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Homer: These Hardy Boys books are great too! This one's about smugglers.
Bart: They're all about smugglers.
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A Long-Running Book Series of mysteries for kids and teens, published under the pseudonym of Franklin W. Dixon. They follow the adventures of Frank and Joe Hardy, a pair of brother detectives. Frank is the logical, calm one, and Joe is the more impulsive, instinctual one. The series (alongside their Distaff Counterpart and frequent crossover partner Nancy Drew) invented or popularized most of the Kid Detective tropes.

The series was created in 1927 by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a prolific group of ghostwriters under the direction of Edward Stratemeyer (and his daughters, who took over when Edward died in 1930) that put out many successful children's books. Canadian writer Leslie McFarlane was the original writer of the first 16 books, writing them only to pay his bills and feed his family (getting ~$100 US for each book, with no royalties, which wasn't all that bad at the time; a large number of the original Stratemeyer ghostwriters were journalists, and using journalist salaries as comparison, $100 per book was roughly six weeks' salary for four weeks' work), and dreaded having to write the books (referring to the books in his diary as "the damn juveniles"), and by the mid-30s other writers began to write the books as well (such as John Button, whose books are infamous for their use of sci-fi elements, inconsistencies, and strange plots), leaving McFarlane free to forget about the books and write his own stories.

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In the late 1950s until the early '70s, the first 38 books were revised and rewritten to update the stories, eliminating outdated terminology ("chum", "roadster", etc.), removing politically incorrect terms and stereotypes ("Negro", "swarthy foreigner", "Chinaman", "colored", etc.), and shortening the books from 25 chapters to 20 chapters. Newer books were also made, with the "original" series coming to an end in 1979 with #58. The original editions can be recognized by having dust jackets and plain brown (and later, tan "tweed") covers; the revised versions, beginning in 1961, have the cover picture printed directly on the book to better withstand being used and abused by kids.

After the books were acquired by Simon & Schuster (which took control of Grosset & Dunlap in the 70s after a lawsuit), the series was continued as "Digests". Later on, the Darker and Edgier Casefiles series was added and ran concurrently with the Digests. Both series have since been discontinued, the Casefiles in 1998 and the Digests in 2005. The series has since continued under the Undercover Brothers subtitle, which reinvents the brothers as agents working for an all-teen secret agency; there is also a corresponding graphic novel series. It was discontinued in 2012 after 42 booksnote  and 20 graphic novels. One year later in 2013, it was replaced with the currently-running Hardy Boys Adventures series (with 20 volumes published as of this writing), which sees the boys return to amateur detective status.

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The Hardy Boys have also appeared on TV many times, including:

  • "The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure" and "The Mystery of the Ghost Farm", two serials running on the original Mickey Mouse Club in 1956 and 1957.
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries on ABC in The '70s, which they shared with Nancy Drew, starring Parker Stevenson as Frank and Shaun Cassidy as Joe. Arguably the most famous of the TV incarnations.
  • The Hardy Boys, produced by Nelvana in the The '90s (one of their rare live-action projects), starring Colin Grey as Frank and Paul Popowich as Joe.
  • The Hardy Boys, a 1969-1971 Saturday Morning Cartoon series that featured the Hardys as working undercover in their own rock band, with accompanying bubblegum pop albums and a group of live actors touring. It was notable for being the first cartoon series to have an African-American character.
  • The Mystery of the Chinese Junk, a 1967 CBS pilot that starred Tim Matheson and Rick Gates.
  • The Hardy Boys (2020), a 2020 darker adaptation for Hulu.

Definitely not to be confused with the wrestlers of the same name.

They seem a bit prone to a Crossover with Nancy Drew.


This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Father: Tom Collig from the Detective Handbook short story "The Secret of the Empty Page" has only been on the force for a few weeks but is mentioned as having a wife and three kids.
  • Accidental Truth: In "The Stone Idol", the brothers bluff a confession out of the bad guy (after realizing who he is but lacking evidence) by claiming that he was witnessed stealing the titular idol by a man who can identify him, and that his business partner has just checked the books and realized he's Stealing from the Till. After the man confesses, they admit their deception, eliciting an angry reaction from the perp as he's led from the room. Seconds later, the boys get a phone call from the man's business partner, who has in fact been looking through the books and found evidence of embezzlement. The book ends with them chuckling about the irony.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Happens sometimes between the originals and the reprints. In the original version of "Hunting for Hidden Gold" Bart Dawson's prospecting partners were the Coulsen Brothers (Jack and Bill) and Jadbury Wilson. In the reprint, the Coulsens are renamed John and James, and Wilson's counterpart is named Mike Onslow.
  • Aerith and Bob: Much like Nancy Drew, there have been a few names that have fallen out of favor since 1927, and now come across like this. Just look at their close circle: Frank, Joe, Tony, Phil, Jerry, and Callie are quite common, Chet and Biff are marginal (and nicknames for Chester and Allen, anyway), but Iola just completely sticks out. Considering she was replaced with a girl named "Vanessa" in the Casefiles, it's possible the publishers thought so, too.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: The Sinbads, who appear in a Casefiles book, fit this pretty well.
  • Aloof Ally: In the Casefiles series, the Gray Man and, by extension, the Network he works for.
  • Alternate Continuity: There's several different continuities, as the publishers try to keep the series relevant to modern kids. There's the "Blue Spines", which is the blue hardcover books & digests (and that's broken down to the Original Texts and the rewrites of the '70s), the Casefiles, Undercover Brothers, the Clues Brothers, the new Adventures series, and the second "New Case Files" series which has little to do with the first. The various TV incarnations (The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries of The '70s (the best known), The Mickey Mouse Club serials of the 50s, and The Hardy Boys of the '90s) are also considered separate continuities, with varying degrees of faithfulness to the printed tales.
  • Amnesiac Hero:
    • In both versions of "Hunting for Hidden Gold", Bart Dawson lost his memory due to an injury received at the hands of thieves while he was fleeing with the titular gold to draw the thieves away from his partners. In the original draft, his memory came back gradually over the years, causing him to find one of the Coulsen Brothers as he went back to retrieve the gold. In the reprint, his memory only returns much later (at the cost of losing the memories of the new life he established while amnesiac) when he encounters one of the villains by chance and is struck in the head by him during a scuffle, assisting the brothers in the final act afterwards.
    • The original version of "The Secret of the Caves" has the boys looking for someone named Todham Todd. During their investigation, they encounter a violent and highly insane man who goes by "Captain Royal" living in the caves off the coast, who holds them prisoner and attempts to kill them multiple times. It turns out that Captain Royal is actually an amnesiac Todd, and after being knocked unconscious and left comatose, he gets his original memories back when he wakes up, and turns out to be a perfectly nice, harmless person who has no recollection of the violent alternate life he lived as Royal.
    • Joe himself becomes one in "Brother Against Brother" of the Casefiles. When he's sent on a mission to warn a father and daughter in witness protection that a hitman is coming for them, said hitman ambushes him, locks him in a car, and pushes the car over a cliff. Joe survives, but doesn't remember his name and only has a vague recollection that he had something important to do. The incident also causes his memories of Frank to become warped enough that he spends most of the book thinking that his brother, who eventually followed after Joe on the mission to save him when he disappeared, is the hitman. Joe's unable to prevent the father from being murdered, but does manage to protect the daughter, and after Frank shows up to rescue both of them, Joe finally gets his memory back.
  • Animated Adaptation: CBS had a cartoon version which ran 34 episodes from 1969-1971.
  • Answer Cut: In "The Borgia Dagger" from the Casefiles series, after Rich Idiot With No Day Job Tessa Carpenter loses most of her money, the brothers reflect on how she has to get a job now, but wonder what she'd possibly be skilled enough to do. Then they happen to walk past a TV showing a soap opera and take a look at the actress playing an over-dramatic rich girl...
  • Assassination Attempt: The boys have to thwart a good number of these—sometimes the would-be victims are clients whom they're bodyguarding, while other times, they're important leaders or diplomats. This even includes the US President in "Flight Into Danger".
  • Big Eater: Chet Morton, but both Hardy Boys seem to qualify as well. Joe sometimes rivals Chet's, and Frank, well...
    Callie: We polished off a huge pie at Mr. Pizza's. And I only had two slices.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Biff's Great Dane, Tivoli, in some of the reprints.
  • Biker Babe:
    • Amber Hawk, Korrie Fernandez, Elizabeth Navarro, Sylvia Short, and the three Heyday sisters from "Motorcross Madness" are all motorcycle racers with a bit of excitement and glamor to them on and off the track.
    • Jessica Derey from "Fear on Wheels" is a pretty stunt rider who wears a leather jacket, isn't afraid of a Badass Biker gang, and is famous for once jumping her bike through a Deadly Rotary Fan.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Girl of the Week Alicia Powers does this to a Mook in "The Number File" of the Casefiles. Somewhat justified, as she's revealed to be a local trap-shooting champion.
  • Bluff the Imposter: In the Super Mystery "Stage Fright" the brothers are on the receiving end of this from a suspicious theater employee.
    Damien: So what shows have you done?
    Joe: Uhh. Bye Bye Birdie. The Music Man, you know, the usual.
    Damien: So you guys are big Sondheim fans? Me too."
    Joe: We love him. Now if you don't mind, I have to-"
    Damien: That's funny. Because none of those shows are by Sondheim.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Happens to both brothers occasionally, though probably a bit more often with Joe, and especially in series where the boys don't have steady girlfriends already like Undercover Brothers, Adventures, and the Casefiles for Joe. They also sometimes end up having to bodyguard their actual girlfriends, especially Frank for Callie in the Casefiles.
  • Born Detective: Since Fenton Hardy was a private investigator, it would seem Frank and Joe were doomed to be as well.
  • Busman's Holiday: Vacations and holidays are a good excuse for when the Hardys have to spend "overtime" in their work without worrying about school. Especially when a case will take them out of the States.
  • Brains and Brawn: Respectively, Frank and Joe themselves are often compared to each other like this. Downplayed, though, in that Joe is still very smart and comes up with some great plans, and Frank is almost as strong and as good of a fighter.
  • Cain and Abel: Happens from time to time.
    • In "Cave Trap", Dirk McCall is a scheming criminal willing to endanger the lives of the rest of the cast, including his brother Buddy, for a shot at riches.
    • In "Murder by Magic", Stage Magicians Dr. Savant and Gideon the Great are brothers, and Savant (the Big Bad) has no hesitation in trying to frame and murder his brother out of both jealousy and to make a Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit.
    • One of the characters in "No Way Out" although not the main villain, killed his brother in a fight prior to the story, although he says it was an accident.
    • The villain of "Rough Riding", who is trying to kill the boys' client, Buck, turns out to be his long-lost brother who was recently released from jail. He hopes to frame Buck's wife for the murder to prevent her from receiving Buck's inheritance, so that he himself, as the next closest of kin, will get the money instead.
  • The Case Of: The series used this a few times, with titles like "The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals" and "The Case of the Psychic's Vision".
  • Casual Danger Dialogue / Danger Deadpan: Both brothers are very prone to this, due to their snarky personalities and Nerves of Steel.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Played straight in most to all stories involving races or athletic competitions. In "Speed Times Five" from the Digest series, Kelly Hawk invokes this while balking at her crew's suggestion that they cheat, telling them in no uncertain terms to either drop the subject or quit, since 1) they'd probably get caught if they tried, 2) it would shame their friends and families whether they got away with it or not, and 3) she has a good chance of winning honestly anyway (which she does).
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Mostly in the Originals/Digests:
    • Chet Morton and his loads of hobbies that seems to change for each book.
    • Frank and Joe are both guilty of this too.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: By the end of the Casefiles book "Blown Away", Frank and Joe have uncovered an international conspiracy, saved two African countries (Bhotai and Katara), and cleared the name (albeit Acquitted Too Late) of their friend's boss (and mentor) from smuggling charges. The president of Katara then sternly asks if they were also responsible for blowing up his country's new weapon that cost his treasury millions of dollars. Frank contemplates that he and Joe might be used as scapegoats, but when they bravely admit their guilt, the Kataran president is instead actually grateful to them.
  • The Coats Are Off: In "Wreck and Roll" during the fight between the two rival bands, Ray (the Vette Smash keyboardist) takes off his leather jacket and starts swinging it like a whip.
  • Chrome Champion: A non-superhero version is used in "Wreck and Roll" when Julie, the lead singer of the band Vette Smash, wears a chrome outfit onstage.
  • City of Adventure: A lot of stuff seems to happen in good ol' Bayport. Also averted, since the brothers travel all over the world when they stumble into mysteries. For the Hardy Boys, it's slightly justified; Bayport was a port city (duh), so some smuggling was expected. It makes less sense in Nancy Drew's hometown River Heights (although both were suburbs of cities which were known for mafia activity, New York and Chicago.)
  • Classy Cat-Burglar:
    • Charity in the Casefiles, and similarly Fiona Fox in the '88 Super Mysteries crossovers. In each case, the woman in question only appears twice throughout the series.
    • In "Maximum Challenge", Kendra Cassidy (a skilled climber and alarm expert) started out stealing to pay her bills while trying to get a break in Hollywood. Since getting that break, Kendra has been anonymously repaying her victims, but is blackmailed into committing more robberies by a man who knows about her criminal past.
  • Clear My Name: The first three volumes of the Casefiles series all have one or both of the Hardys charged with murder as part of the villains' plot, and have to do this in addition to stopping the bad guys.
  • Cliffhanger: The Stratemeyer Syndicate actually insisted in their outlines to Hardy Boys ghostwriters every chapter end with one. It is a directive that has been carried through to almost every book to this day.
  • Cool Bike: The Hardys use motorcycles numerous times across the various series. In Undercover Brothers, they actually each have their own, and regularly drive these instead of their van from the Digests and Casefiles.
  • Cool Boat:
    • The Sleuth in the original/Digests series. Who knew that a term for a detective would be a good name for a boat?
    • Their friend Tony's boat, the Napoli, also qualifies, as it's used to help them out on a number of occasions.
  • Cool Car: Several of them throughout. Though subverted for the Hardys in the early books, where their car is described by Chet as looking like a million dollars but driving like thirty cents, and can barely make 15 miles an hour.
  • Cool Plane: The Max-1 and Max-2 in the Casefiles book "Flight into Danger". Unfortunately, their advanced technology is very dangerous, such that the man who invented them, the Big Bad, plans to use them to assassinate the President. Both planes get destroyed in the climax of the book, and the good guys decide that this is for the best.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Liam Sullivan in "Hazed" from the Undercover Brothers series is the most friendly and non-malicious of the upperclassmen...except if he thinks you're showing interest in his girlfriend, Emma. The Hardys discover this firsthand when, as punishment for supposedly flirting with her, Liam and his fellow classmates tie them up, gag them, and throw them in the lake, nearly drowning them both to the point that Frank has to be resuscitated. (Though Liam does have a Heel Realization as a result, and accepts that he crossed the line and should be punished for it).
  • Crossover:
    • With Nancy Drew for several of their different respective continuities:
      • The "Be a Detective" and "Super Sleuth" series both use the original/Digests continuities of both series, and run for 6 issues and 2 issues, respectively. These are their only crossover series that doesn't feature any romance between the Hardys and Nancy or her friends; they're just platonic friends who've known each other a long time.
      • The first "Super Mysteries" line has the Casefiles continuity and the corresponding Nancy Drew Files, and is by far their longest-running crossover at 36 volumes. Once again, the Hardys and Nancy already know each other at the time of the first book, having first met when Nancy was an exchange student in Bayport.
      • The second "Super Mysteries" combines Undercover Brothers and Nancy Drew's Girl Detective series, and is also 6 books. This time around, the boys meet Nancy and her friends for the first time in the first book, wherein the girls become some of the very few people to learn about their work with ATAC and are Secret-Keepers for them for all subsequent volumes.
      • While the Hardy Boys Adventures and Nancy Drew Diaries don't have a full crossover series, the Hardys guest-star in the Diaries Christmas special, "A Nancy Drew Christmas", which is also referenced once in Adventures. Like the above example, this book is the first time that the brothers and Nancy meet in this continuity.
      • There have been several crossovers in various graphic novels as well, including with their respective ongoing graphic novels series as well as several one-shot stories by different authors using both sets of characters.
    • The Casefiles continuity crosses over with the 90s series of Tom Swift in the two "Ultra Thriller" books.
  • Da Chief:
    • Bayport police chief Ezra Collig, whom the boys frequently end up working with during their Bayport-based investigations (usually by solving the cases before the police can). He's a lazy, unimaginative politico in the original books; a Reasonable Authority Figure in the reprints, most of the Digests, and Undercover Brothers; and an overzealous Jerkass (albeit one with a Hidden Heart of Gold who gets some Pet the Dog moments) in the Casefiles and a few of the Digests.
    • In the Adventures series, he's technically replaced by a "Chief Olaf", but Olaf is pretty much Collig in all but name, including his fluctuating relationship with the boys depending on the book.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The original edition of "The Sinister Signpost" features a vaguely middle-European villain named Vilnoff who tries to destroy Bayport, and kills himself via electrocution to avoid arrest.
    • The Casefiles series. Iola Morton is Joe's long-running girlfriend in the original series, and gets blown up by terrorists seconds before the opening scene of the first book. Not to mention that some cases would place tension between the brothers, which would often lead into not-so-friendly brawls between them. Later, it also modifies their relationship with the police (which is scarcely a problem in the original series), with an Ascended Extra of sorts in Con Riley as the only officer that takes their skills seriously. They also use guns, and bad guys regularly try to Just Shoot Him. And then there are the Assassins, the terrorist group responsible for Iola's aforementioned murder, and are also the most frequently recurring villains in the series who, well...do exactly what you might expect.
    • To a lesser extent, the Undercover Brothers series to the originals and Digests, which it directly replaces/succeeds as the main Hardy Boys canon (unlikes the Casefiles, which is a spin-off series). Though Undercover Brothers isn't as graphic as the Casefiles, almost every book still includes at least one death (occurring either before the story as the case that the brothers have to solve, during the plot itself, or both); in contrast, the originals and Digests, while certainly having many cases of the villains trying to kill the boys, contained very few actual deaths.
      • One particular example for the Undercover Brothers series would be the Lost Mystery Trilogy, where the criminals abduct children and raise them in an underground bunker designed like a preschool in a very misguided attempt to give them happier, more carefree lives than what they would have in the real world. All the children are kidnapped from normal, loving families when they're very young, and some of them have lived more than half their lives away from their parents. The kids are regularly drugged in an attempt to alter their memories and make them forget about everyone they used to know; they all miss their families and want to go home, but have to pretend to be happy there or they'll be pumped full of more drugs. Frank is later captured by the Big Bad as well to be added to the "collection", while Joe is left frantically searching for him. The story is chock-full of Adult Fear as it doesn't shy away from showing how emotionally devastating and heartbreaking it is for the families of these children to lose them and believe they'll never see them again. To top it off, this is one of the only aversions of Infant Immortality in the entire series; one of the kids, a little girl under 10, died before the events of the story from being given too many of the drugs. All in all, it seems way more like something you'd expect to see on an adult crime procedural rather than a children's series like The Hardy Boys.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both of them in every continuity, very much so, but Joe in particular. They've been addressed and referred to as "wise guys" on more than one occasion, by friends, foes, and everyone in between, and have back-sassed the bad guys so many times that you have to wonder how they didn't get themselves shot in the face long ago.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the original version of "Hunting for Hidden Gold", one of the Coulsen Brothers (two of the four prospectors who mined the titular gold) is dead, while the other one is trying to recover it along with Bart Dawson. In the reprint, both Coulsen Brothers are long dead from a mining accident.
  • Distressed Dude: Both of them, and also Fenton, Chet, and Sam Radley (another detective who works with Mr. Hardy) on occasion.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: As the years went on, Frank became much more bookish, logical, and occasionally downright shy around girls (especially in Undercover Brothers, where he can barely talk to them), while Joe became much more extroverted, temperamental, and a much bigger flirt (especially in the Casefiles, where he has a new Girl of the Week pretty much every book until he meets Vanessa).
  • Do Not Go Gentle: One short story has Chief Collig's nephew Tom initially surviving being shot in the back and firing after the crooks who shot him.
  • Doppelgänger: In the fourth Casefiles book, "The Lazarus Plot", the boys are captured, and the bad guys make body doubles. They play Spot the Imposter. Joe meets his "dead" girlfriend Iola, and asks questions, in standard trope fashion, "only she would know the answer to", and she gets them right. It turns out Iola kept an "extremely detailed" diary, and he had quizzed a double who had the information from it programmed into her.
  • Eagle-Eye Detection: Both boys have, on numerous occasions, been able to spot small, hard-to-see, vital clues.
  • Eco-Terrorist: In the Undercover Brothers novel "Blown Away", the person behind the attempted bombing of the Billington Resort is a member of the terrorist group Ecology First, which resorts to extreme methods in order to preserve the environment.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • In the Digest Book "Past and Present Danger" an old friend of Aunt Gertrude's who calls her "Spitfire" arrives in town. She doesn't exactly make a good case for the name not applying to her while trying to shut him up as he describes the origins of the nickname.
    • Inverted the Undercover Brothers series, where Aunt Gertrude goes by "Trudy"; she reveals that she adopted this nickname because her full name became embarrassing for her after a hurricane called Gertrude destroyed half of Bayport when she was in high school and everyone started calling her "Hurricane Gertrude" as a result. She soon insisted that everyone call her Trudy instead.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-universe, an accidental version occurs in the Casefiles book "The Borgia Dagger". The story ends with the brothers watching a soap opera where two characters who hated each other throughout the book have both been hired as actors in the show and have a very realistic-looking argument.
  • Engineered Heroics: The bad guy of the first Undercover Brothers book is a paramedic causing accidents in order to bask in the limelight of treating the victims.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: The brothers suspecting Tom Swift of being behind the abduction of their father for the first quarter of the crossover "Time Bomb". Their reasons for suspecting Tom, whom they don't even know, make sense based on the very limited evidence they have, but it's actually his enemy, the Black Dragon, framing him; once they meet Tom in person, after an initial scuffle, he sets them straight.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When the Big Bad of "Mystery of the Desert Giants" is captured, he plans on selling out his gang and framing an innocent man to feign his own innocence. His chief mook is so disgusted that he testifies to make sure the Big Bad goes to jail, and mentions how he should never have been involved in the criminal racket in the first place.
    • In quite a few of the books where multiple suspects turn out to be working together to commit the crime, one or more of the bad guys, while perfectly okay with committing whatever lesser crime the group is responsible for (smuggling, theft, embezzling, etc.), will draw the line at murder (especially of kids) and object when their partner(s) plan to kill the Hardy Boys for discovering their plot, often even turning against the rest of the gang as a result.
    • In "The Billion Dollar Ransom", after the plan is foiled and the two kidnappers are captured, their accomplice—one of the doctors operating on the President, and the brother of one of the captured men—has an opportunity to murder the President in revenge, but doesn't do so, instead saving his life during the operation and calmly surrendering and confessing upon seeing the authorities waiting outside, stating that, whatever else he may have done, he's still a doctor and takes his oath of saving lives seriously.
  • Extruded Book Product: One of the worst and longest running examples of this trope ever recorded alongside sister series Nancy Drew. Here's a timeline of just how bad it was:
    • 1927-1929: 2-3 books per year.
    • 1930-1978: One book per year.
    • 1979-1980: Published quarterly.
    • 1981-1983: Published bi-monthly.
    • 1984-1987: Back to quarterly (plus monthly for the Caseflies spin-off when it debuted in 1987).
    • 1988-1997: Back to bi-monthly for the main series; Caseflies continues monthly, totaling 18 new books per year.
    • 1998-2010: Caseflies discontinued, main series continues bi-monthly for the remainder of its run; carries over to Undercover Brothers.
    • 2011-2016: Undercover Brothers reduced to tri-annually; carries over to Adventures.
    • 2017-Present: Adventures reduced to bi-annually.
  • Eye Scream: in "Witness to Murder", Frank and Joe run afoul of a leader of jewel thieves named Cutter, who Frank notices never takes off his tinted sunglasses, even though Cutter remains mostly indoors. After escaping, Frank turns to his father for a profile on the guy. Fenton's file mentions that Cutter got his alias because he used to be a master safecracker with a large amount of luck. He changed his criminal profession when his luck ran out one day with his acetylene torch...
  • Fake Charity: The Undercover Brothers book "Pushed" features the Haven, a shelter for homeless teenagers that raises millions of dollars in donations to get the kids into college. As the boys later discover, most of it goes into the pockets of the director of Haven, and two kids who threaten her racket end up dead.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • The Casefiles series doesn't hold back in how murders are committed. And since more than half of these books deal with such a crime, there are plenty of them.
    • The Undercover Brothers series isn't quite as graphic, but considering that most books in the series still contain at least one death, it has some of these too.
  • Fat Best Friend: Chet Morton is the best friend of the Hardy Boys, and has been described as fat, plump, chubby, stout, heavy-set, etc. He has a huge appetite, and vacillates between types A, B and C as the plot dictates.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Zigzagged throughout the series:
    • Played quite straight in the original series, where almost all of the villains are male. At worst, women who are part of the gang of bad guys are accomplices who aren't involved in the gang's most villainous deeds (such as attempted murder), and other times, they are unwitting accomplices.
    • Downplayed in the Digests. There are more female villains there, but they're more likely to be conflicted about what they're doing and make a High-Heel–Face Turn.
    • Largely averted with the Casefiles, Undercover Brothers, and Adventures. There are quite a few more male villains than female (which is Truth in Television), but all three series still have plenty of sincerely evil or at least equally culpable villainesses, and in cases of men and women working together, it's about an even split for whether the man or the woman is the more vicious member of their partnership.
  • Feuding Families: The Blackstones and the Rands in "The Hidden Harbor Mystery". Also count as Clashing Cousins in the reprint version due to them sharing a great-grandfather.
  • Five-Man Band: The Hardy Boys and their friends in the Digests and Casefiles:
  • Flanderization: Since the books are written by different ghostwriters, this can happen Depending on the Writer:
    • Some of the Casefiles books play up Joe's impulsiveness, hot temper, and girl-crazy personality while downplaying his good instincts and sharp investigative skills, causing him to pretty much come off as a Dumb Muscle Jerk Jock who gets easily distracted from the case by a pretty face while Frank is the one to make most of the important deductions. This could get especially bad in the crossovers with Nancy Drew; since these books tend to put more focus on Nancy overall, Joe is, in many of them, reduced primarily to his shallower character traits.
    • Undercover Brothers gets worse about this later on, and by the time it ends, both boys are barely even recognizable as the same guys from the beginning of the series, let alone from other series.
      • This time, Frank probably gets it worse, as his nerdiness gets emphasized more and more to the extent that he and Joe practically become polar opposites. At one point, Frank states that his favorite movie from a previous year was a documentary about ladybugs. Probably the most egregious example is that, in "Comic Con Artist" (book #21), both Joe and Frank are shown and stated to be comic book fans and are excited to immerse themselves in a ComicCon scene, but then in the Deathstalker Trilogy (books #37-39), Frank acts like comic books are for little kids, states that he stopped reading them a long time ago and now prefers a "higher class" of literature, and scoffs at Joe for still being a fan.
      • Joe, meanwhile, has his confidence and positive attitude dialed up to the point of sometimes being a braggart, even arrogant, and comes across as a downright ditz in a few books.
      • Thankfully, the Undercover Brothers graphic novels series averts this, keeping both boys' characters fairly intact throughout.
  • Food Porn: The series originally included extended, lavish descriptions of meals. Stratemeyer reasoned that since teenage boys have huge appetites, they'd appreciate such detail. Later editions of the earlier volumes saw such passages removed, in accordance with the growing preference of young readers for dialogue and action over description.
  • Frame-Up: Happens to the brothers on occasion, and also to the guest characters. A few examples out of many are the Rideaus in the revised text of "The Melted Coins", Slim Davenport in the Casefiles book "Dead Man in Deadwood", and David Kidwell in the Digest book "The Desert Thieves".
  • Gamebooks: The "Be a Detective" series, which ran for six books and was a Crossover with Nancy Drew.
  • Girl of the Week: Happens pretty often in the Casefiles series, although they usually tend to go for Joe (or one of the other non-Hardy males); the ones who have eyes for Frank have to be let down gently in the end because he's with Callie, of course.
    • The Frank/Callie relationship in the Casefiles is further enforced by the fact that, interestingly, nearly every single time that Frank is actually attracted to the other girl and seems like he might have a fling with her, she turns out to be one of the bad guys (minus Nancy Drew, of course). Even some of the girls he does turn down are bad guys. This sometimes happens to Joe, too, of course, but not nearly as much, proportionally, as it does to Frank.
    • Goes in the opposite direction in the Undercover Brothers series. Frank, who is painfully shy around women and is easily flustered, seems to have every girl he sees fall for him, while Joe, who claims to be a smooth womanizer, can barely get the time of day. He has no clue how Frank does it.
    • The Adventures series has both boys be about equally popular with girls; usually only one or the other has a love interest in any given book. Even when they are officially dating these girls, they've still broken up with her for one reason or another by the end of the book or the start of the next one.
  • Government Agency of Fiction:
    • The Network from the Casefiles, a CIA/Interpol-like spy agency of the "so secret it doesn't officially exist" variety. Fenton Hardy has had dealings with them before, and the boys themselves begin working with them in the first book of the series and do so again many times, eventually to the point of being unofficial part-time freelance agents whom the Network sometimes contacts outright to assign them cases, though just as often, they end up getting involved in Network cases completely by accident. Their main contact at the Network is the Gray Man, or "Mr. Gray", who is essentially the second-in-command of the whole agency and acts as a cross between a mentor and handler for them.
    • The Casefiles also has U.S. Espionage Resources (sometimes abbreviated to U.S.E.R.), which only shows up in a few early books and one of the Tom Swift Ultra Thriller crossovers. They're more publicly known than the Network, and act their rival agency in terms of government funding and prestige. Espionage Resources is generally depicted as being less competent and more corrupt overall than the Network.
    • American Teens Against Crime, or ATAC (pronounced "attack"), in Undercover Brothers is a government agency co-founded by Fenton Hardy that solely employs teenagers from around the country as their field agents, with the premise that there are some places where kids would blend in much better while investigating undercover than adults would. Frank and Joe were the first two recruits (thus how this series got its name), and are investigating ATAC cases in almost every book; as such, unlike the other series in the franchise, they are not amateur detectives in this one, and instead are official agents. They receive high-tech spy gear related to their cases in most books, and often reference having received extensive field training in a wide variety of different subjects.
  • Guile Hero: Especially in the Casefiles books when they are almost always have to fend for themselves to outwit their enemies. Frank in particular can be a very efficient chessmaster, but even Joe can pull a few tricks of his own.
  • Guttural Growler: Croaker, The Dragon from the Casefiles book "The Number File", is described as having a grating voice which provides the source of his nickname.
  • Hard Head / Tap on the Head: Frank & Joe have been knocked out by getting hit in the head so often that, in real life, the two should be vegetables in permanent comas in the hospital. In the books, though, they just wake up with a bad headache or, at worst, a mild concussion. It's lampshaded in "The Number File"; the boys' car gets forced off the road into the ocean, and once they're safe, Joe quips about losing brain cells from hitting the windshield.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Done intentionally by the most prolific of the authors, as a way of injecting humor into a job he didn't care for much. See more details here. South Park picked up on it.
    I'm getting a raging clue right now.
  • Hero Secret Service: The reason the Hardy Boys get involved with the Network in the first place: the Assassins are targeting Fenton Hardy through his family, and he calls on a small favor from the Network (whom he's had dealings with before) to keep his loved ones safe. However, since the first four books of the Casefiles all have Frank and Joe contacting or working with the Network in some form, they are essentially inducted as unofficial members of the agency, and thus future installments featuring the Network mostly drop the connection with Fenton in favor of working with the boys directly.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Brothers though they may be, Frank and Joe also have this relationship in ALL of their different incarnations. Though their personalities change in the various series, one thing that is constant throughout is that they're a team and are inseparable, doing just about everything together and basically able to read each other's minds. They have their friends, and they have their girlfriends/love interests, but each of them is always the other's number-one priority.
    • They also have this relationship with Chet in pretty much every continuity, too. This is especially true in the original series, where he's involved in almost all of their adventures.
  • High Heel Hurt: In "Trouble in Warp Space", the actress Jerri Bell (who becomes a Girl of the Week for Chet) is introduced asking the director if there's a way to re-write a scene so she doesn't have to run down a hill in heels.
  • Hunter Trapper:
    • "Caribou" Caron from "The Viking Symbol Mystery" is a Canadian trapper who stumbled across some viking artifacts out in the woods, was robbed of the money he got selling them to an anthropologist, and teams up with the brothers to go after the thieves.
    • Both Peter (the brothers' host and a friend's uncle) and his rival Willy Ekus in "The Alaskan Adventure".
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: In "The Caribbean Cruise Caper", when Ice Queen Elizabeth learns at the end of the book that she was one of the suspects, she's vaguely flattered to think that she could be considered that adventurous.
  • Inspector Javert: Happens every few books with a stubborn cop. “Dead or Alive Sims” from the Casefiles book "Nowhere to Run" is a bounty hunter example, although he does (kind of) apologize at the end.
  • Kid Detective/Amateur Sleuth: One of the most famous examples together with their Distaff Counterpart, Nancy Drew.
  • King of the Homeless: Jones in "Edge of Destruction" from the Casefiles series, who also leads some of his people to serve as The Cavalry at the end.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In the Cold Open of the sixth Undercover Brothers graphic novel, "Mad House", Frank and Joe come to the rescue of a secret agent. His name is never given, but the agent's manner of speech strongly implies he's James Bond.
  • Live-Action Adaptation:
    • The Mickey Mouse Club adaptation in the 1950s; ''The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries'', which ran from 1977-1979, the short-lived The Hardy Boys in 1995, and the Hulu original The Hardy Boys in 2020.
    • There have been rumors for a long time about "The Hardy Men," a live-action movie starring Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise as the Hardy Brothers as adults.
  • Long-Running Book Series: The originals -> Digests went up to 190 volumes (plus specials and crossovers), printed over the course of over 70 years. The Casefiles also did pretty well, getting 127 volumes (plus crossovers) over 10+ years. The newer series have been shorter, but Undercover Brothers still got to 39 (plus specials and crossovers), and the Adventures are at 20 and still counting.
  • Loony Fan: A lot of them show up in the Super Mystery "Stage Fright" and it turns out several were deliberately hired in hopes they'd sabotage the show.
  • Loophole Abuse: In "Motorcross Madness", Jamal Hawkins, a recurring friend of the brothers, looks like he's out of the race after his bike is stolen and the rules say he can't use a different model of bike than the one he entered with. Motorcycle collector Trent Howard offers to loan him a bike of the same make and model so he can continue, on the condition that, if Jamal wins, then Howard gets the Grand Prize (which isn't Jamal's main reason for entering) for his collection.
  • Love Interests: It varies for the boys across various series:
    • In the original and Digests series, Frank's is Callie Shaw and Joe's is Iola Morton, their respective girlfriends.
    • In the Casefiles, Callie is still Frank's love interest, and they have a deeper relationship that receives more focus than it did in the Digests. However, since Iola is murdered at the start of the first book, Joe has a string of Girls of the Week for the first half of the series, before one such girl, Vanessa Bender, becomes his steady love interest for the second half.
    • Since the Undercover Brothers and Adventures series don't feature Callie and Iola/Vanessa as their girlfriends and have both boys perpetually single, the Girl of the Week format primarily applies, but there are some standouts:
      • In Undercover Brothers, neither boy ever actually gets a girlfriend, but there is one recurring character, Belinda Conrad, who has a major semi-requited crush on Frank throughout the series.note 
      • In addition to occasional crushes, both brothers sometimes even have actual girlfriends in Adventures, but for some reason or another, they either break up during the story, or are no longer together (with no explanation) at the time of the next book.
    • Tends to happen in their crossovers with Nancy Drew:
      • In the first Supermysteries series, Frank and Nancy share a mutual attraction, but rarely act on it due to their commitments to their respective partners. Joe and Bess have one as well, but how strong it is and how they act on it varies widely between books.
      • In the second Super Mysteries, Frank definitely has a crush on Nancy, but it's unrequited due to her only having eyes for Ned (though she sometimes does flirt with Frank a little). Joe is also interested in her in the first book, but mostly goes for Bess in subsequent volumes (possibly since he knows Frank likes Nancy), though it never actually goes anywhere.
      • In their Adventures/Nancy Drew Diaries crossover, Joe still likes Bess, but since Nancy still has Ned, the story opts for a one-sided Pair the Spares by giving Frank a crush on George.
  • Made of Iron: Both boys (see Hard Head), but particularly Joe, who takes more punishment due to him being the more "athletic" one.
  • The Meddling Kids Are Useless: Former Trope Namer, due to the fact that in the early books, the Hardy brothers would often find out who did what, but at the same time the police were doing the same. Essentially, the had grand adventures but didn't affect much in the long run. This was later changed.
  • The Mole:
    • Mike Moran in "The Firebird Rocket" went undercover with the bad guys on behalf of the U.S. Government.
    • Plenty of Casefiles henchmen (particularly if it's a woman who seems to be a Dark Action Girl) turn out to be Network, CIA, or Interpol agents. "Road Pirates" also has Jackson, a sleazy member of the carjacking ring, trying to set up the gang to be caught by his brother-in-law (a state trooper) due to worrying that someone will get killed if they keep it up and apparently suspecting they won't just let him quit.
  • Multiple Narrative Modes: For the series as a whole:
    • The originals and Casefiles are told in third-person, with the narrative mostly describing the events, actions, and thoughts/feelings of Frank and Joe, but occasionally showing those of other characters as well (especially in the early Casefiles novels).
    • The Undercover Brothers and Adventures are told in first-person, exclusively from the Hardy Boys' point of view, with Frank and Joe alternating first-person chapters.
      • There are two UB books that contain the multiple modes within the book: the first Super Mystery ("Wanted") has the prologue and epilogue described in third person (and acting as Book-Ends, with quite a bit of Ironic Echo between the two), and "The Children of the Lost" has the prologue in third person from the point of view of an escaped kidnap victim. In both books, the main story was told in the usual way.
  • Mystery Magnets: These guys can't go anywhere without finding a mystery to solve.
  • Native Guide: In mysteries that take place outside of Bayport, the brothers (and sometimes their friends) will very often meet a local from the area who shows them around and becomes an Honorary True Companion with them, such as Mexican fisherman Tico in the revised version of "The Mark on the Door", and Canadian Hunter Trapper Pierre "Caribou" Caron in "The Viking Symbol Mystery".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • In quite a few books, the boys are at a dead end, don't really have a good place to start, or aren't even sure there is a mystery at all...but then the bad guys try to hurt or kill them, confirming their suspicions that something shady is afoot and/or giving them something to go on.
    • One particularly notable example: in "Bloodsport" (a Casefiles story), Frank and Joe are looking into the disappearance of Frank's fencing teammate and rival. They literally have nothing on their prime suspect, the coach of the Opposing Sports Team, who was also pegged responsible for the disappearance of other fencers over the years. But then that coach decided to "scout" Frank as well, kidnapping him and taking him to an underground fighting ring. Frank proceeds to rescue his teammate, and between his work from the inside and Joe's search for him, the boys successfully bring down the whole operation. (It should be further noted that the coach knew of the brothers' detective skills, yet he thought that Frank would be easily swayed by money and fame to keep things under wraps.)
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Joe is 17, Frank is 18. However, they're growing up slowly. In the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, Joe was 15 and Frank 16, in the 50s through 70s blue hardbacks, Joe was 16 and Frank was 17. Still, that's nearly a century for 2 years.
  • Not Me This Time:
    • A heroic variant: in one story, the Hardys get pulled over because the cops received an anonymous tip from the bad guys, who set them up. A quick search of their van reveals counterfeit ATM cards (related to their father's recently solvednote  case). The police, knowing the boys wouldn't get themselves involved in the crime, instead ask them to what extent they helped their father solve it. Frank and Joe make it clear that they never even helped Fenton at all.
    • in “The Mystery of the Desert Giant” the brothers ask the captured criminals whether a pair of freight thieves they had a brief run in with earlier were part of their gang and are given a negative answer. note 
    • In the Supermysteries book “Buried in Time” the brothers think that the culprit from their case killed the victim from Nancy’s case for stumbling across some incriminating information. When they accuse him of this murder though it turns out that not only didn’t he kill the murdered archeologist, but he’d never even heard of the man until that point (although he says if the guy really did have that information then it’s a lucky coincidence that someone else did kill the professor).
    • Standard fare in the second half of the “Undercover Brothers” stories which have multiple mysteries involving the same characters. Frank and Joe will catch someone who confesses to some of the activity but denies being responsible for something else right after being proven truthful by a fresh act of sabotage, or threatening message.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: The Hardys met with this in a lot of the early books. Eventually, Chief Collig and Con Riley figured out they should probably listen to them once in a while...
  • Orgy of Evidence: "Blood Relations" has Joe and Frank approached by Greg and Mike Rawley, who are convinced their mother, Linda, is going to be killed by their stepfather. Given he's Walter Rawley, an old friend of the family's, the brothers are skeptical. They keep it up, finding some evidence after Linda is kidnapped. Eventually, Frank goes missing as well, while Joe works with a detective who's been hunting Walter for a while to rescue Linda. It's then revealed that Linda and her sons were using Frank and Joe to make it look like Walter was the bad guy so they had an excuse for killing him in "self-defense" and get his fortune, and the "detective" is Linda's real husband and Greg and Mike's dad. Frank then reappears and turns the tables, explaining that he was struck mid-way through on how easy and obvious the case was shaping up, since they'd "never had to do so little work" to solve a mystery. He tried "flipping it around" to consider Walter the innocent one and the rest of his family guilty, and realized how much more sense that made.
  • Painting the Medium: Casefiles opens right after Iola is murdered by a car bomb. The confusion the readers feel is mirrored by our heroes, and long-time fans are going to be just as shocked as Joe.
  • Poor Communication Kills: On occasion. For one example: in the Digest story "Farming Fear", Chet's and Iola's grandparents note at the end that they probably could have put the pieces together and solved the mystery some time ago if they'd been on better terms with their neighbor (given that their antagonistic relationship kept them from comparing notes and realizing they were both being sabotaged by the villain).
  • Prospector:
    • Bart Dawson and his mining partners (along with a few other old timers still hanging around town) were this in the backstory of both versions of "Hunting for Hidden Gold", digging a fortune in gold out of the ground before an attack by thieves forced Dawson to flee with the gold, causing an injury that gave him amnesia after he hid it, and before he could regroup with the others.
    • Lucky Moeller in "The Alaskan Adventure" is an older man whose spent decades panning the occasional gold nugget out of the Yukon without ever striking it rich, and has befriended the local bear. Moeller has given up hopes of getting rich panning gold by the events of the novel, and instead hopes to have his gold panning site serve as a tourist attraction for a theme park arriving in the area, and work as a guide until he earns enough money to retire to Florida.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Some of the Hardy's circle of friends have slowly faded away as time has gone by. Chet is still a regular; Biff Hooper, Tony Prito, and Phil Cohen appear reasonably frequently, though certainly not in every book; but Jerry Gilroy and Perry "Slim" Robinson completely disappear even before the end of the original 58 books, and don't show up even in the Digests.
    • In Undercover Brothers and Adventures, Chet is the only male friend of theirs from the original books who still appears; all the others are never name-dropped even once. Callie here as well; she makes one appearance in an earlier book of the former series before dropping out, and hasn't yet appeared at all in the latter series. Even Iola, who still appears, is no longer Joe's girlfriend; she's simply a friend of both brothers, as was Callie for her sole UB appearance.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The 1969 animated show featured the Hardy Boys...as a hip groovy rock band!
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In "Breakdown in Axeblade," the brothers suspect Ben Barntree of toxic waste dumping when they find a letter from a surveying company which Ben's neighbor and henchman Robbie hired to try and find a source of water for his cattle other than the river flowing from Ben's property. The brothers are quickly told that the river running through Ben's property is used by every rancher in the area, and so it would be impossible to cover up that many cows getting sick. Ben is dumping toxic waste, just not anywhere near the river. Robbie's attempts to find a different water source are so that he can quit working for Ben without having to worry about Ben messing with his water supply in retaliation.
  • Saying Too Much: In "The Billion Dollar Ransom", the President's main kidnapper accidentally lets slip the existence of a third, unknown conspirator in addition to himself and his known partner when talking about what he'll do with his split of the money, which Frank recognizes as one third of a billion, not one half.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax:
    • Prominent in the original Hardcover series, where the titles give it away ("The Phantom Freighter", "The Ghost of Skeleton Rock"), although some are more subtle about it (for example, "Secret Warning" deals with both the ghost of a pirate and an ancient curse revolving around a golden Pharaoh's head). Even the Casefiles managed to squeeze in a seemingly supernatural plot at least once ("Cliffhanger" sees a mountaineering expedition on Yeti's Tower being threatened by the creature from which the mountain got its name).
    • Actually averted in "The Hardy Boys Ghost Stories", which contains non-canon short-stories that are more openly supernatural. Similarly, the Undercover Brothers book "Haunted"—this series's take on the ghost stories—has seemingly played this straight at the end after uncovering the villains' plans, only for one last genuinely supernatural event to occur (the boys see the ghost of a girl whose death they were investigating).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Done fairly often by villains, with varying degrees of success or originality.
    • In the reprint of "The Secret of the Old Mill", Peters nervously takes his share of the money and runs shortly after the boys are captured, only to be picked up by the arriving police a little before his partners as a result.
    • In the reprint of "The Shore Road Mysery", most of the thugs try to make a run for it in the climax, but are stopped by the boys through Good Old Fisticuffs.
    • In "The Disappearing Floor", minor henchman Waxie does this not because of the authorities, but out of fear of his boss after he accidentally forgot to raise up the elevator/floor where the title came from, causing his boss a nasty fall and an injured leg. This action makes him one of the only henchmen in the series who doesn't get arrested, given that the police round up the gang shortly afterwards.
    • Sweeper and Green in "The Secret of Skull Mountain" are being kept from quitting by withholding their promised money and blackmail material, respectively. Fed up with this, they decide to leave anyway and crack their employers' safe to steal that money and evidence, but have the poor timing to be doing it at the same time the Hardy Boys are investigating the building.
    • In The Casefiles book "Tagged for Terror" Ted, a member of the baggage theft ring, goes on the run about halfway through the book as suspicions rise (although he is considerate enough to tell the guy whose being suspected of his crimes that he'll mail a confession once he gets away). The last chapter mentions that he was eventually captured not far from the border.
    • In "Breakdown in Axeblade," the brothers block a road to prevent trucks dumping toxic waste in a national park from leaving before the cops from a neighboring town arrive. One of those cops finds the trucks empty a few minutes later and quips to the Big Bad that his drivers have developed a sudden interest in cross-country hiking.
    • A non-villainous version comes from Bart in the Casefiles book "A Killing in the Market". As the office assistant of a person of interest in the case, he's assigned to serve as a Courier to the Hardy Boys, but while he's trying to meet them, he aborts the meeting and makes a beeline out of there when he spots a couple of mooks who had beaten him up earlier.
    • Another non-villainous version comes from Nicole in "Bonfire Masquerade". The brothers and Nancy suspect her when they find a map of all of the burned down buildings in her house where she's nowhere to be found (and abruptly stopped bidding on a piece of property connected to a murder). What actually happened was that Nicole had come to suspect that her rival bidder was the arsonist and decided to stop bidding and get out of town before he decided she was a threat.
  • Sibling Team: One of the most classic and famous examples in literature (and in general).
  • Single Line of Descent: In Night of the Werewolf, legend has it that every seventh generation, a member of the Taber family turns into a werewolf. The Hardys speculate that there must be lots of Tabers besides their client's son who could be the victim of the curse (assuming it's even true). Their client regretfully informs them that the other branches of the family were almost entirely wiped out in World War II.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Occurs very often between the two brothers in Undercover Brothers, and also a lot in Casefiles and Adventures.
  • Sniper Duel: There's a brief one between the Big Bad and his Forced into Evil accomplice in the Casefiles book "Survival of the Fittest".
  • Spin-Off: There have been several:
    • The Hardy Boys Casefiles: Darker and Edgier and Hotter and Sexier series designed to appeal to teen audiences by removing the previous roadblocks of the parent series (No Hugging, No Kissing, Never Say "Die", etc.) Although it played up the violence and played down the romance compared to its Distaff Counterpart The Nancy Drew Files. Might qualify as a Quietly Performing Sister Show since it had a successful run of 12 years (1986-1998) and 127 issues.
    • The Hardy Boys are: The Clues Brothers and The Hardy Boys Secret Files: Spin-Off Babies series which both involve 8 and 9-year-old versions of Frank and Joe solving mysteries in the vein of missing pet cats.
    • Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers: Considered a continuation of the original series by the publisher, it hovers somewhere between the Originals and the Casefiles in terms of storytelling (less graphic than the Casefiles, but with deaths still occurring about equally as often, and thus much more liberal than the Originals.)
    • Both the Casefiles and Undercover Brothers spin-off had their own spin-off, a Crossover series with Nancy Drew. Interestingly, they were both titled Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys Supermysteries. (Fans tag them '88 and '07 for the sake of avoiding confusion.) Both shared a lot of similar traits, including hinting at Nancy/Frank and Bess/Joe relationships.
    • The Hardy Boys Adventures: Replaced The Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers as the "official" canon (meaning it's not considered a spinoff like the Casefiles), and falls closer to the original/Digest series in terms of the level of violence. (People still try to kill the boys, but actual murders are rare.)
  • Split Hair: In the mystery "The Secret of Pirates' Hill", Joe drops an envelope on the blade of some pirate cutlasses in the museum to test it's sharpness. (It's very sharp.)
  • Sports Dad:
    • In "Training for Trouble" Olympic trainee Allen Frierson's dad is very invested in his completion. He turns out to be the culprit, attacking competitors to give his son a better chance of winning.
    • In "Motorcross Madness", Elizabeth notes that her father wants her to win the motorcross race even more than she herself does, likely due to his own health problems preventing him from racing in it himself. Somewhat subverted with the reveal that the main reason he wants her to win is because of how he's discovered that the prize is far more valuable than anyone thinks and wants to get his hands on it.
    • In "Bound for Danger", the brothers go undercover on the Bayport High basketball team to investigate hazing incidents, and one major suspect is Jason, the star player of the team. While quite a few other team members and the assistant coach are part of the hazing gang, Jason himself is not; however, his dad turns out to be the ringleader, who started the hazing because he felt that the team wasn't good enough to win the games needed for his son to get a basketball scholarship for college, and was trying to force the weaker team members to become better players through threats, intimidation, and violence. Even worse, he has more than enough money to just pay for Jason to go to college either way, but is still adamant about getting Jason a scholarship simply because he feels his son deserves it.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Iola in the first chapter of the first Casefiles book (although she remains alive in the concurrently published Digest books).
  • Switching P.O.V.:
    • Since there are two main characters, Frank and Joe, this is bound to happen. It's especially prominent when the boys are separated, at which point the narrative will usually jump back and forth between them to show what each party is up to until they inevitably meet back up. Occasionally averted when one of them gets kidnapped, though; he will sometimes drop out from the narrative altogether for quite a while, until his brother manages to find him.
    • When the brothers are together, they sort of share the narrative; we might see a few sentences about what Frank is currently thinking, only to then read about Joe's thoughts a couple of paragraphs later.
    • Though Frank and Joe are naturally the usual focus of the narrative as the main characters, we're occasionally treated to the thoughts of other characters as well. In the originals, said other characters were usually the boys' family (Fenton, Laura, Gertrude) or "chums" (Chet and others). However, in the Casefiles (especially the early Casefiles, where the POV switch happens much more often), we get the POV of all these people and more, including Callie Shaw (pretty frequently), a few of the one-shot characters from the novel, and even the bad guys.
    • The first-person Undercover Brothers and Adventures make this switch the norm, although only with Frank and Joe; the brothers alternate chapters, so the POV constantly switches back and forth between the two.
  • Teen Genius: Frank, who has a disturbingly deep knowledge of things like investigative technique, criminal profiling, and computer hacking for an eighteen-year old.
  • They Fight Crime!: Two teenage brothers with very different personalities and appearances who can practically read each others' minds, have a famous detective for a father, and do a better job than the local police. They Fight Crime!
  • Those Two Bad Guys: There are plenty of henchmen duos in the series, such as the unnamed thugs in "The Short Wave Mystery", Ringer and Ceaser from "The Desert Giant" and Nick and Rudy in "Past and Present Danger".
  • Throw It In!: In-universe, in "Trouble in Warp Space" Chet gets a guest job on a science fiction TV series. When he accidentally punches a Hot-Blooded actor too hard during a fight scene, the fighting suddenly gets very real and intense with a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner thrown in, with the excited director saying to keep filming because this is great stuff.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The Hardys encounter a couple of small towns like this:
    • "Breakdown in Axeblade" has the titular Axeblade, Wyoming, where the brothers are stranded when their van breaks down. Nearly everyone in Axeblade refuses to associate with them at best, with several people trying to drive the boys out of town or even outright attacking them. They eventually learn that the wealthy ranch owner who essentially runs the town has been illegally dumping toxic waste into the nearby national park, and has the entire town police force on his payroll, who pretty much kidnap the boys under the premise of "arresting" them after framing them for a crime, with the intention to secretly murder them. Almost no one in the town is willing to stand up to the rancher because he owns the mortgage on most of their homes and businesses, and even the mechanic who is sympathetic to the Hardys can't really help because his sister is married to one of the mooks. The only citizens who are truly helpful to the boys are the "town kook" and the mother-and-son café owners, whose husband/father was murdered by the rancher years ago after discovering what they were up to.
    • "The End of the Trail" gives us Morgan's Quarry, an old, almost-dead mining town on the Appalachian Trail. The Hardy Boys, Chet, Biff, and Phil are forced to take shelter there to seek medical help for Biff after he breaks his leg, and see a couple of thugs spill a bag of cash in front of them. Most of the people they meet afterwards try to prevent them from leaving. It turns out that the richest man in town—whose family has a long history of various illegal businesses over many decades that have dried up—his butler, and the thugs robbed an armored truck with millions of dollars several months before, and the town sheriff is in on the racket as well; the cash the boys saw was from that robbery, and the bad guys are worried they'll tell the authorities about it once they leave Morgan's Quarry. The only people in town who treat them decently are the father-and-daughter shopkeepers, the innkeeper, and the nurse (the latter of whom turns out to actually be working with the criminals, too).
  • Unfortunate Item Swap: A variant. The backstory of the Digest book "In Plane Sight" has an unfortunate vehicle swap. After a successful robbery, Carl Denny was laying low at an airshow (having hidden his loot in one of several identical planes) when the cops tracked him down. Denny hot-wired a plane, drove it through the display case and took off right there, escaping the police, but belatedly discovered that he'd taken the wrong plane and left his loot behind.
  • Unintentionally Notorious Crime: In one tie-in short story, while the murder of a police officer who'd pulled over a getaway car to give them a speeding ticket is serious enough in and of itself, when this dead cop is the police chief's nephew, that guarantees a really intense manhunt.
  • The Un-Reveal: In the reprint of "The Secret Warning", it never is revealed which of the two ships was responsible for the collision that caused the sinking and killed several people. Divers trying to steal the MacGuffin in the cargo hold try to distract everyone to their motives by stealing the nautical instruments which would prove who caused the collision, and no mention is made of them being recovered.
  • Vague Age:
    • Not the Hardys themselves, but rather in relation to their friends. While numbers have never been explicitly stated, there are still conflicting accounts on what each character's age in relation to Frank and Joe's. (for example, in "Mystery of the Chinese Junk" only Frank and Tony are of legal age to take a boating license, yet in the Spin-Off Babies Clues Brothers, Tony's in the same grade as Joe.)
    • Unlike the originals and Casefiles (where the brothers' ages are stated at the beginning of every book), the Undercover Brothers and Adventures series never give the boys an exact age beyond being teens in mid-late high school.
  • WHAM Episode / Establishing Series Moment: The first Casefiles book opens a few seconds after Iola has been blown up. This establishes that the series is going to be Darker and Edgier.
  • Where The Hell Is Bayport?: The most you really get is that it's a coastal town in New England within driving distance of New York City. The earliest series implies New York state, where there's an actual Bayport in real life, however, later materials will say New Jersey and Massachusetts as well.
  • Working the Same Case:
    • Frank and Joe's investigations often end up coinciding with one their father is working on.
    • Most of the Supermysteries, but there are some exceptions like "Shock Waves", "Buried in Time", "Hollywood Horror" and "Spies and Lies", which have separate sets of villains (though, in all of these books, the brothers and Nancy still help each other catch both sets, and consider the possibilities that their cases may be connected at different points in at least two of those stories). No matter how different the two cases seemed to be, they would have their case tied together to Nancy's roughly two-thirds of the way through the book. "Operation: Titanic" is likely the crowner of this, as the Hardys and Nancy keep just barely missing meeting up with each other and there's very little book left when they finally do. There are some examples that don't even bother with the pretense of having two separate cases, wherein Nancy or the Hardys will outright ask for each others' help from the very start or relatively early on in the story. In those cases, one or the other of them will often become sidetracked by something seemingly unrelated, which will inevitably tie into the main case eventually.
    • This continues in the second Supermysteries series. Four of the six books—"Terror on Tour", "Danger Overseas", "Club Dread", and "Bonfire Masquerade"—have Nancy and her friends on vacation in the same place that Frank and Joe are working on an ATAC case, and happening to meet someone or stumble onto something directly tied to their case. One of the other two books, "Gold Medal Murder", does have their two cases turn out to be separate with different perpetrators, but since the two people they're helping are in a relationship with each other, there's a lot of overlap between them and both groups work together to solve both cases. The final book, "Stage Fright", has the Hardys directly calling Nancy in to help them since she's an Identical Stranger to the woman they're bodyguarding.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: In the reprint of "The Secret Warning", a Red Herring subplot involves some local figures diving for some money aboard a sunk Nazi submarine (one of the treasure hunters was the Sole Survivor of the sub, another man was among the U.S. Navy crew that sunk it) who at first are antagonists of the brothers but then save them from the real villains of the book. Unfortunately for them, it is then revealed that the money from the submarine is counterfeit.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The boys sometimes encounter female bad guys on their cases, and if said women try to hurt or kill them, they will fight back in order to save themselves. It's downplayed in the Casefiles, where they tend to go easier on villainesses they do have to get physical with than they do in similar situations with men. They hold back less in the later series.

Alternative Title(s): Hardy Boys

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