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The novel by John Gardner

  • Faux Symbolism: Lots, fueling many an English Literature professor.
  • Ho Yay: There are times where it seems that Grendel is jealous of the King's wife.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Grendel is portrayed as this. Even after he starts behaving evil, it's very hard not to feel at least a little bad for him.
    • Hrothgar may also be seen as this when Grendel decides Then Let Me Be Evil and starts attacking the mead hall in earnest; sure, Hrothgar started the whole feud by attacking Grendel as a baby, when the latter was unable to escape, but he's earned a Fate Worse than Death with a monster eating up his men.
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  • Nightmare Fuel: You know how Beowulf is usually presented as a badass? Well, imagine being on the other side of that ass kicking. In this version, Beowulf is terrifying.
  • Older Than They Think: This novel predates by a long time works like Wicked and Maleficent which popularized giving a Sympathetic P.O.V. to villainous characters from classic stories.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The dragon only appears in one chapter really, but his conversation with Grendel is probably the most important scene in the whole book and leaves one hell of an impact.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: On quite a few reading lists, as an introduction to Existentialism. Probably was written for this in mind, however.
  • Uncanny Valley: Lampshaded. Grendel notes repeatedly that there's just something... off about Beowulf.

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The comic book by Matt Wagner

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Hunter's distaste for child molesters can come off as hypocritical depending on whether the reader views Hunter's love for Stacy as parental, or as a reminder of Jocasta. Stacy, for her part, fantasizes about marrying Hunter.
    • Try to get a red on Jocasta Rose. Does she love Hunter? Is her love for him genuine or is she a manipulative, child-abusing sociopath? Does she truly know what she molds Hunter into or is she an Unwitting Instigator of Doom? The fact she conceals her terminal illness from Hunter and all of the recollections are filtered through his biased perspective makes it even harder to discern.
  • Complete Monster: Tujiro XIV is a vampiric Kabuki dancer from the 21st century who runs a Human Trafficking outfit where countless innocents are sold into slavery, as well as having his own taste for little boys. Tujiro favors kidnapping the boys, draining them and eating one eye while keeping the eye as a trophy, the fate that befalls the son of the second Grendel, Christine Spar. Escaping justice, Tujiro returns in a new guise as Pope Innocent XLII in the 26th century, where thousands are worked to death by the church. Tujiro runs a regime of despotic repression with countless innocents tortured, and children trafficked to loyal priests within the Vatican, all to keep others under his sway. Tujiro intends to use a gun to completely blot out the sun forever, allowing he and his vampires to reign over a world where human beings are nothing but cattle.
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  • Crosses the Line Twice: Hitchcock Blue massacring the inhabitants of a Bad-Guy Bar... and then urinating on them all. Through a solid-gold codpiece.
  • Fridge Horror: Eddie and Jocasta are only together a few months, and Hunter Rose's first novel is published shortly after Jocasta's death. With Hunter's Skunk Stripe and rise to fame, one would expect someone from his fencing tournaments, or even a schoolmate or parent, would recognize the missing Eddie. No one ever comes forward.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Tujiro XIV becoming Pope Innocent XLII. Written well before the Catholic priest pedophile sex scandals became huge international news, Tujiro's ascension nonetheless comes off like a planned Take That!.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Hunter Rose was born Eddie in New York. A natural genius with exceptional physical talent, Hunter reinvented himself and returned to New York as the mysterious Grendel. Dominating the criminal underworld, Hunter brought most criminal syndicates under his thumb while showing no mercy to traitors, child pornographers or pimps. Viewing everything as a game, Hunter manipulated the cops and criminals alike, as well as his archnemesis, Argent the Wolf. Constantly a step ahead of his enemies, Hunter even tricked Argent into being seen as a savage beast in front of Hunter's adopted daughter, Argent's beloved Stacy, to destroy her love for him. A ruthless, charming manipulator, Hunter reflects the darkness of New York and constantly shows himself a step ahead of all challengers.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • What Hunter Rose does to Lucas Ottoman in Behold The Devil, what Tujiro does to Christine Spar's son in Devil's Legacy
    • For other people, Hunter's event horizon comes from his murder of Stacy's beloved uncle and public humiliation of Argent in Devil by the Deed. Both actions mark Stacy, and when she finds out Hunter's responsible, it leads to his death.
    • Also in Behold The Devil, Hunter manages to see his entire legacy in the future through supernatural means. He then tears the pages describing this out of his journal, causing much heartbreak later on, simply because he can't fathom anyone else being Grendel.
    • According to Word of God, Christine Spar's murder of Detective Riley was intended to be this, although Riley was sufficiently unsympathetic that many readers didn't see it that way.
    • Grendel Prime using the Life Energy of slaves to power his time machine... and the younger the better.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Many stories detail what it's like to have Grendel after you: an unstoppable terror in black and white, ruthless, remorseless, unstoppable and he will not rest until you're dead.
    • Argent is a source of genuine terror at times. A massive, humanoid wolf, fast and strong as you get with a paralyzing thirst for blood who isn't always choosy about his definition of 'criminal' to prey upon.
    • Devil Child contains one of the most nightmarish sequences in Grendel: Stacy's wedding night. With her hunger for fatherly affection, she misses some gigantic red flags about her husband Erik Olliver who brutally rapes her on the wedding night, with the whole thing seen from Stacy's point of view in utterly horrific detail.
  • Tearjerker:
    • There is no happy ending for Stacy Palumbo. After her adoption by Hunter Rose, she languishes in miserable solitude, with Hunter having no true idea how to parent her. She's broken by the reveal that Hunter is Grendel, her love for Argent is stolen from her and she ultimately arranges the death of Grendel, growing up in severe therapy, marrying her therapist, only for him to lose his mind and brutally rape her. She spends the rest of her life institutionalized, sad and broken. Hunter stole her life and destroyed her completely, and by the end at her funeral, after she'd managed to make peace with her estranged daughter Christine, one of the few to attend to say goodbye to her? Argent, who never stopped loving her.
    • From the above, Christine tracks down her mother, which goes incredibly poorly as Stacy isn't capable of true affection to her any longer. Christine returns years later, now older, wiser and pregnant with her husband dead. Stacy gives her Hunter Rose's journals, and for the first time they are able to briefly connect as parent and child, with Stacy kissing her daughter for the first and final time, admitting she has nothing left, not even her pain.
    • Devil's Legacy ends with the death of Christine Spar, who performs a mutual kill with Argent after she succumbs to the Grendel Entity, dying in the arms of her lover Brian.


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