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Literature / The School for Good and Evil

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Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Series

In the forest primeval
A school for good and evil
Two towers like twin heads
One for the pure
One for the wicked
Try to escape you'll always fail
The only way out is
Through a fairy tale

The School for Good and Evil is a children's fantasy novel series by Soman Chainani.

Every four years, two children from the small village of Galvadon are kidnapped by a shadowy figure known only as the "School Master". There isn't any pattern regarding gender or age, but one child will always be beautiful and kind, the other ugly and foul-tempered. Furthermore, the likenesses of past children have appeared in the fairy tale stories mysteriously delivered to Galvadon's only bookstore. From these observations is birthed the Storybook Theory: the abducted children are sent to a school where they are taught how to be heroes or villains.

Sophie is an ardent believer in the Theory. Thoroughly bored with Gavaldon, she dreams of being captured and becoming a fairy tale princess. To this end, she's meticulous about her appearance and endeavors to do at least one good deed a day. One such good deed was befriending the village outcast's daughter Agatha, who is her opposite in every way: ugly, anti-social, and unimpressed with the Storybook Theory and any who believe in it.

Her tune quickly changes when the School Master takes both her and Sophie to the mythical School for Good and Evil. However, they both receive the shock of their lives when Sophie gets dropped on the Evil side and Agatha on the Good. They each believe there's been some mistake, but their attempts at convincing the school's staff go unheard.

Getting out of this situation will prove difficult in more ways than one: a rift slowly forms between the two friends, one that may determine the outcome of this fairy tale.

The books included in this series are:

  1. The School for Good and Evil (2013)
  2. A World Without Princes (2014)
  3. The Last Ever After (2015)
  4. The Ever Never Handbook (2016): a companion book, set after Book 3.
  5. Quests for Glory (2017)
  6. A Crystal of Time (2019)
  7. One True King (2020)

Prequel duology:

  1. Rise of the School for Good and Evil (2022)
  2. Fall of the School for Good and Evil (2023)

Shortly after the release of the first book, Universal Pictures announced plans to create a series of films based on the novels, with Joe Roth and Jane Startz serving as one of the main producers. Netflix eventually acquired the film rights in 2020 with Paul Feig taking the helm as director and co-producer. In December of that same year, Sofia Wylie and Sophia Anne Caruso were cast in the lead roles of Agatha and Sophie, respectively. The film released on October 19, 2022.

This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Academy of Evil: The school for Evil. Both academies, in fact, are Extranormal Institute.
  • An Aesop:
    • For the series as a whole, "True Love is never selfish, nor can it be forced" and "Appearances can be deceiving, for better or worse" are prominent.
    • Early into Sophie's individual storyline, there's "If you are only doing nice things for others to make yourself look good, they are not really good deeds."
    • Agatha's storyline holds, "As long as YOU like yourself, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks."
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • Sophie is still self-centered in book two and she manages to get worse in book three.
    • Tedros never seems to stop being a jerkass, even after book two where he's supposed to learn his lesson and book three where he has a whole arc about giving people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Tedros' father, King Arthur, literally drank himself to death after Queen Guinevere left.
  • Alliterative List: The list of things you are not allowed to do in the Flowerground consists entirely of words starting with 's', except for the last item.
    No spitting, sneezing, singing, sniffling, swinging, swearing, slapping, sleeping, or urinating in the Flowerground.
  • All Myths Are True: As Agatha and Sophie quickly discover, all of the fairy tales they've ever read are quite real, and many feature children who've been abducted from their own village.
  • All Take and No Give: To go with her It's All About Me mindset, Sophie is the Taker in her major relationships. She befriended Agatha, daughter of the town outcast, to prove that she is Princess Classic material, but their friendship consists of Agatha bending over backwards to help Sophie obtain her dream of princesshood, who never returns the favor or expresses much gratitude. She pursues Prince Tedros because she will gain the Happily Ever After she has always wanted as his princess, never getting to know him as a person.
    • Come A World Without Princes, Sophie's attempts to be a good person and Agatha's friend are still self-centered, but now fueled by a desire to not turn into the Ax-Crazy evil hag she became in the previous book.
    • Sophie goes right back to her old ways in book three, insisting that the only way she'll turn her back on the Schoolmaster is if Tedros gives her another chance. Tedros and Agatha agree to her terms, but she still refuses to completely sever her bond with Rafal even though their agreement to give her a second chance with Tedros stated that she'd destroy the ring connecting them as soon as they got to safety. This is all while Rafal only grows stronger and more and more resurrected Villains seek out and murder the heroes who defeated them years ago. This is also all while Agatha is putting her own Happily Ever After on the line in order to make Sophie happy.
  • Alpha Bitch: Beatrix to the Evers and Sophie to the Nevers.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The Woods, being a Fairy tale world, is pretty all over the place, containing elements from anywhere between The Middle Ages to the Victorian Era. However, people are also aware of things like quiche, nail polish and the Bride of Frankenstein.
  • Ambition is Evil: The Schoolmaster, Rafal, murdered his brother so he alone would control the destiny of fairy tales. In The Last Ever After, this is taken even farther when sets his sights on wiping out Good permanently. He does this while completely disregarding what will happen to the cycle of stories without Good to oppose Evil.
  • And I Must Scream: Some pretty nasty fates await students who fail in either school.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    "Would you like to be a slave to villains?" Beatrix fired back. "Made to cook children and eat princess hearts and drink horse blood—"
    "And wear black?" Reena cried.
    Evergirls gulped.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Sophie and Agatha choose each other at the end of the first book, complete with a kiss, and spend a lot of the second and third books going between a Foe Romance Subtext and Les Yay, only for it to be revealed that they're actually sisters so the subtext is moot.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: What the real villain of Book 1 trying to do. Also discussed by teachers during Lake Tower introduction.
  • Bald of Evil: Sophie's full hag appearance.
  • Batman Gambit: Sophie's effort to trick the Good side into betraying its rules by having them Attack, and on a larger scale, the Head Master's desire to find Evil Love.
    • He also had a backup plan thanks to his deal with Evelyn Sader, who pulls off a gambit to set Sophie and Agatha against one another again and convince Sophie to wish for him to come back.
  • Beautiful All Along: The trope is cited word for word when Agatha makes this realization of herself.
    • Dot in the sequel after she becomes Formerly Fat.
    • In book three, Hort reinvented himself and becomes quite the eye-turner.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness:
    • Played With to Hell and back. People and places aligned with Good are clean and good-looking and those aligned with Evil are rather ugly. However, many Evers (Good-aligned) are downright shallow and lazy, while surprisingly decent Nevers (Evil-aligned) exist. Concerning the two protagonists, Agatha, who is Good at heart, is considered ugly and/or creepy until she is revealed to have been Beautiful All Along, but the vain and selfish Sophie believes in this trope's literal extreme, and uses it to justify that she is really an Ever. When Sophie embraces Evil in book one, she not only turns into a hideous old crone, but uses the laws of Good and Evil to turn her fellow Nevers beautiful, while making the Evers horrifically ugly.
    • In A World Without Princes, the new Straw Feminist movement convinces Evergirls that adhering to grooming is a way for boys to subjugate them, and they respond by losing interest in their appearances, while the Nevergirls begin to experiment with makeup and lose weight. This is especially evident with Beatrix, who has shaved her head, and Dot, who has gotten highlights and lost 30 pounds.
    • In book three, the School for New Evil makes the villains hot.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Quickly averted when's Sophie, who every Evil student complains looks like a Good, is dumped unceremoniously in the moat. It only gets worse from there.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Tedros and Agatha. Agatha and Sophie seem to have this for all three books until it's revealed they're sisters.
  • Big Bad: The Head Master, who was the Evil Brother of the legend, and only maintained the balance between Good and Evil so that he could find himself an Evil Love.
    • Dean Sader for book two.
  • Back from the Dead: The Dean's entire plot in book two is a gambit to resurrect the former headmaster.
  • Bitch Alert: Beatrix reveals herself to be a nasty piece of work on her introduction.
  • Book Dumb: Sophie does well on her classes up until the lessons actually turn to studying. Agatha has to tutor her once her grades drop down dramatically.
  • Book on the Head: In etiquette class, the "Princess Posture", lesson uses nests of nightingale eggs as a variant to replace books. Agatha, used to slouching, ends up breaking twenty eggs.
  • Break the Cutie: Sophie wasn't really any more or less evil than some of the other Libbies in the Good school when she started out. But then she started getting subjected to indignity after indignity, constantly being told she's Evil, winning at Evil challenges while trying to prove she's good, having her beautiful hair axed off by The Beast, trying to win Tedros over, only to have him constantly pick Agatha during their exercises to suss out good from evil in disguise, being threatened with death by her roommates, overhearing teachers callously dismissing the very real danger she was in, and finally irredeemably losing the love of the boy she adored. It's no wonder she cracked.
  • Break the Haughty: Tedros in book two. He initially accepted Agatha's decision to choose Sophie, but after feeling her wish for him and seeing the misery caused by their wish, he bets half his fortune on someone being able to kill Sophie for him. When he's about to realize that he went too far and forget his grudge in order to be with Agatha, Sophie's selfishness convinces Agatha that he'd been planning on killing her anyway and that Agatha had been plotting against him. He then tries to bet the freedom of the princes on the chance to get back at them, and is promptly dethroned, betrayed by the other princes, and spends a horrible amount of time in the Doom Room. He gets a friend whom he can confide in, but it's really Sophie in disguise the entire time. When he finally realizes that Agatha had never meant him any harm from the start, the Headmaster winds up resurrected.
  • Burn the Witch!: The citizens of Gavaldon's course of action to any calamity is to capture the "guilty witches," burn them at the stake, and see if the misfortune dies with them. Callis, Agatha's mother, barely escaped this fate before Aggie was born, because the villagers had started blaming the School Master instead of witches. In The Last Ever After, however, when Tedros and Agatha almost end up burned as witches, Callis offers herself up to the Gavaldon elders so her daughter can escape with her prince.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • The Schoolmaster and his brother were this, the former being the bad one who killed the latter. However, when this action got him and his alignment cursed in a bad way, he set out to change the rules of The Power of Love by finding a True Love and have her murder in his name. This would turn him killing his brother into an act of Evil Love and break the curse on Evil.
    • Sophie and Agatha subvert this. Even though they are recognized as Evil and Good respectively, Sophie can never bring herself to actually kill Agatha, before and after learning they are sisters.
  • Cats Are Mean: Agatha's cat, Reaper, enjoys hissing and spitting at Sophie, and delights in stalking the cemetery birds and biting their heads off, leaving their decapitated corpses behind.
  • The Chessmaster: Sophie deftly maneuvers events towards the end that trick the Evers into breaking their rules, leading them to launch a preemptive Attack on the Evil Ball. Since the rules state that Good Defends and Evil Attacks, she is able to use this to return herself to her former beauty, as well as bestowing physical beauty on her Never classmates, all while transforming the Evers into hideous appearances. She is then free to claim justifiable Defense against the Evers for Attacking first.
    Sophie: We're not finished, Teddy. You and your army invaded a Ball. You and your army attacked a defenseless school. You and your army tried to kill a room full of poor students, trying to enjoy the happiest night of our lives. Which leaves another question. What happens when Good becomes Evil?
  • Circular Reasoning: In A World Without Princes, the school is divided into a Boy side and a Girl side. Agatha needs to cross to the Boy side, but finds the way blocked by the magic barrier, which defines each side in terms of the other.
    "Try all you want. You won't trick me again," her reflection said. "You're obviously a Girl."
    "And what makes a Girl?" Agatha asked.
    "All the things a Boy is not."
    Agatha frowned. "And what makes a Boy?"
    "All the things a Girl is not."
    "But you still haven't told me what a Boy or Girl is."
  • Covered in Gunge: When Sophie arrives the Storian bird drops her right into Evil's moat, which is a slimy bog. Later the final fight between Nevers and Evers devolves into chaos when it spills out into the moat and the students all get coated in the muck, rendering them unable to tell who's who.
  • Dance of Romance: Sophie stages a Dark version of this between her and Agatha to convince Tedros that Agatha has betrayed him.
  • Death by Despair: A few years before the start of the series, Sophie's mother Vanessa lost her will to live and slowly passed away. Sophie always believed it was because Vanessa knew her husband Stefan was cheating on her with Honora, her best friend, sourcing the most of Sophie's resentment towards her father. It was actually because Vanessa had finally realized that all her attempts to make Stefan love her had failed.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Subverted with Sophie's mother Vanessa. Sophie remembers her as the perfect wife and mother, beautiful as a fairy tale queen and tragically Too Good for This Sinful Earth. For most of her life, she was a homely and manipulative woman who used potions to trick Sophie's father, Stefan, into having a child with her, forcing them to get married. Vanessa then used countless more potions to alter her appearance and make herself beautiful later in life.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Sophie dies in Agatha's arms at the end of the first book, though she doesn't stay dead.
  • Disappeared Dad: Common for many of the fairy tale folk. Agatha has never met her father, assuming that he just skipped town before she was born. Then it is revealed that Stefan is actually her father.
    • Hort's father was killed by Peter Pan.
    • Tedros' father, King Arthur, died broken-hearted after his wife, Guenivere, left him for Lancelot.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Beast forcibly cut Sophie's hair, so Sophie shoved him into the sewers to die.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Tedros' reaction to Sophie's stripperific modifications to her outfit is his sword falls out of its scabbard.
  • Drama Queen: This is Sophie's default temperament. When angry enough to start acting subdued, however, she's very dangerous.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Early in the first book, Sophie dreams of going to the School for Good and being surrounded by handsome princes, but she winds up being dropped into the School for Evil instead. It gets double-subverted when the prince she chose in her dream turns out to be the Evil headmaster.
    • The most evil Villains are lucky (or unlucky) enough to receive Nemesis Dreams. These show them their Arch-Enemy who grow stronger as they grow weaker (and vice versa). Nemesis Dreams are accompanied by a number of symptoms that signify that they aren't ordinary dreams.
  • Dumb Blonde: Sophie, except when it comes to manipulation.
  • Dying Alone: Sophie's worst fear, and her motivation to seek immortality via Happily Ever After.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Sophie's "I love you" to Agatha after being impaled on the Storian.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Several of the characters get this.
    • Sophie gets hers on her introduction. She is vain, silly and shallow. But she cares about Agatha and feels unloved by her father. She also misses her mother something dreadful.
    • Agatha gets hers when she tries to save Sophie from the School Master regardless of her own safety.
    • Tedros gets his when he easily outshines all of the Ever boys and judges Sophie and Agatha based on their looks.
    • Dot is the only one to be friendly to Sophie and her loyalty to a friend (via eating double the amount of meerworms) impresses even Tedros.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite many statements that Evil cannot Love, many of the Nevers refer affectionately to their parents. Hort's most beloved possession is the pajamas his father hand made for him. And Dot sounds quite doting about her father letting her have first swing at Robin Hood.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Never students are informed in school that they should not kill unless it is absolutely necessary, lest one cease to be a proper villain and instead become a common thug. They are also told to use bullying of their henchmen only as a last resort, because a villain who cannot get a servant to do their bidding without bullying may fall victim to the henchmen bullying back. On a more direct level, many members of the Nevers feel that Sophie is taking things way too far after she begins her Sanity Slippage.
    • Hester shows disgust at the fate of the students who fail. Commenting that she's not sure what side she should be on after that.
    • Sophie herself is appalled at the concept, seemingly casual to most of her Never classmates, of eating children.
  • Expy: The Headmaster's appearance when he was young is clearly based on Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians. He even wields a similar staff and is directly compared to him in the book.
  • Evil All Along: The Schoolmaster, whom most assumed was good because Evil had been losing under his tenure of the last 200 years. But it turns out that he was just playing a long game to turn the tables on Good once and for all.
    • There are subtle hints Sophie is not a good person at all in the first and second chapters based on her personal thoughts, opinions of others, and blatant selfishness. A persistent reader who pays attention to small details will figure this out very quickly.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Spectacularly displayed by Sophie.
  • Evil Former Friend: According to the school's Blind Seer, Professor Sader, this is the true hallmark of many fairy tales, that Good was betrayed by someone close to them, and treated as a prophetic view of how Sophie and Agatha's friendship will fall.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Since Beauty Equals Goodness is a law of the fairy tale, those who embrace Evil are subjected to this. The School for Evil even has a class, Uglification, that’s dedicated to this. As Sophie grows more callous and resentful of Agatha in the first book, she is horrified to discover a real wart has grown on her chin. After her descent into Evil goes into overdrive, the new psychopathic Sophie looks just barely human enough to be an old crone.
    • This hits Sophie again, albeit in a new way, in The Last Ever After's climax, when she agrees to be the Schoomaster's queen. While the transformation certainly isn't ugly, her skin turning stark white and icy cold to the touch is right in the key of Uncanny Valley.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Sophie's effort to switch schools, and Agatha's attempts to go home.
  • False Dichotomy: The division between good and evil, hinted at throughout the first novel and smashed by the series' end.
  • Food Porn: Picnics that have students, notably, are described in detail.
  • Foreshadowing: Right from chapter 1, Sophie's father expresses doubt that Sophie will be taken by the schoolmaster, commenting that if it's good they want, it'll be a girl other than Sophie. Sure enough Sophie isn't the good one of the pair but the evil one.
  • Forced Transformation: Students for Good who fail are turned into the wolf servants for Evil, while Evil students who fail are turned into pixie servants for Good. Students who underperform in general are turned into animals, and are only content until they realize they can be turned back.
  • Formerly Fat: By the time book two comes around, Dot has lost a lot of weight and is now one of the prettiest girls at the School for Good.
  • Gambit Roulette: Many simple factors could have made Evelyn's plan fall apart entirely, but the headmaster is still resurrected.
  • Generation Xerox: Sophie's biological mother Vanessa, her father Stefan, and her stepmother Honora had a rivalry very similar to the dynamic Sophie has with Agatha and Tedros. Vanessa desperately wanted to be loved by the handsome Stefan, who was already in love with Honora, so she resorted to any means to manipulate Stefan into falling for her, none of which worked. Vanessa finally wished for any means to steal him away from Honora, so Callis, a witch wanting to escape from the Schoolmaster, appears in Gavaldon to grant the wish. She gives Vanessa a love potion that will only last one night, but tries to warn her about Equivalent Exchange. Vanessa doesn't listen, befriends Honora, and tricks Stefan into taking the potion. In no time, she winds up carrying Stefan's child, Honora leaves Stefan for cheating on her, and the village elders force Stefan and Vanessa to get married. Unfortunately, Vanessa only bears stillborn children due to the potion. Vanessa demands a fertility potion from Callis, and gives birth to two girls, one who resembles Stefan but has her Evil personality, and another who resembles her but bears Stefan's Good personality. Deciding that one was too ugly for Stefan to love, Vanessa only takes one girl home. Years later, these two girls would grow up and be whisked off to the Schools for Good and Evil. The beautiful blond girl does everything in her power to seduce the prince of Camelot, but he falls in love naturally with her homely but kind friend Agatha instead.
  • Go Through Me: Agatha tells the Head Master he'll only get Sophie, "Over My Dead Body!"
    • Earlier she'd done this with Sophie, seeing Sophie turn the tables on the Evers, she declares "Your war is with me. Let them go."
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Nobody considers Dot's power to turn anything into chocolate to be useful outside of making a snack. However, in book three, we learn that "anything" includes a barrier of poisonous mist.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Throughout the series, Hort goes through a process leading to this. In the first book, he is short, gangly and scruffy with a submissive personality. He gains more height and muscle along with determination to prove himself in A World without Princes, and by The Last Ever After, he has a toned body, clean, coiffed hair and a confident bearing. Sophie wouldn't have even recognize Hort were it not for his beady eyes.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Aric the Never is a particularly psychopathic combination of this and Blood Knight. This is somehow seen as correlative of His mother, Lady Lesso, being forced to abandon him in the Woods at age six when she became a teacher at the School for Evil. By book three, Aric is set on becoming a Self-Made Orphan.
  • Heroic Lineage: Tedros is the son of King Arthur himself.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Professor Sader, and Sophie, pulling a Heel–Face Turn..
  • Hourglass Plot: At the beginning of the trilogy, Sophie is the princess who dreams of bagging a Prince Charming, and Agatha is the witch who believes she is fated to live a lonely life. By the third book's epilogue, Agatha is the princess engaged to a prince, and Sophie is the solitary witch, but is content with the love of her friends.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "You all have no manners," Dot says in her introduction, talking with her mouth full.
    • When Sophie is trying to win Tedros over:
      Shuddering, Sophie turned back. "I did everything you said, Aggie. I focused on all the things I love about Tedros—his skin, his eyes, his cheekbones—"
      "Sophie, that's his looks! Tedros won't feel a connection if you just like him because he's handsome. How is that different from every other girl?"
      Sophie frowned. "I didn't want to think about his crown or his fortune. That's shallow."
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Even before her adventures begin, Agatha has only ever wanted to live a boring, ordinary life, albeit one where she has friends and isn't the town outcast. Learning that All Myths Are True has only strengthened this goal.
  • I Know Your True Name: Lady Lesso claims to never give her first name to prevent this. In The Last Ever After, she reveals it to be Leonora with her dying breath.
  • Intimate Healing: Sophie is brought back to life in book one by Agatha's kiss.
    • The Schoolmaster comes back from the dead by tricking Sophie into kissing him in the guise of her beloved mother.
  • Ironic Echo: The book opens with Sophie's father barricading her in her room so that the Head Master can't get her. Later in the book, it's her Never classmates barricading her room, so she can't get out and get them.
  • It's All About Me: There is nobody Sophie won't eagerly inconvenience, manipulate or flat out double-cross to get what she wants. And, should she feel even the slightest bit of regret for her actions, Sophie will just trade these thoughts for how much closer she is to her perfect Happy Ending.
    • In book three, Sophie returns to her old ways of trying to earn Tedros's affections at Agatha's expense. This case is especially egregious in that she's keeping her one link to the Evil Headmaster as a sort of insurance until Tedros accepts her love. But by doing this, she's allowing the Headmaster to retain his powers and youth, which means that Villains are continually rising from the grave and killing the heroes who defeated them. Essentially, her obsession with getting a perfect Happily Ever After is costing countless innocent people their lives. Sophie even spends a few paragraphs convincing herself that it's not really her fault that heroes are being murdered, and constantly tries to paint herself as the victim. This is all while Agatha becomes the one who risks her happiness for the greater good, in allowing Sophie to try and win over Tedros, in the hopes that she'll destroy the ring.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Agatha is grumpy, something of a Nightmare Fetishist, and has a caustic tongue. At her core however, she is a decent person with strong morals.
  • Karmic Death: The Schoolmaster was forced to search for an Evil True Love because he killed his Good brother, breaking their bond. He is destroyed for good by a bond between Good and Evil siblings that could not be broken, and at the hand of the girl he manipulated into being his bride.
  • Kick the Dog: Quite a lot of this going on, what with there being a School for Evil. Of course, the School for Good has its share, as well.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: This trope is obvious with fairy tale fangirl Sophie and gloomy, goth Agatha from the moment they are seen together. However, it is subverted as their characters are tested; Sophie is revealed to be a shallow and selfish Fille Fatale, and Agatha, though morbid and socially awkward, is loyal, compassionate and a good listener.
  • Like Father, Like Son:
    • Merlin credits Tedros’ worst traits — pride and stubbornness — to his father King Arthur.
    • Although Sophie remembers her mother Vanessa as the most beautiful, wonderful woman that ever lived, it is ultimately revealed that she was every bit as vain, deceitful and Love Hungry as her daughter.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Sophie and Agatha are the twin daughters of Vanessa and Stefan, Separated at Birth when Vanessa tried to abandon the ugly Agatha. However, both girls acknowledge that they are not truly blood, because their conception was from a magic potion.
  • Loophole Abuse: In A World Without Princes, the school is divided into a Boy side and a Girl side. Agatha needs to cross to the Boy side, but the way is blocked by the magic barrier. She manages to use its own definitions of "Boy" and "Girl" against it by bringing up the Magic Kiss she'd done with Sophie, something the barrier assumed could only happen between a boy and a girl, forcing it to admit her as a boy.
    "I said let me pass."
    "Try all you want. You won't trick me again," her reflection said. "You're obviously a Girl."
    "I know someone who wishes for a Boy must be a Girl," her reflection said confidently.
    "And why's that?"
    "Because Girls wish for Boys and Boys wish for Girls and you wished for a Boy so that makes you a Girl. Now back to your castle or—"
    "And what would that make someone who kissed a Girl?"
    "Kissed a Girl?" her reflection said, suddenly wary.
    "Kissed a Girl to life like all the best princes," Agatha glowered.
    Her reflection glowered back. "Definitely a Boy."
    Agatha's lips curled. "Exactly."
    Her image gasped, deceived once again—and vanished into thin air.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Not that Sophie was ever the most Good, but under the influence of Love, she goes full on Yandere.
  • Love Triangle: Sophie Loves Tedros, who loves Sophie, but he finds he truly loves Agatha, who loves Tedros, but loves Sophie too much to betray her, while Sophie truly loves Agatha....It's complicated.
    • In book two, it's changed. Sophie and Tedros are both pining for Agatha and are willing to start an entire war between Good and Evil to determine who gets to live happily ever after with her.
  • Loving a Shadow: Any feelings Sophie believed she had for Tedros in book one were shallow at most. What she was truly in love with is the glamorous Happily Ever After she would gain as his princess. In book three, these feelings are subconsciously transferred to Rafal, the Schoolmaster.
    • This comes back to seriously bite her in book three. To put things simply: Sophie has convinced Tedros to give her one more chance despite the fact that he and Agatha are in love. They only agree to this because Sophie needs to willingly destroy the ring she wears because it connects her to the Schoolmaster and grants him immense power, and she's too afraid of winding up alone to give up on the Headmaster unless she knows she can get her Happily Ever After without him. Finally, as Tedros knows Agatha isn't too keen on ruling a kingdom and would be happier with a simpler life, he asks Sophie why she loves him, genuinely wanting to give her a chance. Sophie's explanation boils down to, "I Just Want to Be Special, I was born for the luxury and grandeur that comes with being a queen, and Agatha would be better off living a simple life on her own." Tedros then rejects her because she never once mentioned loving him as one of the reasons she was so desperate to be with him.
  • Maybe Ever After: Although book three ends with Sophie accepting a prince-less fate by being comfortable in her own skin, it is implied that she has grown closer to Hort...
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Played With for Sophie, whose name means "wise." While she can be a capable schemer, it is more ironic because she is notoriously Book Dumb, and even her manipulations tend to fail when the marks act with true selflessness and compassion, because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
    • This trope is played straight as an arrow for Agatha. Her name means "good", foreshadowing her true nature.
    • The name of Sophie's mother, Vanessa, means "butterfly," and Sophie credits this in-universe to her beautiful and sadly brief existence. As it happens, she went through a very caterpillar-to-butterfly-like transformation.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Commonly seen throughout the School For Good.
  • Men Can't Keep House: After the School for Evil becomes boys-only, it deteriorates from dark and grimy to nigh uninhabitable.
  • Minion with an F in Evil/Minion with an F In Good: The fate of any student who fails in either school, is to serve the other. Essentially they literally minions with an F in good or evil.
  • Missing Mom: A fairy tale staple. Sophie's mother had died five years prior to the story's opening. Hester's Mom was shoved into her own oven by Hansel and Gretel.
    • Tedros' mother, Guenivere, ran off with Lancelot, leaving Tedros with serious issues.
  • Morality Chain: At the end of book 1, Sophie expresses her belief that Agatha is what keeps her from Evil. This becomes a key part of her motivations in the next book; she fears that without Agatha's influence, she will turn into a witch again.
    Agatha: You're not Evil, Sophie. You're human.
    Sophie: Only if I have you.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse:
    • It's a bit hard to tell whether Sophie is trying to kill Aggie or Tedros at certain times.
    • In book two, Tedros offers half of his fortune to whoever can kill Sophie so he can be with Agatha.
  • Named After First Installment: The series and first book are named for The Place that is central to the plots.
  • Never My Fault:
    • In book one, after choosing not to protect Tedros at the cost of her own ego during the Trial By Tale, Sophie not only loses the prince's affections, but is applauded by the Nevers for "tricking" him into helping her win. Naturally, her response is to accuse Agatha of sabotage.
    • It happens again in The Last Ever After. To settle his decision whether to take Sophie as his True Love, Tedros asks her why she wants to be Queen of Camelot. Sophie gives a illustrious speech about how she’s always known that she was never meant for boring village life, but destined for glory and greatness of Ever After. Of course, as there was no mention of Tedros in this speech, much less that Sophie loves him, he coldly rejects her. Heartbroken, Sophie decides to believe that it was always Tedros’ plan to humiliate her, instead of realizing that she just outed herself as a Gold Digger. Just like last time, her decision signals that everything is bound From Bad to Worse.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In book two, Sophie's selfishness once again sets of a catastrophic chain of events. This time it culminates in the death of a student, nearly getting Tedros to kill her and Agatha, and Evelyn ultimately takes advantage of her resulting vulnerability to trick her into resurrecting the Headmaster.
  • Noble Demon: Lady Lesso is the School of Evil’s dean and a wicked sorceress through and through, but not only does she acknowledge that Evil cannot truly exist without Good to oppose it, (unlike the Evil Schoolmaster,) her best friend and confidante is Clarissa Dovey, the Fairy Godmother. After becoming the new Evil Dean in The Last Ever After's epilogue, Sophie appears to have adopted this way of thinking in honour of Lesso.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: Sophie sees her long, silky blonde hair as proof of her destiny to be a princess, and she's extremely protective of it. Enough to kill someone for chopping it off.
  • No Indoor Voice: Castor. Made all the more noticeable when he speaks in a hushed tone in one scene.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Callis, Agatha's mother, was very much this throughout her life. As Galvadon's healer, she was homely and cantankerous, but secretly honourable and a loving mother. During her time as a professor at the School for Evil, she was pretty, nice, and dreamed of her own Happily Ever After. The only trait qualifying her to be aligned with Evil at all was a proficiency with potion-making.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Agatha is Vanessa’s daughter, but when she was born with less than perfect features, her mother demanded that Callis, her midwife and magic potion supplier, leave her in the Woods to die. Fortunately, the lonely Callis chose to keep the rejected child and raise her. In retrospect, Agatha was definitely Happily Adopted.
  • Officially Shortened Title: The series title is officially shortened to SGE.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several of the students, and even a few of the teachers, have this reaction to finding out that Sophie has become a full fledged witch.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After Tedros breaks up with her, Sophie and her Girl Posse pull a series of destructive pranks. Agatha tries to remain optimistic, but when Sophie dyes her beloved golden locks black, Aggie finally admits to herself that something is seriously wrong.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Besides the talking wolf guards, Hort's power evolves from growing a single hair on his chest to becoming a Manwolf, which apparently has more control than a Werewolf.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • Both Agatha and Sophie’s single parents. Callis is a bitter hermit who never really paid attention to Agatha, and Stefan just doesn’t understand Sophie. In A World Without Princes and The Last Ever After, however, they are given more depth as troubled people who still love their children.
    • In a lengthy flashback, it is revealed that Sophie's mother Vanessa never truly loved her, and only ever thought of her daughter as a little doll she could pretty up to grab Stefan's attention.
    • Tedros' mother, Queen Guinevere, left him alone with his father when he was quite young, and his father, while physically present, turned to drink soon after.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • A few key moments. Sophie gets one for telling Agatha, early in the story, that while she may have befriended Aggie as part of her shallow "good deed", she had come to value their friendship far more than that. She gets another later when, hearing Hort say that if he could love, he'd love her, she refrains from kicking him out of his room.
    • The Wolves get one later on. After Hester gracefully acknowledges that her talent is no match for Agatha's, she steels herself for the punishment that the Head Master doles out to the losers. In her case, it was boiling oil. Three wolves, moved by Agatha reminding them of who they'd once been shield her from this brutal fate.
  • Prince Charming: The Good boys are being trained to be to be good, chivalrious, and yes "charming".
  • Prince Charmless: The majority of the boys are fairly awful to Agatha before her makeover.
  • Princess Phase: From the start of the series, Sophie is firmly placed in one of these, using fairy tales as an escape from the mundane world she considers herself too good for. However, it is shown that she wants to emulate her pretty princesses because they are associated with the Happily Ever After she is determined to get. Sophie may crave a life of glamour, pampering and mass adoration, but ultimately, she doesn't care if she gets it through being Good or through being Evil.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Sophie was merely vain and shallow, until The Beast lopped off her golden locks with an axe. Shoving him to his death was her first truly evil action.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Agatha defiantly tells the Head Master that she'll only give him Sophie, "Over her dead body." The Head Master responds, "So it is written", throwing the Storian at her like a dagger.
  • Pure Is Not Good:
    • In the first book, when the School Master finds out about the Golden Goose giving up its power, the result of an act of evil, he thinks:
      Only one could be so pure.
      The one who would tip the balance.
    • It's said that you have to be 100% pure—Good or Evil—to hear the thoughts of animals.
  • Rapid Aging:
    • If a seer answers a question, they age 10 years on the spot as punishment.
    • As Sophie descends into witchhood in the first book, her appearance becomes old and withered.
    • When Sophie resists the Schoolmaster's advances in the first book, his Handsome Prince disguise fades away in favor of a centuries-old fossil.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • After being transformed into haggard appearances, Agatha's classmates want to run away. Agatha lays into them.
      Agatha: Our towers aren't Fair and Lovely, they're Valor and Honor! That's what Good is, you stupid cowards!
    • To establish that he is no longer her Love Martyr, Hort gives Sophie an earful in The Last Ever After, about how he knows her to be a selfish brat who worships a shallow concept of Love, and that she’s only with Rafal, the School Master now because he’s the handsomest boy around, and he caters to her every whim.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Sophie, taking the Storian to her heart to save Agatha. She gets better.
  • Rousing Speech: Agatha reminds the Ever girls that Good is about Honor and Valor rather than Beauty. The Evers immediately begin to fight.
  • Royal School: The school for Good teaches every girl how to be a princess, but only a few graduate into this in fairy tales afterwards. Most are children of former heroines, and already have the title. Not to mention the pink uniforms, Bright Castle-like building, or nymphs and fairies to serve everyone.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Apparent throughout the League of Thirteen, but especially Cinderella.
  • The Shadow Knows: In book 2, the illustration at the start of Part II is of Filip, but his shadow is still that of Sophie's.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Agatha and Sophie each have their moments.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Dean Sader uses her iconic blue butterflies to spy around the School for Girls. Professor Anemone's reaction to one implies they can't see, only eavesdrop.
  • Spit Take: In the beginning of book 2, after Agatha downs a glass of punch only for her mother to mention that she added glowworms to it.
  • Straw Feminist: "Empower girls and subjugate boys" is the School for Girls' curriculum in a nutshell.
  • Surprise Incest: Sophie and Agatha carry a lot of Foe Romance Subtext and even share True Love's Kiss, but are revealed to be sisters.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Sophie takes a potion and becomes "Filip" to infiltrate the School for Boys in the second book.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: Tedros kisses "Filip" thinking "he" is a boy.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer:
    • Guinevere was mutually in love with Lancelot since their schooldays, but she was coerced into marrying Arthur for the sake of his story. The Queen continued to pine for Lancelot until they ran away together.
    • Stefan and Honora were in love, but he was forced to marry his Stalker with a Crush Vanessa, after she slipped him a Love Potion and pulled The Baby Trap. Despite both parties being married, it is heavily implied that Honora and Stefan continued to see each other in secret, and when their respective spouses finally die, they get engaged.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: When Sophie and Agatha are trapped in the School for Evil's crypt in The Last Ever After, they discover that the graves are equipped with biographies narrated by Professor Sader. However, when the girls find the grave of Vanessa, Sophie's late mother, the biography is revealed to be a message addressed to them, which responds to Agatha's outburst in the manner of this trope. It is completely justified; he was a Blind Seer after all.
  • Toilet Humor:
    • Agatha causes panic among the princesses when she farts. Later on, when the students complain about Sophie and Agatha, one of the complaints about Agatha is that she "farted in our face!"
    • One of the things you're not allowed to do in the Flowerground is "urinating".
  • Top-Heavy Guy: The guard guarding Agatha's house against the School Master is described as having "arms as big as Agatha's whole body" and "legs like chicken drumsticks."
  • Traumatic Haircut: Involuntary and delivered by an axe.
  • True Love's Kiss: In the first book, "true love's kiss" turns out to be the answer to the riddle "What's the one thing Evil can never have... and the one thing Good can never do without?" Upon figuring this out, Sophie and Agatha try to set up a kiss between Sophie and Tedros, reasoning that if they succeed, it will prove that Sophie isn't a villain and they'll be allowed to go home. At the end of the book, after Sophie is killed by the Schoolmaster, Agatha kisses her in grief, which brings her back to life.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Played with. The Schoolmaster's ultimate plan was to lure someone with evil to match his own and gain Evil Love, allowing Evil to win over Good forever. However, what he really needed was a girl who wanted his love enough to kill, as he was too self-interested to feel genuine love. His True Love, Sophie, began and remained a means to his victory.
  • The Unsmile: Agatha's attempts at smiling in Beautification Class leave her teacher and classmates very concerned.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Invoked as part of the rules on how to act Good or Evil, specifically, Villains Act and Heroes Defend.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sophie and Agatha are genuinely friends, but they each get furious with one another quite frequently.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: A skill taught by the school, referred to as mogrification. Agatha's preferred form is a cockroach, while Sophie's is a pink fox.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tedros gets one of these from Agatha after he beheads a gargoyle.
  • The White Prince: Tedros is the most yearned for of the Ever boys but he is also immature and judges on appearances.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Sophie's father, Stefan, wishes Sophie could have been a son, and he ignores her dreams of glamour and fantasy. At least, that's how Sophie perceives him.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Ultimately averted with Honora, a Gavaldon woman whom Sophie's father, Stefan, courts and eventually becomes engaged to. Sophie certainly believes Honora is a potential one, but this is based on her adoration for her dead mother and her belief in fairy tales. The worst thing Honora has done is ask Sophie to help her around the house and participate in the wedding.
  • Woman Scorned: Sophie.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Sophie is certain that when she and Agatha live out their own fairytales, Agatha will be the wicked villainess and Sophie herself be the beautiful princess who will marry a handsome prince in the end and live Happily Ever After. However, it turns out Agatha is chosen to be the princess in her fairytale, and Sophie is destined to be the villain trying to steal her happy ending.
  • Yandere: Sophie, towards Tedros. As revealed in The Last Ever After, she gets it from her mother.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Once the Schoolmaster is defeated, thereby ending Sophie and Agatha's fairy tale, the girls, Tedros, and every other fairy tale character must return to the Woods to live Happily Ever After, meaning Sophie and Agatha can never return to Gavaldon.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Evelyn Sader's reward from the Evil Schoolmaster for tricking Sophie into bringing him back is a swift, but extremely painful, death.