- Acceptable Targets: Judging from The Great Zoo of China, Reilly really isn't a fan of the Chinese government. Just the government, thought; civilians are treated far more sympathetically.
- Before that, it used to be the French - but he's warmed up to them.
- Anvilicious: Troll Mountain really wants you to know that you shouldn't automatically believe "conventional wisdom."
- Cliché Storm: Hover Car Racer in particular isn't exactly original, in fact it could be well described as Speed Racer in Hover Cars. In fact, it could be applied to most of his books. Most don't mind, because Reilly's writing is just so awesome.
- Complete Monster:
- Area 7: US Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Samson Russell, call-sign "Caesar", is secretly the head of the elite 7th Special Operations Squadron soldiers at Area 7, a secret base, as well as a top member of the Brotherhood, a secret racist society in the US Air Force. Putting into motion a plan he had been working on for 15 years, when the US President visits Area 7, Caesar activates a transmitter attached to the President's heart. If the President's heart stops, or if he fails to match his palm print to the nuclear football every 90 minutes, over a dozen bombs located in the airports of a dozen US cities—including Washington, DC; Los Angeles; New York City; and Chicago—will go off. Willing to give the President a "final chance", Caesar has 50 7th Squadron soldiers face off against the President's Secret Service detail, which, unbeknownst to Caesar, also includes US Marine captain Shane Michael Schofield, call-sign "Scarecrow", and several of his troops. After much action, the President explains how Caesar was supposedly put to death for a treasonous plot, tells about the Brotherhood, and explains how the cities that would be destroyed would all be Northern cities, as "Caesar wants an America without the North". In addition, Caesar would have the Sinovirus, a Chinese bioweapon, as well as the vaccine, which was the main purpose of Area 7. It is later revealed, even when the Sinovirus is no longer an issue, that Caesar also had a transmitter attached to his own heart, and is planning to die, which would set off the bombs.
- Scarecrow: Jonathan James Killian III is the head of defense contractor Axon Corp., as well as part of Majestic-12, a cabal of billionaire industrialists who dominate global political and economic policy, and plot to fake several nuclear attacks in order to escalate The War on Terror into a second Cold War, as well as to create more business for themselves. Fascinated by anarchy and its results, Killian plans to make the targets think they were struck by their most hated enemies; this included China and Taiwan, and India and Pakistan. Even after the other members deny permission, he secretly changes the missiles being constructed to carry out his plan, to be capped off with a supposed Israeli weapon, with an American nuclear warhead, to strike Mecca on the start of Ramadan, which would spark worldwide vengeance by Muslims against American citizens and tip the balance into global anarchy. He also makes a habit of trapping people—including another Majestic-12 member—in a Shark Pool equipped with a guillotine, to see who will kill themselves or each other to spare themselves pain, and after capturing Scarecrow's love interest Libby Gant, he has her beheaded to make Scarecrow want vengeance and distract him from stopping the plot, which nearly drives him to suicide instead. Even after Scarecrow comes back, helps stop the attacks and confronts Killian, Killian gloats that he will have won even if Scarecrow kills him.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Killing off Scarecrow's love interest Libby Gant is easily the most powerful scene he's written. It's now even worse after Reilly's wife died at 37, resulting in him becoming a depressed shut-in for several months.
- Any time a protagonist or supporting character's partner dies, now that Reilly's wife has unfortunately passed away.
- HSQ: Reilly has a contractual obligation to keep it high, and takes it Up to Eleven very frequently. Rule of thumb: if something awesome isn't happening, it's because they're reloading.
- Tear Jerker: The scene where Scarecrow attempts to commit suicide after learning that Gant has died. His fight against Mother and her subsequent loss to him is further compunded when she finally tears up pleading
don't." Luckily for her, he stops upon hearing that.
- The scene where Lily appears to be dead after a Heroic Sacrifice and Jack West is beyond mere grief. Subverted gloriously a few moments later, when it turns out she's perfectly alive and well.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Reilly has consistently stated that he never deliberately invokes a political position with his work, but it doesn't take much digging to figure out whose side he's on.
- He finally gives up all pretense in The Three Secret Cities when Hades reveals Donald Trumps election was not part of the Ancient Conspiracy...because the American public was stupid enough to do it on their own.
YMMV / Matthew Reilly