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To look at him, you'd think that Johnny Maxwell is just an ordinary twelve-year-old. But weird stuff keeps happening to him. Of course, you could blame these Trying Times — his parents are in the middle of an acrimonious divorce — but really, the kinds of things we're talking about aren't part of a normal kid's routine. I mean, what would you do if...

...the aliens in your favorite video game surrendered instead of shooting back? At first, Johnny and his friends think it's part of the programming. But this scenario isn't in the manual. Then Johnny starts having incredibly lifelike dreams — where he's at the controls of a starfighter, and the alien fleet, hanging in space before him, is waiting for him to lead them safely home. As hard as it was trying to save Mankind from the Galactic Hordes, it's even harder trying to save the Galactic Hordes from Mankind. But hey, it's only a game, isn't it?

...Or if you started seeing the dead — just as their cemetery was about to be demolished? Not many people can see the dead (not many would want to). But Johnny can, and he's got bad news for them: the town council wants to sell the cemetery and put up an office complex. But the dead have learned a thing or two from Johnny, and they're not going to take it lying down, especially since tomorrow is Halloween...

...And what if your local bag lady turned out to be a time traveler? Johnny and his friends discover Mrs. Tachyon semi-conscious in an alley. It seems there's more to Mrs. Tachyon than a squeaky wire cart and a bunch of mysterious black bags. Somehow this wizened little woman holds the key to different times and different eras-including the Blitz of 1941. Suddenly now isn't the safe place Johnny thought it was as he finds himself bound up more and more with then...

The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy is a series of three books comprising Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead and Johnny and the Bomb, written by Terry Pratchett. It concerns the adventures of Johnny Maxwell and his friends, Wobbler, Bigmac, Yo-less, and Kirsty, as they deal with whatever weird thing the Universe throws at them this week. Only You Can Save Mankind has been adapted for radio, the other two for TV (The Dead for ITV in 1995 and The Bomb for The BBC in 2006). There's also been a stage musical of Only You Can Save Mankind, with accompanying soundtrack CD.


Johnny Maxwell Trilogy contains examples of the following tropes:

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 Wobbler: What are you, a gay ghost?

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 Kirsty: Do you know, there was an African tribe once whose nearest word for 'enemy' was 'a friend we haven't met yet'?

Johnny: Right. That's how...

Kirsty: But they were all killed and eaten in eighteen hundred and two. Except for those who were sold as slaves. The last one died in Mississippi in eighteen sixty-four, and he was very upset.

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The TV adaptations additionally contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Kiss: Kirsty gets overexcited and kisses Johnny.
  • Weenalized: In the Johnny and the Bomb Kirsty is sweet on Johnny, though the book never explicitly stated such a thing.
  • Wet Sari Scene: Happens to Kirsty in Johnny And The Bomb. As if she wasn't upset enough about having to wear a frock.
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