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The Dresden Files / Tropes N to Z

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The Dresden Files has many, many tropes. These are tropes N through Z. You can find tropes A through M here.

Please make sure spoilers are properly tagged. The series has a lot of them, so try not to ruin everyone else's fun.

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  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Nicodemus Archleone. Archleone is Greek for "Great lion." From The Bible, (1 Peter 5:8) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." When Harry first heard the name he quoted the passage, exasperated that Nicodemus would be so blatant. He's also the de facto most powerful member of the "Knights of the Blackened Denarius."
    • He Who Walks Behind — though its real name is technically a long mental montage of horror and agony.
    • The Lords of Outer Night, the upper nobility of the Red Court.
    • Corpsetaker. A necromancer who has achieved functional immortality through an ability to commit Grand Theft Me.
    • Kincaid, a mercenary who also goes by the title "Hellhound".
  • Narrating the Obvious: Occasionally, Harry will say things related to characters that everyone knows already, such as feeling the need to tell us in Death Masks that yes, he really is a wizard. It's never too obtrusive, though. Overlaps with Harry being a private eye. As the stories move away from "whodunit", and gets much darker this correspondingly gets toned down a bunch.
  • Nay-Theist:
    • One of Harry's best friends carries around a sword containing a nail of the True Cross that cuts through all manners of demonic baddies, Harry dallies with the supernatural daily and he has had a fallen angel tied to one of Judas' coins rattling around in his skull — but he does not hold much truck with gods, and believes that the faith that powers them is just another example of emotion fueling magic. It should be noted that Harry does believe in God; he just doesn't think God is all that interested in him (despite having the Archangel Uriel looking out for him), and has some doubts as to his own worthiness as a follower. Harry said it best when he said "I wouldn't burden a decent system of faith by participating in it."
    • Sanya, who uses one of those swords containing a nail of the True Cross, describes himself as agnostic. His sword was supposedly given to him by the archangel Michael, but Sanya is careful to note that angels could be yet another type of faerie, or aliens (not seen yet, but give it time), or he could be insane and all his encounters with the supernatural could be mere hallucination. While Sanya approaches a Flat-Earth Atheist doctrine in some ways, he explains clearly enough that he sees his mission as worthwhile whether it is an actual holy crusade or simply a service to his fellow men.
  • Neat Freak: In a side story from Thomas' point of view, he notes that Harry has apparently become this, keeping the apartment spotless. The readers know that Harry actually has the fairies cleaning up as a favor from the Summer Lady, but he can't tell anyone about them or they'll leave for good, so he appears to be this to people who visit his house. As far as Harry on his own is concerned, however, this trope is averted - the first few novels make note of how messy his apartment is.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: the Black Council. We know literally nothing about them; their existence was deduced in the second book and by White Night it was all-but-proved, but the only living character we know for sure is a member, Cowl, we know nothing else about except that he is a strong wizard, not even what he looks like. We know that at least one Denarian is a member, and probably more than one, but we cannot be sure which. We can guess that certain Raiths were members and we know Wizard Peabody was, but all of those are dead. Members of the Black Council have proven willing to hurt evil organizations as well as good ones and Innocent Bystanders, but we do not know why.
    • And Cold Days suggests that the speculative Black Council may instead be The Virus. Among other possible interpretations...
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Monsters who specialize in nullifying magic tend to do this quite often to Harry, such as the Scarecrow, which walks through a Hellfire-boosted spell that would have blown him a few city blocks away, or Thorned Namshiel simply eating one of Harry's spells. In Changes, the giant centipede in Lea's garden simply splits into two monsters, both equally angry, when Harry slices it in half with his laser beam spell.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: An interesting inversion; From what is shown about the "creeps" in the short story "Zoo Day", they're basically living embodiments of clinical depression that only children are aware of (and even then, only children who are "in on" the supernatural world can fight back).
  • Never Recycle a Building: Averted; after the Full Moon Garage is abandoned due to the lycanthrope biker gang that owned it being slaughtered it is revisited by other villains looking for an empty building to do some disturbing things.
  • Nice Hat: On the cover, at least, and in several of the short stories he emphatically states that one day he really will get a hat, and it will definitely be a very cool hat. In the books themselves, however, he starts gaining a dislike of hats, and by Changes he outright hates them (although later he wishes he had accepted the telepathy blocking helmet).
    • Hilariously played with in the "Enhanced EFX" version of the trailer for Peace Talks.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Harry, in a supernatural sense. Whereas most in the supernatural world either look down on, ignore, use, or abuse the Little Folk (small fairies like Toot), Harry gives them respect, helps them, and—perhaps most importantly—gives them pizza. Because of this, they tend to be fiercely loyal to him. The benefits of this are illustrated with particularly painful clarity in Summer Knight when it enables him to unleash a swarm of pixies armed with plastic-handled boxcutters onto Aurora.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: After seeing Molly's alter-ego/persona, the Ragged Lady, Harry begins to wonder whether or not he is responsible for her gradual mental deterioration. Ultimately, he is, but not for the reason he thinks (bringing a psychic sensitive like her to the battlefield at Chichen Itza). The real reason is that Molly is suffering due to the fact that she knows the identity of the person who ordered the hit on Harry. It's Harry, himself. Harry ordered his own death, courtesy of Kincaid, as a way to cheat Mab out of having him as the Winter Knight and make sure that she doesn't use him for evil. He ordered the hit, then had Molly erase his memory of the event to prevent anyone from stopping it, even and especially himself.
    • On top of that, Harry's decision to wipe out the entire Red Court caused a monumental power vacuum in the supernatural world, with long dormant (and mostly evil) organizations scrambling to acquire the assets and power the Court left behind. As a result, said organizations have started causing such a ruckus that the normal world is starting to take notice.
    • Further on top of that, Molly is, on some level, in love with Harry. Yet another reason she isn't taking his demise well.
    • Heck, the entire series, after the first few books, may well be the epitome of this trope. Out of all the terrible things that happen to Harry and his friends (and Chicago and the world in general), it's a pretty short list of the ones that aren't a direct result of Harry's refusal to abandon Susan to the consequences of her own stupid choices at the vampire party.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Bianca's mocking "gift" to Harry — an open grave in Graceland Cemetery — turns out to be extremely useful to him in both Ghost Story and Cold Days, actually saving him from destruction in the former.
  • The Nicknamer: Harry, being an out-and-out wiseass, is prone to this. He often names random people when he does not know their real names, leading to him referring to them as something like "Eyebrow," "Turtleneck," or "Spinyboy."
    • He refers to Hendricks as "Cujo" even long after he learns his real name.
    • He decided that "Knights of the Order of the Blackened Denarius" was too dignified and started calling them "The Nickelheads." Even Michael uses this because he finds the reasoning convincing.
    • In keeping with certain traditions about the power of names for wizards, Harry's nicknaming also has no small amount of significance: For Lash and Ivy, being given a name also gives them their own identity separate from Lasciel's Shadow and the Archive respectively.
    • Summer Knight features him deciding that "plant monster" is too stupid a name for what he is fighting, so he calls it a "chlorofiend". No one knows what the hell he is talking about, so he defaults to "plant monster".
    • At one point he fails to remember a Warden's name and calls him a mash up of possible candidates.
    • With beings like "Shagnasty" (which could be described as a super-phobophage protogod), not using a goofy or insulting diminutive gives them more power.
    • Sometimes used for convenience, such as when Harry shortens "The Ik'k'uox" to "The Ick".
    • This backfires in Ghost Story: the archangel Uriel — whose name means "God is my light" — is deeply insulted, visibly angered, and even frightened when Harry calls him "Uri." That "-el" is vitally important, because it's the part of his name that refers to God. He does, however, somewhat bemusedly accept "Mr. Sunshine" as an alternative nickname, which fits because he's the archangel in charge of the sphere of the sun. Harry got lucky there.
    • In one of the RPG rulebooks Harry even lampshades his tendency to quickly settle on a nickname for someone and either neglect to find out or remember their actual name, and chastises himself that it's a bad habit for an investigator and one he needs to break.
    • Skin Game features an attack squad of hideous Fomori servitors resembling hairless gorillas with tentacles. Dresden promptly dubs them "octokongs", partly out of his reflexive impertinence towards his opponents, and partly to stop himself from locking up with gibbering horror.
    • He gives his prison island a name: Alfred Demonreach. The island accepted Demonreach as part of Harry's sanctum invocation. "Alfred" was Harry being snarky, but the island apparently accepted Alfred as its name. Harry, of course, ran with it.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Which fight like the Terminator...
  • 90% of Your Brain: Apparently, Lasciel lives there. Harry says, in his case, it is more like ninety-five percent.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Tons of them across the series. The best thing is that they make sense in context of the plot. Including, but not limited to FBI werewolves, a cult of porn-star sorcerers, ninja ghouls, zombie polka-controlled T-rex, and a dog being put on the stand as a reliable witness. Dresden himself counts as this as well: he is a Wizard Starborn Winter Knight, imbued with Soulfire.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Mold demons. They are mentioned in several books following Blood Rites but are never given any explanation.
    • Several past mishaps with magic, such as Harry's botched attempt to enchant a broom so he could fly, or whatever he did with the laundry that scared Ebenezar's cat away.
    • It is known that Simon Pietrovic was a member of the Senior Council, had a tower in Archangelsk, and gathered a group around him usually referred to as the "brute squad". However, nothing about the brute squad's members or activities are known.
  • No Bisexuals: Averted. The Raith family is almost entirely bisexual, except for Inari, Thomas, and Lord Raith.
  • Noble Demon: A literal case — the demon nicknamed Chauncy is often called up by magicians in need of info from 'down below', because unlike most of his brethren, he doesn't really mind. Granted, you still have to be careful — demons are OBLIGED to try their level best to escape confinement and kill their summoner, and he'll still go through the motions. But once he's done that, he's usually quite cooperative, offering the dark knowledge of hell for a fair price. Only, this is a subversion — turns out, the whole 'nice, civilized demon' thing is just a veneer. When Harry turns down a cleverly-formulated deal that would've essentially have him sell his soul to the demons, 'Chauncy' shows his true face in rage, and nearly tears through the barrier Harry had set up for the meeting. Apparently, he simply knew that acting pleasant would ensure that lots of wizards would summon him repeatedly, giving him a better chance to bargain for useful information... such as names.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Michael and Harry. Harry and Thomas. Thomas and Harry.
  • No Eye in Magic: When a wizard looks directly into someone else's eyesnote , they can see the essence of that person's soul. This ability is called a "soulgaze." Unfortunately, this is an automatic effect, once it is activated it cannot be stopped, and since it is eye-to-eye it is very much reciprocal, so the other person sees into the wizard's soul as well, and whatever you see, no matter how beautiful or horrific, you can never forget it. Harry himself spends most of the series avoiding direct eye contact with people, unless he has a good reason for it. He specifically points out breaking people's gazes when he knows they're evil, because the thought of that sort of evil and darkness indelibly etched in his memory would drive him insane. It's implied that it's done that more than a few times to other wizards.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Given the nature of some things in the Dresdenverse, this is inevitable.
    • The best example of this is when, after a Duke of the Red Court of Vampires cheated in a duel against Harry, Ebenezar McCoy pulls an out of use Russian Satellite down out of space onto the villain's mansion. He's also implied to have caused Krakatoa, the Madrid Earthquake, and several other major disasters.
    • Later, in Changes, the Red King tries to eliminate both Harry and Ebenezar McCoy by killing Harry's daughter in a ritual that will kill everyone who shares her bloodline (McCoy is Harry's grandfather). Had the ritual been carried out successfully, it would've been maximum overkill. As demonstrated when Harry is able to reverse the ritual to instead target everyone of the Red King's bloodline, exterminating every last Red Court vampire on Earth.
    • Even Later, in the novella Aftermath, Karrin Murphy takes on a building full of bad guys. After all is said and done, she empties an entire clip of ammo into the evil wizard and uses yet another to make sure all of the other bad guys are thoroughly dead. But, as she says, when you're fighting the supernatural there's no such thing as overkill.
    • What does Morgan do when confronted with an Eldritch Abomination? This happened to be back in The '50s, so he lured it to a nuclear weapon testing ground and leaves it there. On the day of a test. Given how deadly that thing was though, the nuke was only slightly overkill.
    • There's also Kincaid's solution to killing a bunch of Black Court vampires. Though, from what we've seen of them, we can't really blame him.
      Kincaid: Blow up the building. That works good for vampires. Then soak what's left in gasoline. Set it on fire. Then blow it up again.
      Harry: Ah, yes. The 'Bolshevik Muppet' solution.
    • One of the reasons given for why the supernatural world is wary of mortals is mortals' tendency to create weapons that are serious overkill just for killing other humans, and are therefore capable of doing serious damage to—if not outright destroying—even toughened supernatural creatures.
  • No Name Given: Lord Raith's given name hasn't been mentioned, although nearly all of his relatives' names are known by now.
  • Non-Human Undead: In Grave Peril, Harry encounters an extremely strong ghost he calls the Nightmare, and suspects it's one of these. Specifically the ghost of the demon serving the sorcerer Leonid Kravos, who he and Special Investigations took down before the book. He later learns that the ghost is Kravos himself, whose death had been concealed from him.
    • Animal zombies are possible and are even non-violations of the Laws of Magic, but no one bothers because it's a very dark gray area and they're usually far less powerful than human dead anyway. However, there's also a rule that states that the older the corpse is, the more powerful it is, so when Harry finds himself absolutely needing a necromantic servant, well... Two words: Zombie Tyrannosaurus.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted in White Night. Luccio complains about her younger body. Even Snarkmeister Harry is squicked.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: The first two audio books pronounce Marcone with a long 'e' at the end: Mar-CONE-ee. For the third audiobook, there is an introduction from Jim Butcher, mostly about how the series hits its stride here at Grave Peril. From that point on, Marcone has been pronounced as simply: Mar-CONE. Perhaps he said something about it when he recorded the intro. (incidentally, the sound editing also gets much better at around book three.)
  • No Tech but High Tech: Wizards are Walking Techbanes to modern technology, so the titular Blue-Collar Warlock makes do with a 1950s-era Volkswagen and a premodern stove and icebox. Discussed when he speculates that it's a side effect of wizards' internal conflicts causing the Magic Versus Science trope to manifest, whereas earlier generations of wizards sprouted warts or caused milk to sour.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: After Changes, the status quo of the books is effectively gone.
  • Not Me This Time:
    • A variation in Death Masks. Early in the story, one of Marcone's hitters attacks Harry and a priest who's coming to Harry for a job. Later on, when Harry confronts Marcone about it, Marcone blinks in surprise. While Marcone did order the hit, it turns out it wasn't a hit on Harry at all, but on the Denarian-in-disguise priest.
    • Happens again with Nicodemus in Small Favor. When Nicodemus is talking about the Black Council as an enemy of his, Harry says he already knows that Nicodemus is in cahoots with them, as Hellfire was used in a Black Council attack during Proven Guilty. Nicodemus's reaction is pure shock, as he apparently had no idea about it, indicating that someone in his own faction is betraying him.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Harry brushes off friends and allies trying to give him important information because he is concentrating hard on some task or problem. He has done it twice with Bob (in Dead Beat and Grave Peril) and once with Susan (in Grave Peril), to his remorse. In Fool Moon one of the minor practitioners that Harry mentors came to him for help and he looked at what she needed, recognized that it was very dangerous and out of her league, and told her not to get involved. Then he promptly forgot about her, so when she tried to do it anyway she was killed because she never received the thorough training he could have given her. Or considered that maybe Harry was telling the truth when he said she didn't have the magical ability to do it. Of course, if she hadn't been asked to keep the precise details a secret from him and everyone, and told him why she needed it, Harry would've done it himself.
  • Not Himself: Various possession plots, and Harry himself is later possessed by a fallen angel and brainwashed by one of the fairy queens.
    • After taking the Winter Knight mantle he's struggling to avert this.
  • Not Hyperbole:
    • A Black Court vampire, Mavra, once got away with successfully blackmailing Harry, by having evidence that would destroy his friend Murphy. After nearly killing himself to ensure Murphy's protection, Harry tells Mavra in no uncertain terms that this will never happen again, and that if anything happens to Murphy, he's declaring war on her, personally, and that he will pick up every weapon he has at his disposal to end Mavra. He lists them off, and the implications are more than a little worrying...
      • This one is particularly notable because, Mavra doesn't show up in the series again until book 17, with the big daddy black court vampire, Drakul, leading her.
    • Fast forward to Changes, and another vamp has kidnapped Harry's daughter. And he picks up every weapon he has (including just about every one he listed to Mavra), and is fully ready and willing to sell his soul and worse to get even more weapons. The only two in his arsenal he holds back on the Darkhallow and the Denarius. And then proceeds to exterminate the entire Red Court of vampires. All of them. And for the record, if he had to use the Darkhallow or the Denarius, he would have. Without hesitation. Fortunately for him, he had a less evil option.

      What's worrying is that selling his soul, then performing human sacrifice (of the woman he loves and mother of his child), to commit genocide and arguable pantheocide is the less evil option. And that's without all the evil-enabling consequences left by the power vacuum he creates. However, seeing that literally every member of the Red Court killed remorselessly multiple times: they reaped what they sowed.
    • Also, Mouse's bark has been described as loud enough it can be heard from a mile away. Later, in an odd turn of events, Mouse shows that he was holding back, and if anything, the entire cast underestimated him.
    • When Lara Raith starts getting a little too physical with Harry, Ebenezer McCoy threatens to wipe her off the earth and leave her family with nothing but a pair of five-hundred dollar shoes to bury. Lara is a vampiress. She is armed, surrounded by bodyguards and ready for a fight. She, and everyone around her, know that if the old hillbilly wanted to turn her into a charred, greasy smear, he could and he would and there is literally nothing she could do to stop him.
    • In Skin Game Harry muses that Mab will crucify him if he fails to follow through on helping Nicodemus steal the Holy Grail. He is not joking. In fact, if he doesn't follow through, he would be lucky to get off with just crucifixion.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: In Turn Coat, we are introduced the power of intellectus, the ability to know the answer to a question just by asking it without going through the usual channels of learning it. At first confused with omniscience. The difference is with omniscience one knows everything all the time. Intellectus only lets you know something when you ask the question. Both limited in you have to ask the right questions and so far the only beings who have it have it in a limited form.
    • Intellectus also doesn't tell you why. For example, using it to find out how to hurt Harry Dresden will tell you to go after his friends and daughter. It will not tell you that this is because he loves them or that he will respond by grabbing as many weapons as he needs to end you.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Harry re-names the animated-vegetation construct he battles in Summer Knight a "chlorofiend", simply because calling it a "plant monster" was just too silly/humiliating for his pride to stomach. It takes him two or three books to finally give up and start calling it a "plant monster", which he only does because he's sick of having to clarify what a "chlorofiend" is.

  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The only reason Thomas survived his father's Offing the Offspring is because he was able to convince Lord Raith that he was so stupid and vapid that he was not a threat. He mostly drops the act after daddy is overthrown.
    • Harry does this from time to time, but not so often as he'd like his allies to think.
    • Mouse's Big Friendly Dog act qualifies.
    • So does Hendricks's Big Dumb Thug act, which amusingly seems to have taken Harry in completely.
  • Oblivious Younger Sibling: Harry played this once in the novella Backup. It's told from the point of view of Thomas, Harry's older brother. A woman hires Harry to find a kidnapped child, pressing two of Harry's Berserk Buttons. What Harry doesn't know is that the woman is a bad guy manipulating him into finding a book of rituals, that Harry will find with the child, and when he hands it over to the White Council, mass-producing the book will increase its evil power, not diffuse it. Thomas, who can't tell this to Harry because of that very reason, has to pull all sorts of stunts to get things to work out okay, including letting Harry beat him up.
    • Gets a Call-Back in Cold Days, where he comes across the building where they fought and comments to his companion he still has no idea what the story behind that case was.
  • Obstructive Zealot: Morgan. But oddly enough, perfectly justified. Harry himself points out in Proven Guilty that though he doesn't think that he and Morgan will ever be friends, he knows that Morgan has extremely good reasons for his actions, assholish though they may be.
  • Occult Detective: Currently one of the more popular examples.
  • Offing the Offspring: Lord Raith, Incubus head of the White Court, kills all his male children when they get old enough to be a threat. The girls he rapes both mentally and physically into sexual slavery and psychic subservience. Both of these practices eventually backfire on him, with Harry's help.
  • Older Sidekick: Michael, sometimes. Kincaid also may qualify.
  • Old Master:
    • First Harry's first teacher Justine DuMorne counts as the man is old enough to have fought back in the early 1900s
    • Then Ebenezer McCoy takes charge of a young Harry Dresden and he fought back in the early 1800s easily.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Marcone, Ramirez and Murphy have all teased Harry on different occasions about how often buildings tend to burn down when he is around.
    • The Fae Courts were buzzing about the whole Donut Incident to the point that even Morgan takes potshots at Harry regarding it. Apparently, they have been laughing about it for months.
    • Also, SI never really let go of the fact that he had to masquerade as Thomas's gay lover for one case.
    • Since Mab made sure everyone in Faerie saw it, it's unsurprising people keep bringing up the time Harry slept with her in the process of becoming the Winter Knight.
  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You:
    • Harry hates Gentleman John Marcone. On the other hand, he has to admit that whatever else you say about the guy, he's got "balls that drag along the ground when he walks".
    • Marcone's protectiveness towards children also prevents Harry from being able to think of him as a monster. And when Harry learns where that protectiveness stems from, he admits to himself that while he still hates what Marcone does, he can no longer bring himself to honestly hate the man himself.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Harry's pentacle from his mother. In Blood Rites it's used by Thomas to prove he's Harry's half-brother, since he has one exactly like it.
    • In Fool Moon, Harry realized at the last second that said pendant was inherited silver, the one thing that could kill a loup-garou. Probably the most badass thing any Orphan's Plot Trinket has ever done.
    • Even got an upgrade in Changes when Harry came into possession of a gem containing his mother's knowledge of the Ways through the Nevernever. The gem slots perfectly into the middle of his pentacle—er, it would have, had it not been for that business in Fool Moon detailed above.
  • One Steve Limit: Despite there being 15 books in the series there have been very few duplicate names, and never amongst the primary cast. Archangel Michael and Michael Carpenter come close, but the former never appears "on screen". Michael did name his youngest son Harry after Harry.
    Amanda Carpenter: There's already a Harry. You can be Bill.
    • Made even funnier when you realize that there's already a Bill: Billy the werewolf. But Amanda never met him, and he goes by Will now.
    • As well as Mike, Harry's mechanic.
    • If you're willing to give a little, there's Justin, Harry's former teacher, and Justine, Thomas's lover.
    • Also, Molly's full name is Margaret, just like Harry's mom and his daughter.
      • Molly's entire name is Margaret Katherine Amanda Carpenter. She also has a younger sister named Amanda.
    • Allowing for translations between languages, there's antagonists Victor Sells and Vittorio Malvora, and played entirely straight by John Marcone and SI Officer John Stallings.
    • An early antagonist is a Red Court Vampire named Paolo Ortega, and there is a minor priest at St Mary's named Father Paolo.
  • One-Man Army:
    • They call Michael the Fist of God for a reason. In Small Favor, he and Harry are attacked by more than a hundred hobs in the subway station. Michael kills all of them. Singlehandedly.
    • There's Kincaid, Luccio, and the Archivenote , albeit offscreen.
    • Murphy does a decent impression of him in Changes.
    • Harry himself tends to avoid this, however, because a) he's not as powerful as he'd like to be, and b) he doesn't believe in getting into a fight when he can't win. However when push comes to shove, he cuts loose and plays it dead straight. Red Court vampires, ghouls and zombies are the usual targets.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Mac The Bartender is also The Quiet One. The seriousness of any particular book is proportional to the number of words that he says. A complete sentence or two is enough to scare Dresden. In Changes he goes on for a good-sized paragraph.
      • A notable exception is in Skin Game, where he recited a well-wishing to Mab. She responded by smiling and calling him a "Flatterer."
    • In Warrior, the villain got Michael mad enough to actually swear, another thing that shocks Harry.
      • Happens again at the end of book 17 when Harry is kicked out of the White Council after saving Chicago, and the rest of the world from a titan that intended to subjugate humanity.
    • In Proven Guilty, Harry gets ready to conjure a complicated and potentially dangerous ritual, and he asks Bob the Skull to give him as much information as possible about that kind of spell. Bob responds "Will do" in an absolutely serious tone, which freaks Harry out.
    • In Blood Rites, Murphy meets Harry's mentor, Ebenezar. She is not impressed, and demands brusquely she be the driver since he doesn't have a license in Chicago. Harry tells Ebenezar he better just let her do so, calling the older man 'sir'. Cue Murphy dropping her armload in pure, unfiltered shock at hearing Harry Dresden address someone with authority with respect. She talks to Ebenezar afterwards as if he's on the same level as the Pope.
    • With a dash of Absence of Evidence. In the short story It's My Birthday, Too, Harry gets in a fight where he doesn't throw a single bit of snark at an enemy who pretty much is a mix of Anne Rice vampires and Carrie. He'd stuffed his mouth with powdered garlic, waits for the Black Court vampire to put her face within spitting range to gloat, then spits it into her eyes.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The conflict/rivalry between Harry and Morgan is primarily due to their personal philosophies — Harry believes in doing the right thing, screwing the rules whenever is needed, while Morgan believes in sticking to the rules no matter what.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Angels are generally tasked with a particular duty. For example, an angel of death is tasked with safeguarding the souls of the righteous and good and seeing them safely to the afterlife without being waylaid by demons. The archangel Uriel is present as Heaven's equivalent of a spy/assassin/spook, and is tasked with defending the free will of mortals. Angels wield tremendous cosmic power (in Ghost Story, Harry realizes that if Uriel was let loose, he could theoretically destroy the entire planet) but are tightly restricted in how they can use it.
  • Our Demons Are Different: The Fallen associated with the Knights of the Blackened Denarii are Fallen Angels; but there are also lesser supernatural creatures called "demons" that are pretty much every other supernatural being that's not mortal, semi-mortal, a spirit, or a faerie.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: True Dragons (like Ferrovax) are shapeshifters with a power level on par with Fairy Queens and gods. Ferro says that his true form would outright break Harry's mind. Word of God says that in a three way fight between Eldest Gruff, the Leanansidhe and Ferrovax, Ferrovax would curb stomp them both. Apparently in the Dresdenverse, dragons are every bit the terrifying monsters the original myths made them out to be. Think less Smaug, more Jormungand.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: From Mab and Lea to the Gruffs to Toot-toot to the fetches to Santa, they definitely run the gamut.
    • Santa, according to Word of Jim, is the Winter King, on par with the Erlking power wise. Think about what that means. In Cold Days, we learn that Santa is none other than Odin. Which makes perfect sense to people who know that the real-life myth of Santa is derived from Odin, just like Halloween comes from the pagan Samhain.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts tend to be echoes of the person's last moments with an imprint of their personality. One tragic ghost simply repeats the last action she undertook in life before her death. Unfortunately, the last act she took in life was accidentally smothering her baby. And axing her hubby to death. And she was haunting a nursery.
    • Messed with in Ghost Story: most ghosts become like this fairly swiftly, although there are a few that manage to hang on to some achievable purpose in the afterlife and thus retain their personality. Harry is a different story, though, as he was sent back with his soul intact. Even so, he comes perilously close to becoming a standard ghost before Uriel intervenes.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: They are beastial, shapeshifting monsters that want to eat you and are ludicrously difficult to kill. They also come in a larger variant that is even bigger and meaner and is able to disregard the Chunky Salsa Rule. Wordof God implies that the lesser ghouls are a result of crossbreeding the nastier format with human stock.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: A subtype of faeries, Changes reveals that goblins are far more badass and militant than the comical, physically weak figures they are in most universes. In the summary of Ghoul Goblin, Jim Butcher describes them as "serial killing Hannibal Lecter ninjas with frickin' magic powers to help them cheat."
  • Our Spirits Are Different: In the Dresdenverse, humans are made of three things: Body, Spirit, and Soul. Ghosts, spirits, and demons, and some creatures from the Nevernever are made of only Spirits and other creatures from the Nevernever (such as Fae) are made of both Body and Spirit. Some very special kinds of ghosts can have both Spirit and Soul. And finally, Angels and their fallen counterparts are pure Soul.
    • There seem to be very set limits to spirits in the Dresdeverse: 1) Beings from the Nevernever can be summoned or cross over on their own. For those without bodies they can create material bodies for themselves made of ectoplasm, which dissipates without a trace if they are killed or leave (or no longer have enough magic to maintain the body). 2) Certain kinds of spirits (ghosts, demons) can possess humans and animals (e.g. cats) but not all of them, apparently. Permanent bonds are possible via mutual pledges of loyalty. 3) All spirits seem ageless, but they're not invulnerable. 4) Spirits always stay the way they are. 5) They can be consumed/deformed by other beings, usually by bigger and meaner spirits, though mortal wizards can feed on them, too. 6) Since spirits are incapable of evolution, their True Names never change, and whoever knows it can force them to do their bidding.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The series manages to have its cake and eat it too by simultaneously subverting and playing straight several now-classic vampire tropes. Butcher took three of the broadest elements of the concept of vampires (undead monsters, bloodsucking monsters, and sexy lords of lust) and created a specific Court for each type: "modern" Anne Rice-inspired vampires who are humans converted into batlike bloodsuckers (Red Court), succubi and incubi (White Court) who are born that way but can theoretically be inoculated against it(so long as they haven't fed yet), and classic Dracula-inspired vampires (Black Court). The last group is particularly subject to considerable Lampshade Hanging as Dresden notes that "[Bram] Stoker told everyone how to kill them;" and only the strongest and cleverest of them remain after the beginning of the 20th century. Word of God says that there are four other Courts, an Asia-only "Jade Court" (presumably Jiang Shi-inspired Chi vampires) that are very intentionally staying too busy to get drawn into conflict with the White Council and three other Courts that are mosquitoes in comparison.
    • The Jade Court is mentioned by Shiro in Death Masks. He has fought them in duels (and presumably won, given that he was alive to mention it.)
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Especially in Fool Moon, where a string of murders leads to Harry spending an entire chapter talking to Bob about werewolves. Bob lists off all the different types of werewolves (so you know Harry's going to run into every type), and they total in four different kinds that pretty much covers the entire range of possibilities. Only anthropomorphic wolf-men are non-existent, and the contagious bite is notably absent (as per Bob: "Bah, no. Hollywood stole that from the vampires"). Also only Loup-garou require silver to kill it; the rest are as vulnerable to injury as any other physical creature.
    • The kind simply known as "werewolves" are humans who learned a single magic spell to turn into a normal wolf, at will. It turns out that it takes some practice, since there are a thousand subtleties in physical form and difference in thinking patterns that are hard to get just right. They can be hurt just like a real wolf. There were also mention of transmogrification but it's both illegal and eventually "kills" the person transformed. To add another layer of complexity, Tera West was a wolf that learned to do the same thing to take on human form.
    • Hexenwolves are people who cut a deal with a powerful magic user or a devil, and are given a talisman (usually a wolf-belt, but it can be a ring or an amulet) that lets them turn into a large and fierce wolf. It uses a bound rage spirit to let the user turn into a destructive monster that revels in wanton, inhibitionless behavior, but (obviously) it runs the risk of eroding the user's sanity.
    • Lycanthropes are humans who are born as natural channellers of rage spirits. They don't transform into wolves, but they change in mentality, becoming superpowered, animalistic berserkers when provoked. They are resistant to pain, heal quickly, and gain a lot of strength when they enrage, and otherwise display a pack mentality.
    • The all-but-unstoppable Loup-garou are the classic werewolves. They're the result of a curse by a powerful magic user, the victim turning into a huge wolf-like demon during a full-moon, after which they go on a killing spree. They have supernatural rage, super strength, super resilience, and they regenerate from any wound just about immediately. You also need silver, inherited silver to injure them, though they can shake off nonfatal wounds without much trouble. They're also immune to poison and any sorcery that affects the mind. The good news is that they can be contained or allowed to transform in the wild where they can stay away from humans.
    • Our Werebeasts Are Different: In that same conversation, Bob casually mentions other were-creatures. Were-buffalo, were-Crows, and were-goats are also mentioned. Harry actually runs into a were-goat in one of the short stories.
    • And to further compound it, in the comic Dog Men, the titular creatures are anthromorphic dogs/wolves but have no relation to humans ir other werewolves, they just share features.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Zombies are corpses raised and controlled by a necromancer, and much stronger and faster than a normal human. This is due to them more following the idea of the voodoo zombie, a corpse raised by magic, than the Romero-style plague walker. Also, any creatures can be made into zombies, and a zombie is more powerful the older it has been dead, leading Harry to raise the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton kept in the Field Museum to take on a horde of human zombies raised by a group of necromancers.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Many of the books climax with Harry confronting his primary suspect, realizing he's in trouble, and running away — only to bump into someone from one of the many other factions he's previously pissed off.
  • Out with a Bang: Raiths feed on life essence brought about by lust. If they are not careful, or are really hungry, they can take too much and kill their food during the act.

  • Painting the Medium: As a representation of Demonreach's sheer arcane power, the old spirit only speaks in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
  • Pals with Jesus: Harry meets and befriends several entities over the course of the series, though Jesus wasn't one of them. He's on friendly terms with the Archangel Uriel, Odin, Santa Claus, the Archive, and about 4 out of the 6 Anthropomorphic Personifications of Summer and Winter, and his Godmother is a literal messed up version of a Fairy Godmother. After a long, strained relationship, Harry reluctantly befriended a clone of the Fallen Angel Lasciel. Harry even met with Hades at one point, who turned out to be cool and collected, but politely professional and hospitable, even edging toward friendly.
    • It varies with the Faerie Queens:
      • With Winter, Harry's "friendly" with Mother Winter, the eldest (she's a bit of a grouch, and she earnestly scares Harry); her daughter Winter Queen Mab has been the on-again-off-again ally Harry would rather not have, he slept with once, and now she's his new boss; Mab's daughter Maeve keeps trying to seduce Harry, but Harry knows better than to trust her or take the bait. When Maeve turned out to be Brainwashed and Crazy and necessitated her death, Molly, Harry's apprentice, friend, and admirer, became the new Winter Lady by having the bad luck of being nearby, and they're obviously on friendly terms as well.
      • With Summer, Harry is friendly with the matronly Mother Summer; her daughter Titania wants to kill Harry because her daughter Aurora was well-intentioned but crazy and genocidal, and so needed to be removed to save the world; Lily, Aurora's successor, turned out friendly with Harry since he aided her friends to save her life. When Lily died, Mab's changeling daughter Sarissa unfortunately got turned into the new Summer Lady the same night Molly was made into the Winter Lady (she likely would have been Winter if Lily hadn't died mere minutes before Maeve, and their respective powers sought out the nearest, most fitting vessels). Harry tried to be friendly with Sarissa, but Sarissa was understandably too afraid of the Winter Knight to form any form of deeper relationship with him. Until Peace Talks, we at the soonest, we don't know how the interactions between Sarissa and Harry will be.
    • Also inverted with Uriel and Michael, while professionally associated for a long time, Uriel never knew Michael considered him to be a friend, and was flattered when he found out.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Occasionally, usually lampshaded. In Dead Beat, when Billy brings Dresden's .44 back to him holstered this way, Harry points out it's "a good way to start singing soprano," before Billy tells him the gun's empty.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Michael Carpenter. He has a longer fuse than his wife, but it is attached to an even bigger bomb.
    • Ebenezar McCoy is one as well. He dropped a satellite out of orbit onto a vampire that had tried to kill Harry, not to mention threatening to kill Lara Raith after she slapped Harry. Changes reveals that Ebenezar is Harry's grandfather.
    • Changes sees Harry putting this trope into action himself in a desperate attempt to save his daughter from the might of pretty much the entire Red Court.
    • Special mention goes to Moe, the gorilla from Welcome to the Jungle, who tore apart the hag who'd killed his keeper because she came near his family and their surviving keeper..
  • Parental Abandonment: Harry's parents are dead, he had to kill his adoptive father in self-defense, and his relationship with his mentor Ebenezar McCoy is complicated, to say the least.
  • Parental Incest: invoked There is a reason almost every mention of Daddy Raith on this page is linked to Squick. See also Nicodemus.
  • Parental Substitute: Justin, in Harry's Back Story. Ebenezar McCoy assumes this role when he takes in Harry after Justin's untimely death. Things get a bit muddled in when we find out Ebenzar is the Blackstaff and, in Changes, Harry's grandfather.
  • Parody Magic Spell: Harry Dresden's candle-lighting spell is "Fliccum bicus" ("flick my Bic").
    • When creating several illusory duplicates to fool a pack of vampires in Changes: "Lumen, camerus, factum" ("lights, camera, action").
    • And his incantation for creating an iceberg is, "Rexus Mundus," or "King of the World."
    • A fake heart-exploding spell to scare off a dumb thug: "Intimidatus dorkus maximus!"
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Harry always checks himself out of hospitals the minute he's mobile enough to do so. Justified because he's a Walking Techbane and fears that some innocent patient's life-support might short out if he stays.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Harry alone has a pretty fair-sized collateral damage record, and he does not hold much of a candle to people like Ebenezar or the Merlin.
    • In harry's case it's become a minor running gag that buildings tend to catch fire when Harry is around. The RPG went so far as to make "The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault" one of Harry's defining aspects.
  • Physical God: Many.
    • The Faerie Queens, Mother Summer, Mother Winter, Queen Titania, Queen Mab, Lady Maeve, Lady Aurora, Lily as of Summer Knight, and Sarissa and Molly as of Cold Days. These powerful women can burn or freeze anything in their sight. And Mother Winter and Summer are hinted to be so strong, not even Cold Iron bothers them. There are also angels and their fallen equivalents, valkyries, the Erlking, Santa Claus, and all sorts of old gods and the like, though only a couple have shown up so far, namely Odin who is Santa Claus, and a maenad in one of the short stories. The Archive is powerful enough to match most of them, and skinwalkers hit this trope right where it meets Eldritch Abomination and dance gleefully in the ensuing rain of terror. Yeah, conflicts in the Dresdenverse get decidedly messy.
    • Six different necromancers all hit town at the same time in Dead Beat to try to become this. Cowl would have managed it, too, if Harry had been a second or two slower.
    • In addition, there's the Red King and the Lords of Outer Night, the rulers of the Red Court, who are each nearly as powerful as Odin. They are, individually, an immense powerhouse. Even so, they're not invincible, as Murphy is able to decapitate one with a single stroke of Fidelacchius, and the Leanansidhe is able to one-shot several of them when she catches them off-guard. Well, there were the Red King and the Lords of Outer Night. After Changes, not anymore.
      • Considering that the Leanansidhe is stated to be second only to Mab in Mab's court, she probably also qualifies.
    • Senior Council level wizards are low level versions (technically Cowl is as well, being stronger than Ebenezar). Ebenezar McCoy, the youngest, is the master of the Colony Drop. The Merlin once held off an army of sorcerer vampires and Outsiders with a single on-the-fly ward.
    • Ferrovax (and by inference, other dragons) are among the most powerful of beings in this reality. Though perhaps not always the most powerful, it has been implied that there is very little totally out of their weight class other than big-G God himself.
      • Considering Michael killed one in his backstory, it's safe to assume that Knights of the Cross while on the job come close as well.
    • Ethniu the Last Titan from Peace Talks and Battle Ground is the strongest example seen in the series thus far. She’s described as one of The Old Gods, and possesses enough strength to blast Queen Mab herself through multiple stone walls with one kick (and so fast Harry couldn’t clearly see what happened). She also possesses an Artifact of Doom (the Eye of Balor, which allows her to smash through the rune-protected stones of Marcone’s castle like styrofoam and hex the entire city of Chicago, akin to setting off an EMP) that Harry explicitly compares to a nuclear fusion core.
    • The original Merlin, who captured and sealed away hundreds or even thousands of eldritch abominations in a trans-temporal Eldritch Location of his creation and created a Genius Loci to guard it.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Several, including Aurora, the Summer Lady, the Archive, Tessa, Eldest Brother Gruff and Murphy. As of Skin Game, Butters may be joining the list. Heck, the series provides the current page quote.
  • Playing with Fire: Harry prefers fire magic but will occasionally use wind-based and earth-based spells when the situation calls for it. For a while after he was badly burned through no fault of his own, Harry was too scared to use his own fire magic, and defaulted to force/telekinetic strike spells instead.
    • In Ghost Story, Harry elaborates on why he and so many other wizards/practitioners use fire magic (to the point where pyromancy is mentioned as practically being the standard for the White Council's Wardens) - To sum it up neatly, fire is universally useful. Even intangibles like ghosts recoil from fire as they have a hard time separating their memory of fire and flame from their current existence. Harry also points out that even though something might be invulnerable to death from burning, they almost always still feel pain from it and can be stalled with it.
      Harry: Fire burns.
  • Poisonous Friend: Lash acts as this to her host in order to corrupt them. It’s stated that all the Fallen do this, with the possible exception of Anduriel as Nicodemus believes himself to be calling the shots (though it’s possible Anduriel is just that good at manipulating him).
  • Police Are Useless: Averted with the Special Investigations unit in The Dresden Files, led by Karrin Murphy, who among other things has taken down a tree-monster with a chainsaw. Though the unit still calls in Dresden for consulting, it's mentioned a few books in that they've learned enough to handle most of your usual supernatural riff-raff without the wizard's help. There are also things with enough power that getting the police involved would lead to a bloodbath. Several times Dresden convinces Murphy not to involve her unit by telling her what he's facing is "worse than the loup-garou", a Nigh-Invulnerable variety of werewolf that rampaged through the station in the second book. It's played a bit straighter with the rest of the Chicago cops, who refuse to believe in anything supernatural. They're probably very competent in normal situations, but when it comes to the average supernatural menace... hoo boy. And a lot of them think of him as a charlatan.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Most major villains move in circles where people are expected to present a civilized façade when not actively ripping each other limb from limb. Harry's snarky insouciance has taken more than one of them by surprise.
    • Almost lampshaded in Death Masks. Harry is about to initiate a duel against a powerful Red Court vampire named Ortega. The duel's moderator tells them they can make an opening statement. Ortega says something almost poetic and respectful. Harry takes a swig of his anti-vampire-mind-control potion and burps.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Harry, Harry, Harry. His somewhat outdated references are lampshaded by Molly in Changes (and sub-sequentially mirrored in Ghost Story.)
    Molly: You know, boss, I believe it is possible to reference something other than Star Wars.
    Harry: That is why you fail.
    • Harry gets upset in Cold Days when Bob makes a pop-culture reference he doesn't get.
  • The Pornomancer: Deconstructed. Thomas cannot keep a minimum-wage job because his incubus powers make women sexually assault him and, thanks to the Double Standard, he gets fired for it.
    Thomas: [after handing Harry a brass telescope] I've got a sextant, too.
    Harry: Any tent you have is sex tent.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: In-story type 1C for Rosanna in "Small Favor". As an ages old, nigh-immortal Denarian, she has never heard of Predator. Cue snark volley, advantage Dresden.
  • Portal Network: With significant knowledge of its pathways, the Nevernever can be used this way.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Pretty much built around it. The series' original name was going to be Semiautomagic even. However, the series is notable in that it goes both ways. For example, it has a Faerie Queen quote Einstein to prove that a certain artifact cannot be destroyed.
  • Power Glows: Often.
    • When Harry faces down Cowl and Kumori in Dead Beat.
    • Later in Dead Beat, when facing Corpsetaker, Harry describes a variety of ways that holding power manifests around wizards, many of which fall at least loosely into this category.
    • Mouse's paws glow when he's preparing to kick some evil ass.
    • The Swords of the Cross frequently glow when wielded. The light is seen to be inherently painful to various evil beasties.
      • Now that the blade broke, and because Butter's faith is based on Star Wars, one of the swords is now a light saber, so it its power always glows.
    • Toyed with. At one point, Harry's shield bracelet is damaged, causing it to dribble blue sparks. Harry notes that the effect looks cool, but anybody who knows about magic will see it as sloppy.
  • Power Loss Makes You Strong: Numerous books have seen Harry's use of magic partially or totally stripped from him, but he keeps on fighting with whatever he's got, and learns how to better take advantage of limited resources that way. When he does get his full power back, the benefit of that learning shows.
  • The Power of Love: White Court vampires that feed on lust cannot abide the touch of True Love. It causes them burns and physical pain.
    • Harry's love for Susan burned one such, and lack of that reaction was a clue to him that Anastasia Luccio does not love him.
    • Thomas has a similar problem. He literally cannot touch Justine or anything she gives him made with her own hands for the same reason. This is all the more poignant because Justine's true love is Thomas himself.
      • True love conquers all. As of Ghost Story Justine has found a solution. The effect only manifests if the last person you had sex with was your true love... and Justine has a casual girlfriend.
  • Power Trio: Harry, Murphy and Thomas develop into this over time.
  • Powers via Possession: The Denarians/Nickelheads. By carrying around a possessed coin, and inviting the Fallen Angel that dwells within to possess you, or even just having a connection to the coin(when it comes to the first power), a practitioner gains access to Hellfire, and a massive power boost that comes with it. They also stop aging, and can shapeshift into their angel's demonic form. Oh, and ectomancers can use the skills and powers of nearby ghosts.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Gentleman John Marcone shows how to successfully use this trope for fun and profit.
  • Precision F-Strike: Stronger curse words are relatively rare in the books, so when someone drops an F bomb you know that either someone is very angry, or something is very wrong.
    • The scene at the end of Dead Beat when Harry is talking to Mavra.
      Harry: I've got a fallen angel tripping all over herself to give me more power. Queen Mab has asked me to take the mantle of the Winter Knight twice now. I've read Kemmler's book. I know how the Darkhallow works. And I know how to turn necromancy against the Black Court...So once again, let me be perfectly clear. If anything happens to Murphy and I even think you had a hand in it, fuck right and wrong. If you touch her, I'm declaring war on you. Personally. I'm picking up every weapon I can get. And I'm using them to kill you. Horribly.
    • When Harry and Michael discuss Harry's buried Blackened Denarius, and what he had to do to get rid of Lasciel's Shadow in Proven Guilty.
      Harry: What do you mean set aside my power?
      Michael: Walk away from your magic. Forsake it. Forever.
      Harry: Fuck that.
      • Also in Proven Guilty, Harry has to convince Molly that she needs to stop acting like a child, take him seriously, and not try to manipulate him like he is just kindly ol' Uncle Harry who has never been anything but sweet to her. So when she tries to go back on her promise to do what Harry tells her, he looks at her threateningly and says "Now get the fuck into the car."
    • Harry to Molly again in White Night during his Scare 'Em Straight attempt. He only uses words like "damned" and mentions that it is just as effective because he doesn't even curse lightly around Michael's family.
    • During "The Warrior", after Father Roarke kidnaps Alicia to get at Fidelacchius and Amoracchius, Harry and Michael go to Forthill for info. When Forthill tries to reason with them:
      Michael's face was bleak and unyielding, and quiet heat smoldered in his eyes. "The son of a bitch hurt my little girl."
    • Summer Knight Fix when he realizes Maeve is under Demonic Possession:
  • Pregnant Badass:
    • Charity kicks the Nightmare in the gut in Grave Peril and wards it off with the power of her faith, mere seconds before going into labor.
    • Jaw-droppingly, Harry in Skin Game. Technically, he's been one since the end of White Night. Reactions are appropriately epic.
  • Prematurely Marked Grave: One of Harry's enemies buys him a tombstone engraved with "Here Lies Harry Dresden. He Died Doing The Right Thing." He eventually finds himself in said grave... and finds it rather homey, what with being dead at the time.
  • Private Detective: Harry, technically, and Vince in Turn Coat. Harry's old boss Nick also. Elaine Mallory, as of White Night. She admits that she stole the idea from Harry
  • Private Eye Monologue: The books are narrated by Harry in the first person and he is a Private Detective. He rarely engages in hard-boiled inner monologues, but when he does, he invokes this trope.
    "The barrel of Denton's gun looked bigger and deeper than the national debt as it swung towards my face."
  • Properly Paranoid: Harry, of course, and Murphy. The funny thing is, by Changes, even Butters has been infected with paranoia.
    "Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."
  • Public Domain Artifact: Several times. The Knights of the Cross each have a magical evil-fighting sword that supposedly has a nail from the True Cross in the hilt, and Ghost Story confirms that they are Excalibur, Durendal, and Kusanagi. The Shroud of Turin itself is the MacGuffin in the fifth book. In addition, Nicodemus wears the same noose Judas used to hang himself and the Blackened Denarii are probably the very same 30 pieces of silver that Judas received for betraying Jesus. In Skin Game the real Shroud (not "of Turin", that one's a fake, but still has power because of Clap Your Hands If You Believe), the placard from the Cross, the Holy Grail, the Crown of Thorns placed on Christ's head, and the spearhead that stabbed Christ are all revealed to be the "centerpieces" of Hades' Vault.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: The aptly-named short story "Day Off" sees Harry having all manner of Busman's Holiday style mayhem descend on him during his one day off—beginning with a Big Bad Wannabe, continuing with a pair of werewolves suffering from spectral fleas, and culminating with his apprentice smoking out the whole apartment.
  • Punished for Sympathy: The only way for a criminal who violated the Laws of Magic to escape immediate execution is for a member of the White Council to vouch for them. This places both of them under the Doom of Damocles; if the criminal violates a Law again, both the criminal and their sponsor are executed.
  • Punny Name: Murphy works out at Dough Jo's martial-arts gym (= dojo).
  • Puny Earthlings: So many supernaturals are immortal, have powerful magic, can withstand a substantial amount of punishment if not being attacked by their bane, and many of them can snap a human being in two without trying. Wizards are by no means squishy compared to regular humans, but they might as well be when compared to everything else. However, this is also Averted, because the supernatural community considers bringing normal humans into a conflict the nuclear option. Even though humans are individually very fragile and weak, there are BILLIONS of them, and human fairy tales read like a how-to book for dealing with the supernatural. And, of course, humans have many powerful weapons they did not hundreds of years ago, including nukes.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Each member of the Senior Council is given a purple stole to wear, signifying their power and authority.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Several.
    • It is a rare book where Harry has only lost blood. There are happy endings too, of course, but some are earned at a much higher price than others. Changes is definitely the cruelest Pyrrhic Victory in the series so far, at least from Harry's personal point of view.
    • Skin Game is probably the best villainous example so far, in that Nicodemus gets away with the Holy Grail, but he utterly fails to destroy Harry, Michael, Uriel or Fidelacchius, while losing the other four artifacts, his Mooks, his reputation, and his daughter Deirdre. He flees Chicago in disgrace with both Marcone's bounty hunters and a brand-new Knight of the Cross to worry about.

  • Rage Against the Heavens:
    • Harry does this in Small Favor when Michael is in critical condition after being shot by the Denarians. The Archangel Uriel shows up to surreptitiously point out he's already gotten help.
    • In Ghost Story, Harry rages against Uriel a few times. Unusually for this trope, Uriel gives patient, reasonable answers:
      Harry: Arrrgh! Can't you give me a straight answer? Is there some law of the universe that compels you to be so freaking mysterious?
      Uriel: Several, actually. All designed for your protection.
  • Rage Breaking Point:
    • In Grave Peril, Harry quickly discovers that he's been manipulated into a losing position: if he acts, it's bad. If he doesn't act, it's bad. In addition, he's found out that his lover has been cursed, his friends are in peril, and his lack of forethought and planning might spell doom for the Knights of the Cross. On top of all that, his discovery was planned for all of this to have maximum psychological impact. He responds thusly:
      Harry: Fuego! Pyrofuego! Burn, you greasy bat-faced bastards! BURN!
    • In Small Favor, Harry is tired, angry, scared (mostly for his friend who is being eyed intently by a Valkyrie) and being chased by fallen angels. When one of them shoots his friend with an AK-47, Harry flips out and blasts a massive hole in the shooters chest (the shooter being 2000 years old, demon possessed and a heavy weight sorcerer to boot) with a fire blast that is described as so intense it was almost a solid object.
      Harry: Fuego. Pyrofuego! Burn!
    • In White Night we get a flashback to Harry at a Warden training camp. Some ghouls attack one morning, and take two of the trainees (who are teenagers) captive. Harry rushes to rescue them, but not only are they already dead they are being eaten as he finds them. His reaction is...chilling. He flies into Tranquil Fury and brutally slaughters some ghouls, maims another and sets it to run back to its superiors and horrifically tortures the last before executing him in front of the rest of the trainees and Wardens.
      Ramirez: What happened to not hating them?
      Harry: Things change.
      • And after the final execution...
        Harry: That's the only way to serve it up. Cold.
    • Harry spends most of Changes desperately restraining himself from reaching this, bursting through it and going so far past he goes insane. He mentions that when entire blocks go down in flames when he gets angry, he really needs to keep a tight hold on his emotions. Given that the situation in Changes provokes a reaction almost bigger than the above three situations combined, he spends the majority of the book in a perpetual state of Tranquil Fury.
  • Rage Judo: Standard operating procedure for Harry "Sometimes I'm Asleep" Dresden.
  • Randomly Gifted: While most practitioner inherit their gifts (primarily from the mother's side), a rare few are this. In Proven Guilty, Harry passes Molly off as this to Michael so that he doesn't have to tell him that Charity was a practitioner and the source of Molly's talent - it's not his secret to tell.
  • Rasputinian Death: A required measure for many nastier adversaries, up to and including a literal It's the Only Way to Be Sure moment involving bombing an enemy stronghold from orbit. The in-universe ur-example is Heinrich Kemmler, a necromancer who had to be hunted down and killed seven times by the White Council, the most recent time by all of the White Council: the Senior Council, all of the Wardens, and as many combat-capable wizards as could be rounded up. According to Word of God this involved, after the magical slugfest was over with, "swords, guns, axes, shovels, ropes, a flamethrower, and a number of other extremes." Even so, some people are still concerned he might show up again.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause:
    • An inversion where real events have instigated fictional ones; Anthropogenic climate change is noted to have resulted in the Summer Court of Sidhe gaining more and more of an edge over the Winter Court in recent centuries.
    • According to Small Favor, some of the Denarians (most notably Polonius Lartessa) helped kickstart the Hundred Years War between France and England.
    • The Black Plague was initially a mystical plague instigated by Nicodemus and Tessa of the Denarians, which then got worse when they later introduced the actual bubonic plague into the equation.
    • Ebenezar McCoy has claimed responsibility for not only The Tunguska Event, but also the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 and Krakatoa.
    • The necromancer Heinrich Kemmler was responsible for the First World War (and, by extension, the Second), which he institaged as part of him playing The Long Game in order to get a shot at becoming a Physical God through his Darkhollow ritual.
    • Former Senior Council member Simon Pietrovich's apprentice apparently killed Grigori Rasputin.
    • The "Curse of the Billy Goat" (which caused the Chicago Cubs to lose all World Series championship games from 1945 to 2016) was cast by King Gwynn ap Nudd of the Tylwyth Teg (a kingdom of Welsh fae).
    • If the Archive is to be believed, Tessa the Denarian helped instigate both the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides of the late twentieth century.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • At Dragon*Con 2010, Jim Butcher told the audience that, when his son was 8, they had to move to Pennsylvania. To make up for leaving his friends behind, the Butchers got him a dog. Jim then explained that Mouse was based on how his dog saw himself.
    • Due to the Curse of the Billy Goat being broken in 2016, King Gwynn ap Nudd was Killed Offscreen in Peace Talks.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Several of the Denarians (as in, the human vessels, not the Fallen, each of which predate linear time) are 2000 years old or close to it.
    • invoked The Faerie Queens Mab and Titania are twin sisters, and if Peace Talks is anything to go by, then Mab was mortal during the mythical time of King Arthur, far before the Norman Conquest of England. To put it into perspective, Mab and Titania last talked in person during the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Meanwhile, Jim Butcher has gone on record stating that Queen Mab of the Winter Court of Sidhe is actually younger than Nicodemus Archleone of the Order of the Blackened Denarius.
    • Sigurn Gard admits to being a Valkyrie more than a thousand years old in the short story "Heorot".
    • There's also Anastasia Luccio, a wizard mentally approaching two-hundred (she brags at one point that she previously posed as a model for Renaissance painters) but who's stuck in the physically body of a twenty-something woman.
    • Most wizards fall under this. Ebenezar McCoy was alive during the French and Indian War, and he's young for a member of the Senior Council. Wizards do at least look closer to their proper age; Ancient Mai is described as looking quite elderly, although Word of God puts her at 400+, and the 300+ Ebenezer looks like a particularly spry senior citizen.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal:
    • Harry has a major falling-out with his mentor Ebenezar in the sixth book, upon finding out he's the Blackstaff, a member of the White Council of Wizards with special carte blanche to break the Law of Magic in which Harry strongly believes. Notably, Ebenezer reacts with complete understanding for Harry's feelings—and they ultimately reconcile (for the most part) after Harry learns from experience that sometimes, you need someone among the good guys who can break the rules.
    • In Skin Game Butters views Harry as a Fallen Hero after everything that's happened since he took up the Winter Mantle. Given that Harry's actions were rather morally dubious in context, Harry feels this is justified. Butters gets better after Harry proves he's still himself, happily enough.
  • Red Baron: "Gentleman" John Marcone.
  • Regenerating Mana: Just staying still and resting can restore one's magic. It also holds true for restoring your soul, if you've used up some of it wielding soulfire. Doing uplifting, life-affirming things helps it go faster.
  • Relative Error:
    • In Dead Beat, Waldo Butters (after meeting Thomas for the first time) is hurt that Harry hasn't previously come out to him. Thomas deliberately kisses Harry on the head and pours him tea after listening to Harry's subsequent startled denial.
    • In White Night, between Thomas Raith and Harry Dresden, made worse by the fact that 1) they cannot openly reveal their true relationship, and 2) they were sharing the latter's small apartment for an extended period after Blood Rites. And 3) Thomas was deliberately pretending to be gay in his public life for completely unrelated reasons. Considering all this together, we should have seen it coming from the paragraph after that "Wizard of Oz" poster on Thomas' wall. This is even deliberately exploited to explain to building security why Harry has a key to Thomas' apartment and has turned up there in the latter's absence. Well, that and the unlikelihood of Harry being an NBA-sized gay burglar who works with a dog.
  • Remember That You Trust Me: Harry's interaction with Murphy. Both are guilty of this. This is actually a recurring theme; Harry is both paranoid and protective of his friends, remembering to trust them is a lesson he learns again and again.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Michael Carpenter. He was introduced in Grave Peril and has known Harry for at least five years, but he had neither appeared nor was mentioned in the preceding two books or any of the short stories that take place in a time period prior to Storm Front.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?:
    • In the beginning of Grave Peril Harry and Michael help save a hospital nursery from a ghost who sings these children to sleep and then death. Four books later in Dead Beat Harry needs information from an EMT and the medic recognizes Harry's name from that night. He doesn't want to know about the supernatural, but recognizes Harry was key in stopping the continual deaths of children in their hospital and gives Harry some information Harry needs.
    • The zombie dinosaur incident from Dead Beat is mentioned numerous times in the series. It is often used to justify the fear and trepidation of various badass organizations when going up against Harry.
    • The donut incident from Small Favor also gets a lot of play. The entire Summer Court laughed sick about it for months and even Odin thought it was worthy of acclaim.
    • Almost fifteen years later in Skin Game, Murphy's still getting recognized from Susan's old footage of her and Harry taking on the loup-garou in Fool Moon.
  • Removed Achilles' Heel: The Fomor can use magic over running water, unlike other magical practitioners, due to their use of entropy magic. Note that it's perfectly possible to use magic based around water, but not while above or in running water.
  • Remote Body: One form of construct is this. Constructs made of will mixed with fey glamour function just like a regular body, except dying only destroys the construct. They even allow the person running it to cast spells through the construct.
  • The Renfield: Black Court vampires can exert mental domination on humans to create permanent mindslaves. They are actually referred to as "Renfields" because Bram Stoker "wrote the book" on slaying Black Court vampires and until that publication there was no name for them. These Renfields are more competent than most examples of the trope, and more tragic. Or at least, they are competent within narrow fields: they make great cannon-fodder Mooks, and they might be useful for similarly mindless tasks, but they aren't so good at complex thought, given that their minds have been forcibly ripped away and replaced by unthinking obedience. So utterly destroyed are their human selves that killing Renfields is not even considered murder by the White Council of wizards. (Ordinary law enforcement, unfortunately, has a hard time telling the difference)
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Harry carries a large caliber revolver as a backup weapon for the same reason he and other wizards drive cars that predate computers: it still has plenty of stopping power, and the simpler action compared to a semi-automatic handgun makes it less likely his Walking Techbane field could make it fail at an inconvenient time.
  • Rivals Team Up: Marcone and Dresden team up numerous times to fight common foes, first in Death Masks. In White Night, Marcone teams up with Dresden to defeat a gang of ghouls in the Raith-owned Deeps and to secure a temporary peace deal between the Vampire Courts and the White Council. In Small Favor, Harry teams up with Marcone's top aides, Gard and Hendricks, to rescue their boss from the Denarians. Skin Game has Harry, Murphy, and later Michael team up with Nicodemus and Deirdre.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Averted. Harry prefers a Badass Longcoat. He is pictured on the cover with a gaucho but the books rarely, if ever, mention him with a hat. Harry does wear a robe in his Wizarding lab, but only because it is cold. He does have formal robes he must wear for White Council meetings, but, being Harry, he once showed up for one in a ratty bathrobe anyway. To be fair, Mister had used them as a litter box, so it was debatable which would have been more disrespectful.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The Dresden Files mixes the two.
    • At first it appears to lean heavily towards Romanticism, with Dresden being an archetypal Byronic Hero with inherent superhuman powers, a knee-jerk reaction to authority and a Knight Errant mentality, making several disparaging comments towards modern science and technology (Harry sardonically refers to science as "the biggest religion of the twentieth century" at one point in the first book). This is even built into the setting, where mortal magic can easily disrupt any form of technology created after the Second World War. The series also has a very romanticized view on the three primary genres it draws from - High Fantasy, Cosmic Horror Story, and Film Noir - and fills its ranks with various greater-than-life personalities that would be right at home therein, exploring how their Hidden Depths bounce off of each other and impact the world around them. Overall, the series doesn't necessarily have a "rose-tinted-glasses" view of history, but certainly one to more wax philosophic more often than not.
    • However, as the books go on, they lean increasingly more towards the pro-Enlightenment end of the scale, with Dresden's fight being against frequently monarchic and old-fashioned supernatural enemies that see humans as potential food or slaves and seek to dominate them feudal style (albeit from the shadows), and he frequently defaults to his sharp deductive reasoning to stay one step ahead of his vastly more powerful opponents. He also demonstrates an increased appreciation for the capacities of mortal tech, especially in combat, noting that most supernatural creatures don't appreciate just how powerful and dangerous humanity has become, and smugly muses that even the biggest and baddest supernatural nations don't dare act openly because they're scared of the very humans they deride annihilating them. He even stops once or twice to wax about things like satnavs and planes, about how cool they really are, and how jealous he is that he can't use them to his own benefit thanks to being a Walking Techbane. Hell, Harry even develops a (slightly) better relationship with authority as the books go on, most prominently after he becomes the Winter Knight.
    • Perhaps the best example of this trope in action for the series is exemplified with the Paranet, a widespread network of minor magical practitioners who use advanced modern technology like the Internet to organize their disparate groups under one banner to help both keep each other safe from supernatural monsters (i.e., teaching self-defense classes and educating others on how to handle predators like vampires) and properly educate people on the dangers of Black Magic (helping limit the spread of warlocks). In other words, the Paranet is made up of Romanticism-styilized magicians using the fruits of the Enlightenment to better organize themselves and keep themselves safe in the modern era.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Occasionally, when referring to pads of paper, Jim Butcher will use the word "stationary" rather than "stationery". He also refers to a 'parking break' at one point during Ghost Story.
    • Harry briefly calls his father a stage musician in Fool Moon. To make this even more glaring, he's talking about how Houdini and Blackstone were his father's heroes.
    • invoked Possibly justified when one remembers that the narrator never finished high school, although he did get his GED.
  • Royal Blood: Two of the three Holy Swords are in the umbrella stand by Harry's door, each waiting for a new wielder to take up the fight against evil. Operating under the assumption that the rightful successors to bear the swords are descended from kings, Harry now keeps a weather eye out for anyone with royal history and the proper attitude. The three previous wielders of the Swords were all descendants of royalty: Shiro was descended from the last King of Okinawa, Sanya traces his ancestry back to Saladin, and the Carpenters go back to Charlemagne. Which means that Murphy and Butters can likely trace their lineage back to royalty as well. This isn't as farfetched as it might seem; without placing any limit to the number of generations, almost everyone is descended from several kings.
  • Rule of Three: All over this series, due to the mystical nature of the number. Subverted with the Gruffs, as well as making an arguable use of the Bishōnen Line, though no transformation is involved.
  • Rules Lawyer: The Fae and how you usually deal with them. Harry also does a fair bit of it to avoid getting decapitated by Wardens. Word of God has even said that Queen Mab is a licensed attorney and the RPG rulebook outright calls her a Rules Lawyer.
  • Runic Magic: Rune magic is one of the many types of magic that exists within the setting. It's considered extremely ancient and powerful magic and requires considerable amounts of preparation and care to do right, but the effects can be incredibly powerful. As such, few magic users can master it. The Valkyrie Sigrun Gard (who is somewhere over a thousand years old) is one of the few people Harry knows who can use it, with him describing her doing so as "devoting them the care and attention one would to military-grade explosives".
  • Running Gag: The series has its own page.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: invoked Zig-Zagged. While Word of God makes it clear that the entire point of the series is "Harry suffers most", the very Russian Knight of the Cross Sanya doesn't get off easy. Specifically, he's the only person who's held the position over the entire decade-plus run of the series, and he's been in action the entire time. Not to mention that his tragic backstory involves pulling a Face–Heel Turn from being possessed by a Fallen Angel after finding out that the woman he loved was just manipulating him into obedience.

  • Sacred Flames: Soulfire is the holy counterpart to Hellfire. The power to use it can only be divinely granted and it uses up some of your soul every time you use it (it does grow back though), but it works really well for smiting the unholy.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Most of the supernatural community is hundreds of years old and grew up in a different social world (the Old World). This shows up in the treaty which outlines the rules for hospitality and diplomacy among supernatural communities. Guests in a home are privy to protection by the host, but are also expected to act honorably towards the home's owner, and they treat violations of these customs as grave offenses. Harry used this and a bit of Quote Mining to talk his way out of being killed by the denizens of the Erlking's Hall when he accidentally ends up there in Changes, and extends the traditions of hospitality himself to others.
    "Morgan," I said quietly. "You are a guest in my home."
    He flashed me a quick, guilty glance.
    "You came to me for help and I'm doing my best. Hell, the kid has put herself into harm's way, trying to protect you. I've done everything for you that I would have for blood family, because you are my guest. There are monsters from whom I would expect better behavior, once they had accepted my hospitality. What's more, they'd give it to me."
    • In Cold Days a fae explained that if a Fae enters a house uninvited, the fae must adhere to this and leave the house in no worse a condition than when they entered (so the cleaning service Harry gets can come and go). The fae cannot even attack the owner in self-defense if the owner tries to strike them. Harry realizes this direct, complete, and lack of obfuscating terms answer is in itself an example of said hospitality. The fae was asked to explain the situation and anything less would be negligent on the fae's part.note 
    • Even beings such as Odin in Changes and Hades in Skin Game respect the traditions of hospitality, and make a point of offering it to Harry.
  • Sad Clown: Harry. He used to provide the page quote.
    Harry: If you can't stop the bad thoughts from coming to visit, at least you can make fun of them while they're hanging around.
  • Saintly Church: St. Mary of the Angels.
  • Sand Necktie: Harry buries one of the ghouls in Changes up to his neck and leaves a trail of juice from his head to the nearby fire ant nest. He gives it a Mercy Kill shortly afterwards because he becomes aware that the young student wizards are watching him.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In the opening of Death Masks, Harry is on an Expy show of Jerry Springer, to answer questions about the supernatural. The show brings on two opposing experts on debunking the supernatural. One of them jokes that, with a little preparation, he's sure he could convince everyone in the studio he's a vampire. His name? Paolo Ortega, a noble of the Red Court of Vampires.
  • Scaled Up: Inverted by Quintus "Snakeboy" Cassius. His demonic form is (surprise!) a giant naga (snake-man). However, he regains his legs in order to avoid being skewered by a pair of holy swords. Just in time for Harry to break his kneecaps. That is how we do things in Chicago, bitch!.
  • Scars Are Forever: Averted, Harry's (numerous) scars fade over time. As do all Wizards, as bodies heal not just to a certain point but back to full working condition. Downside is the heal rate is about the same as a normal human.
    • Though this seems to play straight in some cases, possibly from wounds caused by certain magical beasts. Harry's scar over his eye has lasted at least up to the current books, and the Gatekeeper's (much worse) facial scarring has clearly been around for quite awhile.
  • Science Is Wrong: Downplayed. In the first couple of books, Harry says in narration something to the effect of "the religion of science can't grasp it all." Though as the series goes on, the theme evolves to something more like "Science is Mostly Right, Just Missing a Few Key Details." Science comes in handy for Harry in what is probably his most epic so far, in Dead Beat. Without it, where would he have gotten the dinosaur? Butters kind of helps this along, chalking up Harry's Walking Techbane status to a "Murphyonic Field" surrounding him, and that the immediate physical reason for the wizards' longevity is because their cells divide much better.
    • The series actually tends to stay very close to normal physical laws, especially for one about magic. Harry often uses (and lampshades) the laws of momentum, gravity, thermodynamics, etc. in order to assist his spells, amplify their damage, or circumvent anti-magic protectionnote . Turned against him when his magical shield stops napalm just fine, but it can't stop the heat, burning his hand so badly it almost has to be amputated.
    • At one point, Harry uses a fire spell directly above some water filled with enemies in order to suck all the heat out of the surrounding space, freezing the water and trapping his foes. This trick turns up, explained in great detail, in Jim Butcher's other series. Codex Alera.
      • There's also Mother Winter's reflection on why it is impossible for the Summer Knight's mantle of power to be destroyed.
      Your own sage says so. The German with the funny hair.
  • Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum: Played with. Magic has a tendency to screw with any kind of mechanical and electrical devices, in particular anything made from WWII onwards, so most methods for documenting magic just don't work, so 90 percent of The Masquerade is a purely natural process. None of this stops Butters from trying, and he makes some noticeable strides.
    • The series is notable for the slow change in these "rules." While the actual working of magic is a constant, many things taken for granted about magic now were not the case hundreds of years ago. For example, back in the days of yore, having mad Dresden-level juju meant your milk curdled and fires burned odd colors in your presence. Before that, it just made you very likely to have skin conditions, like moles.
    • In Ghost Story Bob notes that Butters' grasp of magical theory is actually better than Harry's despite his lack of magical talent, because he has a better mind for it.
  • Science Destroys Magic: Inverted. Active magic can severely disrupt technology — the more sophisticated a device, the more vulnerable it is. Cell phones are considered to be the most sensitive indicators of magical activity in an area. Harry prefers low-tech gear such as revolvers and his old VW Beetle.
    • Lampshaded several times by Murphy. Modern automatics are incredibly mechanically reliable, far more so than older revolvers. Harry continues to carry an old .44, probably because he believes it won't jam on him.
      • Magic is based on your belief in what is possible. Harry believes that his gun won't jam but newer automatics will — so that's exactly what happens. Electronics are another story — electrical stuff genuinely goes crazy around wizards — but purely mechanical things? Your effect on them is more... variable.
  • The Scottish Trope: There exist things within the Dresden Universe whose names should not be invoked. These entities are so frighteningly powerful, Mab, Titania, and the Queen Mothers avoid stating anything but a vague nickname. These entities include "skinwalker," "Nemesis," and the Archangel Uriel and his equals. Yes, the last ones are good guys, but still do not speak their names lightly.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The Unseelie Accords are the highest treaty in the supernatural world. Invoking them allows one to attain parley with another force and reach some sort of deal. The Knights of the Cross are not signatories to them, so, from some supernatural groups views, they break the Accords in their attacks against them in their crusade to be good people who help the helpless.
    • Used against Harry in Grave Peril. While he succeeded in saving the girl, this also unfortunately starts up a war with the vampires.
  • Scully Syndrome: Humanity in general has this as they would rather accept a long-winded and highly improbably explanation for events because "Magic doesn't exist."
  • Secret Keeper: Harry is the holder of so many secrets it's staggering, especially as the series goes on. Some are relatively innocuous, most are important to only one or several people, but a few...
  • Secret War: The war between the White Council and the Vampire Courts, and also the even more secretive Oblivion War.
    • In the later books, we also find out that the Winter Court has been fighting Outsiders on the edge of reality. It turns out that they are the first and only line of defence our world has against them. Harry, who at that time has had more run-ins with the Winter Court and Mab in particular than almost anyone else, is blown away by this revelation.
  • Seeking Sanctuary:
    • If someone needs protecting and Harry can't do it, he almost always sends them to St. Mary's of the Angels.
    • In Ghost Story the ones seeking sanctuary are some kids in a bad situation with Murphy on their case. Rather than St. Mary's, Molly has them taken to her father's home to avoid Murphy's fury.
    • In the short story "Bigfoot On Campus" Irwin Pounder (son of a bigfoot named Strength of a River in his Shoulders and a human woman) and the woman he loves (a white court vampire) seek sanctuary in Strength of a River in his Shoulders' domain to be protected from her family.
  • Selective Squeamishness Suppression/Vomiting Cop: When confronted with a gruesome crime scene, the odds are about fifty-fifty between Harry puking or holding it down. This has lessened over time as Harry has slowly gotten used to the more horrific aspects of his job; he still gets squeamish, just not nearly to the same extent. Of course, Harry would likely be the first to tell you that this isn't necessarily a positive thing.
  • Semi-Divine: The White Court. Their souls are half demon due to a demonic symbiote that gives them superhuman abilities and incredibly good looks, but at the cost of a Hunger for human emotions. The Raith family is particularly noted to go after lust.
  • Sequel Escalation: Averted in the beginning of the series. After the series shifts into a Myth Arc, this begins to kick in, but is used as a plot point and an explanation for the various Monsters of the Week up until then. While Harry began dealing with rogue sorcerors and ghosts, he later realizes that there have been too many Monsters of the Week, too close together, and there must be someone pushing them into action.
    • Changes plays the trope straight, with Harry taking on the entire Red Court of vampires. And winning.
    • Cold Days pushes it even further, with Harry coming into possession of the Well, a magical prison containing an unfathomable number of powerful, evil beings. This trope is invoked specifically when Harry's introduction to the Well is the discovery of six imprisoned Naagloshi in the equivalent of minimum security —after Harry wasn't even able to kill one in Turn Coat.
  • Serial Escalation: Each book deliberately builds upon the previous, with Harry required to develop new skills in every adventure because the situations have become more extreme and bizarre than before.
    • Harry's revolvers. He starts off with a .38 Special, then upgrades to a .357, then a Dirty Harry .44 magnum, and now he's using a Smith & Wesson Model 500.
  • Sex Magic: Magic is fueled by emotion, and this trope is one way to gather the necessary power.
    • In Storm Front, Victor Sells prepares powerful death curses by holding orgies during thunderstorms.
    • Again in White Night where Harry asks Lara Raith to use her lust-inducing succubus whammy on him, raw emotions that in turn he uses to fuel his magic shield and save their lives from the explosion and resulting cave-in of the Deeps.
  • Shapeshifting Heals Wounds: Werewolves are able to restore wounds in their natural bodies by shapeshifting into their own selves. However, this requires them to maintain concentration and doesn't work indefinitely.
  • Sharing a Body:
    • The Denarians and their hosts share the host's body.
    • Also happens when ghosts possess someone.
  • Shipper on Deck: Thomas for Harry/Murphy, to the point that in Cold Days he's just as frustrated at Harry for not immediately seeking Murphy out upon his return to Chicago as he is for Harry not going to see Maggie, his daughter. Mouse also approves of Harry/Murphy, as noted in the same book. And as it turns out, Lara Raith as well
    • Michael was one for Harry/Susan
  • Shoot the Dog: The Wardens (Morgan in particular). Most of their job involves executing teenagers for the Greater Good. Even Harry eventually admits that they have their reasons.
  • Shot in the Ass: In Small Favor, a bit thug named Bart accidentally gets shot in the ass by one of his associates, with a shotgun (that was aimed at Harry - Bart just got in the way). Harry's sidenotes in the RPG gleefully point this out.
  • Shout-Out: Countless.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Increasingly, Harry himself. In Turn Coat, several Wardens and Ancient Mai show up to try to capture Morgan. Harry wonders why they will not attack him, until he realizes that it is because they have been hearing about him as that incredibly powerful loose cannon trained by a warlock who openly mocked the Senior Council, started a war with the vampires, took on six necromancers at once with a zombie dinosaur, wiped the floor with fallen angels, and generally did everything on the series' very lengthy Crowning Moment of Awesome page. In reality he is about ready to fall over from exhaustion and injury, but they have heard so much about him that they are scared to confront the legendary badass.
    • Made even more ridiculous by the fact that Harry, by wizard reckoning, is young, not even 40, and he's accomplished things that powerful, experienced, old wizards would find challenging. Despite his age, he's accomplished things the Senior Council can't help but respect.
    • Harry himself remembers these accomplishments as terrifying, but it takes moments like the one in Turn Coat for him to fully realize that while he knows that he got through most of those events almost perpetually panicking, beat to hell, and improvising wildly by the skin of his teeth, an outsider's view only sees the end results. It should be interesting to watch this unfold in future books as people add "He also destroyed the entire Red Court of Vampires and by the way, now he's the Winter Knight and hence Mab's assassin."
    • Perhaps the best way to sum it up: mythical creatures tell stories about him.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • Harry does this to Marcone a lot, but also to various monsters and villains — he's too Genre Savvy to take their crap.
    • In Death Masks when Nicodemus tempts Harry, Harry eventually refuses by saying, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." This is followed by Harry's usual eloquence for declarative statements, when Nicodemus asked if he was sure, "Fuck off, Nick."
  • Siblings Wanted: In the short story It's My Birthday Too, Harry reveals that he wished for a brother when he was a child in the orphanage after his father's death. Ironically (and heartwarmingly), the person he's telling this story to is his long-lost and recently found older brother Thomas.
  • Significant Anagram: Not spelled quite in the same way, but Sheila is Lasciel.
  • Silent Bob: Mac, the guy who runs the bar. Heavily implied to be Badass Normal. Or something else entirely.
  • Simple Staff: Or "traditional Ozark folk art." Harry uses it to focus magic and occasionally to club something around the head. He's occasionally mocked for using such a traditional, phallic symbol of power (Elaine's staff is a length of chain, for example).
  • Sink-or-Swim Fatherhood
  • Sleep Cute: Skin Game ends in a scene where Maggie is curled up sleeping on her father. Harry mentions he wouldn't trade it for the world.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Sure, it's a pretty terrifying Crapsack World where the entire contents of the Fantasy Kitchen Sink is out to kill you horribly and humanity is nowhere near the top of the food chain, but Harry's constant wisecracks (along with the snark of all his family and friends) are so funny that they take the edge off (which, is, of course, why Harry makes them). Understandably, Mood Whiplash ensues.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: The series slides quickly from level 3 (Subtle Continuity) to level 4 (Arc-Based Episodic) as the books become less "investigating a case" and more "investigating something deeply connected to just about everything else while dozens of old characters reappear and stuff that happened five-ten books ago suddenly turns out to be vitally important," though there is still a plot with its own resolution in each book.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: It varies per book, with the entries featuring one of the Knights of the Cross typically leaning more towards the idealistic end than their compatriots due to the literal presence of God helping support the protagonists' actions in the story. However, the series overall falls more or less in the middle, with it taking place in a bitter and miserable Crapsack World that's increasingly becoming a Cosmic Horror Story of nightmarish proportions, but there's also still a clear focus on celebrating what victories one can manage (no matter how small) and continuing to find & shelter the light in the darkness whenever one finds it. Yes, the world may be full of monsters and villains, but it's also full of heroes and not all the monsters are as bad or even genuinely evil as they may first seem. Or, in other words, The Dresden Files says that even if evil does and will always exist, good people will still always be there to fight against it and progress the world forward.
  • Smug Snake:
    • The White Court in general, who are so in love with overly convoluted plots that they do not realize their plots are overly convoluted, sometimes to the degree that a simpler plan would have worked better/more effectively. Then again, the degree of convolution is, to the White Court, correlated with the capability of the person pulling it off (if successful), so it's somewhat justified — no matter how well the plan works, no one will respect you if they can too easily figure out how you did it.
    • Grevane and Corpsetaker are the Necromancers who provide the most "limited" threat.
    • Some of the Denarians, especially (and amusingly) Cassius.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Dear lord, Harry could be the poster boy for this trope. Even though he has feelings for Murphy from relatively early on in the series — the two of them even acknowledge and discuss their mutual attraction in Proven Guilty — it takes him until the end of Changes to even attempt to actually make a move. That's more than a decade in real-world time. He has a major chivalrous streak that gets him in all kinds of trouble, though he's mostly set it aside. In his own words, he's essentially a magic nerd. There is also other key issues. As Harry is about 6'9" tall, he must move carefully or hurt someone. He can short out any technology from a radius of 100 feet on a good day, and so spends a lot of time avoiding electronics. To avoid soulgazes, he never looks anybody directly in the eye. In a side story from Murphy's point of view, she mentions he gives the impression of being mildly autistic.
    • It doesn't help that he hangs out with Thomas Raith. White Court Vampires are actually irresistible, so much that Thomas can't get a muggle job because he keeps getting his bones jumped.
  • Sociopathic Hero:
    • Kincaid, when he is choosing being paid to be heroic.
    • Lea, when she is not trying to turn Harry into a dog.
  • Something Only They Would Say / Trust Password: In a world when various entities can take other people's forms or try to send deceptive messages, both are seen throughout the series. Harry generally uses his nicknames or pop culture references as part of his passwords.
  • Soul Jar: The Blackened Denarii.
  • Sophisticated as Hell
    Harry in Dead Beat: And again do I answer thee. Bite me.
    • When called on this in Death Masks:
    Harry: Class oozes out my every orifice.
    • Lampshaded in Ghost Story:
      Ghost!Carmichael: Any more would obviate certain options, and we ain't big on that around here.
      Harry: You just used obviate and ain't in the same sentence.
      Ghost!Carmichael: I got me one of them word-a-day calendars. Don't be obstreperous.
      Harry: You kidding?. I live to be obstreperous.
  • Spirit Advisor:
    • Bob has been Dresden's primary Spirit Advisor on supernatural matters for the whole series, but is a bit fuzzy on the concepts of "good" and "evil." This isn't his fault. He's a spirit of knowledge, and knowledge is neither good nor evil. Doesn't stop him from having an evil side that he forcibly excised helping out Corpsetaker in Ghost Story.
    • Lasciel's shadow; unusually, this time the adviser is flat-out evil. At first she is, anyway.
  • Spirit World: the Nevernever, realm of faeries, demons, and other supernatural whatsits.
  • Squick: In-Universe. Harry is understandably... perturbed... by the nature of the relationship between Nicodemus and his daughter, Deirdre.
    Deirdre nodded sleepily. "Have I missed breakfast?"
    Nicodemus smiled at her. "Not at all. Give us a kiss."
    She slid onto his lap and did. With tongue. Yuck.
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • Averted. Wizards are physically weaker than most of the supernatural creatures encountered in the series, but that still leaves them (slightly) physically tougher than normal humans, able to heal and recuperate from damage that would normally prove fatal or debilitating. In addition, most wizards we see are veterans of some kind of combat, so what they lack in physical ability they deliberately make up for in spells or enchantments.
    • Harry in particular makes a point of averting this trope and exploiting its existence; he's gotten the drop on more than one enemy who's expecting him to cast spells at them by running up and punching them in the face.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Harry and Susan. Also Thomas and Justine.
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted. The series changes from book to book and, after Changes, throws the entire prior status out the window.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Mavra and Marcone come up with idea of using antipersonnel mines.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Subverted. When bad things happen to women that are significant to the protagonist, it usually only ends up making them more badass. For instance, Murphy gets over the Nightmare's Mind Rape by becoming a clued-in Badass Normal monster slayer, and Susan becomes a supernatural vampire-slaying ninja after being captured and infected by the Red Court. On the other hand, played a bit straight in that Harry acts like he needs to protect them or make up for their situation, especially with Susan.
  • Succubus in Love:
    • White Court Vampires are humans born with a Hunger, an emotion eating demon attached to their soul that remains dormant and gestating until they feed for the first time. (When the young vampire loses their virginity, at least for the White Court's chief House, whose demons feed on lust and are repelled by true love.} Despite the cultural and natural inclinations towards lust without love, there are occasions when a White Court Vampire did fall in love.
    • Thomas Raith is in love with his human girlfriend Justine. For a long time, if they were intimate, then Justine's touch will burn Thomas due to her last time she was with someone (Thomas himself), they engaged in an act of true love. Thomas also has to feed to sustain himself, and humans typically don't survive being fed on long-term. However, they make it work with Polyamory.
    • Thomas's little sister, Inari Raith, was a nascent vampire who was in love with a young man who she worked with. Despite what her dad thought, they were truly in love with one another, and if her first time was with him, it would actually have exercised her Hunger and she would become fully human. During her appearance, she had to come to terms with the results of her Hunger constantly being thwarted, not knowing what was going on with her own body. Later Thomas and Inari's older sister does promise to fill in Inari on her family legacy and go let her live her own life with her boyfriend, getting her a proverbial Bus ticket in the deal. Inari's fate is left unknown, but it's implied that she had her own happy ending.
    • Connie Barrowill, another White Court pre-Vampire... Not fully transformed. And her lover, whom she loves, is Irwin Pounder. He himself is a Half-Human Hybrid with the other half being a Sasquatch, which gives him a supernaturally powerful life-force so strong that he's unharmed by her feeding on him during sex.
  • Summon Magic: Typically only used by villains, except for a couple instances where Harry needs to speak with a supernatural informant, or when he wants to talk to Toot at first, before becoming the 'ZA LORD. He also once calls forth and binds a fairy as powerful as either of the queens, just so his enemies cannot summon him instead.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Cold Days when Harry tries to summon Mab's boss — and she reverses the summon to summon him. Then she binds him and sharpens a cleaver to eat him
  • Sunnydale Syndrome: The people of Chicago do not notice when a massive werewolf from hell gets blasted through two buildings (Fool Moon), a giant evil scarecrow monster charges down the middle of the street (Proven Guilty), undead armies rampage across the city (Dead Beat), armies of dark fairies and a huge gruff attack a train station (Small Favor), or — well, you get the idea. Harry thinks this is both beneficial and detrimental.
  • Supernatural Elite: The Red, White and Faerie Courts all run on some form of aristocratic system. Justified Trope because they have been around for a long time.
  • Supernatural Repellent: A circle can keep out the bad, as well as the mundane. This becomes a plot point in Fool Moon, where a specialized three-circle is used to repel both the bad and the mundane, as well as trap the creature inside.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: Wizards can use the True Sight to see exactly what is going on, including the residues of active and past magics. There is a drawback: whatever they see with their Sight can never be unseen, and is remembered in perfect clarity forever. Some things (like Harry seeing Murphy as an almost literal angel) are the sorts of things you would never want to forget, so that's good. Some things, on the other hand, (like Seeing a kindly old police officer being subjected to horrific spiritual torture) you wish you had never seen.
    • Molly Carpenter is particularly sensitive to magic and psychic residue, even without using her Sight.
  • Supernatural Soap Opera
  • Supernormal Bindings: The troll-made anti-magic thorned manacles deliver excruciating pain whenever a wizard wearing them tries to use his or her magic. There's also Harry's unicorn-hair binding, which is strong enough to hold a half-turned Red Court vampire.
  • Survival Mantra: "Stay on mission." (Martin, Susan, and likely the Order of St Giles generally)
    • Delightfully subverted by Harry's rallying cry to Butters: Polka will never die!
  • Sword Cane: Harry has one, and though he has a long reach and a really long lunge, he's not very good with it and almost never uses it.
    • Fidelacchius is another, and while Harry is its steward for the time being, other people have used it to great effect.
  • Sword of Damocles: Its use as a deterrent is referenced in the Doom of Damocles. Normally, being declared guilty of breaching any of the Laws of Magic means a brief trial, then a swift execution, no questions asked. The Doom of Damocles is a stay of execution, initially represented in 'verse as being granted by extenuating circumstances; but as the background expanded upon it, the Doom of Damocles became part of a policy that could be invoked by a member of the White Council who would take personal responsibility for rehabilitation of the offender. If this happens, the Doom of Damocles is placed on the offender and their benefactor: if the offending warlock breaks the laws again, he would be executed. The wizard who took responsibility for him and failed would also be executed, simple as that.
    • As it happens, it also goes both ways. If the wizard who interceded for an offender eventually gets executed for defying the White Council or their laws, the Doom would be enacted immediately on their ward.

  • Take That!: There seems to be a playful series of these between Butcher and the cover artist over Harry's depiction. Harry starts mentioning how he does not like hats — even refusing to wear them when it would be more practical — and on the covers the hats become more and more prominent & fancy. In Changes Harry out-and-out states that he hates wearing hats, and wonders why everyone assumes otherwise.
    • Full story: The publishers changed cover artists between Blood Rites and Dead Beat. The cover artist had not read the books and was given a description of the character from the publishers — Tall, brown hair, clean-shaven. Wears Western-style shirts, a black leather duster, carries a wooden staff with glowing runes, and 'wears a hat'. It is unclear whether this was due to a member of the publishing staff not knowing that much about the books or confusing Harry's description for that of Grevane, one of the antagonists of that particular book. It has now become a joke between the cover artist and Jim Butcher.
  • Take Up My Sword: Of the Merlin school with Fidelacchius and Amoracchius. While they are both left in Harry's possession after the death/crippling of their bearers, neither of them are actually meant for him. But, by having them, he has the obligation to find people they are meant for. He seems to have even discovered one of the initial conditions for bearing them, and is actively on the lookout for deserving wielders.
    • Note, "of the Merlin school" here is also literal, in line with Butcher's fantasy-kitchen-sink approach — Excalibur was one of the Swords of the Cross. It's a small, morbid point of pride to Harry that Merlin only ever had one of the swords in his keeping.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Harry talks to his father in a dream during Dead Beat
  • Taking You with Me: The principle of a Wizard's Death Curse, which kills the wizard but allows them to strike out at whatever they feel deserves their dying wrath. This can be violent enough to (with a member of the Senior Council) level a city block, or in the case of Margaret Dresden, much more subtle.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Harry. He is also fond of making his own snarky variations of "Tall, Dark, and Handsome" to refer to supernatural beings.
    Harry: [calling out to an ogre] Hey! Tall, red, and ugly!
  • Telepathic Sprinklers: Averted in Small Favor. Harry sets off most, if not all, of the sprinklers in a building by sending the heat from a fire spell to each individual sprinkler. And it's mentioned that the stagnant water stinks.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Zigzagged. As a small boy, Harry never felt the need to ask his father about his mother, because Malcolm had told him so much about her that he felt as if he had known her himself. Later in the series, he learns there was more to Margaret Dresden than his dad ever told him (or, possibly, ever knew), so starts asking anyone who admits to having met her what she was really like.
  • Tempting Fate: Harry. All the time.
    Harry: Stars and stones, Harry. When will you learn to keep your mouth shut?
  • Terror Hero: Harry is an unintentional mixture of Type 3 and Type 5. He was formerly a Type 3, but by Changes, his reputation has grown to the point that an experienced, dangerous, venomous vampire of the Red Court, lying in ambush, sees him.. screams, and vamooses.
  • Thanatos Gambit:
    • A wizard's death curse uses every last bit of their life energy to fuel a powerful, destructive spell as a last resort — in other words, Cast from Hit Points — so it is either this or Taking You with Me. We have seen one in the series and one in a character's backstory. The one cast on Lord Raith by Harry's mother looks like a Thanatos Gambit, in that she could not kill him so she gave him a certain vulnerability that would be exploited years later, and the one cast on Harry by Quintus Cassius looks like an attempt at Taking Him With Him, but the caster was already too old and weak for that, so he settled for trying to make him miserable.
    • Leonid Kravos, who kicks off the events of Grave Peril with his death.
    • Martin. He arranged the entire events of his dying book specifically to get to that one scenario.
    • Harry himself — twice. (Once at the end of Grave Peril, and once at the end of Changes.)
      • Thanks to Uriel, Mab, and Demonreach, the second one failed. However, because of it, Harry acquired the leverage to renegogiate with Mab regarding the terms of his new job.
  • Theme Naming: Barring Magog, all of the angels or Fallen have names that end in -iel or some variant, such as -ael. Lampshaded when Harry asks if Nicodemus's Fallen is named "Badassiel".
    • Justified. The Fallen used to be angels. There are angels with names that do not end in "-iel" or "-ael," but they are by far a minority.
      • It really ticks Angels off (or maybe just Uriel in particular; Lasciel didn't seem to mind when Harry did it to her) if you drop that part. (It means "God is my ____" or "God's ____)
  • The Nondescript: Martin, Susan's half-vampire partner in the Fellowship of Saint Giles, is consistently described as the most completely bland person possible in both his appearance and everything he does. It's treated as an asset on par with his half-vampire abilities to the point where he can run through an all-out warzone unscathed simply because no one thinks he's a threat.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!
  • Thicker Than Water: Thomas Raith takes this seriously, partly because Daddy Raith raised his children that way to control them, but partly because he truly believes it. After he reveals their connection to Harry, to explain why he looks out for him, Harry returns it. The insidious part of this is that the other Raiths (not including Lord Raith himself, who's The Sociopath through and through) also believe in this trope... but only in the most screwed up way possible. For instance, after learning that her little brother Thomas is planning to go up against their father in Blood Rites, Lara Raith tries to Mercy Kill him she since points out that just shooting him will be a significant mercy over whatever hellish fate their father will inflict upon him.
    • Harry himself goes to ridiculous lengths to protect and help people he considers family as well as the few people who are actually his blood relations. And he also often goes out on a limb to protect other families, especially the Carpenters. Having grown up as an orphan probably has something to do with it.
  • Think Nothing of It: Harry often makes remarks in the vein of this trope, as befitting his Chronic Hero Syndrome.
  • Third Eye: The ThreeEye drug from Storm Front is named for this trope. Harry occasionally references it when describing a wizards' Sight.
  • This Is the Part Where...:
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Not with magic, anyway. This is the First Law of Magic and the one Harry's guilty of breaking.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Subverted. Midway through the twelfth book, Changes, Harry breaks his back, paralyzing him from the waist down. He makes a Deal With the Queen of Air and Darkness to fix himself up and gain a level or two in Badass. In the fourteenth book, Cold Days, he briefly renounces her terms for the fix and promptly crashes to the floor, revealing that the Winter Mantle didn't completely heal him, it merely suppressed his injuries and healed him only for the duration of his servitude to the Winter Court.
  • Time Abyss: Pretty much every high-ranking deity in the series counts (i.e., Hades, Odin, and God Himself)
    • invoked Word of God has it that Demonreach pre-dates the last Ice Age.
    • invoked The Fallen. In Small Favor Harry notes this is their strongest attribute. As these ancient and evil beings likely predate the creation of the universe, or come shortly after it, plus their 2000 years of hanging inside a human mind to get a closer look at it, makes them a dangerous and formidable enemy. In fact, Word of God has remarked that all Angels (both Fallen and not) predate linear time, and the Archangel Uriel casually notes to Harry in Skin Game that he has been fighting wars since before the planet Earth had formed.
    • invoked Mother Summer and Mother Winter of the Sidhe Courts. Mother Winter answered to one of the Fates from Classical Mythology, making her well over 2,000 years old. Mother Summer, meanwhile, is (according to Word of God) only "just" as old as recorded human history. Oh, and Mother Summer is the younger of the two Mothers.
    • Nicodemus Archleone and Polonius Lartessa, the two oldest known Denarians. The latter was a temple slave in Ptolemaic Egypt when Nicodemus came to her and offered her one of the coins, while Nicodemus himself was a tax collector from during Jesus' time and might've attended the Crucifixion in person.
    • The Red King, Arianna Ortega, and the other Lords of Outer Night - a.k.a., the progenitors and ruling class of the Red Court of Vampires. This below quote from Changes sums it up nicely when Luccio is trying to warn Harry why he shouldn't be facing Arianna in combat:
      Luccio: Harry, there's no way for us to know how old Arianna is because humanity hasn't had a written language for that long. Do you understand what I'm saying?
    • The individual hosts of the Archive are just mortal women, and so only last as long as any normal human lifespan does. However, the metaphysical construct that is the Archive itself is at least as old as written language. To put it into perspective how ridiculously old the Archive is, the earliest known hosts of the Archive had already long since Gone Mad from the Revelation and were the Mad Oracles observed at Delphi in Mycenaean Greece (a.k.a., they had already gone crazy from the Archive's metaphysical age by the time of the Greek Bronze Age).
  • Time Skip: For the first eleven or so books, about a year or so passes between each, though it's become increasingly vague after Changes; Ghost Story, Cold Days, Skin Game, and Peace Talks all take place roughly five to six months after the prior novel, while Battle Ground is set only a few minutes after Peace Talks. Overall the exact length of time varies from case to case, with some being as along as a few days to Cold Days, which took place over literally one day. The series averts Comic-Book Time in that characters visibly age and space is provided for Noodle Incidents to have happened in.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Professional Killer Kincaid (AKA 'The Hellhound', former possibly-demonic servant of Vlad Drakul) has played this role on occasion — but the best example is probably in Changes, when Leanansidhe joins Harry's all-star crew in the assault on Chichen Itza, the Red Court's center of power. He practically defines her as such, and explains to his friends that yes, she is powerful, evil, and more than a bit crazy — but in this particular situation, she's on their side. And she plays the role to the hilt, including complaining when Harry won't let her sacrifice a Holy Virgin offered up by the Red King as a gift...
    • Lea plays every role to the hilt, really. It's kind of her thing.
    • Harry himself arguably plays this to the Knights of the Cross in Death Masks.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Nearly everyone over the course of the series. One of the biggest happens in Ghost Story with, of all people, Mortimer Lindquist, self-proclaimed coward and non-hero, who nonetheless proves to be exceedingly competent at his ectomancy, being able to do things like calling spirits to his body to use their fighting skills or to seize control of thousands of wraiths and use them as a spiritual battering ram to finish off the Corpsetaker.
    • Morty is confirmed to have power on par with a White Council wizard, his power is just too narrow. Unlike Harry he also solves problems before they threaten the world.
    • Similarly, Butters too has leveled up in Badass stakes as of Ghost Story, most notable in his take-down of Aristedes.
      • Which now pales in comparison with Waldo Butters becoming the Lightsaber of Faith wielding Jewish Jedi Knight of the Cross. It Makes Sense in Context.
      • His Establishing Character Moment in Dead Beat also counts, when he seems to be cowardly running away, only to return a few minutes later and attack Cassius, saving Harry, all the while screaming like a little girl.
    • Harry himself has taken several levels in Badass over the course of the series. In "White Night," he says that teaching Molly has improved his own grasp of the basics and specifically mentions that his new and improved Shield Bracelet is something that he couldn't have done five years prior. That's saying nothing about the power that he has gained from Lasciel, Mab, and Demonreach.
  • Top God: The Abrahamic God is the God of Gods version of this trope. This is because, in the Dresdenverse, gods gain power from the belief of their followers, and the White God has a lot of those.
  • Totally Radical: Toyed with, then lampshaded in one of the later books. Harry uses the phrase "that's how I roll", much to Michael's amusement. He explains that it must be cool, because he learned it from Molly. Changes: "Radical. Wicked cool." Good luck translating that into Ancient Mayan, Red King of the Red Court.
  • Touch the Intangible: Ghost dust is a magical substance which feels "extra-real". It can be thrown at ghosts to disable them, or incorporated into a wall to prevent them from passing through. Harry's recipe includes depleted uranium for weight.
  • Tracking Spell: As a wizard private detective, Harry Dresden uses a lot of these in both mundane and supernatural cases. He can follow any target provided he has something connected with them or enough personal information about them. The most reliable method is to use a piece of the target's body, feeding a trickle of magic into its sympathetic link with the target and following where the magic goes. However, if one disrupts the connection, either by running water, or outright destroying the sympathetic part on the target, such as Harry tracking Warlock A with a strand of hair, if Warlock A shaves his head what Harry tracks will be the now destroyed hair, not the person, then the spell will be ineffective. Many people in the know of magic know these tricks. The spell is also like a compass: it points the user in a direction on the quickest physical route. It doesn't care if buildings are in the way.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • The wyldfae looooooove pizza. To the point that Harry can use it as a bribe to get them to do anything from bringing back information to attacking the Lady of the faeries' Summer Court. And killing her.
    • Harry loves his Coke; he even has a cap with a silver-on-black Coca-Cola logo. He also adores Burger King.
    • His cat Mister is also fond of Coca-Cola, as well as leftovers from McAnally's Pub.
  • Training from Hell: Harry's time with Justin DuMorne.
    • Also Molly's time with the Leanansidhe. And turns out how Harry was able to face Justin
    • Harry again, this time with Mab, at the beginning of Cold Days.
    • Morgan under Luccio.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Starting in White Night, Harry begins organizing the Paranet out of magic-users who have less talent than full-fledged wizards. They're trained to pool their meager abilities and keep in contact with one another so that they can defend themselves (or at least not be killed one by one) whenever a black wizard or other supernatural threat rears its head. At one point in Ghost Story Harry notes that a dozen Paranet talents are able to magically ward a house better than he can. When Harry dies in Changes, the Paranet saves hundreds of lives across the United States, with the exception of Chicago where Molly uses her wizard-caliber talents in Dresden's absence to single-handedly scare away many opportunistic threats.
  • Tranquil Fury: If you push him far enough, Harry enters this. You don't want to push him far enough.
  • Trenchcoat Brigade: Harry's black leather duster and occult focus confirm him to be a card-carrying member. And he revels in it.
  • Trope Overdosed: Understandable after 15 books, an anthology of short stories, a TV series, an ongoing comic book series, and an RPG.
  • Truce Zone: Mac's Pub
  • True Sight: All wizards have an extra form of perception called the Sight. It allows them to see things as they truly are, including peering past glamour or seeing and hearing ghosts, but at a cost: whatever you See, no matter how horrible, is burned into your memory. FOREVER.
  • A True Story in My Universe:
    • According to Harry, Bram Stoker wrote Dracula at the behest of the White Court in order to weaken the Black Court of Vampires by instructing muggles in their traditional means and weaknesses.
    • It becomes a part of the plot in the novella Backup as Thomas is trying to keep various Eldritch Abominations from gaining power by keeping them Unpersons. If Harry gets his hands on the book the the Villain of the Week has, he will turn it into the White Council. This is bad because when the White Council gets hold of a Tome of Eldritch Lore, they publish it, which typically causes the power of the knowledge contained in it to weaken. Harry and the White Council don't know that this particular book would only make things much worse if its contents were made known.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Murphy is head of Special Investigations, a department of the Chicago PD which deals with the weird stuff. Her success at the job (hiring a professional wizard as a consultant helped) gives her a certain amount of immunity to this, but in Proven Guilty, she really blows it... and ends up demoted. At the end of Changes, Murphy is absolutely out of a job, and has literally turned in her badge, thanks to Rudolph.
  • Tyke-Bomb: It's implied Justin was training Harry and Elaine to be this. They also count as a deconstruction: as far as the White Council is concerned, Harry is one of these, so they aren't exactly friendly to him; Harry has entirely justifiable angst from killing Justin (compounded by the fact that he knows killing with magic taints your soul); and throughout the series we see he has major trust issues.

  • Uncatty Resemblance: Mild example with Mister and Mouse, who like their owner are both extra-large sized for their species.
  • The Unfettered: Martin hates the Red Court, but it's only at the end of Changes we find out just how far he's willing to go.
    • Harry himself in Changes.
  • Uninhibited Muscle Power: Butters theorizes that the Winter Knight's mantle is just this.
  • The Unmasqued World: The plot ofPeace Talks and Battle Ground revolves around Ethniu and the Fomor trying to cause this by blowing up Chicago. They hope to cause mortal authorities to declare war on the surface supernaturals and watching them wipe each other out while they're safe underwater.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Turns out to be the case between Changes and Ghost Story. Harry asks Kincaid to Mercy Kill him after he became the Winter Knight, and then has Molly wipe him memory so that Mab won't know.
    • In Skin Game, Harry's own narration doesn't reveal that he'd cut a deal with Goodman Grey behind Nicodemus's back until it's Game Over. Word of God holds that this novel was inspired by heist-movies like Ocean's Eleven, so naturally it uses the same device of holding things back from the audience.
    • The fact that the books are written firmly from the point of view of Harry can result in non-plot-critical variations on this, like:
      • The female characters being significantly more attractive and described in greater detail when Harry's not getting laid.
      • Marcone's activities being dastardly and nefarious even when they really... aren't.
      • Michael's righteousness and occasional outbreaks of temper presented as indicators that something is wrong with the world rather than the knight having some personal flaws, even when Michael points out his flaws and struggles himself.
  • Unusual Euphemism
    • Harry often uses "Stars and stones" as an oath.
    • White Court vampires often use "Empty night" as an oath.
    • Harry wonders if cuss words in angelic language are just nice words said backwards... "Doog! Teews doog!"
  • Up to Eleven: Invoked by Harry when describing battle chaos.
  • Valkyries: Ms. Gard
  • The Vamp: Lara Raith. Literally, too.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: The Raiths (White Court vampires who feed on lust) definitely are.
  • Vampire Monarch: The Red Court has an actual King (who is killed along with the rest of the Court in Changes); the White Court consists of three clans, each of whom has their own Lord and the Lord of the currently most powerful clan is considered King by the rest; and the Black Court was nearly wiped out to the point where only a few powerful individuals exist, so no mention of a king of them has been made.
  • Vapor Wear:
    • Invoked and used for nefarious purposes in Turn Coat. Harry has just finished talking to another private investigator who has been tailing him. The other PI is a decent fella, so he backs off the case when Harry tells him lives are in danger if he keeps it up. However, he doesn't tell Harry who hired him because he's got integrity. He reports this to his apprentice, barely-legal Molly Carpenter, who decides to go ask him... but not before taking off her bra and cooling her chest for maximum effect. Poor guy never stood a chance.
    • When Susan quaffs a love potion by mistake in Storm Front and starts coming on to Harry very strongly (in the middle of a fight with a demon), one of the things she says to him is that she isn't wearing any underwear.
    • In Skin Game, Karrin wears it in Harry's Erotic Dream. For a short while. And then it turns out Lasciel's Denarian form has this in a very literal fashion.
  • Vampire Procreation Limit: the rate at which Vampires can turn humans into vampires varies strongly per court:
    • The Black Court are the classical Draculas, except they appear to be corpses in varying stages of decay. (Dracula was a treatise on the Court's strengths, weaknesses, and how to hunt them disguised as a novel, commissioned from Bram Stoker by their rivals in the White Court.) The Black Court is acknowledged to be the most explosive breeders, their victims getting right back up immediately, but their numbers are thinned by vampire hunters and other rivals, making them the most rare.
    • The Red Court are basically humanoid bat monsters, capable of developing a second skin to disguise themselves as human. A bite survivor would become a half-vampire with a human appearance, the benefits of which include agelessness and strength, but would incur a strong blood thirst. When a half-vampire kills another person for their blood, they then transform into a full Red Court vampire. The Red Court was known to be the most populous Court, considering the relative ease with which they breed and their fairly low profile.
    • White Court vampires are people with a demonic symbiote called a Hunger that turns them into succubi and incubi that can invoke and feed on emotions, the head family preferring a diet of lust. They reproduce sexually, producing human offspring with an embryonic hunger attached. When the child of a White Court vampire loses their virginity, the Hunger awakens and kills their partner by draining them and turning the child into a full vampire. Notably, all White Court children come from male vampires, and the females appear to be sterile.
    • There are other vampire courts, the biggest being the secretive Jade Court in East Asia, but they're too small or secretive for concrete information on them.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Thomas using hairdressing to sate himself until the events of Turn Coat.
  • Victory Through Intimidation: Harry delays the attacks of the immortal Red Court vampires by pointing out that, while there were easily enough of them to overwhelm him, whoever went first would certainly die: "Your children have eternity before them. Which one of you wants to give up eternity?"
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: The novella "The Warrior" features an antagonist who sends Harry photographs of the Carpenter family and their house: not so much "I know where you live" as "I know where your friends live". The characters discuss whether this means the Carpenters are really in danger, or whether they're being threatened to distract Harry from something else.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Arianna, Grevane, Lord Raith, Victor Sells, Paolo Ortega, Nicodemus and the Red King all experience this after Harry either kicks their asses and/or breaks their plans to pieces.
  • Villainous Rescue: It seems as if Marcone is pulling Harry's butt out of the fire every other book.
  • Virgin Power: The White Court find virgins a particular delicacy, so to speak.
    • The Lady of a Fae Court represents The Maiden, so the one who bears the Mantle cannot have sex, to the point where the Mantle will take its bearer over and attack any prospective mates should she attempt to get laid. No mention is made of where virginity before taking on the Mantle is strictly necessary, but once the Mantle is assumed, strict celibacy is required until the Lady becomes Queen.
  • Waif-Fu: The possessed Lydia in Grave Peril. Karrin Murphy's Aikido skills may also qualify, though much more grounded in reality, since Aikido, like Judo, is about using the opponent's strength against them.
  • Wainscot Society: The various supernatural factions each have one, operating to varying degrees either in the shadows of the human world or in the Nevernever. In particular, the Summer and Winter Courts of The Fair Folk rule an entire realm of the Nevernever, and the Red and White Courts of vampires have elaborate feudal rankings and hierarchies. The Unseelie Accords govern interactions between the societies.
  • Wait Here: If Harry has not said this or "If I Do Not Return", then you have not finished the book yet.
  • Walking Techbane: Wizards, especially Harry, who has to put up with an icebox cooled by real ice, no working furnace in a basement apartment in Chicago (he has a fireplace instead), no hot water and a car from the 50's. He cannot get near an active computer without frying the motherboard. If he actively tries, he can hex a camera at 100 yards on a bad day.
    • In the beginning of Death Masks, Harry whips up a suppression spell that will keep this under wraps so long as he remains calm and focussed, while he goes on the Jerry Springer-esque Larry Fowler show. Harry is, of course, nervous on camera, and his spell is temperamental at best. Then in walks another guest, pretending to be a professor and expert on the supernatural, Don Ortega of the Red Court. Fear, and by the end of their conversation, anger make Harry's spell go haywire, and the studio equipment starts burning out explosively. Of course, it doesn't help that both Ortega and the other guest, Morty, are powerful practicioners in their own rights.
    • It becomes a plot point in Dead Beat. Grevane cut a deal with the smuggler Bony Tony for one of the two Plot Devices, the Word of Kemmler. Being an industry standard, he suspects that Grevane might double-cross him, so Tony hides the Word at a dead drop, locatable by GPS coordinates stored on a thumb drive, a system which could immediately go cold should a wizard try to use it alone.
  • Warring Natures: Changelings are half-human, half-fae. They are able to Choose (once) which one they want to belong to and when they do they become either fully fae or fully human. But until they make that choice, they're mortals with fae features and traits.
  • Weather Dissonance: Usually a sign that one or more of the Fairy Queens are active in the area. It's actually notable in Skin Game when the unseasonable icy weather, convenient for The Winter Knight, has nothing to do with Mab.
  • We Help the Helpless: A good part of Harry's motivation, as well as people like the Knights of the Cross and the Alphas.
    • Nominally also the reason for the White Council, particularly the Wardens, but they tend to be much more harsh, even thuggish, about dealing with threats. Even accidental ones like somebody finding out they have magical potential and exploring it without knowing the consequences or that there are even laws about it.
  • Weirdness Magnet: It's gotten to the point where Harry is involved in pretty much 90% of all the major events that happen in the Dresdenverse in some way or another.
    • It's justified in Changes. It turns out that supernaturals only really show up in Chicago if their plots include Harry in some way. The rest of the supernatural world is more than happy to stay the hell away from Chicago and its resident pyromaniac, trigger-happy wizard.
  • Weirder Than Usual: Towards the end of Small Favor, Harry is having an argument with Michael, who suspects that Harry may not be wholly in control of his own decisions.
    "That's... possible," I admitted. "Anybody's head can be messed with. But if you go rewiring someone's brain, it damages them, badly. (...) If you know the person well enough, there are almost always signs. They act differently. Have I been acting differently? Have I suddenly gone crazy on you?" He arched an eyebrow. "More so than usual," I amended.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Donald Morgan
    • Aurora.
    • Kumori from Dead Beat. Yes, she is a necromancer. Yes, she is palling around with a guy who may very well be on the Black Council. And yes, she is taking part in a necromantic ceremony that will scythe a good chunk of Chicago clean just so the victor can claim godlike power. But she uses her necromantic abilities to keep people alive until they can get medical treatment, and has the stated goal of creating a world where death does not exist.
    • At the end of Changes Martin the Double Agent is confirmed as this. And when we say "extremist", we are not kidding.
    • The Denarians, if Deirdre is to be believed. She claims they, or at least her father's faction, are trying to save the world.
    • Father Douglas Roarke from the short story The Warrior. He doesn't think Harry is a bad person but he does believe Harry is holding on to the Swords of the Cross for bad reasons. And he's willing to do whatever it takes to get Harry to give them up.
  • Wham Episode: Changes. By the time it's over, Harry has not only learned that he's a father, become the Winter Knight, murdered Susan, and annihilated the entire Red Court, he's also lost the Blue Beetle, his apartment and office, his cat, his life, and his coat.
    • Cold Days. After the upheaval of Changes and reorientation of the series rhythm in Ghost Story, the general focus of the series and on Dresden's character fundamentally shifts. Harry has done his first job as the the Winter Knight. He now has to deal primarily with how the mantle of the Winter Knight tempts him to evil and changes his character. By the time it's over, The true purpose of the Winter Court and the true nature of the series-wide story and series-wide Big Bad have been revealed. The Winter Lady and Summer Lady have both changed. Molly Carpenter is the new Winter Lady.
    • Battle Ground. Arguably tops Changes in the sheer magnitude of its fallout. Crosses over with Peace Talks as well because they are effectively one book split into two. Chicago has been totally ravaged by an all-out war between supernatural factions taking place within its boundaries. Murphy is dead, along with numerous other recurring characters. Thomas is imprisoned in Demonreach to keep him hidden and in stasis. Justine has been possessed by Nemesis for some time, manipulated the entire war into happening, and was the one who blackmailed Thomas into attempting to assassinate Mr Etri. Marcone has taken up the coin of Thorned Namshiel and become a powerful sorcerer and cemented his dominion over Chicago among the supernatural world. Dresden's relationship with his grandfather has been destroyed by revealing Thomas's relation to them both. Dresden has been expelled by the White Council and his friendship with Ramirez has been destroyed. And he is being forced into a political marriage with Lara Raith within a year. At least he now has his own literal castle.
  • Wham Line: Among others, Changes opens on one:
    I picked up the phone, and Susan Rodriguez said, "they've taken our daughter."
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Laws of Magic are all about this. Killing, reanimating, or Mind Raping humans blackens your soul, and pushes you toward the slippery slope of full-on Evil Sorcery. Vampires, faeries and other monsters however are fair game, and dead animals fall through a convenient loophole for the discerning wizard looking for an undead epic mount.
    • In some of the early books, Harry all but states that he doesn't think of non-humans as people, even fully sapient ones like Toot or his own half-brother. This gradually changes over the course of series
  • When He Smiles: A couple (female) people in the series have told Harry he looks much better when he smiles in a few quietly touching moments.
    • Minor side-character Vince Graver from Turn Coat was described as The Nondescript until his last scene, when he smiles. Dresden notes that the smile completely changes him from a generic average Joe to someone who could light up the room just by being there.
      • Note: Yes, it was Dresden describing this, and no, the description in the book had no Ho Yay whatsoever.
    • Little Inara Raith is described as "pretty" but has a smile that makes her radiant.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After staring the war with the Red Court, several members of the White Council call Harry out on starting a war without authorization from the White Council and the resulting deaths from his actions. Uriel, in a much gentler way, calls Harry out on his questionable actions ending the war and the aftermath.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Mentioned as one of the reasons against Harry and Murphy hooking up; Molly also angsts about this in Ghost Story, and how her youngest brothers will be dying of old age before she's even old enough to be taken seriously on the White Council.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: Harry gets a beautiful one by proxy when Ebenezer McCoy figures out Harry's plan in Turn Coat. In summary the plan is calling out the worlds strongest Wizards to fight, then call in the Vampires saying he has what they want, and then getting them to work together against a common enemy, who Harry also invited to this location.
    Harry: Wile E. Coyote. Suuuuuper genius.
  • Wicked Cultured: Nicodemus, the host and compatriot of a fallen angel, definitely qualifies. He's the scariest and evilest creature in a series full of scary, evil creatures who could squash him with their pinkies, but he does it with impeccable taste.
    • Gentleman Marcone comes off as this, but it will likely never be confirmed due to the fact that he's, well, Marcone. Although he clearly has shown at least some appreciation for the arts, as he is the chairmen of an exclusive and elite club which hosts art galas and gallery sales (or as Harry calls these events, "smuggling country"), and in Dead Beat he admits to have personally procured "two Monets and a Van Gogh" from a recently unsealed storage locker from 1945. Meanwhile in Even Hand, Marcone is able to guess what city a thug is from simply from the cut of the thug's suit.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Waldo Butters actually reveals the immediate physical reason for this. Compared to normal humans, wizards have vastly superior cellular repair and healing: broken bones heal without a trace, scars fade, and even Harry's toasted-to-the-bone hand will heal completely. They DO age, but their bodies last a few centuries and we have not heard of any wizards dying of cancer or such diseases.
  • Wizard Duel: Doesn’t happen as often as you’d expect in a series about wizards, due to the wizards being (by and large) the “good guys”. Harry and the Archive briefly battle Denarian sorcerers in Small Favor and in Changes Harry duels Duchess Arianna Ortega, a vampire with magical powers — technically not wizards. In Dead Beat a Warden attacks Harry over a misunderstanding, but Harry doesn’t fight back. So unless you count Harry’s ten-second bout with Cowl in Dead Beat, there's only really been two wizard-on-wizard fights:
  • Working the Same Case: Harry is often working on two cases at once, a police investigation that has stymied the mundane authorities and something on the occult side of things, and they turn out to be related. Alternately, one case comes from his private business or personal connections and the other comes from the White Council of wizards. It is not quite Once an Episode, but Storm Front, Fool Moon, Death Masks and Proven Guilty use this trope straightforwardly and most other books have at least some elements of it. Changes, as with so much else, skips this trope, with one main plot that finds Harry personally.
  • World Half Full: Yes, the world is full of demons, monsters, Things That Go "Bump" in the Night (and worse) ready to pounce, but there's always someone like Harry, Murphy, or Michael around to kick evil's ass up around its ears and protect the innocent.
    • At least, in Chicago this is the case. As we find out after Harry dies, things are a lot less safe in regions that aren't protected by a powerful wizard. That said, the Paranet and various other interests are working to change this.
  • World of Badass: Even the Muggles who are ignorant of magic are often badass. Everyone else is, too, or becomes that way very quickly or doesn't survive. The self-proclaimed cowards are Crazy-Prepared and/or Crouching Morons Hidden Badasses, goblins are more dangerous than most vampires rather than being comedy relief like in many settings, and the Three Billy Goats Gruff carry submachine guns.
  • World of Chaos: The Nevernever, in addition to being home to nearly every mythical being ever imagined, operates on some very unusual laws of physics.
  • World of Snark: With Harry and Bob as the most shining examples.
  • The Worm That Walks: The "rawhead" in Cold Days. A huge beast, made out of the discarded bones and flesh of slaughtered cattle and such, with no skin. The detailed descriptions are... horrific.
  • Worth It:
    • Harry has a pretty damn good one in Grave Peril. Red Court vampire Bianca has Harry's girlfriend hostage, and she's gloating that he can't do anything because it would spark a war between vampires and mages. Harry states, rather matter-of-factly, that he can't think of a better reason for war than saving the woman he loves. He proceeds to call up the spirits of the dead and light pretty much everything on fire, taking the villain and house with him. Unlike most of these examples, Harry eventually questions whether he made the right decisions, because the Red Court wasn't kidding about that war.
    • Mab gloats that her new Winter Knight is this after he attempts to commit suicide to prevent himself from becoming a monster, and then after she heals him for six months, uses it as a bargaining chip. He later holds a gun to her head and threatens her, at a time where he physically could kill her.
  • Worthy Opponent: Marcone, a polite and efficient mob boss; and the Eldest Gruff, an extraordinarily powerful fairy who does not want to kill Harry but must obey the Summer Queen Titania.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Harry is chivalrous to the point of it interfering with his ability to defend himself from female attackers. He knows it is a weakness and a stupid one in a world where female vampires and werewolves and fae can all kill him with trivial effort, but he cannot stop himself. If pushed really hard, he can make himself attack a woman, but it takes a ton of pressure to get him to that point.
    • Has faded somewhat as the series progresses because Harry has specifically trained himself out of it, has been nearly killed by enough female villains to be somewhat hardened naturally, and has generally started to favor lateral thinking over direct assault when he can manage it for any opponent.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Averted for the most part in the timeline, as shown here. However...
    • Harry makes a common error while computing prime numbers to try and clear his head after encountering the horrible form of something horrible: 1 is not, technically, a prime number. note 
    • Molly was 17 in Proven Guilty and 19 in White Night, somehow celebrating two birthdays in ten months. This is due to Butcher pushing back Proven Guilty in favor of Dead Beat after his publisher told him his next book was going hardcover.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Done hilariously in a short story from Side Jobs. Harry is trying to deal with a great deal of hilarity which is in the process of ensuing when a group of teenagers show up at his house in goth clothes and Slytherin scarves. Their leader informs Harry that he, Harry Dresden, has earned their wrath for removing a curse they put on some old lady and to prepare himself to suffer the consequences. Harry informs them he didn't even notice the curse and just did the exorcism to make her feel better, then pulls a gun on them.
    • In Proven Guilty, Harry confronts a vampire lord, threatening to turn him into the cops. The vampire laughs that he knows it's a bluff as he and Harry are bound by the same "rules" to maintain secrecy and Harry would never dare reveal the truth of the supernatural to humans. Harry's response? To point out how he's listed in the phone book under "Wizards."
    • In Aftermath, Billy the Werewolf thought he was the protagonist in a 'werewolf action story' in dealing with John Marcone, only to discover he was in fact a Worf. Marcone was unimpressed by his werewolf powers and made it clear that he would either sit down and shut up, or die. He wasn't bluffing.
    • Arguably, in the first books, Karrin Murphy thought she was the star of a police procedural that happened to include magical phenomena, when she was in fact the Friend on the Force in a noir-style urban fantasy. She catches on as the series progresses.
    • Harry's eventual apprentice Molly Carpenter seems to think she's the plucky young heroine who can get away with anything on her wit and natural talents. Harry has to forcibly remind her on several occasions that she's in an Anyone Can Die horror series, and he is not the kindly, easily-forgiving mentor she thinks he is before she gets the picture. She also thinks that she's in a Rescue Romance. Harry pours some cold water on that idea. Literally.
    • Even Harry himself is guilty of it from time to time. In his first meeting with Nicodemus, he tries to goad Nick into revealing a bit of the plan, maybe even take some time to gloat, etc. Nicodemus gives Harry a deadpan look, and flatly tells Harry that his is wounded by the complete lack of professional respect that this implies. This is the point where Harry realizes that, no, not all of the villains in this series are not graduates from the Bond Villain School of Stupidity.
    • Harry understands the importance of identifying his genre. From Dead Beat:
    The trick was to figure out which movie I was in. If this was a variant on High Noon, then walking outside was probably a fairly dangerous idea. On the other hand, there was always the chance that I was still in the opening scenes of The Maltese Falcon and everyone trying to chase down the bird still wanted to talk to me. In which case, this was probably a good chance to dig for vital information about what might well be a growing storm around the search for The Word of Kemmler.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Multiple times, most commonly in relation to the White Court vampires who are pretty much an entire race of Chessmasters. Examples include:
    • The plot of Grave Peril, and even events leading up to the book, is one by Bianca, Mavra and the Leanansidhe for numerous reasons depending on the person involved — to gain an advantage on Harry and/or teach him a lesson, to kill him, to destroy an exceedingly rare Holy Sword and give the Red Court of vampires a chance to launch its long-planned war against the White Council of Wizards. It backfires majorly on Bianca but half of it still succeeds, fulfilling the gambit.
      • Lea specifically pulls a small but nasty one in Grave Peril during the confrontation in the graveyard. After driving off the Nightmare, she waits until Harry has Amoracchius in hand before confronting him with his promise. Then, she confronts him, and he is forced to choose between surrendering to her or using the Sword. If he does not use the Sword, she gets him as a pet, while if he does, the Sword will be rendered useless and she can steal it. Either way, Lea wins.
    • In Turn Coat. Dresden gets one of these by inviting three renegade factions to the same location to play them off against each other. He later reveals that this was all a setup to get surveillance photos of the real traitor when they find out about the fray. He would have liked to catch the traitor on the scene; the photos (and Mouse) were just a backup plan. He lays it out once the gambit pays off: "But lately I've thinking that you don't ever plan on a single path to victory. You set things up so you've got more than one way to win." This particular gambit, while it succeeds, is a bit undermined when Ebenezar points out the ways it could have failed, to which the only sensible reply is "I got lucky."
  • Xenofiction: The third part of the short story "Zoo Day" is narrated from Mouse's point of view.
  • You Can Barely Stand: Harry is rarely in any decent shape to even be walking by the time the real fighting has rolled around. Take for instance Fool Moon where he actually has to work to blow out a camera, or Dead Beat, where the only reason he can move at all for most of the Final Battle is Lash's assistance. Taken Up to Eleven in Changes where Harry eventually gets his back broken so he literally cannot stand. However, he makes a deal with Mab, The Winter Queen, and becomes her Knight, but he gets to save his daughter first. After that, he is fit as a fiddle and ready to rock. Lampshaded in the RPG, when he complains about how he is always beaten up in the pictures. Quoth Billy:
    Billy: "Are you on a case?'''
  • You Have Failed Me: Every odd numbered lackey.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Invoked with some variation by Harry in nearly every book, usually when he finds himself facing something comically unfair.
  • You Owe Me: Thomas uses this to get Harry to take on his case in Blood Rites. Harry knew it was coming, as Thomas explicitly said he was saving up for favors in earlier books whenever he helped Harry. He lied. While he did use You Owe Me to get Harry to take the case, he was really helping Harry because they're brothers, and saving up favors was a convenient cover story.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Not just vampires; Bob has opinions on werewolf stories. Played with in that each Court's vampires seem to believe the other Courts' vampires suck, and the Raiths think that the feeding habits of the Skavis and Malvora are despicable.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Happens in Changes, where the Good Cop is questioning Harry about a building that was bombed. Harry delivers this line when asked if he knows who did it, then the two change subject and talk a while before the cop decides he's innocent and lets him go. Before Harry leaves, the cop asks who really did it, to which he responds "Vampires," adding "I told you you wouldn't believe me" a minute later when the cop goes through surprise and disbelief.
    • Note that said cop was practically a Living Lie Detector, so he realizes Harry actually believes his answer is the truth.

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