Characters: American Gods
Beware of unmarked spoilers.
''The "Old Gods" and Their Allies
- Ambiguously Brown: It's not entirely clear what race he is, although his mother is implied to have been black.
- When asked jokingly by a fan, Gaiman has agreed that Dwayne Johnson/The Rock, who has black and Samoan heritage, would be fitting to play him, stating they are both "underestimated".
- Beware the Nice Ones: Shadow's a nice guy, but he's also a very large man who knows how to handle himself. Even outside of his physical prowess, Shadow dismantles Wednesday and Loki's plans with a single awesome speech.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Look at his nickname and compare it to his actual identity as a Light Is Good deity.
- Divine Parentage: The son of Odin by a mortal woman.
- Genius Bruiser: Very well-read for a physical trainer, getting absorbed in books on Greek history and coin tricks while in prison.
- Gentle Giant: He's noted to be a very large man, but is not inclined towards violence.
- The Hero: The book's main protagonist and the one who topples the plans of the Big Bad.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: And the cat goddess loves him too.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: His real name is never mentioned by the third-person narrator. It's finally revealed to the reader in '"The Monarch of the Glen''.
- Smarter Than You Look: Everyone assumes he's just a big dumb guy until he starts talking.
- The Stoic: Throughout the book, Shadow takes most of the crazy shit he sees with aplomb.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Turns out he's actually Baldur.
- Unfazed Everyman: He takes it rather calmly that there are tons of deities all all around him. Makes sense since he is one himself, so he isn't a pure example of the trope.
- Big Bad: Turns out the whole war was a scam to get himself more power.
- The Casanova: He charms the pants off of nearly every young woman he meets.
- The Chessmaster: Effortlessly plays both sides of the war against the other.
- Con Man: How he goes about these days. He's done every con in the book.
- Dirty Old Man: He's described as sleeping with girls who look barely legal.
- Jerkass: Likes to use one of his runes to seduce girls, then use another one to make them incapable of ever getting over him, just for shits and giggles.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: To Shadow
- Running Both Sides: With Mr. World.
- The Social Expert: It goes along with his con man tendencies.
- Technically a Smile: Shadow notes early on that his smile has a sinister motive just behind it, more bearing teeth than an actual display of emotion.
- Thanatos Gambit: Dying was the motivation all the other Old Gods needed to band together against the new. He didn't mind because, once the battle was dedicated to him, he would get more power than he ever had before.
- Cool Old Guy: Unlike veteran conman Wednesday and bitter loner Czernobog, Nancy's just fine with passing the days doing his own thing.
- Nice Hat: A lime-green fedora.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: Like all Ancient Egyptian gods connected to death, he's a nice guy.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: Like Mr. Ibis, he's not such a bad guy.
- I'm a Humanitarian: While conducting autopsies, he has a habit of eating some of the corpse's heart. Respectfully.
- A shout out of sorts to the mythology of Anubis who would weigh the deceased's heart against a feather to judge where they would spend the afterlife.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Into a jackal, naturally.
- Cat Girl: The original practically.
- Intimate Healing: She provides some for Shadow in a dream. It heals him of his cuts and bruises, but leaves him with some fresh claw marks on his back.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: As befitting a cat goddess.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Keeps an eye on Shadow through the eyes of all cats.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Into a cat, of course.
- Ax-Crazy: Looking forward to beaning Shadow with a sledgehammer. And he does, but ultimately changes his mind about actually hurting him.
- Cain and Abel: He's known as the "evil" brother; his brother, Bielebog, is the "good" one.
- Dark Is Not Evil: A god of darkness, but that doesn't mean he's a bad guy.
- The Eeyore: Not as demonstrative as many examples, but he's a very gloomy guy.
- God of Evil: How he's seen by those who remember him.
- Jekyll & Hyde: He and Bielebog are the same person.
- Vegetarian Vampire: Gets his powers from sacrificial murders, but after his followers dried up, he worked at a slaughterhouse rather than becoming a Serial Killer.
The Zoryas (Zorya Utrennyaya, Zorya Vechernyaya and Zorya Polunochnaya)
- The Mentor: Polunochnaya to Shadow.
- Blood Knight: So he says. While probably true, it was also a setup.
- Fighting Irish: He's Irish and a Blood Knight.
- Leprechaun: Though you wouldn't know it looking at him because he's tall, doesn't speak with an accent, and doesn't drink Guinness.
- Break the Cutie: Wednesday twists her arm into service by going into a diatribe about what people do and do not believe about her holiday. She very nearly cries.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Her holiday celebrates mornings, life and rebirth. She plays a vital part in Shadow's resurrection.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Thoth and Anubis mention him in Cairo. He pops back up in Kansas to convince Easter to save Shadow.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: He's a Bird Brain.
- Noble Bird Of Prey: Averted. He's a hawk but he has none of the gravitas.
- Non Sequitur: "I can stare at the sun without blinking". This is after he's reminded he's naked.
- The Ophelia: A male version, but both Thoth and Anubis say he's lost his mind.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: From a hawk to a naked man with a hawk's head.
Samantha Black Crow
- Agent Mulder: Delivers an amazing and lengthy monologue to Shadow about all the things she believes in to get him to open up to her.
- Badass Normal: Faces Mr. Town and Mr. Road, and not only does she refuse to tell them anything about Shadow, she makes fun of their names. She also hitchhikes with Shadow, who's kind of scary before you get to know him.
- Braids, Beads and Buckskins: She doesn't dress like it, but she's proud of her Indian heritage.
- Bi the Way: With the exception of her interest in Shadow and a hinted past with a boy in Lakeside, all of Sam's mentioned relationships are with women.
- Girl Next Door: Well, technically, the girl next door's little sister.
- Little Miss Snarker: Well evidenced in her interaction with Mr. Town and Mr. Road. Calling Audrey a cunt is just icing.
- Take-That Kiss: She plants what she terms a "fuck off" kiss on Shadow in a bar, although it was to tell everyone else there to fuck off, not him.
- Action Girlfriend: Rather, Action Wife. For a dead woman, she's pretty capable of doing some damage to a group of trained government agents.
- Back from the Dead: Not in a nice way, though.
- Badass: After she was resurrected.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Even when she was alive, Laura was not as nice as she seemed. But she really does love Shadow which keeps her on the sympathetic side of the trope.
- Came Back Wrong: She's not truly alive, she's left disconnected from the real world, and her body keeps decomposing.
- Dead All Along: Not that it's a revelation; the twist is that she comes back.
- Dead Person Conversation: Whenever she talks to Shadow, or anyone else.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: She kills Loki by stabbing him through her own chest.
- Lady Macbeth: Seems Shadow's involvement in the robbery that got him in prison was her idea.
- The Lost Lenore: Shadow misses her throughout the novel, and her resurrection does little to help that.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Deconstructed. Because of that personality, she cheated on Shadow with her best friend's husband while he was in the clink. She also puts on the MPDG act to charm Mr. Town before gruesomely killing him.
- More Deadly Than The Male: She is far more likely to kill you than her husband is.
- Our Zombies Are Different: This one is self-aware and in control of her actions, but steadily rotting away.
- Poisonous Friend: Very big on protecting Shadow and quite violent about it.
- Took a Level in Badass: According to her, dying did a lot to remove her inhibitions about killing people.
- Your Cheating Heart: A classic. Was sleeping with Shadow's best friend while he was in prison.
''The "New Gods" and Their Allies
The Technical Boy
- Badass Longcoat: Subverted. He dresses like the characters in The Matrix but is a physically weak nerd.
- Character Death: Killed by Loki as a demonstration of his plan to sacrifice the new and old gods, thereby resurrecting Odin's ghost.
- GIFT: Since he is the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Internet, it's only natural he acts like this.
- Heel Realization: After he murders Bilquis he realizes that his faction's motivations don't actually make any sense; unfortunately for him he brings this up to exactly the wrong person.
- Jerkass: He's a rude, nasty little punk who likes to throw his weight around.
- Nerd in Evil's Helmet: His efforts at being intimidating come across as rehearsed and poorly executed.
- Otaku: Beneath the attempts at a threatening demeanor, the Technical Boy is little more than a pathetic nerd.
- Super Loser: He may be a god, but nobody gives him much respect, and the narrative tends to refer to him as "the fat kid."
- Stepford Smiler: Her personality resembles that of a passive-aggressive newscaster. It's about as genuine as a three-dollar bill.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Can take any character that appears on TV as her avatar. Shadow eventually stops watching TV because he feels (rightfully) that he's being watched.
- The Vamp: She tries to seduce Shadow onto the side of the New Gods various times throughout the story.
- Avenging the Villain: Mr. Town is not happy about his buddies getting killed, but leaves Shadow alone because Mr. World says so.
- Flat Earth Atheist: Mr. Town thinks all the gods are just mutants with mind control powers.
- The Men in Black: What they seem to be the archetype of.
- Mooks: They work for Mr. World and the New Gods.
- Punch Clock Villain: They're not much more than jerks in suits, doing the bidding of a villainous god.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Mr. Wood and Mr. Stone.
Mr. World / Low-Key Lyesmith
- Chekhov's Gunman: Shadow first mentions him in passing. He shows up in person later.
- Distinguishing Mark: His scarred lip; it's a reference to a story in Norse Mythology where Loki's mouth was sewn shut and he had to tear it open.
- The Dragon: To Wednesday.
- Evil Redhead: The Dragon to Wednesday, and a redhead besides.
- Louis Cypher: Low-key Lyesmith. Loki Liesmith
- Meaningful Name: Low-key is no mere prison nickname.