape, the tide starts rising, threatening to drown them.
      Dick: I think this must be a bad dream. The tide's coming in.
    • In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, tides are not mentioned, but the island of Castaway (very similar to the Mont St Michel in France) was once an island until sea levels dropped. The island can only be reached by one road, with dangerous misty marshes on both sides.
  • Scary Flashlight Face: There are many moments when characters are described as looking frightening or peculiar when lit by a torch, or moonlight or twilight. A notable example is in Five Fall into Adventure, when Anne happens to shine her torch on the bedroom window, and sees a face looking in. In the same book, Julian flashes his torch on the villain Red Tower, seeing his wild red hair and beard, takes one look into the man's eyes, and then no more.
  • Secret Message Wink: This often happens when the children covertly communicate in front of the adults. In one such moment, Julian says he's tired, so they should go to bed. He then winks at the others, who yawn exaggeratedly, so Aunt Fanny sends them off to bed.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Stock trope, bordering on Artistic License – Geology on occasion. The tunnels in Five Go To Smugglers' Top are sufficiently extensive to be a full-fledged Tunnel Network.
  • Shared Family Quirks: George has a frown and a hot temper exactly like her father's.
  • Signature Item Clue: In Five have plenty of Fun, George throws the contents of her dressing-gown pocket out of the car window when she is kidnapped. Later, the others find her little green comb, and a handkerchief with the initial G on it in blue.
  • Signs of Disrepair: In Five Go To Demon's Rocks, the Five are staying in a lighthouse. When they find a sign stating that the lighthouse is no longer in use, Tinker objects to this, and tries to alter the sign, until Julian confiscates his pencil.
  • Silence of Sadness: In Five Have a Wonderful Time, the Five have a very subdued supper after the unfriendly Fair-Folk have moved the Five's caravans into another field; this is repeated at breakfast the following morning, after an angry farmer has shouted at them for being in his field.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: In Five on a Hike Together, Dick sleeps in a barn, and is disturbed by a scratching sound, before somebody gives him a mysterious message.
  • Sixth Ranger: While the series is called "Famous Five", the books often feature new kids joining them for an adventure or two. The first and better remembered is Jo the "ragamuffin" girl.
  • Sneaking Out At Night: The Five often sneak out at night on secret adventures, often with the moonlight being mentioned. One of the most notable times is in Five on a Hike Together, when they decide that night time is the only time they will have a chance they will have of collecting loot from the bottom of a lake without the villains Maggie and Dirty Dick watching them.
    Julian: There's only one time they won't be watching us, and that's tonight. We'll go tonight! My, what an adventure.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Uh, well, yeah.
  • Snowed-In: George lampshades it by saying that it happens often at Kirrin in the winter, and it does happen in Five go Adventuring Again.
  • Sleeping Dummy: This happens twice.
    • In Five Go to Smuggler's Top, Block hides a dummy in his bed when he wants to sneak out. Several times one of the children peeps into his room, and there he is, apparently.
      "He's in bed! I could see the shape of his body, and the dark patch of his head. Are there two Blocks then?"
    • In Five Get into Trouble, Julian hides a rolled-up blanket in his bed, so that he can sneak around the house when the villains are asleep.
  • Sneakers of Sneaking: In Five Fall into Adventure, Dick wears rubber shoes which make no noise, when stalking an enemy. Jo is also noted for stealth by being barefoot.
  • So Much for Stealth: In Five On A Treasure Island, the Five plot to trap the villainous men in a cave with a big wooden door, by bolting them in. Dick creeps up behind them, waiting for them to go in; and when they do, he slams the door, making a crash which echoes round the dungeon; and the men burst the door open.
  • A Storm Is Coming: In Five on a Treasure Island, George predicts a storm with great certainty.
    George: The wind is wrong. And do you see the white tops to the waves out there by my island? That's always a bad sign.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: A minor example: in Five Go Off in a Caravan, the Five cut their holiday short because they receive a telegram from home telling them to "come home at once" because the exciting happenings they wrote to tell their parents about "seem dangerous". This meant that they had had little time to actually enjoy their holiday, after the adventure! They do not question this at all, and simply head home. Unquestioningly obeying their parents' orders like this seems rather out of character, although this was one of the earlier books in the series. It would also discourage them from contacting their family while on holiday at all.
  • Surveillance Station Slacker: A couple of non-tech moments, when one of the Five sleeps on the job of being an amateur sleuth.
    • In Five Run Away Together, the Five suspect that smuggling is taking place on the island, and they take turns to keep watch. Anne is severely scolded by Julian when she falls asleep on her watch.
    • In Five Go Off in a Caravan, Julian climbs on the caravan roof to spy on the villains Lou and Tiger Dan. When they disappear for a long time, he falls asleep.
  • Survivalist Stash: Two downplayed examples. In Five Run Away Together, George reveals that her mother has a cupboard full of tinned food in her bedroom at Kirrin Cottage, in case they get snowed in. In Five Get Into Trouble, the villains' very isolated hideout Owl's Dene is extremely self-contained, including cows and hens, and Julian suspects that they have stacks and stacks of tinned food.
  • Team Dad: Julian. And proud of it.
  • Team Pet: Timmy the Dog (who is the fifth member).
  • Thieving Pet: In Five on a Hike Together, the villains Maggie and Dirty Dick try to chase the Five away by stealing their food. Timmy goes into the villains' tents, and brings the Five some of Maggie and Dirty Dick's much nicer food. Julian quips that it's tit for tat, and fair exchange is no robbery.
  • Timmy in a Well: In the first book this happens very literally when Timmy the dog chases a rabbit and falls down an old well. In this case, though, it's the children who rescue the dog, rather than vice-versa! Timmy also gets deep down a rabbit hole in Five on a Hike Together.
    Poor Anne was pulled out by her legs, and poor Timmy came too, pulled by his.
  • Tomboyish Baseball Cap: In Five Have Plenty of Fun, the Five have to disguise the very girly girl Berta as a boy, who has her hair cut short, and they buy her a cap, which suits her boyish look perfectly. Alas for George, the ultimate girl who wants to be a boy; when she tries it on, it does not sit well on her curly hair, and makes her look ridiculous.
  • Tomboyish Name: Georgina always calls herself George. This is used as an Out-of-Character Alert in one book.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: George and Anne respectively.
    • George is a tomboy. She has short curly hair styled in a typical haircut for boys. She dresses like a boy, typically in "jeans and jersey". She insists on everyone calling her by the masculine form of her name, a decision respected by her parents and teachers. She is athletic, the best of the group at swimming, handling boats and driving caravans. She is often mistaken for a boy and takes great pleasure in it. She rarely cries, going by the mantra "boys don't cry". She is "brave" and "fierce". Her mother insists on her performing domestic chores but George has no taste for it.
    • Anne is not given an actual description but is often described as traditionally feminine in both looks and behavior. She scares easily and at times seeks protection next to her older brothers (Julian, Dick) and cousin (George). She cries often and feels no evident shame about it. She enjoys domestic chores and activities, "playing house" as George observes. She likes to keep "everything very clean" and actually volunteers to clean up. Her brother Julian even describes her as "a good little house-wife". In her first appearance she proclaims "I like pretty frocks - and I love my dolls", activities scorned by George. She is the one picking flowers while the others are searching for arrow-heads. She is not athletic and is noted as the worst swimmer among them.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs:
    • In Five on a Treasure Island, Julian makes chalk marks on the walls of the dungeons, so they do not get lost. These marks are referred to again in Five Run Away Together.
    • In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, Mr Barling uses string to show the way through the secret tunnels. He does this for the benefit of Block, but the children find it.
    • In Five Fall Into Adventure, the Five get lost in a wood. Jo tells them they are daft for not marking the trees to show their way back.
    • In Five Go To Billycock Hill, the Five visit caves which contain roped tunnels, with a sign warning them to beware of losing their way in the unroped tunnels.
  • Traumatic Haircut: In Five Have Plenty Of Fun, an American scientist sends his Girly Girl daughter Berta to stay with the Five, because he fears she might be kidnapped. Not content with this safety measure, he orders her to be dressed as a boy, and to have her long wavy hair cut very short. Aunt Fanny does this, causing Berta to weep in earnest.
    "How could Pops say I'm to have my hair cut off?" wept Berta. "He always said it was wunnerful!"
    Nobody liked to point out there was a D in "wonderful" just then. Berta was really upset about her hair.
  • Treasure Map: In the first Famous Five book.
  • Tree Cover: When spying on and stalking villains, the Five often hide behind trees, up trees, and in the middle of prickly gorse bushes. In Five get into Trouble, Anne happens to be up a tree overhead when Dick is captured.
  • "Ugly American" Stereotype: The Hennings from Five on Finniston Farm are an exceptionally obnoxious variety.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: George often plans things without telling anybody else, usually when she fears for Timmy.
    • In Five Run Away Together, she tells her cousins that she has a plan, but flatly refuses to tell them what it is.
      George: I've got a plan of my own, and you don't come into it. It's my secret, private plan.
      Julian: I really think you might tell us your plan, we are your best friends.
      George: You might try to stop me.
      Julian: Then you'd certainly better tell us.
    • In Five go to Smuggler's Top, George is told that she is not allowed to take Timmy the dog to Smuggler's Top. She sulkily agrees to go, having asked which road they will take. On the way there, she asks the driver to stop, and she opens the car door and whistles: Timmy then bounds into the car. In the same book, she does not tell the others about her intention to raid Mr Lenoir's study.
    • In Five on Kirrin Island Again, she sneaks to the island in the dead of night to rescue Timmy, without telling anybody.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: There are many heavy rainstorms, and when they happen, usually the Five are well wrapped-up in macintoshes and sou'westers. Sometimes the Five get lost when the rain is very heavy, notably in Five fall into Adventure and Five on a Hike Together.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: George, especially meeting her cousins at the beginning of the series, who find it hard to believe that she owns Kirrin Island.
    George: If you are not going to believe me, I won't say another word more. But I don't tell untruths. I think it's being a coward if you don't tell the truth - and I'm not a coward.
  • Window Watcher: It happens a lot, by the Five, and their enemies.
    • In Five Go To Smuggler's Top, George happens to see Mr Barling through a window. She thinks he is talking to Block, who is allegedly completely deaf, but she sees him listening to Mr Barling, and answering him.
    • In Five Get into Trouble, the Five peer in through the windows of Owl's Dene, when they are casing the joint to sneak in.
    • In Five Fall Into Adventure, Anne is terrified by a "Face at the Window" in her bedroom, belonging to somebody who climbs up to spy on them.
      Julian didn't tell Anne that he had examined the ivy outside, and found clear traces of the night-climber.
    • In Five Have a Wonderful Time, George plays a trick on Anne, telling her there is a face looking in at their caravan window. There is indeed a face there:
      A big, long, dark brown face looked in, and Anne shrieked. Then she laughed.
      "You beast, George, it's only Alfredo's horse! Oh, you did give me a fright. I've a good mind to pull you out of your bunk on to the floor."
  • You Can't Go Home Again: In Five Go Adventuring Again the children can't go home for Christmas because their mother is sick and there's quarantine.
  • You Meddling Kids: Many of the villains have this rant, especially in Five Get Into Trouble, when Mr Perton lists all the fortunes he would made, until a pack of children spoilt everything.
  • Youthful Freckles: George is proud of her freckles, and thinks they are boyish, especially in Five on Kirrin Island Again.
    George: I've got more freckles than you, and better eyebrows. And I can make my voice go deep.
    Dick: You're just silly. As if freckles are boyish! Girls have them just as much as boys.