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.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.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).
Taken Up to Eleven with Crowley's Bentley after going over the M25. It's on fire, has no wheels, and takes all of Crowleys concentration just to keep it from falling apart.
The Alleged Computer: Newton Pulsifer has a singular knack for machinery. That is to say he can make it stop working just by trying to make it work. And he always buys the worst. His computers somehow always manage to be the early model with the hopelessly flawed chipset and the like. And don't ask about his car.
Ambiguously Gay: Aziraphale is described as giving the impression that he is "gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide". The same passage explains, however, that divine beings are without sexual characteristics (unless they really want) and therefore couldn't be considered to have any sexual orientation.
Zig-zagged. He's a mischevious 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 becomes basically good, but still with that dark well of evil threatening to burst through every so often.
"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 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."
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 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.
Subverted. Crowley received a commendation from Hell for starting the Spanish Inquisition. He didn't, rather he just happened to be in the area when it started. When he finally got around to seeing what this new-fangled Inquisition was, he ended up spending a good deal of timedrinking 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 supported by Death denying having ever laid a finger on Elvis. And a delivery boy pointing out the man and asking, "Does he remind you of anyone?" to which Famine promptly replied "No." (Possibly a slight dig at Elvis, considering Famine probably wouldn't have ever met him.)
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 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: Technically subverted, 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 of 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).
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.
"...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.
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 11/22/1963 that a house in a small English city would break down, but doesn't mention the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the same day — one of her relatives might be in that city at 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.
Defictionalization: At the time of Good Omens's writing, there was no "Best of Queen" album containing "Another One Bites the Dust," "We Are the Champions," "I Want to Break Free," and "Fat-Bottomed Girls." This has since been rectified.
Determined Defeatist: At one point, when things are at their bleakest, he 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.
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: Subverted. 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.
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.
Beelzebub and the Metatron even look virtually identical.
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.
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 finds deeply amusing.
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.
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.
Also gets a minor subversion at one point. Aziraphale, 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.
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.
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.)
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 the 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 is the ineffable plan after all...
One that's easy to miss. Early in the book when Aziraphale and Crowley nearly run over Anathema Device, they give her a ride back home. She finds them strange and worries that she might have to employ a knife she carries with her for protection until she hears Crowley call Aziraphale angel, after which she remarks to herself "Ah. Well, that explained it. She had been perfectly safe after all." Later on, she thinks of them as "two consenting bicycle repairmen".
Another doubles as a Call Back: at their first meeting, Shadwell asks Newt how many nipples he has. Multiple nipples meaning witchcraft are mentioned several times. At the end of the book, Shadwell asks Madame Tracy a question, but we never find out what it is. She responds with "two".
Newt recalls that he answered the phone on his first day, he listened to the question and replied, "Marks and Spencers 100% Cotton Y-Fronts, actually." The line went dead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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!.
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 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.
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".
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.
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?"
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.
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 once, and Shadwell meets them independently and assumes both are gay. 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.
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...
Parodied and invoked. Sister Mary tries and fails to convince the adoptive father to name the misplacedAntichrist 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 wrongAntichrist "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.
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.
"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."
Newt and Anathema. But that one makes a certain amount of sense. He was a witchfinder and, well, he found himself a witch.
Oddly Small Organization: The Witchhunters are just Shadwell, joined by Newt. Everyone else is long dead, and a good chunk of those "Witchunters" were mostly interested in claiming the property of those accused.
"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 i.e., everybody 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."
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 (or possibly Crowley and Aziraphale themselves, changing into appropriate shapes and assuming fitting identities), deliberately done to cancel one another out. Then they realise he's the wrong kid.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 i.e. everybody, 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.
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.
The names Hastur and Dagon are references to H. P. 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 Cooke 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 Cooke's louche, cool, and trendy indoor-sunglasses-wearingSatan in Bedazzled comes over suspiciously like an Ur Example of Anthony Crowley and shares many characteristics...
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.
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.
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.
Telepathy: "He wanted a real gun." Mind reading also seems part of the angelic/demonic power set.
Telephone Teleport: Subverted 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, snows on Christmas, every Christmas. Adam is playing a living Weather Control Machine and unconciously making the localised weather in his happy little town exactly what it's meant to be for that time of year.
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.