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Literature / The Gallagher Girls

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The Gallagher Girls series follows Cameron "Cammie" Morgan (Chameleon) through her life as a Teen Superspy (in training). Along with her friends Rebecca "Bex" Baxter, Elizabeth "Liz" Sutton, and Macey McHenry, Cammie learns the art of espionage at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. At first, the series is a light-hearted romantic comedy as Cammie starts falling in love with a guy and has to balance learning to be a spy with dating a seemingly-normal guy, but as the series continues, it takes a sharp turn for the dark.

The books:

  • I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You (2006)
  • Cross My Heart And Hope To Spy (2007)
  • Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover (2009)
  • Only The Good Spy Young (2010)
  • Out Of Sight, Out Of Time (2012)
  • United We Spy (2013)


Tropes Include:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Mr Mosckowitz, the Gallagher Academy's encryption professor.
  • Academy of Adventure: Also a School for Scheming. I mean, the girls get to ride in helicopters and their final exam always involves copious amounts of ass-kicking.
  • Action Girl: All of Cammie's year level in the Gallagher Academy count as this, except for Liz and Anna Fetterman. Kind of inevitable in a series centered on an all-girls spy school.
  • Afraid of Needles: Bex, a fact that surprised even Cammie.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Instead of using an air vent to get out of a building, Cammie and Macey use one to get back in when they're attacked by a masked man and woman who want to abduct them. The attackers out-match them in terms of skill and all their security is inside.
    • This option is discussed and then vetoed during the girls' first covert operations final.
  • Alliterative Name: Macey McHenry.
    • Mick Morrison
  • All There in the Manual: The diary of Matthew Morgan plays a huge role in taking down the Circle.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Bex and Macey after Cammie returns from running away in Out of Sight, Out of Time.
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  • Badass Creed:
    "Who are we?"
    "The sisters of Gillian."
  • Badass Family: The Baxters, definitely. Cammie's family also counts, both her aunt and mother are Gallagher Girls and her father was also CIA.
  • Bag of Spilling: Cammie is introduced without her father's journal in the fifth book. It's later retrieved.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Macey, Liz, and Bex, respectively. Cammie is somewhere in the middle of it all.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Abby and Townsend.
  • Betty and Veronica: DeeDee was the Betty and Cammie was the Veronica to Josh's Archie.
    • Josh is the Betty and Zach the Veronica to Cammie's Archie. The Bettys and Veronicas are paired.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: Gallagher Academy, what with all its secret passageways and multiple subterranean classrooms.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Seeing as the girls speak fourteen different languages, this pops up from time to time.
  • Birds of a Feather: Cammie and Zach, which realistically leads to problems in that they both have a hard time reading each other.
  • Bookcase Passage: There's one of these in the Gallagher library.
  • Born Detective: Pretty much every significant character in the series.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Macey is a genuine one in the beginning of the series, but as she finds herself at home in the Gallagher Academy, this behavior ends up just being her cover when with her parents.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Cammie in the fifth book, to the point where she can assemble a gun in no time flat and have no idea how she did it.
  • Buffy Speak: Not surprisingly, seeing as the majority of the characters are teenagers.
  • Catchphrase:
    Cammie: How do you know about [insert secret here]?
    Zach: *points to self* Spy.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While the first two books weren't exactly all laughs and giggles, the third and fourth really up the ante, with much darker storylines being introduced.
  • Character Narrator: The first book (and presumably, all subsequent books) are written as Cammie's case reports. Played for Drama in the fifth book where the physical case report is left as a clue to the key to destroying the Circle.
  • The Charmer: Zachary Goode from Blackthorne Academy, especially where Cammie is concerned.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The stained-glass window from the first book is one of the keys to defeating the booby traps in Sublevel Two in the fourth book.
    • Cammie's knowledge of the Academy's many secret passageways. It's mentioned throughout the series, and plays a minor role in the plot- but for the most part, it's just a way of fleshing out her character. Then, in the final book, it's vital to the students escaping Catherine's bomb.
    • The "sisters of Gilligan" speech that shows up at least once a book, during a meal. It's one of the reasons they survive the booby-trapped Sublevels.
  • Crossover: The novella "Double Cross" crosses over with Heist Society.
  • Curse Cut Short
    "So boys really do make passes at girls who kick —"
  • Cute Bruiser: Bex.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Liz.
    "If I'm ever on a mission, I want Bex beside me and Liz far, far away, with about a dozen computers and a chessboard - a fact I couldn't help but remember when Liz tried to fling her suitcase onto the bed, but missed and ended up demolishing my stereo and flattening a perfectly-scaled replica of DNA that I'd made out of papier-mâché in eighth grade.
    'Oopsy-daisy,' Liz said, throwing her hand to her mouth."
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Cammie's father is dead due to a mission gone wrong. The details of what happened exactly are unknown, and is a mystery that plagues Cammie's mind throughout the series.
    • Zach also has a disappeared dad. In the sixth book, his mother ends up confessing under Truth Serum that his dad is Townsend.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Bex, as she's used to driving on the opposite side of the road.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: This is played with in an interesting way in Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover. Cammie and Macey are so used to their environment in which everyone is trained in martial arts, that they don't realize until after they had foiled an attempted kidnapping that ordinary kidnappers shouldn't have been expecting a senator's daughter and her best friend to know this much about martial arts.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Cammie cuts and dyes her hair bottle-black while on the run. She later has it bleached and returned to normal to deal with the emotional trauma.
  • Fake American: In-Universe. Bex dons an American accent while giving the fake grand tour.
  • For Want of a Nail: Cammie muses how life would have been if Cammie's father had survived and Bex's had gone missing in their childhood.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Cammie is the sweet, naive one, Bex is the tomboy, Macey is the sexy one, and Liz is the wildcard.
    • Although Liz is a bit naïve as well, and Cammie grows a lot less so over the series.
  • Genius Ditz: While being published in a science journal at a very young age, Liz can't seem to stop herself from accidentally knocking over everything in sight.
  • Girl Next Door: Cammie.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Mr. Solomon has elements of this, though he is devoted to making sure that his girls are prepared for the reality of espionage. Agent Townsend is a more straight example as he is devoted to stopping the Circle at all costs.
  • Gossipy Hens: Gallagher girls in general, but especially Tina Walters.
  • Hot Teacher: Mr. Solomon.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Cammie, especially in the first book when her spy status makes it difficult to have a relationship with Josh, a regular civilian.
  • Inspector Javert: Agent Townsend to Joe Solomon in Only The Good Spy Young, though by the end of the book he realizes that he is truly on the good side and lets him remain officially dead.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: Cammie is kidnapped by her mom and teacher in I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, but only as part of the covert operations final exam.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Cammie forgets all that happened over the summer she spent chasing the Circle.
  • Locked in a Room: Played for Drama in one of Ally Carter's deleted scenes, wherein Cammie and Zach get locked in one of the world's strongest safes.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Poor Macey; her parents care more about the campaign trail than her.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Macey, once she warms up to the main characters.
  • Manly Tears/Not So Stoic: Joe Solomon, after Aunt Abby gets shot in the fourth book.
  • Master of Disguise: Many characters throughout the series (most notably Mr. Smith, who is allegedly the most wanted man in the world), though it shows up more prominently in the third book.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: Liz may want to work behind-the-scenes, but she can take someone down if she wants to.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Zach, with Bex.
  • Noodle Implements: In spades. There are constant references to special spy techniques using everything from tableware to garden houses. Similarly, there is a ton of Noodle Incidents
  • Not So Stoic: Bex, after almost being stabbed by a sniper in Out of Sight, Out of Time.
  • Omniglot: Apparently the students at Gallagher learn fourteen languages.
  • One-Gender School: Of the all-girls variety. There is also an all-boys variety, as was revealed in the second book.
  • The One Guy: Zach becomes the first and only male student at Gallagher after the events of the fourth book.
  • Pair the Smart Ones: Briefly, Liz and Jonas.
  • Photographic Memory: Liz.
  • Plucky Girl: Cammie.
  • Red Herring Twist: In the second book, we're made to believe that the Blackthorne boys are trying to expose Gallagher Academy's secrets to the public. Turns out it was all just a test. Then, in the third book, it seems like enemy agents are out to get Macey McHenry, who is the daughter of a senator/vice-presidential candidate. Turns out they're really after Cammie.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: Cammie and the other girls must choose between continuing Cove-Ops or choosing a different class (resuming a somewhat normal life for them).
  • Secret Legacy: Macey McHenry is a descendant of Gilly Gallagher, the founder of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women.
  • Secret Identity: Kind of necessary for spies. Most notably Mr. Smith, who has a different face every year.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Liz is described as the most petite of the group. She is also an actual genius.
  • Shout-Out: The girls have an argument between the superiority of Jason Bourne or James Bond, and one of the girls has a famed Gilmore Girls marathon in the dorms. There are also lots of references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the first book.
  • Shrinking Violet: Anna Fetterman, at least in the first book. She gets better as the series continues.
  • Sleepwalking: Cammie in Out of Sight, Out of Time, to the point where it frightens her. It frequently leads her to places she'd visited during the summer she can't remember.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Cammie mentions once that she'd rather have Liz with a chessboard than out in the field.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Macey turns out to have outstanding test scores and is versed in French.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: The Gallagher girls can take down grown men without batting an eyelash, but when it comes to fashion and dating they need all the help they can get.
  • Spy School: In a series about teenage girl-spies in-training, what else would you expect?
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Liz.
  • Street Smart: Cammie, since it comes with the pavement artist territory.
  • Super-Speed Reading: Liz, to go along with her Photographic Memory.
  • Take That!:
  • Tangled Family Tree: It doesn't start that way, but by the end of the 10-year epilogue, Cammie's aunt, Abby, is married and has children with Agent Townsend, who is Cammie's fiance Zach's father, thus her cousins are also her sisters-in-law while Zach's stepmother is his wife's aunt.
  • Teen Genius: Cammie identifies herself and the other Gallagher girls as geniuses, but the ultimate example is definitely Liz.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After Cammie returns from running away, she finds out that Macey has trained to the level of her and her classmates.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Bex is black and the only British student at Gallagher.
  • True Love is Exceptional: Cammie and Zach are both pavement artists who excel at blending in. However, they have a borderline-preternatural sense of when the other is around, even if hiding or disguised. This is particularly noticeable as the first time it happened— Cammie picked Zach out of a crowd and across a street, while he was able to track her when professional spies couldn't— was before they'd ever met.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Cammie's strapless bra falls off during a ball at her school (which was actually a cumulative exam). Unfortunately, hilarity does not ensue. Instead, a Code Black is declared because someone has breached the school's security.
  • Wham Episode: The last few chapters of the third book. Turns out the Circle of Cavan wasn't after Macey for being a descendant of Gillian Gallagher - they were after Cammie, for reasons unknown.
    • Finding out that Mr. Solomon is working with the Circle of Cavan is definitely one for Cammie, and probably the readers, as well.
    • On top of that, towards the end of the fourth book, it is revealed that the terrorist dead-set on killing Cammie is Zach's mother.
    • The fifth book. Cammie gets hypnotised and is ordered to kill herself. She nearly does it.
  • Wham Line: "Because the last name on that list is Samuel P. Winters."