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A series of Adventure Games based on the Nancy Drew novels, released mostly for the PC by HerInteractive starting in 1998. The company continually makes two new games a year, to much critical acclaim.

Titles include:

  1. Secrets Can Kill (1998; remade in 2010 as Secrets Can Kill Remastered)
  2. Stay Tuned for Danger (1999)
  3. Message in a Haunted Mansion (2000)
  4. Treasure in the Royal Tower (2001)
  5. The Final Scene (2001)
  6. The Secret of the Scarlet Hand (2002)
  7. Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake (2002)
  8. The Haunted Carousel (2003)
  9. Danger on Deception Island (2003)
  10. The Secret of Shadow Ranch (2004)
  11. The Curse of Blackmoor Manor (2004)
  12. The Secret of the Old Clock (2005)
  13. Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon (2005)
  14. Danger By Design (2006)
  15. The Creature of Kapu Cave (2006)
  16. White Wolf of Icicle Creek (2007)
  17. The Legend of the Crystal Skull (2007)
  18. The Phantom of Venice (2008)
  19. The Haunting of Castle Malloy (2008)
  20. Ransom of the Seven Ships (2009)
  21. Warnings at Waverly Academy (2009)
  22. Trail of the Twister (2010)
  23. Shadow at the Water's Edge (2010)
  24. The Captive Curse (2011)
  25. Alibi in Ashes (2011)
  26. Tomb of the Lost Queen (2012)
  27. The Deadly Device (Fall 2012)

Two additional games with a less immersive format, Lights, Camera, Curses! and Resorting To Danger, have been released under the "Nancy Drew Dossier" heading.

Tropes in the games include:

  • Acme Products: Krolmeister.
  • Adventure Game: Except for the Dossier spin-offs, all these games are played in a first-person perspective, similar to Myst.
  • Alpha Bitch: Warnings at Waverly Academy's Izzy Romero. Leela comes pretty close, too, but she is shown to be an otherwise nice girl (if not a tad obnoxious).
    • Deidre Shannon in Alibi in Ashes is another example.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Rentaro in the Shadow at the Water's Edge is socially awkward, and even lampshades this by saying that he works with machines because they tolerate awkwardness.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Iggy the iguana, Isis the white wolf, and especially Loulou the parrot.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Sonny Joon in Secret of the Scarlet Hand believes this to be true, in the sense that he thinks the Maya were spirited away by aliens-- despite the fact that roughly seven million Maya people are alive and well today.
    • Jamila in Lost Queen claims aliens taught humans to build the Egyptian pyramids, and cites Sonny Joon as the source of this belief.
  • Ancient Tomb: Locating Nefertari's hidden burial chamber within one is Nancy's chief goal in Lost Queen.
  • And That Little Girl Was Me: Renate's story in The Captive Curse.
  • Asshole Victim: Jake Rogers from Secrets Can Kill. Given that his classmates only remember him as a blackmailer and a bully, it's remarkable that they stop short of saying he deserved his fate.
    • However, he does ultimately contribute (posthumously) to helping Nancy solve the mystery and bust another criminal in the Remastered version.
  • Axe Crazy: Many of the villains' sociopathy is played disturbingly straight.
  • Berserk Button: Many suspects, villains or not, have them.
    • Mystico the Magnificent's is Nancy asking for anything except for "something very special."
    • If you lose Jacques' medallion, he will get mad at you and not talk to you for pretty much the rest of the game.
    • Malachi Craven is really easy to set off. So is Minette.
    • Elliot Chen will kick you out if you accidentally knock down a thing of paint. Alexei Markovic does the same with anyone who breaks one of his antiques.
    • Do not break Colin Baxter's microscope.
    • Leela Yadav likes having a boyfriend. Do not steal him from her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In nearly every game, the suspect who is the nicest to Nancy turns out to be the villain, though this is nicely averted once in a while to keep the games from becoming too predictable.
  • Big Eater / Bizarre Taste in Food: Professor Hotchkiss
  • Big Friendly Dog: Ironically, the so-called "ghost dogs" in Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake are actually this-- when they're not being ordered to act vicious by means of a silent alarm. After their former owner goes to prison, Sally ends up adopting them.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Toni from Alibi in Ashes A city official who runs the local ice cream shop. She may smile sweetly and pretend to root for you but secretly she's pushing the police to railroad you into the ground just because the cases you solve make her look bad in the polls. It's so bad that towards the end of the game, she keeps her Stepford Smiler face on while refusing to help you stop the real arsonist
    • Also, Helena in The Phantom of Venice, Em from Ghost Dogs at Moon Lake and Anja in The Captive Curse. All are as friendly as can be and Anja even offers you relationship advice. Yet, Helena turns out to be the mastermind behind the robbings in Venice; Em is behind the fake ghost dogs so that she can get her hands on buried gold bars; and Anja is pretending to be the monster that stalks Castle Finster to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend.
  • Bladder of Steel: Make a trip to the bathroom before making one of the mandatory plot-advancing phone calls in The Final Scene.
  • Burn the Witch: In The Curse of Blackmoor Manor, this was the fate of one of the Penvellyns' ancestors.
  • Butt Monkey: Lamont in Legend of the Crystal Skull. His sole reason for existence is so Bess can do various cruel things to him in order to get a clue for Nancy, much to the player's amusement.
  • Canon Welding: Alibi in Ashes does this with a few of the different book series. Brenda Carlton is exclusive to the Files spin-off series, and Deirdre Shannon is exclusive to the Girl Detective series (Simon and Schuster considers Girl Detective an official continuation of the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories; however, in reality, they fit better somewhere between Series Reboot and Spin Off.) However, they're both suspects in Alibi in Ashes, which effectively weld both the Files and Girl Detective series to the original Nancyverse. It's especially interesting because they're pretty much Expies of each other (both are the Alpha Bitch that functions as a jealous nemesis to Nancy, although Deirdre is a more straightforward example, while Brenda is more an Alpha Bitch all grown up.)
  • Calling Your Attacks: Played realistically. At the end of Danger By Design, the culprit's insistence in calling their attacks makes them easier to defeat.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': While sneaking around and lying to people are perfectly acceptable tactics, neglecting any sort of real-life safety tip (leaving the iron on, not wearing a helmet or life jacket) will always get you kicked out or dead so fast it's funny.
  • Captain Obvious: Nigel's memoirs in The Curse of Blackmoor Manor, which Nancy must transcribe, contain statements like "I was very small when I was born." Well, duh...
  • Changeling Tale: In The Curse of Blackmoor Manor, it's rumored that one of the Penvellyns (specifically, Elinor Penvellyn) was a changeling.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Where to begin...?
  • Clear My Name: In Alibi in Ashes, this is basically what Nancy has to do... when she's accused of arson!
  • Commedia Dell'Arte: In The Phantom of Venice, the gang of art thieves use the names of Commedia dell'Arte characters as code names.
  • Comic Book Time: Time passes, yet Nancy apparently stays the same age and is still referred to as a "silly American teenager" ten years after the first game supposedly began.
    • Especially amusing in that the exact same voice actors and silly-teen references are used in Secret of the Old Clock, which is a 1930s period piece!
    • The games have been threaded together since the beginning, however. In the ending for Secrets Can Kill, Nancy mentions Aunt Eloise got a letter from a friend about a TV studio and death threats, which led into Stay Tuned For Danger. The last few games like Shadow at The Water's Edge and The Captive Curse have also stated they've occurred one right after the other. What has been ten years for us might actually have only been a couple of months or years in the Nancy Universe, in which case she's solved 26 cases so fast she could get any law-enforcement job she'd want.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Averted in The Captive Curse. Opening the glass furnace without protection will result in Nancy being severely burned.
  • Continuity Nod: In Alibi in Ashes, Brenda says that the fire at Town Hall is the biggest thing to happen since "Old Man Crowley's will was found", a reference to the very first Nancy Drew book (which was also adapted into a game), The Secret of the Old Clock.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Karl in The Captive Curse believes himself to be one.
  • Creepy Child: Jane Penvellyn in The Curse of Blackmoor Manor. There's just something so damn creepy about her... which proves to be not that far off when she turns out to be the culprit.
  • Creepy Doll: The late Camille Voulet's dolls in Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, particularly Naughty Tina, what with her cracked face.
  • Crystal Skull
  • Dark Mistress: In Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, Mickey Malone's girlfriend, Vivian.
  • Death by Looking Up: Inverted, oddly enough; looking up when something is about to fall on you is necessary to actually avoid it. Looking down leads to instant death.
    • Also played straight on occasion, when the proper response is to step back immediately upon hearing the cue that something's about to fall on you.
  • Death Trap: Nearly every game features a form of a death trap.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: You can get Nancy booted from the games for some downright silly reasons, such as... picking under-ripe vegetables!
    • Holt will have you arrested if you bring him a female crab. Yeah, catching them are illegal, but...
  • Dumb Blonde: Lori Girard of Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.
  • The Dutiful Daughter: Miwako Shimizu in Shadow at the Water's Edge, as opposed to her rebellious older sister, Yumi.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first game, Secrets Can Kill, aside from having the darker tone, also had 2-D drawing of the suspects instead of the 3-D models from the rest of the series.
  • Easter Egg: Constantly, if you know where to look.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Yumi Shimizu in Shadow at the Water's Edge, though her favoring of the color pink makes her more of a Sweet Lolita.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: One of the "Good News, Bad News" scenarios if you lose the final puzzle at the end of Warnings at Waverly Academy: The giant pendulum that was about to slice Nancy in half just before the camera cut away apparently missed and struck open the wall...only for Nancy to face a group of angry bears. Rule of Funny dismisses the Fridge Logic as to how or why they'd supposedly be there.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Deidre in Alibi in Ashes hates Nancy since she's going out with Ned. But she states that although she hates Nancy, she doesn't hate Nancy enough to accuse her of burning down Town Hall.
  • The Faceless: Nancy, as the games are in first person perspective. Bess and George were faceless until Ransom of the Seven Ships.
    • Minette in Danger By Design. She wears a white mask so no one can she her face (and, no doubt, to give the animators some time to slack off). Turns out she was hiding her lame alien tattoo that looks like it was a washable one that you get for kids. It was the symbol for some secret organization/cult thing.
      • Secret symbol? This troper assumed the alien-obsessed Sonny Joon talked her into it!
    • Plus, all the people you talk on the phone with, old people who left secret passages behind. Oh, and Sonny.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In the third game, this is how you can trap the villain at the end; untie it any earlier, however, and it's a gameover.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The Koko Kringle bars.
    • Danger by Design has Pricsy Colors, the cases of which look a lot like Prisma colors.
  • Five-Man Band: Nancy and her friends, particularly in Alibi in Ashes:
  • Five-Bad Band: The art thieves in The Phantom of Venice:
  • 555: To the point where it's lampshaded ("Why does everyone's phone number begin with five five five?"). Even better, in Secret of the Old Clock, the 1930s phone numbers start with "KL5", which converts to 555.
  • Foreshadowing: A bit of Gameplay and Story Integration, too. In Warnings at Waverly Academy, you find Rachel in her room after talking to her earlier and for some reason, she doesn't recognize you as much. And if you had seen Arglefumph's Let's Play or had played the game before, you'd notice that she has a lock of hair on the left side of her face. Most people would have simply chalked this up to the fact that she might have been under stress and hadn't recognized the "new girl" as much as her other floor-mates.
    • In The Captive Curse, Anja initially tells Nancy that she sent in her resume, crossed her fingers, and hoped. Turns out she'd lied on the resume, giving new significance to her "crossing her fingers" (which some kids do when they lie, to ward off being found out).
  • Fridge Logic: Occasionally crops up when back-and-forth dialogue is kept sparse for pacing's sake, as when two different characters from Danger on Deception Island apparently know Nancy's e-mail address without being told.
    • In The Captive Curse, the monster allegedly carries off young women who wear a specific necklace. It's never explained how, since these girls are never seen again, the necklace returns to be worn by a new victim.
  • Game Within a Game: A pachinko parlor is featured in Shadow at the Water's Edge, and some nautically-themed games appear in The Haunted Carousel.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: The culprit in The Haunting of Castle Malloy seems to be a banshee, but we all know banshees aren't real! Instead, it's a feral old woman flying around on a jet pack. Duh.
    • Surprisingly, there's not as much a "culprit" as in other games.
  • Good News, Bad News: The good news: there just might be a way out of a "Game Over" scenario after all. The bad news: Just kidding! The bad news will always be there to dash those hopes!
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Because you're playing in first person, you don't get to see the details in the more gruesome Game Over scenarios, which is actually a good thing, considering the more horrific ways to die--for example, one way to die in Treasure in the Royal Tower is by not pre-setting the elevator, not solving a puzzle in time, and thus getting crushed by an elevator.
  • Goth: Mel from Warnings at Waverly Academy and Henry Bolet from The Legend of the Crystal Skull.
  • Grande Dame: Mrs. Drake in The Curse of Blackmoor Manor and Prudence Rutherford in various games.
  • Granola Girl: Ingrid Corey in The Haunted Carousel.
  • Grumpy Bear: An assortment of suspects are often like these. One particular example that stands out is Holt from Danger on Deception Island who pretty much holds a gruff attitude in general, and in one possible Game Over scenario he will turn you over to the police... for catching a female crab. So yeah...
    • He seems to be begrudgingly admitting he has to turn you over to the police.
    • Dexter Egan from Treasure in the Royal Tower is another good example, although he warms up to you. A little.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Red Knott in Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.
    • Renate in The Captive Curse is a female example, though she warms up to you.
  • Guide Dang It: Admit it, you've had your own moment with at least one puzzle per game.
    • Lost Forever: Sometimes (thankfully rarely), if you do a particular sequence out of order, you will be unable to solve the rest of the game (creating two back-up save games can come in handy at times like this). One particularly bad example comes from Stay Tuned for Danger: If you don't get two necessary items before going into Rick's room on the day after viewing the videotape (namely: the screwdriver and the wire-cutters to defuse the bomb) and you've already saved after going into his're screwed.
  • Gypsy Curse: Various villains have given them to Nancy, but they didn't have any magical backing. Except maybe Mystico the Magnificent's...
  • Hell Hotel: The main setting for Shadow At the Water's Edge.
  • Hell Hound: The eponymous dogs in Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake.
  • How We Got Here: Phantom of Venice starts off with Nancy getting locked in a room that is filling with water. The rest of the game is a flashback leading up to that scene - and you'd better figure out how to stop that water once you get there.
  • Idiot Ball / Too Dumb to Live / What an Idiot!: Depending on how sadistic the player is feeling, this can be deliberately invoked in Nancy in the many methods to get her killed or fired.
    • Played painfully straight at the end of Ransom of the Seven Ships without the player having to do anything (or in this case, not being able to do anything). So Nancy, that bum whom you've been helping turns out to be a former culprit out for revenge, not to mention a culprit who proved to be unstable and dangerous in the past and is about to trap you. So what do you do? Stand there and do nothing apart from whimpering "Oh no" when he launches a trap that you have been aware of since you first arrived on the beach. What makes it really outrageous is how the past games at least gave you a chance to out-run the culprit.
    • Sometimes, the suspects themselves can be prone to this. For instance, towards the end of Warnings at Waverley Academy, one of the characters has her term paper erased by the Black Cat. The player has the option of asking if she kept a hard copy, and her answer is..."No! It would've been like printing out a book!" Anyone who has gone to college and written a term paper can tell you why this reasoning is just plain stupid.
      • possibly a bit explainable in that this is actually high school, but even then, given the professionalism that Waverly Academy expects of its students, you'd think the students would know that.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Bess pulls off a lot of these, much to George's dismay.
  • Infant Immortality: At the end of The Curse of Blackmoor Manor, Jane, the pre-teen culprit, accidentally gets stuck in a potentially life-threatening trap which Nancy must free her from...except no matter how long you take, she never dies, despite being stuck in an enclosed space that would guarantee suffocation within minutes.
  • Informed Ability: In Stay Tuned For Danger, Mattie Jensen, the actress whom Nancy is staying with, is repeatedly stated to be a very talented actress, and has the awards on her home shelf to show for it. And yet in the one scene where you actually get to see her act...well... (starts at 7:57)
    • Then again, this could be justified in that the more Egregious bad acting can easily be fixed in editing so that the one take where Mattie is either outstanding, or at the very least not quite so awful, is shown on television.
  • Intrepid Reporter: The games have had three of these as suspects, so far: Lisa Ostrum, Helena Berg, and Brenda Carlton. Nancy herself is like this and has noted that reporters are a lot like detectives. Interestingly, all the reporters have been the culprit of their respective cases.
  • The Irish Mob: One can assume the gangster, Mickey Malone in Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake was part of this.
  • Jet Pack: Nancy gets one of these in The Haunting of Castle Malloy.
  • Karma Houdini: The culprit in Ransom of the Seven Ships.
    • Tino Balducci of Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon claims that anything he did during that case is now all "water under the bridge" when Chantal insists that Nancy call him for help in White Wolf of Icicle Creek.
    • Also, villains who've attempted to kill Nancy herself, in the course of the game, are often described as going to jail for robbery, extortion, fraud, etc. You'd think attempted murder charges would rate a mention...
  • Lampshade: Several of the above tropes for the book are commonly lampshaded in the games, especially Nancy staying the same age throughout the games: "Right I forgot, you're celebrating your...seventieth birthday next month?"
    • Professor Hotchkiss, a fan favorite recurring character, calls Nancy her own favorite recurring character in Tomb of the Lost Queen.
  • Large Ham: Many of the voice actors have too much fun with their roles (especially the ones voicing the villains when revealed at the end, or the ones voicing the particularly over-the-top suspects), but the culprit at the very end of Stay Tuned For Danger deserves an honourable mention. Once in a while, Nancy Drew herself gets in on the action.
    • Prop Master of DEATH!
    • The announcer of PUNCHYYYY LARUUUUUEE!
  • Lawful Stupid: Jeff Akers, a park ranger in Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, occasionally falls into this trope. His actions include fining Sally for littering because she left a half-eaten ham sandwich on a picnic table and issuing Nancy a citation for destructive behavior after she was locked in a burning shed. However, it's quite possible that he behaves this way to compensate for the fact that his grandfather was a gangster.
  • Lethal Chef: In Danger on Deception Island, if you use any expired or blatantly inedible ingredients (such as baking soda and fresh jellyfish) to make a sandwich and give it to either Nancy or her hostess, one or the other gets food poisoning and the game ends. Likewise, in Secret of Shadow Ranch, overbaking a cake can result in Nancy getting fired. It's funny.
    • The former game is a strange example of this--it is not the combination of ingredients themselves that can make Nancy or her hostess sick; rather, it's the individual ingredients by themselves (such as the aforementioned baking soda). As long as you use ingredients that are fresh and are actual food, you can make any kind of combination of different ingredients for a sandwich and it won't make Nancy or her hostess sick, no matter how incredibly disgusting it would be in real life (such as an ice cream and mustard and peanut butter sandwich).
  • Lighter and Softer: The first game, Secrets Can Kill, although not spooky, was actually much Darker and Edgier than later installments, as the crime under investigation is a cold-blooded murder and Nancy herself must point a handgun at the culprit to prevail; the player must even click while doing this, which feels like you're shooting him, even if it's just to confirm where you're aiming so he'll surrender. One instance where going Lighter and Softer for the sequels was an improvement.
    • The Remastered version of it, while still keeping certain plot elements from the original, looks like it might be Lighter and Softer than the original... and then this is massively subverted at the end when the culprit holds Nancy up at gunpoint.
  • Love Makes You Evil: In Shadow at the Water's Edge, Rentaro scares away guests from the ryokan in hopes that he can convince Miwako, his childhood sweetheart, to move away with him to the city.
  • Man-Eating Plant: For some godforsaken reason, Mrs. Drake has one in The Curse of Blackmoor Manor. Complete with the part about eating you.
    • There's one mentioned in passing in Secret of the Old Clock when you deliver a telegram to the nursery to a bloke called Seymour. It only bites, but merits a mention.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Nancy mentions that Ned gave her a locket just before she goes to Italy. There's a picture of the phantom thief holding a locket on the cover of the game. Was there ever any doubt that the locket would become this? Interestingly, the cover's locket looks nothing like Nancy's. She does manage to retrieve it, at least.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Police detective Tino Balducci in Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.
  • Monster Misogyny: The monster's victims in The Captive Curse are Always Female.
  • Multiple Endings: Very occasionally, a game will feature a little bit of dialogue that subtly changes Nancy's monologue after you’ve beaten the game. That is, the end of the game itself stays the same, but what happens in the epilogue will be a little different. For example, about halfway through Danger by Design, you can choose whether or not to get Minette’s assistant Heather fired. Though the game goes on either way, if you choose to spare Heather, she lets Nancy model in her Spring show. If you fire her, she stays angry at you and you aren't invited.
    • The Nancy Drew Dossier downloadable games, a spinoff subseries with a less immersive format, also allow for multiple endings, based on whom you choose to name as a prime suspect halfway through the investigation.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Professor Hotchkiss calls Nancy by a different name every time — even in the same conversation — and it's never Nancy.
  • Mythology Gag: Items from previous games pop up all the time:
    • Professor Hotchkiss's purple ski boots from Treasure in the Royal Tower are in a garden shed in The Ghosts Dogs of Moon Lake
    • It's possible to unearth a broken carousel horse head in a dumpster in The Phantom of Venice. The horse is Glory from The Haunted Carousel
    • Renee in Legend of the Crystal Skull and Mel from Warnings at Waverly Academy both have dolls from Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon.
    • Jane in The Curse of Blackmoor Manor forces you to play a number of games based on previous Her Interactive releases.
      • Jane herself has a crush on Brady Armstrong, an actor who appears in The Final Scene.
    • All of the guests in the seating plan puzzle in The Haunting of Castle Malloy are characters from previous games.
    • In addition to this, suspects will return in later games for phone cameos - you can phone Last Train To Blue Moon Canyon's Tino Balducci in White Wolf of Icicle Creek and the aforementioned Professor Hotchkiss (a fan favourite) in The Legend of the Crystal Skull and Tomb of the Lost Queen. Charleena Purcell does this in reverse; you can phone her in Secret of Shadow Ranch, and in Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, she returns as a suspect. Dwayne Powers from Stay Tuned for Danger is the most striking example, as he returns to be the culprit in Ransom of the Seven Ships, almost twenty games after his debut.
    • And, in the more recent games, if Nancy uses a bathroom, she'll make a comment referencing a previous game.
    • On occasion, this is lampshaded; Nancy asks Bill Kessler in White Wolf of Icicle Creek if he's related to Rolfe Kessler, the carousel horse maker, from The Haunted Carousel. The man cheerily replies that he has no idea.
    • If you give Mystico the Magnificent a "wrong" answer, he will say "Ack! What do you think I am?" and then he lists the descriptions of characters of previous games who could give you what you asked for.
    • One of the telegram recipients from Old Clock gives you a "hot tip" in exchange for his message: a clue for succeeding at a challenge from Blackmoor Manor.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe example: Alexei in Alibi in Ashes is this way whenever somebody breaks one of his antiques. Also, Alexei himself suffered from this. He was a detective as a teenager, just like Nancy, and was accused of theft by a man he'd busted.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lori Girard, Nancy's hostess in Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon is an obvious stand-in for Paris Hilton.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Suki, a robot cat owned by Miwako Shimizu, in Shadow At the Water's Edge. Her boyfriend is trying to craft a robotic dog counterpart.
    • Also Miles the Magnificent Memory Machine is this for Joy.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The secret passages in The Curse of Blackmoor Manor seem to invoke this - dark, dank tunnels with ambient background music that sounds like dripping water. The only light source is a green glowstick that illuminates a small patch of the hallway at a time, leaving everything else pitch black. Even if you just checked the shadows, and you know there’s nothing there... you’ll wonder.
  • Nouveau Riche: Margherita Faubourg in The Phantom of Venice.
  • Oba-san: Takae Shimizu in Shadow At the Water's Edge.
  • Oktoberfest: Played straight at first in The Captive Curse, which is set in Bavaria. However, conversations with the employees reveal that their boss forces them to wear lederhosen and dirndls because that's what tourists expect of Germany.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: As Nancy's journeys begin taking her to new and exciting places in the later games, they also subject the player to new and horrific fake accents. Among the most Egregious examples of this are Kyler's spotty "British" accent in The Haunting of Castle Malloy and Yumi's inconsistent Japanese Ranguage in Shadow at the Water's Edge.
  • Perky Goth: While not outright perky, Mel from Warnings at Waverly Academy is revealed to not quite be the stereotypical goth she appears to be at first (for one thing she loves milk and cookies but has to hide that cause of her 'goth appearance')
  • The Prankster: Lukas Mittelmeier in The Captive Curse.
  • Promoted Fanboy: arglefumph, who does awesome video walkthroughs for the games, has his picture in Secrets Can Kill: Remastered.
  • Rousseau Was Right: In Kapu Cave, the culprits weren't bad people, they just had some problems and were actually quite smart in elaborating their plan to get the Hilihili research centre to close. They also turn themselves in right away - and according to Nancy's monologue, it takes awhile for the authorities to figure out what to charge them with.
  • Ryokan: A haunted one in Shadow at the Water's Edge
  • Sauna of Death: One puzzle in game 16, White Wolf of Icicle Creek features Nancy being locked in a sauna and trying to get out.
  • Scenery Porn: One usually agreed upon thing is that the games are absolutely gorgeous, with mansions, castles, theaters, and Orient Express-style trains abound. Add to that the locations she visits: New Orleans, San Francisco, Paris, Tokyo, Hawaii, England, Egypt.
  • Separated by a Common Language: The flashlight/torch miscommunication in Curse of Blackmoor Manor.
  • Shout-Out: Later games contain shout-outs to earlier games.
    • Not to mention there are shout-outs to other real life stuff. The culprit in "Secret of Shadow Ranch" even uses a variant of the "Here's Johnny!" catch phrase from The Shining.
    • Many of the telegram recipients from Secret of the Old Clock are shout-outs to pop culture, referencing everything from Shirley Temple to Jason Voorhees.
    • The Captive Curse is obviously based on Frankenstein and its gag reel contains shout-outs to Monty Python and The Holy Grail and appropriately, Young Frankenstein.
    • The Ichi-Do book Nancy buys in Danger by Design used to be a library book... and apparently, the last two people to check it out were named "B. Lee" and "C. Norris"...
    • One of the phone numbers in Jean Mi's pda is 4 8 15 16 23 42.
  • Snow Means Death: Staying outside in the snow for too long in Treasure in the Royal Tower or White Wolf of Icicle Creek will result in Nancy freezing to death.
  • Soft Water: Averted in one of the Game Over scenarios in Haunting of Castle Malloy during the "Good News Bad News" segment, which explains the flaw behind this trope perfectly.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: The more recent games have become fond of using this, though the earliest example can be traced back to Stay Tuned For Danger which, on top of everything else, imposed a time limit. Fortunately, the game makers took mercy on the players still screaming in frustration (or fear) and created a downloadable patch to give the player an infinite amount of time.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The backstory providing the fuel for the main mystery in Secret of Shadow Ranch.
  • Strawman News Media: Brenda Carlton of Alibi in Ashes falls into Type IV especially when you she turns out to be the actual arsonist.
  • Story Arc: This has begun to appear in the most recent games. After solving Trail of the Twister, you are rewarded with a trip to Japan. While solving a mystery in Japan, a ghost expert mentions a frightening castle in Germany. . .
    • ...where, after a phone spat with Ned, Nancy makes up with him by agreeing they'll work together for a mystery-solving contest when she gets back to River Heights. Cue Alibi in Ashes.
  • Stringy Haired Ghost Girl: Makes a few appearances in Shadow at the Water's Edge.
  • Technology Marches On: Back in the first few games, there were no cell phones to be seen, and there were plenty of VHS tapes and floppy disks that were used. Usually they were able to avert it, since the stories tend to take place in locations that were old enough (like old rustic mansions or antique trains) or far enough away to be considered "off the grid" and less sensitive to changes in technology, but the first two really show their age.
  • The Thing That Goes Doink: An important clue in Shadow at the Water's Edge is hidden in this.
  • Unperson: The nameless medieval fugitive who inspired the "monster" legend from The Captive Curse.
  • The Unseen: Sonny Joon, a doodle-drawing gag character whom Nancy seems to be following around from one game to the next.
  • Twin Switch: Played very brilliantly in Warnings at Waverly Academy with Rachel and her twin Kim.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Some of the various ways to kill off Nancy or otherwise get her fired are pretty funny, and it gets even more hilarious with the "Good News, Bad News" to accompany it.
    • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Legend of the Crystal Skull pretty much requires you (while playing as Bess) to be cruel to Lamont in order for the game to progress.
    • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Hm, I think I'll make a sandwich with mayonnaise...Koko Kringles Ice Cream...jellyfish...mustard...baking soda...tomatoes...Eat that sandwich, Nancy! Awww darn it I got a game over.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Hope you're up to date on your WWII codebreaking trivia!
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In the case of Eda Brooks from the Dossier spin-off Lights, Camera, Danger!, it really is snakes. This creates a bit of a problem between her and the movie's director, as she is required to hold a live snake for the movie's climax.
  • Woman Scorned: In The Captive Curse, Anja dresses up as the monster of Finster Castle in a ploy to get back at the castle's owner, her ex-boyfriend.
  • Xanatos Roulette: The culprit tricks Nancy into helping them with their plans in Ransom of the Seven Ships. Would have been a Gambit, were it not for the fact that there are literally too many damn ways to die. If Nancy had reached one of the many possibilities to get a game over, if she hadn't gotten past the carefully-set traps, or if she had figured out the true identity behind Johnny Rolle/Poole too early, the culprit's plan would have failed.
  • Yandere: The culprit in Stay Tuned for Danger is the rare male variety as part of his motive comes from the star he's trying to kill hooking up with the actress the culprit is secretly in love with.
    • Colin Baxter can also come across as this.