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Radio / Pleasant Green Universe

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A loosely connected series of BBC Radio dramas by prolific writer/director Julian Simpson.

The installments are:

  • Fragments (2006): A teenage girl is arrested for the murder of a retired royal marine turned hacktivist whose attempts to break the residents of a well to do English village out of their vapid, consumerist lifestyles had unintended consequences for her family. Introduces the village of Pleasant Green and several recurring actors but otherwise has little connection to the following stories.
  • The Listener (2008): A Post-Cyberpunk Psychological Thriller about a cyborg counterterrorism agent and a mysterious woman who forces him to question his identity. Has no explicit connection to the rest of the series but contains motifs that are revisited in subsequent episodes and is implied to be part of the backstory of at least one character in later installments.
  • Bad Memories (2011): A wealthy architect named Johnathan Blake and his family are found dead after being missing for six years. Who are the two unidentified bodies found with them? And why does the forensic evidence say they've all been dead far longer than six years? Scheduled to have a film adaptation.
  • Fugue State (2015): Doctors struggle to revive a comatose secret agent and discover what he learned while investigating a mysterious broadcast originating in a village called Pleasant Green.
  • Mythos (2018): A Conspiracy Theorist podcaster investigating the destruction of Pleasant Green is roped into helping the occult government agency known as The Department of Works (particularly their star agent, the ghost of a medieval French nun turned Magitek super spy Mary Lairre) save England (and maybe the world, if they absolutely must) from a time traveling wizard.
    • Glamis: After the aforementioned podcaster's ignominious death, Lairre is partnered with the personality-shifting chaos magick practitioner Agent Parker who bears an old grudge against Lairre. Together with their boss, they investigate the disappearance of two American tourists (who are almost certainly more than they seem) in Macbeth's famous castle.
    • Albion: A massive, supernaturally created earthquake afflicts one of England's main Ley Lines, Lairre's inscrutable handler Johnson is Brainwashed and Crazy with nuclear bombs, and Parker gives an object lesson in the joys and occupational hazards of mixing chaos magick and cold war Spy Fiction.
  • The Lovecraft Investigations:
    • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (2018): A Setting Update of H. P. Lovecraft's classic novel. Matthew Heawood and Kennedy Fisher, hosts of the unfortunately titled true crime podcast known as "The Mystery Machine", discover a new lead in a Locked Room Mystery in which the title character disappeared from a psychiatric hospital in Providence, Rhode Island when his psychiatrist is arrested in England for apparently murdering a young woman at random. They soon find themselves in over their heads in a web of Ancient Conspiracy, eldritch cults and dark secrets spanning from the dawn of civilization to the heart of the British government.
    • The Whisperer in Darkness (2019): While investigating the disappearance of an acquaintance of their informant Professor Peck, the aging, drug-addled occultist Henry Akeley, the Mystery Machine crew discover an unexpected connection to the Case of Charles Dexter Ward. With cultists, including a distant relative of the Blake family's killer, The Department and a certain Nepharious Pharaoh and his crustaceous cronies converging on the site of Britain's most prominent UFO sighting, chaos (crawling or otherwise) is bound to ensue, but the greatest danger may lurk within the murky past of a certain intrepid podcaster.
    • The Shadow Over Innsmouth (2020): As the world descends into the Covid-19 pandemic, Matthew and Kennedy are trapped on opposite sides of the world while investigating the history of the Fisher family in a nation on the brink and Kennedy's missing time with the Ipku-Aya cult in one that has long since gone over it.
    • The Haunter of the Dark (2023): Kennedy Fisher is on a quest to find Pleasant Green and rescue her former co-host, a quest that will take her once again into the depths of England's darkest history. From the Ratcliffe Highway Murders that inspired the creation of the modern police force to Oswald Mosely's British Union of Fascists and their collusion not only with the government but with a twisted cult known as the Starry Wisdom Sect, and into the life and times of one man who sought to expose their evil deeds, the Intrepid Reporter Robert Harrison Blake, grandfather of a certain wealthy architect...
    • The Call of Cthulhu (TBA): You know him, you love him, now everyone's favorite big, green Eldritch Abomination is coming to BBC Radio 4. With Matthew Heawood back from the Dreamlands more or less in one piece, the team embarks on a new assignment. Specifically, they've been invited to an archaeology conference, not by anyone in the academic world, but rather by a police detective named John Raymond Legrasse, who is looking for expert advice on a certain case...
  • Who Is Aldrich Kemp? (2022): Clara Page, an intelligence analyst for an unnamed British government agency, finds herself in over her head, literally, as her quest to uncover information on the secret organization known as the Themis Group ends with her trapped in a rapidly flooding room. Looking back on the strange trek across Europe that brought her there, Clara finds herself still asking the same Driving Question that began the whole fiasco: "Who is Aldrich Kemp?"
    • Who Killed Aldrich Kemp? (2023): Aldrich Kemp, dead? That's certainly what he wants the world to think. When a very public attempt is made on his life, Aldrich Kemp doesn't know who he can trust. Except, that is, his old friend Clara Page. Whether she likes it or not. With a cast of colorful characters, including a European film producer, an African computer expert and a staunchly Catholic assassin with a damaged voice box out for Kemp's head, Clara soon learns that his attempted murder was only a small part of a much larger conspiracy involving a computer program with the power to predict the future. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the rest of the world(?), Aldrich Kemp is anything but predictable...

I saw the tropes in the marble and edited until I set them free:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Mark Bazeley plays both Dr. Willet and Vicar Wilmarth in the Lovecraft adaptations, whose names sound rather similar to Agent Martin Willis, his character in The Listener. Of course, given the fact that Willis is a cyborg whose identity is repeatedly erased and rewritten it's entirely possible that they're all the same character.
    • In the Mythos series, Nicola Walker and Tim Mcinnerny play members of a British secret agency - not the first time for either of them. Especially notable in Nicola Walker's case since she's playing both a spy and a ghost - extra spooky.
    • Matthew's military contact, played by Steven Mackintosh, goes by the alias "Jasper" in Innsmouth. Jasper Rawlins is the name of Mackintosh's character in the obscure 1999 drama film The Criminal (not to be confused with the 1960 heist movie of the same name) also directed by Simpson.
    • In Aldrich Kemp Kennedy asks Clara if she's from The Department and/or knows Agent Parker (to which Clara replies that she's never heard of either). Both Parker and Clara Page are played by Phoebe Fox.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Dr. Marinus Willet is given the more prosaic first name "Johnathan", though the news report announcing his arrest refers to him as "Dr. Johnathan M. Willet", implying Marinus is his middle name in this version.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The town of Innsmouth itself. In the original story it's depicted as a decaying, boarded up Dying Town, while here it's shown to be a quaint, well-maintained New England seaside resort that just happens to have a suspiciously low number of visible people around. Moreover, local eccentric Zadok Allen, rather than a nearly 100 year old town drunk is a 30 or 40ish magic mushroom grower who bears a Strong Family Resemblance to Kennedy's one-time love interest George Sheply (aka. Dr. Allen).
  • Adaptational Nationality: Everyone from The Whisperer in Darkness who originated in the original Lovecraft story, given that it's now set in Suffolk, England, instead of Vermont.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Numerous characters mentioned in the Back Story of Charles Dexter Ward as either adversaries or, at worst, Unwitting Pawns of Joseph Curwen, such as Eliza Tillinghast or Ezra Whedon in the original novel are willing participants in his long-running occult conspiracy here.
  • Agent Scully: Professor Peck makes no secret of the fact that she doesn't believe in the supernatural despite, or more likely because of, the fact she's an expert in the history of the occult. She loses this attitude in Shadow over Innsmouth and realises it's all true, which is what convinces Matthew Heawood that things have gotten really dangerous. And for extra irony, in the final minutes we learn that Eleanor is Mary Lairre, an actual superspy ghost, but for some reason she's put herself so deep undercover she's erased her own memory of this.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Lairre and Parker fight a giant forest troll claiming to be Robin Hood leading a gang of woodland spirits who've been attacking tourists in Sherwood Forest during the Batman Cold Open of Albion.
  • Anti-Climax: Kennedy was hit by a moped and dragged off to a hospital before Ezra Whedon had a chance to enact whatever nefarious plans the cult had for her. Or so she was lead to believe...
  • Arc Words: The series as a whole makes heavy use of this trope.
    • "You are not safe" in Fragments.
    • "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free", a famous quote from Michelangelo Buonarroti appears in both Fugue State and the very end of Whisperer in Darkness.
    • "Babylon" (or rather Babalon) and "Pleasant Green" itself in The Whisperer in Darkness are this in-universe, to the point that Matthew begins shouting them repeatedly at a confused Foreign and Commonwealth Office receptionist in order to attract the attention of the Department agents he knows are listening in.
  • Ascended Extra: Alice, a young county clerk from Providence who appears in a single scene in Charles Dexter Ward returns with a much bigger role in Innsmouth.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The ending of Fugue State, and possibly Matt's fate in Shadow over Innsmouth. Maybe.
  • The Artifact: "Joseph Curwen" and most of his incarnations still turn to dust when killed, despite not being reanimated from cremains in this version.
  • Becoming the Mask: Parker implies in Shadow over Innsmouth that this has happened to Mary Lairre, who's taken on the identity of Eleanor Peck and has now forgotten who she really is. This is confirmed in The Haunter of the Dark, where Mary briefly returns.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Many real historical figures turn up in the backstory of the Mythos series and the Lovecraft adaptations including Geoffrey of Monmouth, Aleister Crowley, James "Cunning" Murrell, and proto-Nazi Occultist Rudolf von Sebbotendorf. Figures from Arthurian Legend also appear in the form of The Lady of the Lake.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Pretty much all the endings that aren't outright downers are this.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Cheerfully embraced by The Department. They may be an occult Government Conspiracy with little or no accountability to anyone but themselves and about as much regard for human life as a binge drinker has for his own liver, but they're still the only thing standing between the human race and countless supernatural threats, up to and including whatever unpronounceable gribbly things lurk outside the edges of the universe.
  • Body Surf: In contrast to the original Lovecraft story where Joseph Curwen simply took advantage of his Strong Family Resemblance to Kill and Replace Charles after being resurrected in an occult ritual, in this version he's actually a disembodied spirit who can possess the body of his closest living relative and "Curwen" was just one in a long line of vessels.
  • Breeding Cult: Kennedy is the product of a generations-long program to create the perfect Human Sacrifice for Azathoth. Her similar-looking cousin Daisy is apparently a Flawed Prototype of this process, a fact Matthew takes advantage of to save Kennedy (and the universe) at the end by throwing her at the Demon Sultan before Obed Marsh can use Kennedy.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 7 of Charles Dexter Ward, Episode 6 of Whisperer in Darkness and Episode 6 of Shadow over Innsmouth consist mostly or entirely of Professor Eleanor Peck explaining the history of various occult conspiracies to Matthew.
    • Who is Aldrich Kemp? is one for Simpson's works overall, with no returning characters aside from Kennedy Fisher and Dr. Peck's brief cameo and the events of previous installments being mentioned only in passing.
  • Call-Back: In addition to the many explicit connections Whisperer in Darkness has to earlier Julian Simpson radio dramas, there are many more subtle nods.
    • Kennedy learns that Akeley, or rather what's left of him, is being held captive by April Marsden using the exact same method used to track down Mia's hideout in The Listener.
    • Parker's horrified reaction to Kennedy offhandedly mentioning IKEA makes a lot more sense in light of the grisly fate of a Department agent referenced in Glamis due to a locator spell he tried to use to find the food court having a bad reaction to the Norse Pagan magics that underpin the store's sacred geometry.
    • When laughed at by Kennedy for not being bothered to come up with a fake first name, Parker replies with "It varies", a reference to her personality shifting magic.
  • Catchphrase: "I have seen the face of God and it is terrible" for Dr. Willet. Eleanor Peck has the far more concise "It's all bollocks". Naturally, only the latter one is 100% untrue.
    • Becomes an Exaggerated Trope in Haunter of the Dark with Byron saying "reality doesn't care what you believe" any time someone mentions the word "reality", to the point that the other characters frequently tell him to shut up. This is either hilarious or cringe-inducing until you find out that Byron has suffered brain damage from repeated contact with eldritch entities and saying the same thing over and over is a common symptom.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Matt's friend Jasper appears near the finale of Shadow Over Innsmouth, apparently saving Matt from the Harlequin, an assassin out to get him. Matthew doesn't realise Jasper himself is the Harlequin until it's too late.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Henry Akeley's letters to Barbara Sayers contain references to the Principia Discordia. Said book is peppered with references to the work of H. P. Lovecraft, including riffing on the famous quote from the original novel of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward "do not call up any that you cannot put down" as "do not call up that which you cannot put on hold".
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Kennedy unties herself from a chair and smashes it over the head of April Marsden after being captured near the end of Whisperer in Darkness.
  • Closed Circle: As with the original novella, Innsmouth makes heavy use of this trope, helped along by the Coronavirus pandemic of The New Twenties.
  • Composite Character:
    • Joseph Curwen (aka. Ipku-Aya) is mostly based on the character of that name from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, but his particular method of cheating death is closer to that used by Ephraim Waite in The Thing on the Doorstep, albeit with slightly different limitations. (Interestingly, the idea of Curwen being reimagined as a later incarnation of a much older Body Surfing occultist also echoes Alan Moore's portrayal of Waite in Providencenote .) And "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" reveals that beyond all of that Ipku Aya is just another name for, or avatar of, Nyarlathotep.
    • Similarly, the Mi-go's method of taking over peoples' bodies appears to take the form of some kind of possession in the vein of the Great Race of Yith rather than slicing them open and surgically altering themselves to fit inside. Sometimes.
    • Yog Sothoth appears on a tea tray and is namedropped several times in the eerie mystical chanting, but is never referred to as an individual entity. Given that "Yog Sothoth" appears in the chant to summon Azathoth in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", it might mean that the two are composited and "Yog Sothoth" is just a title or aspect of Azathoth.
  • Continuity Creep: Fugue State using the village of Pleasant Green from Fragments as its setting started out as a relatively minor Call-Back to Simpson's previous work, then the first episode of Mythos opened with a character investigating Fugue State's events before largely ignoring it. It wasn't until a few episodes into Whisperer in Darkness that Simpson went whole hog with the idea of a Shared Universe for his works. By the end of course, it's more like an entire pig farm.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Remington Schofield to Conrad Spijker in Aldrich Kemp. Spijker is a bedridden Non-Action Big Bad who was apparently a Sickly Neurotic Geek even before being crippled by Mrs. Boone, driven by a warped ideology to try to remake the world in an ill-defined way using supernatural means. Schofield on the other hand, is a worldly, outwardly charismatic yet viscerally cruel international gangster masquerading as a filmmaker who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, whether literally or with his impressive array of Psychic Powers and seems to be Only in It for the Money though in truth he's a Straw Nihilist who wants to cause the extinction of humanity out of sheer disgust, probably motivated by his frequent use of said powers. And while Spijker is an avowed racist, Schofield is in a relationship with his African associate Lotte Amutenya (he does plan to kill her eventually for being a lose end, but he does that to everyone he works with).
  • Crisis Crossover: Whisperer in Darkness basically turns into one for much of Simpson's previous work, with the Mystery Machine crew teaming up with Agent Parker and others to stop a conspiracy involving Lovecraftian cultists and the Marsden family from Bad Memories from summoning Azathoth.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Lampshaded by Matthew during Eleanor Peck's discussion of Nyarlathotep and his relationship to Azathoth.
    "He sent us His only son..."
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Conrad Spijker was apparently killed by being shot through the head with a railgun, but his body was recovered and what was left of his brain was wired into his mountain fortress' PA system to allow him to still communicate with the outside world while his heart is connected to the Dead Man's Switch for its Self-Destruct Mechanism.
  • Darker and Edgier: Charles Dexter Ward was one of the few H. P. Lovecraft stories with a relatively happy ending. Simpson brings his version far more into line with with the tone people expect of Lovecraft's work, particularly the fate of Dr. Willet, who winds up blind, disfigured, brain damaged and locked up for the rest of his life in an asylum for the criminally insane for killing one of Ipku-Aya's hosts.
  • Decomposite Character: Dr. Allen was originally a disguise used by Joseph Curwen before stealing Charles Dexter Ward's identity. In this version, not only is he a separate character, but Dr. Allen is apparently his real name, as he's related to Innsmouth's Zadok Allen.
  • Decoy Protagonist: A recurring theme in the Mythos series. Hicks is seemingly set up to be the Audience Surrogate protagonist and The Watson to Lairre, but is offed at the beginning of Glamis, and the resolution of the same episode in fact hinges on Lairre realizing that she's Decoy Protagonist for Parker. In Albion, Parker and Lairre argue over which one of them is this.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Multiple. Barbara Sayers and April Marsden's wife are both revealed to be deep cover Department agents in the Ipku Aya cult and Sussex coven respectively. Sayers has been undercover for decades. And The Stinger to "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" series reveals Eleanor Peck is Mary Lairre, who for some reason has put herself in cover so deep she has erased her own memory and has no idea.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Deep Ones are still around but take a back seat to the main villains' ongoing plans to sacrifice Kennedy to Azathoth.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Joseph Curwen was known to perform sex rituals with both male and female followers during his time as a cult leader.
  • Downer Ending: As befitting the setting's main inspiration.
    • The Listener is a particularly epic one. "Martin" learns he was manipulated into thinking he was really Mia's dead husband just to get her out in the open so she could be assassinated, that his other backstory about being a cop was also a lie and that he has been similarly manipulated countless times only to have his memory wiped and overwritten and will continue to until the day he dies.
    • Bad Memories ends with Rachel being pulled into the time warp by Mary Marsden's ghost while investigating the Blake House to be stabbed and become the mysterious fifth corpse.
    • Pretty much every character besides Matthew who appeared in Charles Dexter Ward is either dead, insane or turned out to be working for the conspiracy by the end. Though which is which isn't as obvious as it seems.
    • By the end of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Matthew has disappeared, left to an Uncertain Doom and though Kennedy is intent on finding him, the Department of Works has retreated to the shadows again, so she'll be doing it alone.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Hicks is unceremoniously killed off at the very beginning of Glamis due to complications of Mythos' earlier time travel shenanigans causing him to be transported back to the 1600s, where he was promptly arrested by paranoid authorities and executed. To add insult to injury, Johnson finding documentation of his death while searching for clues to his whereabouts solidified its place in the timestream.
    • Barbara Sayers was Killed Offscreen by either a Brainwashed and Crazy Kennedy or her distant cousin Daisy Marsh bashing in her skull with a blunt object during the interval between Charles Dexter Ward and Whisperer in Darkness.
  • Dumb Muscle: Walter Brown was a large, intellectually disabled brute with a history of violent crime, up to and including murdering his wife with a hammer, before his body was taken over by a surprisingly charming and soft-spoken Mi-go.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Fragments has no supernatural elements and is only connected to the other stories by its setting and sharing most of the same Production Posse.
    • Agent Johnson and The Department are depicted more as a standard covert Government Agency of Fiction straight out of a typical UFO conspiracy tale when they first turn up in Fugue State rather than the BPRD-esque occult agency of the later Mythos series.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: In Bad Memories the Blake family had a maid named Bisa of indeterminate origin. The police want her for questioning but suspect she's avoiding them due to being an illegal immigrant. Much later on, one of Matthew's informants in Whisperer spends the entire interview in a Smoky Gentlemen's Club ordering around staff members with Spanish-sounding names.
  • Evil Gloating: Johnson does this in Albion when he thinks Parker's dead and Mary's trapped. Fortunately, it's a predicted side effect of Parker's new personality, which helps them figure out his plan.
  • Exact Words: Kennedy asks "Casey" about the strange "Innsmouth Look" of the locals. Casey says it's interbreeding. Kennedy hears "inbreeding", having already formed that opinion herself, and so fails to ask the follow-up question - inTERbreeding with what?
  • Fish People: The Deep Ones are back and as walleyed, flabby-lipped and scaly as ever.
  • Foreshadowing: Barbara Sayers says she wants to gut Kennedy "like a fish" in Charles Dexter Ward. Funnily enough, according to Word of God this was entirely unintentional, as Simpson hadn't read the article that inspired the idea of her family being involved with the cultists yet.
    • Earlier, when Kennedy interviews Sayers for the first time before even being aware of the existence of any cult she makes a point of describing the unusual pattern on her tea set, made up of strange, overlapping rounded designs. Lovecraft aficionados will recognize this as a depiction of Yog-Sothoth, who is said to resemble "a congerie of bubbles".
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • In Fugue State the Mi-go(?) interact with Blake in the form of a woman who sounds exactly like fellow Department agent Parker (although Blake doesn't comment on this, given that Mythos hadn't been written yet).
    • Weaponized by Nyarlathotep, who often appears in whatever form occultists who inadvertently summon him expect to see in order to better manipulate them.
  • Genre Roulette: Since The Lovecraft Investigations tied together a host of works Simpson wrote over the span of fifteen years, the series varies widely in style and tone.
    • "Fragments" is a social drama set in the village of Pleasant Green.
    • "The Listener" is a future-set science fiction story.
    • "Bad Memories" is an intimate Haunted House horror story.
    • "Fugue State" is a Sci-Fi Horror story that is once again set in Pleasant Green (but not for any particular reason except that Simpson needed a normal English village and he already had one).
    • "Mythos/Glamis/Albion" are Comic Urban Fantasy.
    • "The Lovecraft Investigations" are globe-trotting cosmic horror with a strong dash of Conspiracy Thriller and a True Crime podcast framing device.
    • The Aldrich Kemp series is a zippy, fun and modern Genre Throwback to 1960s British Spy Fiction.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Given the Lovecraftian setting, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Interestingly, this happens to Dr. Willet after being exposed to visions of the Old Ones before killing Lucy Hawthorne, despite his counterpart in the original story being notable as one of the few Lovecraft protagonists not to suffer this fate.
  • Government Conspiracy: Several of them, in fact, most notably the (relatively) benevolent Department of Works and the not so benevolent Lovecraftian cultists allied to former Cabinet Secretary Godfrey Tillinghast. They are, of course, constantly at each others' throats.
  • Granola Girl: Parker at the beginning of Albion while using a personality based on earth magic. She describes it to Mary later as 'all a bit woo woo'.
  • Happy Ending Override: Kelly Ryan taking the blame for Major Grant's "murder" apparently putting a stop to Pleasant Green's gentrification is ultimately rendered meaningless by the events of Fugue State. Hicks' rather pointless death at the very beginning of the second episode of the Mythos series does knock some of the wind out of the first one's uncharacteristically upbeat ending as well.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Department are unashamedly this. In Glamis, Mary and Parker explicitly embrace this role - they are perfectly happy to kill alternate versions of themselves in return for capturing Libby Ward, and she calls them monsters for it, which they happily agree with. Parker notes in Whisperer that they're normally the good guys, but that there's not much in it.
  • Hell Hound: Black Shuck puts in an appearance in both Mythos and Whisperer in Darkness.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The hideous, distorted screams of the Mi-go when they finally show up in their true form give Mike a run for her money in terms of radio drama Nightmare Fuel. Matthew prefaces the episode in which they make their appearance with "It's not an easy ride, I'm afraid" and boy, he is not kidding.
  • Herr Doktor: Cyborg secret agent Martin Willis' physician/mechanic, Dr. Annika Gruber, played by recurring actress Nicola Walker affecting a somewhat underwhelming Germanic accent. The bonus episodes for Shadow over Innsmouth bring into question whether this is actually Mary Lairre pretending to be Dr Gruber, in which case it may be a case of Accent Slip-Up.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative: A prominent trope in The Lovecraft Investigations. Charles Dexter Ward and his family are said to be distantly related to several prominent figures from occult history, including Cunning Murrel (maybe, see below), George Pickingill and Rudolf von Sebottendorf. Later on, Kennedy Fisher and the Marsh family are revealed to be descendants of The Count of St. Germain. Both Kennedy and Charles' great-uncle Godfrey Tillinghast are also meant to be related to two people with the same last names who were involved in a seemingly inconsequential Real Life carriage accident at Niagara Falls in the 1800s.
  • Historical Domain Character: For a sufficiently flexible definition of "historical" - Mary Lairre is the ghost of a French nun that was said to haunt Borley Rectory, though whether a real Mary Lairre existed at all is disputed, let alone whether she still haunts anywhere.
  • Immediate Sequel: Mythos (which itself takes place a very short span of time after Fugue State) ends with Agent Johnson appearing to take Mary to a new assignment at Glamis Castle, with Glamis beginning as they're about to arrive.
  • Implacable Woman: Mary Lairre in Mythos. She's a ghost, so she can't be killed, and she's enough of a Determinator to keep fighting even if it involves going back in time to change history. In fact, she's actually done that multiple times already.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Parker enchants her gun to ensure this in Albion. Apparently Elvis did the same thing when he killed JFK.
  • Karmic Death: Aldritch Kemp had neo-nazi gangster Conrad Spijker assassinated with a coin minted by the notoriously corrupt and racist Dutch East India Company fired out of an experimental rail gun. If Kemp had been able to rein in his taste for poetic justice and cheap theatrics and just used a proper bullet, Spijker might even have actually died.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: A common tactic of the Department. They appear to employ their own Memory-Wiping Crew.
    • Agent Willis has almost no memories from before the terrorist bombing that destroyed his hippocampus but he's able to function normally (better than normal, in fact) thanks to the government replacing it with a cybernetic implant. It also makes further edits to his memory, up to and including complete deletion and re-writing from scratch, not only possible but ubiquitous.
    • It's implied that Mary Lairre has forgotten who she really is in her cover identity as Eleanor Peck, possibly due to this, but yet she does remember vast amounts of detailed historical knowledge on the occult.
    • Julian Simpson seems to be a big fan of this trope, as it plays a major role yet again in Aldrich Kemp, specifically both of Clara's parents were members of a secret infrasound project who had their memories and personalities altered to keep the knowledge from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Eleanor Peck's monologues tend to take this form, fitting since she's an academic. Per Word of God, Julian Simpson liked it because it provided an in-story way of using all the research he did that didn't fit organically into the plot.
    • Taken up to eleven with the bonus episode for Shadow Over Innsmouth that is essentially just Kennedy Fisher relating the real-life case of the Somerton Man, after it was referenced (and described as not really being relevant) during that story's lecture-as-exposition episode.
  • Magitek: The Department has what sounds like an app for John Dee's enochian language, which is used to make ghosts corporeal and aid with their monster fighting.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Hit and run car accidents are a favored method of disposing of inconveniences for The Department.
  • Meaningful Name: Kennedy Fisher.
    • Parker's various personalities in Glamis and Albion also employ this. When using a water personality she went by 'Cordelia' ('daughter of the sea'), while using fire by 'Cinderella', and when using earth 'Hermione' ('stone'). Parker also mentions being called 'Ether' which presumably correlates to her air personality. Each also comes with a Significant Wardrobe Shift. Once she switches to her spy persona she drops the first name altogether, becoming 'just Parker'.
  • Manchurian Agent: Kennedy was apparently turned into one while being held captive by Barbara Sayers and Dr. Allen and may have killed Sayers when she turned out to be a Mole for The Department, thought it may also have been her identical cousin Daisy. Parker claims to have removed the programming in episode 5 of Whisperer, but considering she neglected to mention anything about how Sayers died and Kennedy had to learn about it from listening to Jasper on tape, it may not be advisable to take her at her word.
  • Marrying the Mark: Happens at least twice. April's wife in Whisperer in Darkness is a Department agent sent to spy on her and the other cultists and in Aldrich Kemp, Mrs. Boone was apparently married (under the name Ada Heffelfinger) to a Russian oligarch that the Themis Group eventually assassinated.
  • The Men in Black: Parker takes on this role when she appears in Whisperer in the Darkness - Matthew and Kennedy both make a point of noting that she's wearing black every time she appears as well a pair of round sunglasses even when it's dark. She doesn't use either of her earlier first names (Cinderella or Hermione), and just goes by Parker. She also wipes Kennedy's mind of their first meeting, leaving her to find the recordings in order to understand what had happened. It's implied that this is standard Department practice as Matthew mistakes Isabel for her while in the forest even though he acknowledges their voices are different, apparently because they're dressed the same way.
  • Mind Screw: The finale of The Shadow Over Innsmouth descends into utter insanity, with Pleasant Green turning back up, Casey revealed as Obed Marsh, Wilmarth possibly being John Silence, Matt's military contact Jasper turning out to be an assassin assigned to murder Kennedy, the cultists attempting their ritual to summon an Eldritch Abomination, Matthew Heawood vanishing into thin air, and lots of spooky cats.
  • The Mole: Both George Sheply, aka. Dr. Allen and Ezra Whedon in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
    • In Whisperer in Darkness both April Marsden's wife Isabel and the man claiming to be Vicar Wilmarth are Moles working for The Department.
    • Shadow Over Innsmouth reveals that Barbara Sayer was this as well, working for The Department.
  • Monster Clown: Aldrich and Clara get attacked by these while using a VR machine to explore Mrs. Boone's memories. They're apparently based on one or more assassins disguised as clowns who attacked her and Aldrich while on a mission in Prague in 2004.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Near the end of Mythos: Glamis Mary realises that since Avalon explicitly runs on story logic, she's going to be rescued because this is literally the third act of Cinderella Parker's story, where Parker learns she was wrong about Mary getting her ex killed, and bravely charges in and rescues her. Sure enough, right on cue Parker appears.
  • Ninja Maid: Aldrich Kemp's housekeeper, former Olympic fencer Alice Boone, is only too eager to put her skills with a blade to use whenever the situation calls for it. And often when the situation doesn't, come to think of it.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Aldrich's adoptive sister Nakesha is implied to have feelings for him and gets very jealous of the attention he shows Clara.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: While Kennedy, Matthew and the American UFO researcher Dean Perry are leaving Rendlesham Forest, there are vague, muffled noises in the background from a chaos witch, a cyborg and other Department agents doing battle with Nyarlathotep and his army of Mi-go.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Mary Lairre in Mythos. She's rendered corporeal by a series of complex and unexplained Enochian wards she runs on an app on her phone, can drop them to pass through doors as needed, and occasionally uses her ghost status to straight up terrify people into running away.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Conrad Spijker is a neo-nazi with ties to human trafficking and gun running (or possibly a human trafficker and gun runner with ties to nazism).
  • Pragmatic Pansexuality: In Glamis, the Lady of the Lake propositions both Johnson and Parker with a threesome, which they agree to in order to get her help hunting Libby Ward. Parker's only response when asked about it is to say 'I don't mind', so it's unclear as to whether she's actually interested or if it's just part of the mission.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: The Mi-Go possessing Walter Brown does this via Ate His Gun on it's way out.
  • Psychic Static: Aldritch Kemp was trained how to do this by a group of monks in Bhutan. As it turns out the whole thing was a scam and Schofield, aka. Vladimir North is able to manipulate him just fine.
  • Psycho Lesbian: April Marsden, knife-wielding cultist bent on summoning the Thelemic goddess Babalon (actually one of Nyarlathotep's many "masks"), is a little too excited to have Kennedy tied to a chair. She's married to another woman who turns out to be an undercover agent of The Department sent to spy on her.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Kennedy's family being involved with the conspiracy came about due to Simpson coming across an article in The Times from the late 1800s about somebody with the same last name being involved in a carriage accident at Niagara Falls with a man who shared his surname with one of the conspirators. The article itself becomes a plot point in Whisperer in Darkness.
    • The Covid-19 pandemic provided a handy reason for the protagonists' travel issues in Shadow over Innsmouth.
  • Retcon: All the dates mentioned in Bad Memories are moved forward five years or so when brought up again in connection with the Marsden family in Whisperer in Darkness. Additionally, it's mentioned that none of the bodies except for the Blake family's were identified despite the police having already discovered Phillip Gibson's identity at the beginning of Bad Memories (though this might not have been released to the press).
    • There's no suggestion in Charles Dexter Ward or Whisperer in Darkness that Eleanor Peck is really Mary Lairre, and it's only revealed in bonus material for Shadow over Innsmouth. Though, if she were a secret agent deep undercover and strongly implied to be amnesiac, this would only be a point in her favour.
      • There is one subtle hint that would only be obvious to those who listened to the Mythos series and Charles Dexter Ward back to back. In episode 7, Professor Peck briefly mentions James Murrell while discussing occult history, despite the fact that at the end of Mythos she changed history so that Murrell never learned real magic, thus only herself and possibly Johnson and other people from The Department should remember him.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Numerous mysteries in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" are explained once you know George Shepley and Ezra Weedon are both cultists. For a start, it explains how Kennedy got trapped in the tunnels under the trailer park - they were the only two people she told.
    • Parker's attitude to Eleanor Peck is recontextualised when The Stinger reveals she's Parker's friend and partner Mary Lairre with self-inflicted amnesia.
    • Lucy Hawthorne's comments just before Dr. Willet murders her make a lot more sense after it's revealed that 'Ipku-Aya' is really Nyarlathotep.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Who killed Barbara Sayers, Kennedy or Daisy? Made even more ambiguous by the reveal that Sayers was a deep-cover Department agent. Did Kennedy kill her for unknown reasons? Or did Daisy Marsh kill after after she sabotaged the ritual to transfer Ipku Aya to Melody Cartwright? The fact that her death seems to suggest it was an attack of opportunity, and Parker saying Kennedy is "better off" not knowing for sure, might lean towards Kennedy.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: At the end of "Albion", Mary Lairre and Parker get a sense of deja vu which Mary recognises as them having successfully messed with the timestream. She can't remember what actually happens, though, because it's an averted future and it hadn't never happened yet.
  • Running Gag: Matthew continually (and understandably) failing to pronounce Nyarlathotep's name.
  • Sequel Hook: One for The Lovecraft Investigations' fourth season appears in Who Is Aldrich Kemp? After the Black Windmill explodes at the end of episode 3, Kennedy mentions another lead who might have information on how to return Matt from the Dreamlands, a journalist by the name of Edwin Lillibridge...
  • Shame If Something Happened: A Ministry of Works agent trying to get Eleanor Peck to pass a message to Kennedy Fisher and Matthew Heawood opens by threatening Eleanor's job and livelihood if she doesn't cooperate; when she tells him to piss off, he says he didn't think that approach would work but his bosses insisted he open with threats, and skips to his preferred method of simply telling her about what's happening, which does work.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Both Clara and Aldrich make a point of contemptuously (and snarkily) talking over the Big Bad whenever he attempts to expound on his right wing views.
  • Single Line of Descent: Mostly averted in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, wherein Ipku-Aya, who apparently needs a blood relative of his original human body to possess has a fairly large pool of potential candidates for most of recorded history, although between the World Wars, the interventions of The Department and other entanglements, the supply of possible hosts does seem to thin out by the early 21st century, apparently reduced to a single person by the end of the first Lovecraft Investigations series. This isn't helped by the fact that his cultists have a tendency to bump off older candidates such as Charles, Lucy Hawthorne and Melody Cartwright's mothers so that Ipku-Aya will theoretically have more time before he needs to move on to another host body.
  • Spies Are Lecherous: Agent Johnson in Glamis appears to have a woman in every alternate reality.
  • Spy Catsuit: Parker wears one in Albion, though she enchants it to be more comfortable.
  • Spy Fiction: If the two biggest sub-genres are referred to as Martini and Stale Beer, Aldrich Kemp would probably be some kind of fruity drink with a humorous name which has a tendency to sneak up on the drinker and cause them to pass out at inopportune moments.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Pleasant Green itself when we first see it in Fragments. Its destruction(?) in Fugue State was probably the best thing for it, really. It hasn't changed when it reappears in Shadow over Innsmouth.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: Kelly Ryan takes the rap for Major Grant's death when he kills himself due to having terminal cancer, believing that a seemingly normal girl murdering a poor old man will scare away all the snooty rich people who have been ruining Pleasant Green's culture. He leaves a suicide note on tape explaining to the police what's going on because he doesn't think the plan is worth sacrificing her future over but Kelly manages to find and destroy it before the police arrest her.
  • Take That!: Simpson never misses an opportunity to make his disgust for Brexiteers known.
    Eleanor Peck: (On the magic rituals being investigated) It's a nonsense delusion shared by people who don't have a firm grasp on reality, and who desperately need to believe that there are somehow cheat codes to life that will make up for all their shortcomings. It's Brexit for Wizards!note 
  • Tap on the Head: April Marsden shows surprisingly few signs of traumatic brain injury when she appears in Rendlesham forest to menace Kennedy with a knife despite the latter having recently rendered her unconscious by smashing a wooden chair over her head.
  • Tempting Fate: The extended version of the conversation between Matthew and Kennedy at the beginning of Innsmouth that appears as one of the bonus episodes ends with Matthew saying "The future's looking bright."
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Kennedy and her distant cousin Daisy Marsh look and sound almost identical. As do Zadok Allen and the evil Dr. Allen (aka. George Sheply.)
  • Unwitting Pawn: The various cultists think they can summon the Old Ones to either gain power or save the environment. They're actually being taken for a ride by Nyarlathotep, who wants to use them to open a portal to Azathoth's dimension, which will result in end of all life as we know it, and likely the complete annihilation of the entire universe.
    • Matthew and Kennedy spend most of Charles Dexter Ward as this, unwittingly helping the conspiracy track down Ipku-Aya's last living descendant.
  • Wham Line:
    • Lampshaded during episode 6 of The Whisperer in Darkness, when Matthew Heawood is once again interviewing Eleanor Peck.
    Eleanor: (sigh) Oh, I see what you're doing.
    Matthew: What am I doing?
    Eleanor: You're trying to get me to say something explosive and doom-laden so you can end the episode on a cliffhanger.
    Eleanor: It would be the end of the world. Don't you dare end on that!
    (Ending theme plays)
    "Jasper is the Harlequin."
    • From the second bonus episode for The Shadow over Innsmouth, regarding the whereabouts of Mary Lairre.
    Parker to Eleanor Peck: "Mary. Are you in there?"
    • In "Who Is Aldrich Kemp?", Spijker's first lines through the intercom are preceded by the distinctive folky jingle of the Babalon numbers station from "The Whisperer In Darkness". It's apparently just coincidence, and seems to be there just to make longtime listeners jump.
  • World of Snark: The number of characters who don't get any snappy, sarcastic dialogue can be counted on one hand. If we're only counting female characters they can be counted on one hand by somebody with a penchant for illegal fireworks.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Becomes a problem in Albion because the idea that sparked the Albion event can't be killed. Lairre and Parker solve it by going back in time and shooting Geoffrey of Monmouth, who had the idea in the first place, to create a Reset Button. Apparently it's not the first time it's happened.
  • You Have Failed Me: While several of the villains (and occasionally the "heroes") frequently have nominal allies bumped off if they become loose ends or otherwise problematic, Remington Schofield stands out not only for the sheer number of his own employees he murders, but his hilariously petty reasons for doing so.

"...It would be the end of the world. Don't you dare end on that—"