- Moral Event Horizon: Trent's rape of Lyra in the second book.
- Nightmare Fuel: The destruction of the House Volfrieds, and Trent's backstory.
- Schedule Slip: The second part of Black Dogs, having been written for over a decade, was projected to be published in 2008. Three years later... Woohoo!
- Science Marches On: In regards to the implementation of Mandatory Motherhood. Ovarian stem cells—which can allow a woman to produce new eggs later in life—were only discovered in adult humans in February 2012.
- The Scrappy: The annoying girl that they save from an evil magician. Even within the book, she is treated with a polite indifference at best by the nicest character and disliked or even hated by everyone else. All she does is pander to the sole human male present and when she is killed at last, no one mourns her death.
- Squick: The portion early in the book when one of the maids is described as possibly being killed by a sword. A sword thrust into her...personal area. And she was left on Lyra's bed.
- The Woobie: Lyra narrowly escaped the destruction of her House, and only has Sadrao for family. As said above, Trent had one seriously messed-up childhood, and is the product of the most evil wizard known to man abducting a woman and raping her, which makes some people hate him just for existing. Not that he doesn't feel incredible guilt over things he's done in his past—wait a minute...
YMMV / Black Dogs