Fifty Shades of Grey

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic novel by E. L. James, published in 2011. It is the first part of the Fifty Shades series, along with Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

Set in contemporary Seattle, Washington, it is about Anastasia Steele, a young college graduate, meeting Christian Grey, a masterful billionaire with secret sexual predilections.

Fifty Shades of Grey started life as a Twilight fanfic called Master of the Universe, published online between 2009 and 2011. Basically, same characters, but less vampire, more sex. Then, the character names were changed from Edward Cullen and Bella Swan to Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, and is not considered a fanfic nowadays, but sold as a separate thing.

Following the books' massive popularity, a trilogy of film adaptations was made, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, the first installment released in 2015.

Tropes used in Fifty Shades of Grey include:
  • Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male: Subverted.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Literally. Almost all women in the series are attracted to Christian. Those who aren't are related or lesbians.
  • All Women are Doms, All Men are Subs: Averted, for once.
  • Amicable Exes: Christian Grey and his mother's friend, Elena Lincoln...which is rather disturbing, considering that Christian became Elena's sub/sexual slave when he was fifteen, making her, according to law, a statutory rapist.
  • Analogy Backfire: Ana compares herself to Tess Durbeyfield and Icarus...both times ignoring the part where those two characters die.
  • Anticlimax: The first book ends with Ana deciding that she can't be what Christian wants and dumping him.
  • Attempted Rape: Jack Hyde, Ana's boss at Seattle Independent Publishing, attempts to rape her violently about a week after hiring her.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Ana genuinely hates almost every woman in the story described as blonde, seeing them as insincere, derisive of her, and out to get her man. The only exceptions are Kate Kavanagh (her best friend, a strawberry blonde) and Grace Treveylan (Christian's adopted mother, a sandy blonde).
  • Broken Bird: Leila Williams, one of Christian's ex-subs. Her backstory is inconsistent--Christian contradicts himself several times--but she suffered a nervous breakdown shortly after she married Russell Reed on the rebound (and also around the same time that Christian found out about the marriage), spent at least a year in a mental institution back East, escaped with the help of a man who was subsequently killed in a car crash, and attempted suicide in Christian's apartment while he was off in Savannah.
  • Cool Car: Christian really, really likes Saabs.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Christian Grey. Refers to his mother as "Crack whore", and was physically abused by his mother's pimp until the age of four. He has a habit of bringing this up every time he wants to get laid, because knowing that he was abused as a child makes Ana feel guilty for denying him anything.
  • Did Not Do the Research: BDSM and psychology are the most glaringly obvious examples, but there are numerous other errors, too, involving geography, business, inventions, law, banking, etc.
  • Disappeared Dad: Both Christian and Ana. Christian doesn't know who his biological father is, while Ana's biological father, Franklin Lambert, died in an accident the day before Ana was born.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Ana teases Christian about getting a massage from an employeee in an airport lounge for passengers traveling first class. Christian's response? "I know what you’re trying to do – and trust me – you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate."
  • Double Entendre
  • Double Standard: Ana willingly gives Christian a handjob at a public party while sitting next to his grandparents. She also loves getting fingered in a crowded elevator with mirrors for walls. At the same time, she is absolutely shocked by her best friend Kate and Christian's brother Elliot kissing or even holding hands in public.
  • Drama Queen: Anastasia Steele.
  • Expy: A lot of characters are similar to their original Twilight templates, with some characteristic of movie actors mixed in: Ana is a clumsy virgin who bites her lip a lot and has an absent-minded mother. Christian is an orphan adopted into a rich family, one of his adoptive parents is a doctor, he plays piano and has a brother and a sister whom Kate and Ethan Kavanagh, blonde siblings, hook up with respectively. Etc., ad nauseam.
  • Food Porn
  • Forgets to Eat: Ana. Probably the most notable time that she forgets to eat is during her breakup with Christian in Fifty Shades Darker. From Saturday to Wednesday, she subsists on one cup of yogurt (not one cup of yogurt per day, one cup period) and numerous cups of tea.
  • Freudian Excuse/Single-Issue Psychology: Christian. At twenty-eight, he blames almost everything in his life on his biological mother, an addicted prostitute, despite the fact that Ella died when he was four and he was adopted by the super-rich Greys only a few months later.
  • Full-Name Basis: Christian does this constantly, referring to various characters as Katherine Kavanagh, Anastasia Steele, and Susannah. Each character states in the text that she prefers to be called Kate, Ana, and Susi. Ana, in fact, tells him this to his face repeatedly. It doesn't seem to help.
  • Generation Xerox: In the epilogue of Freed, Christian and Ana have a two-year-old son--who is the double of the toddler Ana has always imagined Christian as AND the son she imagined herself having.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Eventually switches to nauseating Love Redeems, without any real reason.
  • Love Martyr: Anastasia.
  • The Ingenue: Anastasia Steele. Twenty-one, naive, and so virginal she never even masturbated before meeting Christian Grey.
  • Mills and Boon Prose
  • Meaningful Name: "Anastasia" is derived from the Greek word "anastasi" (gr. "ανάσταση"), meaning "resurrection", which is exactly what Ana is supposed to be doing in the story--bringing a man who was emotionally dead back to life. Your Mileage May Vary on whether this is plausible or not.
    • Also, surprisingly, Christian's helicopter, Charlie Tango. Its full name is Charlie Tango Golf--which, in phonetic aviation alphabets, would be CTG. Those are the initials of Christian Treveylan Grey.
  • Mommy Issues: Christian. He chooses subs that look like his mother so he can beat them. When Ana meets Leila Williams in the second book and a third sub, Susanna, a.k.a. Susi, in the third, she is shocked by how much the three of them look like each other.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Jack Hyde. (The only way it could be more obvious that he has a pleasant public persona and a violent, angry side would be to give him "L" for a middle initial.)
  • Obsessed with Food: Christian. His main issue is that he was hungry after his mother died; he focuses a lot of attention on agricultural research and airlifting food into famine-stricken areas; and he insists that Ana not only eat but eat large portions of food that she doesn't want.
  • Parental Neglect: Christian. Your Mileage May Vary on whether this happens once or twice.
  • Pimped-Out Car: And a Pimped Out Helicopter, too.
  • Porn Stash: Homemade, at that.
  • Purple Prose: You beguile me, Christian. Completely overwhelm me. I feel like Icarus flying too close to the sun.
  • Self-Plagiarism: First book matches the first third of the fanfic 89%.
  • Son of a Whore: Christian Grey. His biological mother was a crack-addicted prostitute named Ella.
  • The Alcoholic: Ana goes from drinking for the first time at an end of finals celebration in May 2011 (Fifty Shades of Grey) to, in September of the same year, consuming a couple of glasses of champagne and some white wine before going out to a nightclub and then drinking eight more glasses of champagne there (Fifty Shades Freed). There's even a scene somewhat after this when she guzzles down champagne straight from the bottle.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Christian seems to think so. So does his adoptive family, seeing as they adopted a deeply traumatised child who was selectively mute for two years and never bothered to seek professional help. There is a psychiatrist, but he is only there for exposition...and to tell an uncertain Ana that she should totally remain in a relationship with Christian.
  • They Just Didn't Care
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Both Christian and Ana refer to his stalking her. Fifty Shades Darker and the fourth book, Grey, spell out that he also has detailed dossiers on every sub he's ever known. When Ana finds BDSM photos of the ex-subs in Christian's closet in Darker, Christian tells Ana that he has the pictures for "[e]xtortion purposes"--that is, to blackmail the ex-subs into remaining silent about his sexual preferences. Ana is upset about this...for about five minutes.
  • Wine Is Classy: Christian and Ana consume wine (especially champagne) at almost every meal.
  • Yandere: Leila, Christian's ex-sub--at least, according to Christian, who consistently presents her to Ana as a major threat to Ana's life.
  • You Keep Using That Word: If you drank every time the subconscious or the inner goddess is mentioned, you'd be dead before the first third of the first book.