Here be spoilers.
- Mundane AUs - canon-divergent AUs and fusions are fine
- Scientific accuracy and/or plausibility - definitely not required, but I would be in awe if you managed to fit it into some of these canons
- Historical accuracy - ditto
- Missing scenes
- Competent characters being competent
Mysterious Benedict Society - Kate Wetherall, Milligan, Constance Contraire
Four exceptional children must take on dangerous missions to defeat a villain! As a former GT kid who spent way too much of elementary school reading under the desk, I found the main characters very realistic and relatable. I also enjoyed the puzzles presented explicitly and implicitly in the text that you got to think over along with the main characters.
This canon is three longish books, but they're all very quick reads. Spoilers for the end of book one and Constance's development in book three.
Constance - I'd love to see how she changes as she grows up.
- Her powers - Do they get stronger or more consistent as she grows older? Do they get less taxing because some of the exhaustion was because she's so young/still at an age where she'd need naps regardless of magic mind powers? Do the side effects of overextending herself get worse as she gets older even if she does it less frequently?
- Growing up with Mr. Benedict - What's her education like? (Does she continue to be homeschooled? When/if she goes to school, how does she deal with being the smallest/youngest due to probably skipping grades? Is it very focused or often tangential? How regular is it?) Which adult is her favorite and why? Are there any security incidents due to escaped/never captured allies of Mr. Curtain?
- AU where she was successfully sent to LIVE - how does that change her personality? Does she behave/perform better or worse? Does she still meet and/or bond with Reynie, Sticky, and Kate?
- Her poetry - any shape, any form. Does she branch out in insulting style? Does she make some that isn't insulting?
- Crossover option - Constance is somehow related to Otto from H.I.V.E. Hijinks ensue.
The Wetherall Family - I love the bond between Kate and Milligan in the books, especially the way their outlooks clash but they both keep supplies on hand to be prepared for any eventuality.
- I'd love to see how Kate and Milligan reconnect after the first book; they've both spent the past decade or so basically alone, and Kate has some pretty big abandonment issues at times in the first book. Is Kate wary of him leaving again at first? Is Milligan worried that he'll mess something up?
- Their normal life - Cue some silly domestic fluff. What's Milligan's job like? How is Kate doing in school? (How does the school administration deal with the Wetheralls, raptors, spies, and all?) How does Moocho fit into it? Do they ever go see Kate's circus?
- Milligan meets Moocho - I view Moocho as sort of Kate's Replacement Dad when she was at the circus. How does Milligan react to him? Do they share stories? How does Moocho end up living in their house? (I could see Milligan and Moocho as either in a relationship or as platonic partners in child-rearing.)
- An AU where they met differently - Maybe the orphanage sends Kate to LIVE instead of letting her join the circus, or maybe she doesn't respond to Mr. Benedict's ad, or maybe his subconscious recognizes Kate in the circus posters, or any number of other things lead to Kate and Milligan meeting at a different time/place. How does this change their relationship? Would the appearance of a younger Kate act as a trigger for Milligan's memory?
- I'm also curious about Kate's mother; is she actually dead or "merely departed"? What was she like before her death/disappearing? How did Milligan meet her? (Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if it involved Milligan getting seriously injured.)
Milligan - the perpetually injured secret agent man
- Background - when did he become a secret agent? Why? Why does he have the farm house? Did someone take care of it or was it in disrepair when he returned there?
- What were his missions beside the one to Nomansan Island like? Did any of them go south?
- What were his coworkers like? How do they react to him coming back?
- After the end of the first book, does he have all of his memories back or is he still missing some? Did the brainsweeping have a permanent effect on his memory?
Kate - I love all the characters in this series (even the villains at times), but Kate is my personal favorite.
- What was her life like in the circus? What were the other performers like? What sort of hijinks did she get up to?
- How does she adjust to normal-ish life (going to school, having a parent around, etc.) after the first book ends? Does she join any school clubs? Does she make friends?
- Her relationship with Madge - I really, really liked Madge in the second book, especially Kate's "I've got a pet that can easily peck my eyes out! Stroke her feathers, they're so soft!" attitude. How did Kate get Madge in the first place? (Was she a rescue of some sort?) Has Madge ever saved Kate?
39 Clues - Any
A wide variety of characters travel on a dangerous journey to win an ultimate prize! The various characters work both with and against each other, and while most of them know what they're doing (or, at the least, what they're doing it for), the two main protagonists, Amy and Dan, don't have a clue. (On rereads, watching Amy and Dan stumble through the Clue Hunt is pretty funny.) I really liked the wide variety of both areas and degrees of competence the cast displayed, and I found the inclusion of adult characters (of varying motives and alliances, some of whom didn't end up dead nor evil) refreshing. The history and locations included (mangled as they probably were) were also interesting.
This series is probably the hardest to obtain; it's a lot of (very short) books by many different authors. The prompts are primarily based off the first series (which is 11 books long), but there are spoilers for the second series in the "Sinead" section.
Crossover/Fusion option - Characters from another fandom (I don't care which) are Cahills. Hijinks ensue.
- What branch are they? How strongly/exclusively do they display their branch's trait?
- How loyal are they to their branch - are they staunchly loyal to their branch leader? For the idea of the branch but not its leadership? A Madrigal/Vesper? Out of this mess completely and glad of it?
- Incidents where they meet and clash heads due to being Cahill agents
- 39 Clues characters (Grace, Arthur/Hope and kids, the Holts, the Starlings, branch heads, etc.) are mutual acquaintances/enemies
- Something gets set on fire. (It's the Cahill way, after all.)
Historical Cahills - The bits of (probably inaccurate) history were one of my favorite parts of the first series. In short, every major figure in the past 400 years (and a significant portion in the century before that) is a Cahill. All of them. Even the ones who have no ties to Europe (let alone Ireland) in the slightest.
- What branch are they? How are they related to the Cahills?
- Do they have any contact with other Cahills?
- What kinds of missions do they take on?
Fiske - AKA The Man in Black. I like the way he interacts with Amy and Dan and am curious about his decision to go completely off the map.
- Life before disappearing - did he ever do Cahill business? Was their one inciting incident to his disappearing act? If so, what?
- Relationship with Grace - How did it change when he went into hiding? How close were they when they died? Were there boundaries they had with regards to each others' missions that they didn't have elsewhere?
- What did he do as the Man in Black? - missions (gone horribly wrong/right), protecting agents, attempted recruitment, checking up on people (Hope & Arthur, Grace, old friends, etc.)
- Relationship with Hope - Were they in contact? Did he stay away to keep attention away from her? Did she know his identity? Were there any times when they got to act like normal family members?
- Relationship with Amy - In Storm Warning, Amy sees Dan in Fiske; did Fiske have a similar experience with Amy and Hope (or Grace)? How did the first few month after the Clue Hunt go? (Misconceptions Fiske had about dealing with two teenagers, misunderstandings, general awkwardness, etc.) Is there anything he keeps from her (and Dan) that he wouldn't have kept from Grace?
- Relationship with Fiske - How did it change as they grew up? (In Vesper's Rising, she's practically raising him; does this continue as he gets older? How does their involvement in Cahill affairs change how they interact?) How did it change when he went into hiding? How does it affect the missions they take and their decisionmaking in regards to each other? In Storm Warning, Amy sees Dan in Fiske; did Grace see it the other way around?
- Relationship with Amy (and Dan) - I love how their perception of her changes through the series. How did she balance preparing them for the Clue Hunt (teaching Amy to research, training Dan's memory, etc.) with keeping them from the Clue Hunt? (Did she try to do a similar thing with Hope?) Why did she think sending them to live with Beatrice was the best course of action? (An AU where she raises them more directly would be appreciated.)
- Missions - We got hints of this in the books, but no incidents besides the one in Vespers Rising are ever explicitly shown. (Though, considering that one's her first, it explains a lot about Dan and Amy's decisionmaking processes.) What kind of reputation did her missions have within the Madrigals, in the general Cahill community, and within the Vespers? How was it earned? Reckless stunts (that may or may not end well), more careful/delicate things (that are easy to fuck up), managing agents in the field instead of being the field agent for the first time, etc.
- Books - What are her favorites? Why? When has her knowledge from books (e.g., extinct languages, animal care, ancient history) unexpectedly come in handy?
- Readjusting to normal life after the Clue Hunt - not for long, obviously, but how did it go? Any awkward moments?
- Relationship with Dan - I found their relationship as siblings (they love each other, but they have major differences in their though processes, and those sometimes come out as yelling) very realistic. How do they cope with all of the insanity they've gone through? What's their "normal" life like? Sibling bonding moments would be great.
- Relationship with Amy (and Dan) - What were they expecting her to be like based on past experiences with au pairs, and how did she fulfill/subvert them? How long has she known them?
- Training - How aware was she that it wasn't "normal" afterschool activities? What was the extent of it? Were there any areas she excelled/failed dismally at?
- Backstory - Did he ever go on Ekat missions? How did he get his limp? How did he know Hope/Arthur?
- His burrito's - Where did he get the idea? (At random? Wishful thinking while on mission? Fight with Bae Oh?) Did any of the Ekats (eventualy) react positively to it? (Maybe it meant better rations for a mission or they just thought the science was cool.)
- Relationship with younger Cahills - He acts as an honorary uncle to both the triplets and Amy and Dan, and I find that great. (Especially since there isn't a tragic backstory involving children behind it.) It's also clear that he ends up taking care of the Starling triplets after the Hunt is over; why? Does he bond with other teenaged agents or just the Starlings and Amy and Dan?
- Life before the Clue Hunt - What was she learning? What were her (potentially nonexistent) parents like? Did she and her brothers spend a lot of time with Alistair?
- Relationship with her brothers - What do they fight over? What do they bond over? How did they pull themselves back together during the Clue Hunt?
- Time as a Vesper - How did she join them? (Did she seek them out or vice versa?) Why? What did she have to do to join? Was her time at Cahill manor part of a mission?
- Past - What kinds of missions did he take? How much trouble did he get in? How did he meet Grace?
- Relationship with Grace - He was her most trusted advisor (and her lawyer/executor), but they also clashed heads occasionally. What did they fight about? Were their occasions where she didn't follow his advice?
- Cahill Legal issues - a lot like normal legal work, just with some more fire and murder.
- What kinds of missions did she go one for the Lucians? Did any of them go wrong?
- Her family - How did she meet her husband? How did he die? Was Nikolai's death really an accident?
- Poison nails - Who came up with the idea? What was the learning curve involved like? (e.g., poison nails stuck into inanimate objects, poison nails stuck into her, poison nails breaking, poisons nails leaking...)
H.I.V.E. series - Diabolus Darkdoom, Nigel Darkdoom, Maximilian Nero, Theodore Pike, Laura Brand, Shelby Trinity
Four teenagers at a school for villains have hijinks-filled adventures! While the trouble Otto and/or Co. get up to is definitely engaging and fun at times, I also have a soft spot for the older generation of baddies. I love the way this series alternately abides by, lampshades, and subverts assorted action tropes, the "I may be a supervillain/design evil lairs/occasionally threaten to kill the protagonists, but I have standards!" that most of the adults play totally straight being my favorite example.
This series is currently eight books long, all written by Mark Walden, and there are spoilers (particularly but not exclusively for the backstory bits) up through Deadlock, the eighth book. I'd also personally recommend skipping the first book; in my opinion, the second serves as a much more engaging jumping-off point.
- Past - How did he become a villain? How did he meet Nero? What were his evil plans like? Why does he have a much better relationship with Nero's dad than Nero does?
- On/Off Villainy - He's pretty infamous within G.L.O.V.E. (and has an MI6 file), but Nigel didn't know he was a villain until he was sent to H.I.V.E., and it's strongly implied his wife didn't know, either. How did he maintain this illusion? Were there any occasions when he had to switch roles rapidly?
- Relationship with Nigel - I find their relationship after Diabolus comes back completely adorable. Anything with these two interacting would be amazing. ("Bring your kid into your plot" day pre-series? Many, many hospital bedside interactions? Nigel dealing with Diabolus' death only to learn he's alive?)
- Him and His Toys - if giant, invisible transport and weapons count as "toys." Has he always been a huge tech nerd? When did his tendencies towards "anything you can build, I can build better" start? How did he build the Dreadnought and the Megalodon while he was in hiding?
- Backstory - How did he meet Diabolus? How did he join G.L.O.V.E. (While Diabolous has hints of a life outside villainy, Nero doesn't; did he start out in G.L.O.V.E. because of his dad?)
- Elena - Who was she to him? What was her relationship to the Furans? What happened to her?
- Day-to-day running of H.I.V.E. - just like normal school, but with more explosions
- Evil Plans - While Nero is pretty much the definition of Lawful Evil (well, Ethical Evil), he had to have done something to earn him infamy. What?
- Scientific experiments that went horribly wrong and/or right - He's a mad scientist who has turned one of his coworkers into a cat and (accidentally!) used a superlaser to punch a hole through the school. What other experiments make Nero want to pull his hair out?
- Relationship with Nathaniel - Again, everyone else has a better relationship with Nero's dad then Nero does. How did these two meet? Do they have Old Men Who Are Done with This Nonsense get-togethers?
- Relationship with his students - He's not very good safety supervision (see: Violet, the laser incident), but he does like them. Do his students like him? Do they understand what he's talking about? Does he help them with their more dubious projects (like he gave Shelby the flash drive in Deadlock)?
- Her computer skills - Where did she learn them? How? Did her parents know about them? When have they come in handy?
- Relationship with her family - They're all great. (And, besides Laura, likely to never appear again, but they're still great.) She loves them, they love her, but she's not allowed to go home to see them under threat of imprisonment. How do they cope? Does Douglas ask about his older sister as he grows up? When she graduates from H.I.V.E., does she go to visit them? Have either have her parents done something mildly villainous before?
- Schemes (possibly with the rest of the gang) that go horribly right.
- Future - What kind of work does she do? How successful is she as a villain? DOes she teach computer science/electronic security at H.I.V.E.?
- The Wraith - How did she become the Wraith? Why? What is the craziest thing she did to make a heist work?
- Backstory - Where did she come from? What was her family like? Did she leave anyone behind when she went to H.I.V.E.?
- Schemes (possibly with the rest of the gang) that go horribly right.
- Future - Does she return to heists or does she do something else? Does she teach physical security at H.I.V.E.?
- Relationship with his father - It's very adorable. How did he cope with Diabolus' "death"? What (mis)adventured did they have before said "death"? Do they have (mis)adventures after he comes back?
- Future - I can see this going one of two ways; he'll either turn out as a well-adjusted and mostly legal member of society, or he'll set loose plant monsters on an unsuspecting public. (The plant monster comes from the first book.) Which happens? Why? Is his father proud (and slightly scared) of him?
Number the Stars - Peter Neilson, Lise Johansen, Annemarie Johansen, Ellen Rosen
A girl must smuggle her best friend out of Nazi-occupied Denmark! I found this book very heartwarming, and I loved the way that Annemarie is both sheltered from and painfully aware of the reality of the situation at different times.
This canon is probably the easiest to pick up; it's one very short book.
- Her life in the resistance - How did she join the resistance? (Via Peter or some other means?) What kind of ops did she run? Did she and Peter run ops together?
- Her normal life - What did she do with her sisters? How did she meet Peter? What kinds of dates did they go on?
- Anything involving the two mixing together
- His life in the resistance - How did he join the resistance? (Via Lise or some other means?) What kind of ops did he run? Did he and Lise run ops together?
- His normal life - How did he meet Lise? What kinds of dates did they go on? Did he meet her sisters? Did they like him?
- Anything involving the two mixing together
- After the war ends, does she come back to Amsterdam? Does she make contact with Annemarie?
- What does she do after she flees to Sweden?
- What was her life like before the Nazi occupation? How did she and Annemarie meet?
- What was her life like before the Nazi occupation? How did she meet Ellen?
- Does she join the resistance? Does she send Ellen letters?
- Relationship with her sisters - How does her relationship with Kirsti change as they grow up? How does her perception of Lise change after Ellen's escape? What was Lise like before she died?
Singular Menace - Odin Remby, Shay Remby, Twist
A girl on a mission to find and save her brother (along with some friends/allies) uncovers the actions of an evil corporation along the way! I really liked the seriousness of this canon and found the "science" interesting.
This series is three longish books, and there are spoilers for the first two.
- Pre-Uncaged Life - How often did she talk to Odin? What was her life like? How was she doing in school? (She probably skipped a year of math somewhere, but we don't know anything beyond that.) How did she meet graffiti artists in Eugene?
- Relationship with her mom - What was it like before she died? Did she teach Shay anything? Is she really dead?
- Animal activism - How did it start? How did he meet Rachel/Storm? How does it continue as he grows up?
- Tech skills - Where did he learn them? How did he develop them?
- Relationship with his mom - What was it like before she died? Did she teach him anything? (His tech skills? About animals?) Is she really dead?
- Backstory - we get hints of it (former foster kid, at one point homeless, leg injury from being badly beaten while homeless, etc.), but I'm really curious how he ended up running the Twist hotel. How did he meet Dum and Dee? How did he meet Cruz and Cade?
- Kids he's met over the years - weird situations, things that went incredibly wrong/right, etc.
- His art - how did he get started? Was it always explicitly political?
- (Mis)adventures - judging by the hotel stunt at the beginning of Uncaged (and his general willingness to roll and/or assist with Shay's stunts), Twist has done a lot of crazy things. What was his first stunt like? How did it turn out? What other crazy things has he done over the years? Why?
The Time Hunters - Percy Halifax, John Mellor, Becky Mellor, Joe Mellor
Time travel hijinks! I liked the variety of times and places they traveled to (and the costumes they wore there) as well as Bowen Hall's menagerie of animals from the past. The characters' relationships to each other were also wonderful and very compelling.
One quick reminder that this is the series by Carl Ashmore, not the one by Chris Blake. (The titles should follow the format "The Time Hunters and the _ of _" instead of being one word.) This series is five books long, but spoilers are mostly for the first book only, with some details from later books in the "John" and "Joe" sections.
- The OTTERS - What were they like? What kind of (mis)adventures did they get up to? Did they build their first time machine together? (If so, what vehicle was it? Who kept it?) Were their any signs of Drake's villainy before he faked his own death? Do they ever meet up after they graduated (and some of them stopped travelling?)
- Bowen Hall's creatures - How did Percy get some of them? Do they have any unusual habits? Which ones are his favorites? Maria's? Will's?
- Percy is used to losing people. He's not used to them coming back into his life alive, especially after he's heard their dying words. (Can be played as either comedy or tragedy.)
- His inventions - How well do they work? How well do they sell? How long do they take to make? Have any of them gone hilariously wrong?
- Relationship with John - It's clear that these two love each other but don't always understand each other. How does John react when he learns that Percy kept the secret of time travel from him? How did their last fight go? (How much of it was really about the kids? Did Percy point out John's hypocrisy on the subject since he had interfered in both of their lives using time travel?) If John hadn't been captured, would they have eventually made up?
- Meetings with other time travelers - How well do they get along? Do they ever cross paths in the past? (I really liked the bits with other travelers in the later books - the city, the GITT party, Bruce the florist/cowboy... all of it)
- How much did he know about the relics before he was captured? How did he get the Suman Stone? (Did Edgar give it to him, knowing that it would end up in Becky's hands? Did it come up with the disk from Knossos? Did it fall into mortal hands at some point?) Why did he give it to Becky? (Did he think it best to hide it in plain sight, or did he not understand its significance?)
- Relationship with Percy - It's clear that these two love each other but don't always understand each other. How does John react when he learns that Percy kept the secret of time travel from him? How did their last fight go? (How much of it was really about the kids? Did Percy point out John's hypocrisy on the subject since he had interfered in both of their lives using time travel?) If John hadn't been captured, would they have eventually made up?
- Adventures in the ice cream truck - Where and when did he like to go? What sorts of trouble did he get into? Did he ever take Becky, Joe, and/or his wife with him? (Before or after he got back - either is fine by me.)
- Her powers - Where do they come from? What are their limits? Do they diminish over time or get stronger/stay as unpredictable?
- Animals - She bonds with most of the less-than-human cast. Which ones are her favorites? Why?
- History classes get a lot more interesting for Becky and/or the other students.
- Living a normal(ish) life after the last book ends - Visits to Uncle Percy, going to school, going on dates, and generally being a normal teenager with some caveats attached.
- In an attempt to save Will, Joe ends up stuck in the past. He takes the opportunity to be ones of his childhood heroes: Robin Hood.
- History classes get a lot more interesting for everyone involved. (Blurting out details about the Argonauts, claiming that Robin Hood's Merry Men were real, generally giving his teachers a headache, etc.)
- Return to Normal(ish) life - How does he deal with having his dad back? Do they go out to visit Uncle Percy (and the past) sometimes?
Time Traveling hijinks - aka canon without Drake
- How did Percy collect some of Bowen Hall's creatures?
- Meeting your past self is strange. Nearly being killed by your past self is even stranger.
- Accidental severe damage to the timeline - What happens next? How do they fix it?
- Costumes for the past