The Borribles/Characters

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Below you'll find a list of most of the primary characters from the Borribles Trilogy.

Standard Borribles tropes

In order to minimize repetition, note that the following tropes apply to all Borribles:

The Magnificent Eight, The Adventurers

The team of (formerly nameless) Borribles selected and trained to storm the Rumble High Command's bunker under Wimbledon Commons and assassinate the Rumble leaders. The Adventurers each have a Meaningful Name -- that of their target, which they were given provisionally, and which they had to earn by killing that target.


Of the Whitechapel Wallopers, the tough and brave girl Borrible.


From Battersea, Bingo is always cheerful, and not a little daring -- before he was recruited for the Adventurers he actually made his home under the local police station.

Napoleon Boot

A Wendle from Wandsworth, "Nap" is deeply suspicious of all non-Wendles, at least at first. He is also a cynic, and the first among the Adventurers to point out negative consequences of any plan or action. His skin has a very faint greenish hue, courtesy of the mud of the River Wandle which makes up the "floor" of a great deal of the Wendle tunnels.

  • The Cynic
  • The Mole: Knocker immediately suspects Nap of being a potential saboteur of the mission because he is a Wendle; opinions are mixed among the other Adventurers at first.
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: The Rumble for which Nap is named is a parody of the Womble named "Wellington". For wiki readers not from the U.K., Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, fought Napoleon at Waterloo; "Wellington" is also the term for a particular variety of boot popularized by him.


The jovial, black Borrible. A Totter from Tooting.

  • Afro Asskicker: Has a big bushy afro that does not in any way impede him in combat.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: With a slingshot, of course.
  • Token Black: Averted. Orococco isn't on the team just to be black, but because the demographics of 1970s London pretty much assured that at least one Adventurer would be black.


Strong and kind-hearted; a Punch-Upper from Peckham.


A Nudger from Neasden, Sydney is the second female in the Adventurers and a confirmed animal-lover. The most sensitive of the eight, she is the one who initially adopts Sam the Horse and insists on rescuing him from the police in the second book, calling him "a kind of Horse-Borrible". Unlike most of the other Borribles we see, her speech contains lingering traces of an unspecific upper-class dialect, suggesting that she Borribled after running away from a well-off family.


Light-hearted with a knack for mechanics; a Humper from Hoxton.

  • MacGyvering: Torreycanyon is on the very realistic end of this trope -- he can bodge together a working juryrig for mechanical and electrical devices, but don't ask him to build a hang glider with duct tape, plastic bags, and a couple brooms.


A Stomper from Stepney, "Vulge" is described as frail-looking, but also "tough as nails";

Along For the Ride

Knocker Burnthand

A Borrible from Battersea, it's his discovery of the Rumbles expanding out of their bunker under Wimbledon Commons and into Battersea that sets the entire trilogy in motion. He is disappointed that he won't be on the Hunt with the Adventurers -- until Spiff gives him a secret mission: to accompany the Adventurers to Rumbledom, where he is to locate and bring back the Rumbles' well-stocked cashbox.

  • Glory Hound: To the point of being willing to abandon a comrade if necessary; he had to be shamed into not doing so.
  • Jumped At the Call: Given the opportunity to earn a second name by taking on a dodgy secret mission for Spiff during the Great Rumble Hunt, Knocker barely finished saying "yes!" before running out the door.
  • Selfish Good, Selfish Evil: Knocker is a complex case, but when we first meet him he seems to hover in the zone between Selfish Good and Lawful Selfish (vis-a-vis Borrible "law"). The most important thing in his life is earning another name -- and he will do anything for it. After his Disney Death at the end of the first book, though, he gets better, repenting thoroughly of his selfish attitude -- and eventually selflessly offers himself up as a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Across The Dark Metropolis.

Adolf Wolfgang Amadeus Winston

A German Borrible (native of Hamburg) who heard about the formation of the Great Rumble Hunt and wanted to join in on the glory and earn himself a fourth name. He stowed away on a ship to get to England, and intercepted the Adventurers on the road shortly after they began their mission.

  • All Germans Are Nazis: Thoroughly averted; German Borribles are just as cheerfully anarchic as British Borribles, and Adolf even more so.
  • Badass: Already has three names when he joins the adventurers, marking him as extraordinary even for a Borrible. And he earns a fourth during the Great Rumble Hunt.
  • Blue Eyes: About the only thing we know of Adolf's appearance, but it does suggest he might have had the standard "Aryan" looks.
  • Catch Phrase: "Verdammt!"
  • Glory Hound: Though not to the point of abandoning a comrade-in-arms.
  • Gratuitous German
  • Safecracking: Adolf's specialty.
  • Shout-Outs: His second and third names are clear references to Mozart. The name he earns on the Hunt is taken from Winston Churchill, because he earned it in England.

The Powers that Be Among Borribles


Although technically only one of several "house stewards" on Battersea High Street, Spiff is actually the closest thing to an actual ruler that the Battersea Borribles have, although no one would ever think of him that way. He was originally a Wendle, but left Wandsworth so long ago that only one living Borrible remembers it. Along with his brother, Flinthead, he Borribled "in the time of the old Queen". (He clarifies that this means Victoria.) Despite his lazy-seeming ways, he has a supreme reputation for cunning, intelligence and craftiness.

  • The Chessmaster
  • Cynical Mentor
  • Grumpy Old Man: When he's not scheming, he gives off this vibe.
  • I Have Many Names: Rumor attributes nearly a hundred names to him. Spiff himself admits to twenty or so, but in the same breath mentions knowing "dozens" of loopholes in the Borrible Rules that allow one to earn extra names.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Spiff the Spifflicator" ("to spifflicate" is Victorian slang meaning "to crush, destroy or kill"). However, we don't learn all of Spiff's name until late in the second book -- after he kills his brother by decapitating him with a shovel.
  • Older and Wiser: Than just about any other Borrible.
  • Older Than They Look: Even for a Borrible. See Really Seven Hundred Years Old, below.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: He and Flinthead are possibly -- probably -- the oldest living Borribles in London at the start of the trilogy.
  • Retired Badass: What Spiff seems to be when we initially encounter him in the first book. For someone who doesn't look older than 12, he comes across rather grandfatherly, at least at first. He no longer adventures, limiting his activities to being The Guy With The Answers for younger Borribles and keeping a hand in with the very little politicking that occurs between the Borrible tribes of London. The truth, though, is that he's the Retired Monster, and the events that set the second book in motion bring him out of retirement.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Spiff's first appearance in The Borribles is heralded by at least half a dozen bits of mythic lore about him, all in the form of comments by other Borribles along the lines of "They say that he's so X that Y". Some may well be true.
  • Sinister Schnoz


Spiff's younger brother. Ruler of the Wendles. An emotionless manipulator who sits on his throne deep in the tunnels under Wandsworth and commands a literal army of Borribles apparently modeled after the Roman Legions.

Other Borribles


Knocker's best friend and roommate before the Rumble Hunt.


Trained the Adventurers.


Bangladeshi Borrible from Spitalfields.

The Special Borrible Group

Inspector Sussworth

The man placed in charge of all anti-Borrible operations in London, this "tiny, Hitleresque figure" (he has a little toothbrush mustache, even) has an all-consuming hatred for the Borribles -- and, in fact, any kind of individualism or anti-authoritarianism, no matter how minor: it's all dangerous subversive behavior as far as he's concerned. "Sussworth's Victory Song" from The Borribles Go For Broke makes it clear that he believes that mass conformity and complete, utter subservience to the government is the only way a society should be -- and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a parasite and a threat and should be killed. In his eyes, and the eyes of his fanatical followers in the SBG, the only good Borrible is either clipped or dead.

Sergeant Hanks

Sussworth's large slob of a second-in-command. Fanatically loyal to Sussworth, like all the SBG, even though some of the intricacies of Sussworth's political views are clearly beyond him. However, one thing holds an even higher loyalty than Sussworth: food.

Other Adults

The District Assistant Commissioner

A faceless, nameless bureaucrat somewhere within the Government -- presumably the London municipal government, but that's not for certain.


A smelly, dirty bum who befriends the Adventurers, and provides them with both shelter and a useful contact in the form of Knibbs.

  • Disposable Vagrant: Sussworth sees him as this -- and threatens to arrest him for vagrancy at one point.
  • The Tramp: Strictly speaking, he isn't, not quite, but it's the closest trope we currently have for it. He lives in a shack built of scrap wood and metal on the mudflats of the Thames, and occasionally works as a drayman with Knibbs.


A drayman (teamster) who drives a horsedrawn wagon around London delivering beer from the brewery that employs him. Introduced to the adventurers by Ben, he becomes an ally whose help is critical at the end of the third book.

"Dewdrop" Bunyan

A former Borrible who was caught and clipped, Dewdrop has become the bane of Borribles -- a Borrible-Snatcher: one who catches unwary Borribles and forces them to burglarize for him. Dewdrop managed to capture all the Adventurers in one fell swoop, and for several months held them captive, using half of them as hostages while he sent the other half out to rob homes under cover of his rag-and-bone man business. In between "jobs" he tormented them.

Although his wagon displays the legend "D. Bunyan and Son", his actual first name is unknown; "Dewdrop" is just the nickname the Adventurers gave to him for the drop of snot that eternally hung from his nose.

  • Complete Monster: Lures the Adventurers in by offering them an escape from the police, and then throws them in a cage. Tortures them between jobs solely for his amusement, and encourages his dim-witted son to do the same. Starves them. Threatens to kill them when they stop being profitable. And does all this for months.
  • The Fagin
  • Karmic Death: He's killed by the Adventurers after they find slingshots in one of the houses they burgle for him.

Erbie Bunyan

Dewdrop's huge and dimwitted son. Mentally retarded and if anything even more sadistic than his father.

  • The Brute
  • Complete Monster: Averted, unlike his father. Erbie is too stupid to be a Complete Monster, although that doesn't stop him from enjoying his turns at torturing the Adventurers.
  • Dumb Is Good: Averted, oh so much.
  • Karmic Death: He's killed by the Adventurers after they find slingshots in one of the houses they burgle for him.