Acceptable Targets: The U.S. State Department is almost never portrayed in a positive light. While there are individually good members, like Scott Adler, the rest of the department is portrayed as inept, corrupt, or stupid.
In the opening chapters of Command Authority, a Russian operative says that the Russian President Volodin will order the Russian military to invade Ukraine and annex the Crimean peninsula. The novel was published in December of 2013. Three months later, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, using similar methodology to the book invasion (imported "protesters" used as a causus belli).
Chinese policies depicted in The Bear and The Dragon, published in 2000, and the effects of such contributed to President Ryan's comparison of the PRC to Nazi Germany. One of the more controversial means used in the 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests involves the use of the term "Chinazi" to describe the CPC, hinting at a comparison between the PRC and Nazi Germany.
A big one here: Clancy was going to write how terrorists hijack planes and fly them into buildings, but his editor rejected it for being too farfetched. Clancy was actually interviewed immediately after the 9/11 attacks where he brought the idea up with one of his general friends. When asked if the idea had ever been considered the general thought and basically said, "No Tom, I don't think it had, but at our next meeting it will be."
Jerkass Woobie: J. Robert Fowler isn't a particularly likeable character but it's hard not to feel sorry for him when you take into account what happens to him.
Multiple-Choice Past: An odd example. Early works in the series didnt try to rewrite world history, but starting with Clear And Present Danger, the series developed its own timeline of US presidents and world-shaking events. Later books in the series were clearly set in this timeline - while occasionally referencing real life presidents like Bush and Reagan, or events like the Iraq War, that could not have happened in the Ryanverse world as described. Even interquel books like Red Rabbit suffered heavily from timeline and story inconsistency.
Sequelitis: Ever since the end of the U.S.S.R as convenient baddies and as the books' discussion of US Politics, some feel the books have become more of a platform for Clancy's conservatism, at the expense of story.
The 2018 Amazon Series:
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In "Black 22," depressed drone operator Victor, AKA "Tombstone" gets rich and drunk in Vegas and goes back to is home with shady couple Stanley and Blanche. Stanley encourages Tombstone to have sex with Blanche, then beats him with his belt for no obvious reason. Blanche and Stanley leave, refusing to take Tombstone's money. They are never heard from again and other than making Tombstone feel even more pathetic than usual, prompting him to disobey orders later, the pair have zero impact on the plot and their actions and motives are never explained at all. Stanley is played by the recognizable actor Lee Tergesen, which hints the character is going to play a bigger role, but it's not the case.
Complete Monster: Mateo Bastos, from season 2, is President Nicolas Reyes's head of security, but manages to surpass Reyes in cruelty. Participating in the bombing that led to the deaths of Senator Jim Moreno and countless others, Bastos would murder the family of a bodyguard whom his associates bribed, children included, before attempting to kill the bodyguard himself. He also captures a group of rebels and tortures them into making false confessions, and murders US soldier Matice before having his men defile Matice's corpse. He later kidnaps James Greer and tortures him at his prison camp, where he holds numerous Venezuelan political prisoners to torture and kill, including the husband of Gloria Bonalde, Reyes' main political rival. Bastos takes Greer to Reyes' mansion for further interrogation while ordering his men to execute his remaining 41 prisoners. When Greer frees himself and tries to shoot Bastos, he uses one of his own men as a Human Shield. A ruthless servant of a dictator, Mateo Bastos represents the worst of the Venezuelan regime.
Genius Bonus: Mike November has an incredibly non-descript name, as it's made up of the NATO phonetic designations for "M" and "N".
Memetic Mutation: "I can't go to Yemen, I'm an analyst!". Followed by: "Get on the fucking plane!"note Sometimes edited as "Get on the damn plane!" or just "Get on the plane!" The ubiquity of a specific advertisement featuring these lines, first during the 2018 World Cup and later on Twitch, lead to it becoming a popular copypasta.
Season 1 Big Bad Suleiman murdering a church full of innocent people with the sarin gas, an excruciatingly painful death, is the moment it becomes clear what kind of a person he really is.
In Season 2, the Big Bad Nicolas Reyes already establishes himself as an evil dictator, but he crosses the line when he personally murders General Ubarri, his best friend and the Token Good Teammate of his inner circle.
Mateo Bastos, The Dragon to Reyes, killing the family of a bodyguard his associates bribed, and going after his children as well, serves to show just how ruthless he will be in destroying opponents of Reyes.
Narm: Season 2 is based around the threat of Venezuela (which is lead by a right-wing dictator) who wants to become a nuclear power and immediately destroy America. To anyone with the slightest idea of the countrys true geopolitical situation, this is insanely laughable. In real life, Venezuela has been in the brink of colapse both economically and socially, and the far-left Authoritarian Maduro Regime has been in desperate survival mode since 2018, so having a plot revolving a resurgent Venezuela that wants to destroy North America with nuclear weapons is plain audacious to the audience.
The initial assumption above is mercifully dropped very quickly in exchange for more believable international intrigue dealing with the Venezuelan Presidents corruption. When Ryan and company Storm the Castle of the Venezuelan capital like its an 1980s action movie, the narm comes back.