- Acceptable Ethnic Targets: Clancy doesn't pull any punches in the novels, but the film adaptation of The Sum of All Fears conveniently replaces the Arab terrorists with Neo-Nazis. Also see Yellow Peril below. That being said, he also treats ethnic groups, especially traditionally vilified ones, with a great deal of respect. He makes it pretty clear that it's just the extremes of each groups that tend to be problematic. This even applies to his own countrymen.
- Critical Research Failure: The first Op-Center book was set in Korea and the ghostwriter's research was minimal, at best. Even some of the most basic things were wrong including Korean characters being given incomplete names because the ghostwriter seemed to have plucked them from a list that used an archaic contraction system where the second part of a Korean's given name is reduced to an initial.
- Franchise Original Sin: Clancy's work has always been a partial soapbox for his own libertarian and personal views, but up until The Sum Of All Fears, he was able to keep this in check, not to mention his plots were usually grounded in fairly plausible sociopolitical possibilities, such as terrorist groups proving they can operate successfully in the US. Unfortunately, after a borderline Ass Pull involving instant peace in the Middle East in said book (which later gets retconned as a failure), his subsequent books get far more preachy and Author Tract like, and his plots start getting more and more implausible, including such thing as Japan launching a serious bid for superpower status via a war with the US, Iran doing the same, and in his most extreme example, Russia joins NATO to stop Red China from invading them.
- Harsher in Hindsight: A number of Clancy's plot points have run into this, largely due to his use of contemporary topics.
- In Debt of Honor, the U.S. Capitol Building is destroyed by a kamikaze Japanese Airlines pilot. Clancy was interviewed several times in the wake of the September 11th attacks specifically because of this coincidence. Specifically, a little before the attacks he raised how his editor said this was too far fetched to a general friend and asked if they had ever discussed this. The general thought about it and said something along the lines of, "No Tom, we hadn't discussed a hijacking and suicide bombing, but when the Joint Chiefs next meet, we will."
- Similarly, Executive Meddling forced the film version of The Sum of all Fears to feature Neo-Nazis as the antagonists rather than Arabs, as they thought Arab terrorists wouldn't be able to pull off something that dramatic.note
- There is a bio-terrorism subplot in Executive Orders, years before the Anthrax scares, and a similar one in Rainbow Six.
- The extreme savagery and resulting death toll from the Syrian and Iraqi Civil Wars make it hard to take Executive Orders relatively problem-free merger of Iraq and Iran seriously.
- Robby Jackson, Ryan's best friend and Vice President in The Bear and the Dragon, is assassinated off screen between The Bear and the Dragon and Teeth of the Tiger. Note who got elected President in 2008.
- China is portrayed in The Bear and the Dragon as a backwards country that doesn't understand economics or capitalism, with only its strong army to rely on. Fast forward ten years, and they've proven themselves to be better capitalists than the US...
- Debt of Honor has a major international crisis caused by faulty gas tanks in Japanese cars. In 2010, we have the Toyota safety issues.
- Likewise, Patriot Games dealt with America's vulnerability to foreign terrorist groups long before any actually operated there.
- Although claims by the People's Republic of China to many islands in the South China Sea have been ongoing for years, only since about 2013 has there been actively enforcing those claims, as in Threat Vector
- Command Authority has the Russian Federation trying and nearly succeeds in invading and annexing Ukraine, getting to keep only the Crimea after President Ryan's intervention. Not half a year later, Russia invades Ukraine, using imported "protesters" as part of the plan, ultimately taking the Crimea.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: In Locked On, Jack Jr discovers that terrorist cells are sending information via data embedded in pornographic images. It has been recently been revealed that Al Qaeda has been hiding information by digitally embedding it into pornographic videos.
- Ho Yay: Apparently, President J. Robert Fowler and his Chief of Staff Arnie Van Damm have a 'history', according to the in-house newspaper for the White House. When Liz Elliot gives Fowler a call regarding something 'potentially damaging', Fowler comments that "It's not the rumor that we're...", at which point, Liz cuts him off saying, "No sir, not that. I'm not kidding."
- Idiot Plot: The Bear And The Dragon revolves around this to an absurd degree. The Chinese government (with the exception of one Only Sane Man with no real power and one bright but amoral pragmatic villain who also has a degree of sanity and ability to contemplate his actions yet has a tenous grip on power) are portrayed as backwards, corrupt and incompetent, relying on the rule of arms to make sure their people stay in line (disregarding the Internet as something they need to regulate to maintain this, which IRL China has addressed). They also launch a war of aggression in much the same way as the Soviets did in Red Storm Rising with even less foreplanning, are so inept at security they don't even notice a hacking scheme any reasonably effective hacker could unravel is handing the USA a copypasta of their Politburo meeting minutes, thus allowing America to read their every move, and as the cherry on top, they prove unable to show any intelligence regarding international relations, and this idiocy puts their world trade in the shitter because they can't do something as simple as apologize for the murder of a diplomat and a missionary even when objective reality explicitly demands it.
- Magnificent Bastard: Felix Cortez in Clear And Present Danger. Even admitted by Word of God. Subverted in the end of the book, with a gleefully ironic Hoist by His Own Petard moment.
- Mis-blamed: Clancy's entire involvement with the "Op-Center" series is suggesting the most basic premise and being paid for showing his name on the covers.
- Name's the Same: Particularly egregious in some cases, when Clancy uses the same names for characters that either die or are separated by years. The most notable examples include:
- Anne Pretloe, a doctor who helped to treat John Kelly/Clark in Without Remorse, and a girl who was kidnapped and murdered by Horizon Corporation's Project in Rainbow Six.
- Dmitriy A. Popov, a Soviet diplomat present during the Middle East peace agreement in Sum of All Fears, and a former KGB terrorist liaison in Rainbow Six.
- Tony Wills, a star football player who was killed in the nuclear explosion in Denver in Sum of All Fears, a Secret Service agent looking after the children of Roger Durling in Debt of Honor and Executive Orders, and a former CIA intelligence analyst who mentors Jack Ryan, Jr. in Teeth of the Tiger.
- Protection from Editors: It is widely believed that the length of many of Clancy's later novels is due to this.
YMMV / Tom Clancy