Created by Alex Kurtzman
, Roberto Orci
, Phillip Iscove and Len Wiseman
(the last-named also directed the pilot and served as second unit director on the season two premiere), Sleepy Hollow
premiered September 16, 2013 on FOX
that stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie
, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, and as of season 2
Lyndie Greenwood and John Noble
. Airing on Mondays at 9:00pm Eastern Time, the show’s a modern-day retelling of Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
In the series, Ichabod Crane is brought back to life
250 years in modern day Sleepy Hollow
after dying during a mission for General George Washington
in 1781. Crane learns the Headless Horseman, whose head Crane chopped off before his perceived death, has awakened as well, beginning his nightly killing spree after just murdering Sleepy Hollow’s sheriff
. In order to bring down the Horseman, Ichabod Crane partners with Lieutenant Abbie Mills, who’s investigating the Horseman after he kills her partner, the (former) sheriff.
While hunting said Horseman, Abbie looks into the old case files the sheriff was investigating and learns there exists two types of occult groups, one being evil and the other good, which may have summoned the Headless Horseman and if the Horseman isn't stopped, dark supernatural forces will affect Earth. Unfortunately, stopping this entity proves difficult as he discovers modern weaponry, which he assimilates into his ritualistic hunt and it’s revealed to be Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
as described in the Book of Revelation
Ichabod Crane not only has to solve a mystery from his own time involving the Founding Fathers and their involvement with the supernatural phenomena of Sleepy Hollow but he must adjust to the societal and technological differences of the 21st century. Given the fact that he is, and states he is from, the time of the American Revolution
, local law enforcement see him as a madman but reliable in hunting the Headless Horseman
A huge hit for Fox (in fact, it was their first top-rated fall drama premiere in six years), the series was renewed for a second season on October 3, 2013 - after only three episodes had aired.
This is not to be mistaken for the 1999 Tim Burton film
of the same name
Now has the beginnings of a recap
Tropes found in this series include:
- Absentee Actor: Orlando Jones doesn't appear in "Bad Blood" and "This Is War" due to Irving being in jail after confessing to two murders committed by his daughter Macey while the latter was possessed by a demon.
- Alternate Universe: This series takes place in a world where supernatural forces were involved on both sides of the American Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, the existence of the supernatural has been kept secret from the general public, so it takes place in a modern world much like ours. And according to Word of God, the story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" does not exist.
- Accomplice by Inaction: All of the dream demon's victims in "For The Triumph of Evil" had this in common. By their failure to tell the truth, all three of them helped cause the institutionalization of Abbie's sister.
- Action Girl: Abbie and Jenny Mills.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The Ichabod Crane from the short story is a spindly, lanky, nebbish type. This Crane is played by Tom Mison◊.
- Adaptational Badass: To go with his handsome new looks, this Ichabod has gone from a superstitious coward to a centuries-old Badass. Even his credentials have been bumped up a bit—from simple country schoolteacher to an Oxford professor of History.
- The Headless Horseman. Originally a rather typical, if bloodthirsty revenant. In the series he becomes Death, one of the Riders of Apocalypse.
- Sleepy Hollow itself, to some extent. A small village in the original tale and a small town (pop. 10,000) in Real Life, it evolved to a bustling city (pop 144,000) and nothing short of Hell Gate in the series.
- Agent Scully: Abbie, to Ichabod's Agent Mulder. Subverted, though, as Abbie has had an experience with the supernatural at an even younger age than Ichabod.
- Air-Vent Passageway: How Jenny escapes from the mental hospital.
- Ambiguously Evil: There's definitely something suspicious about Captain Irving. Despite occasionally obstructing the protagonists due to his skepticism, once he's forced to accept that dark forces are working to bring about the apocalypse, he sides firmly with the heroes.
- A Mythology Is True: The overall plot of the series is based on a very intense reading of the Christian Book of Revelations, which for some reason is all happening in one town in the USA. A few other myths get a look in from time to time, though.
- An Axe to Grind: The Horseman's superheated broadaxe.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The evil coven, which was intertwined with at least one company of Hessians (the Shadow Warriors) and the Hellfire Club.
- Ancient Tradition: The Freemasons, of whom Ichabod was a member, were (and possibly still are) allied with the good coven and seek the prevention of the Apocalypse.
- And I Must Scream: Jeremy Crane spent two hundred years Buried Alive, too weak to escape, until Moloch freed him.
- Apologetic Attacker: Andy Brooks is rather reluctant in following the demon's orders; so far he's apologised in one way or another to all his victims.
- Artifact of Doom: The Season 2 premiere involves the Key to Gehenna, which can allow things (like Moloch and his army) to exit Purgatory without something having to take its place.
- Artistic License – Chemistry: In the second season opener, Ichabod realizes the soil he's been buried under is impregnated with sulfur. Okay, fine. Problem: while sulfur is highly flammable (and infamously impossible to quench once lit) and is an important component in black powder, it is not itself explosive. Particularly not when part of damp soil. All that would have happened when he got the sulfur lit is that he would have created an unquenchable mass of burning syrup oozing down through the soil, coating everything under it.
- Artistic License – Geography: Sleepy Hollow in reality is a small town of about 9,000 people, not 144,000 as said in the show.
- The map hidden in the sextant is very obviously a relabeled map of colonial Boston and bears no resemblance to the geography in and around Sleepy Hollow either in colonial or modern times.
- Artistic License – History:
- Anyone who knows anything about the Revolution knows that the war had all but ended in the north by 1781, and Washington had long since moved to the south. This makes the scene where he tells Ichabod about the Horseman highly improbable, at best.
- No-one was ever burned as a witch in America, or at least not in the British Colonies. Hanged, yes - in accordance with British laws concerning witchcraft - burned, no, and certainly not as late as the latter half of the 18th century. The last recorded execution of an American 'witch' was in 1692, nearly a century before the plot starts, and witchcraft had ceased to be a capital crime by 1715.
- In Ichabod's day - before running water and sanitation, buying bottled water would have been a great idea.
- He also gets weirded out when Abbie tells him there's arsenic in the un-bottled water, when in his time drinking water straight from a river or other source would have been a very stupid idea. Not that it matters, since arsenic is naturally occurring in ground and surface water anyway.
- Ichabod rants about how much things cost (supposed to imply that he doesn't understand inflation) but US dollars weren't established until after his death, so how would he know that $4 was a lot or a little?
- Ichabod making snarky comments about modern pollution when English cities in his day were basically an open sewer.
- The Hessians' uniform was blue but in the show all of them wear red coats.
- They also didn't become involved in the war until after the Boston Tea Party.
- They also didn't wear metal half-masks.
- Turns out the headless horseman is Ichabod's former best friend, now deceased and in the service of Moloch, hence the mask.
- Reference is made to Washington being a commander of the rebellion that would grow into the American Revolution at the time of the Boston Tea Party. He didn't become a leader of the revolution until two years later.
- In "The Lesser Key of Solomon", Ichabod finds that Jenny has been to Mexico, Guatemala, and Somalia. There's a brief gag about how he's never heard of Somalia, but Mexico and Guatemala should also be unfamiliar to him. In 1781, present-day Mexico and Guatemala were part of New Spain (then again, both of the names were used for important parts of New Spain in 1781...).
- Ichabod's rant about a 10% sales tax being outrageous. Firstly, taxation of tea and other items was not what the American Colonists were upset about. It was the fact that the taxes had been passed without their consent (hence the phrase "No Taxation Without Representation") that had them up in arms. Second, the Revolutionary War was fought for many different reasons (these reasons are detailed in the Declaration of Independence if anyone is curious). Taxation without representation was only one of the grievances against Britain, and a fairly small one at that.
- Crane assumes Abbie must be an emancipated former slave despite the fact there were a fair few black people in the English Colonies/Northern United States who were born free.
- Crane remembers the Mohawk fighting on the side of the revolution. While the Iroquois Confederacy was split by the Revolution, the Mohawk Nation fought on the British side.
- Benjamin Franklin did not actually fly a kite with a key attached during a storm, despite of the countless dramatisations of his experiments to this effect. He even noted that doing so could be lethal, and some of his would-be imitators found that out the hard way. Justified as he was actually using the "experiment" to try and destroy a magical artifact. The Masquerade would prevent him from being able to explain the real reason for the experiment, so he just denied it ever happened.
- Artistic License – Linguistics:
- In "Blood Moon," Ichabod says that the language Sarilda speaks is "Romani Greek." While Romano-Greek is a mixed language of Romany and Greek, it is highly doubtful that he would understand much of it based on a knowledge of Ancient Greek alone.
- In "John Doe", the inhabitants of Roanoke Island, a colony that dates from the late 1580s, are depicted as using Middle English. This variant of the language had already been replaced by what's known as Early Modern English (aka Shakespearean English) about a century earlier.
- Artistic License – Religion: The episode "For the Triumph of Evil" has Ichabod and Abby in need of a Native American shaman for the purpose of performing a powwow, which are suggested to be something of a dying art. In Real Life, powwows are still commonly held in many places, and you wouldn't have to go to a used car dealership to find a shaman, as many Native Americans still practice their traditional religion and shamans earn their living as full time shamans.
- Artistic License – Traditional Christianity: It is noted multiple times that the Horseman is meant to be the Horseman of Death. However, the description in the pilot quoted from Revelation, a man riding a white horse and bearing a bow is not of Death but of Conquest, who is the First Horseman (whereas the headless guy actually seems to be the third to appear, since Moloch started doing his thing 250 odd years ago), and does use a bow, while Death bears a scythe.
- Early episodes of the show quote from the book of "Revelations". The relevant book they are drawing from is actually just "Revelation", singular. (The show does get this right eventually.)
- While he does rank as a major demon, it was not Moloch who led the rebellion against Heaven but Lucifer/Satan.
- And Paradise Lost is a work of fiction, not a "theological text" as Ichabod states.
- As the Good Book Says: Repeatedly, usually from Revelation.
- Back from the Dead: Ichabod and the Headless Horseman. Also Brooks in the second episode.
- Badass: The Headless Horseman, even more so than most interpretations.
- Badass Bookworm: Ichabod was a history professor before he was conscripted.
- Bad Ass Normal: Irving and Jenny are pretty extraordinary in a fight.
- Balancing Death's Books: In the season 1 finale: Katrina can't leave Purgatory unless someone takes her place.
- Batman Gambit: Pretty much all of season 1 was one by Henry Parrish/Jeremy Crane/War in order to separate the witnesses and get Katrina to Abraham/Death.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Discussed in-universe, as Ichabod interrupts a museum lecture about Paul Revere's ride to point out that the riders actually said "The regulars are coming. Not 'the British are coming.' See, we too were British at the time, so that would have been most unhelpful."
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The show's central mystery involves the Founding Fathers, who were apparently involved in a Secret War to prevent the Apocalypse.
- The Boston Tea Party was engineered as a cover for stealing the Lesser Key of Solomon from the British.
- The Roanoke island colony disappeared because the Horseman of Pestilence/Conquest unleashed a plague there as part of the Apocalypse, only for the spirit of Virginia Dare to guide them to a hidden place where time has stood still since, keeping the plague (and the Horseman) contained.
- Benjamin Franklin, in his legendary kite-flying story, was not experimenting with electricity, but attempting to destroy the key tied to it which allows exit from Purgatory without sacrificing someone to replace a person already trapped there.
- Benedict Arnold's betrayal wasn't voluntary, but was actually caused by one of Judas' cursed thirty pieces of silver.
- Daniel Boone wore his famous coonskin cap to cover scars on his head given to him by his brother, who became a Wendigo after resorting to cannibalism at Valley Forge.
- The Hellfire Club was a front for, or is at least allied with, the cult that worships Moloch.
- Bad Boss: Moloch, the demon god who controls The Headless Horseman and the other Three Horsemen of The Apocalypse when he kills Brooks for failure. Though it does revive him in the second episode and gives him another chance to serve.
- Big Bad: Moloch.
- Black Eyes of Evil: Brooks gets these when the Horseman speaks through him.
- Henry Parrish gets these when using his powers, though they don't really count as evil until we find out who he really is.
- The Blank: Moloch, the demon who commands the horsemen and evil coven, has been described as faceless. But since it's only ever been seen blurred out the audience can't be sure.
- More of Moloch's face is shown, but it is still rather shrouded in shadow.
- The Sandman has no mouth.
- Blasphemous Boast: When looking for Jenny, Abbie promises an uncooperative witness (who is actively violating multiple state laws even as they have the conversation) that she will "make God jealous" of the "legal brimstone" she will rain down on her if she doesn't start talking. The witness very wisely spills her guts.
- Bloodless Carnage: The Horseman's axe heats up when he uses it, which cauterizes the wounds he inflicts instantly. Just like in Tim Burton's interpretation.
- Blood Magic: Used in Episode 4, "The Lesser Key of Solomon".
- Body Horror: Moloch resurrects Brooks in the episode "Blood Moon". Problem is, it doesn't snap Brooks' neck back until after he's been resurrected.
- Body Surf: Ancitif, the evil spirit blackmailing and threatening Captain Irving in 'The Golem' and 'Vessel'.
- Book Ends: The use of "Sympathy For The Devil" in the pilot and in the season one finale.
- Boring but Practical: Irving keeps his shotgun on a lanyard connected to his belt so he can't lose it in a fight or have it taken from him.
- Born in the Wrong Century: Inverted. Ichabod Crane is uncommonly open-minded and progressive for having been born in the eighteenth century, which is a very good thing when he wakes up in the twenty-first century and has to work with a black female police officer. He still has trouble adjusting, but he does fairly well for a man who slept through just about every civil rights movement. He was also friends with Native Americans.
- Broken Pedestal: Played for Laughs with Ichabod and Thomas Jefferson, after the former finds out that the latter not only fathered six children by one of his slaves, but also took a quote of Ichabod's and claimed it as his own. Ichabod initially tries to discount the former as "prurient gossip", until Irving gives him a cliffs notes on DNA and how it proves Sally Hemmings' children were Jefferson's.
- Buffy Speak:
Abbie: We were not betrothed. There was no betrothing.
- Bullet Catch: Serilda does this in episode 2.
- Burn the Witch!: Katrina's headstone says she was burned alive for witchcraft, - despite the fact that, in Real Life (as mentioned above), they didn't burn witches in America. It turns out Katrina never actually died, and her grave is actually the hiding place for the headless horseman's head.
- The villain of the week in episode 2 is Serilda, the high priestess of the evil coven in the 1700s, who was captured (after being Brought Down to Normal by Katrina) and burned at the stake (ironically, after burning all her victims). And then Abbie and Crane blow her up, which counts as this trope if you squint.
- Buried Alive: Ichabod's son Jeremy spent two centuries like this until Moloch freed him. He returns the favor to his father at the end of season 1.
- Bus Crash: The Freemasons that are introduced in episode 6 are killed off-screen at the beginning of episode 7.
- California Doubling: Although Sleepy Hollow is in upstate New York, the series is filmed in North Carolina.
- Call Back: In the late season 2 episode Awakening, Abbie travels back in time and ends up in the forest, by a road, which she inspects...to find it's not asphalt, just as a horse-drawn carriage comes out of the mist, almost running her down. As this happens, an instrumental cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil" starts playing.
- Came Back Wrong: Brooks is left considerably less than human after being resurrected by Moloch.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: For whatever reason, Moloch won't let the Horseman kill Crane yet. Similarly, in the second season, Moloch is quite upset when War's latest scheme puts Katrina's life in jeopardy.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: The two cops who stop the Horseman in the pilot. After seeing him pick up a machine gun and the fact that he has no head, one of them wonders if he can actually hear their commands.
- Cat Scare: To little Kyle Hemington in the second episode. The family cat jumps on his bed.
- Celebrity Paradox: Apparently, nobody on the show has heard of Ichabod Crane or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The tunnels Abbie and Ichabod use in episode 2 have two examples: Serilda's bones, which she needs to complete her resurrection, are buried there, and the crates of gunpowder down there are used to re-kill her. Chekhov's Gunpowder?
- The Running Gag of Crane always pronouncing "lieutenant" using the British pronunciation becomes important in the second season premiere when Abby recognizes that she is talking to an Ichabod-imposter when he pronounces it the way an American would.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Halfway through the first season, we learn Ichabod and Katrina had a son, and an episode later learn that he was killed by Katrina's coven. But then the season finale reveals that he actually survived (albeit Buried Alive), until Moloch freed him to serve as the Horseman of War, and he's been posing as Henry Parrish ever since.
- Chekhov's Skill: The ability to fist-bump, believe it or not.
- The Chessmaster: Sheriff Corbin. While he was The Obi-Wan to Abbie, he was secretly also The Obi-Wan to her sister Jenny, orchestrating things so that they'd eventually have to work together and begin to mend the rift in their relationship.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Semi-regular guest star Luke Morales is knocked unconscious by a demon in the second-to-last episode of the first season. His fate remains unresolved.
- Chunky Salsa Rule: How Ichabod and Abigail deal with the resurrected witch Sarilda in the second episode, after she finds bullets to be an unconvincing argument.
- The Chosen One: Ichabod believes that he and Abbie are the two witnesses foretold in the Book of Revelation. This has been confirmed by his wife, Katrina, and the visions that Ichabod and Abbie share.
- Comically Serious: Ichabod is extremely poised despite the modern world's attempt to fluster him.
- He has twice demonstrated the properly graceful way to hide behind a wall to protect yourself from an explosion.
- Conspiracy Thriller: A conspiracy about the Founding Fathers' involvement in an occult order to prevent the Apocalypse, which also extends to the modern day residents of Sleepy Hollow who are also members of said cult - as well those working against them and trying to bring the end of days. Unfortunately for Abbie and Ichabod, they don't know who's on which side.
- Clean Pretty Reliable: When the Weeping Lady tries to drown Abbie, Hawley shouts at Ichabod to give her CPR; since Ichabod doesn't know what that is, Hawley has to do it himself. As you might expect, it only takes about twenty seconds to for Abbie to start coughing up water.
- Cloud Cuckoo Landers Minder: Abbie frequently has to smooth over things between Ichabod and others.
- Cyanide Pill: Used by a captured bad guy after spilling what little he knew to Ichabod, Abbie, and Jenny.
- Da Chief: Captain Irving, except for the shouting.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Played with. The sisters, Abbie and Jenny Mills were burgeoning delinquents getting in and out of trouble until their episode in the woods, which separated them, and left scars on them both.
- Dead All Along: Thomas, as well as the townsfolk of Roanoke.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Abbie finds the Sin-Eater by discovering that he assumed the identity of an executed prisoner.
- Dead Star Walking: Clancy Brown and John Cho are both dead before the end of the pilot. However, the latter comes back and the former shows up as a either a hallucination or haunting for Abbie in the following episode.
- Deal with the Devil: The British allied with the evil coven to win the war, though it seems unlikely that they knew about the coven's apocalyptic plans.
- Ichabod's friend, Abraham Van Brunt, agreed to become the Horseman so that he could gain possession of Katrina and revenge on Ichabod for "stealing" her. Ichabod actually refers to this by the trope name when he finds out.
- Jeremy Crane agreed to act as the Horseman of War in exchange for freedom from his imprisonment and revenge on his parents for abandoning him.
- Parish tricks Frank Irving into making one using a special pen to prick his finger while signing a contract.
- Death Equals Redemption: Rather literally. It's only after dying permanently and ending up in Purgatory that Brooks is able to break free of Moloch's control and help Abbie with no strings attached.
- Defector from Decadence: In this interpretation, Ichabod started out as a British soldier, before coming to agree with the American revolutionaries and switching sides.
- Twice over apparently, as he states that his father was a noble, and he was glad to reject the trappings of aristocracy.
- Demonic Possession: Ancitif.
- Disappeared Dad: Abbie tells Ichabod that their father bailed when they were young...
- The Dividual: The Four Who Speak As One, members of Katrina's coven.
- Don't Go in the Woods: Abbie and her sister first saw the demon, Moloch, when they were walking through the woods. They also saw Jeremy being resurrected, but did not realize it. The Mirror World is also set in a foggy forest.
- Dragon-in-Chief: The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, including the Headless Horseman himself, serve as this to Moloch.
- Dream Sequence: In Episode 3, due to the Sandman being the monster of the week.
- And Katrina's only method of communicating with Ichabod from the dimension in which she is confined.
- Driven to Suicide: The Sandman attacks people who have messed up in waking life, and whose guilt is hidden/buried, taunting them with it until they can't take it anymore and suicide to get away from him and their guilt.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: In "The Akeda", Irving is mortally wounded by War's Animated Armor, but still fights on long enough to destroy it with the Sword of Methuselah.
- Epiphany Therapy: How Abbie gets over her guilt about betraying her sister as a child.
- Eternal English: Mostly averted. While Crane's 18th century English is perfectly understandable today, the residents of Roanoke used a variant of Middle English.
- Also counts as Artistic License – History—the Roanoke colonists' actual language would have been closer to Early Modern English (i.e., Shakespearean English).
- Evil Albino: Possibly the Horseman's steed. It is explicitly described as "the pale horse" (as per the Biblical reference) and close-ups of its eye make it look more pink than the usual Red Eyes, Take Warning trope.
- Evil All Along: The season 1 finale reveals that the Sin-Eater was secretly Ichabod and Katrina's lost son. And working for Moloch.
- Evil Power Vacuum: After Moloch is killed, it opens the door for other bad guys in Purgatory that were previously held in check by Moloch's presence, to escape.
- Eyeless Face: The Sandman simply has two dark and empty eye-sockets.
- Eye Scream: The Sandman apparently fills the insides of his victims' eyeballs with sand. One of them even pops while under examination by Abbie and Captain Irving.
- Failure-to-Save Murder: Ichabod holds his own failure to save Arthur Bernard against himself.
- Fair Cop: Abbie.
- Fantasy Americana
- Fanservice: Abbie and Ichabod are both shirtless in the third episodenote .
- Hello, Abbie doing yoganote .
- Fetus Terrible: Moloch eventually enters the real world by possessing Katrina and being born as a rapidly aging child from her.
- Fingore: Abbie nearly bites off Brooks' thumb when struggling with him in the pilot.
- First Episode Spoiler: The covens, the revival of both Ichabod and the Horseman, the secret connection to Revelations... the list goes on.
- First Name Basis: In the first episode, after Abbie Mills thaws out a bit and opens up to Ichabod Crane about her background, she invites him to call her "Abbie" instead of "Lieutenant." Such familiarity would be highly inappropriate in Crane's era, but in later episodes, he accepts the spirit of the offer by addressing her as "Miss Mills" (a social title) rather than her rank. By contrast, Crane himself is still addressed as "Crane" by everyone in the modern era.
- In episode 1.06, The Sin Eater, Ichabod uses "Abbie" three times when trying to convince her that the only way to get rid of the horseman is for him to sacrifice himself. It remains to be seen if this will continue or if he returns to "Lieutenant" or "Miss Mills." There was much squeeing amongst the Ichabbie shippers.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Ichabod. Played for Laughs throughout the series. He does adjust but some modern concepts are still foreign to him, such as lover's lane (according to him, a place where young people can walk hand in hand with the proper chaperonage of their parents, to prevent impropriety), but most notably the first few episodes, such as his rant about the cost of donuts (Nearly $5! Which in his time was a fair amount of money) and a tax rate of nearly 10%!
- Ichabod's exchange with Jenny about the "boyfriend" line in "For The Triumph of Evil."
Ichabod: We are amicable, yes, and I am male...but I suspect you are implying something else.
- In "Sanctuary" the concept of a "billionaire" has Ichabod utterly baffled. Apparently the combined income of all thirteen colonies across his entire lifetime only barely managed to crack a billion dollars.
- Inverted in an episode early in season two. He's scandalized to see two men holding hands in a café. Abbie carefully explains that acceptance of homosexuality is relatively recent, but even the Supreme Court affirmed their right to get married in most of the country. But no, Ichabod explains that he's scandalized by one of those men rudely wearing a hat indoors. He's familiar with gay marriage because he watches Glee. And besides, as he points out, it's not as if homosexuality never existed before the 20th century.
- Food Chains: Purgatory:
Henry Parrish: You must not take this lightly. Purgatory is a maze of temptation. If you are offered food or drink, you must not accept it. The reality you're presented with will seem entirely true, and every part of you will want to embrace it, but if you do, you will be trapped there for eternity.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Played with. Abbie and her sister Jenny both saw the vision of Moloch in the woods. They both went on to become troubled women. Thanks to Corbin, Abbie found a better path and became a cop, while Jenny sank deeper into her "insanity", and stole survival gear in preparation for the End of Days.
- Foreshadowing: The use of "Sympathy For The Devil" seems innocuous at first, but then the revelation comes that the whole show is about keeping out the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which are controlled by some mysterious demon.
- Irving got a Traitor Shot just after finding Abbie in Corbin's office. This is not followed up by the end of the episode.
- In "Lesser Key of Solomon", the first words the piano teacher says are "Left hand, Aaron. Always the left hand will save you." It turns out He is a Hessian, this universe's secret army of followers of Moloch, bringing about the End of Days. Satanism, dark magic (versus white ethical magic), siding with Demonic, is associated with or as known as "The Left-Hand Path."
- In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit in "John Doe", after Ichabod points out a plant that closes up at human touch as a sign that Thomas went that way, a girl in the colony offers Abbie a flower from the same plant, except the plant isn't closed up. And then the colony turns out to have been dead all along.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Ichabod manages an accidental example. He stumbles upon an encampment, and after a few lines of conversation, concludes that he's having a dream about the Revolutionary War and starts questioning the accuracy of his surroundings. The woman he's speaking to never realizes he's not playing a character.
Woman: Dude, it's a reenactment. Just relax, y'know. Go with it.
- Give Me a Sign: Abbie in "John Doe". She attempts to hide from her fellow officers, realizes she's in a multidemoninational chapel, and asks for (pretty nearly demands) a sign from God.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Played with. They're both brainy and both beautiful, but still constant verbal combatants.
- Golem: There's one in a mid-season 1 episode that escapes from Purgatory to wreck havoc on Sleepy Hallow. It was created by Ichabod's warlock son, and is seeking revenge on the coven who "killed" him.
- Good Shepherd: The Reverend.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Mr. Gillespie, who saw the demon in the woods with young Abbie and Jenny, puts his gun beneath his chin and the camera abruptly jerks upward to Ichabod through the window as Abbie screams "No!"
- We never see the Golem kill anyone or their remains afterwards, but it's implied to be messy.
- Halloween Episode: Ironically averted due to the network's broadcasting of the 2013 World Series. This may change for season two and beyond.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Lampshaded. Conversation paraphrased:
Ichabod: In my day, 'awful' meant something that filled you with awe, and 'intercourse' meant having a discussion.
Abbie: So if I had awful intercourse with a guy in your day, he'd be getting a second date?
- Headless Horseman: Naturally.
- The Heavy: The Horseman isn't technically the main villain, but he drives much of the plot and is the Arch-Enemy for Ichabod and Abbie.
- War/Jeremy Crane/Henry Parrish, is revealed at the end of season 1 to be the real Heavy, having been manipulating things for Moloch all along.
- Hellish Horse: The Horseman's pale horse. Presumably the rest of the Horsemen's horses also qualify.
- The Horseman of War, in season two, has a horse with flaming eyes and nostrils.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- Ichabod settles for one in "The Sin Eater". He survives.
- Abbie settles for one in "Bad Blood", but of a nonlethal variety.
- His Name Is...: In "Bad Blood", Jenny finds out about St. Henry's Parish, and tries to warn Abbie about "Henry Parrish" over a voice message. Death shoots her car window with a shotgun just before she says his name, and causes a car accident by shooting her tire just afterwards, with her survival uncertain.
- Historical-Domain Character: A number of famous people from the American Revolution appear in flashbacks, notably Benjamin Franklin, or are mentioned, like George Washington.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: He was still a traitor, but "Root of All Evil" reveals that Benedict Arnold's legendary treachery wasn't entirely of his own free will, having been induced by a cursed coin that causes one to betray their deepest loyalties. Ichabod, in particular, remembers him as a loyal soldier and a good man.
- Horned Humanoid:
- The Succubus
- The Wendigo
- Horny Devil: A Succubus shows up in Season 2, conjured by War to drain people of their life force to feed the infant that Moloch has incarnated as.
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Horseman is interpreted as one of them (Death, specifically).
- Pestilence/Conquest shows up in "John Doe", and is revealed to be responsible for the disappearance of the Roanoke colony. However, as long as the victims of his plague are kept cut off from the rest of the world, he's unable to ride forth.
- The first season ends with the arrival of War—who happens to be Ichabod and Katrina's son.
- Something to take note of — Pestilence appears to be a spirit, while Death is a physical being who used to be human. War, on the other hand, is a still living human controlling a separate hollow suit of armor.
- Hot Blade: The Headless Horseman's axe.
- Hot Witch: Katrina and Serilda.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ichabod towers over Abbie.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Horseman, the Sandman, and Moloch's demonic minions. Possibly also Moloch himself, but we've yet to get a clear look at him.
- Also Brooks to an extent, after he Comes Back Wrong, and definitely after he gets transformed by Moloch in "The Indispensable Man".
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight
- In "The Vessel", Irving tries to make his daughter fight against the demon possessing her. It doesn't work.
- Abbie also tries this with Andy when he attacks them in George Washington's tomb. This time it works for a short time.
- Implacable Man: The Horseman.
- Impossibly Delicious Food: There are times when this comes into effect, when Ichabod gets to try foods and drinks that did not exist in his time period. He was so surprised by donut holes that he instantly set aside his bad mood and started devouring them, and his reactions to cappuccino and matzo ball soup were that of pure bliss.
- In the first issue of the comic book, he is absolutely fascinated by the concept of an ice cream cake.
- Innocent Bigot: Ichabod is from the 1700s, after all. The first episode establishes that he was rather progressive for his time, though, having been supportive of the emancipation of slaves.
- Insistent Terminology: Crane is very particular about pronouncing Lt. Mills' rank as "leftenant" (which is indeed how an Englishman would pronounce it).
- This ends up coming in handy when Abby is trapped in Purgatory. A false Ichabod tries to get her to come with him, but Abby beheads him when he uses the American pronunciation.
- The comic book even has it spelled out as "leftenant".
- The Internet Is for Porn: Ichabod, while struggling with a laptop and what he dubs "the innenet" while trying to look up the Freemason manuscript, eventually stumbles across an adult webcam site. This actually flusters him greatly, and he quickly closes the laptop.
- Jerkass: Morales. He apparently fancies himself an alpha male and a prankster, who's taken shots at both Crane and Irving.
- Jump Scare: Two in the pilot alone: The eyes on the Horseman's head opening suddenly, and the cracking of the mirror at the end after the Demon disappears back into the mirror.
- Karmic Death: One of the Hessians who tries to open a Hell Gate in Episode 4 ends up thrown into it.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Abbie and Jenny both blacked out the day they saw Moloch in the woods and don't remember anything else until being found days later. The season 1 finale reveals this is because Moloch sealed their memories of him raising Jeremy Crane from his grave to become the Horseman of War.
- Ley Line: The entrance to purgatory is found at a location where several ley lines meet.
- Limited Wardrobe: It has been days, at a minimum, since Ichabod woke in the 21st Century, yet he still wears the outfit he was buried in every day since; and no one seems to have thought to take him shopping for anything new or different.
- In The Vessel Ichabod gets new clothes he deems skinny jeans a sign of the apocalypse and quickly switches to his old outfit. Abbie suggests dry cleaning.
- Eventually he does buy new clothes... in the form of a costume from Revolutionary War reenactors.
- Line-of-Sight Name: The Sin Eater's primary alias, "Henry Parrish", named after St. Henry's Parish.
- Literally Shattered Lives: When Abbie confronts the Sandman, he turns to glass and she shatters him.
- Losing Your Head: The Horseman, of course.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Purgatory uses these to try and get visitors to trap themselves forever.
- Luke, You Are My Father: Ichabod unknowingly fathered a child with Katrina before being frozen. The season 1 finale adds the revelation that he's the Sin-Eater, who was also working for Moloch the entire time.
- MacGuffin: The Horseman's skull and Washington's Bible.
- Made of Indestructium: The montage of attempts to destroy the Horseman's head in "Midnight Ride," to the point where it reminds of trying to destroy the Horcruxes. Ichabod and Abbie try and hilariously fail at destroying the skull by sledgehammering (the hammer breaks instead), acid bathing, dry ice, and even bombing!
Ichabod: The myriad of destructive devices at your disposal is mind-boggling.
- Magical Native American: One who sells used cars and motorcycles, but still able to assist with a dream demon.
- Meaningful Name: Captain Irving, presumably named after Washington Irving.
- Missing Mom: ...and their mother had a nervous breakdown not long after, landing Abbie and Jenny as orphans in foster care.
- Misplaced Wildlife: The Harris Hawk seen in the pilot is native to the southwest and would probably not be seen in the Hudson Valley (even in spirit visions)
- Mistaken for Racist: Abbie isn't impressed when Ichabod comments that she's been emancipated.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Moloch probably shouldn't have told Henry that he considers him disposable right before sending him to retrieve the one weapon that can kill him.
- The Mole: Andy Brooks was working for the Horseman, and is, presumably, part of the evil coven.
- Mood Whiplash: Ichabod has had a hard holiday season. Near Halloween (toy skulls), he finds out a friend he thought was dead actually got recruited to be the Horseman of Death, and is dead set on killing Ichabod and stealing his wife. Just before (quite literally, it was the day before/the day of) Thanksgiving he learns he has a son, that may or may not have survived. Just before Christmas, Ichabod learns his son was killed because he had no one to teach him how to use his powers. This takes the tone of the last couple of episodes before the winter hiatus into a more serious tone which leads to quite a few moments of Mood Whiplash, because neither Ichabod nor Abbie have lost the power to deadpan snark. One of the most severe moments? Ichabod has a serious conversation with Henry about death, promptly receives a Christmas stocking which delights him because he has no idea what it is and then gets dragged into Purgatory by Moloch who tells him he's going to hand over the second Witness to him, for all intents and purposes his only true friend, Abbie. If he survives till next year, October-December is just going to suck, memory wise.
- Monster of the Week: Has episodes of this interspersed throughout the main story arcs.
- Mouth of Sauron: Brooks acts as a medium for the Horseman to speak through.
- My Car Hates Me: One of the magistrate's descendants is in his car. It stubbornly refuses to start as Sarilda approaches.
- My Greatest Failure: Abbie pretended she saw nothing and let her sister Jenny get taken away and committed for insiting they saw a demon in the woods. It nigh-permanently damaged their relationship, to the point where they stopped speaking altogether after ending up on opposite sides of the law. It also nearly gets Abbie killed by a supernatural boogum that torments people with guilt issues. Abbie later tries to start making up for it to her sister.
- Ichabod defected from the British after failing to save Arthur Bernard, the man who showed him the truth about the Secret War, and he's carried that guilt ever since; in fact, that's what the Horseman's been using to keep the two of them linked. Henry Parrish channels Bernard's spirit to help Ichabod let go of his guilt, severing the link.
- Neck Snap: How Moloch the demon dispatches Brooks, to such an extent as to be a narrow subversion of Off with His Head!. Which makes his resurrection the next episode even more disturbing, as Moloch doesn't fix his neck until after he's alive again.
- Nice Hat: Show up frequently in flashbacks to the Revolutionary era. Often on Crane.
- No Body Left Behind: Moloch's demonic minions shatter into dust when killed.
- No Mouth: The Sandman.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Brooks.
- Off with His Head!: Crane himself relieves the Horseman of his head in this interpretation. The Horseman inflicts in on many other victims throughout.
- Oh, Crap: The two cops in the pilot get this when they see that the guy they got their guns pointed at turns out to have no head.
- Opening Narration: Starting in episode two, Ichabod narrates his take on what situation he's landed in.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Abbie's mentor, Sheriff Corbin, the man who'd been secretly keeping files on the weirdness in Sleepy Hollow is back as a ghost she can converse with.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Brooks.
- Parental Abandonment: "Our parents were out of the picture"
- Photographic Memory: Ichabod has it and uses the more formal "eidetic".
- The Plague: The disease carried by the people of Roanoke in "John Doe", created by the Horseman of Pestilence/Conquest.
- Post-Historical Trauma: Ichabod lived up to the ideals he believed the American Revolution to be about. He's quite upset when he learns that many of his former comrades didn't, such as when he learns they massacred their former Native American allies, and to a more comedic degree his above-mentioned Broken Pedestal for Thomas Jefferson.
- Post Modern Magic: Knowing that the sun weakens the Horseman they use UV lights to trap him and keep him contained.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Played with; Moloch's prophecy that he will gain Abbie's soul does come true, but it's because Abbie volunteers to stay behind in Purgatory so that Katrina can leave. Ichabod didn't sell her out.
- Prophet Eyes:
- The Horseman had these when he had a head. The head itself still has them.
- The victims of the Sandman develop this, possibly as a consequence of having their eyes filled with sand.
- Psychopathic Man Child: War really comes across as this — despite being a grown demonic warlock, he's just a scared and angry child who latches onto Moloch as a Parental Substitute, and is greatly upset whenever he's lectured for failure. And when he realizes that Moloch doesn't care for him, he snaps and kills him.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Some critics said that a black female police officer in Sleepy Hollow was Political Correctness Gone Mad. It turns out that the real-life Sleepy Hollow actually does have a black female police officer (and that's in a much smaller town—the real Sleepy Hollow has less than a tenth the population of the town on the show).
- In episode 7 another black actress has a walk-on part as police officer. You can't help but feel that it's a deliberate Take That to the above complaint.
- Possibly why the Headless Horseman is introduced in a Redcoat uniform despite supposedly passing himself off as a Hessian mercenary, whose standard uniform in real life would have been blue. Episode 4 shows an actual Hessian in a flashback also in a red uniform. (The production reason for it is that Len Wiseman invoked color theory, noting blue is a calming color and kind of at-odds with what they want the Horseman to represent.)
- Really 700 Years Old: The town reverend, who is the same one who was part of Katrina's coven (presumably, being a witch is why he hasn't aged). Word of God confirms he's the same one in both times, and not an Identical Grandson.
- The Four Who Speak As One, also members of Katrina's coven, but who banished her to purgatory and killed hers and Ichabod's son, feature in "The Golem". They were hiding out at a moving carnival, posing as mind-readers.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Horseman's white horse.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Brooks has a bit of fun playing with (subverting? inverting?) this one when he confronts Morales in "The Midnight Ride".
Brooks: Reports of my demise were...pretty much true.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Irving objects to reports of an unkillable headless horseman corroborated only by a man who claims to be from the Revolutionary War but he's aware something is going on and supports the others as much as he can. Once he has proof he's 100% on board.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Episode 11 of Season 1 gives us a fairly unusual example. Given the situation, you can't entirely blame Frank for pulling a gun on a cop who was, momentarily, possessed...but, given that no one else knew he was possessed, it's kind of astounding that Frank keeps his job...
- The Reveal: In the season 1 finale it's revealed that Henry Parrish is actually Ichabod and Katrina's son Jeremy who is also the Horseman of War.
- Rip Van Tinkle: Discussed when Abbie asks if Ichabod ever had to get up to pee during his ~250 year sleep. Apparently he did not, however.
- Ritual Magic: What witches use, for the most part. Some of the evil coven's stuff falls under Blood Magic.
- Rule of Cool: The Headless Horseman gets several guns from Brooks near the end of the pilot, and then proceeds to run around town with a shotgun and a military assault rifle. It's even more awesome than it sounds.
- Salt and Pepper: Ichabod and Abbie.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Horseman has been locked in a chained up coffin at the bottom of a river for the last 250 years, but now has been unleashed again by Moloch.
- Moloch himself is trapped in Purgatory, and several efforts are made by his minions to release him. They succeed halfway through the second season.
- Sealed Good in a Can: Basically what happened to Ichabod — his blood mixed with the Horseman's when he cut off his head, linking them, so Katrina had to put Ichabod in a sort of stasis to keep the Horseman sealed in its own can. However, its awakening caused Ichabod to awaken as well.
- Katrina herself is trapped in Purgatory by Moloch.
- And Season 1 ends with Abbie trapped inside a life-sized dollhouse in Purgatory, and Ichabod buried alive in a pine box. They both get out in the second season premiere.
- Sesquipedalian Smith: Ichabod Crane.
- Sherlock Scan: Ichabod pulls one on his captor.
- Shoot the Dog: The reason Katrina hid Ichabod's sleeping self was because the Freemasons were convinced that killing him was the only way to stop the Horseman (due to them being linked), and come after him in the present to finish the job. Fortunately, Henry Parrish convinces Ichabod that they can find another to stop the Horseman and helps him break the link.
- Significant Green Eyed Red Head: Ichabod's wife Katrina Crane.
- The Snark Knight: Ichabod, and how! He makes Sherlock Holmes look bad.
- Something Only They Would Say: To prove each other's identities while they're in Purgatory, Abbie asks Ichabod what she taught him after they'd captured the Headless Horseman. He responds with a fist-bump.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Sympathy for the Devil" in the pilot, shortly after very frightening scenes. Continues into the second episode with similar tracks.
- Spot the Imposter: Abbie has to do this in "This Is War". When Ichabod enters Purgatory to free her, she's also confronted by a demonic imposter. Fortunately, it gives itself away by pronouncing her rank the American way ("loo-tenant"), rather than Crane's normal British way ("left-tenant").
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Hawley. Once he was introduced, he was in almost every episode, took the street connection spot from Jenny, and ended up in a love triangle between Abbie and Jenny, to the detriment of anyone not named Abbie or Ichabod.
- Start of Darkness: We learn The Horseman's in "Necromancer". He's actually Ichabod's old best friend Abraham. He was left heartbroken by Katrina rejecting him after their relationship seemed so strong and lost his temper during a mission when Ichabod admitted that Katrina had rejected Abraham for him. Him losing it resulted in him being shot and captured by Moloch's Hessians, at which point he made a Deal with the Devil and became the Horseman out of anger, jealously, heartache, and a desire for vengeance.
- Tainted Veins: in "John Doe" when a mysterious plague infects Sleepy Hollow.
- Take That: Ichabod complains about the low voter turnout rate for midterm elections, and that more people vote for "American Idolatry" (not a terminology mistake, an intentional phrasing).
- They Fight Evil: He's a time-tossed soldier-professor. She's a supernaturally touched badass police officer. They fight the Apocalypse!
- Taking You with Me: This was Ichabod's last thought before he died, beheading the Horseman in the moment before he succumbed to his own wounds.
- Throwaway Guns: In episode 2, Ichabod tosses his gun after firing one shot, being unaware that modern guns hold more than that.
- Time Stands Still: The town of Roanoke in "John Doe". Time has not moved forward for them in four centuries.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Lesser Key of Solomon, which can open a portal to Hell to unleash the 72 demons sealed by King Solomon.
- Too Dumb to Live: This is what it looks like for the two hunters who come across the Horseman's steed in the woods, and go right up to it. It's subverted when one of the hunters reveals himself as a Hessian and coldly murders the other man.
- Total Eclipse of the Plot: In the season 1 finale, one of these coincides with the rising of the Horseman of War. Or rather, the anniversary of his rising, which also happened under an eclipse.
- Vanishing Village: Played with; The Lost Colony of Roanoke.
- Wait Here: Abbie does this to Ichabod in the pilot. He doesn't.
Ichabod: As you stated, I am insane and therefore am impervious to simple commands.
- Was Once a Man: The Headless Horseman was originally Ichabod's friend, Abraham.
- We Are Everywhere: One of the Hessians says this word for word when telling Abbie, Jenny and Ichabod that they can't be stopped. He claims even he doesn't know how many of them there are.
- Weakened by the Light: The Horseman is burned by sunlight. Hence why he only appears at night.
- Wendigo: Corbin's son is turned into one via curse in a season two episode.
- We Used to Be Friends: The Horseman is Ichabod's former best friend Abraham.
- Ichabod was friends with Benedict Arnold, and deeply regrets his betrayal.
- Wham Episode: The first season finale. Captain Irving confesses to killing a police officer and a priest to protect his daughter that had done so while under Demonic Possession. Abigail is trapped in Purgatory. Jenny was in a car crash and it's unclear if she died or not. Henry Parish, the Sin Eater, is really Ichabod and Katrina's son. He is also the Horseman of War. Katrina is now in Abraham's hands. Finally, Ichabod is sentenced to the same fate his son was. Buried Alive in a pine box.
- "The Akeda", the midseason finale of Season 2. The group captures and imprisons Death, Irving dies destroying War's Animated Armor, and as the freed Moloch is about to unleash Hell on Earth, his casual lack of care for Henry causes the latter to snap and kill him with the Sword of Methuselah.
- The first episode of the season 2 finale, "Awakening", has Katrina pulling a Face-Heel Turn use a spell to send herself back in time to Make Wrong What Once Went Right, specifically by killing Ichabod so she could raise Jeremy normally. Oh, and Abby went with her.
- The second episode, "Tempus Fugit" has a bunch that are kind of disqualified by virtue of the time-travel Reset Button...but not Ichabod killing Katrina in the modern day.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ichabod calls Katrina out in "The Weeping Lady" for always keeping secrets from him, such as being a spy for Washington, being a witch and, relevant to the episode, covering up the accidental death of a childhood friend Ichabod was supposed to to return with to England to marry.
- Witch Species: Witches' powers are genetic in this show, as seen by Katrina and Ichabod's son Jeremy inheriting his mother's abilities.
- Wizards Live Longer: The priest from the first episode, a member of Katrina's coven, has been alive for centuries.
- Would Hurt a Child: Serilda. Luckily for the child in question, he was adopted and thus of no use to her.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Everybody comments on how Ichabod supposedly died 250 years ago, but the caption in the very first scene states that the year he died in was 1781 - 232 years before the start of the series.
- This show doesn't seem concerned with historical accuracy, though, and 250 years sounds cooler.
- Possibly Justified by the fact that 250 rolls off the tongue a lot easier than 232 does, as well as the fact that, in numbers that large, rounding up to 240 or 250 wouldn't be that strange. Also, considering the fact that Ichabod never actually identifies what year he died in, so, far as they know, he might have died in 1776, in which case, rounding to 250 is most definitely not out of the question. (And for him, it's never specified what year he's in now, and he's just going off the interrogator saying it's been 250 years.)
- Perhaps the series is taking place in Next Sunday A.D..
- It was stated above that in the year specified as Ichabod's death is when the war had mostly left the north and had moved south, and General Washington along with it. Maybe the writers didn't know history, but the interrogator did, and on hearing Ichabod's story assumed he died earlier in the war.
- Wunza Plot: One's a cop, one's a time-lost professor/Revolutionary spy.
- You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: Ichabod tends to refer to Abbie as "Miss Mills" except in times of danger and trouble. He then defaults to referring her by the expedient "Lieutenant". When the danger is over, he reverts back to the less formal manner of addressing her. And when situations are really serious, he actually calls her "Abbie".
- You Have Failed Me: The Demon Moloch's stated reason for killing Brooks at the end of the pilot. Considering that he was about to tell Abbie and Ichabod everything as part of a plea bargain, however, there's also an element of He Knows Too Much in there too.
- He revives him in the second episode for another errand though.
- You Have 12 Hours: In episode 4, Da Chief gives Abbie and Ichabod that long to find the escaped Jenny before he opens up a dragnet for her.
- You Have to Believe Me: Abbie prefaces telling Irving about information she got from a vision of Katrina Crane telling her she needs to get a sin eater to sanctify Ichabod because the Headless Horseman is going to come back by acknowledging that it's grounds to have her committed...but if they do nothing, people are going to die. He doesn't exactly believe her, but he agrees to help.
- Abbie gets to do it again in the season 2 finale, having gone back to 1781 to stop a grief-maddened Katrina, when explaining herself to Ichabod, though she does have the advantage of secret information and a few pieces of modern technology.