Characters / American Gods

Beware of unmarked spoilers.

''The "Old Gods" and Their Allies


Portrayed by: Ricky Whittle
  • 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.
  • Given Name Reveal: In Monarch of the Glen, it's confirmed that the name on his birth certificate is Balder Moon.
  • The Hero: The book's main protagonist and the one who topples the plans of the Big Bad. He's also a Hero in another sense, being the half-mortal son of a god.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: And the cat goddess loves him too.
  • Meaningful Name: He's named Shadow, which reflects how much he's a counterpart to Baldur, the Norse God of goodness and light.
  • 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: Subverted. He takes it rather calmly that there are tons of deities all all around him. But in a few private moments, he shows that he's almost going out of his mind with all the weirdness, and the drama of trying to get fiercely individualistic gods to work together. Makes sense since he is one himself, so he isn't a pure example of the trope.

Mr. Wednesday/Odin

Portrayed by: Ian Mcshane
  • 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.
  • Consummate Liar: calls himself the best liar Shadow will ever meet. He was right.
  • 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.
  • Evil Mentor: He's Shadow's mentor, and he's technically the Big Bad.
  • Grumpy Old Man: he's often grumpy or pretending to be cheerful and reveals himself to be deeply bitter about the fact that as a god who went out of style in a land that's bad for gods, he essentially has to live off scraps.
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: not often, but he does occasionally get more sympathetic moments, such as when he seems to sincerely regret that he can't truly bring Laura back to life and that she had to die in the first place. He also tells Shadow, his son, that he's proud of him.
  • 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.

Mr. Nancy/Anansi

Portrayed by: Orlando Jones
  • Cool Old Guy: Unlike veteran conman Wednesday and bitter loner Czernobog, Nancy's just fine with passing the days doing his own thing.
  • Dirty Old Man: He talks about his love of "women with big high titties" in his first appearance.

Mr. Ibis/Thoth

Portrayed by: Demore Barnes
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Like all Ancient Egyptian gods connected to death, he's a nice guy.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: quite clearly loves words, something that goes with his mythical connections as a scribe, and telling the stories of people - though how true they are is in doubt, with Mr. Ibis suggesting that he does it for the love of the story.
  • The Smart Guy: The most intellectual of the gods.

Mr Jacquel/Anubis

Portrayed by: Chris Obi
  • 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.



Portrayed by: Peter Stormare

The Zoryas (Zorya Utrennyaya, Zorya Vechernyaya and Zorya Polunochnaya)

Mad Sweeney

Portrayed by: Pablo Schreiber
  • Blood Knight: So he says. While probably true, it was also a setup.

Easter /Eostre

Portrayed by: Kristin Chenoweth
  • Big Beautiful Woman: as befits a fertility goddess.
  • 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.
  • Kiss of Life: To Shadow.
  • Ms. Fanservice: As befitting a fertility goddess.
  • Nice Girl: is kind to Shadow and to Horus alike, with her thoughts regarding the latter being mostly that he needs to be wrapped up and taken somewhere warm to babble his way back to sanity.
  • Stepford Smiler: is flirty, cheerful and apparently happy. However, Wednesday quickly penetrates her façade and as the Break the Cutie entry shows, she nearly breaks down in tears.


The man in the charcoal suit

  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Shadow forgets everything about him - including his name - immediately after learning them.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: An impression of wealth is all Shadow can remember of him. He wears a suit and drinks expensive whiskey with Wednesday. He also appears to be a god of wealth or similar, able to sense the exchanges of money going on around him.
  • The Nondescript: His only description is that he's dark-haired, clean-shaven, and his face is forgettable in every sense of the word.
  • The Unreveal: We never actually find out who he is.


  • Affably Evil: He's friendly to everyone, tells jokes all the time, and goes out of his way to help Shadow on multiple occasions, even saving Shadow's life when it would have been in his best interests not to. But at the same time, he literally murders children for a living.
  • Big Bad Friend: He's the villain of the Lakeside subplot.
  • Cool Old Guy: How everyone in Lakeside views him, including Shadow.
  • Minnesota Nice: What he appears to be. Turns out he's not actually from America at all, and he's only nice in the Affably Evil sense.
  • Nice Guy: Subverted when he turns out to be a Serial Killer.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: He was created from a child sacrifice many centuries ago, and he sustains his powers in the modern day by sacrificing children to himself.
  • Really 700 Years Old: He's actually a god (and a kobold) from centuries ago.
  • Serial Killer: He's been sacrificing a child to himself every year.
  • Suicide by Cop: When finally confronted with his crimes, he provokes the police chief into shooting him.

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.
  • Tomboy: She's very independent and adventurous, she goes by "Sam", and Shadow, upon first seeing her through the car window while half-asleep, had to ask if she was a boy or a girl.


Portrayed by: Emily Browning
  • 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.
    • After drinking the water of time and a highly unpleasant process of getting rid of all the formaldehyde, maggots etc. inside her, she's back to her living self, though Loki notes that this is temporary.
  • 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.
  • Undeath Always Ends: She gets temporarily restored to life, then stabs herself through the chest, and finally Shadow takes back the coin that made her undead at her own request.
  • Your Cheating Heart: A classic. Was sleeping with Shadow's best friend while he was in prison, although she maintains they were going to end the affair when Shadow was released.

''The "New Gods" and Their Allies

The Technical Boy

Portrayed by: Bruce Langley
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the novel, he's consistently described as "fat" and acne-spattered, but he doesn't seem to be either of those things in the trailer. Conspicuously, again in contrast to the novel, he's wearing what appears to be a track suit.
    • Justified, since the Internet of 2017 is very different from the Internet of 2001, as is the society's image of a tech-savvy person.
  • 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.
  • G.I.F.T.: 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."


Portrayed by: Gillian Anderson
  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: She sprinkles heavy emphasis on particular words throughout her speech (though not when possessing a TV character), in the same fashion as a news anchor.
  • 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. It's so blatant and done so vulgarly that it mostly just annoys him.
    "Hey, do you want to see Lucy's tits?"

The Spookshow

  • 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.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Mr Town seems to be the highest ranking member, answering directly to Mr World.
  • 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

Portrayed by: Crispin Glover / Jonathan Tucker