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File:Metroman 6466.jpg


Dear Muscovites and guests to our capital!

The Moscow metro is a form of transportation which involves a heightened level of danger.
A notice in the metro

Metro 2033 is a novel written by Dmitry A. Glukhovsky, and set in the Moscow Metro system twenty years after a devastating nuclear war. First appeared as a Web Serial Novel in 2002. The first print edition came in 2005. It went on to become a best seller in Russia. The story follows the 20-year-old Artyom, as a promise to a mysterious stranger forces him to leave the relative safety of his home station, ("ВДНХ"), and find his ways through the dangerous Metro.

Various factions - including The Fourth Reich, The Red Line, and The Gemeinschaft der Ringstationen - inhabit the stations. That is, the stations that have not yet succumbed to diseases, tent fires, cave-ins or mysterious mass deaths. The tunnels between the stations are populated by rats, mutants and unexplainable but very lethal phenomena. Oh, and don't even think about going up to the surface.

In 2010, a video game with the same name was released, based on the novel.

This novel features the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Miller/Melnik, Hunter, Khan and Ace.
  • After the End: Like, end end. Even the afterlife apparently got blown up.
    • Khan sums it up in this quote: "It appears that the devastation we brought upon ourselves was complete. Heaven, hell, and purgatory were atomised as well. So when a soul leaves the body, it has nowhere to go, and must remain here, in the metro. A harsh, but... Not undeserved atonement for our sins, wouldn't you agree?"
  • All Just a Dream: A rather nasty one, where Hunter saves Atryom from being hanged by the Fourth Reich... Aaaand then Artyom wakes up leaning against a door in one of their cells.
  • And Man Grew Proud : Artyom's adoptive father sums it up in this paragraph on page 37 of the book : "How long will you last on mushrooms, multivitamins and pork? Surrender, Homo sapiens! You are no longer the king of nature! You've been dethroned! No, you don't have to die instantly, nobody will insist on that. Crawl a little more in agony, choking on your own excrement... But know this, Homo sapiens: you are obsolete!"
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Ascended Extra: Hunter, in Metro 2034.
  • Asshole Victim: Bourbon, who, in the novel, planned to kill Artyom.
  • As You Know: Most of the first chapter consists of people telling each other things they already know (and hanging lampshades on that fact).
  • Badass Bookworm: Daniel and, to a certain extent, Artyom himself.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Multiple times. Justified in that The Dark Ones were protecting Artyom for the duration of his journey, using their telepathic powers to send people to his rescue.
  • Blob Monster: There's... something, beneath the Kremlin, which induces incredible levels of euphoria in its victims making suicide seem like a good idea to them. It's only described as a shapeless mass.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: The guy who did the English translation got the literal vocabulary and most of the syntax right, but much of the cultural translation is done rather poorly.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor, poor Artyom.
  • Brown Note: During any excursion onto the surface, one rule above all prevails: Don't look at the Kremlin.[1]
  • Cat Scare: The first scene of the book.
  • The Chosen One: Deconstructed with Artyom.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Although granted, it's more "You're Coming With Us Whether You Like It Or Not Since You're Unconcious From Almost Being Hanged".
  • Contemplating Our Navels: The preferred past time of all Metro inhabitants, including stalkers, merchants, and cannibalistic cultists!
  • Contrived Coincidence: Fleeing from some mutants, Artyom enters a flat that is heavily implied to be where he lived before the war. To the book's credit, it's left very vague.
  • Crapsack World
  • Cult: Many of them, but the Great Worm cultists are… remarkable.
  • Cut and Paste Translation: Occasionally obvious. Several idioms, a well as Mat is literally translated.
  • Dark Secret: Artyom and his friend are responsible for opening an old airlock in the Botanic Garden station (Which failed to close) to look at the real sky. The Dark Ones supposedly pour in through it and Artyom confides this secret in Hunter.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Zhenya.
  • Despair Event Horizon: In Metro 2034 Melnik reveals Artyom to have gone insane for a short period of time after the events of 2033. Apparently, he got better and even married in the span of one year, but all we have in Melnik's word on it - and he doesn't even say Artyom's name. Of course, we all remember how communication in the metro is falible…
    • In Metro 2033, Anton, after his son Oleg dies
  • Determinator: Artyom. Although his resolve fails multiple times, he can't bring himself to give up on his goal.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Artyom's rescue from the Nazis by Communists. Lampshaded "if the Trotskyists had been just a day later, or a day earlier, Artyom would have died".
  • Doom Magnet: Artyom.
  • Downer Ending: Right when the missiles are to be launched at the Dark Ones, Artyom suddenly realizes that all his dreams and nightmares he had were simply the Dark Ones trying to contact him. They were simply trying to explain to the humans that all they wanted was peace and that all the deaths they caused were from accidental Mind Rape in their attempts to convey this. But Artyom can understand them. All the Dark Ones look to Artyom as the final hope. Then the missiles fall.
  • Easing Into the Adventure - The first three chapters, before Artyom leaves VDNKh.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Artyom kills the nazi.
  • Estrogen Brigade Bait: Rusakov, who's introduced as "the handsome man in leather" and is refered as such during every single sentence he appears in (with also: "His handsome masculine face", "his handsome, manly face" and "a beautiful brace face and a strong chin").
  • Genre Blindness: Sure, Artyom, go ahead and wander off among the bookshelves while Daniel ties his shoelaces. It's not like the two of you are alone in an extremely creepy, extremely dangerous, and extremely monster-infested library.
  • Hermit Guru: Khan
  • Heroic BSOD: When Artyom sees a boy who looks exactly like Anton's dead son Oleg
  • Hollywood Satanism
  • Hope Spot: Horrifying example in the novel. A huge portion of the final chapter revolves around Artyom finding hope, understanding and reasons to fight to for the world at large. The missiles launched from a nearby base then destroy the Dark Ones, causing Artyom to lose hope, remove his gas mask and sink into complete despair.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Only gets worse. By the end of the book, a mother is willing to sell her son for 20 bullets and, while Artyom is gagging at the thought, Ulman just shrugs and says she's no different from the others trying to support themselves.
  • The Hunter: Hunter and the Order he belongs to. Any danger should be eliminated by any means necessary.
  • If I Do Not Return: The disappearance of Hunter sparks the plot.
  • It Got Worse: Pretty much constantly.
  • La Résistance: "The First International Red Fighting Brigade of the Moscow Metropolitan in the name of Ernesto Che Guevara", that split from the Reds because they were a bit too crazy. They are still being supplied with food, ammo and gas for their motorized draisine by the Red line though.
  • Lighter and Softer: several sequel novels that add details about what's going on beyond big cities. It's still a postapocalypse, there are still no civilization except in isolated spots, but hell, its the surface! You can see the sun, the sky, rain, snow! You can breathe the air and walk without being attacked by some monster, mutant or dinosaur! You don't get that depressing feeling that humanity is obsolete anymore! And one novel even gives us a peaceful village of Tolkien fans/Elf-wannabes in the middle of pristine, uncontaminated wilderness.
    • When the protagonist of said novel first encounters these "Elves", he wonders if they are savages who would want to skin people alive. No, they are not. It's a perfectly nice Wacky Wayside Tribe living a happy pastoral life.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Oh yes. The Metro is sprinkled with all sorts of wierd phenomena, but the narration usually presents different explanations for each of them, and whether the cause is supernatural or not is often left ambiguous. Is the state of the Kremlin the result of a biological weapon or trapped demons? Is the huge object Artyom sees in a parallel tunnel the Great Worm or a giant drilling vehicle? Is the insanity-inducing noise in the tunnels caused by spirits in the pipes or harmonic oscillations?
  • Meaningful Name: Artyom is the Russian masculine form of the Greek name Artemisios, relating to the Greek goddess of the hunt. She obviously had to have excellent aim, as Artyom himself is said to have by Hunter...but two of the possible Greek cognate words for "Artemis" can also be read as "safe" or "butcher".
    • Other source of this name is Greek artemos (of perfect health) which pretty well fits the fact that Artyom is a good and sensitive man and thus capable of being directly contacted by the Dark Ones
  • Mercy Kill: Artyom is forced to do this to Daniel, after the latter is fatally injured by a librarian.
  • Mirror Universe: the novel Noon Void. In this AU Moscow is alive and well... but the metro became a Death World.
  • Moscow Metro
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Much of the Russian cultural specific dialogue, phraes, and nuances were translated rather literally into English. this result in funny occasions when characters will ask if they have noodles on their ears.
  • Nerves of Steel: Dark Ones can only communicate with humans via telepathy, that's why they follow and try to protect Artyom, as he is the first person to actually communicate with them in any way and survive. Everybody else was reduced into a drooling retard and died soon after, as seen in the Exhibition's hospital. This protection is percieved as a gift, pure badassity or some kind of a natural immunity to anomalies by Artyom's companions.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Artyom should've better stayed at VDNKh.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: All three flavors are used.
    • Special points go to a scene near the end. Artyom thinks he can hear an underground river and opens a maintainance door at the side of the tunnel to take a look at a tunnel running paralell to the one he was in. Then, in the darkness, a huge, train-like gray thing rushes past along the tracks, with enough force and pressure to make his ears hurt and pop. He wisely slams the door shut. Any more than that, we're never told. It's implied that it was the monstrous worm god that the cannibalistic cultist were praying to. The confession that their high priest made ten minutes earlier that he had made the god up all on his own for no reason than to get control over the savages does NOT help to calm you down. One wonders what else lurks there...
  • Nuclear Nasty: the surface world is made of this trope to the point of Narm. Looks like in this verse, hard radiation actually does produce monsters, mutants and dinosaurs, 1950s style. And bioweapons produce Blob Monsters.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: The people of Metro live on a monotonous diet of mushrooms and pork (even 'shroom tea!). Any kind of normal crops are (logically) extinct and most wildlife apparently went out with a blast too... Even the measly mushrooms which feed both humans and their livestock have to be grown on a substrate of fresh feces, all because of a lack of proper soil. Bon appetite. And for that matter, quality bullets are rare too - no wonder they've become the currency.
    • One of the crazy Cults inhabiting the underground decided to skip the whole "grow mushrooms and raise pigs" part, when it comes to hunger. A bleak Scavenger World indeed...
    • Metro 2034 book states that the garrison unit of the Sevastopolskaya station regularly receives small batches of cucumbers, potatoes and tomatoes for soldiers, albeit sickly looking and wilted (As well as copious amounts of ammunition, weapons and medical supplies). Justified since this exact station provides a significant amount of electricity for those who can pay for it and is constantly under the siedge of mutants from the surface. None of the access tunnels can be blocked due to the need of frequent maintenance of hydroelectric generators near underground rivers. An attempt to clean out adjacent station and close the airlocks failed due to something that killed a group of grizzled professionals and left no trace of their bodies or equipment. Radio operator only heard one of the soldiers chanting a simple kiddie prayer before all communication was lost.
  • Precision F-Strike: Occurs a number of times, sometimes out of nowhere. Some of these are due to translation issues.
  • Put on a Bus: Artyom in Metro 2034. Melnik mentions him in passage… The Artyom we see in that book is another one.
  • Ragnarok Proofing: Massively averted. Survivors live in squalid conditions and metro is a maze of crumpled concrete and rusty pipes. Even most firearms are improvised and only few can afford a still operating prewar automatic weapon.
  • Religion Is Wrong: Or at least "organized religion is batshit insane", with Artyom running away in fear even of the most sympathetic one. Hunter also views atheism in a positive light, making men fight for their survival instead of giving up, and Mikhail states outright that he's an atheist.
  • Religious Russian Roulette: Artyom spends a good deal of the novel between embracing and discarding new beliefs.
  • Rookie Red Ranger: Artyom, who leaves his station for the first time and through his adventure meets all sort of people more experienced than him. His naivety is very emphasized.
  • Scam Religion: Both subverted and followed straight with the Great Worm cultists. The creator of the religion says he was outright lying to his followers, just to spread his hate against machines… but then Artyom sees something big moving in the tunnels, implied to be said Great Worm.
  • Scary Amoral Religion: The Great Worm cult once again. Eating people is not okay… Unless it's the enemy, then it's a feast. It's also okay to kidnap children to indoctrinate them.
  • Scavenger World: Self-explanatory.
  • Sinister Subway: Well, duh.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Grab the popcorn and just watch as Artyom goes from a Naive Newcomer to Nietzsche Wannabe.
  • Survivor Guilt: Artyom all the time, but specially with Oleg's death.
  • Tactful Translation: Very much averted with the sections dealing with Mat (Crude Russian dialect which is pretty much nonstop swearing), giving us moments where characters will suddenly say "Fuck you!" for no obvious reason.
  • Talkative Loon: Bourbon before dying.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: The ubiquitous "home-brew" - murky, frequently dangerous to drink and "goes down like sandpaper".
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The Russian Nazis are an unfortunate Truth in Television. Present Day Russia has one of the largest concentrations of Neo-Nazi groups, focusing on Russian ultranationalism instead of German ultranationalism. They still retain the Swastika and the "stylistic" elements of Nazis. Chalk it up to Russian irony why Russians would recreate the one ideology they were instrumental in wiping out.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Men protect the stations, women stay home taking care of the kids. The only three females ever named in the first novel are incredibly minor characters, being Zhenya's little sister, a wife who brings her husband beer, and a rat.
  • The Undead: Well, maybe. Some characters claim parts of the subway is haunted, others explain it as the result of hallucinogenic gases.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Results in C for Artyom.
  • Was Once a Man: It is hinted that Dark ones and Librarians are mutated humans. Librarians are depicted as quasi-sentient creatures that hunt and move in packs of two or more individuals. Also, they are intelligent enough to imitate human speech with frightening accuracy, though whether they understand what they say or not is unknown.
    • Dark ones: "...remember, six months ago we managed to take one of them captive?" "I remember", spoke up Pyotr Andreevich. "He sat in our lock-up for two weeks, wouldn't drink our water, wouldn't eat our food and then croaked". "You didn't interrogate him?", asked the man (Hunter). "They didn't understand anything... They spoke plain Russian... They'd beat him and nothing... He would growl once in a while... Then he gave out the loudest howl when he died, woke the whole station up..."
    • Also What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Uncanny Valley.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Rats?: One of Artyom's main fears is of rats, since rats overran the station where he lived as a boy, killing his mother in the process (with him only escaping thanks to her and his to-be adoptive father). He gets a bit better over the course of the book however.
  • You Will Know What to Do: The *magical* superpowers Artyom has to use to find the special book. He doesn't.
  1. The abovementioned Blob Monster resides in its depths and, somehow, catching a glimpse of the Kremlin from anywhere in Moscow is enough to make you think mindlessly treking into the Kremlin basement is a good idea