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File:Skul5 2718.jpg


 Kicking evil very hard in the face.

A book series of nine, of which six have been published.

The books revolve around Skulduggery Pleasant, 'the Skeleton Detective', a magician who has been dead for several hundred years and now lives as a reanimated skeleton, and his sidekick Stephanie Edgeley, a twelve year old girl.

When Stephanie's uncle, famous horror writer Gordon Edgley, dies, she is left both his mansion and his fortune. But following the reading of his will, and the sighting of a strange man in an overcoat, she starts to discover the world her Uncle was really involved in: the books he wrote weren't as fictional as their fantastic plots let on, as becomes clear through the mounting pile of strange events she witnesses, starting with a break in at the mansion. Determined to find out what's going on, she enlists the help of Skulduggery Pleasant, wisecracking detective, to show her the new world she has stumbled upon: magic.

Stephanie soon finds herself drawn into the crazy underworld of sorcery that exists within the undercurrents of Ireland as she discovers her own magical ability and becomes partners with Skulduggery Pleasant, even taking on the name Valkyrie Cain. As she faces the wonders and terrors of the magical world, Valkyrie soon discovers that sometimes magic's not all that it's cracked up to be.

The books so far are:

  • Skulduggery Pleasant (Scepter of the Ancients in the US)
  • Playing With Fire
  • The Faceless Ones
  • Dark Days
  • Mortal Coil
  • Death Bringer
  • Kingdom Of The Wicked (to be released in August 2012)

Now has something vaguely resembling a character sheet that needs love, as well as a Shout Out page.

Tropes used in Skulduggery Pleasant include:

 Skulduggery: I'm placing you under arrest for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and, I don't know, possibly littering.

  China: You know, there was a time where nobody threatened me. I just wouldn't stand for it. The amount of people I killed, of bodies I twisted and bones I snapped, all because they had allowed their anger to momentarily overwhelm their good sense. I regret it all now, of course. I was out of control. I was indulging the darkness inside me far too often. I was not, Mr. Prave, a very nice person. But I have changed. I have allowed the years to mellow me. Now I find joy in simple pleasures. A good book. A fine wine. Good company. All of these things make me smile. They make me happy. But once in a while, I get the urge. You know what I'm talking about, don't you. The urge for destruction. The urge to hunt, maim, kill. It's quite a thing, to experience that urge, to let it wash over you, to give into it. It's addictive. It's all-consuming. You lose yourself to it. It's quite, quite wonderful. I can feel it, even as we speak, tapping around the edges of my mind, trying to prise me open, to slip it's fingers in. And it would be so easy to let it happen. But we're all like that, aren't we? We're all barbarians at our core. We're all savage, murderous beasts. I know I am. I'm sure you are. The only difference between us, Mr. Prave, is how loudly we roar. I know I roar very loudly indeed. How about you? Do you think you can match me?

  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: In this universe, HP Lovecraft's Eldritch Abominations were inspired by tales he heard of the Faceless Ones.
  • Berserk Button: Don't threaten Valkyrie in front of Skulduggery. Or Skulduggery in front on Valkyrie. Or lay a finger on Valkyrie's mother. Or harm China if Mr Bliss is around. Or damage China's books.
  • Betty and Veronica: Landy has fun with this one in Death Bringer.
  • Big Bad: In order: Nefarian Serpine, Baron Vengeous, Batu, Dreylan Scarab, the Remnants in general, Cleric Craven.
  • Bigger Bad: Up to the first three books, the Faceless Ones were the underlying threat behind the villains of each book. They've soon lost focus to Darquesse, a magician prophesied to destroy the world. She's appeared a total of three times as another side to Valkyrie and possesses the power to raze the world to the ground.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Fletcher's teleportation makes him pretty good at this. Lampshaded in book 5.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Necromancers (Or at least, the experienced ones). This is because the passage is when the 'Death Bringer' uses Necromancy to kill 3 billion people at once. Soloman Wreath, possibly the closest thing to 'good' Necromancer's have, is alright with killing 3 billion people, but not millions because then the plan wouldn't work. Dude, those some messed up morals. Valkyrie calls him out on this, but at the end of the book he's still up for it.
  • Body Horror: A Faceless One taking over someone's body. The host's face literally melts. Almost every other death in each of the five books can count, as some of them are quite... gruesome.
  • Break the Badass: Skulduggery at the end of Book Five, upon witnessing Lord Vile, still alive.
  • Break the Haughty: China at the end of Death Bringer. Damn.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer:
    • Tesseract is rather... quirky for an assassin.
    • The Deadpan Snarker boxing champ Ghastly Bespoke is actually a tailor. Think about that for a second.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: Rare hero-on-villain version in 'The Lost Art of World Domination'. Scaramouche is crushed to discover Skulduggery doesn't list him as an Arch Enemy, wasn't actually trying to stop his plans (they just happened to run into each other while Skul was on a different mission) and didn't even know Scaramouche was still alive.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Fletcher's hair.
    • Vaurien Scapegrace. Taken to extremes in Death Bringer. He gets his head chopped off. He's still alive.
    • Thrasher.
    • Prave, bless his fundamentalist heart.
  • Brick Joke: In the first book, upon Skulduggery's first visit to Stephanie's room, he comments on the general untidiness of the place, causing Stephanie to kick some underwear underneath her bed. Two books later, Stephanie (Now Valkyrie) tells her reflection to hide underneath her bed. It comments on finding some of her missing underwear.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • Nefarian Serpine.
    • Even moreso is Scaramouche Van Dregg.
    • The magnificent Killer Supreme.
  • Career Killer: Tesseract. Differs from Billy-Ray Sanguine (see Psycho for Hire below) in that he is a consummate professional, he avoids killing anyone he hasn't been contracted for if he can help it, and tends to be very polite.
    • Although the chapters written from his perspective show him in an entirely different light, making quite a few mistakes and making it seem as if he's bumbling through his job. None of the other characters pick up on this however, to them he's just an indestructible badass.
  • Civilian Villain: Nefarian Serpine.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Skulduggery's head at the end of book three, introduced early in book one. Used in book four.
    • The Book of Names: a MacGuffin in the first book, used in the Wham Ending of book 4.
  • Cliff Hanger: Books two and three..... and four. And even five, to a certain extent. In so much as Lord Vile is back.
    • Book six ends with a journalist vowing to himself to tell the world about sorcerers and share Valkyrie Cain's real identity.
    • Why does that sound familiar?
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Clarabelle. Dear God, Clarabelle.
    • Valkyrie's father.
  • Co-Dragons: Mevolent had Nefarian Serpine, Baron Vengeous and Lord Vile. Serpine was the cunning one, Vengeous was the loyal fanatic and Vile was the one who he pointed in the general direction of whatever he wanted dead.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
  • Combat Pragmatist: Most characters qualify.
    • Skulduggery carries a gun as well as using magic, and is quite willing to use it against enemies who insist on melee weapons.
    • In book 4, Fletcher puts his teleportation to good use by teleporting away from attackers and coming back with increasingly effective weapons. Fletcher gets another moment of this in book six. He gets a baseball bat to hit vampire Caelan, but Caelan is too fast. So Fletcher starts swinging and then teleports to him, and away again before Caelan can hit back. Going for that axe was a bad idea, though.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Plenty to choose from.
  • Comically Missing the Point:

 Tanith: Tell us what Vengeous is planning and we'll let you walk away.

Sanguine: But I drove here.

  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Mortal Coil, Craven mentions that he wears thermals underneath his Necromancer robes. We see them in Death Bringer when Valkyrie sets fire to them.
    • Eliza Scorn is mentioned in Mortal Coil. She's back in Death Bringer
  • Cool Car: Skulduggery's classic Bentley. Though at one point he's forced to swap it out for an absolutely terrible, bright green and yellow one.
    • And a hideous purple one in book 3.
    • It's suggested that he keeps a bunch hidden around. They're probably all just as terrible.
  • Cool Mask: Tesseract.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Scapegrace has a problem that causes him to invent a twin brother. Of course he gets every detail right and thinks of everything....except one of the names.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Fifth book's cover suggests that Skulduggery is going to be hauled off in the Coach-A-Bowers.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Caelan.
  • Creator Provincialism: Subverted, the books are mostly set in Ireland, but other countries are mentioned as wanting to take over the Irish Sanctuary and even briefly seen in book 3.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Desmond Edgely, Valkyrie's father, is a Plucky Comic Relief minor character at best, quirky extra at worst. He throws a mugger through a window off-page.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: In Dark Days, Valkyrie becomes a necromancer of sorts, and she doesn't really change too much for it. Of course, the end of the book might throw this into question, depending.
  • Darker and Edgier: Death Bringer is by far the most violent of the series and the heroes are turning progressively greyer.
  • The Dead Can Dance: Skulduggery sure can.
  • Dead Little Sister: Skulduggery's unnamed wife and child.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much everyone, but Skulduggery and Valkyrie certainly qualify.
  • Death Glare: Vengeous.
  • Dem Bones: Skulduggery himself.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • The Remnants.
    • Apparently this happens to Finbar on a regular basis.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In book 2, Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Tanith, Mr. Bliss, China, a small army of Cleavers, and a mage called the Torment manage to kill the Grotesquery, a creature partially constructed from the corpse of a Faceless One's host. In book 3, Valkyrie manages to kill two Faceless Ones using the Scepter of the Ancients, a weapon specifically designed to do so. Skulduggery manages to force the third back through the gate into their prison dimension by hitting it with a strong gust of wind.
  • Dirty Coward: Necromancers, or at least the necromancer elite. They're willing to murder billions of people to cheat death themselves, simply because death terrifies them so.
  • Dissonant Serenity: In book 6, Death Bringer, Valkyrie is surprised at how calm she is after Melancholia tortures her. It's implied that Darquesse is the one calming her down.
  • Disorganized Outline Speech: In the second book, when Skulduggery loses track of his pep talk.

 "I seem to have lost track of this speech, I'm not sure where it is going, but I know where it started and that's what I want you to remember. Has anyone seen my hat?"

    • And it's actually supposed to be an encouraging speech for a bunch of people before a fight that possibly none of them will survive.
  • Distressed Dude: Skulduggery and Fletcher.

 Valkyrie: Don't worry, if the bad man comes, I'll protect you.

Fletcher: If the bad man comes I'll bravely give out a high-pitched scream to distract him. I may even bravely faint, to give him a false sense of security. That will be your signal to strike.

Valkyrie: We make a great team.

Fletcher: Just don't forget to stand in front of me the whole time.

  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • They even call the Desolation Engine a weapon of mass destruction, and its development seems to recall what scientists working on nuclear bombs have said they felt about it.
    • In Book 5, Mortal Coil, Caelan the vampire kisses Val and becomes obsessed with her; hanging around her house and watching her family, and leaping to her defense with vim and vigor, thought she doesn't ask him to. It's faintly reminiscent of Edward Cullen in Twilight.
      • In Book 6, Death Bringer, she breaks up with him, telling him they're "not Edward and Bella". (Or Buffy and Angel.)
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In Skulduggery Pleasant and the Faceless Ones, we find out early on that the elusive Batu is the man behind the Diablerie, but the mystery remains: Who the hell is Batu? It was a mortal Farmer who wanted to bring back the Faceless Ones as a means of getting his own magical powers.
  • Double Entendre:
    • Dark Days gives us this exchange.

 Thrasher: [About being a zombie] We're happy the way we are.

Scapegrace: Happy with power.

Thrasher: Very happy, just the two of us, and there's nothing wrong with us either. It's very natural in fact. Nothing to be ashamed of-

Scapegrace: Thrasher, shut up.

    • And the first book gives us this:

 Serpine: ...What can I say? I crave instant satisfaction. I'm shallow like that.

  • The Dragon:
    • Billy-Ray Sanguine to pretty much every Big Bad since Vengeous not counting the Remnants of obviously. Doubles as Dragon with an Agenda to Vengeous, in actuality working for the Diablerie.
    • The White Cleaver to Serpine and later, Tenebrae. Even later, to Craven and Melancholia. Sort of.
    • Melancholia, arguably, to Craven. Turns into a Dragon with an Agenda and Dragon Ascendant.
  • The Dreaded: Skulduggery himself. It's the reason Valkyrie's still alive. Also Lord Vile who is Skulduggery without any of the morals.
  • Dump Them All: How Valkyrie ends up dealing with her Love Triangle. Caelan disapproves.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Faceless Ones.
    • And the Jitter Girl's imply there are others out there.
  • Elemental Powers
  • Enemy Mine: Valkyrie and Melancholia at the end of Death Bringer. Kind of.
    • This also happens with Billy-Ray Sanguine a few times, most notably in Mortal Coil.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Gender seems to not have any effect on China's ability to make others fall madly in love with her. However, as it's not exactly romantic love all the time. More like helpless adoration, like a puppy.
    • On the other hand, it's worth mentioning that in Death Bringer, she says that she only employs unmarried/single mortals to make sure nobody leaves their partners over her. This includes the women.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Valkyrie is really scared of becoming Darquesse... although the fear starts to get replaced by temptation in Book Six. When Skulduggery comes face-to-face with Lord Vile for the first time, it's enough to terrify him.
  • Evil Versus Evil: All over the place in Death Bringer. Darquesse (evil Valkyrie) versus the Jitter Girls, Lord Vile (evil Skulduggery) versus the Death Bringer and (the most disturbing of the lot) Darquesse versus Lord Vile.
  • Eye Scream: During their fight, Lord Vile sticks his thumb in Darquesse's eye. She lets him do it to see if it will heal. The Moral Guardians must be on holiday or something.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Some of the deaths, like the first book's water related death, seem just slightly on the creepy side considering the books' target audience. Another good example is in Book Three, when Mr. Bliss is grinded to a mush of bone and flesh by a Faceless One.
    • Most of the deaths in book five. Darquesse kicking Burgundy Dalrymple so hard in the jaw, that she literally boots his brain out of his head like a football, comes to mind.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Every now and then. Special mention goes to Tanith getting nailed to a chair, Valkyrie getting cut all over to the point where she nearly bleeds to death and Lord Vile sticking his thumb in Darquesse's eye.
  • Fandom Nod: The Requiem Ball from Death Bringer could be a nod to the vast amount of Valduggery fanfics which involve Skulduggery taking Valkyrie to a ball. Naturally, he dances with China instead.
  • Fan Girl: Tanith Low is apparently one to Gordon Edgley.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: China Sorrows.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Valkyrie and Skulduggery versus Remnant!Tanith (and Remnant!Everyone Else for that matter) at the end of Mortal Coil. The end of Death Bringer brings us the far more disturbing battle between Darquesse and Lord Vile.
  • Finger-Snap Lighter
  • First Episode Spoiler: Stephanie changes her name to Valkyrie Cain halfway through the first book.
  • First Kiss: Valkyrie misses hers.
    • Technically she gets hers from Fletcher.
  • Five-Bad Band: Two of them.
  • Five-Man Band: Changes up between books. Only The Hero and The Lancer remain the same (Skulduggery and Valkyrie, respectively.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first book Steph wakes up to Wagner's Ride of the Valkryies at thunderous volume, the day she gains her third name. In fact, in the very next paragraph she is wondering what name to take. Slightly later on somebody makes the statement that 'Trouble follows' in Skulduggery's wake. It's reasonable to guess that this foreshadows Valkyrie's second name, Cain, which is an intentional reference to her being troublesome, and at the point it's said Stephanie is basically just following Skulduggery around. Indeed Skulduggery describes here as "troublesome" very soon afterwards.
    • In the second book Tanith wonders what would top fighting a god, and in reply Valkyrie makes a comment about fighting two gods. They then proceed to fight more than one god in the next book.
    • The ball of energy that destroys the Sanctuary at the end of Dark Days is visible on the front cover of the paperback edition.
      • In Dark Days Solomon Wreath, Valkyrie's necromancer magic teacher and possessor of a rather better moral compass than most Necromancers (this is not hard) warns that if Lord Vile hears about the preparation of Valkyrie to become Death Bringer, he will come back to destroy them all. When he returns at the end of Mortal Coil, this is his stated intention according to Skulduggery. The Death Bringer is also the title of book six.
    • In book one, Skulduggery mentions a rare ability where a sorcerer can be both an Elemental and an Adept. He has it.
    • "You want to know my nature? It's a dark and twisted thing."
    • And most blatantly:

 Valkyrie: You didn't tell me you had history with the Necromancers.

Skulduggery: I'm over 400 years old, I haven't told you a lot of things.

    • At the end of Book 5, Tesseract asks how Skulduggery knew Vile enough to have a conversation with him. He reveals that Skulduggery 'arrived' when Lord Vile was 'gone'. Cue the revelation of Book 6 where we find out Skulduggery WAS Lord Vile. In the same discussion, he asks if Lord Vile brought Skulduggery back from the dead with Necromancy. It wasn't Vile, but it was Necromancy, or rather, a Necromancer: Tenebrae.
    • Skulduggery threatens to shoot Craven in the head if he attempts to attack him and the other Sanctuary Agents. Guess who gets shot in the head by Skulduggery at the end of the book?
  • Future Me Scares Me: the wham ending to book four.
  • Gallows Humor:
    • Skulduggery tends to do this after he's made a comment referring to death.

 Skulduggery: "We're not dead yet. Well, I am, but the rest of you have a bit to go."

    • From book 5:

 Doctor Nye: You'll forgive me if I don't make any jokes about how I've stolen your heart. I've used them all up on previous patients, I'm afraid. Rest assured, every last one of those jokes was suitably morbid and witty.

 Stephanie: Well, what did you get her the year before that?

Desmond: A...a certain type of clothing. I forget.

    • This.

 Vex: Francoise. Remember her, Ghastly? Remember that weekend we couldn't find you? We thought Mevolent had snatched you away and was torturing you within an inch of your life. Valkyrie, would you like to know what he was really doing that weekend?

Valkyrie: Yes I would.

Ghastly: No she wouldn't.

Skulduggery: I think she would.

Ghastly: If you tell her, I will have the both of you arrested. And possibly flogged.

    • The Narrative Profanity Filter is employed a lot and Kenny describes Valkyrie as a "badass sorcerer".
    • While trying to determine who Tanith is dating, Sanguine brings up Skulduggery's inability to keep a woman happy in that way. "He's got no skin, or lips or... or nothin'." Right...
  • Ghost Memory: Valkyrie's reflection uses this.
  • Godwin's Law: "You just mentioned me in a sentence with Hitler."
  • Godzilla Threshold: Book Six a few instances of this. Melancholia is about to kill three billion people and they can't stop her. Skulduggery decided that it's time to give Lord Vile free reign. When it looks like Lord Vile is going overboard, Valkyrie lets out Darquesse to stop him. It ends surprisingly well considering the good guys unleashed two Godzillas on the world.
  • Headless Horseman: Mortal Coil features the Dullahan as the servant of a banshee: twenty-four hours after hearing the banshee's wail, the Dullahan drives up in his Coach-a-Bowers to get you. Anyone who enters the Coach-a-Bowers dies (though it is reversible, if you weren't supposed to.)
  • The Heartless: Remnants are beings of pure evil, who only truly become whole when they possess living humans, at which point they become Complete Monster versions of those people.
  • Heel Face Revolving Door: The White Cleaver. Justified, as he becomes the servant of whichever necromancer is the strongest.
    • If you count Darquesse and Lord Vile as being the same as Valkyrie and Skulduggery then they definitely count here.
  • Hidden Depths: Fergus of all people can do magic!
  • Hot Amazon:
    • Fletcher thinks so about Valkyrie, anyway.
    • Tanith is regarded as this by a few male characters.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
  • I Am Not Right Handed: Pulled by a swordsman in book 5.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Moore's attack on Valkyrie house definitely came across as this.
  • I Know Your True Name: Both of the given-name and pre-determined 'true' name type.
    • In book four, we find out Valkyrie's true one.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • What, pray tell, made Tenebrae think that putting a malevolent force of evil energy into a person, where it would probably break free, was a good idea? Especially since he tempted fate right after!
    • Valkyrie dating Caelan. Nice one.
  • If I Do Not Return: Skulduggery has pulled this on Valkyrie, asking her amongst other things to not fiddle with the radio because he's just got it set right.
  • In the Blood: The usual effects are notably averted. While Stephanie is descended from the Ancients, it mostly doesn't mean much as she still has difficulty in using magic and has to learn it slowly. At one point, her blood line actually works against her.
    • And now, it may or may not indicate she is 'The Death Bringer', who necromancers believe will break down the walls between the worlds of the living and dead. The end also implies it might turn her kind of evil. No pressure, then.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Valkyrie with pretty much all the cast - even Tanith is actually 80.
    • Almost none of them act their age however.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Tanith, when you think about it. Normal women are not supposed to survive being beaten up, stabbed, thrown into walls and cut up so many times.

 Skulduggery: She'll be fine. Tanith Low has fallen off more cars than you've ridden in.

    • Word of God states he's doing it on purpose, as Tanith was meant to die in the first book (Killed by the White Cleaver). However, his agent said it was too depressing, so he brought her back on the condition he would be able to torture her in every book.
  • Ironic Echo: During the Broken Pedestal scene.

 Valkyrie: But, Skulduggery... you're the good guy...

  • It Has Been an Honor: The good detective pulls Stephanie aside for a sobering moment just before the Boss Battle with Serpine.
  • It's Personal
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Skulduggery tends to use this.
  • Jerkass: Davina Marr.
  • Jumped At the Call: Stephanie, though the second book seems to be setting up that this may not have been the best idea.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Tanith's sword is apparently one. Her silhouette in the first book's cover makes it more obvious.
  • Kill It with Water: The logical way to kill someone who's fireproofed himself, apparently.
  • Killed Off for Real: Averted multiple times with Scapegrace, but played straight with (not including the Big Bads of each book) the Sanctuary Elders from book 1, Mr. Bliss, Davina Marr, Kenspeckle Grouse, the Torment, Tesseract and Caelan.
  • Knowledge Broker: China Sorrows. Myron Stray used to be this before Mr. Bliss found out his true name.
  • Kung Shui: Darquesse and Lord Vile basically demolish everything in the immediate vicinity.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Billy-Ray Sanguine is a notable skirt chaser and getter, but he seems genuinely infatuated with Tanith, which is kinda cute. Then Tanith gets possessed by a remnant and runs off with him, and it gets pretty squicky.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Comes with the entire cast being Deadpan Snarkers.
    • You have to wonder if the Author didn't have this website and the Evil Overlord list open while writing. However, tropes/overlord mistakes are played perfectly straight at other times.
  • Legion of Doom: The Revengers' Club, basically.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Everyone hates Necromancers and the Children of the Spider. Everyone.

 (when it is suggested that a Child of the Spider should become an Elder)Ravel actually recoiled at this suggestion. "But...Madam Mist is a Child of the Spider."

  • Love At First Sight:
    • Played with. China Sorrows has this as an ability; she can magically induce anyone she lays eyes on into such a state, bending them to her will.
    • Remnant Fletcher suggested he had this for Valkyrie, but he may not be telling the truth.
  • MacGuffin: well, the Sceptre for starters... and Skulduggery's head becomes this.
  • Mad Doctor: Nye.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: While the series hasn't gone into large amounts of detail as of yet, it seems to be going this way, with set types of magic used by specific people, for example, adepts and elementals. Subverted when Skulduggery reveals he's one of the few rare magic users who can use both Elemental and Necromancy magic after the Surge.
    • Book 5 says that magic is derived from one's true name.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: The tunnels under Uncle Gordon's house are filled with various monstrosities attracted to magic and those that use it.
  • May-December Romance:
    • There's about three hundred years between Ghastly and Tanith, give or take a century or two. Though, given the age of most sorcerers, this is most probably still acceptable in their society.
    • On a somewhat more dysfunctional and squicky note, sixteen year old Valkyrie and one hundred year old Caelan.
  • Meaningful Name: Of a sort. Magic users can cast harmful spells on people if they know the person's given name. As a result, most of them take a second, self-chosen name (or a 'taken' name), as doing so means their 'given' name can no longer be used. Most of these names are not real names at all, but generally some form of cool-sounding descriptor.
    • Smart magicians use names that desribe them; the less intelligent ones use names that sound cool. Skul knows a woman named Jet who was overweight.
      • Though she probably meant jet the stone, not jet the plane.
    • There is a third name that all people have, a 'true' name, and if someone learns that, God help you.

 Valkyrie: What happened (to him)?

Skulduggery: Mr. Bliss found out his true name.

 Ghastly: There was a rule that we had back then. You don't go up against Vile alone. You wait until your army is gathered behind you, you all attack together and you pray that someone gets in a lucky shot.

Tanith: Vile was that dangerous?

Ghastly: Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to separate the fiend from the legend, you know?

  • The Messiah:
    • Everyone thinks Darquesse is the antichrist... Except for the Remnants.
    • The Necromancers have their own in the form of the Death Bringer.
  • Minion with an F In Evil: Vaurien Scapegrace, Killer Supreme ( who only actually kills someone for the first time half way through Dark Days).
    • Possibly more suited to his minion, Thrasher, who can't be scary for shit and indeed begins to cry when the other zombies refuse to listen to him.
  • Mood Whiplash: Mortal Coil gives us a fun little sword fight, complete with The Princess Bride references and a chance to see China Sorrows and Skulduggery being cool and Badass. Skulduggery loses his temper and breaks the guy's arm. Err...
  • Muggles: The third book plays up the split between muggles and magic users a lot.
    • This turns into a Mind Screw when you realise it was the Big Bad making the anti-magic comments all along.
  • Mysterious Past: China, as of book three, and to some extent, Skulduggery.
    • In book four, it's revealed her secret is that she's the one who lead Skulduggery's family into the trap that killed them.
    • Skulduggery's past just got a little less mysterious. He was Lord Vile, and we even learn why he's not properly dead.
  • Name of Cain: Valkyrie.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Oh so many. This series loves this trope. Justified kinda in that most of the main characters go by names they chose.
    • In book four, Valkyrie's true name. It's basically 'Darkness', whether you spell it with a 'q' or not.
    • Hell, Stephanie gets TWO of these. If Valkyrie Cain isn't a name to run away from really fast I don't know what is. The only people who really beat her on this front are herself and Lord Vile.
    • Leading into Card-Carrying Villain, because really, who chooses the name 'Nefarian Serpine' except one of those?
    • Practically all the Villains, really. Baron Vengeous, Lord Vile, Mevolent, The Diablerie. It's like they're self aware.
      • Lord Vile's choice of name might be justified, since it seems like Skulduggery is his subconscious and he was apparently fully aware just how evil he was... he just didn't care.
    • Lampshaded and subverted with Bison Dragonclaw, as Valkyrie and Skulduggery think his name is stupid and after a few traps laid by him they take him down easily.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When the Ancients banished the Faceless Ones to another dimension where they could do no harm, they ended up breaking through to another reality and destroying entire galaxies of innocent lives. Crap.
  • No Name Given: Mevolent's master, the Unnamed One, for obvious reasons.
  • Non-Action Guy: They occasionally turn up amongst the badasses for humorous purposes. Vaurien is the most prominent one, while Fletcher is this while still having his badass moments.
  • Oh Crap: A lot of these, usually about 3/4 of the way through every book when it looks like the world is basically screwed.
    • Skulduggery Pleasant is pretty much badass incarnate, a virtually unkillable Deadpan Snarker who's laughed in the face of every supernatural threat he has encountered, no matter how big the threat or how dwarfed he is in comparison. So to see him break down completely at the mere sight of Lord Vile is quite disturbing.
    • Skulduggery has beaten the crap out of Mevolent, Serpine, Scapegrace, and countless others over the years. Tesseract holds his own. Cue Oh Crap.
      • Tesseract doesn't just hold his own. He beats him.
      • Lord Vile killed Tesseract so technically Skulduggery didn't lose at all. Granted that makes it even more of a Oh Crap moment.
    • Derek Landy promises you will say this at the end of Book 6...
      • And he was right.
  • One-Liner: If it's not exposition, the dialogue tends to be lots of these.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Liches don't really seem to exist in the series, but Lord Vile was an incredibly powerful, skeletal, undead necromancer who put a bit of himself into his armour to make it evil and magic.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're very normal during the day, but at night, they tear off their skin and become a pale-skinned, cat-like, savage monster. Sunlight doesn't kill them (salt water does), and apparently the best method is to just pump them full of bullets and hope for the best. This is pretty helpful against any enemy really.
  • Out-Gambitted: China Sorrows loses out to Eliza Scorn.
  • Papa Wolf: Skulduggery is this for Valkyrie. Despite being terrified of Lord Vile, he still throws a punch at him when he threatens her. Kenspeckle is one as well. He occasionally tears Skulduggery out for not taking proper care of her.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Granted she has her reflection to live her normal life, so her parents just think she's just a bit distant. Given that all the books are set during her teens, most parents would consider this normal.
  • Person of Mass Destruction:
    • The harbinger of doom known only as Darquesse, prophesised by worldwide Sensitives to be the one who will destroy the world. Anytime she takes control over Valkyrie she proves she's more than capable of doing so.
    • The Death Bringer, prophesied by the Necromancer Order to bring out the Passage and knock down the walls between life and death. This involves killing three billion people to clog up the cycle of death and ensure immortality for the remaining three billion.
  • Pet the Dog: Tesseract's dying moments are not filled with regret for all the lives he's taken, but a longing to see his (nameless) cat.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Valkyrie's relationship with Skulduggery is explicitly stated to be more important to her than any love interests. If Fletcher's correct, Skulduggery even gets the honour of being the first person she ever said "I love you" to and meant it.
  • Plot Hole: Fletcher can't teleport to somewhere that he hasn't already been... When did he get the time to go to Australia?
    • It gets funnier when you try to imagine how he knew where Valkyrie's room is.
    • And how did he teleport into the Necromancer hideout when he'd never been inside?
      • Averted. In book six it's mentioned Fletcher can't teleport somewhere unless he's been there OR has seen the place before. In other words, if he sees a location from a distance, through a window, in a picture, etc. he can teleport there.
  • Poor Predictable Rock: One guy makes himself immune to fire. Results in seriously squicky results when he jumps in the water.
  • Power Nullifier: There are special handcuffs that can cancel out the magic of those who're cuffed with them, with the exception of Billy-Ray Sanguine.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: "Be honest. You've been looking forward to this, haven't you?"
  • Psycho for Hire: Sanguine, albeit a cowardly one.
  • Punched Across the Room: Lord Vile and Darquesse like throwing each other into things.
  • Older Than They Look: Magic users. As an example, Tanith looks about twenty two, and is actually about eighty.
  • One of Us: Derek Landy is such a nerd. See the Shout Outs below.
  • Red Right Hand: Serpine has one (literally).
  • Redshirt Army: The Cleavers.
  • Rogues Gallery: The Diablerie and later, the Revenger's Club.
  • Rule of Cool: Skulduggery is pretty much this personified.
    • Take any aspect about him. He's an undead skeleton, who wears a suit and a hat, drives a vintage Bentley, and his favourite pastimes are shooting/punching people, setting them on fire and flying. This is his job. Oh, and he's saved the world a few times as well. Indiana Jones would be proud.
  • Schematized Prop: The Bentley. Lampshaded by Stephanie.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Faceless Ones again.
  • Secondary Character Title: Valkyrie is the protagonist.
  • Ship Sinking: Oooh, Landy was having fun with this. After a little Ship Tease, China/Skulduggery was brutally sunk at the end Death Bringer. By brutally I mean, Skulduggery found out she handed his family over to Serpine and walked away while she was getting beaten to a bloody pulp by Eliza Scorn. Valkyrie/Caelan was also sunk. Valkyrie/Fletcher hit an iceberg but a life raft may be available.
  • Ship Tease: China sure does gush about Lord Vile in the second book...
  • Shipper on Deck: China ships Skulduggery and Valkyrie.

 If she bothered with idle conversation, she would have told the poor boy (Fletcher) that this thing with Valkyrie was never going to go anywhere, not when Skulduggery got back. Valkyrie's life revolved around Skulduggery now- she was caught in his orbit, and someone like Fletcher didn't have a chance. Skulduggery and Valkyrie were meant for each other. China could see that now. They were meant to find each other, to form this bond and affect each other's lives. The best the boy could hope for, the best anyone could hope for, would be to stand in the wings and look on.

  • Slashed Throat: Lord Vile slashes Darquesse's throat at one point. She got better.
  • Smug Snake: Quite a few but Baron Vengeous and Davina Marr certainly seem to qualify.
  • So You Want to Live Forever: Necromancers.
  • Spot of Tea: Valkyrie finds the time to brew a calming cup of tea during Davina Marr's interrogation in Mortal Coil. Unfortunately for Valkyrie, Tesseract uses the opportunity to creep up behind her...
  • Spy Speak:
    • Skulduggery uses be brave as a code word when they're surrounded by enemies and one of them has a plan.
    • In Death Bringer, Skulduggery suggests the phrase the sparrow flies south for winter as code for I'm going to punch this person now.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: Lord. Freaking. Vile.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: Darquesse for Valkyrie. Lord Vile for Skulduggery.
  • Take That: The fifth book seems to take a few subplots straight from Twilight, and then make them hilariously, hammily awesome. Any subtlety about the subplots in question are gone by Death Bringer. Yes, it was deliberate. Yes, Landy was shamelessly mocking Twilight. And yes, it somehow got even hammier.
  • Taken for Granite: Ghastly Bespoke in the first book. He eventually gets better.
  • Teleport Spam: Fletcher's favoured tactic once he's able to teleport more than a few yards at a time.
  • Tempting Fate: Tenebrae at the end of Chapter 1 in Mortal Coil.
  • There Was a Door: In Book 1, Skulduggery discusses about entering from the window, instead of simply entering from the door. He explains to Val that doors are for people with no imagination, and he was right.
  • Thirty Gambit Pileup: Death Bringer has the Church of the Faceless clashing with Jaron Gallow and China Sorrows clashing with Skulduggery himself clashing with the necromancers clashing with the Sanctuary clashing with the Death Bringer clashing with her own mentor clashing with Solomon Wreath clashing with Lord Vile clashing with Darquesse... and Kenny the journalist is in there somewhere... and it's unclear where Madam Mist and Doctor Nye's loyalties lie. Oh, and Vaurien Scapegrace.
  • Title Drop:
    • Book One: Ghastly (to Valkyrie) "You're playing with fire." Valkyrie: "Everyone plays with fire around here."
    • Book Two is an odd case: the title is taken from a quote from the first book.
    • Book Three: They say it tons of times.
    • Book Four: "Good luck to you, Valkyrie Cain. You got a lifetime of dark days ahead of you, if I'm not mistaken."
    • Book Five: "He had shuffled off this mortal coil."
    • Book Six: Left, right and centre.
  • Token Evil Teammate: China Sorrows. She used to be a murderous psycho cultist, and her fighting style makes it clear she didn't shed the "murderous" when she shed the "cultist".
  • Too Many Belts: Murder Rose.
  • Tranquil Fury: When you hurt Skulduggery's friends, he takes them to a doctor, makes sure they're all right, calmly researches your name and location, adjusts his hat, makes a few jokes, and then walks off and murders you.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Although in the series it's more like Ugly Guy Hot Almost Girlfriend due to Tanith being possessed by a Remnant before she and Ghastly could officially get together.
  • Unstoppable Rage: China insists that Skulduggery is capable of this, and hints towards it being something for a permanent state several weeks after his 'resurrection' and his family's deaths. Also, Shudder, in book four, and as of the end of book five, maybe even Valkyrie.
    • Skulduggery is Lord Vile. It was a permanent state for years after his family died.
  • Urban Fantasy: It really is a modern setting with some nifty magical stuff.
  • Villainous Rescue: Lord Vile and Darquesse keep saving the good guys.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: In the long run, it's clear that Valkyrie and Skulduggery are great friends. However, you wouldn't know that by how much time and effort they spend simply snarking at each other.
  • Wangst: Invoked with Caelan.
  • Weapon of Choice: Tanith and her sword, Sanguine and his straight-razor, et cetera et cetera.
  • Wham! Episode: Dark Days.
  • Wham! Line:
    • The last word at the end of Dark Days.
    • "China Sorrows, China Sorrows. She's the one, she's the one. Nefarian Serpine killed Skulduggery Pleasant, but China Sorrows led his family into the trap."
    • "Skulduggery Pleasant walked off the battlefield, and Lord Vile walked into my temple."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Fletcher gives an incredible tongue-lashing to Valkyrie when she dumps him for purely selfish reasons.

 Fletcher: "If you're expecting me to teleport away, you can forget about it. You're the one doing the dumping, so it's up to you to walk out first. So go on, Val. Walk."

Fletcher: "You look at Skulduggery and that's who you model yourself on. He's brave, you're brave. He's cold, you're cold. He's ruthless, you're ruthless. Well done, Val. You share the emotional range of a dead man."

  • When All You Have Is a Hammer:
    • Oh look, a bad guy. Lets try punching him, then throwing fire at him. And then, to mix things up a little, shoot at him.
    • How do you catch a Remnant? Soul catcher. How do you catch a whole army of Remnants? Really big Soul Catcher.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Death Bringer.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Skulduggery and potentially Valkyrie.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Tanith is normally introduced in every new book soundly beating a powerful monster. She will then spend the rest of the book being horribly maimed, wounded and tortured (With a hammer and nails no less!) Finally comes to a head in Mortal Coil as after all the threats that a Remnant may permanently possess someone, Tanith is the ONLY character that this happens to.
    • Tesseract is barely slowed down by inconveniences such as being outnumbered, poisoned and/or buried alive. Lord Vile takes about five seconds to mortally wound him.
    • The White Cleaver is introduced as an unstoppable Badass. Skulduggery, Ghastly and Tanith can't take him on. Lord Vile takes less than five seconds to kill him.
  • World of Badass: To the extent that it actually becomes funny every time someone turns out not to be.
  • World of Snark
  • X Meets Y: Think Torchwood meets The Dresden Files (with a magical Cowboy Cop instead of an Occult Detective), and you'll be in the ballpark.
  • You Would Do the Same For Me: Averted. Valkyrie goes to visit China after China is shot. When China tells her it really is unnecessary, Valkyrie replies that she knows China would do the same for her. China points out that she's not the type to make house calls, and true to her word, when Valkyrie is later hospitalised there's no sign of China.
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