Alex Rider

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Before Charlie Higson sat down to write the Young Bond books, this was the answer to the question "What was James Bond like as a kid?"

The series, written by Anthony Horowitz, follows the adventures of Alex Rider, a fourteen year old boy who lives in Chelsea, who is coerced into working for MI 6 after his uncle's death. His uncle, Ian Rider, told him that he worked for a bank but was actually a spy. Alex is looked after by a housekeeper, Jack Starbright, who is American. When Ian dies, MI 6 gives Alex a proposal; either he works for them or Jack is sent straight back to America and Alex goes into care.

There have been nine books in the series; the most recent, Scorpia Rising, was the final 'regular' novel, with a Prequel focusing on the character of Yassen Gregorovich in the works.

  1. Stormbreaker (2000)
  2. Point Blanc (2001. Published as Point Blank in the US.)
  3. Skeleton Key (2002)
  4. Eagle Strike (2003)
  5. Scorpia (2004)
  6. Ark Angel (2005)
  7. Snakehead (2007)
  8. Crocodile Tears (2009)
  9. Scorpia Rising (2011)
  10. Yassen (Tentative title; scheduled for 2013)

There are also two supplementary materials, Alex Rider: The Gadgets (featuring blueprints of the gadgets Alex uses), and Alex Rider: Mission Files, featuring assorted correspondence, diagrams, blueprints and miscellanea from the first seven books. Stormbreaker was adapted as a movie in 2006, and the first three books have been adapted as graphic novels that form a different canon to the books.


Tropes used in Alex Rider include:
  • The Ace: Alex's father, John Rider falls into this territory, although he's also a Posthumous Character. Every description of him and his work as a soldier/spy/assassin is full of practically nothing but praise, and even Alan Blunt is described as having a soft spot for him.
  • Affably Evil: Damian Cray and General Alexei Sarov.
    • Yu is also pretty affable. When Alex suggests how he killed his boss he says "actually he drowned but good catch".
  • Amazonian Beauty: Inverted in Point Blanc with Eva Stellenbosch. Eva dresses formally in public to make herself look beautiful, but due to her overly masculine appearance, she fails. Miserably.
  • And I Must Scream: Major Yu's plan to dispose of Alex: Slowly have his organs removed and sold on the black market, starting with his corneas and eventually reducing him to a husk on life support.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Alex Rider: Type I -> Type II/III
    • MI 6: Type III/IV
  • Anti-Villain: Yassen has elements of this.
    • General Alexei Sarov is also a good example.
  • Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: Blunt blackmailed Alex into being a spy.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Although Alex has strong morals, MI 6 (the people Alex serves) are cold and calculated, and black-mailed Alex into their service instead of actually letting him decide whether he wanted to serve or not. It's made even more appropriate by the fact that Alan Blunt, head of MI 6 until the last book, is portrayed as being almost emotionless and entirely colorless; gray suit, gray hair, gray lips, gray eyes, gray life...
  • Blofeld Ploy: In "Eagle Strike", Damian Cray orders Yassen to kill Alex and Sabina. Yassen refuses, saying he "does not kill children". Flustered, Damian snatches his gun, and instead of shooting Alex and Sabina, turns the gun on Yassen.
  • Big Bad: in order, Herod Sayle, Dr. Grief, General Alexei Sarov, Damian Cray, Mrs. Rothman, Nikolei Drevin, Major Winston Yu, Desmond McCain, Razim.
  • Big Damn Hero: Happens all the freaking time.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Damian Cray.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end of the series, Mrs Jones has taken over as head of MI 6 and they will never contact Alex again, and Scorpia has disbanded, but Jack is dead and how much the events of the last 16 months have affected Alex is made horribly clear. Had it not been for Sabina's parents "adopting" Alex, who flies off to America to go live with them this would've turned into a Downer Ending.
  • Bond One-Liner: Alex's development into Darker and Edgier is shown by some serious abuse of this trope.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Almost every book has Alex found out by the bad guys, but not killed or forced to make his way through a death trap that he also beats.
    • Yu wastes precious time allowing Ash to explain his betrayal, giving Alex critical time to wait for reinforcements and thwart his plot.
    • That and every single villain seems to be chomping at the bit to spill their plans to Alex in minute detail whenever they get the opportunity.
      • Alex lampshades this in Snakehead by saying in the narrative that the worst part about being a criminal is not being able to tell people about your crimes. And the villains usually bust out the Bond Villain Stupidity when they think that they're about to kill Alex.
    • This is however averted in Scorpia Rising, as Razim needs Alex alive and without any physical marks on him. He also refuses to tell Alex what he is planning- Alex only finds out from one of his subordinates.
    • Subverted with Skeleton Key, at least for the main villain, who actually wants Alex to be his son.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Alex can hardly take a breath of fresh air without being whisked away to another life-threatening, trauma-inducing mission.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Alex is quite nonchalant sometimes about the various deathtraps and problems he faces....
  • Chandler's Law
  • Chekhov's Gun: Word of God states that Smithers has had a gadget that has appeared, unknown to the reader, in every book to date. This will finally be used in book 9. And that gadget is Smithers own fat. In fact he's very thin and fit but has actually been wearing a special suit that has made him look fat all along.
    • There was another example of this in book 7 where Alex used the battery in the tracking device (which was placed in his shoe when the Aussie secret service were testing him) as a battery for his watch/homing device, allowing MI6's copters to come in and rescue him.
    • There's also one in Crocodile Tears. At the end of the novel Alex places the explosive black pen Smithers gave him into a barrel of fuel, kicked it over to McCain, and then watched as the barrel exploded and killed him.
  • Cloning Blues: The plot of the second book, Point Blanc.
    • And guess who's back in Scorpia Rising. Technically, Julius Grief isn't a clone of Alex, but the fact that he was surgically altered to look just like him makes it sort of count - it's said the fact that he looks identical to the boy who killed his "father" and left him for dead has caused him extreme anguish.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Subverted several times. The bad guys seem to prefer bragging about what they're going to do to their victims instead of actually doing it (see Bond Villain Stupidity).
    • Played straight in Scorpia Rising with Razim, who wants to create a measurable unit of pain and slowly kills people with various horrific instruments, like knives, syringes and many more, to measure the pain that they feel. He tortures a French spy; the author manages to spare the readers the details though. ...Unless you want to read about that stuff...
      • It's later mentioned that he does several more "experiments" with Julius. Again, the details are thankfully spared.
    • And later on the CIA actually waterboard Alex, though he is later apologized to by Joe Byrne. The same people use torture for..."good" later to obtain a password so they can enter and storm Razim's fortress.
  • Collapsed Mid-Speech: One victim goes out this way.
  • Comic Book Time: The first book was released in the year 2000 with Alex aged 14. As of Crocodile Tears, Alex is just 15 and all eight books have taken place within a year, despite the gadgets moving from Nintendo Game Boys to iPhones and Snakehead explicitly making reference to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (giving the exact date). The same book still lists Alex as having been born in the 1980s.
    • It Gets Worse. Crocodile Tears has references to the iPhone (January 2007), Assassin's Creed II (2009), and the Great Recession (started in 2007 but didn't really get going until fall '08).
    • And in Scorpia Rising the BP Oil spill is mentioned, bringing it around to 2010. He also has an iPhone 3GS.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Inverted in Crocodile Tears. Rahim saves Alex from near death on more than one occasion. After rescuing Alex for the third time, he starts complaining about how Alex was simply screwing up his own personal mission against McCain, even though Alex himself was very grateful for the rescue.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: Ark Angel and Scorpia Rising both featured gadgets designed by competition winners (the sleeping-gas-exhaling/exploding inhaler and the Hat Nav, which never actually got used).
  • Cool Big Sis: Jack is actually Alex's housekeeper, but he appears to think of her more as one of these.
  • Compromising Memoirs: Discussed briefly after Alan Blunt is forced to retire in Scorpia Rising.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Scorpia's plot in Scorpia Rising.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Happens to the Big Bads a lot. Special mention goes to Damian Cray, who gets sucked into a jet engine and Major Yu, who gets turned into a boneless, fleshy mass by a bomb's shock-wave.
    • Dr. Grief wants to perform an unanesthesized vivisection on Alex. In layman's terms, he wants to perform surgery on Alex while he's still awake. You may now vomit and shudder.
    • How about Major Yu's plan to slowly kill Alex by harvesting his organs?
    • And don't forget Invisible Sword... dropping dead for no particular reason is definitely both cruel and unusual.
    • Razim gives lots of absolutely horrible and disgusting deaths to innocent people in his sadistic "experiments".
      • And of course he later receives probably the worst death of all, falling into a salt pit and slowly being crushed to death.
    • Nadia Vole is killed by her boss's Portuguese Man-Of-War.
    • A non-major villain example, Charlie Roper, an ex-CIA agent is locked in a small glass room shaped like a bottle, and his blood money of two million dollars is dropped into the room in coins.
  • Cultural Translation: The US editions persist in including Americanisms despite the fact that books 3 and 6 actually take place in America (and the CIA appear in book 9). Among other things, the exploding keyring of Michael Owen in Skeleton Key becomes one of Tiger Woods.
  • Darker and Edgier: As the series progresses, Alex becomes this.
    • The series as a whole becomes this; initially at least, Alex is generally threatened and held captive by villains but they never actually follow on any of their nasty fates because he escapes first. By the time of the final book, he actually gets waterboarded, by the CIA no less.
  • Deadly Delivery: In Scorpia, Alex does this to try to kill Mrs. Jones.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alex makes it a point to casually make jokes and insults about the Big Bads just to make them angry. By Scorpia Rising, however, he seems to have stopped.
  • Death by Irony: Nile from Scorpia has acrophobia. Take a wild guess how he dies.
    • Out of all the ways for Major Winston Yu to die, it was his osteoporosis that got to him.
  • Death by Looking Up: Julia Rothman.
  • Death by Materialism: Literally played straight in Eagle Strike when Charlie Roper is trapped inside a bottle-shaped room and then killed when Damian Cray fills the room with two million dollars worth of nickels (the two million dollars Roper was due to be paid for betraying his country). In other words, 40,000,000 nickels.
  • Deconstruction: Despite not being Horowitz's original intention, the series gradually becomes a deconstruction of the entire idea of spying being a cool or desirable occupation.
  • Despair Event Horizon: In the final novel, Razim makes Alex cross this by arranging for Jack, who's been caring for Alex since he was seven years old, to be blown up just as she thought she was escaping from his secure facility. Alex spends a good chunk in a Heroic BSOD before bouncing back to win the day, but the end of the novel shows that he's still traumatized by that (which is really understandable).
    • Not to mention having killed Julius Grief in cold blood.
  • Did Not Do the Research: There is a measuring unit for pain. The Dol (from the Latin dolor) was invented by James D. Hardy, Herbert G. Wolff, and Helen Goodell of Cornell University in the 1940s. In all fairness, however, it is not a very well-known or commonly-used unit, and Razim may not have known about it. Or, given the series' Comic Book Time, this may be an alternate universe where the Dol was never invented.
    • There's also a scene where Alex is learning to impersonate an American kid, and is told that Americans always say "jelly" and not "jam." Brits may always say jam, but in America, they're both two different things (jam usually having fruit still in it, and jelly more artificial goo).
  • Disney Villain Death: See Death by Irony. Didn't help that he was on fire when he fell either.
    • Razim suffers from a variation. He survives the fall, but dies immediately afterwards due to landing in an unstable pile of salt, which acts like quicksand and sucks him under and cooks him from the inside once it gets through his skin.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Point Blanc was retitled Point Blank in the US, presumably to make the Punny Name more obvious.
  • Downer Ending: Scorpia ends with Alex getting shot by a sniper with no indication that he survives. You only know he does because there are four more books.
  • The Dragon For the books in order: Yassen Gregorovich (who turned on Sayle at the end of book 1) or Mr Grin, Mrs. Stellenbosch, Conrad, Yassen Gregorovich (again, Cray shoots him for being bad at it though), Nile, Kaspar /Magnus Payne, possibly either Captain de Wynter (although barring Yassen, he's the first Alex doesn't kill, instead being killed by Major Yu when he fails to stop Alex escaping the Liberian Star) or Ash, Dr Beckett, although again Alex isn't responsible for her death, and Julius Grief.
  • Eaten Alive: Dr. Myra Beckett.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • One of Scorpia's senior members is disturbed by them developing a bioweapon that specifically targets children, and makes plans to retire from the organization.
    • Scorpia condemned Damian Cray as a madman.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Four Mooks from Ark Angel were always referred to as "Spectacles," "Steel Watch," "Combat Jacket," and "Silver Tooth."
  • Expy: The series contains several expies (ranging from thinly-veiled to better concealed) of celebrities and politicians. It can be said that Damian Cray is basically an evil Elton John. Due to his penchant for vivisection and his admiration of Hitler, Dr. Grief may be an expy of Josef Mengele.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Subverted in Eagle Strike with Marc Antonio. Not only is he a mere photographer, but he's killed in the first and only chapter he's in.
  • Feed the Mole: It's implied this was ASIS' true aim in using Alex with Ash in Snakehead.
  • Femme Fatale: Mrs Rothman.
  • The Film of the Book: Was subjected to an unusual variant of Executive Meddling, in that one of the executives Horowitz worked with turned out to be a crook, resulting in the film not being as widely screened as it should have been, ensuring there wasn't enough profit for a sequel.
  • Finger in the Mail: Invoked. Alex swaps rooms with a friend he made in hospital to protect him from kidnappers (the friend's father is rich). The kidnappers then threaten to cut off Alex's fingers and mail them once they finally show up, forcing him to admit the truth.
  • Fun with Acronyms: SCORPIA: Sabotage, CORruPtion, Intelligence, Assassination. Yes, the P is a bit of a stretch.
  • Gilded Cage: Sarov keeps Alex in a very nice place during his captivity. Sarov even comments on this.
  • Glasgow Grin: Sayle's Dragon, Mr. Grin, has one.
  • Guilty Pleasure
  • Good Is Not Nice: MI 6 can act like this at times.
    • The final novel goes Up to Eleven when it's revealed at the end that Alan Blunt arranged for the sniper to attack Alex at his school solely for the purpose of getting an excuse to put Alex on another assignment. That's right, he arranged a school shooting in order to coerce a fifteen-year-old boy into working as a spy.
  • Heel Face Turn: Yassen had arguably done this in the end of the fourth book, when he tried to stop Damian Cray from killing Alex, and getting shot in the process. He dies in Alex's arms after Damian Cray dies.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Alan Blunt. He even recites the quote.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Julia Rothman is flattened by the satellites on the hot air balloon needed to initiate Invisible Sword.
    • Myra Beckett tries to feed Alex to several crocodiles in a pool of water. Guess who falls in the pool?
    • Nadia Vole is stung to death by the Portuguese Man of War that she tried to use to kill Alex.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Alex.
  • Internal Reveal: In Scorpia Rising, the reader is aware pretty much from the start that Alex's mission is a trap to deliver him to Scorpia.
  • Just Between You and Me: Every book. The exception is Scorpia, where Alex and the Cobra cabinet manage to work out the plan themselves.
  • Just in Time: Occurs at least once in every novel, most notable in Crocodile Tears when Rahim saves Alex from peril three times.
  • Karmic Death: If it wasn't for the shockwave from the bomb he was gonna use Major Winston Yu would've gotten away.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Jack is a bit younger than most examples of this trope, but she still fits.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Alex Rider.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Prime Minister in Stormbreaker. Whilst never named, the tie-in book Alex Rider: The Mission Files states that "Education is at the heart of his government's manifesto".
    • The newly-elected, incompetent Prime Minister in Crocodile Tears (released a few months before the 2010 General Election) is, if not David Cameron, clearly intended as a Conservative.
      • And the US secretary of State from Scorpia Rising is obviously Hillary Clinton.
  • Literal Surveillance Bug: Scorpia Rising, when Smithers disguises an electronic bug as a dead cockroach.
  • Look Both Ways: Julius Grief.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Subverted. Alex attacks a character with a defibrillator. Given the misuse in other works, and the whole thing being preceded with something along the lines of "he knew what they did, he'd seen a lot of television", those must have been some pretty accurate television shows.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The plot of Snakehead, where Scorpia have to destroy a conference aiming to wipe out poverty but avoid the organizers looking like martyrs.
  • Man Behind the Man: Scorpia's admitted to being behind book one's villain's plan by selling him the virus strain he implanted in the stormbreakers. It's very possible that they're behind some of the other villain's actions if not all of them.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The UK edition of Scorpia Rising.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr Hugo Grief. There's also a Scorpia member named Dr Light.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Doctor Grief, anyone? Or, y'know Herod Sayle? Or Damian Cray?
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Scorpia. They're the villains of three books.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: This happens frequently with Alex. He's dined with every one of the Big Bad's in each book.
    • Taken to its logical extreme in Skeleton Key where the villain more or less tries to adopt him and treats him like his now-dead biological son, after Alex ends up getting captured. Much of the book is the Big Bad letting (or rather, forcing) Alex to live with him in his luxury home, getting him to take part in various activities (like horse riding) and telling Alex We Can Rule Together. And dining with him, of course. He even forbids his Mooks and The Dragon from harming him (the latter gleefully disobeys) When Alex finally foils his Evil Plan and puts himself at his mercy, he chooses to shoot himself rather than kill him.
  • No One Could Survive That: Said after Julius Grief drives a jeep off a cliff which then explodes and falls into the ocean. While a lowly guard might buy it, Alan Blunt really should have known better.
  • Not Quite Dead: At the beginning of the sixth book.
  • Not So Stoic: Razim feels emotions for the first time in his life during his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Obviously Evil: If a villainous character is NOT this, they almost immediately cross the Moral Event Horizon. Just in case there was any confusion whatsoever.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: The ending of the penultimate chapter and beginning of the final chapter of Skeleton Key imply that Alex is dead before it turns out that Sarov killed himself, not Alex.
    • The end of Scorpia was not intended to be this as Horowitz believed the audience would assume Alex would be fine.
    • There's a bit of this in Point Blanc too, with MI 6 organizing a sham funeral to trick Stellenbosch and Dr Grief into thinking Alex was really dead.
  • Overt Operative: This isn't a perfect example of this, in that the whole reason for using Alex Rider as a spy is that bad guys are supposed to think that he is Just a Kid. However, somehow the bad guys almost always find out who is really is and who he is working for, often by looking up his file in their Magical Database. Given how many times that his cover has been blown, it is amazing that he is still considered useful for covert operations.
    • He remains useful due to his unique psychology - though he's an experienced and blooded agent, he doesn't act like one consistently. His enemies are used to Child Soldiers, but they aren't used to one being so stable. Alex's lifestyle and worldview(a schoolboy who keeps getting blackmailed into covert operations rather than a covert operative who takes time off to go to school) keep him psychologically healthy enough for people to keep seeing the "schoolboy" and forget that they're looking at a fighter capable of disabling men three times his size with his bare hands and causing millions in property damage with the contents of the average closet.
    • Ironically enough, the fact that Alex is forbidden from ever carrying or using a gun is also a factor that probably contributes to his success. Without the recourse of direct violence to fall back on, Alex is constantly forced to think outside the box and resort to ideas and tactics that villains are unlikely to expect.
    • It is noted in Crocodile Tears that Alan Blunt disapproves of the fact that Alex has gotten taller, because as he loses his youthful features he steadily becomes less useful to MI 6 in this way.
  • Piano Drop: Herod Sayle from Stormbreaker was a street urchin until he saved some rich tourists from a piano dropped from a fourteenth story window.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: Amongst other things, Hugo Grief is also an utterly unrepentant White Supremicist.
  • Post Climax Confrontation: Alex's fight with his clone at the end of Point Blanc.
    • It happens again in Scorpia Rising.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: McCain does this is a surprisingly calm way while speaking to Alex during his Villainous Breakdown:

Desmond McCain: "Get. Out. Of. The. Plane."

  • Red Right Hand: All but two novels have one.
    • Stormbreaker has Mr. Grin, who has a Glasgow Smile.
    • Skeleton Key has Conrad, who... Let's just leave it as Body Horror.
    • Scorpia has Nile, who has vitiligo, resulting in having various blotches of white skin.
    • Ark Angel has Kaspar, who had his entire head tattooed to look like Earth.
    • Snakehead has Major Yu, who has osteoporosis.
    • Crocodile Tears has Desmond McCain, who has a misaligned jaw.
    • Averted in Scorpia Rising. The Dragon looks exactly like Alex.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Alex. He's been shot at, forced to watch people die, and stood face-to-face with pure evil. To add insult to injury, Jack is killed, and he is forced to shoot a person who looks just like him. All this has profoundly psychologically damaged him.
  • Shown Their Work: The author often goes into unnecessary amounts of detail, most frequently to describe the model of gun that a soldier/guard/assassin is using or the amount of liters per hour the engine of a vehicle uses.
    • Sometimes falls into Did Not Do the Research. Aside from misspelling Browning Hi-Power as High Power, in the first book he refers to semiautomatic machine guns.
      • To be fair, it's incredibly hard to get even semiautomatic weapons in the UK, let alone full-auto.
    • Anthony Horowitz does a great deal of research to get specifics right; he notes that the only things he's been unable to do are visit space and go on board Air Force One.
  • Space Is Slow Motion: The end of Ark Angel makes a point of avoiding this.
  • The Stoic: Alan Blunt. The only time he even shows a little bit of emotion is in Crocodile Tears.
    • Myra Beckett is described as being a robot, and at times acts like she physically can't smile.
  • Strictly Formula: After about the first 3 books you can pick out the main villain as soon as they enter. This is particularly evident in Crocodile Tears, the most formulaic so far. Anthony Horowitz has likely noticed this, because in the ninth book two of the three villains are revealed nonchalantly without even bothering to surprise the reader. Also, did anyone else notice that Alex tends to always beat the grownups in some game, then they try to kill him?
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Several of Alex's gadgets; Smithers notes when giving him the exploding pens in Crocodile Tears that he "likes his explosions".
    • Lots of explosions in the books. Particularly the exploding snowmobile that killed Dr. Grief.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: Jack.
  • Symbol Swearing: In Scorpia Rising, Alex tells Lewinsky, his accidental abductor, to "go and ----- yourself".
  • Tagline: Originally the series' tagline was "Alex Rider, the reluctant teenage spy" (which gets dropped in context in Scorpia Rising). More recently this has changed to the original tagline for Stormbreaker, "Alex Rider - you're never too young to die".
  • Teen Superspy: Alex, obviously.
  • Title Drop: Happens Once an Episode.
    • Stormbreaker: It's the name of the computers Sayle is selling.
    • Point Blanc: The Place title. Namely, the academy Alex is sent to. Also referenced when Grief is killed: "The makeshift torpedo it its target full-on. Point blank."
    • Skeleton Key: The Place title again. This time, it's the island Alexei Sarov lives on.
    • Eagle Strike: The name of Cray's master plan.
    • Scorpia: The name of the Nebulous Evil Organization introduced in the book.
    • Ark Angel: The Place title yet again. In this case, the name of the hotel IN SPACE that Drevin is working on.
    • Snakehead: Type of Chinese gang involved in human smuggling, one of which Alex investigates.
    • Crocodile Tears: A slight break in tradition, as it isn't the name of a plot element; rather, the book defines the term "crocodile tears" at the beginning, and the Big Bad refers to them later. They refer to his supposed conversion to Christianity following his imprisonment for fraud, and literally appear late in the book.
    • Scorpia Rising is the exception to the rule; it basically describes the book's entire premise, but is never dropped in context.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Anthony Horowitz's description of Scorpia Rising promised the death of a major character, one who had appeared in each and every book so far. As it turns out, the book led readers to believe that this would be Smithers, but it ended up being Jack Starbright.
    • Inverted by Scorpia, where the reaction to the ending required Horowitz to publicly confirm that Alex was not dead and begin work on Ark Angel straight away.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Max Grendel resigning from Scorpia is seen as this by the rest of the executive board.
  • Torture Always Works: Averted many times. Torture isn't even used much in the novel, and is usually avoided or interrupted.
    • Except for the time in Ark Angel when Alex tells Kaspar that he's not Paul Drevin when one of the nameless Mooks attempts to cut off one of his fingers.
    • And the time in Crocodile Tears where Alex was dangling over a pool of crocodiles and told Desmond McCain EVERYTHING rather quickly.
    • And then there was the time Alex spilled his guts to a few CIA agents in Scorpia Rising to prevent this. They torture him anyway.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: In the beginning of Skeleton Key.
  • The Sociopath: Abdul-Aziz Al-Rahim ("Razim"), and how. He has all the telltale symptoms of a bonafide psychopath - particularly his utter lack of emotions or empathy - and has committed various acts of evil from the day he took his first steps. As a toddler, he stabbed one of his nannies in the thigh because she told him off for teasing his sister. At the age of twelve he nonchalantly strangled his own dog. At fourteen he arranged the death of his own parents, who were conspiring against Saddam Hussein. Now, after spending time in Al Qaeda, in his spare time he inflicts unbearable amounts of pain upon random people in an attempt to create a measurable unit of pain, using a variety of horrific instruments like scalpels and syringes. Possibly his worst act of evil involves this, as he blows up Jack Starbright right in front of Alex's eyes, in an experiment concerning emotional, rather than physical, pain. Afterwards, he nonchalantly notes that the pain meter rose higher than he had thought possible, and that he would possibly have to create a second scale of measurement.
    • Julius Grief is a much more unfortunate case. He was raised and conditioned by a father with a sick mind, and as a result had absolutely no morals.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Alex's entire life, especially after becoming a spy. By the end of Scorpia Rising he has lost the only adult he truly trusted and is unlikely to ever really recover.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Desmond McCain mentions he plans to marry Mad Scientist henchwoman Myra Beckett after his plan succeeds in Crocodile Tears.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Some of Alex's escapes. In Scorpia Rising, he escapes because he had a scorpion hidden in a cigarette packet which he'd captured whilst in his cell, which he then placed in the van and tricked Erik Gunter into opening. The only thing the reader knows about this before it happens is that there is a nest of scorpions in Alex's cell.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Anthony Horowitz didn't expect anyone to believe Alex was really dead at the end of Scorpia because the gun used by the assassin is completely unsuited to assassination attempts.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Nikolei Drevin in Ark Angel after accidentally shooting his own son.
    • Desmond Mccain goes through this at the end of Crocodile Tears. After having his plan to unleash a devastating plague across the face of Africa foiled by Alex, he confronts Alex with a gun, demanding that just for once, Alex grovel and cry in front of him like the child he's supposed to be. Some people just can't handle having a kid get the better of them.
    • It was mentioned in Scorpia Rising that Julius Grief suffered from this a few times, and at one point tried to destroy his face with his own nails. He also has a miniature one at the end of Point Blank, screaming to Alex about how he had ruined everything and killed his father, but quickly recovers and tries to kill Alex. Eva Stellenbosch does this as well.
    • Cool, calculating, emotionless Razim has one at the end of Scorpia Rising.
  • Villain Decay: In-universe example; Scorpia's credibility is seriously affected when a fourteen-year-old boy destroys two of their operations and (indirectly) kills two of their executives within a few months. The failure of their plan in Scorpia Rising results in the organization disbanding.
  • Villain Opening Scene: Skeleton Key and Scorpia Rising, which actually devotes several chapters to its Villain Opening. Point Blanc, Ark Angel and Crocodile Tears all open with acts of murder arranged by the villain.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Averted. Alex misses most of his schooling due to his missions. It's gotten to the point that everyone, both student and faculty, somehow knows that there's something wrong with him and that there's more to him than just "illnesses".
  • We Care: Desmond's company First Aid. Not only do they not care, but they're actually responsible for all the crises the public believes they aid.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Damian Cray
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: HEROD Sayle wants to kill all schoolchildren in Britain! (Although Word of God states it's meant to be a pun on "Harrods sale".)
    • Damian Cray, hm?
    • Julius Grief, his looks identical to Alex's looks in every way, appeared first in Point Blank, but this trope applied better in Scorpia Rising as his insane and murderous personality was shown more. Later, when Alex killed Julius, psychologists described it as Alex killing part of himself. As Mrs. Jones and Blunt put it, the part that they created and never should have been born.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Alex has been described as this by other characters due to the psychological damage he has taken from his missions, enduring horrors that nobody should have to go through and watching people die.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Alex's been through a lot of crap, but he still manages to be Bad Ass.
    • In Scorpia Rising, he gets his revenge on Razim and Julius after they kill Jack.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: One example in Crocodile Tears where a two-paragraph article on the death of a journalist with no close family or friends manages to make page 1 with a prominent headline. Justified in that it was part of an MI 6 trap.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The climaxes of at least half of the books.
  • You Killed My Father: Ash, Alex's own godfather, for goodness sake!
    • And in a variation, Yassen for Ian Rider.
    • subverted by Scorpia with Mrs Jones for John Rider.
    • Then in Scorpia Rising it's You Killed My Housekeeper, as Alex goes back to thwart the people who killed the only adult who loved him.