Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!
aka: Kings Quest V

Go To

"Graham, watch out! A POI-sonous snake!"
Cedric the Owl

King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder is the fifth installment in the King's Quest Adventure Game series.

While Graham is out for a walk, his castle and family are kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Mordack. Cedric, a talking owl and witness to the event, tells Graham about it and takes him to the land of Serenia; Graham must explore the kingdom and reach Mordack's castle before the wizard harms his family.

The game is notable for several reasons: It was the first game of the series to use a point-and-click interface, ditching the old Text Parser. It also used a brand-new iteration of the SCI engine, allowing for more complex graphics and cut-scenes, and it was Sierra's first "talkie" game. These factors helped make it the first Sierra game to sell over 500,000 copies, and it was the best-selling PC game of all time from 1990 until 1994, when it was usurped by The 7th Guest.

The Excalibur Brothers made the game into a two part Abridged Series, viewable here. The game also inspired a parody video called Free Apple by Worthikids.

"Graham, watch out! A POIsonous examples list!"

  • 100% Completion: 260 possible points.
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Cedric does this a lot, including the iconic "Graham, watch out! A POIsonous snake!"
  • Amicable Ants: Early in his journey, Graham has to save a bunch of ants from being harassed by a dog. The ant king thanks Graham and offers their services, in which they march to help him not long later.
  • And Call Him "George": Keep your distance from Dink, lest you get hugged to death.
  • And I Must Scream: Graham's fate if he opens the Genie's Bottle. As well as the witch's ultimate fate.
  • Androcles' Lion: Essentially every animal early in the game (the ants, the bees, the rat, the eagle...)
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The NES version took out some of the Unwinnable by Design situations of the original, like being able to trade the wrong items to merchants for the items you need. You don't get only one shot at saving the mouse; if you fail (which is likely with the wretched imported control scheme), just leave the screen and come back to try again. Also the desert is smaller than that of the computer versions. One of the more notable decisions was to make it so you don't need to wander to the corners of Mordack's maze to find Dink; if you play the tambourine anywhere in the maze he'll hear it and come to you.
    • One seen in the original PC version was that after Cassima rescues you from the dungeon, you can follow her out of the maze.
  • Avenging the Villain: Mordack didn't take too kindly to Alexander turning Mordack's brother into a cat two games ago.
  • Barefoot Captives: Princess Cassima is held as a slave and has no shoes. (She does appear to be wearing a pair, when walking through the castle maze, after helping Graham escape from the dungeon, but resumes going barefoot as soon as she leaves the maze.) The King's Quest Companion even describes "the pattering of bare feet" as what draws Graham's attention to Cassima's presence, after he defeats Mordack and tries in vain to restore his family.
  • Beard of Evil: Mordack, the Big Bad, sports one, furthering his wickedness.
    • The Innkeeper, which complements his EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL look.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The bear near the beehive is one, as he will murder Graham if he gets close. By punching you in the face! This is taken a degree further in the NES version where he drags Graham's carcass away.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Princess Cassima despite being forced as a scullery maid in rags, in the heavily detailed cutscenes she is shown to wear blush and eyeshadow. Kind of odd for a slave. Then again, Mordack probably insisted she wear heavy makeup 24/7 (yet that doesn't explain the rags).
  • Behind the Black: In order to hide from the desert bandits, you have to hide Graham behind the rocks next to an oasis; while he's hidden from the player's view, he should be perfectly visible to the bandits.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: The witch in the swamp turns anyone that enters her swamp into a frog. You can say she caught them "toadally off guard!"
  • Big Bad: Mordack, brother of Manannan, the Big Bad of King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human. You must defeat him to rescue your family.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: A yeti near Icebella's domain, in an ice cave with her crystals. You defeat him with a pie. Yuuuuup.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • One puzzle requires you to lure an elf to you with gems to catch him. When you do, he claims that he never takes without giving in return and gives you a pair of boots. Of course, if you don't catch him, he just runs off with the gems and you never see him again. Lying bastard.
    • The narrator is in this, too. For example, if you reach the bandit camp in the desert before you find the temple, and look around, the narrator will point out that it is deserted. But if you try to enter the large tent, a thief will come out and murder you.
    • Alexander trying to tell Mordack that he "just happened to stumble across some magic spells" and "accidentally" turned Manannan into a cat. Uh-huh, sure, Alex.
  • Border Patrol:
    • If you wander too far south from the correct path in the desert, a scorpion shows up and stings you, killing you.
    • Go off-course while on the boat and a sea serpent will show up and eat you.
  • Boring Return Journey: You have to cross the mountains and sail the sea to reach Mordack's island. After you defeat Mordack, Crispin just teleports you and your family home.
  • Bound and Gagged: When Graham is caught by the Innkeeper and his goons, he is left tied up in the cellar. Becomes a Game Over if you didn't save the mouse who comes to chew through your ropes.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Nintendo of America had Konami (who handled the NES port) modify the game by toning down the violence and removing religious themes. For example, compare the narrator's words when Graham drinks water from the oasis in both the PC and NES versions:
      PC!King's Quest V: Ah, life-giving water. Nectar of the Gods. Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him.
      NES!King's Quest V: Ah! The cool water felt wonderful on Graham's parched lips and his body now feels rejuvenated.
    • The CD version also added puns to some of the death messages in order to make the game feel less morbid and violent. Compare the scene where Graham is eaten by wolves:
      Floppy: It's not a pretty sight.
      CD-ROM: Poor Graham. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there!
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Crispin loves to point out the evident.
    • Even more infamous is Cedric: "Oh, Graham, that dog looks mean! That swamp looks dangerous! That desert looks hot! That sea looks endless! Those harpies look evil! That castle looks scary! That boat is sinking! THAT SNAKE IS POISONOUS!" Cedric even yells "Watch out! There's a sea monster!"...after Graham gets eaten by a sea monster.
    • The narrator, when pointing at certain objects.
  • Cartoon Creature: Mordack turns himself into a scorpion-like, winged "Flying Being" for the final battle. Who apparently hates tigers.
  • Cats Are Mean: It's best for your own survival to have this attitude when you see the cat chasing the mouse. Not, "Good! The cat is fulfilling the primary reason cats were domesticated in the first place: to get rid of the food-stealing and -spoiling, disease-spreading vermin," nor, "Well, isn't that just the normal cycle of nature, the predator chasing its prey," but, "Oh, that cat is so mean for chasing that poor, innocent mouse! I want to throw a shoe (or stick) at that mean cat!" If you don't throw a shoe/stick at the cat, the game becomes Unwinnable.
    • Played straight with Manannan, who still keeps his evil temperament and will warn Mordack if he finds you.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Crispin's wand, which is not useful until the big fight at the end.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Cedric, who is completely useless throughout the entire game, sacrifices himself to save your life at the end. And by "sacrifice" we mean "accidentally blunder into the path of a spell.
  • Circling Vultures: Two vultures descend if Graham dies of thirst in the desert.
  • Continuity Nod: Mordack uses the same style of randomly teleporting in to killing you as his brother Manannan did.
  • Cool Old Guy: Graham himself (his age is indicated by his hair turning grey). Though it's implied his hair was prematurely turned grey due to the complete hell he had to endure for the past 18 years (his son kidnapped as a baby, a dragon ravaging the land and his daughter forced as a sacrifice, with Graham too morbidly depressed to slay it himself), as canon states he was around 38 during the time of this game. note 
  • Copy Protection: The early diskettes and the NES adaptation are examples of this, when the player has to refer to the manual in order to have Graham cast a spell. Averted in the CD-ROM adaptation.
  • Covers Always Lie: King Graham is wearing a red cape on the game's box art. In-game, it's actually blue.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Cedric the Owl tags along with Graham on his journey, but he'll regularly try to stay behind if things look even remotely dangerous.
  • Creator Cameo: Roberta Williams does the voices of the woman in Serenia, one of the Harpies, a rat, and the pie shop's customer Amanda.
  • Crying a River: A princess gets turned into a literal Weeping Willow by an evil witch and cries enough to make a pool of tears.
  • Crystal Ball: The gypsie Fortune Teller has one, showing the status of Graham's family and Mordack.
  • Cutscene: In the original edition, there are unskippable ones all over the place, which makes the prerequisite Save Scumming rather annoying. Later versions will stop and tell you one's coming, and give you the option to skip it if it's not your first time playing.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: You need to win the favor of Queen Icebella to advance in the game.
  • Death by Falling Over: Once reaching Mordack's Castle, it's possible to die by falling off a flight of stairs that's barely as tall as Graham is. He even does his "falling to his death" scream, only to get cut off when he hits the ground a half-second later.
  • Death by Materialism: If Graham tries to take anything in the Treasure Room except for two items specifically needed to win, the door closes instantly, and it's curtains for our King. Of course, the two items in question are much closer to the door and more conspicuous than the rest of the treasure.
  • Deus ex Machina: A remarkably clear example. Once you've defeated Mordack, Crispin magically appears, undoes the shrinking spell on your family, resurrects Cedric (at least in the PC CD-ROM version; all other versions, including the NES adaptation, have Crispin restore him from stone back to flesh and blood), and teleports you, your family, and Princess Cassima to your respective homes. Lampshaded in the Abridged version:
    Crispin: Have no fear, Graham. There's Deus ex Machinas enough for all!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The shady innkeepers are perfectly willing to knock you out, tie you up in the basement, and presumably kill you just for "looking like a real troublemaker."
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The bandits in the desert camp are distracted by watching a Belly Dancer performance. Subverted in that if you get too close to her tent, a nearby bandit will murder you.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Cedric urges Graham not to go into the Dark Forest. He is right because once inside there's an old Witch who goes after you, you can't return by the way you came and the scenery is rather creepy. That still doesn't excuse his cowardice however.
  • Drop-In Nemesis: Doing the endgame, Mordack can, at any time you enter a room, randomly appear out of the blue and kill you for trespassing in his castle. (Apparently runs in the family.) Hopefully you have learned to frequently save your game at this point. There ARE triggers for this. Good luck figuring out what you did wrong, though.
  • Ear Trumpet: Graham encounters an old hermit that uses a conch seashell as one. Without it, the only thing he can hear is the incredibly loud bell he has hanging outside his door.
  • Easter Egg: The Road Runner appears randomly on one of the desert entrance screens.
  • Endless Corridor: The desert, where there are infinite screens to the west and south; the sea, but less so as serpents kill you if you deviate too far.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: As best summed up by Jon Jafari.
    Jon: Everything wants [Graham's] head on a silver platter. The snake, the river, the desert, bandits, Middle Eastern nomads, greed! Greed itself wants King Graham.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Mordack. And the witch. Both use EVIL powers murder or transform Graham, respectively. And the ice queen. The last one, however, can make a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • Getting captured by the innkeeper and his goons is necessary to finish the game. Just make sure you took precautions first.
    • Same with the blue monster in Mordack's castle, you get thrown in cell. However, the second time you confront the monster, you have a chance to knock him out.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: Cedric refuses to accompany Graham anywhere remotely dangerous, with the exception of the boat ride.
  • Fanservice: The servant girl in her sexy outfit.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Serenia has a Germanic culture. Notable with the toymaker who speaks Gratuitous German (in the CD-ROM version).
  • Fat Bastard: The innkeeper is obese and up to no good, appearing to stage robberies with his EVIL goons.
  • Father's Quest: The game sees King Graham's castle, along with his entire family, magically kidnapped by the wizard Mordack who wanted revenge for his brother having been turned into a cat in an earlier game. King Graham has to set off on the quest to rescue his family- not just his two kids, but his wife as well.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • If you go more than one screen into the swamp without proper protection, the witch turns you into a frog. Time to restore!
    • The plot is kicked off due to Alexander permanently trapping Mordack's brother as a cat.
  • Genie in a Bottle: One of the items is a bottle containing a genie, who will trap whoever opens it instead of granting any wishes.
  • Giant Flyer: The roc. Strong and large enough to grab Graham and toss him in its nest.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The two monsters in Mordack's castle, which you must defeat with the Tambourine (the one monster in the dungeons, who is called Dink) and the sack of peas for the latter.
  • Godiva Hair: The harpies are nude, but their long red hair and squatting posture obscure their extremities.
  • Gratuitous German: The toymaker speaks a bit of German in the CD-ROM adaptation.
  • Guide Dang It!: Plenty, but the chain of events leading up to the final showdown with Mordack is probably the worst. You need to find your way to his library and look around at the numerous books until you find one in particular that will show you a few spells. That done, you need to figure out to wait in the library until you see Mordack teleport into his bedroom next door for a nap. You steal his wand (which glows, so that's not too bad), then you're supposed to head into his laboratory. There's a piece of equipment up on the second floor you'll have no reasonable way to know what it's for, but if you put Mordack's wand on one side and the worn-out wand you've been carrying for the whole game on the other, you can transfer power from Mordack's wand to yours. That is, if you can figure out that to turn the machine on, you have to throw a lump of moldy cheese into it. Where do you get moldy cheese? You have to let yourself be caught by Mordack's guard monster and thrown in the dungeon, something you'd understandably try to avoid. Especially if you find out you only have one chance to get out of the dungeon without it being game over, which this uses up. Once you've been thrown in the dungeon, the only indication you'd get to the location of the cheese is a rat that scurries into a mousehole, something you might easily pay no attention to, thinking it's just something the designers threw in for color. Having noticed and figured out you should pick up the cheese, you find out you can't reach it with your bare hands. Hope you noticed that tiny flash on an island a couple hours ago that turned out to be the fish hook you need, that you can't go back and get anymore.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Graham has to use a hairpin on a door lock to exit the castle's dungeon.
  • Harping on About Harpies: You use a harp to beat them. Get it?
  • Have a Nice Death: Among them, "Dying for a drink, Graham?" Unfortunately, it looks like the writers got lazy for this game, as quite a few deaths near the end just give you a generic "Thanks for playing King's Quest V" message.
  • High-Class Glass: Cedric's monocle, complementing his well-dressed suit (for an owl, anyway).
  • Hurricane of Puns: See Pungeon Master and Meaningful Name, as well as the fact that you free yourself from the harpies by playing the harp. This game loooooves its terrible puns.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Graham has this moment early on, when Crispin explains that what he just gave him to eat was an old piece of magical white snake he had left over from last year.
  • Inn of No Return: The Swarthy Hog In has an EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL innkeeper who will, for no reason, RUB YOU OUT. And no, you can't get revenge on him — if you dare come back, he will rub you out FOREVER!!!!!
  • Insect Gender-Bender: Graham encounters a colony of ants led by King Antony.
  • Item Crafting: Surprisingly averted in this installment. None of the items in your inventory are combinable.
  • Jackass Genie: You free the genie and he rewards you by imprisoning you in the lamp for 500 years. Restore, Restart, Quit? Of course, you can use this knowledge to your benefit...
  • Karma Houdini: The innkeeper and his goons are obviously a bunch of crooks. There's no way for Graham to turn them in.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: Graham gets kidnapped by a Roc.
  • Kill It with Water: How Mordack bites it. Makes sense, as he was transformed into a ring of fire at the time.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: In true adventure game fashion. Notable in the inn after Graham gets out, where you can steal the innkeeper's provisions. Justified in that the innkeeper is EVIL! Other examples include:
    • "Oh, what's that? A dead, rotting fish just lying on the ground? Oh, you bet I'm taking that!"
    • "Oh crap, I got kidnapped by mobsters and I gotta get out of their house before they find out I'm escaping. But first I need to raid their kitchen for food."
    • Averted in the Desert Temple. (See Death by Materialism above.)
  • Leitmotif: Cassima's theme is reprised in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow as "Girl in the Tower".
  • The Load: Cedric does absolutely nothing of any worth throughout the game (other than warning you about the POOOOOOOOOOISONOUS snake and other hazards you can clearly see on your own, sometimes when it's too late to do anything about them), and at a few points even has to be rescued. Lampshaded by the game itself, as Graham grows increasingly less and less patient with Cedric as the game progresses. "Come on, Cedric!". At only one point in the game does Cedric actually make himself useful by inadvertently Taking the Bullet for Graham at the end of the game and wasting the last of Mordack's wand's power.
  • The Lost Woods: Graham in the witch's forest. Once he passes the second screen, he cannot get out until he gets some assistance.
  • The Maze: There are three.
    • The desert: If you walk more than seven screens (five in the NES version) without drinking water, you die. There are several scattered oases, and three screens you have to visit, and the only way to find them is by wandering. The desert is possible to navigate, but only if you make up your own map. If you try to go past the southeast border of the map (which you'll have no idea where it is until it happens), a scorpion will instantly kill you. The rest of it is endless.
    • Navigating the sea around the harpies' island in a small sailing boat serves as a maritime equivalent, and is set up very similarly to the desert section.
    • The dungeon in Mordack's castle, which is a labyrinth where the screen's orientation changes depending on which direction you come from. Argh argh argh argh argh!
  • Meaningful Name: Crossed with Punny Name — Queen Beetrice of the Bees, King Antony of the Ants, and probably the worst of the lot — Queen Icebella. Ouch.
  • Mercy Rewarded:
    • At one point, you have the option of leaving Cedric to die on an island. At this point, it is very tempting to just leave him there. Of course, if you do, you get a Game Over later in the game.
    • Feeding the starving eagle in the mountains half your meat (not the pie) makes him save you from the roc's nest later.
    • Rescuing a mouse from a cat means that the mouse will free you from your bonds when you are bound up later in the game.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle:
    • Quick, what tool should you use to defeat a Yeti? A hammer? A lute? A, uh, broken wand? Duh! Isn't it obvious? A custard pie!
    • Getting rid of the snake. How do you do it? With a tambourine!
    • How do you power up a machine that transfers wand energy? Why, with a rotten piece of cheese! What else?
  • Mordor: Mordack's castle is located in such a place. Dark and dreary with evil spikes and stalagmites showing up everywhere.
  • Mr. Exposition: Crispin is basically this, as not only does he give exposition to what happened to Graham's family at the beginning, but at the very end, he recaps the entire plot behind Mordack's motives (which was already revealed to the player in an earlier cutscene).
  • Muggle in Mage Custody: The princess Cassima is a scullery girl to the evil warlock Mordack who made her his slave when she refused to marry him.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Much of the omnipresent narrator's commentary, paradoxically combined with Dull Surprise.
    • When Graham takes a drink: "Ah, life-giving water. Nectar of the Gods. Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him.".
    • "The pouch is empty!" The narrator is completely shocked by this each and every time, even though we've already seen Graham take out what was in it.
    • Lampshaded by Paw in his "Let's Play", when he hears a cartoony sound effect made when the blue alien slips and falls on the peas on the floor.
      Paw: Oh, it had to play the Flintstones sound. Like it wasn't stupid enough!
  • Mythology Gag: The town of Serenia was previously seen in Hi-Res Adventure #2: Adventure in Serenia, a precursor to the King's Quest series in setting and scope.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The harpies are named "Cruleena" and "Minotta", like the words "cruel" and "mean".
  • Nerf: According to the strategy guide, which takes the form of a novel retelling of the story, the spell Ring of Fire is an in-universe example of this. The narrator notes that the spell seems weak in that it lacks the magnitude and flash of other, bigger fire spells like Conflagration of Worlds because its limited to a single target. Turns out this "flaw" is intentional, as the flames Ring of Fire turns the spell caster into only burn living beings, leaving anything else unscathed. The narrator also notes with dread any mage powerful enough to subvert this limitation and so callous as to value material goods over human life turning such a spell against a whole village or city.
  • Nice Birdie: Graham says this just as the roc hatchling is about to eat him. Of course, the death is averted if he gave the remaining meat to an eagle and grabbed the pendant on the roc's nest before the egg hatched.
  • No Name Given: The Hermit's name is never revealed. Graham tried to ask him, but the Hermit told him he have more urgent business.
  • One-Winged Angel: During the Shapeshifter Showdown, when Mordack turns into a winged "Flying Being" and then into a dragon.
  • Only Idiots May Pass: You'd think that getting caught in Mordack's castle and taken to prison would be something you'd want to avoid... You'd be gravely mistaken! Earlier, Graham had to get locked up by an uncouth innkeeper, too.
  • Open Sesame: For the desert temple, it's the password. You need another item to get in, though.
  • The Owl-Knowing One: The premise behind Cedric was that he'd serve as an advisor and helpful informant to the player. It... didn't work out that way. Cedric does something useful for you precisely once, at the very end of the game. And it wasn't even intentional. (See Unwinnable and Video Game Cruelty Punishment below.)
  • Pie in the Face: How you defeat the Yeti. Yes, really.
  • Pixel Hunt: The moldy cheese. THE MOLDY CHEESE.
    • Furthermore - the old shoe. The necklace. The piece of crystal. Pixel hunts are all over the place. This was Sierra's first point-and-click adventure and their first VGA, higher-definition game as well. They figured they could use the same tactics they'd used in the past, not realizing that if you didn't know exactly what you were looking for, you rarely had a way of seeing it.
  • Point of No Return: There are quite a few, actually.
    • Once you enter the Black Forest (by going left or right at the first forest screen), you can't leave until you've completed it. You need, at the very least, the amulet, the bottle and the honeycomb to escape.
    • If you head up into the mountains, because it takes so long to get there, you can't go back to Serenia, so you'd better make sure you've done everything you need to. The sledding ridge later is more tangible (because trying to go back kills you), but there's nothing that you can miss from the start of the mountains to that point anyway.
    • Once you leave the mountains and get captured by the Roc, you can't go back to the mountains. Hope you grabbed that crystal.
    • Once you successfully break into Mordack's castle, you can't leave: it's the endgame. The biggest stumbling block here is that you absolutely must have the fish hook from the Harpy Island, which can be missed quite easily and dooms you entirely.
  • Poirot Speak: In the CD version, the Germanic inhabitants of Serenia use German words like danke and kinder.
  • Portal Statue Pairs: The path leading up two Mordak's castle is flanked by two giant cobra statues. They're actually more than they appear, with a pair of glowing eyes that fire lightning bolts at any intruders. The only way to get past them is by using the crystal you managed to get from Queen Icebella's cave after you defeated the yeti.
  • The Pratfall: The blue alien slips and falls on the peas on the floor.
  • Protective Charm: The gypsy's amulet protects Graham from the witch's magic.
  • Psychic Strangle: If Mordack catches Graham, he will use his EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL powers to choke out and murder your sorry ass.
  • Pungeon Master: The voiceover narrator.
    • Upon being turned into a toad by a witch.
      Narrator: The old witch caught Graham toadally off guard.
    • Upon dying of thirst in the desert.
      Narrator: Dying for a drink, Graham?
  • Save Scumming: There are some puzzles that you will never figure out unless you die by them first. The genie in the bottle springs to mind. The desert, too. The final battle, as well.
  • Scary Scorpions: They show up in the desert from time to time; and their (pOIsonous) sting kills Graham instantly, so you want to avoid them at all costs.
  • Scenery Porn: Sierra's first game to support the 256 color VGA mode. The backgrounds were hand-drawn and scanned, and they look gorgeous.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • The organ in Mordack's castle is probably the most apparent. Play it, and you'll immediately alert the wizard to your presence. Have a Nice Death.
    • Also, the glowing treasure in the temple. Try to get it, and you'll be sealed inside forever.
    • The inn, especially if this is your first time playing. Looks hospitable and cozy, and it even has a nice dog inside. But it is run by EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL people that will rub you out when they get a chance.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Genie, and presumably the witch after being defeated.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: What the Treasure Room can become if Graham doesn't pick up the right items or get out in time.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: The finale, where Graham and Mordack use their magic to transform to various beasts.
  • Shout-Out: The desert temple is one big 'hello' to Indiana Jones. Except the action, that is.
  • Snake Versus Mongoose: The game ends with a wizard's duel a la Sword in the Stone between King Graham and the evil wizard Mordack. When Mordack becomes a cobra Graham turns into a mongoose. The manual actually calls this spell Rikki Tiki Tavi after the Rudyard Kipling story. It also speculates that people who knew of the story told the creator of the moongoose spell, who named it after it. Take this with a grain of salt, as Word of God puts the series in Earth's past, not a parallel dimension in intermittent contact with our present.
  • Sssssnake Talk: If you click the "Talk" icon on the (pOIsonous) snake, it tells you to "Sssssstay back!" Also, Mordack talks like this after he takes a cobra form in the final battle.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: The entire first half of the game. What is Graham's incentive for exploring the desert or the dark forest considering that he needs to travel through the mountains?
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: At the start of the game, Crispin has Graham eat a piece of white snake (no, not Whitesnake) that allows him to speak with animals.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Manannan, the bad guy from King's Quest III, appears, but his name is consistently misspelled in this game, except in the NES adaptation.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Graham has to get captured many times in order to progress. By the innkeeper, so he can get the rope and lamb; by Queen Icebella, so he can get the crystal; by the harpies, so he can get the fishhook and shell; by the blue creature in Mordack's castle, so he can get the infamous moldy cheese.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Unlike in the earlier games in the series, Graham can no longer swim. Though the game tries to justify this with either strong currents Graham apparently can't swim against and low stamina.
  • Taken for Granite: Cedric, via Mordack's weakened wand magic, near the end of the PC version and any other adaptation except the PC CD-ROM adaptation (where he just gets killed). Of course, if you didn't save Cedric from the harpies, you'll end up in this example too. In either game console version either way, he is the only reason for...
  • Taking the Bullet: The only, only useful thing Cedric does in the entire game and its adaptations is serve as your meat shield in the climatic battle, and even then it's only by accident.
  • Talking Animal:
    • Crispin gives Graham some white snake to eat so he can communicate with animals.
    • Manannan isn't very chatty in the cutscenes with Mordack. If you run across him in Mordack's castle, however, he'll sound the alarm with a human voice. In King's Quest III, once he turned into a cat, he didn't talk then, either; it was implied he was too pissed off to talk at the time, so if not for that one line of dialogue, you'd easily assume he couldn't talk at all. Though whether he can speak human as a cat or Graham can simply understand him because of the whitesnake is still up in the air. The only animal we know for certain that can actually speak human tongue is Cedric.
  • Tap on the Head: The EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL innkeeper will have his goon RUB YOU OUT with a bludgeon to the head. Later you wake up in the cellar. Averted the second time, as he will RUB YOU OUT so hard that you are DEAD.
  • Thirsty Desert: An insidious maze it is. Fail to find the oases and you are DEAD.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: One of the more ridiculous examples in the series. To get to Mordack's castle, Graham must go through the mountains. The mountain path is blocked by a (pOIsonous!) snake. It's not until you've played half the game that you find a way to get the snake out of the way so you can go find your family. Graham, sweetie, WHY DON'T YOU JUST KILL THE SNAKE?! Even more glaring considering Graham kills Mordack later in the game. And kills a yeti. And a witch, too (although not technically, as she is doomed to a Fate Worse than Death).
    • What makes this ridiculous is that Graham has no problem killing a snake in his previous appearance (King's Quest II), or a lion or vampire in that same game, or a witch or dragon in the first game. These tend not to be the best or only solutions, but it is pretty well established in all the games that Graham has no problem at all with killing animals or people, and not in self-defense either.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: In the final battle, Mordack will eventually turn into a dragon and you have the chance of turning into a tiger. But you'll get roasted. Would you believe bunny beats dragon?! Apparently they have the Super Reflexes necessary to dodge dragon fire.
  • Timed Mission: Several actions give you only a few seconds to complete, such as throwing the shoe at the cat.
  • Transflormation: The Weeping Willow is a witched-cursed princess named Alicia. Graham ends up rescuing her (not that she acknowledges it).
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Normally, rubbing a lamp and getting a genie is a good thing; not so much this time. Not like you have any way of knowing beforehand without a guide. There's also the hole in the boat that is completely undetectable until you're already sinking. To say nothing of the Moon Logic Puzzles mentioned above.
    • It IS possible to notice the hole in the boat - but only if you use the "look" command while standing right next to it (if you're even a hair off position, it won't work). Good luck figuring that out the first time around!
  • Transforming Conforming: At the end of the game, Graham has to defeat the evil wizard Mordack in a Wizards Duel, where in Mordack repeatedly shapeshifts, forcing Graham to counter his spells. These forms come with different weaknesses. For instance, when he turns into a dragon, Graham becomes a rabbit, and he's too slow to catch him. When he becomes a snake, Graham becomes a mongoose, an animal well known for hunting snakes. Finally, Mordack becomes a ring of fire... and gets extinguished with rain.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: The final battle has both Graham and Mordack doing this to one another. Graham gets the last laugh as Mordack turns into fire, and Graham casts the Rainmaker spell.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The cursed willow-tree Princess Alicia doesn't even bother to speak to Graham after he returns her to human form, let alone thank him for it or offer him a reward. The only reason Graham gets her magical harp is because she callously throws it aside before wandering off with her just-arrived boyfriend.
    Paw: You're welcome, you ungrateful biiiiiiiiiiiiitch!
  • Unwinnable: Many situations: If you eat the pie, you die. If you enter the dark forest without the bottle, the amulet, and the honeycomb, you die. If you don't save the rat, you die. If you don't save Cedric, you die. If you don't get the cheese, you die. If you don't grab the necklace in the Roc's nest in the three seconds you have between being eaten and getting rescued — you die. But in all these cases, you only die looooong after you made the initial action. Hope you didn't overwrite your saves!
  • Updated Re-release: The fully-voiced CD version came out a year after the original floppy version.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Sure, you can leave Cedric to die on the island, but you'll pay for it later...
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: Mordack, to complement the beard.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Several. Early to advance in the game, you must go through a huge, hot, deadly desert with NO provisions whatsoever. You will have to enter the Dark Forest as well despite an obvious sign telling you "ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!" And there is the infamous Inn, where you have to be "rubbed out" at a certain point in the game in order to advance, despite "knowing" it is an early deathtrap anyway.
  • Waiting Puzzle: In Mordack's castle, you have to hang out in his library until he goes to bed so you can steal his wand while he's asleep.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Manannan at the end of the game? He was last seen imprisoned in a sack of peas. Did he claw his way out or did he starve/suffocate to death?
    • The official King's Quest companion hints (while it's an official approved book, many things in it are still fanon) that Hagatha rescued Manannan and together are plotting a further revenge.
    • The 2015 King's Quest series of games shows that Manannan (Manny) survived and tried to torment Graham one last time in his old age...but it may have also been the product of a old man's desperation for "one last adventure". If true, Graham outsmarts him one last time and he dies.
    • When the castle was taken by Mordack, it never once mentions the servants, maids, cooks, guards, royal court, etc... who were no doubt also inside.
  • Wicked Witch: The Witch who lives in the Dark Forest. She curses a princess into a willow tree and turns all trespassers into toads.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Queen Icebella, a Captain Ersatz of Andersen's Snow Queen.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Graham needs to eat something while crossing the mountains. Be careful, it's not going to be the pie.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You:
    • Graham says this pretty much word-for-word to Cedric after being rescued from a roc's nest by an eagle... although, given that they'd both been imprisoned by an ice queen and her wolf lords, why Graham thought that would be so incredible is anyone's guess.
    • He says it again to a servant girl in Mordack's castle, which is completely understandable.
    • He tries something similar to cat!Manannan as well, but Manannan cuts him short. "Never mind! Your journey's over!"

"Look out, troper! A pOIsonous index!"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Kings Quest V


King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!

If Graham releases the genie from his bottle, the latter will imprison the former in it.

How well does it match the trope?

3.86 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / JackassGenie

Media sources: