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Literature / The Three Musketeers

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The Three Musketeers, give or take a Gascon.

All for one and one for all!

Les Trois Mousquetaires (1844). One of the most famous pieces of French Literature, written by Alexandre Dumas (père), who's also known for writing The Count of Monte Cristo.

In the year 1625, d'Artagnan, the son of a noble but poor family, leaves his home in Gascony and heads to Paris to follow a dream: to become a Musketeer of the Guard, one of the most prestigious military units in the whole of France. Armed with only his courage and a letter of introduction from his father, d'Artagnan heads out.

Though he loses the letter in an altercation with a mysterious man in a black cape with a scar on his face, d'Artagnan presses on and meets the titular three musketeers: leader and father-figure Athos, the vain and famously gluttonous Big Guy Porthos, and The Casanova and Smart Guy Aramis.

Together, they have a series of swashbuckling adventures in France.


The main antagonists are the Cardinal Richelieu and his agent, Milady de Winter. D'Artagnan's Love Interest is Distressed Damsel Madame Bonacieux, at least while he is not being seduced by Milady.

The book has been adapted many times, in many countries and in virtually every medium. It has two sequels, which are much less well known: Twenty Years After (1845) and The Vicomte of Bragelonne (serialized 1847–1850). The latter is often divided into three, four or five volumes. Some parts of one particular subplot in the second sequel, related to the imprisoned twin brother of Louis XIV (the famous Man in the Iron Mask), have also inspired several films. For a list of works based on or inspired by The Three Musketeers and its sequels, see here.


The trilogy as a whole provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Athos is essentially the perfect gentleman. He was born into high rank, has impeccable manners, a thorough education, and outstanding skill at arms. However, he also spends a lot of his life squandering his quality due to poor luck and a morose personality. He's also a pretty lousy hangman.
  • The Alcoholic: Athos is almost always Drowning His Sorrows, but Never Gets Drunk (or at least doesn't show it).
  • Aristocrat Team: The titual trio are composed of Athos, the former Comte de la Fere, roughly equivalent to a regional governor; Aramis, a former monk of the Roman Catholic Church, while not an aristocrat per se, still lived better than most Frenchmen at the time; and Porthos, a "dandy" from a minor bloodline that nonetheless holds substantial wealth. Their newest adjunct is D'Artagnan, sent to Paris by his father, a decorated officer of the French Army. Granted, excepting Athos, they're more cyan-bloods than blue-bloods, but they're much better outfitted than their countrymen.
  • Artistic License – History: The real D'Artagnan was only 15 year old at the time of the first novel (circa 1627). He served only Louis XIV as a musketeer (like he would in Le Vicomte de Bragelonne), not Louis XIII.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Aramis does this almost as a sort of Catchphrase, annoying his friends with his primly Holier Than Thou attitude. In the second book he does it ironically, but after his Face–Heel Turn in the third, the hypocrisy is back.
  • Automaton Horses: Entirely subverted. Horses regularly keel over, get shot, and get ridden to death, with the careful planning of replacement horses at regularly-placed intervals being an integral part of any high-speed chase. Of course, the novels were written when horses were the only form of personal transportation.
  • Badass Bookworm: Aramis, despite being a thorough womanizer and elite soldier, is also an academic with a passion for the clergy. Unfortunately, as he says himself when a soldier he feels a calling for the clergy and vice versa.
  • Big Fun: Porthos starts off as the rollicking, boozing, woman-chasing party animal of the Musketeers. As the series wears on, he seems to get physically larger every time he's described, until by the final book, he's practically a giant.
  • The Big Guy: Porthos, whose size and strength seems to grow with each book.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Porthos, more and moreso as the books go on. Makes sense, since his strength grows too. His boisterousness bites him in the ass once, when his temper allows a cardinal's agent to lure him into duel and Porthos gets run thorough with a sword before he can react. In his next fight he is much more careful and collected.
  • Book Dumb: d'Artagnan has no interest in academia, yet he's the group's idea man. The group sometimes goes into dangerous situations without much planning, confident that "d'Artagnan will think of something". And he does. As part of his Character Development in the sequels, he seems to have overcome this.
  • Broken Ace: Athos is outstanding for his looks, thorough education, martial prowess, and social graces. Unfortunately, he is also a somewhat misogynistic alcoholic with truly terrible luck, though he is less misogynistic than horribly distrustful of women, because he married the patron saint of Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, Milady de Winter. Athos really achieves this status in the later books, when his faith in Royalty is shattered when the king takes his son's fiancee as his mistress.
  • Career-Revealing Trait: Lady Winter is charged with prostitution in her early days, for which a fleur-de-lis is put on her left shoulder with a branding iron. Cunning minx that she is, she exploits this as proof to Felton that the Duke of Buckingham plans to make her into a concubine.
  • The Cavalier Years: Dumas casts the 17th century as a romantic age of heroism, intrigue and derring-do, when men were men.
  • Central Theme: Dedicating your life to a cause larger than yourself.
  • Door Stopper: The Three Musketeers is only one of three books that comprise the "D'Artagnan Romances"— the other two being Twenty Years After which takes place... well, twenty years after the first... and The Vicomte of Bragellone. They're all over 600 pages each, meaning the entire three-volume set would run a whopping 2000 pages.
  • Fake Faint: Milady de Winter pretends to faint while faking a suicide attempt in a British prison.
  • Friendly Enemy: In the sequels, the four musketeers often find themselves on different sides of political intrigues. At one point, they capture one another in battle. Still, they remain as close as brothers until they die, help each other escape even when ordered to arrest one another, and consider Athos' son "a son to us all."
  • Funetik Aksent: Used in the original French and some translations, with d'Artagnan's Gascon accent coming out when he exclaims, "Mordioux!" The Swiss soldiers also talk funny. ("La graisse te l'oie, il est très ponne avec des gonfitures."/"Goose grease is kood with basdry.")
  • Gentlemen Rankers: All of the musketeers are more gentlemen than rankers by the nature of their unit. However, Athos, who is really the Count de la Fère, is nonetheless serving well below his station as an actual aristocrat.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Athos has a strong hatred of women, particularly blondes. Having your wife Milady turn out to be a branded thief will do that to a man. She's even worse when they meet again.
  • The Hero: d'Artagnan is the main protagonist of the trilogy that starts with him Jumping at the Call and ends with his death.
  • Historical Domain Character: Louis XIII, his wife Anne of Austria, his minister Cardinal Richelieu; Louis XIV, his mistress Louise de La Vallière, his ministers Cardinal Mazarin and Jean-Baptiste Colbert; the English monarch Charles I of The House of Stuart, his wife Henrietta Marie, his Parliamentary opponent Oliver Cromwell; and even The Man In The Iron Mask, who was an actual person, though very little is known of him. That's why he has been such a popular figure in fiction.
    • D'Artagnan himself was a real person named Charles de Batz de Castelmore (D'Artagnan was his mother's name, and he decided to use it when he moved to Paris), who really was Captain of the Musketeers, but very little about his actual life is known. He's been very much overshadowed by his literary counterpart.
  • Hot-Blooded: D'Artagnan is frequently described as hot-blooded, and his Gascon heritage is blamed. Gascons were the French equivalent of Violent Glaswegian in Dumas' era.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Gascons are almost universally poor. Athos retains only a few traces of his high birth, including a Cool Sword Porthos would trade at least one arm for.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: This trope occurs several times throughout the series, with characters breaking their swords over their knee when they surrender, yield or refuse to obey the King, effectively quitting their job.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: At the beginning of the story, D'Artagnan is 19 and Athos is said to be twice his age. The age gap is explicitly noted in-universe, as well as the father/mentor role played by Athos.
  • The Lancer: Where d'Artagnan is Hot-Blooded, ambitious, somewhat idealistic and the youngest member of the group, Athos is brooding, apathetic, cynical and the oldest member of the group, about a decade older than him. In the sequel d'Artagnan turns into a jaded pragmatic due to decades of military service away from his friends, while Athos becoming a father and striving to be a good example for his son results in him sometimes falling into Honor Before Reason.
  • Like a Son to Me: Athos sometimes calls D'Artagnan "my son" in moments of great affection, even after he has a real son.
  • Melodrama: Every girl is the receiver of True, Passionate Romance, loyalty to King, Queen and Country are True and Absolute, and every tiny transgression is cause for a Duel! to the Death! Impassioned hamminess is considered the most praiseworthy of qualities in this novel. A bit of an Invoked Trope due to the setting's Blue-and-Orange Morality — the reason Milady is so dangerous in-universe is because she keeps a low profile and doesn't play by the rules.
  • The Napoleon: D'Artagnan is described as quite short, but it doesn't seem to bother him. He is extremely Hot-Blooded in the first book, but even in Twenty Years After, when he's matured a lot, he challenges two of his best friends to a duel because they bruised his ego.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Athos is described as having the capacity of four men, but hardly shows it. It takes a two week binge of ten bottles a day for us to see him unsteady on his feet. Even then, he can tell an …And That Little Girl Was Me story almost perfectly.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Wounds are usually enough of a problem to still hurt people after several weeks (D'Artagnan ramming Athos in his already-injured shoulder in a Crash-Into Hello is the basis for the duel that ends up sealing their friendship), but some injuries to D'Artagnan definitely fall in this category and are Hand Waved away by claiming that they closed very quickly due to the weapon used. Since all the protagonists like to put on a Made of Iron persona, they still prefer to shrug off stab wounds to in-universe spectators.
  • Perpetual Poverty: All four protagonists, especially in the first novel. In later books however Porthos becomes a rich landlord. His adventures often cut him off from his estate, though.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The characters are rarely, if ever, actually depicted as using muskets. Though they do use muskets on the one occasion at which it would be appropriate to, when there's a war on. Using muskets when they're just wandering around Paris causing trouble would be unsporting. Plus the novels are set in the mid-1600s. At that point, muskets were still fairly clumsy, unreliable, inaccurate weapons that were painfully slow to reload; for close combat a sword and/or a brace of pistols were just better than long guns.
  • Pretty Boy: Aramis is described as being as pretty as a woman. Of course, he's the one of the Musketeers who's most popular with women.
  • Rule of Three: The Three Musketeers; except there's actually four of them after D'Artagnan joins the original trio.
  • Sword Fight: Despite being Musketeers, the heroes usually favor their swords. This changes somewhat when we see them on the battlefield. This is justified though by the weapons technology of the time which required a lengthy reloading process between shots.
  • Unbuilt Trope: The original novel is a lot like The Prisoner of Zenda in that while it's a major influence on the swashbuckler genre, it's much more cynical than the films it inspired (including most of its own adaptations). D'Artagnan is something of an anti-hero: he has several love affairs and is not above tricking Milady into sleeping with him while she thinks she's sleeping with her lover. Unlike the malevolent Evil Chancellor of adaptations, Richelieu is an Anti-Villain who has France's welfare in mind. Ultimately, D'Artagnan ends up working for him and becomes good friends with Rochefort, Richelieu's Dragon, after besting him in several duels. The later books tended to deconstruct it further, with all of their antics in the first book biting them in the ass repeatedly in the later ones, and the most chivalric of the four suffering the most for his Royalist and traditional stances.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Dumas's novel is based on Courtilz's novel, which is very loosely based on a true story. D'Artagnan was a real man, and even some of the fictional characters are based on real people — or at least their names.
  • The Voiceless: Grimaud, by Athos' command. By the second book Athos has given him leave to speak, but by then he's grown used to being quiet. When he does speak, he's very monosyllabic. When Athos dies in the last book, Grimaud cries without a sound.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Several characters, the most serious offender being Porthos. He quips so much that it's actually part of his combat technique. In the first sword fight from the book the duel between d'Artagnan and all three of the musketeers, that got interrupted by the cardinal's guards, Porthos gets stuck fighting two adversaries at once and he finishes first because he keeps tormenting them with questions about the time, what they thought of this and that social event at court, corrections about their fighting styles, etc. He of course is not the only offender, all of the characters engaging in this behavior from time to time.

The Three Musketeers provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Steed: d'Artagnan's yellow horse, which he disposes of as soon as he reaches Paris. It shows up again when Porthos is given an insult by his mistress.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: Athos (already a pseudonym!) describes his marriage as that of "a friend of mine". Then the hundred fifty-odd bottles of wine he drank over the last two weeks catch up with him and he slips into the first-person at the end. Not that d'Artagnan didn't already figure it out, and the chapter itself is titled "Athos' Wife".
  • And This Is for...:
    In three seconds, d'Artagnan had given him three strokes of the sword, saying at each stroke:
    "One for Athos, one for Porthos, one for Aramis!"
    At the third stroke, the gentleman fell in a heap.
    D'Artagnan thought he was dead, or at least unconscious, and went up to him to take the order; but just as he reached out to search him, the wounded man, who had not let go of his sword, thrust the point into his chest, saying:
    "And one for you!"
    "And one for me! Saving the best for last!" d'Artagnan cried, furious, and pinned him to the ground with a fourth stroke through the stomach.
  • Appeal to Familial Wisdom: d'Artagnan tell an inn-keeper about a family balm healing any wound in 24 hours.
  • Artistic License – History: Dumas was never a man to let the facts interfere with a good story. Particularly notable is that the entire first novel of the series is an anachronism: the name of D'Artagnan first appears in the records of the musketeers in 1633, five years after the novel ends and nearly a decade after Dumas's hero presents himself to M. de Treville. (Speaking of whom, the real Treville was himself a new musketeer in 1625, and wasn't made captain of the musketeers until, again, after the first novel ends.) Of the three musketeers after whom the novel is named, suffice it to say that they are entirely fictional creations with real names attached, and if they are ever historically accurate it is only by accident.
  • Assassination Attempt: Milady is sent to England to kill the Duke of Buckingham. The Duke imprisons her and assigns his servant Felton to guard her. Milady convinces Felton to free her and kill the Duke for her, which he does.
  • Avengers Assemble: Played with. Losing his companions en route of a dangerous mission, D'Artagnan must spend three chapters collecting them back up and extricating them from the situations their particular personality quirks have gotten them into.
  • Badass Creed: The code of the musketeers, which only appears twice in the original story: "One for all and all for one!"
  • Batman Gambit: Milady de Winter's ability to pull off these is what makes her formidable — if she's unable to carry out an assassination she can just get someone else to do it for her. Cardinal Richelieu is the story's specialist.
  • Bed Trick: D'Artagnan spends a night with Milady de Winter pretending to be Count de Wardes, both for the reason of getting information out of her and for the obvious reason. After that, he insults her (still acting as de Wardes!) and gets to sleep with her again, as himself this time, since she wants revenge on de Wardes. She winds up asking D'Artagnan to challenge de Wardes to duel. It gets worse.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end of the first book, the heroes win out against Milady and avoid being destroyed by Richelieu, but at the cost of the death of Madame Bonacieux, d'Artagnan's love interest, not to mention how the trial of Milady has soiled the soldier's life for his three friends, leaving him alone within the Musketeers by book's end. Richelieu, for his part, makes out like a bandit: by the end of the story, of the people who dared to oppose him: Constance and Buckingham are dead, the queen's other supporters are in exile, the Queen herself is isolated, Porthos and Aramis have retired, and Athos does the same not long after, leaving only D'Artagnan who owes the Cardinal his life. Plain and simple, Richelieu wins.
  • Bowdlerise: Most adaptations of the book tend to portray D'Artagnan and the Musketeers as much more loveable than they are in the book, omitting such "small details" as their routinely seducing rich married women to fleece them out of their money, or making Constance into Bonacieux's daughter, rather than his wife, if not omitting Bonacieux entirely. In most adaptations, Athos merely banishes Milady from his lands (or, as in the 1993 Disney version, turns her in) instead of hanging her.
  • Bump into Confrontation: This is how d'Artagnan meets Athos and Porthos. He crashes into both of them (separately) and handles the result badly, leading to two duel challenges. (Minutes later, after resolving to mend his ways and be more polite, d'Artagnan tries to behave friendly to Aramis and only ends up embarrassing him, earning himself a third duel challenge.)
  • Butt-Monkey: Kitty, Milady's servant who's seduced, raped, and cast aside by d'Artagnan.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Played with. D'Artagnan and Athos sit for a drinking bout after about half the book. Athos tells D'Artagnan his family history, and D'Artagnan pretends to pass out to not have to listen to any more. Athos comments that "Young people today can't hold their liquor. Even that one, who is one of the best." His judgment might be just a bit skewed due to drinking around 150 bottles over two weeks.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: At the siege of La Rochelle, D'Artagnan and his friends go and have breakfast in a bastion in the middle of the battleground just so they can talk without worrying about the Cardinal's spies overhearing them. They win a bet by holding the bastion for the length of the meal, too.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: When d'Artagnan and the musketeers are caught brawling with the Cardinal's Guard, their commander, Treville "scolded his Musketeers in public, and congratulated them in private" (chapter 6). Then, the king is expected to punish them, but when Treville tells him how bravely they fought the king decides to thank and reward them instead.
  • Code Name: "Athos" (the Count de la Fère), "Porthos" (du Vallon) and "Aramis" (René d'Herblay).
  • Contrived Coincidence: All over the place. Here are some prominent examples:
    • On the way to Paris, D'Artagnan happens to meet Rochefort and Milady, two schemers who work for Richelieu.
    • The wife of D'Artagnan's landlord, Constance Bonacieux, happens to work for the Queen and to be involved in her secret schemes. Consequently, she is hunted down by Richelieu's henchmen.
    • When she comes back from England, Milady happens to stop in the convent where Constance Bonacieux lives in hiding.
  • The Corrupter: Milady's specialty. In England, she persuades Felton to break her out, then to murder Buckingham. In her backstory, she seduced a priest, then persuaded him to steal holy vessels.
  • Crash-Into Hello: While he had just seen them in their commander's office, D'Artagnan first speaks to Athos and Porthos after running into them. This being seventeenth century France, they immediately challenge him to duels.
  • Dating Catwoman: D'Artagnan dates Milady for a while. And really, he is the one who lies to her. This is nothing to Athos, however, as he is still legally married to Milady by the time the book takes place.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • After d'Artagnan defeats Rochefort, The Dragon of Richelieu, in several duels, the two become close friends.
    • This thinking is so prevalent that D'Artagnan is able to use it as part of a Batman Gambit: In order to get close to Milady de Winter (to track down Madame Bonacieux... originally), he purposely goads her brother-in-law, Lord de Winter, into a duel, so D'Artagnan can spare his life and become his friend. It works.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: D'Artagnan is willing to kill Rochefort for the crime of insulting his horse. Athos Porthos and Aramis are willing to kill him for minor transgressions (bumping into him, ruining a shirt and accidentally revealing an affair, respectively).
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Athos is prone to this. It's depicted as habitual and inexplicable until he tells his …And That Little Girl Was Me story.
  • Duel to the Death: The series features a number of duels, some more lethal than others. Of particular note, D'Artagnan meets and befriends the title trio when each of them challenge him to a duel on the same day.
  • Dumped via Text Message: A 17th-century variation after Milady de Winter arranges another midnight rendezvous with the Count de Wardes (unaware that every letter to the count ended up given to d'Artagnan, and even their first meeting was with d'Artagnan with the lights off), and gets a reply that basically tells her to wait her turn, he's got so many women throwing themselves at him he can afford to be picky. Milady is stunned and mortified before turning furious, seducing d'Artagnan in exchange for killing de Wardes. After she upholds her end of the bargain, d'Artagnan has the brilliant idea to reveal the entire truth to her, although this lets him see her fleur-de-lis brand that identifies her as Athos' wife.
  • Dwindling Party:
    • The musketeers and their servants peel off to hold off pursuers, deal with ambushes or tend to their wounds as the eight travel to London, with only D'Artagnan and Planchet reaching their destination. However, everybody survive in one piece, and they are reunited as D'Artagnan travels home.
    • Adaptations usually remove the servants for brevity and the party loses only musketeers. One by one, in truly You Shall Not Pass! moments. Making the story even more dramatic.
  • Eat the Evidence: Athos forces his servant Grimaud to eat an incriminating letter, to make sure the Cardinal won't ever find it.
  • Elite Agents Above the Law: The Ur-Example. King Louis XIII of France has the Musketeers among others as official guardians of France and her interests. However, Louis's laissez-faire attitude to rulership in the novel means France effectively has two heads of state, the second being Cardinal Richelieu, the head of the French Catholic Church. Richelieu also maintains a cadre of agents, most of which are covert, that answer only to him. Understandably, the King's Musketeers and the Cardinal's Guards have an intense Interservice Rivalry and routinely cross swords (duels are ostensibly illegal in France). Meanwhile, Femme Fatale Lady DeWinter is charged with disposing of the Duke of Buckingham, and she carries a writ that makes her untouchable by French authorities: "What the bearer of this deed has done, is by my command, and for the good of France. Richelieu" As Aramis comments upon reading it, "It is an absolution in all its forms."
  • Establishing Character Moment: Aramis' backstory as he tells it to d'Artagnan in the first book. After spending most of the first 20 years of his life in a Jesuit college he was gravely insulted by a romantic rival. He then put off his ordination for a year and spent that year learning how to fight (something most noblemen would have been taught from childhood) just so he could kill the guy in a duel. For all his poetry-writing, his Scripture-quoting and his Camp Straight manner, Aramis is not someone you want to cross.
  • Evil Chancellor: Richelieu. While he is quite loyal to France, having a King deciding things is quite unnecessary, thank you very much. This trait is overplayed to the hilt in adaptations that turn him into the main villain.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: There's an inversion of the good blonde and bad brunette, as the heroine, Constance, has dark hair, and Milady, the villain, is angelic looking.
  • Fatal Attraction: The backstory has Athos realizing his wife was a criminal and trying to kill her. In the present, D'Artagnan sleeps with Athos' ex-wife unaware of her true identity. She's a murderer and the villainness, so in the end, the musketeers murder her. Yeah, it was a different time.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: After the whole Queen-and-Buckingham incident is resolved, the eponymous heroes and D'Artagnan each go their own way (but come back together in the sequels).
  • Fire-Forged Friends: When d'Artagan first meets up with the three musketeers, in sequence, he ends up having to face a duel with each. It's when the Cardinal's men try to arrest them and they fight them off that the four of them become friends.
  • Fleur de Lis: An important plot point is that Milady has her shoulder branded with a fleur-de-lis, which marks her as a convicted felon.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: In the first chapter, d'Artagnan has a secret recipe for a balm involving oil, wine, and rosemary, which can heal any wound, no matter how grievous, in the space of a day or two. By the end of chapter 27, his musketeer friends have each been wounded — Athos more than once — and at no point does d'Artagnan think of using this balm to bring them back to health.
  • "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Cardinal Richelieu gives one of these to Milady de Winter: "It is on my orders and for the good of France that the bearer of this letter has done what they have done." Athos promptly steals it, and when he, the other titular Musketeers, and D'Artagnan kill Milady de Winter, he gives it to D'Artagnan to use against Richelieu himself. Who decides to accept it and give him a promotion.
  • Graceful Loser: After D'Artagnan and friends have defeated his scheme, Cardinal Richelieu acts in the only manner he can, being who he is... he offers D'Artagnan a job. Talent like that shouldn't be wasted. (It is earlier mentioned in the book that the Cardinal is incapable of being vengeful, because the pursuit of vengeance really gets in the way of the pursuit of power.)
    • While his scheme is defeated, at best it is a minor inconvenience to the Cardinal who is far too powerful for anything that the Musketeers do to actually harm or seriously affect him and his position. That he offers D'Artagnan a job still counts as this trope, however, as if he wished he could crush the young Musketeer without effort.
  • Historical In-Joke: Lampshaded. John Felton is so seduced by a captive Milady De Winter that not only does he set her free but also goes as far as assassinate her captor, George Villiers, the First Duke of Buckingham. Felton did, indeed, assassinate the Duke, but more likely for political reasons, probably due to discontent regarding the state of the English navy.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In the books, Cardinal Richelieu is an adversary of the Musketeers, but not an actual villain. In many adaptations, though, he's turned into the Big Bad. The same goes for Mazarin and Colbert.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Milady hid her branded thief status when they got married. Since marriage to a branded thief disgraced him and his family, he executed her for her betrayal (or so he thought). Unlike most modern examples of this trope Athos isn't portrayed as wrong for doing so and neither does he consider his honor restored by the act. It's shown just how devastated he is for losing his honour and failing his family.
  • Hot for Preacher: Milady is a nun who has seduced a monk and left the convent, only to abandon the monk to marry Athos, only to abandon him to marry Lord de Winter, whom she poisons. She is not a nice Milady.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: Athos on giving his real name: "Because I am believed to be dead, and have reasons for wishing nobody to know I am living; so that I shall be obliged to kill you to prevent my secret from roaming over the fields."
  • I Have Many Names: Milady uses or is referred to by the following names throughout the novel:
    • Charlotte Backson (the name Milady's brother-in-law, Lord de Winter, attempts to bestow upon her in his plan to banish her to the colonies)
    • Anne de Breuil (the name Athos knew Milady by when he met her)
    • Comtesse de La Fère (the title and name Milady assumed when she married Athos, who was Comte de La Fère at the time)
    • Milady de Winter, Baroness of Sheffield (the general name Milady is referred to throughout the story)
    • Lady Clarick (a variation on the previous name; in some English translations, this is translated as Clarisse or Clarice). Athos even makes a sober gibe at that (at least he did in D'Artagnan and Three Musketeers): "So many of you and so few of me..."
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: In the first book, D'Artagnan has a running rivalry with Rochefort and makes an intensely personal enemy of Milady de Winter, but things never get so personal with their employer Richelieu.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Appears in some English translations. The original: "C'etait une nuit orageuse et sombre." Literally, "It was a stormy and dark night" (the primary meaning of orage is "thunderstorm"), but a translator could hardly be blamed for changing it just a little bit to match the cliché.
  • It Was a Gift: Subverted. D'Artagnan starts out with three gifts from his father: a sword, a horse, and a letter of introduction so he can join the Musketeers. He loses all three of them in the first chapter — the letter is stolen, the sword broken in a duel, and he sells the horse (an ancient nag with a ridiculous colour) as soon as he reaches Paris.
  • Jumped at the Call: d'Artagnan leaves home as soon as he is an adult to find his fortune with his sword arm.
  • Karma Houdini: Richelieu, despite opposing the Musketeers through most of the first book, winds up just as powerful as he was when the book started. He can even give d'Artagnan a promotion. And in the second book, Athos even wishes he were alive again instead of Mazarin. This is presumably as the real Richelieu stayed in favor with the king. In adaptations that make him into the Big Bad, however, he is usually defeated.
  • Knows the Ropes: Porthos's servant Mousqueton is extremely adept Western-style roping, a talent he puts to good use when his master needs wine. Mousqueton lassos bottles of wine out of the cellar like an expert and hauls them back to Porthos.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Athos very nearly does this to Grimaud in a dice game after losing two horses and quite a lot of other stuff. D'Artagnan is not amused to find his diamond ring playing a prominent role in the story.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: If Buckingham just stayed in England instead of going to see the Queen he was madly in love with, a great deal of diplomatic incidents, drama and his death could have been avoided.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Milady, especially prominent when she manages to persuade John Felton, her jailer, to kill the most powerful man in England, and a good friend of De Winter (Felton's beloved commander officer): the Duke of Buckingham.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Jussac is an officer in the Cardinal's guard and attempts to arrest the musketeers at the convent.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: D'Artagnan has pulled a Bed Trick on Milady. She discovers it while they're cuddling and gets murderous. He's forced to barricade himself in her maid's room, borrow a dress, and flee in drag.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The title is somewhat misleading, as it refers to Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who are actually co-stars to d'Artagnan, the true protagonist. Further, the titular Musketeers are only once seen to be in possession of muskets — virtually all of the fighting is done with swords or pistols.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Cardinal Richelieu's biggest motive against Queen Anne is that she rejected his advances some time before the story started. When she rejects him, he plots to turn the King against her by exposing her (platonic) affair with the Duke of Buckingham and treason against France (the king is more relieved that she didn't cheat on him than she's asking her brothers to invade France).
  • Nun Too Holy: In her backstory, Milady was a nun. As such, she seduced a priest, then persuaded him to steal holy vessels.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Used by the musketeers during the siege of La Rochelle to escape from a (previously damaged and deserted) minor fort in which they had gathered to eat, drink and plot: they and their valets set the corpses around the fort, so as to be visible to the advancing enemy party; while their enemies were shooting, they slink away at leisurely pace.
  • Off with His Head!: Milady de Winter is beheaded close to the end of the book for the various murders she committed or had done, and her body dumped in a convenient river.
  • One Extra Member: There are actually four musketeers: d'Artagnan becomes one pretty early in the story, albeit assigned to a company different from the other three.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Porthos pretends to know a rich noblewoman (Milady de Winter) in a church where his lover, Madame Coquenard, attends mass. This is just because Madame Coquenard has been distant with him recently and because he wants to make her jealous to extort money from her. It works.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Modern readers coming to ''The Three Musketeers" blind might be surprised and amused by how much time this swashbuckling novel of romance and adventure spends examining just how damn broke the titular characters are.
  • Poisonous Captive: Milady pulls this by seducing her jailer when captured in England, twisting the guy so much that he becomes an assassin, attacking The Duke of Buckingham.
  • Poison Ring: Milady poisons Constance using one of these in the convent of Béthune. She had planned to kidnap her, but since the musketeers are approaching, she decides to poison her instead.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Cardinal Richelieu is stated to have given up such petty things as vengeance, since they end up in the way of getting and keeping power.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Queen's diamonds must be brought back from England in time for the ball where Richelieu intends to publicly expose their absence.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The musketeers need a secluded place to discuss their plans, so Athos places a bet that not only can they hold The Bastion de La Rochelle for an hour, but that they can have breakfast there, too. And it works.
  • The Rest Shall Pass: When d'Artagnan and his friends are in secret mission to London, the Cardinal's agents try three times to ambush or derail them in different ways. Each time one of the musketeers is left behind taking care of the enemies while the rest carry on, until at the end d'Artagnan is the only one who arrives to London.
  • Returning the Handkerchief: D'Artagnan first meets Aramis while the latter has his foot on a handkerchief. D'Artagnan picks it up and hands it to Aramis, accidentally revealing Aramis's relationship with a lady and creating an opportunity for a duel.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Combined with False Reassurance. One treacherous character gets rewarded for aiding Cardinal Richelieu and has the bad judgment to "remind the Cardinal he is still alive" with what is presumably a letter begging for money. The Cardinal's response is that he will "take care of him for the rest of his life". The reader is informed a page later that the guy disappeared one day and is assumed to have spent the rest of his life "secure" in a castle with all of his meals provided. The character appears again, much transformed, in the sequel. Exactly what he went through is not clear, although it's unlikely Richelieu really cared what happened to him.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: The rivalry between M. Treville and Cardinal Richelieu, which extends to the Musketeers they command. Technically, they all work for the King of France.
  • Serious Business: Several monks have a very long, involved talk over whether or not a priest should give blessings with one finger or two. Athos eventually realizes that the whole discussion is idiotic, and goes back to killing people.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: D'Artagnan seduces Milady's servant, Kitty, pulls a Bed Trick on Milady, and then seduces Milady as himself (all within the span of 2 weeks, mind you). He confesses the Bed Trick while still naked in Milady's bed, and gets chased out through Kitty's rooms. Since he obviously can't escape Milady's wrath naked, Kitty gives him her dress. This immediately becomes hilarious when he runs to Athos' house, barges in, and gets mistaken for an especially aggressive prostitute!
  • Shoot the Dangerous Minion: Richelieu is happy for this reason when the heroes kill Milady and gives D'Artagnan a promotion/job as a reward. While the Cardinal was willing to use her services, he's Affably Evil, whereas she was a psycho vamp and thus he was happy to be rid of her.
  • Shot in the Ass: Happens to Porthos' servant Mousqueton.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In chapter 1, d'Artagnan is compared to Don Quixote.
    • In chapter 23, M. de Treville quotes The Aeneid by Virgil: "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes."
    • In chapter 28, Aramis, who is looking out a window, is compared to Sister Anne, a character of Bluebeard, a folktale by Charles Perrault.
    • In chapter 32, Mme. Coquenard is compared to the protagonist of The Miser, a play by Molière.
    • In chapter 36, d'Artagnan is compared to Don Japhet of Armenia, a character of a 1653 play by Paul Scarron.
  • Silly Reason for War: The Duke of Buckingham was willing to go to war with France if diplomatic relations broke down... because it would keep him away from the Queen of France that he was in love with.
  • Sinister Minister: The Cardinal, though he's an antagonist because he is the prime minister of France. The religious aspect of his position is irrelevant to his character and the plot.
  • Slave Brand: Milady de Winter has a brand marking her as a convicted criminal.
  • Skewed Priorities: Louis XIII forcibly takes a letter from his wife and is overjoyed that it only contains instructions to her brother to attack France (which is, y'know, treason) rather than proof that she loves the Duke of Buckingham back.
  • Talking Your Way Out:
    • Milady De Winter is imprisoned by the Duke of Buckingham under the care of John Felton, and not only convinces Felton to free her, but also to assassinate the Duke.
    • Not long before the execution she talks to her guards. The guards seem unimpressed, but the musketeers take no chances and replace them.
    • Later she talks to d'Artagnan and almost convinces him to free her. He has to be restrained.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: D'Artagnan receives a case of wine along with a note that indicates it's from his fellow musketeers. Before he can drink any of it, an enemy mook drinks some and dies... it was poisoned wine sent by Milady to kill him.
  • Title Confusion: A classic example. There are actually four musketeers; the three referred to in the title are the mentors of the protagonist, D'Artagnan.
  • Two-Timer Date: D'Artagnan innocently manages to offend each of the three of the eponymous musketeers on the same day, and each challenge him to a duel. d'Artagnan schedules all three duels for the same place and at short increments after each other. When they realize what he's done, he insists that he will do his best to be alive for each of his scheduled appointments and apologizes sincerely if he should be killed and unavailable for any following duels.
  • The Vamp: Milady is incredibly beautiful and knows how to use it to manipulate men, up to and including sex if that's what it takes to achieve her goals. Said goals frequently involve murder, with the man getting disposed of once he outlives his usefulness.
  • Villainous Valour: In the opening chapters, the titular characters and D'artagnan are engaged in a duel with five members of the Cardinal's Guard, the traditional enemies of the Musketeers. After four members of the Guards have been wounded, one fatally, all four of the protagonists turn to the single remaining Guard and ask for his honorable surrender since he is outnumbered four to one. The Guard refuses, however, and is ready to fight all of the Musketeers until his superior officer, who had been wounded earlier in the fight, orders him to stand down. He accepts the order, but breaks his sword over his knee rather than surrender it, and his enemies concede his valor and bravery.
  • Vow of Celibacy: Two examples of villains who don't respect their vows of celibacy:
    • Richelieu, being a cardinal and all, is supposed to be celibate. However, he's revealed to have made unsuccessful advances to the queen, a fact used both to illustrate his character and to add to his motivations (since he's bitter at being rebuffed).
    • Milady de Winter is a Femme Fatale who started out as a nun. Her first seduction was of the priest of her convent, whom she convinced to run away with her (and with the convent's sacred chalice).
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The story grinds suddenly to a halt in order to detail the Lady De Winter's fictional retelling of her life story, which she tells her jailor as a ploy to enlist his help in her escape. If he lived even slightly longer, this might have added something to the plot, but as it stands, it can be removed in its entirety without seriously impacting the story.
  • Wicked Cultured: Cardinal Richelieu, just like his Real Life counterpart, is an outstanding politician and diplomat, hardened veteran, poet and playwright.
  • Woman Scorned: A male example; we learn, fairly late on into the story, that one of the reasons Richelieu is determined to bring down the Queen is because she rejected his love. (Highly unlikely in Real Life, as we have it well on record that Richelieu disliked Anne as much as she did him.)
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Gender-inverted. The Duke of Buckingham is apparently rightly considered the most handsome man in either France or England.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Milady presents herself as the victim of Buckingham's sadism to the fanatical John Felton (a Puritan who thinks Buckingham is a hedonist leading England to its ruin), claiming not only that he kidnapped and raped her, but also branded her so that no one would believe her if she talked.

Twenty Years After provides examples of:

  • Armor Is Useless: Averted in Twenty Years After. Raoul, naively rushing into battle as part of the Prince de Conde's army, tries to stab a Frondeuer. The intended victim is none other than Aramis, who's saved by his chest armor.
  • Artistic License – History: Charles' execution is compressed for the sake of drama.
  • Avenging the Villain: The main antagonist of Twenty Years After is Mordaunt, the vengeful son of Milady de Winter.
  • "Begone" Bribe: In Twenty Years After, Aramis relates an anecdote about a time when Cardinal Mazarin got into a disagreement with a prince whose alliance he desired:
    ... "The prince immediately sent fifty thousand livres to Mazarin, begging him never to write to him again, and offering twenty thousand livres in addition if he engaged never to speak to him again. What did Mazarin do?"
    "He took offense?" said Athos.
    "He beat the messenger?" said Porthos.
    "He took the money?" said d'Artagnan.
    "You have guessed right, d'Artagnan," said Aramis.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: After rushing through the battle that saw the capture of Charles I, Twenty Years After devotes a lot of pages to a major battle in the First Fronde.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first sequel, Twenty Years After, is just as bad. While they manage to end the Fronde civil war for now, and d'Artagnan gets promoted to Captain-Lieutenant of the Musketeers, the heroes fail to save Charles I, Athos kills what is hinted to be his son by Milady, Monsieur Bonacieux shows up, as if only to remind d'Artagnan of Madame Bonacieux, and d'Artagnan accidentally kills his friend Rochefort.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Duke of Beaufort is a malaproping, talkative member of an illegitimate branch of the royal family who firmly believes in taking Refuge in Audacity. He's also a capable commander, badass, and powerful organizer for the Fronde rebellion.
  • Character Development: In the first book, D'artagnan is an ambitious and passionate rookie with a lot of potential. Twenty years of a soldier's life without any promotion or reward and Perpetual Poverty make him very pragmatic, especially when it comes to money, and while he is still loyal to the royal house, he isn't naive about it.
  • Code Name: In the second book, "Mordaunt" (John Francis de Winter). Considering who his father might be, it's fitting that he's the only one in the sequels to get a Code Name.
  • Contempt Crossfire: During the Fronde, Mazarin is well aware that just about the only person who doesn't want him kicked out of France is the queen, whether they're opposing her or part of her faction. His one or two attempts at Still the Leader in front of the prince of Condé get him looks reminding him that "if Condé was defending him, it was neither out of conviction nor enthusiasm".
  • The Corrupter: This is how Athos meets another woman. Through a bit of mistaken identity on both of their parts, Aramis' former mistress thinks Athos is a priest (Athos had asked the priest for a night's shelter and the priest was out) and seduces him into a one-night stand. That leads to Raoul's birth.
  • Debate and Switch:
    • In Twenty Years After, d'Artagnan wants to kill Mordaunt, but not out of a sense of justice — he is blinded by a desire for vengeance on the sins of Mordaunt's mother, twenty years ago. Athos, on the other hand, is tired of violence and wants to let Mordaunt go, in spite of his own terrible crimes. The dilemma is made moot when Athos kills Mordaunt in self-defense after trying to save him.
    • Mordaunt was also hellbent on killing them all over his mother's death, d'Artagnan (along with Porthos and Aramis) simply want to save their own skins. Athos' reluctance was due solely to Mordaunt possibly being his son. The debate is more "Is Mordaunt's revenging his mother's death just in the eyes of Providence."
  • Doomed by Canon: The musketeers attempt to foil Charles I's execution. Guess how it goes.
  • Doorstop Baby: Twenty Years After establishes that Aramis' ex-girlfriend slept with Athos while thinking he was a priest (it makes more sense in context), and left the resulting child on the priest's doorstep. Athos heard about it and adopted his own son, Raoul.
  • Evil Chancellor: Mazarin. While he is quite loyal to France, having a King deciding things is quite unnecessary, thank you very much. Mazarin develops something of an unfair reputation as this trope due to his foreign nationality, although he also embezzles large amounts of money and gets away with it.
  • Evil Jesuit: In the sequels, Aramis becomes a Jesuit priest (and later vicar-general of the order) and turns into a Manipulative Bastard, often working against his former comrades-in-arms.
  • Exact Words: The workmen preparing the stand for Charles' execution the next day are making more noise than strictly necessary. When Parry asks them to keep it down as the king is trying to sleep, one says that if he doesn't sleep well tonight, he'll sleep much better tomorrow. The workmen hear an excellent example of Gallows Humor and laugh, Parry recognizes Athos and realizes they're sabotaging the execution.
  • Foil: Mordaunt, for Raoul. They're hinted to be half-brothers (Raoul being the result of a one-night stand Athos had with Aramis's former mistress; Mordaunt's father is never explicitly identified, leaving it open) and very different. Raoul is caught up in Unrequited Love, a tad naive and ineffective; Mordaunt is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and is highly effective at it. Raoul takes after his father in mannerisms and ideology; Mordaunt is very much his mother's son.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: In Twenty Years After, the heroes spend half the book trying to save Charles I from Cromwell and eventually fail to prevent his execution (the bad guys weren't quite as stupid as they thought). Before the king's death, the musketeers are determined to save him or die trying, since he's such a noble person; afterwards they mourn him for about a chapter.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Twenty Years After stops just short of making Charles I The Messiah mk. II, both because it fits the ideals of the protagonists (such as seeing themselves as the last bastions of chivalry, defending royalty against a commoner uprising) and because it makes Mordaunt that much more of an Asshole Victim (not only did he give Cromwell the idea of bribing the last of the king's loyal soldiers, he volunteered to be his executioner, all because the king had denied him his inheritance and title).
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Averted with Oliver Cromwell. While he's definitely an antagonist, he is nothing compared to the outright villain Mordaunt.
  • I Call It "Vera": In Twenty Years After, Porthos' favorite rapier is called "Balizarde", after the hero's sword in The Song of Roland. Which is strange, since Roland wielded Durendal and the word Balizarde never appears in the poem.
  • Invulnerable Horses: Averted in Twenty Years After, when the musketeers frequently force their horse to rear up and take a bullet shot at them. At least one character has a horse land on his leg, but fortunately is not seriously injured. And then there's all the horses that die during a chase sequence, whether in combat or simply collapsing from exertion.
  • Jail Bake: Used in Twenty Years After to free the Duke of Beaufort. The Refuge in Audacity element in the plan is what spawns the Duke's affection for Grimaud and their Odd Friendship.
  • Jumped at the Call:
    • Porthos is overjoyed at the chance to finally receive a noble title. The fact that he's bored out of his mind due to his neighbors being terrified of fighting him doesn't help.
    • Raoul as well. In the second book, as soon as he is sent off by Athos, he jumps into the Fronde civil war, although his youth leads him to make a few bad calls.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Athos is really the father of his ward Raoul, but he never tells him, disclosing the information only to Raoul's mother (who is also Aramis' former mistress).
  • Luke, You Are My Father: It's hinted at but never confirmed in the second book that Athos is really the father of Mordaunt (on paper, his grudge against de Winter is that his father is de Winter's dead brother and thus he's been denied his inheritance, and against the king because he rejected Mordaunt's appeal).
  • Malaproper: M. de Beaufort is famous for mixing up words like "affliction" and "affection", which nearly forces him into a duel on at least one occasion.
  • Magnetic Hero: Athos in Twenty Years After. He and Aramis go to England to help King Charles I while d'Artagnan and Porthos (acting on Mazarin's orders) are supposed to be on Oliver Cromwell's side. It takes Athos one scene to convince d'Artagnan that a true gentleman can only fight on the king's side.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mordaunt, Milady de Winter's evil son in Twenty Years After.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Athos despairs for a moment when Charles' execution goes on anyway, but manages to sneak under the stand and say his goodbyes to the king and receive his last instructions.
  • Odd Friendship: The Duke of Beaufort and Grimaud. One's a malaproping, Bunny-Ears Lawyer member of the royal family, the other is a Silent Snarking, near-mute valet.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: In Twenty Years After, we have Mordaunt (who's in his early twenties) against the titular Musketeers and Lord de Winter (all of them at least in their forties).
  • Protectorate: In Twenty years after, D'Artagnan is given the highly unusual task of protecting young King Louis from an angry mob that is going to access the king's own bedroom.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Twenty Years After is both an example and a subversion. Cardinal Mazarin asks d'Artagnan to find his three old friends, who have left the service long ago, and convince them to join back and help the Cardinal against his enemies. But only Porthos Jumped at the Call; Athos and Aramis excuse themselves... and we find out several chapters later that the reason is that they are already involved with the other side.
  • Reluctant Retiree: Mazarin sends d'Artagnan to recruit his predecessor's dragon Rochefort. When he meets Richelieu's agent, he finds the man (who is in his 60s by this point) too old to work for him. Rochefort decides to join the anti-Mazarin Fronde rebellion rather than be forced back to retirement (and prison).
  • Retired Badass Roundup: In Twenty Years After, D'Artagnan tries to reunite his old friends on the orders of Cardinal Mazarino. Porthos, now a wealthy widower, accepts but Athos, who regained his title and estate as the Comte de la Fère and Aramis, now a priest, refuse. Athos and Aramis are members of the Fronde, the anti-Mazarin rebellion. After a few chapters, they are kicking ass together again.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mordaunt in the second book. He kills his uncle for disinheriting him, and acts as the executioner for Charles I for the same reason. He also kills the executioner of Lille for murdering Milady (while posing as a monk and denying him absolution!). He then spends the rest of the book trying to kill the Musketeers.
  • Save the Villain: Played straight and then subverted in the second book. Athos tries to save the drowning Mordaunt. Mordaunt drags him under water, and Athos is ultimately forced to stab him to escape.
  • Shot in the Ass: It Happened to Porthos' servant Mousqueton in the first book. In Twenty Years After, when he's older and much more dignified, d'Artagnan suggests that he show the scar to a cowardly younger servant who could use an example of bravery. And in a fight scene some chapters later, Mousqueton is wounded "in the other". Later still he's driving a carriage, and doing so upright for reasons known only to himself.
  • Spanner in the Works: d'Artagnan's plan to rescue Charles goes off without a hitch, having kidnapped or waylaid the city's executioner and his backup. Unfortunately, it turns out Charles was also on Mordaunt's hitlist, and he volunteered for the job.
  • Stupid Good: In Twenty Years After, while on the run from the Queen (who wants to throw them in the Bastille), Athos learns that d'Artagnan and Porthos have already been captured. His response is to go to the Queen and ask her to release them, which — surprise, surprise — leads to him being imprisoned too. (And that's not even mentioning the times he stops his friends from killing the villain.)
  • Tailor-Made Prison: In Twenty Years After, D'Artagnan and Porthos have been captured on the orders of Cardinal Mazarin and are imprisoned in Rueil Castle. Mazarin requests thirty extra soldiers to guard exclusively the two "special guests". Unsurprisingly, they manage to escape anyway.
  • Tired of Running: At the beginning of Twenty Years After, Porthos and D'Artagnan are assigned the task of recapturing the Duke of Beaufort who escaped from the Bastille. After a long chase, the Duke decides to stop and fight back.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • EVERYONE in the sequel Twenty Years After, as a result of Character Development. Athos is wiser, Porthos is stronger, Aramis is far more cunning, and d'Artagnan has gone from naive to a brilliant strategist. Two of their servants also take a level. Aramis' servant, however, does not.
    • It's obvious that Mous(que)ton, Porthos's servant, has more adventuring experience than the much younger Blaisois.
  • Trojan Prisoner: In Twenty Years After, Porthos and D'Artagnan pretend to take Athos and Aramis prisoner.
  • Warrior Prince:
    • le Grand Condé, a member of the Royal family and an outstanding military commander. His victory at Lens is depicted in Twenty years after.
    • Many members of the royal family, from minor or illegitimate branches, serve as commanders in the Fronde. Most side with the anti-Mazarin elements, while Condé works for Mazarin as he sees it as the way to support the king.

The Vicomte of Bragelonne provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: D'Artagnan in The Vicomte of Bragelonne, three times. The first time to help reinstate Charles II of England, the second time because King Louis has imprisoned Athos in the Bastille, and the third time when he feels betrayed by the King after the siege of Belle-Ile.
  • Age Lift: Inverted with Raoul. He debuts in Twenty Years After as a 15-year-old, just old enough to take part in the action. In the third book, his age is retconned in a way that would make him 12 or 13 in the second book.
  • Almighty Janitor: D'artagnan is promoted to Captain-Lieutentant (the leader) of the Musketeers at the end of Twenty Years Later. By his return in The Vicomte of Bragelonne he's lost his promotion due to Mazarin's scheming, but is the leader in all but rank.
  • Arranged Marriage: Louis XIV's younger brother Philippe and Henrietta of England in The Vicomte of Bragelonne.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Porthos, in The Vicomte of Bragelonne: when a massively enormous rock threatens to crush the entire party, guess who's the one to hold it, sacrificing his own life in the process? Obviously, Big Guy Porthos. Dumas then goes one for about half a page explaining how no other living human before or after could have managed such a feat.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The final book, The Vicomte of Bragelonne, has an outright crapsack ending. Aramis breaks up the fellowship for good, his plan backfires spectacularly and gets Porthos killed and him exiled, Raoul loses his girlfriend and his will to live, Athos dies shortly after he hears of Raoul's death, and D'Artagnan finally receives that promotion he's been awaiting for decades... which arrives shortly before he dies of his wounds.
  • Character Development: D'Artagnan's Jumped at the Call tendency to fight is gone by the final book. When De Wardes (the son of the man d'Artagnan dueled and tricked in the first book) attempts to cause trouble with Raoul and the others, d'Artagnan steps in to talk things out and avoid any bloodshed.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Raoul and Louise (despite the almost seven-year difference in age). Then she falls in love with Louis XIV...
  • Colonel Badass: D'Artagnan in The Vicomte of Bragelonne — as a lieutenant and captain of the king's Musketeers he becomes the equivalent of a colonel and major-general of the regular army.
  • Deadly Distant Finale: The Vicomte of Bragelonne ends with a greatly aged D'Artagnan getting blown up by a cannonball.
  • Does Not Know His Own Weight: Porthos once destroys a chair just by sitting in it. Made even funnier by his deadpan delivery of "Excuse me, but I need a new chair, I've broken this one".
  • Downer Ending:
    • The final book, The Vicomte of Bragelonne. Raoul loses his love interest to King Louis XIV, and heads off to war to die. When news of Raoul's death comes, Athos dies of sorrow. Aramis's scheme with the Man in the Iron Mask fails and he is forced into exile in Spain, and Porthos dies in the escape. d'Artagnan, after finally becoming the Marshal of France, is killed by cannon fire during a siege.
    • On a slightly lesser scale, the romantic subplot of the final book. Massive web of love and relationships gets caught up in Louis's attempts to sleep with his brother Monsieur's wife, Henrietta. More than half a dozen people are involved, at least two duels spring up from it, and Louis falls for Louise de la Valliere in the course of it. In the denouement, Louise has been cast aside, Raoul's dead, and Louis and Henrietta are carrying on their affair as if nothing happened.
  • Driven to Suicide: In The Vicomte of Bragelonne, Raoul de Bragelonne becomes a Death Seeker and dies in battle against Barbary pirates after being dumped by his girlfriend.
  • Evil Chancellor: In the final book, Colbert takes this position, compared to the most cavalier Finance Minister Nicholas Fouquet, and uses his financial influence to turn the king against Fouquet. Subverted in that it is Colbert's policies which subsequently make the country rich, militarily powerful, and capable of waging a foreign war in which D'Artagnan finally gets to be promoted to Field Marshal, while Fouquet—likeable as he was—had been embezzling the national wealth and spending it on grandiosely ornamental but ultimately useless architecture such as the chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte or the fortifications of Belle-Isle, and it has to be said that he has richly (quite literally) earned his downfall.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Aramis in the final book (The Man in the Iron Mask), in which, not to be confused with the film, he alone (with Porthos tricked into it as dumb muscle) initiates the plot to replace the King with his long-imprisoned twin brother—which is actually foiled with D'Artagnan's assistance, although Fouquet takes the major credit and thus postpones his downfall by a few days. The point being that it turns out the kingdom is best served by having the original Louis as king, Colbert as finance minister, and D'Artagnan in charge of the army, than it ever would have been served by his brother who, knowing nothing about the state of affairs but what Aramis told him, would have had to rely completely on Aramis and leave the likeable but corrupt Fouquet to embezzle and squander what was left of the treasury, and that D'Artagnan's loyalty to Louis ends up being the right choice, and Aramis's plot therefore makes him a traitor and a true Face Heel Turn since he betrays not only his King but also the whole Musketeers group by an act that he knew neither D'Artagnan nor Athos could be persuaded into, and Porthos only by trickery. And the irony being that Fouquet plays a major role in saving Louis even though he knows Louis is working for his downfall, and it was in his interest to cooperate with the substitution: and Louis's first act after being saved is to dispose of Fouquet in favour of Colbert.
    • Part of the point of the book is that some of the older generation (like Athos) believe that a nobleman's duty is to serve the king no matter what (although he does add an escape clause in telling Raoul to serve royalty and not the king). Aramis' actions violate this principle (and he manipulates Porthos into doing the same); d'Artagnan isn't sure what to think about this but ultimately lands on the side of the King.
  • Fake King: One of the plots in The Man in the Iron Mask. The king is replaced by his twin Louis.
  • Generation Xerox: The third book, "The Vicomte of Bragelonne", features a number of characters who are the sons of characters from the first book. Some, like Buckingham and the son of a Cardinal's Guardsman who meets Porthos and Aramis in the end take heavily after their fathers. The exception is de Wardes. The father was simply a rival nobleman who dueled d'Artagnan; his son is a petty and vindictive man who proves to be a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
  • Genre Shift: A large portion of Louise de La Vallière is taken up with court intrigue and romantic plots, with the titular musketeers explicitly absent from the narrative. They don't make a real return until Man in the Iron Mask where the series returns to its original adventure tone.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: The Vicomte of Bragelonne, better known through its film adaptations as The Man With the Iron Mask. It is about Louis XIV's supposed twin brother.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative: The story's take on the Man in the Iron Mask is that it was the (real) king Louis XIV's (fictional) twin brother. Aramis learns of this and uses it to advance in the Jesuit ranks along with trying to replace Louis with his twin, hoping he'll be a better king. Note that the author was well aware this theory was highly fanciful, but it certainly made for a better story.
  • Honor Before Reason: Fouquet might be greedy and opulent, but he's disgusted by his ally's plan with the Man in the Iron Mask and tries to stop it, even when it will hurt his cause.
  • I Can Still Fight!: In The Man In The Iron Mask, Raoul combines this with Death Seeker at the Battle of Gigelli. Despite being wounded, Raoul continues trying to fight, helping to encourage and rally the faltering French assault. The French win, but Raoul dies.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: An even more perfect example, from The Vicomte of Bragelonne: "It's a state secret," replied d'Artagnan, bluntly: "and as you know that, according to the king's orders, it is under the penalty of death any one should penetrate it, I will, if you like, allow you to read it and have you shot immediately afterwards." (The secret in question is the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask.)
  • I Like Those Odds: In The Vicomte of Bragelonne, d'Artagnan proposes to raise his own army of forty men and restore Charles II to the English throne (for profit!). Planchet, who is putting up half the money, protests: "Forty against forty thousand! That is not enough. I know very well that you, M. d'Artagnan, alone, are equal to a thousand men; but where are we to find thirty-nine men equal to you?"
  • Impoverished Patrician:
    • In the final book, King Louis XIV almost counts. The royal coffers are nearly empty. Colbert uses this to manipulate the king against the very rich Finance Minister Nicholas Fouquet.
    • Also in the final book, Charles II and his sister Henrietta, due to their father being overthrown by Cromwell in the previous installment. They eventually get restored and promptly start living lavishly.
  • Lawful Stupid:
    • Nicolas Fouquet in the third novel, although it may be a case of Honor Before Reason (since he saves King Louis from the plot to replace him, knowing that this will mean his own downfall as Louis and Colbert work against him.)
    • Athos in the later books displays some elements of that and Honor Before Reason. Even Aramis notes it, telling Athos he'd be a general who only fights by daylight and informs the enemy of the time of the attack.
  • Load-Bearing Hero: Porthos does this in The Vicomte of Bragelonne, resulting in a Heroic Sacrifice and possibly the first time Aramis ever shed tears.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: If Louis XIV could stop falling in love with every other woman he runs into (including his sister-in-law and Raoul's Love Interest), there would have been two deaths avoided (Raoul joining the army to commit Suicide by Cop and Athos shortly dying of despair shortly after), and he might have avoided being seen as a political liability that would encourage plotters to replace him with his more pliable twin brother.
  • Man in the Iron Mask: In The Vicomte of Bragelonne, King Louis XIV has a twin brother whose birth was kept secret — by their mother, the dowager queen — to avoid the possibility that he might contest the throne (among twins, who can really say which is the elder, since order of birth doesn't take into account their development in the womb). He has been kept in seclusion all his life, but the first time he learns of the "outside world" he's sent to the Bastille. His jailers are merely told that he's a common criminal who bears an unfortunate resemblance to the King and only the governor of the Bastille is allowed to have any contact with him. He makes the perfect pawn for Aramis, who knows who he really is. Aramis visits him in the guise of a priest hearing his last confession, tells him his history, and engineers his escape. After the plot to switch him with the King fails, he is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in an even more isolated prison and wear an unremovable iron mask until the day he dies. This is based on accounts of a real prisoner in the Bastille (among other prisons) forced to wear a mask. His identity was never revealed. This also subverts expectations as the attempt fails, unlike in all its myriad adaptions
  • Missing Mom: Raoul de Bragelonne grew up without a mother, since he's the result of a one night stand and she left him with his dad as soon as it was convenient. (She had her reasons, but still.) To be completely accurate she left Raoul on the doorstep of the man she thought was the father but wasn't, (it's complicated). The man was understandably confused but fortunately the actual father showed up shortly thereafter and took charge of Raoul.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Multiple times. Most notably in the "Louise de la Vallière" section of The Vicomte of Bragelonne when the soap opera-esque romantic intrigues of the court are interrupted by de Guice and de Wardes' violent duel.
    • And before that, the aside where Aramis tricks the leader of the Jesuits into naming him his successor as the leader is on his deathbed.
  • Mysterious Benefactor: Once she's informed of Raoul being her son, Aramis' mistress from the first book becomes this.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: De Wardes (the son of the minor antagonist of the first book) in The Vicomte of Bragelonne. After a bunch of petty insults in the first third of the book, he's beaten by Raoul, stabbed in a quick duel with Buckingham, and then heavily wounds de Guice in a tense pistol duel. It takes d'Artagnan's intervention to prevent him from continuing to not be harmless.
  • Odd Friendship: Raoul and the Comte de Guiche. The former's a straight-and-narrow ace madly in love with one woman, the other's a bi playboy.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Athos doesn't live long after he hears of his son, Raoul's, death.
  • Polyamory: Fouquet carries on two passionate romances with his wife and mistress, who don't seem to mind. At the very least, the two women happily work together to try to save Fouquet from his downfall.
  • Royal Brat: Louis XIV in The Vicomte of Bragelonne, at least in Athos' eyes. The former Musketeer is not afraid to confront him and delivers an awesome What the Hell, Your Majesty? speech.
  • Sand In My Eyes: After Porthos' death in the final chapters of The Vicomte of Bragelonne, Aramis spends the night leaning against the bulwarks of the ship he's on. The next morning, his servant comments that it must have been a humid night since the wood he's been leaning his head on is damp. "What epitaph would have been worth that?"
  • Significant Name Overlap: Both Monsieur and The Man in the Iron Mask are named Philippe. This is important because the former is Louis XIV's brother, and the latter is his twin.
  • Secret Underground Passage: In a footnote to the Oxford World's Classics edition of The Vicomte of Bragelonne, editor David Coward remarks on the historical accuracy of one such passage:
    There was a communicating tunnel in Fouquet's town house, but not at Saint-Mandé. But Dumas was not a man to waste a good subterranean passage.
  • Sent Into Hiding: The Man in the Iron Mask is a twin brother of King Louis XIV, who has been kept locked away all his life so he couldn't usurp his brother's throne. Of course, he is freed and does just that in the course of the novel.
  • Unwitting Pawn: It's very unlikely Porthos would have gone along with Aramis' plans in The Vicomte of Bragelonne if he'd known exactly what they entailed.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: In The Vicomte of Bragelonne Porthos destroys the tunnel network that he and Aramis are using to plot a rebellion against the King of France, buying Aramis and the rebels enough time to escape and destroying most of their pursuers.

Oh yeah, and they got a candy bar named after them.

Alternative Title(s): Twenty Years After, The Vicomte De Bragelonne