Going Postal (Discworld)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Going Postal
Written by: Terry Pratchett
Central Theme:
Synopsis: The once proud Ankh-Morpork Post Office has been all but killed off by bad management and competition from the Clacks. Who better to save it than a con artist who has been all but killed off by a hangman's noose?
Genre(s): Fantasy
Series: Discworld
Preceded by: A Hat Full of Sky
Followed by: Thud!
First published: 2004
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Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night shall stay these messengers about their duty.

The 33rd Discworld book, Going Postal centers around the character Moist Von Lipwig, a new main character for the Discworld. A self-admitted con man, the book opens with Lipwig (under the pseudonym Albert Spangler) awaiting execution, because he finally got caught. Albert Spangler is hanged, buried, and gets a nice little paragraph in the Tanty Bugle.

Moist von Lipwig, however, wakes up in Lord Vetinari's office, receives a pleasant speech about the nature of angels, and is "offered" a job as the new Postmaster in charge of the now-defunct Ankh-Morpork Post Office. True to form, the first thing he does once he's loose is to run as far away as he can. The next morning, he wakes up when the golem Vetinari set as his parole officer crashes through the door, bodily picks up both him and the horse he rode in on, and carries them both back to Ankh-Morpork.

Despite the complete incompetence of the existing Post staff (Stanley Howler, a slightly deranged boy obsessed with pins, and Tolliver Groat, an old man who believes very strongly in his homemade medicines), Moist manages to begin rebuilding the Post Office via the application of a liberal helping of Refuge in Audacity. It helps that the Grand Trunk clacks system (a semaphore tower chain which allows messages to be transmitted great distances very quickly) is under new management, a gang of voracious corporate backstabbers who are running it into the ground. Moist's rivalry with Reacher Gilt, the leader of the corporate moneygrubbers, and his budding romance with Adora Belle Dearheart (a cynical, chain-smoking young woman who has been known to drive her spike-heeled shoes through people's feet when provoked) provide a bit of backdrop as Moist essentially invents a new system of currency (by introducing stamps, which people start to use instead of coins), single-handedly restores the Ankh-Morpork Post Office, rescues a cat (and two men) from a burning building, summons divine intervention, and exposes the crooked dealings of Gilt and his accomplices to the world.

Did we mention that Moist is a really big believer in Refuge in Audacity? And that he saved a cat?

A Live Action Adaptation aired on Sky 1 on May 30, 2010.

Tropes used in Going Postal (Discworld) include:
  • Actual Pacifist: Moist never, ever used violence in his criminal career, though Mr. Pump deconstructs his assumption that this made him not such a bad person.
  • Addiction Displacement: Stanley is completely obsessed with collecting pins, to the point where even the owner of a pin store considers him to be weird. He eventually drops his pin obsession and starts up stamp collecting.
  • Against My Religion: Moist has a fear of his natural face appearing in the paper and thus claims that any photography of him is this trope. When pressed, he adlibs that he doesn't actually believe being photographed will remove a piece of his soul, but he doesn't think you should treat religion like a "buffet".
  • Alien Geometries: The Sorting Engine, designed by "Bloody Stupid" Johnson to have a wheel with a pi equal to exactly three, which bends reality to the point that it occasionally puts out letters from the past, the future, or even from alternate realities (ones where the check really was in the post, for example).
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: The logic, such as it is, behind Tolliver Groat's homemade medicines, which are made from all-natural ingredients such as sulfur, saltpetre, charcoal, arsenic, and dead voles. Amazingly, the doctor who examined him found him to be in remarkably good health—possibly indestructible. He was just absolutely disgusting (since he doesn't believe in bathing). And his hairpiece tried to make a break for it. They also had to surgically remove his pants, which they then field-detonated.
  • Bar Brawl: Highly organized, with a scoring system and tactics that seem to be based on a combination of rugby and professional wrestling.
  • The Barnum: Reacher Gilt. Moist has elements of this as well, though he does feel some guilt over his actions when directly confronted with the harm he's caused.
  • Battle of Wits
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Moist pulls off one or two during the course of the book.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Moist asked for a horse "with a bit of fizz in its blood! Not some feagued-up old screw". Willie Hobson, offended by the implied slight against his horse-rental business, sent him a Hellish one that "fizzed" so much he needed an ice bath afterwards.
    • The "just walk away" part of the choice offered by Vetinari to Moist and Reacher Gilt.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Deconstructed. Moist knows its impossible for postal service to beat the clacks in a long distance race, so, instead of trying to beat the laws of physics, he works with them to win the race. He implants a Engineered Public Confession into the Clacks' message that gets Gilt arrested.
  • Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: The Board just won't use the word embezzlement.
  • Blatant Lies: I thought it was a big pigeon.
  • Bond One-Liner: After killing someone with the mail sorter, a number of suitable puns are mentioned in the narration. Subverted, however, as Moist is just noisily sick instead.
  • Boxed Crook: Moist.
  • Brick Joke: A truly astounding one following a tiny moment in Men at Arms written eleven years earlier, regarding the Post Office motto as displayed on the facade of the building.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: A secret society of postmen. Moist has joined several of these groups before, and assumes that their initiation test won't be anything dangerous, only to realise they're taking it very seriously.
  • Con Man: The way Albert Spangler, and several other aliases of Moist von Lipwig, made his living, which comes in handy when Moist runs rings around people.
  • Continuity Nod: The von Lipwig family are active in the (highly schismatic) Potato Church, implying that Mr Tulip may actually have been remembering his religion accurately.
    • Under the above mentioned "glo m of ni t" lettering on the post office is graffiti that says not to ask about, among other things, Mrs. Cake, who appeared in Reaper Man. (The post office sign and the rest were also pointed out by Vimes to Carrot in Men at Arms)
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Board of the Grand Trunk.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: Adora Bell Dearheart lights a cigarette on a burning letter that flutters past when the post office catches fire.
  • Could Say It, But...: The Bond One Liners Moist could have said are mentioned, but not used, which actually meant that Pratchett got to include more than one.
  • Death Faked for You: Vetinari gives Moist a fresh start, but only if he's willing to do a little job.
  • December–December Romance: Moist delivers an old letter, which results in a pair of childhood sweethearts, now elderly and widowed, hooking up again.
  • Deconstruction: Of the Lovable Rogue character type. Mr. Pump points out the ways in which even nonviolent criminals who feel they have standards because of it can cause suffering and evil all over the world:

"I have never laid a finger on anyone in my life, Mr. Pump. I may be... all those things you know I am, but I am not a killer! I have never so much as drawn a sword!"
"No, You Have Not. But You Have Stolen, Embezzled, Defrauded, And Swindled Without Discrimination, Mr. Lipwig. You Have Ruined Business And Destroyed Jobs. When Banks Fail, It Is Seldom Bankers Who Starve. Your Actions Have Taken Money From Those Who Had Little Enough To Begin With. In A Myriad Small Ways You Have Hastened The Deaths Of Many. You Did Not Know Them. You Did Not See Them Bleed. But You Snatched Food From Their Mouths And Tore Clothes From Their Backs. For Sport, Mr. Lipwig. For Sport. For The Joy Of The Game."

Moist: If you stick a broom up my arse, I could probably sweep the floor, too.

    • Vetinari, true to form, takes him at his word and asks his secretary for a broom.
  • Die or Fly: Moist's way of problem-solving.
The only way to get something to turn up when you need it is to need it to turn up.
  • Disturbing Statistic: Mr. Pump calculates the damage Moist has done to peoples' lives with his cons. In total, he's effectively killed 2.338 people. It merges with "The Reason You Suck" Speech since Moist thinks of himself as a mere con-man when he's as good as a murderer.
  • Dramatic Pause: One is required to pause before saying ... The Woodpecker.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Vetinari is repeatedly seen playing Thud! throughout the book.
  • Emergency Stash: Moist keeps various tools of the trade—forgery supplies, make-up and a change of clothes, lockpicks, even safehouses--stashed all over the city. He also has amassed 150 thousand dollars in assorted currencies over the course of his career as a con man. He later digs it up, claims that it's a gift from the gods and uses it to rebuild the Post Office.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Deconstructed; despite being an unashamed Con Man and criminal Moist believes himself to not be a particularly bad person because he has certain standards (never killing people, only pulling his cons on those who 'deserve' it, and so forth). During his "The Reason You Suck" Speech, however, Mr. Pump brutally informs him that his standards didn't stop him from ruining innocent lives, hastening deaths (he didn't need to actually hold the blade or even be aware they existed to kill people) and generally making the world a worse place; just because he didn't consider himself to be a particularly evil person doesn't mean that his actions weren't harmful and evil in their way, whether he was aware of it or not.
  • Evil Counterpart: Reacher Gilt, to Moist von Lipwig.
  • Evil Plan:
    • Gilt wants to corner the communications market by keeping the post office closed.
    • Played with in typical Pratchett style with Moist's own plan for defeating Gilt as Moist admits it is an Evil Plan too, just he is going to use it in the cause of good. And given that they're Evil Counterparts they could have switched places
  • The Face: Moist for the Post Office staff. Its what Vetinari hired him for. Stanely's thought as weird even by other pin collectors and Groat doesn't have the skills either but Moist knows how to connect with people and how to promote something and how to motivate people.
  • Fantastic Nuke: In a Continuity Nod to earlier accounts of the Mage Wars, such as Sourcery:

That's why [magic] was left to wizards, who knew how to handle it safely. Not doing any magic at all was the chief task of wizards -- not "not doing magic" because they couldn't do magic, but not doing magic when they could do and didn't. Any ignorant fool can fail to turn someone else into a frog. You have to be clever to refrain from doing it when you knew how easy it was. There were places in the world commemorating those times when wizards hadn't been quite as clever as that, and on many of them the grass would never grow again.

  • Field Promotion: Ridicully is a fan of this to spite any citizen who criticizes his wizards,[1] thus promoting Mr. Collabone to Doctor and finally full Professor.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: How Moist enables Vetinari to investigate the Grand Trunk.
  • Freud Was Right: Invoked by Adora Belle as she looks over Moist's ideas for stamp pictures; she notes that one of them is the Tower of Art at Unseen University (tallest building in the city).

"Oh, the Tower of Art... How like a man."

  • Genre Savvy: Bookies give 1:8 odds for Moist to win the race, then stop taking bets when no-one will bet against him.
  • Groin Attack: Sustained over time from a bareback ride, but the aftermath is subtly played for laughs, what with Moist taking correspondence from within a tub of ice. It's also hinted at in the bar scene.
  • Hellish Horse: Boris.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Played straight by Moist, who is also incredibly Genre Savvy about it.
  • Hope Spot: Vetinari believes that providing people with these is healthy. Sometimes he does it just to twist the knife, as when he asks Vimes to escort some people out... and into some cells.
  • I Die Free: Anghammarad. Later, Reacher Gilt (possibly) takes this trope to its logical conclusion by choosing death over a government job.
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail: Used to great effect by Vetinari. If you see his spy, it's a spy he wants you to see.
  • Indy Ploy: Almost anything Moist does.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: The chapter headings use the Victorian-style synopsis in this vein. Apparently Pratchett adopted them not only because they're thematically appropriate, but as a Take That to a reviewer who accused him of being unable to write in chapters.
  • Ironic Name: Adora Belle Dearheart is anything but adorable. Most people who know her call her "Killer". Her love interest, Moist von Lipwig, calls her "Spike". Mind you, she's a wonderful person, just not a very likable one.
  • Just Smile and Nod: A clacks worker tries to explain the technicals to Moist. Occasionally, as technical polysyllabic words fly past him, he catches one or two he recognizes. Like "the".
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: If you read this book as one of your first Discworld books either because it was more recently published or because it's one of the most highly rated, you'll inadvertently have major spoilers from many books. First off from Guards! Guards! and Men at Arms because there are many guardsmen, you learn that Carrot is a Captain, Vimes is Commander and you see Angua as a werewolf, from Feet of Clay, as it is mentioned that a golem, Dorfl, is in the watch, as well as many speaking golems and the golem rights movement, and The Truth with the Times being a large and highly influential enterprise.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Gilt, having to explain his pun on "prophet" and "profit":

"Prophets, I said, not profits. Don't worry yourselves, it will look better written down."

'What?' Snapped Moist. 'I do not! Who told you that?'
'I Worked It Out. You Have Killed Two Point Three Three Eight People,' said the golem calmly.

  • Man Versus Machine: Snail Mail versus the Telegram, although it's more a case of upholding a competitive market than proving that Ludd Was Right.
  • Meaningful Name: There's some Epileptic Trees regarding Moist and Reacher's names. Lipwig implies a false mustache, indicating that Moist is a Master of Disguise. One theory has it that the name Moist is intended to call to mind "Slippery Jim", the hero of the The Stainless Steel Rat series, who is another Boxed Crook.
    • Reacher Gilt is either a reference to Long John Silver, given how much the character looks like a Pirate, or else, according to one theory, a Take That against John Galt. (Of course, this being a work by Terry Pratchett, the name could be a reference to both characters.)
      • Though it could be also a dig at Galt, it's almost certainly a riff on "Long John" as someone with impressive, er, reach, and "Silver" versus Gilt. Plus it fits with all the other Dickens-style names.
      • Or, more basically. He is 'reaching' for your 'gilt' (gold).
      • Moist turns out to have a heart of gold whereas Reacher's friendly demeanor is only gild, "gilt" being the past participle of "gild".
      • Gilt mentions to a servant that he was a bit surprised he got away with that one. The pirate act is just flavor, but the name spells it out. See also the Stealth Pun below.
    • The name Lipwig could be based on Victor Lustig, a Con Man who sold the Eiffel Tower...twice.
    • Adora Belle Dearheart is supposed to call to mind Ada Lovelace, one of the pioneers of computing. The Smoking Gnu isn't just a punny misspelling, and the whole story calls to mind the fall of Ma Bell, and IBM's days as the Evil Empire. There are a lot of Meaningful Names.
      • The Smoking Gnu is also a Shout-Out to The Bromeliad in which a Nome confuses the words Gun and Gnu at one point (and confuses everyone he's talking to).
    • Stanley Howler recalls Stanley Gibbons, the London stamp dealers.
  • Mock Millionaire: Reacher Gilt is arguably an example of this trope. He conducts himself in a very lavish manner, but that may be part of his masquerade. He himself teaches that wealth is an illusion, and stole the Grand Trunk through embezzlement and accounting tricks. It's never clear how much actual liquidity he actually has; in the end, when he is caught by Vetinari after fleeing the city, he seems disheveled and impoverished, but that may just be a side-effect of spending an unspecified amount of time in the hands of Vetinari's Clerks before being brought before Vetinari and, quite literally, found himself "in for the long drop".
  • Moody Mount: Moist rides one of these to another city to help save the postal system.
  • Mythology Gag: In several earlier books, it is observed that using multiple exclamation marks is a sign of a deranged mind. In this book, Dave's Pin Exchange (the pin equivalent of a comic book store) styles itself as the "Home of Acuphilia!!!!!"
    • For bonus points, five exclamation points is the exact figure mentioned for being the sign of a deranged mind.
  • Neat Freak: Stanley Howler. You might say he's as neat as a pin.
  • Noodle Incident: Stanley's upbringing: All we know is he was raised by peas. Not on, by. (Well... we do learn that peas are noted for their thoroughness, but that's about it.)
  • Not Good with People: Adora Belle Dearheart, who likes golems rather more than she likes humans.
  • Not So Different: Towards the end, Moist fears that he is no better than Reacher Gilt. However -- unbeknownst to Moist -- the ending reveals that the Patrician caught Gilt, offered him the same chance for rehabilitation as Moist, and Gilt... refused.

Vetinari: You have to admire a man who really believes in freedom of choice. Sadly, he did not believe in angels.

  • The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: Moist Von Lipwig is offered (as an alternative to being hanged, again) the job of Postmaster General. It's a job for life, just quite possibly not for long as it's already claimed the lives of several other "volunteers."
    • Of course, Vetinari isn't going to be so crass as to force him to take the job, and tells Moist he can walk out of the room whenever he likes. Moist takes the time to confirm his suspicions that there is a long drop beyond the door, but the choice is still there.
  • Obviously Evil: Reacher Gilt virtually advertises the true nature of his business practices by dressing similarly to a pirate, complete with an eyepatch and a cockatoo on his shoulder.
    • Which, for bonus points is taught to say 12 and-a-half percent. Converted to fractions that's 1/8, or a piece into eights.
  • Odd Couple: Groat and Stanley.
  • Odd Job Gods: Anoia, goddess of Things That Get Stuck In Kitchen Drawers.
    • Also, the statues of Bissonomy and Tubso, two Virtues honored by so few people that no one even knows what they're supposed to represent anymore.
  • Opposites Attract: Moist von Lipwig: Conman, forced into public service, liar, and optimist with some cynic in. Adora Belle Dearheart: Golem trust chairwoman, chose her job voluntarily (more or less, after losing her last job thanks to Moist), incapable of lying (bar sarcasm), and cynic with some optimism deep inside.
  • Only Mostly Dead: How Moist was allowed to be hanged by the neck until dead, but still alive afterward. Lord Vetinari tells him that hanging is a very exact science, that the hangman he employs is a true master who could write a book, and he was hanged "to within half an inch of his life."
  • Otaku: Stanley is so obsessed with pins that even the other pin collectors in the city think he's "a bit weird about pins". After Lipwig invents the postage stamp, Stanley eventually transfers this obsession into stamps and stamp collecting. (Moist instantly recognizes this and makes him head of the division.) Although it's never spelled out, arguably the conceit behind Stanley's pin obsession is "what did stamp collectors do before stamps were invented?"
  • Playful Hacker: The Smoking GNU, at first.
  • Police Are Useless: The assumption that they'll either be useless or, worse, complicate things, causes Moist to obfuscate the truth severely when describing the fire to our very own Watch. A large pigeon, indeed.
  • Pony Express Rider: Moist's race against the clacks. Moist also ensures himself a little leeway in the final contest by ensuring that it truly is clacks vs. carriage, so that the Trunk cannot use their horses to ferry the message if a tower breaks down. (He notes that they could beat him without using a single tower by running a pony express.)
  • Public Execution: The book opens with a faked public execution. Moist (the accused, who doesn't know it's faked) is asked to sign the rope before hand, since it will then be worth more to collectors. He's also expected to come up with some Famous Last Words, that being traditional.
    • He goes with "I commend my soul to whatever god may find it."
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Moist notes that he is almost never noticed precisely because his face is so average and unremarkable that no one can place him even if they've seen him.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mr. Pump, demolishing Moist Von Lipwig's comforting vision of himself as a criminal with standards by pointing out that through his cons and scams he did not need to physically touch or even be aware of the existence of people to ruin their lives and hasten their deaths.
  • Refuge in Audacity/Devil in Plain Sight: Reacher Gilt is so obvious about being a scoundrel that people trust him. As noted above, this quality also defines Moist, although in a somewhat different way.
  • Retcon: In Reaper Man, Mr. Ixolite is described as the "last living banshee". Guess nobody told the narrative about Mr. Gryle.
    • Mr Gryle is described as a wild banshee from a distant jungle, so it makes sense that nobody in the city would know about him.
  • Running Gag: Hope, the greatest of life's treasures.
  • Separated by a Common Language: American readers may not get part of the joke about Vetinari's "Dark Clerks" as the two words don't rhyme in American pronunciation ("dark clurks").
  • Severely Specialized Store: Dave's Pin Exchange sells pins, with the owner being very adamant that he doesn't sell nails.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When the Wizards are trying to tune their Omniscope, Ridcully continually complains that they keep getting "That damn enormous flaming eye again" ...which turns out to be the magnified eye of the student they're trying to contact, inflamed due to his allergies.
    • "This book with a red cover and it turns out they were twins" is quite possibly Thief of Time.
    • Stanley Howler, pin-fanatic-turned-stamps-guy, is named for Stanley Gibbons, a Real Life company that sells collectible postage stamps and stamp-collecting supplies.
    • One of the signs that Reacher Gilt is a semi-Expy of John Galt is the literal stating of the question "Who is Reacher Gilt?" Well, that and his hatred of government interference in (his) free enterprise.
    • Descriptions of the decaying, pigeon-inhabited post office are reminiscent of scenes in Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan. In particular, the fact that Groat and Stanley never up clean the pigeon crap, because it's not specified in the regulations, is reminiscent of how Rottcodd keeps the sculptures in the Hall of the Bright Carvings dusted, yet allows the displaced dust to thickly coat the floor.
    • The three members of the Smoking Gnu are Al, Alex, and Adrian. Moist thinks that The Smoking Gnu is exactly the name he'd choose for a group whose members have names that all begin with the same letter.
  • Shown Their Work: Moist's induction into the order of Postmen is very similar to a Masonic initiation.
    • The whole Grand Trunk/Ma Bell plot impressed Real Life telecommunications engineers with its resemblance to the actual events (fortunately, though, AT&T never killed anyone).
  • Signs of Disrepair: "GLO M OF NI T". The missing letters found their way onto a shop sign labeled HUGOS, without the apostrophe.
  • Smart People Play Thud: Vetinari and Gilt assess each other with their Thud! tactics. Also, Crispin Horsefry's dismissal of the game is an(other) indication of his low intellect.
  • Something Completely Different: This book introduced a new protagonist who proved very popular with fandom (somewhat revitalising the series) as well as being built around a serious point about privatisation—previous Discworld novels sometimes have serious points to make but they always took a back seat to the humour and never dominated the whole book (with the arguable exception of Equal Rites, Small Gods and Jingo). In addition, there is a style change to the layout of the novel, with Pratchett including chapters for the first time in the series since The Light Fantastic.
  • Stealth Pun: Reacher Gilt dresses like a pirate and has a parrot that says "Twelve and a half percent!" In fractions, of course, 12.5 percent equals "pieces of eight".
    • Also, see This Is My Side. For non-commonwealth readers, a Stanley Knife is a box cutter.
  • Sympathetic POV: From Moist's point of view, The Ankh-Morpork Times is a useful tool, and Miss Cripslock makes for a great verbal whetstone (that is, she forces him to keep his wits sharp), but the editor-in-chief is an overly wordy, pompous stuffed shirt. Which makes for an interesting triangle of protagonists, since both Moist and de Worde are dismissive of Sam Vimes, and he's not so fond of them either.
    • The number of people Sam Vimes likes can be counted on one hand, and probably doesn't include himself.
  • This Is My Side: Groat and Stanley's living quarters are an example of this. Stanley maintains the border with a very sharp knife. The table is divided into two halves, but since they only have one salt cellar it gets its own little 'demilitarized zone', a white circle in the middle.
  • Title Drop: Notably, this is the first book in the main Discworld series to avert this.
  • Too Dumb to Live: There are people in the story who mouth off to Vetinari. Twice. Incredibly, they live. Possibly.
  • To the Pain: Moist von Lipwig narrates one of these to himself about what he'll do to Reacher Gilt near the end.

I'll kill you, Mr. Gilt. I'll kill you in our own special way, the way of the weasel and cheat and liar. I'll take away everything but your life. I'll take away your money, your reputation, and your friends. I'll spin words around you until you're cocooned in them. I'll leave you with nothing, not even hope...

  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: The Ankh-Morpork Post Office wraps unsuspecting postmasters entirely in a beguiling vision of the building's opulent past. Unfortunately for them, this includes images of floors and walkways that have long since rotted away. Moist von Lipvig nearly takes a very long tumble stepping onto a balcony that had long ago ceased to be.
  • Under New Management: Moist Von Lipwig as the new management of the post office.
  • Unfortunate Names: Moist von Lipwig and Adora Belle Dearheart. No wonder they end up together.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Moist eventually decides not to go with the Smoking GNU's plan, which was described in detail. The message he sends instead, for maximum dramatic effect, is hidden from the reader until after it's been received.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: The golem mail carrier
  • Vermine Cape: Morporkia is wearing one on some of the stamp illustrations in the book (at least the hardcover versions).
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Gilt, to the point where even he is incredulous about it.
  • Violin Scam: Moist mentions using the "lost ring" variant in the past.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: Moist von Lipwig realises that even fleeing to a different continent would not help him to escape his Golem parole officer, as it would be able to walk any body of water eventually. Four miles an hour without stopping is seven hundred and sixty eight miles in a week.
  • The Window or the Stairs: Moist von Lipwig is given a choice by Vetinari: He can take over the job of Postmaster General, or walk out a door in Vetinari's office, and Vetinari would never bother him again. Being a Genre Savvy sort of chap, Moist goes to the door, carefully peeks through it, and finds a deep pit where the floor should be. He drops a spoon into the pit, and it doesn't make a sound for a rather long time. He takes the job. At the end of the book, the Big Bad is offered the same choice with a job at the Mint. He walks straight out the door without a pause.

The TV adaptation contains examples of

  • Adaptation Distillation: Unlike with the Colour of Magic adaptation, a lot of things were implemented in a different way to the book rather than simply left out.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Or adaptation lack of a dye job. Charles Dance plays a blonde Vetinari, which is a shame, since he's otherwise pretty perfect in the role.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The filmmakers are deadly determined to give Adora Belle a larger part in the story.
    • With varied results. Adora trying to get the golems to strike is silly, as it requires Ankh-Morpork's leading golem expert failing to understand the nature of golems. Adora devising the Woodpecker herself, though, is so brilliant it makes the viewer regret the author hadn't thought to put it in the book.
  • Almost Kiss: Happened thrice, between Moist and Adora. She deliberately stopped the first and third ones, a concurrence of circumstances interrupted the second one.
  • And a Diet Coke: Well, in Sacharissa's case, two figgins and a skinny Klatchian coffee. Given the properties of Klatchian coffee (it makes you so sober some Go Mad from the Revelation), the figgins aren't going to help.
  • Big No (and Little No): Lipwig's reactions at his "dreams".
  • Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word:

Adora: If you want to manipulate him, you might as well give up now.
Lipwig: M-m-manipulate. Such an ugly word.

Pump: How does it feel to make someone's life better, Mr. Lipwig?
Moist: Unusual.

  • Hot Amazon: Moist thinks this of Adora. "Has anyone told you how beautiful you look when considering violence?"
  • I Can Explain: But Adora didn't give him a chance.
  • Large Ham: Gilt. Boy howdy, Reacher Gilt. Not that we expected anything else. And he's played by Poirot!
    • Evil Is Hammy: Gilt. "I haven't finished... SOARING!" He even stands up and spreads his cape. His minion laughs in a lampshade.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The fact that Lipwig had to face the consequences of his own crime which indirectly had caused ruining Adora's family and the death of her father is quite a sharp example.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Mr. Gryle.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Seeing Angua referring to anyone as "lunch" and changing in public (as she's seen doing in the trailer) is very jarring compared to her representation in the books, where she's an obligate vegetarian who hates the impulses brought on by being a werewolf, and the only time she makes a corny joke about it was Self-Deprecation.
  • The Power of Love: In his second last words, Moist preaches about it. And about Love Redeems, too.

Lipwig: The man who has never known love has never really lived. But worst is the man who avoids love. Because the man who runs from love and all its trials and tribulations, that man is just conning himself, swindling himself out of true... happiness.

  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Gryle (and Lipwig in return) tried to make this, but it didn't work for either of them.

Gryle: You know what they say?.. Hear the cry of a banshee... and die! (attacks Moist)
Lipwig: Actually, it's "banshee cries, somebody dies". (stabs him) Today, it's you!

  • Prophet Eyes: Turtle egg shells.
  • Rule of Three: Lipwig has three "dreams" about the effects of his past crime deeds, not only because it is a magic number, but as a Shout-Out to A Christmas Carol (stated by the director's commentary).
  • Shout-Out:
    • The letters flooding the Post Office's corridors are very reminiscent of the blood flooding the hotel's hallways in The Shining.
    • As the director's commentary says, the nice old lady with a clackgram in the beginning of the film is an allusion to The Lady Killers.
  • Shoot Kiss Slap Slap Stab Knee: Adora Belle and Lipwig have a bit more of a... combative relationship in this adaptation.
  • Slasher Smile: ...Stanley, at the beginning.
  • Smug Snake: In contrast to the book's polished Magnificent Bastard, the Reacher Gilt of the adaptation is pale, greasy and charisma-free (as well as losing his "con artist with vision" angle for a straight Corrupt Corporate Executive role). This has the side effect of making him a much less intelligent villain; in the original he knew full well his policies would drive the business into the ground and stood to make a fortune by doing so, but in this version it would ruin him.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Subverted: Horsefry lasts longer than he does in the book, outliving Mr Gryle, who killed him in the original. Then, Reacher Gilt realises that Horsefry has recorded all the assassinations in his accounts books (since Gilt had to pay Mr Gryle for each assassination). Gilt then beats Horsefry to death with his cane and disposes of the body.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Gilt accuses Horsefry of being this before beating him to death for recording the assassinations in his ledger.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: When Moist introduces himself, Adora remarks that his name is unusual and asks if his parents were "Stupid" or "Cruel."
  • You Have Failed Me...: Inverted. Horsefry is beaten to death by his boss for doing his job too well, in a rare moment of competence..
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Vetinari says this to Moist before the big race. That's why he added the 'if you lose than you will be hanged.' conditon.
  1. That's his job.