A novel about the apocalypse, in which The Antichrist
is accidentally Switched at Birth
and given to a normal family, where he grows up free from any influence of Heaven and Hell and becomes a completely normal and average child. Well, normal aside from the fact that he's subconsciously using his powers to make sure his small, quaint hometown stays
small and quaint...
The mix-up causes plans for Armageddon to spin wildly out of control, as agents of both Heaven and Hell try to find out just why things aren't going as planned. Two of those agents, an angel (Aziraphale) and a demon (Crowley) who have formed a friendly rivalry (more friends than rivals by this point), are trying to find the Antichrist and put a stop to The End of the World as We Know It
because they decided they like
humanity. Also in the mix are the last witch-finder in England (and his new assistant), and a modern-day witch who is the heir to a book of oddly specific but still conveniently obscure prophecies.
Co-written by Terry Pratchett
and Neil Gaiman
, each at the top of their form
. The pair considered working on a sequel, but aside from the potential title 668: The Neighbour of the Beast
nothing has yet come of this. With Gaiman having moved to the US, both have expressed the opinion that it ain't gonna happen.A four part mini-series adapting it is apparently in the works
, by Terry Pratchett's own production company, with Terry Jones (of Monty Python
fame) and Gavin Scott writing the scripts. BBC Radio 4 aired a six-part mini series
adaptation of the book in December 2014, created by the same production team who did the celebrated adaption of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
Some useful annotations for the inquiring (or nonplussed) reader can be found here
This book provides examples of:
- Abstract Apotheosis: The Bikers under go this when Adam is near. Only Death doesn't change. (Some things don't).
- Action Girl: Pepper and War.
- Aerith and Bob
- Affably Evil: Crowley, "An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards".
- Affectionate Parody: Of The Book of Revelation and The Omen
- Aliens in Cardiff: Lower Tadfield as the location of the apocalypse.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels:
- The co-Bikers of the Apocalypse.
- Other bikers are literally Hell's Angels.
- Although only Death is actually an angel (the others are Anthropomorphic Personifications), and it's not clear whether he works for Hell, Heaven, or neither — it would be next to impossible to tell and it all amounts to the same thing anyway.
- The Alleged Car:
- Newt's Wasabi.
- Taken Up to Eleven with Crowley's Bentley after going over the M25. It's on fire, has no wheels, and takes all of Crowley's concentration just to keep it from falling apart.
- The Alleged Computer: Newton Pulsifer has a singular knack for machinery, which is the knack of failing absolutely to make them do what he wants them to do. And he always buys the worst. His computers somehow always manage to be the early model with the hopelessly flawed chipset or the bug-ridden OS and the like. And don't ask about his car.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees:
- You know Aziraphale's copy of the Bible that accidentally read "Thou Shalt Commit Adultery"? It exists.
- People with names like "Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery"? Actually happened among Puritans.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: The four Horsepersons.
- The Antichrist: Adam.
- Anti Anti Christ: Adam again.
- Zig-zagged. He's a mischievous kid who doesn't quite understand adult morality yet, but doesn't do anything really nasty... then he gets angry at the way the human race is screwing up the world and decides to do something about it. For a bit, he becomes a crazed monster, willing to genocide the human race and build new, better people for him to play with. Then his human side regains control and he again becomes his essentially affable self, but still containing a dark well of evil threatening to burst through every so often.
- Anticlimax: Just when it looks like the Apocalypse has been averted, a mighty rumble from underground signals that Crowley's boss isn't going to let this go easily. Crowley and Aziraphale arm themselves for the final battle, exchange speeches, change into their true forms, and the human characters decide to join them in the upcoming fight... then Adam waves his hand and suddenly there's no battle to be fought. Everything's back to normal now and the characters can get on with their lives!
- There's a certain Double Entendre in this sequence, where the characters believe they're about to fight Adam's biological father (Satan), but Adam changes it so that his adoptive father (Mr. Young) arrives instead.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: "Listen, do you know what eternity is?"
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- "Human beings mostly aren't [particularly evil]. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye denims and playing guitars at people".
- "Many phenomena — wars, plagues, sudden audits — have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man..."
- Aura Vision: An offshoot of Anathema Device's psychic powers. It causes slight troubles when she can't see a certain person's aura.
"It might, or might not, have helped Anathema get a clear view of things if she'd been allowed to spot the very obvious reason why she couldn't see Adam's aura. It was for the same reason that people in Trafalgar Square can't see England."
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Hastur and Ligur, Dukes of Hell... and then there's Lucifer.
- Awesome McCoolname: Anathema Device.
- Baby Talk (or possibly, given that she's a Satanist, Cuteness Proximity): Sister Mary Loquacious, getting distracted by the baby Anti Christ and his little hoofie-woofies. Which he hasn't got.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Aziraphale and Crowley when preparing for the final battle armed with a flaming sword and a tire iron, respectively.
- Badass Decay: In-universe example. A huge dog that would make angry rottweilers and pitbulls cower gets turned into a small terrier-like mongrel with a funny ear, because Adam's his master and he said so. Much to Dog's dismay, he can't scare away cats like he used to and tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to fight his new small-dog instincts.
- By the end he gives up and starts to enjoy it, realizing much as Crowley has that Earth is so much more interesting than Hell.
- Badass Normal: Pepper, Brian, and Wensleydale who defeat the Horsemen, and Shadwell, who's ready to take on Satan. With his forehead.
- Bad Boss: Crowley is a demon, so his superiors include Hastur and Ligur, Dagon, Beelzebub and Satan — all of whom are nasty pieces of work and threaten to make him regret some of his choices. On Aziraphale's side, there's the Metatron — the Knight Templar Jerk Ass Voice of God.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: The Anti-Christ.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Technically, angels and demons don't need to breathe.
- Because Destiny Says So: This is essentially the logic with which Anathema lives her life.
- Also both Beelzebub and Metatron insist that "It is written" when Adam refuses to take his part in Armageddon, and instead puts a stop to the whole thing.
- Been There, Shaped History:
- Subverted. Crowley received a commendation from Hell for starting the Spanish Inquisition, which was the first he'd heard of it. He just happened to be in the area when it started, so Below attributed it to him. When he finally got around to seeing what that was about, he ended up spending a good deal of time drinking to forget what he saw.
- Likewise, Crowley and Aziraphale both claimed Milton Keynes as a success, and believed meter maids were a plot by the other side, but both were entirely human creations.
- Being Good Sucks/Being Evil Sucks: Aziraphale and Crowley commiserate while drinking.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Aziraphale may be an angel, but it's still not a very good idea to piss him off.
- Blond Guys Are Evil:
- Blood Lust: Scarlett/Carmine Zuigiber/War.
She licked a spatter of blood—someone else's—from the back of her hand with a scarlet, cat-like tongue. Then she smiled.
- Blow You Away: Crowley toys with the idea of conjuring up a hurricane to eliminate rival job applicants.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Azrael/Death probably goes here. And possibly God, what with all the ineffability.
- Body Surf: Aziraphale does this briefly after stepping into a pentagram. Shadwell mistakes him for a demon. Twice in the same day.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted and lampshaded: Newt explains that he can't save the day the way James Bond would, because the bad guys didn't show him all the Megadeath Doomsday Machines and explain how they worked before they left. If he were Bond, they would have; but this is real life.
- Boring but Practical: Crowley uses magic to maintain his car in perfect condition far longer than would normally be expected; Mr. Young achieves the same effect by just following the suggested maintenance schedule.
- Brick Joke: Oh so many. One includes Tropical Fish. Then again, consider the authors.
- The best has got to be 'Let's do the Ritz' around page ten. About two hundred pages later, a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.
- Buffy Speak: Shadwell, of all people, when instructing Newt to look out for "Phenomena. Phenomenatrices. Things, ye ken well what I mean" as the main part of his witch finder media-watch duties. Also Aziraphale when drunk.
- Burn the Witch!: On Agnes Nutter. It doesn't work entirely as planned.
- Cannot Tell a Lie: Aziraphale. It extends to his taxes, which he files so scrupulously he's been audited several times by government accountants made deeply suspicious by such accurate, honest accounting.
- Call Back
- The M25 becomes a major hurdle. It was first mentioned in a characterization joke in the first chapter.
- There's another not quite as important to the plot; in a footnote, it is mentioned that one of four things published in a trashy tabloid is actually true, including the fact that Elvis works at a burger joint. A little while later, Famine visits a restaurant and there's a man flipping burgers... with a cowlick... singing Hound Dog. You do the math.
- Further reinforced by Death saying he never touched the guy.
- There's also a footnote about the "Buggre Alle This" Bible indicating that this particular edition of the Bible also had three extra verses in Genesis 3, and suggesting that they were inserted by Aziraphale. This is a callback to the very first prologue.
- Care Bear Stare: One of Aziraphale's duties is spreading divine ecstasy. Crowley occasionally covers for him.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Aziraphale's flaming sword.
- Chekhov's Gag: That Crowley arranged the M25 to be a demonic sigil. It seems like a throwaway gag at first, but it comes back in a big way.
- The Chain of Harm: Crowley takes full advantage of it to maximize his efforts in making human lives miserable: he calls it "thinking wide". Other, more traditional demons frown at this.
- The Chosen One: Complicated; first when the Antichrist is Switched at Birth one too many times, resulting in the wrong person being prepared for 11 years, and secondly when he then decides he doesn't want to cause Armageddon and convinces both Heaven and Hell not to go through with it.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Pollution, who is thought to be a hippie until people notice he's leaking things everywhere and is groovy about littering.
- Colour Coded Characters: Three of the Four Horsemen have motifs based on the colour of horse they're described as riding in Revelations (War red, Famine black, Pestilence white). This covers not only their physical appearances, but also the pseudonyms they use, which are all synonyms for these colours.
- Conflict Ball: War is the anthropomorphic embodiment of one. Wherever she goes, people randomly start fighting (sometimes over her).
- Cool Car: Crowley's Bentley. Although towards the end, it's a totally hot car instead.
- Cool Old Guy: Shadwell, for a given value of "cool."
- Cool Old Lady: Agnes Nutter.
- Cool Shades: Crowley, which he wears all the time.
- Cosmic Plaything: Everybody. With the possible exception of Adam.
- Arguably, even him. It's noted that trying to understand the ineffable plan is something akin to playing poker for infinite stakes in a pitch black room with blank cards and a dealer who refuses to tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time. It being, by its very nature, impossible to understand except by God, who ain't talking.
- Crack Fic: It basically is one for The Bible.
- Crazy-Prepared: Crowley keeping holy water on hand.
- Agnes Nutter, who had plenty of time to prepare for her imminent burning, including getting her affairs in order, cancelling the milk and filling her underwear with gunpowder and roofing nails.
- Her descendants, thanks to the book she left behind, have at least a vague idea of what's coming.
- Whoever wrote the book of Maritime Radio Signals included one for reporting the return of Atlantis (and its High Priest winning a quoits contest).
- Critical Staffing Shortage: The Witchfinder Army, once a thriving paramilitary organization but by the time of the book reduced to two. However, both Heaven and Hell believe the WA is at least regimental-sized...
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Dark Action Girl: War.
- Dark Is Not Evil/Light Is Not Good/Good Is Not Nice: See Not So Different.
- "...stretching off to infinity, were the hosts of Heaven and Hell, wingtip to wingtip. If you looked really closely, and had been specially trained, you could tell the difference." Incidentally, this is also a shout-out to a very famous series of pictures by MC Escher depicting... you guessed it: geometrically-spaced angels dovetailing perfectly with geometrically-spaced devils.
- Deadly Prank: The bucket over the door trick. Holy water + demons. Bad combination. At least, for the demon.
- Deadpan Snarker: Newton gradually morphs into one in the face of the absurdities he's subjected to.
- Death Glare: When deployed by Crowley reality tends to realign accordingly.
- Deconstruction: Agnes is a deconstruction of oracular characters in general. On the one hand, we see that she's always right, but sometimes her predictions are oddly specific (don't buye Betamacks), too ahead of their time (jogging helps people to live longer), centered on her relatives in the future (she predicted for 1963-11-22 that a house in a small English city would fall down, but doesn't mention the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the same day — one of her relatives might have been near that house on that day, but apparently, none of them wanted to go to Dallas), and she didn't bother to order her predictions or explain them in detail. On the other hand, she uses her power to successfully Write Back to the Future (and also to prevent people who deliver said message snooping), and since she can predict everything, this includes knowing when Anathema will read a specific prophecy — so it always fits.
- Decoy Protagonist: Aziraphale and Crowley. For all of their efforts, and despite them prominently appearing in the plot, Armageddon ultimately is stopped by Anathema, Newt and Them.
- Delusions of Eloquence: The Three have big ideas, but are frequently undone by their own misspellings.
- Demonic Possession: Well, Angelic Possession. But it helps demonstrate how Angels and Demons are Not So Different.
- Designated Girl Fight: An unusual version of one; violent little tomboy Pepper versus War.
- The Determinator: Crowley. And how.
- Determined Defeatist: At one point, when things are at their bleakest, Crowley thinks he might as well drink himself senseless while he waits for the world to end. Instead, he drives at top speed to Tadfield to prevent the Apocalypse. In a burning car. That he's holding together through sheer Heroic Resolve.
- Devil in Disguise: Crowley. He's Hell's field-agent, posing as a bon viveur named Anthony J. Crowley
- Digging to China (or from Tibet): Adam's belief that such a thing is possible combined with his immense reality altering abilities causes Tibetans to start popping up out of holes in the ground all over the place.
- Divinely Appearing Demons: Crowley notes that there's "not that much difference" in appearance between angels and demons. One of the running themes of the book is that angels and demons are Not So Different.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Young family's telephone number: Tadfield six double-six.
- A Dog Named Dog: Dog, a hellhound who goes from a massive terrifying beast to a miniature mutt with a funny ear.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Played with. Footnotes were added to American version to explain some of the jokes that depend on knowing British geography and such. Except they tend to boil down to "If you were British, you'd be laughing." Some of them contain their own little joke to compensate. For example, after the lengthy explanation of the old British system of currency, it quips how the Brits spent a long time avoiding decimal system "because they thought it was too complicated".
- Doom It Yourself: Newt takes this to the level of a superpower. He once got a joke circuit board that isn't supposed to do anything, and ended up building a wireless radio that picked up Radio Moscow.
- Winds up as a Brick Joke when he "fixes" the launch computers, causing them to fail in spectacular fashion.
- Dramatic Wind: Happens around Adam when his powers begin to manifest.
- Dreaming of Times Gone By: Shadwell has a dream in which he witnesses the death of Agnes Nutter. She knew he would; her direct address to him was mistaken by her contemporary onlookers for speaking blasphemy in the direction of Heaven.
- Dream Team: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman working together. Of course, this was before either of them was particularly well-known.
- Drives Like Crazy: Crowley is something of a speed demon.
- Earth Is Young: The Earth has only been around for 6,000 years and all the 'old' stuff in the ground is God's decoration. Or personal amusement; consider the dinosaur skeletons.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Anathema. She is a witch.
- Elvis Lives: A Running Gag. (For the record, he unwittingly works for Famine at a burger joint.)
Death: I don't care what it says, I never laid a finger on him.
- Embarrassing First Name/Embarrassing Middle Name: Pepper's real name is Pippin Galadriel Moonchild. It's also her Berserk Button.
"There are only two ways a child can go with a name like Pippin Galadriel Moonchild, and Pepper had chosen the other one."
- The Empath: Aziraphale when they're trying to find The Antichrist is puzzled when he doesn't detect any evil in the area, but rather love.
- The End of the World as We Know It: The underlying premise of the book is that everyone is getting ready to throw down for Armageddon, which Adam is supposed to kick off.
- Energy Beings: Beings of angelic stock can travel through the phone lines.
- Erotic Eating: War in the bar when "on holiday."
Red unconcernedly withdrew the maraschino cherry from her drink, put it to her scarlet lips, and sucked it slowly off its stick in a way that made several men in the room break into a cold sweat.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Crowley, having already crossed the demonic Moral Event Horizon by using holy water on Ligur, considers putting the tape in which Hastur is trapped into his car until it turns into a Queen album, then decides it would be too cruel.
- It's a recurring theme in the book that humans on their own are capable of far greater evil (and good) than demons (or angels) could ever imagine. Or, in Crowley's case, stomach.
- Evil Albino: Pollution.
- Evil Counterpart:
- Evil Is Petty: Crowley's Modus Operandi is generating vast amounts of low-level evil (Telemarketers, phone system failures, the M25, and such) as the knock-on effects are potentially vast, and furthermore, the people themselves keep it going, as opposed to more old-school demons who work on corrupting people on an individual basis.
- Evil Is Sterile: It's spelled out that demons aren't very imaginative, which is why humans are actually better at being evil. Of course, because they come from the same stock, angels aren't any better.
- Evil Redhead: War.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: In-universe subversion in the form of CHOW™, SNACKS™ and MEALS™ which thanks to cutting edge food-science technology contain nothing of any nutritional value whatsoever. The latter is a true work of art in that if you eat it in any significant amount, it will cause you to both become morbidly obese and die of malnutrition, which their inventor (Raven Sable, also known as Famine) finds deeply amusing.
- Fail O'Suckyname: The secondary group of Bikers of the Apocalypse.
- Their names are: Grievous Bodily Harm, Cruelty to Animals, Really Cool People, and Treading In Dogshit (formerly All Foreigners Especially The French, formerly Things Not Working Properly Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping, never actually No Alcohol Lager, briefly Embarrassing Personal Problems, and finally People Covered In Fish)
- Fallen Angel: All the demons of hell are fallen angels. So is Crowley, though "he didn't fall so much as saunter vaguely downward".
- Felony Misdemeanor: Crowley's reaction to his immediate superiors being rather underwhelmed by his demonic influences (i.e. traffic jams, telemarketers, the M25) on the mortal world.
- Hastur and Ligur look down on Crowley's tying up London's phone system for an hour at lunchtime (tarnishing thousands of souls in a domino effect of people being in bad moods across the city) in favor of their more artful craft of spending a lifetime trying to corrupt a single pious individual.
- Fictional Colour: There was a mention of infra-black, that was the color that flashes before your eyes when you've just run into a wall head-first, right before you die.
- Fiery Redhead: War, who can make men fight over her. To be more exact, fight through her, they were going to execute her for disrupting a four-way battle. Well, you get the idea. Pepper is a human example of the trope.
- Flaming Sword: The angels have these. Except for Aziraphale, who "misplaced" his.
- Flock of Wolves:
"The park was deserted except for a member of MI9 trying to recruit someone who, to their later mutual embarrassment, would turn out to be also a member of MI9."
- Foil: Crowley and Aziraphale, Shadwell and Tracey, Newton and Anathema, etc. See Geodesic Cast, below.
- Footnote Fever: For backstory, digressions, gags, set-ups for Brick Jokes...
- Friendly Enemy: See the Odd Couple entry.
- Friend to All Living Things:
- Parodied by Crowley, who talks to his plants to encourage their growth. Topics include disappointment in growth rates and what happened to the last plant that didn't bloom. His plants are very tall, very green, and very frightened.
- Aziraphale exhibits this trope in several instances where Crowley is about to get someone killed. Having tried and failed to replace clowns as the entertainment at a child's birthday party by way of his old training as a stage magician, ends up suffocating a dove by leaving it tucked in his sleeve for too long. He seems much less bothered by that than by the fact that the hellhound he and Crowley are watching for hasn't shown up, and Crowley's the one who carefully resurrects the bird and sends it on its way.
- At one point, St. Francis disguises himself as a gardener and plays the Friend To All Living Things trope literally and explicitly for the benefit of an impressionable child. It doesn't exactly work.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Adam is Sanguine, Pepper is Choleric, Wensleydale is Melancholic, and Brian is Phlegmatic.
- From the Mouths of Babes: Metatron and Beelzebub are both dissuaded from carrying out Armageddon (with the argument that it'd just start the cycle over and ruin a fun experience for everyone) by 11-year-old Adam Young, AKA the Antichrist.
- Functional Magic: For Angels and Demons. And maybe for certain humans, like Agnes Nutter.
- The Fundamentalist: Sergeant Shadwell, almost-but-not-quite played for laughs.
- Funetik Aksent: Parodied with Shadwell, whose accent is described as a random, shifting mixture of accents from all over Britain. Likely meant to be a Take That to American portrayals of British accents that unwittingly mix regional dialects, or maybe in fact a direct tribute to a single famous British television character — Alf Garnett, played by actor Warren Mitchell in the sitcoms Till Death Do Us Part and In Sickness and In Health. Anyone familiar with the character's physical description, "roaming accent", and personality (he is a comical bigot) will recognize him instantly if they were born and raised in England in the 1970s or 1980s. (However Alf's accent was fairly firmly in Sarf London, the one area Shadwell never goes near. Make of that what you will.)
- Funny Foreigner/Eagle Land: Sister Mary mistakes Mr. Young for the American diplomat. Hilarity Ensues.
- Gaia's Vengeance: The sickly potted trees in a South American shopping mall have a sudden rush of energy and tear the place to bits.
- Gambit Roulette: At the end of the book, Aziraphale notes that the near-miss Armageddon may have been exactly what God intended. The two sides actually go home to consult higher management when he brings it up to them. Everything may be to plan, but it is the ineffable plan after all...
- Geodesic Cast: See Foil, above. Also, each of the Them corresponds to one of the the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse.
- Adam is Death, Pepper is War, Brian is Pollution, and Wensleydale is Famine.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Giftedly Bad: Newton with electronics. To such an extent that, when he's struggling to prevent Armageddon, the solution is "try to make this computer work better".
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Madame Tracy's old-fashioned sensibilities about what men consider attractive leads her to keep a collection of threadbare stuffed animals in her bedroom.
- Glamour Failure:
- After War, Famine and Pollution return to Tadfield Army Base after being "wrapped around the world", their human bodies don't exactly... fit right.
- Also, the automated security system raises the alarm when they enter an off-limits section. Granted, that doesn't achieve anything but annoy the soldiers because of humanity's inherent Weirdness Censor (none of the humans can see the four), but it's still interesting.
- Crowley has a tendency to hiss when he forgets himself.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Death/Azrael. Crowley, as well, when he's straining himself.
- God: Does not actually appear at any point, but is mentioned frequently and is implied to have a hand in manipulating the events towards the end result that occurred rather than what either side actually wanted.
- God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Or if not God, at least the angelic establishment, who are stuffy, prudish, and generally un-fun. God Himself? He's reclusive and no one has any idea what He's doing.
- Going Native: Aziraphale and Crowley who have more in common with humanity and each other than they do with Heaven or Hell. Specifically discussed in Crowley's case by Hastur and Ligur.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Aziraphale and Crowley most of the time.
- Good Is Boring: It's explained that Heaven doesn't have any good, notable musicians or actors.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Aziraphale. Members of The Mafia that threaten his bookstore tend to leave and never come back. Just because he's an angel doesn't mean he's weak. (Despite the ambiguous phrasing, he's still an angel, and they're probably unharmed. Almost certainly.)
- Good Wings, Evil Wings: Downplayed, there is little difference between the wings of angels and demons though the wings of demons tend to be better groomed.
- Azrael's wings are called "angel's wings" while also being described as black holes into space with visible stars - there's no way they could have feathers. Perhaps because he's the Angel of Death, and his wings are thereby "angelic" no matter what their style, or maybe the voids in reality are feathery-wing-shaped.
- Granola Girl: Anathema Device is something like this, though she's also portrayed as being a lot more practical and pragmatic than is the norm for the character type.
- Gratuitous Japanese: The story refers to the Japanese city of Nigirizushi ("hand-formed sushi"), a Japanese whaling ship named the Kappamaki ("cucumber roll"), and an alleged car model named Wasabi.
- The Grim Reaper: Similar to but a lot less interested in humanity than the Discworld version. (Almost nothing like the Sandman version, for the record, except for the wings.)
- Grounded Forever: Adam discusses his grounding with the Them:
"When do you think they'll let you out, then?" asked Pepper.
"Not for years and years. Years and years and years. I'll be an old man by the time they let me out," said Adam.
"How about tomorrow?" asked Wensleydale.
Adam brightened. "Oh, tomorrow will be all right," he pronounced. "They'll have forgotten about it by then."
- Guardian Entity: Aziraphale and Crowley to the Anti Anti Christ, sort of. Also, the hellhound to the Anti Anti Christ... also sort of.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Adam, the Anti Anti Christ. Aziraphale counts in most fanart depictions, although he struggles with To Be Lawful or Good and often gets stroppy.
- Happily Adopted: All three of the babies involved in the birth switching.
- Have a Gay Old Time:
- Non-sexual example in The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter (the word 'nice' didn't settle on its modern implication until the 19th century). Probably influenced by the story of Alice Nutter and the Device family of Pendle, Lancs., being recorded in a 1612 book called The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in Lancashire — wonderful at the time meaning simply 'amazing'.)
- Also happens when Anathema and Newt are trying to get inside the airforce base. The American guard is very impressed with Newt's fancy Witchfinder credentials, but is skeptical of the part "...about us got to give you faggots?"
- Although he is excited when he finds out that they wanted the faggots to burn them.
- Hellish Pupils: Quite literally, in Crowley's case.
- Hell of a Heaven: Crowley hints that Heaven's a boring place with few composers, theaters and films.
"Listen, the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right then...then you still wouldn't have finished watching The Sound of Music. And you'll enjoy it."
"The boredom you got in Heaven was nearly as bad as the excitement you got in Hell."
- Heroic Fire Rescue: Crowley runs into a burning bookshop with what everyone else perceives is an intention to rescue the (similarly immortal) angel Aziraphale; but what Crowley is really after, and rescues, is the extremely vital sole remaining edition of The Nice And Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Wyttche.
- Heroic Resolve: Crowley holds his burning car together through sheer force of will. Hell on wheels, eh?
- Historical Rap Sheet: Crowley actually was responsible for the original Temptation in the Garden of Eden, but a Running Gag has him receiving the congratulations of Hell whenever they notice something like the Spanish Inquisition has popped up in the human world. They inevitably leap to the conclusion that Crowley was responsible for getting it started. He frequently protests to Aziraphale that he had nothing to do with it whatsoever: the human race thought of new ideas to be beastly to each other all on their own.
- Holy Hand Grenade: "Ever been to Gomorrah? ...I meant afterwards."
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The four former Horsemen — er, Horsepeople of the Apocalypse have kept up with the times, and are thus now literal Hell's Angels on motorcycles.
- How Do You Like Them Apples?: Eden is mentioned. Do the math.
- Humanity Is Infectious: Crowley and Aziraphale are both changed somewhat by their time on Earth. Crowley's fellow demon Hastur notes this and claims that Crowley is going native. Though even Hastur isn't all that different — when he really wants to let Crowley just how pissed off he is, he uses human curses since he thinks demonic ones aren't volatile enough.
- Dog discovers, to his initial horror, that Small-Dog-anity is infectious too.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Horsemen approach this as Armageddon draws near. Their human forms are described as "ill-fitting" and their human-like personalities start to fade as their basic programming as bringers of destruction becomes dominant. Something similar nearly happens to Adam. Only Death is unaffected — Death never really changes, after all.
- Humans Are Bastards/Humans Are Special: Crowley is both confused and amazed at how humans are so much better at both Aziraphale's and his own job. It's that free will thing. It's a bugger.
- When Crowley read the user-end agreement that came with his computer, he was so impressed with the way it was worded that he sent a copy of it to the department of Hell that deals with soul-selling contracts, with a yellow sticky-note on it reading, "Learn, guys."
- Humans Are Flawed: "It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."
- I Gave My Word: Crowley is a demon of his word.
- I Have Many Names: Horsemen/Horsepersons/Bikers of the Apocalypse.
- The Antichrist is also known as the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness. See Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Adam.
- Newton Pulsifier may also qualify - convincing Anathema not to use the followup book also keeps him from using it.
- Improvised Weapon: The tire iron.
- And what happens when the Them face off against the Four Horsemen.
It wasn't much of a sword, but it was about the best you could do with two bits of wood and a piece of string.
- Incendiary Exponent: Crowley's Bentley.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Understandably, Crowley takes a look at what people are doing in the Inquisition, and promptly has this reaction.
- Instant Sobriety: Aziraphale and Crowley can simply decide to be sober.
- Insult Backfire:
Anal homeowner: How would you like it if I littered on your lawn?!
Pollution: Oh, that would be lovely!
- In the Blood: Aziraphale argues this in regarding The Antichrist, but Crowley argues that he has just as much chance of being on the side of good, because Lamarck wasn't right but Crowley is.
- Inventor of the Mundane: Anathema wrote her Ph.D. thesis on people who invented things that, once they were invented, became so ubiquitous no one remembered they ever needed inventing. Highlights include Humphrey Gadget, Cyrus T. Doodad ("America's foremost black inventor") and her own ancestor, Sir Joshua Device.
- Ironic Name: Pippin Galadriel Moonchild goes by Pepper, as she is a short scruffy tomboy with a temper.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Noted as untrue when Crowley goes to meet Hastur and Ligur. Like so:
It wasn't a dark and stormy night. It should have been, but there's the weather for you. For every mad scientist who's had a convenient thunderstorm just on the night his Great Work is complete and lying on the slab, there have been dozens who've sat around aimlessly under the peaceful stars while Igor
clocks up the overtime.
- Japanese Ranguage: Newt's Wasabi and the fish boat captain.
The helpful voice was clearly recorded by someone who spoke neither Japanese nor English.
- Newt's Wasabi has a recorded voice that plays to remind riders to fasten unfastened seatbelts (which never goes off, because hey, it's Newt's Wasabi). At one point, the voice is described as saying "Prease to frasten sleat-bert".
- Inverted at the end, when Adam restores the Wasabi so it runs better than ever. The helpful voice now speaks in clear English, but in haikus.
- Just Following Orders: Invoked and (duh) played with. A lot.
- The Kid with the Leash: Adam, the young Antichrist, has a pet hellhound. It started off fitting that description until it got its name: Dog. Its name changes its nature and it was expecting a name like Terror or Stalks-By-Night - but since it's bound utterly to its master's will it got stuck with being a dog. Complete with cat-chasing, tail-wagging, stick-chewing, face-licking, a funny crooked ear, a lack of size and general small-dogosity. But the hellhound part is still there deep down if you happen to upset its master.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Aziraphale and Crowley.
- Knight Templar:
- Played with for the Witch Finder Army, generally for laughs.
- Played horrifyingly straight for the forces of Heaven and Hell.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Adam does this to the mortals present at the almost apocalypse, Azrael (or God) does this to Aziraphale and Crowley when they begin to guess at the true nature of the universe. "What were we talking about?"
- Laser-Guided Karma: The M25.
- Last Name Basis:
- Shadwell and Wensleydale.
- Anthony J. Crowley. (Technically, that's not his real name anyway.)
- Lean and Mean: Sable/Famine.
- The Legions of Hell
- Let's Get Dangerous: Aziraphale and the Flaming Sword.
"Once you learn, you never really forget how."
- Line-of-Sight Name: Due to Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell's shady book-keeping and limited imagination, the suspiciously small organization that is the Witchfinder's Army is made up of the likes of of Witchfinder Majors Milk, Tin, Cupboard, and Saucepan. Lots of them. (As well as more than a few Joneses and Smiths.)
- On the other hand, he can be forgiven, because the Witchfinder's Army is on roughly same pay scale it was on when it was first formed (By Oliver Cromwell, roughly 325 years previous), meaning that not even the fictional Majors, let alone a Sergeant, makes even a whole pound come payday.
- Long Title: The full title of the book is Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
- Lord Error-Prone: Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell.
- Lost in Translation: Some American paperbacks had misprints due to someone at the publisher's not realizing there is an English city named Hull and therefore renaming it "Hell". Also, the British AA (Automobile Association) became the AAA, an American insurance company. As reprinted, these sort of made sense in context, but only to an American audience.
- Louis Cypher: Ubiquitous, especially among the Horsepersons.
- Loveable Rogue/Lovable Traitor: Crowley.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Crowley scares off the paintballing commando by turning into something dreadful...
"I think the maggots were a bit over the top, myself."
- Magicians Are Wizards: Defied. Aziraphale refuses to use his actual powers during his magic act, because it would be cheating.
- Male Gaze: War's legs get mentioned significantly more times than anyone else's, and with complimentary adjectives attached.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Crowley and Sable.
- Meaningful Name:
- Crowley, a reference to occultist Aleister Crowley. It also references his original role as the serpent ("Crawly") that tempted Adam and Eve.
- Colourful Theme Naming and/or Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Three of the Bikers of the Apocalypse have names that reference the colors of the horses that, according to biblical texts, they ride out on.
- War takes such names as Scarlett and Carmine.
- Pollution goes by "White, or Blanc, or Albus, or Chalky, or Weiss, or Snowy", among others.
- Famine calls himself Dr. Raven Sable.
- Medieval Morons
- Mind over Matter: Aziraphale levitates a scooter.
- Mistaken for Gay:
- Aziraphale, being referred to as a faggot and a poofter on several occasions. Not to mention that Aziraphale and Crowley were mistaken for a couple by Anathema Device. Shadwell privately refers to Aziraphale as "the southron pansy". It doesn't help that Aziraphale calls Crowley "dear" on a regular basis, while Crowley refers to him as "angel" — literally true, but with certain implications.
- One of the three first impressions of Aziraphale is "gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide." It's wrong, because angels don't have sex, sexes or sexual orientations, but the implication remains.
- More Than Mind Control: Temptation.
- Motor Mouth: The Chattering Order of Saint Beryl is an entire satanic convent of motormouth nuns.
- The Movie: Averted, for now. Gaiman relies on his fans to inform him of how the film is progressing through Development Hell.
- Multitasked Conversation
- Mundane Utility
- Murder Is the Best Solution
- Mustache Vandalism: It's mentioned that one of the late Witchfinders used to draw mustaches and spectacles on all the witches and demons in the Witchfinder Army's collection of demonological texts.
- My Horse Is a Motorbike: The Horsemen of the Apocalypse replaced their horses.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling/Spider-Sense
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much
- A Mythology Is True: In this case, the entire Bible - completely and literally.
- Namesake Gag: Anathema Device is descended from the man who invented the device. When Newt doubts this, she says sarcastically that next he'll claim he's never heard of Humphrey Gadget, Pieter Gizmo, Cyrus T. Doodad, or Ella Reader Widget.
- Device really is a Lancashire name (see below) but seems to be properly pronounced 'DEH-viss', so probably just a regional version of Davis. However, pronunciations of English names can change as families move round the country...
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
- Parodied and invoked. Sister Mary tries and fails to convince the adoptive father to name the misplaced Antichrist Wormwood, Damien, Errol, Cary, Saul, Cain, and a large number of demons and Hollywood villains, before settling on... Adam. A more persuasive nun convinces the ambassador to name the wrong Antichrist "Warlock".
- Prior to getting his actual name, Adam is referred to as Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness. Every time.
- There's also Dagon and Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies), whom Crowley contacts when he needs to talk to his supervisors.
- Subverted with the Hell's Angels. After joining the Horsepersons, they attempt to give themselves proper apocalyptic names. This quickly degenerates into a laundry list of petty annoyances.
- Both 'Nutter' and 'Device' are names of real families who were persecuted under the early 17th century witch hunts (though their situation seems rather different to the one described in the book). The case of the Device family is particularly tragic and disturbing (though Anathema's existence suggests that little Jennet must have had children of her own in this 'verse...) Alice Nutter, a yeoman's daughter caught up in the same place, was probably guilty simply of being a Catholic; their story is told in a book called "The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in Lancashire".
- National Stereotypes: Pretty much everyone of every country is depicted with hilariously overblown stereotypes, even (or possible especially) the British.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: A minor example. Hastur escapes from Crowley's answering machine when a telemarketer calls the number, and proceeds to murder all of the people in the telemarketer's office. This causes a ripple effect of goodwill and contentment in the world because the telemarketers couldn't ruin anyone else's day.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The book Adam wrote and illustrated:
"It was a triffic book. It was nearly eight pages long. It was about this pirate who was a famous detective. [...] If you like I'll let you read it. I bet it was a lot more excitin' than any book you've lost. 'Specially the bit in the spaceship where the dinosaur comes out and fights with the cowboys."
- Noble Bigot: Shadwell.
- Noble Demon:
- Crowley, although he's fairly conscious of his benevolence. (To the point of being embarrassed. It's a major failing in a demon, after all.)
- Inverted, appropriately, with Aziraphale.
- Nonverbal Miscommunication: During the baby swap sequence.
- Noodle Incident: For Adam, anyway.
"Well, " said Adam, "We always win, right?"
"Nearly always," said Wensleydale.
"Nearly always," said Adam, "An' — "
"More than half, anyway," said Pepper. "'Cos, you remember, when there was all that fuss over the ole folks' party in the village hall when we—"
"That doesn't count," said Adam."They got told off just as much as us."
- Not So Different: This is very explicitly spelled out as the relationship between Heaven and Hell.
- Number of the Beast: The Young family's telephone number turns out to be "Tadfield six double-six," causing a flustered Aziraphale to respond, "Sorry, right number."
- Nuns Are Spooky: Parodied by the Chattering Order of Saint Beryl
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Aziraphale, to GOD.
- Occult Detective: The modern Witchfinders.
- Odd Couple:
- Oddly Small Organization: The Witchfinders are just Shadwell, joined by Newt. Everyone else is long dead, and a good chunk of those "Witchfinders" were mostly interested in claiming the property of those accused.
- Omniscient Morality License: According to the narrative, God has this:
God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players,note to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
- One of the Boys: Pepper.
- Operation Game of Doom: Crowley getting out his holy water and placing it in a bucket. One splash on him, even a tiny drop, means it's over.
- Opposed Mentors: Sent by Crowley and Aziraphale to young Warlock's home, deliberately done to cancel one another out. Then they realise he's the wrong kid.
- The Order: The Witchfinder Army.
- Otherworldly And Sexually Ambiguous: It is stated that angels and demons are normally sexless, unless they really want not to be. Both otherworldly protagonists take the form of human males, though.
- Our Angels Are Different
- Our Demons Are Different: Can shapeshift and usually can be made up of horrible things, like maggots.
- Out of the Inferno: Crowley, to the bemusement of the cops and everyone else who gets asked for directions.
- Also to the bemusement of the firemen outside Aziraphale's bookshop.
- Overly Long Gag: The Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness. During the baby shell game, the three participants are designated Baby A, Baby B and... well, the above, in full. Every single time.
- Overly Long Name:
- Overly Long Tongue: Crowley, apparently.
- Overt Rendezvous: Crowley and Aziraphale meet at the duck pond in St. James's Park, which is said to be the meeting place for spies. Also, the café at the British Museum, a home-away-from-home for the battle-weary soldiers of the Cold War. Complete with arguments over who gets the receipts.
- Pair the Spares
- Parody Names: Burger Lord. Even has a mascot named McLordy the Clown.
- Perplexing Plurals: Shadwell's instructions to Newt are to search for:
2. Unexplainable Phenomenons. Phenomenatrices. Phenomenice. Things, ye ken well what I mean.
- Person of Mass Destruction: The Antichrist.
- Petting Zoo People:
- The Philosopher: Crowley and Aziraphale.
- Phrase Catcher: Whenever Adam is mentioned to Mr. Young or Mr. Tyler, their reflexive reply is "What's he done now?"
- The Pig Pen: Brian. Pollution in his real form.
- Playing with Fire: Aziraphale makes a traffic ticket spontaneously combust.
- Pocket Protector: The yuppie who's saved when a bullet hits his wallet and is stopped by his enormous collection of credit cards.
- Poke the Poodle: Crowley, who's considered an incompetent idiot by his fellow demons for choosing to annoy an entire population than drive one person to ruin and temptation, such as tying up the phone lines of Britain for seconds or causing traffic jams.
- Subverted by the narration, which backs up Crowley's claim that this a more effective investement of effort for the given corruption. Annoyed people have a tendency towards taking it out on others, and where other demons take years to corrupt a single person, Crowley in an afternoon slightly tarnishes thousands of souls. He does have respect for the other demons' commitment and skill, but he believes the old ways can't keep up with population increase.
- Police Code for Everything: A naval variation. After trying to find the way to communicate that he's found a sunken city of pyramids, he looks through "international codes" and sends "XXXV QVVX" which means "Have found the lost city of Atlantis. High Priest has just won the Quoits contest."
- Posthumous Character: Agnes Nutter, 17th Centuy Wytche.
- The Power of Friendship: What tilts Adam away from the brink of bringing the apocalypse? The realisation that his friends are scared of him.
- Precision F-Strike: Aziraphale "Oh, fuck." After six thousand years of practiced not-swearing.
- Properly Paranoid: At one point, it's mentioned that Hastur is paranoid, which is in fact a very reasonable thing since he's grown up in Hell, where everyone really is out to get you.
- Prophecy Twist: Tons of them.
- Psychic Powers: Anathema.
- Psychoactive Powers: Do not upset the Antichrist.
- Pun: Newt named his lemon of a Wasabi "Dick Turpin" after the famous highwayman... on account of the fact that it holds up traffic wherever it goes.
- Punch Clock Villain: Crowley. Sort of. Interestingly, his counterpart Aziraphale is a Punch Clock Angel — not exactly a hero, but has the job of inspiring small amounts of goodness in the same way that Crowley causes small amounts of evil. They even take turns doing each other's jobs once in a while and mostly try to thwart each other on a one-to-one basis so neither side really gets the upper hand.
- Queer People Are Funny: The running gag is that the divine/infernal duo are Mistaken for Gay.
- Read the Fine Print
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Nutter and Device are not only authentic Lancashire family names, they are names of women who were burned as witches. Nutter is an Old English word for "cowherd" and Device (pronounced DEH-viss) is an alternate spelling of Davis.
- Reality Warper: Adam, and every single supernatural being, to a greater or lesser extent.
- Really 700 Years Old: Angels, demons, personifications, and other immortals.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: War; Crowley, when he's pissed off.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Crowley and Aziraphale, arguably.
- Red Right Hand: Crowley has snake eyes, a forked tongue, and snake skin boots that may or may not be actual boots.
- Religious Horror: Parodied.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Averted with Crawly/Crowley, who is portrayed as not being all that bad.
- Reset Button: In-universe. After Adam decides not to proceed with the Apocalypse, he restores everything that was damaged in the lead-up, including Aziraphale's shop and Crowley's car.
- Rip Van Winkle: Crowley slept through most of the 19th Century.
- Running Gag: Several, but the way every cassette left in a car for too long turns into The Best Of Queen is particularly prominent.
- Samaritan Syndrome: Aziraphale. "Lord, heal this bike."
- Satan: Obviously. Ultimately unseen. He doesn't have the overarching background presence of God, either.
- Science Is Wrong: Parodied.
- Schmuck Bait: Crowley points out that it's hardly fair to wave Forbidden Fruit in someone's face and expect them not to eat it.
- Screw Destiny: The entire book is about breaking away from destiny and people's expectations of you, and finding your own path. At the end, Newton Pulsifer even convinces Anathema Device not to live her life trying to interpret prophecies left to her by a distant ancestor. Also, the Anti-Christ averts Armageddon. However, Agnes may have seen it all coming.
- Hilarious that the plot to Screw Destiny is actually orchestrated by God, and everything might just as His ineffable plan intended; even the angels and devils really have no idea.
God does not play dice with the universe. He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of the other players note , to be involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you rules and smiles all the time.
- Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle
- Shout-Out: Many, many of them, ranging from Edgar Allan Poe to Dirty Harry.
- One of the Them mistakes Metatron for Megatron when he introduces himself.
- When the Them are playing Adam does the best Darth Vader impression. Reference is made to the arguments over who gets to wear the coal scuttle and blow up planets.
- Little girl at Warlock's birthday party: "I gotter transformer anna mylittleponyer anna decepticonattacker anna thundertank anna..."
- And, of course, the dedication: "To G. K. Chesterton: A Man Who Knew What Was Going On". (This may be a subversion, as GKC did play (notably in The Man Who Was Thursday) with the idea that Good's (or God's) Ultimate Plan may sometimes appear to be Evil; however, GKC was ultimately a moral absolutist, and some irony may be at work here.) Neil Gaiman is known to be a big admirer of Chesterton, so it may be played straight.
- Upon seeing the Them ride past on their bikes the airbase guard asks if anyone saw if they were carrying an alien in a basket.
- There's also the alien that looked like a pepper pot, described as beeping, so... it's a bit of a twofer.
- At the last paragraph after Adam managed to avert the apocalypse "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot... No, imagine a sneakerlace trailing, kicking a pebble; imagine a stick, to poke at interesting things, and throw for a dog that may or may not decide to retrieve it; imagine a tuneless whistle, pounding some luckless popular song into insensibility; imagine a figure, half angel, half devil, all human... slouching hopefully towards Tadfield... forever..."
- Adam's style of speaking is pretty much an homage to William Brown in the Just William stories. As are the Them, the little-girl hanger-on, and the Them's mortal foe, the Johnson Gang.
- A few to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When discussing the coming apocalypse while drunk, Aziraphale starts rambling about dolphins.
- Pepper's real name, Pippin Galadriel Moonchild is twofer reference to The Lord Of The Rings and The Neverending Story.
- The names Hastur and Dagon are references to HP Lovecraft. (Neither name was invented by him, but he made them famous).
- Hastur and Ligur were demon-names used by Welsh horror writer Arthur Machen in his dark stories in the early 1900's.
- Crowley says at one point: "You think wars get started because some old duke gets shot, or someone cuts off someone's ear, or someone's sited their missiles in the wrong place." They are references to, respectively, World War I, The War of Jenkins' Ear, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Crowley's big inspiring concept of spreading a relatively small amount of mischief as wide as he can, so everyone gets a splash, is a shout-out to C.S. Lewis's creation, the teaching demon Screwtape, who advocated exactly this as the human race got ever-larger, while there were only the same number of demons to deal with them. A lot of Crowley's modus operandum looks like he's read and learnt from The Screwtape Letters.
- The Chattering Order of Saint Beryl first appeared as a comedic device in 1960's comedy sketch show Not Only... But Also. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore expanded the sketch into their 1967 movie, Bedazzled. Only their Beryllites extoled and praised God while performing acrobatic feats on trampolines, so as to be Nearer, our God, to Thee.
- Indeed, Peter Cook's louche, cool, and trendy indoor-sunglasses-wearing Satan in Bedazzled comes over suspiciously like an Ur Example of Anthony Crowley and shares many characteristics...
- Anathema's warm woolen cloak and reliable bicycle may be a shout out to Margaret Rutherford's portrayal of the medium Madame Arcati in the 1945 movie version of Blithe Spirit.
- Shown Their Work:
- You'd think that Nutter and Device were just comedic last names made up for laughs. Anathema's lecture on the topic certainly plays this aspect up. However, if you're familiar with the Pendle Witches then you'll know that they were the last names of some "actual" witches.
- Similarly, the reader might think that the Wicked Bible – named for a tiny, tiny proof-reading failure meaning that one of the ten commandments was "thou shalt commit adultery" – was, like the Buggre Alle This Bible, just another joke by the authors. The reader would be wrong.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Too many to list. It seems no one can make an analogy without being derailed by their listeners.
- Signs of the End Times: Naturally, given it's the Biblical Apocalypse.
- Slouch of Villainy: Played with in regards to Adam.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Mr. R.P. Tyler.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Agnes Nutter appears to heckle God on the pyre. Actually, she's addressing Shadwell, whom she predicted would be dreaming about her death in the present-day!
- The Spanish Inquisition: The children's version involved straw donkeys and asking girls "art thou a witch, viva España?"
- The dunking stool doesn't work out quite as planned — it's a hot day, and no one doing the dunking quite understands why Pepper's kid sister is the one who gets to go into the water.
- Played straight when Crowley is given credit for having started it. Having no idea what Hell is talking about, he goes to see what it's about, is horrified at what humans have come up with and decides to drink until he forgets about it.
- Spanner in the Works: Sister Mary Loquacious, an incompetent cultist and a satanic nun of the Chattering Order of Saint Beryl.
- Speech Impediment: Crowley tends to hiss when agitated.
- Spirit Advisor: Aziraphale is stuck like this for a time.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Not in-universe, but a fandom example. A quick glance at the fandom might have you believe that Aziraphale and Crowley are the main, or even the only, two characters, despite the fact that this is very much an ensemble work.
- Admittedly the angel-demon Odd Couple does provide a good deal of the philosophical ponderings of the novel, and they pretty much embody the idea of "good" and "evil" being Not So Different. But as for actual effects on the plot, Crowley and Aziraphale are basically running a Hardy Boys Investigation. They put a lot of effort into preventing it, but the net result of their efforts is both jack and squat. Having the entire plot resolved by only the human characters without supernatural help may be the point of the story.
- Staying Alive: For angels and demons, though discorporation is rather a pain because it involves going through the red tape of requesting a new body from the management.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero/Sue Donym: Mr. (Ezra?) Fell, Mr A. Ziraphale.
- Strongly Worded Letter: R.P. Tyler is the king of these.
- Such A Lovely Noun: Mentioned when describing Aziraphaele's book shop.
- Super Senses: Crowley can see in the dark, but turns on the headlights anyway so as not to upset the other drivers.
- Sweet Tooth: Aziraphale.
- Switched at Birth: The main reason why Armageddon fails to go off as planned? A Satanic Nun gave the Anti-Christ to the wrong family. By accident.
- Take That:
- Aziraphale's dismissiveness of televangelism and the Rapture while possessing a televangelist who's on the air. "Gosh, am I on television?" It's made clear that this televangelist believes what he says and really does funnel most of his enormous income back into the ministry, doing "what he really thought was the Lord's work". One can only speculate whose cause that helps.
- A possible subtle one at Pop Culture. When The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse gather at the Diner, they are not all immediately present, only War and The Tall Fellow with the Obscured Helmet—-the latter playing a video trivia game with a bunch of bikers. Said game has four categories: Pop Culture, Sports, Music, and War. Famine then shows up, prompting the trivia category 'Music' to be changed to 'Famine.' When Pollution arrives, 'Sports' becomes 'Pollution.' Death having been present the whole time makes one wonder about Pop Culture.
- Done repeatedly against telemarketers as a Running Gag. In fact, when Hastur escapes from Crowley's answering machine due to a telemarketer calling it, he immediately kills and consumes all the telemarketers in the building. This is noted to cause a wave of goodness to wash over the surrounding area.
- Taking You with Me: Agnes Nutter. (Again.) When the witch-hunters come to burn her at the stake, Agnes takes the time to fill her clothing with gunpowder and roofing nails, effectively turning herself into a living pipe-bomb.
- Talking to Plants: Crowley's habit of talking to his houseplants does make them grow better, but that's because he intimidates them with death threats if they don't.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Crowley.
- Telepathy: "He wanted a real gun." Mind reading also seems part of the angelic/demonic power set.
- Telephone Teleport: Played with when the demon in question had already entered Crowley's apartment the conventional way, ready to unleash the wrath of Hell on him. Crowley (also a demon) tricked him by darting into the phone line himself, prompting Hastur, his assailant, to follow him in a high-speed chase through a phone line. Crowley then turned around at the phone on the other end, raced back through the line to his own apartment, and reemerged just in time to hang up the phone, leaving Hastur trapped on his own other line's ansaphone tape.
- Tempting Fate: "It's over, don't you think?"
- Terms of Endangerment: War, at the bar, calls her would-be attackers "chaps". In fact, she calls everybody that. Also, Crowley's habit of calling Aziraphale "angel" seems to have a positive correlation as to how much danger they are in. Aziraphale calls Crowley "dear" on a fairly regular basis.
- Thanatos Gambit: Agnes Nutter.
- That Poor Plant: Plants, plural, and all of them are Crowley's.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Hastur and Ligur.
- Time Abyss/Fish out of Temporal Water: Aziraphale hasn't updated his wardrobe since the 50s.
- Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: Agnes' prophecies.
- Too Dumb to Live: If Shadwell doesn't have some higher regional superior doling out the pay for the greater general Witchfinder's Army, he definitely fits under this trope, because the pay scales haven't been revised since the organization was founded (back when having a whole pound to burn was posh money), so he fudges the numbers on his budget with made-up superiors and underlings so that he can make enough to survive on.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Shadwell's cans of condensed milk. He doesn't appear to subsist on anything else.
- Trickster Archetype: Crowley.
- Triple Nipple: Shadwell is obsessed with them, since they're one of the signs of a witch. One of Newton's daily duties is to check the Page Three Stunna for it.
- True Companions: Let's face it, once Crowley rushes into a burning building to save Aziraphale and has a brief Freak Out when he doesn't find him, it's pretty clear that they're not just amiable enemies.
- True Name:
- Crowley is made to sign his true name, in receipt of one Antichrist.
- The Horsemen are also made to sign their true names in receipt of their weapons.
- Pollution's pen leaks while signing his, blotting it to the point that it might read "Pollution" or possibly "Pestilence." A reference to an earlier statement that, with the rise of sewers, medicine and antibiotics, Pestilence hadn't had much work lately. Pollution, on the other hand...
- Possibly also God.
- Trust-Building Blunder: Paintball as a trust-building exercise between office staff might seem like a good idea in theory. It might even be in reality, assuming you really can find a way to prevent the participants from "accidentally" injuring each other. Just don't get Crowley involved, because he'll switch the paintball guns with actual guns for a laugh.
- Tsundere: Crowley is something of a Type A. He keeps saving people and doing good things, but snarks whenever Aziraphale points it out. He seems to want everyone to believe that he doesn't really mean it.
- Aziraphale seems to have a bit of Type B in him, as well.
- Both in a non-romantic sense, in terms of the canon.
- Tunnel Network: One of the New-Age beliefs that starts coming true thanks to Adam's influence is the belief that the Secret Masters of the World live in Tibet and have a system of tunnels beneath the surface of the Earth. This leads to confused Tibetans suddenly finding themselves popping up in backyards across Tadfield.
- Unfamiliar Ceiling: When Newt wakes up after the crash, he knows he's not in his room because there are no model planes hanging from the ceiling. The same thing happens to Shadwell, who wakes up on Madame Tracy's bed and briefly thinks he's having an out-of-body-experience because she has a mirror on the ceiling.
- Unlucky Everydude: Newt. Literally. He has terrible luck at everything he does, minus finding a job. Gets out of it at the end.
- Unstoppable Mailman: The same mailman is able to deliver packages to all four horsemen of the apocalypse - including killing himself to meet Death - and deliver a package to each.
- Happily, Adam's reworking of reality restores him to life, sans memory and any inclination to talk about what he does remember.
- Unusual Euphemism/Goshdang It To Heck: "For Go-, Sa-, for somebody's sake!", also "making an effort".
- Urban Fantasy
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Shadwell and Madame Tracy.
- Voicemail Confusion: Aziraphale's one-sided conversation with Crowley's answering machine.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting
- Walking Techbane: Newton Pulsifer, to an extraordinary extent.
- Turns into a Chekhov's Skill in the end with the nuclear launch systems. "So? Fix it."
- Wannabe Diss: Bemused cynical version from demons towards satanists, and from the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse towards the bikers in the bar, who in their turn feel the same about weekend bikers.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Holy water, and the horseshoe over Anathema's door that wards off demons.
- Weather Dissonance: Simultaniously played straight and Inverted. Lower Tadfield has perfectly normal weather, a little too perfectly normal. It's always hot and sunny in the summer and snows on Christmas, every Christmas. Adam is playing a living Weather Control Machine and unconciously making the localized weather in his happy little town exactly what he thinks it's supposed to be for that time of year.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: A minor example with the police responding to the overturned lorry of fish. One of them has a minor panic attack on discovering that the load also includes lobsters.
- Wicked Cultured: Crowley.
- Winds of Destiny, Change: Miraculous near-escapes work like this.
- Wing Pull: Aziraphael and Crowley, preparing for the final battle.
- World-Healing Wave: Adam does one of these at the end after averting Armageddon, putting everything back (mostly) the way it was and making it so that no mortal could remember what happened.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Crowley does this when the Dukes of Hell are after him.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Agnes Nutter, Nife and Accurate.
- Lampshaded to the point of parody when applied to every medieval character's casual dialogue.
- The passage quoted from the Buggre Alle This Bible.
- Anathema's spelling is mentioned as being 300 years too late, because she learned to read and write from The Book.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Subverted and played straight at the same time, as spoilered in Gambit Roulette. It reaches the point where one can open up Agnes' book completely at random and find exactly the prophecy needed for the moment.
Aziraphale: Just because it's written doesn't mean it can't be written different somewhere else.
Crowley: In bigger letters, too.
Aziraphale: And underlined.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Brought up in those exact words during one of Aziraphale and Crowley's binge drinking philosophical debates.
- Turns out to be literal as well. They compare lists of organizations they consider on their side, and a slight majority are on both lists.
- You Were Trying Too Hard: Anathema tries and fails to invoke this trope.
The 2014 radio adaptation provides adaptations of:
- As Himself: Several radio personalities contribute their voices for scenes where characters are listening to the radio, and are credited this way.
- Creator Cameo: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman as a pair of traffic cops in the first episode.
- Death by Adaptation: Crowley splashes holy water on the tape he traps Hastur in. In the novel, Crowley leaves the tape be and Hastur eventually escapes.
- Defcon Five: Played with in the final episode, when the four Horsepersons power up the nuclear exchange that will end the world, and all relevant indicators go to Defcon 5 — because the Horsepersons have decided that having the indicators stuck on "normal peacetime conditions" while conditions become increasingly abnormal will increase the confusion.
- Evil Brit: Inverted- two of the Horsemen have American accents.
- Foreshadowing: The first time Mr Tyler complains to Mr Young about Adam's behaviour, Mr Young's reply is "I know Adam is no angel, and I wouldn't want him to be".
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: In episode 5, when Adam starts to lose it as he hears the voices of the Horsemen in his head, Wensleydale announces, "Is that the time? I have to go, Doctor Who is on!"
- Mythology Gag: Crowley listens to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" on his car radio in one scene, in homage to the Best of Queen Running Gag that didn't make it into the adaptation.
- Pragmatic Adaptation:
- In the book, Hell sends messages to Crowley using the voice of whoever he happens to be listening to on the radio or watching on TV, including Freddie Mercury, Kylie Minogue, and Woody from Cheers. In the adaptation, various real-life BBC personalities contribute their voices.
- In the book, Red's introduction scene is an elaborate example, with a large cast, of the fact that wherever she goes war breaks out sooner or later. In the adaptation, this is replaced by a scene where she attends a war correspondents' dinner and turns it into a Bar Brawl with a few well-chosen words.
- Setting Update: There are some subtle tweaks to bring the setting forward a few decades, mostly involving celebrities, brand names and technologies (particularly in the area of Crowley and his cutting-edge-for-the-1990s telephones). Oh, and Wensleydale watches Doctor Who.