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It was the time of the preacher
When the story began...
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Preacher is an AMC television series based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's comic book series of the same name. Sam Catlin (Breaking Bad) serves as showrunner, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This Is the End) as writers. All three serve as executive producers.

Its story revolves around Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a small town preacher with a Dark and Troubled Past whose life is turned around when he is cursed with "The Word of God", the power to compel people to do whatever he commands. Jesse soon finds himself drawn into a universe of religious madness, joined by his criminal ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Irish vampire Cassidy (Joe Gilgun).

The show premiered on May 22, 2016, with the first season having 10 episodes. A second season aired in 2017 for 13 episodes. The show's third season premiered on June 24th, 2018, and ran for 10 episodes.

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Preacher provides examples of:

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    A - H 
  • Action Girl: Tulip can stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone.
  • Actor Allusion: "Dirty Little Secret" is titled after the All American Rejects song, which also features lead singer Tyson Ritter as Jesus and his inbred descendant.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Cassidy lacks the monstrously bloodshot eyes that he has in the comics.
    • Eugene Root (AKA Arseface) is also less disfigured than his comic counterpart, but this has an in-universe explanation: the shotgun was a good foot or so away from his face instead of right under his chin.
    • Odin Quincannon in the comics looks almost like a bald troll doll. The TV version doesn't augment Jackie Earle Haley's appearance with any prosthetics.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Both versions of Tulip are an outstanding shot. However, the comics version of Tulip is a straight-laced person who tries to become a hitwoman but gives up immediately after seeing a picture of her first target. Her show version is a Boisterous Bruiser career criminal who delights in fighting and killing.
    • Starr is given many more opportunities to be badass than his comic counterpart, and his humiliating moments are usually less pronounced. For example, in both versions he's raped by male prostitutes, but in the comics he's horrified and develops a complex about it, while in the series he accepts it with with stoic indifference and continues working in the middle of the ordeal.
    • Eccarius in the comics is an insufferable poser who bases his whole personality on cheesy vampire fiction. Cassidy kills him for being a murderous asshole. In the show, he still enjoys the trappings of classical vampirism, but has a sense of humor about it. He is also quite a bit more powerful than his comics version as well as Cassidy himself, forcing Cassidy to enlist Les Enfants du Sanc to help bring him down.
  • Adaptational Expansion: The first season is essentially an expansion of the first issue of the comics, dealing with Jesse's life as a preacher in Annville before he goes on his quest to find God with Cassidy and Tulip.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the comics, Jody and T.C. are vile, sadistic and reprehensible villains, while the show makes them more morally gray. T.C. in particular is a much more sympathetic character who lacks many of the comic character's worst attributes and is generally pretty Affably Evil. Jody is also less mercilessly evil and even joins forces with the main characters for a period.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Jesse and Tulip are both much more morally gray than their comic counterparts. Tulip is a pugnacious career criminal. Jesse becomes a megalomaniacal Jerk Ass shortly after receiving Genesis and is revealed to have murdered a bank guard during a botched robbery.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Cassidy lacks the Super Strength he has in the book, making him about a match for Jesse in a fistfight. In the comics, fighting Cassidy takes a heroic act of willpower from Jesse and no small amount of Villainous Breakdown from Cassidy to make it competitive.
    • In the comics, the Saint of Killers is an Invincible Villain who can No-Sell a nuclear bomb. In the series, he's much less powerful and gets briefly knocked unconscious in a bus accident.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Picture yourself in Sheriff Root's position. Your only child has been missing for days and you're desperately trying to find out where was he last seen, with hopes of finding him. Then you discover that the town preacher has your son. Anyone in his position would assume that Jesse is holding Eugene prisoner somewhere.
    • Sheriff Root's story to DeBlanc and Fiore about parents of three children who lose one of them at the zoo. They leave the other two children with an employee and manage to locate the missing child — only for the other two to be murdered by the employee, one body never being found at all.
  • Affably Evil:
    • T.C. is a pretty friendly guy when he's not thugging for Marie.
    • Eccarius is a very friendly, paternal vampire lord, but he kills his followers after turning them into vampires because it gives him power and pleasure.
    • Satan has a very casual and light demeanor in spite of looking like a classic, red-skinned, hulking man-goat.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The Cold Open to "Dirty Little Secret", which features Jesus having sex with a married woman. It's not really clear that it's Jesus (although there are some clues) until he puts on a robe and a light shines on his head. Then the disciples promptly walk in and address him as Jesus.
  • And Show It to You: Inverted, with the man who cuts out his own heart and shows it to his mother after being commanded to "open his heart" to her.
  • And Starring: Jackie Earle Haley gets a "Special Appearance By" credit.
  • Anything That Moves: Eccarius likes to seduce beautiful women, but he also hypnotizes a grizzled old bartender into kissing him.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Cassidy, a vampire, doesn't take DeBlanc and Fiore seriously when they claim to be agents of Heaven sent to reclaim the thing inside of Jesse that gives him a Compelling Voice. For their part, when Cassidy says he's a vampire, despite being agents sent from Heaven, they don't believe him either.
    • Cassidy is willing to buy conspiracy theories about lizard people coming down from space and impersonating celebrities, but as soon as Jesse mentions people in white suits driving white vans around, he doesn't believe any of it.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Cassidy keeps Banjo in a closet for several unspecified, but apparently long, amounts of time. That is obviously not something you should do with your own dog, no matter how small.
  • Ass Shove:
    • In "Backdoors," under the influence of the Word, Herr Starr is made to shove Jesse's history of prayers up his ass.
    • The All-Father shoved Jesse's soul up his ass.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Hitler lets loose with one of these while trying to get the cell block's attention:
    Tyler: Why should we listen to you, Plum Cake?
    Hitler: Because, I'm Adolf FUCKING Hitler!
  • An Arm and a Leg: Fiore and DeBlanc restrain the Seraphim by severing her limbs and both binding and cauterizing the stumps so she doesn't bleed out and restore herself.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "El Valero," Jesse tries to convince DeBlanc and Fiore that Genesis inhabiting him is part of God's plan. DeBlanc's response stuns him into silence:
    DeBlanc: Preacher, we have a question for you. Genesis, the greatest power ever known, and you've had it all this time, right there at the tip of your tongue. And what good have you done with it?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Hitler's worst day, in which he's humiliated as an untalented coward, his girlfriend leaves him... and a Jewish man eats the last plum cake.
  • Art Shift:
    • The Cowboy's segments are far grittier and more serious than the present day ones, both in the color palette and what actually transpires. When we finally see him in Jesse's time, the sheer intensity and attention to detail of his grizzled appearance surrounded by the color and light and diversity of the present reinforces his aura of extreme danger and ruthlessness.
    • The flashback Cold Open of "Angelville" is filmed in black and white.
  • Ate His Gun: Two different subversions in the same sequence. Tracy Loach tried to commit suicide via shotgun in the mouth, but only succeeded in turning herself into a vegetable. Eugene was going to follow suit, but the gun misfired, so he lowered the gun and looked down the barrel...
  • The Atoner: Jesse's drive to carry on his father's career is based at least in part on his guilt over praying for God to kill his father when he was a boy, and then having it come true shortly thereafter.
  • Ax-Crazy: During the flashbacks of the Cowboy's trip to Ratwater, the town preacher remarks before shooting the Cowboy's horse that he remembers him from Gettysburg, and that he'd never seen another man show such a taste for killing.
  • Back from the Dead: Tulip is resurrected in "Angelville" after being shot and killed by Lara in the season two finale. Whether or not it was due to Madame Marie's voodoo magic, or due to God himself intervening, is ambiguous.
  • Badass Boast: Jesse's mission statement to Tulip and Cassidy in the first season finale, as they're setting out on their quest to find God:
    If he wants our help, we'll give it. If not...well, then we'll kick his ass.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The Grail has nice white suits with red highlights as their official uniform.
  • Badass Preacher: Jesse might be a preacher, but he's a hell of a fighter, with a past history of crime. He frequently takes on multiple opponents at once.
  • Bad is Good and Good is Bad: Hell's administration enforces this by punishing any of the damned who show kindness or help others. They have a standard to uphold.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • "Monster Swamp" begins with a scantily clad woman fleeing from men with rifles. They catch up to her and shoot her with a paintball as part of a consensual sex game. Then she falls into a sinkhole and dies.
    • Throughout "Puzzle Piece", we're led to believe "Brad" is a special operative of the Grail, especially when a hulking man in a mask attacks Jesse's security detail. Turns out, that man was actually a run-of-the-mill New Orleans drunk. The real Brad, or B.R.A.D., is a guided missile the Grail fires at the apartment building the trio are staying in.
  • Becoming the Mask: The guy playing Pedro The Prairie Dog appears to be suffering from this, as he is never seen out of the costume even when wandering the town at night or walking his dog.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: T.C. distracts the cops by having sex with the goats at the local farm. Judging by the cops' reaction (and T.C.'s intimate knowledge of goats), this is hardly the first time.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Between Tulip and Jesse in the first season finale. Jesse made her do it as a demonstration of Genesis, and she punches him and tells him to never do it again.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lara is a ruthless sociopath who is utterly loyal to Herr Starr, but she puts on a convincing show of being friendly and demure for Tulip's benefit.
  • Bi the Way: Eccarius and Cassidy have a love affair while also being into women.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Starr orders prostitutes to perform a rape fantasy with him where "No means yes." However, there is some confusion, so he winds up with three male prostitutes who've been told his "no" means yes. This turns out as you'd except, but Starr doesn't appear to be perturbed.
  • Blood Knight: When Jesse is finally provoked by Donnie into fighting, it is clear that Jesse deeply enjoys the violence. As soon as he blocks the first punch, he breaks into a big smile.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Both Cassidy and Tulip have a very happy-go-lucky approach to fighting their enemies.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The Cowboy fires over thirty times from his two revolvers with no time in between to reload when he clears out the saloon. And this is before he becomes the supernatural Saint of Killers.
  • Brick Joke: Hitler has spent his time in the 21st century working at a sandwich shop, but when he's captured by the Angel of Death, he starts ranting that his stormtroopers will rescue him. When the others give him a look, he admits that this might not happen. A few scenes later, a troop of modern neo-Nazis actually does attack the bus, complete with tank.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Jesse spends much of season 3 unable to use Genesis because he sold his soul.
  • Brutal Honesty: As they start to storm Jesse's church, Odin Quincannon admits to his men that those bearing only bludgeoning weapons will act as human shields for the men behind them.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Donnie acknowledges that Jesse has a reputation as a man who has "done things," but still picks a fight with him over interfering with his family. Jesse doesn't fight back until Donnie threatens to beat his son, at which point Jesse unleashes a Curb-Stomp Battle on Donnie and his buddies.
  • Bury Your Gays:
    • The two rival mascots hang themselves together. An aftershow special revealed that there was an unrequited love between them that was only very subtly hinted at in the show. The second season reveals that Pedro had molested Eugene at some point prior to the series' beginning.
    • As of 2x02, both DeBlanc and Fiore are dead at the hands of the Cowboy. In the episode where Fiore dies, he tells Cassidy in a roundabout way that they were in a sexual relationship.
  • Call-Forward: "See," begins in 1881, with the segment ending on a shot of numerous dead Native Americans hanging from a tree in the town of Ratwater. In the present, Cassidy buries the bodies of the men who attacked him and Jesse under the same tree. A further call happens in the season finale, when "Chief Red Savage" and "Pedro the Prairie Dog" hang themselves from that tree after the reveal of God's absence.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • A number of major characters in the first season are unique to the show, such as Emily, Miles and Donny.
    • All the various denizens of Hell, including Satan, the Angel of Death and Hitler, are unique to the show, as is the whole Hell plot line.
    • Denis is unique to the show. He has some elements of Si Coltrane and Eccarius, but Eccarius shows up himself in season 3.
  • Catchphrase: As in the comics, Cassidy is prone to calling people "idiots," which he pronounces "ijits" in his Irish lilt.
  • Chainsaw Good: When their first extraction of Genesis fails, Fiore and DeBlanc decide to carve up Jesse with a chainsaw. Thankfully, they're interrupted by Cassidy, who takes great exception to this idea and proceeds to carve them up instead.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The dismembered bodies of DeBlanc and Fiore that Cassidy buried, specifically one of their hands, which becomes a key part of the events of the season finale.
    • The control room in the power plant. The guy running it apparently dies during sex, his partner can't figure out how to shut it down when it redlines, and it causes a town-wide methane leak that leads to an explosion, leveling the town and apparently killing everyone.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Subverted when Cassidy promises Jesse that he can make Fiore change his mind in two and three quarter hours, and Fiore comes into his hotel room to find Cassidy wearing a leather apron and brandishing a blowtorch. Cassidy's ploy is actually to teach him how to make and use a whole lot of illegal substances.
  • The Comically Serious: Herr Starr has absolutely no sense of humor.
  • Compelling Voice: Anyone who has the Word of God, though only Jesse survives using it.
  • Crapsack World: Annville is a run-down, podunk town that is slowly but steadily declining, with a populace that embodies a lot of Deep South stereotypes and with the most prominent business being run by a murderous sociopath.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Tulip takes to buying animals from nearby shelters and pet stores to feed to Cassidy to heal his burns. She turns the job over to Emily, who does the same to the mayor.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Cassidy gives one to a plane full of vampire hunters in his introduction scene.
    • Jesse also gives one to an abusive husband and his friends when said husband threatened to punish his son for telling on him.
    • The Saint of Killers to a group of police officers in "On the Road", and then to a hotel full of gun nuts in "Mumbai Sky Tower".
  • Damsel in Distress: Lara gets attacked and kidnapped by a bunch of white-clad goons, but is rescued by Jesse. It's revealed she invoked this, since she's with them and it was staged so he'd reveal information to her afterward.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Tulip gets half strangled by one of Victor's goons, but she nonetheless manages to overpower and kill him, despite being about half his size.
  • Dark Action Girl: Featherstone and the Angel of Death are both evil women who kick ass.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Herr Starr starts masturbating in the middle of a wrestling match, while he's being held in a chokehold. It turns out it's a tactic to distract his opponent, which works.
  • Deal with the Devil: Marie seems to have made one of these to get longevity, however in exchange whenever she eventually dies, she will go to Hell.
  • Death Is Cheap: When angels die on Earth, they reappear moments later, none the worse for wear...but leaving their old bodies behind. It's better for them to be killed than wounded or incapacitated. The exception is the Saint of Killers' bullets, as neither DeBlanc nor the Seraphim get back up after he shoots them. Later on, Fiore has the Saint shoot him in order to end his misery.
  • Diegetic Switch: In the first season finale, as pandemonium breaks out in the church after the reveal that God has gone missing, Emily sits down at the church organ and starts playing two chords faster and faster, fading into "96 Tears" by ? And The Mysterians.
  • Disability Immunity: Donny figures out a way to get around Jesse's control: deafen himself by firing his gun in his car's trunk with his head inside. It works, but it annoys Quincannon and his wife later.
  • Doomed Hometown: Annville, which is utterly destroyed in the first season finale.
  • The Dreaded: The Saint of Killers, who actually seems to exude an aura of dread, as people become terrified just by him being in the area (even if they're not aware of him being there).
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Subverted; Donny's aforementioned Disability Immunity is set up as if he's realizing the futility of the assault on the church and deciding to end it all in an oddly convoluted way.
    • Tracy Loach was going to commit suicide but was talked out of it by Eugene until he kissed her, which drove her to go ahead with it, with Eugene shooting himself soon afterward. Both survived, but she was a vegetable and he was horribly disfigured.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Denis, after Cassidy makes him a vampire. He revels in hedonistic excess, although his bloodlust makes him act predatory, which scares off multiple call girls.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ruthless gangster though he may be, Viktor seems to genuinely love his daughter and Tulip.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the prisoners of hell are appalled that fellow inmate Tyler raped four girls.
  • Exact Words: One of the limitations of the Word of God.
    • After gaining the Word, Jesse commands a man who constantly yammered about his uber-controlling mother's harassment to visit his mother, and "Be Brave, Tell The Truth, and Open Your Heart." He does so by bravely hopping a plane to see her, telling her everything he's ever wanted to say about her treatment of him (which she seems completely confused about)...and cutting his chest open and pulling out his heart to show her before falling down dead.
    • Jesse commands Odin Quincannon to "Serve God." He didn't say which God. Turns out the only God Quincannon believes in is the "God of Meat."
    • When Eugene angers Jesse by trying to get him to take back his command for people to forgive him, Jesse yells "Go to hell, Eugene!" Cue nasty sound effects and the church program Eugene was holding fluttering to the ground.
    • Jesse tells T.C. that he's not mad at him enough to shoot him. Then he commands him to shoot himself.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Emily doesn't do anything immoral until she tricks Miles into walking in on a starving Cassidy, getting him killed. It's implied that she did it not out of any sense of duty to Cassidy, but simply that she felt "trapped" in her life and wanted to get rid of Miles.
    • Eccarius gradually bonds with and befriends Cassidy, but ultimately it's revealed that he kills all of his followers, which turns Cassidy and his followers against him.
  • Fanservice:
    • Cassidy and Jesse standing around in their BVDs and chewing the fat while washing their bloody clothes after the fight with the Seraphim.
    • Tulip has a few midriff-baring outfits, one of which she even wears to church.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow:
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: While most of Hell is not this, Level -9 is, almost stereotypically so. Rivers of lava, ground covered in ashy bones, the screams of the damned, you name it. Satan even lives within a office building sized skull with giant tusks, concealing a rather attractive little corporate office within the mouth.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The logo on Jesse's Ratwater whiskey bottles look suspiciously like the silhouette of the Cowboy's upper torso and is named after the town where the Cowboy went on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • When questioned on his tattoos, Jesse states that the Jolly Roger was given to him by a "mean old lady." The same tattoo is later seen on the forearm of John Custer's murderer. Those who know the comics know this is in reference to Jesse's evil grandmother.
    • When Jesse asks Fiore and DeBlanc how God could allow Eugene to end up in Hell just because Jesse said so, all they can offer in response is an awkward silence. This is perhaps the first implication that God has left Heaven, and presumably that couldn't have happened otherwise.
    • When musing on the nature of Hell, Odin Quincannon says that maybe it's being forced to relive the worst moment of your life over and over again. Turns out that that is exactly what Hell is, at least for the Cowboy. Later on, it's revealed that this is a standard punishment, as Eugene, Hitler, and (it's implied) everyone on their cell block is undergoing the same torment.
  • A Friend in Need:
    • After getting access to the church van, Cassidy could've easily left town and not been bothered with the agents. Instead, he comes back for Jesse and proceeds to slaughter his friend's would-be murderers. He decides to stick around on a permanent basis after that.
    • Jesse returns the favor several episodes later by helping Cassidy dispose of the animal carcasses and the mayor's body.
  • Friends with Benefits: As revealed in "Monster Swamp," Emily and Mayor Miles Person, though the mayor wishes it were more serious, making him a Dogged Nice Guy, at least until his Face–Heel Turn a bit later after he decides to cover up Quincannon's murders of several business people.
  • Gargle Blaster:
    • Cassidy, who can't really get drunk, makes himself a concoction of what's basically poison (it contains coffee pot cleaner, for instance) and Jesse demands to drink it. After drinking it, he says about three words and passes out cold on the floor.
    • Cassidy also smokes attic insulation in an attempt to get high.
  • Godzilla Threshold: DeBlanc and Fiore consider releasing the Cowboy to hunt down Jesse to be an act of utter desperation, which they only go through with when they have literally no other options left available.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The first season finale has a doozy. The discovery that God is real but has abandoned Heaven pushes most of Annville past the Despair Event Horizon, some becoming suicidal, and others homicidal. Emily is the sole (shown) exception, as she tells her kids that they'll keep going with their lives as they always have, and that they never really needed God.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal:
    • Cassidy is extremely prone to taking what would be mortal wounds to a normal human, often through random mishaps. Simply getting shoved out a window causes him to get a glass shard stuck in his neck. In the middle of a third-season firefight, he's the only main character to get shot, and Tulip calls him a bullet magnet.
    • In "On Your Knees," the Saint of Killers spares Tulip by knocking her unconscious on his path to the Preacher, but snaps Denis's neck in the very next scene. Luckily, Denis is a vampire by this time and survives.
  • Gray and Black Morality: Fittingly for such a Crapsack World, no one is truly good in this series. Even John Custer, who was the one who urged Jesse to be a good man in the first place, appeared to have regularly belted his son in front of other children just to "set an example." He also arranged for Tulip to be taken away by DHS when she and Jesse were kids, citing the inevitable trouble that family brings, prompting Jesse to pray for God to kill his dad. Whoops.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: On the other hand, almost no one is fully evil either, even the seemingly worst monsters and biggest assholes—there is almost always some Hidden Depths, a Pet the Dog moment or at least a reminder that Even Evil Has Loved Ones. This is a marked contrast to the comic, which not only presents most of the villains as fully and irredeemably awful but also goes to some length to deconstruct a number of morally ambiguous tropes.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Cassidy stabs one of his attackers with the bottom of a broken champagne bottle, then pops the cork and uses the bottle as a tap to fill up a bottle of blood to go.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Tulip stomps down on one of her attackers during her Establishing Character Moment.
    • Cassidy kicks Fiore in the nuts during the chainsaw fight scene. Later on, the Seraphim punches him in the groin.
      My tenders...!
    • When one of Quincannon's men tries to rush the church with a musket, Jesse shoots his junk off.
    • In the first episode of the second season, Jesse orders a cop to Mace himself in the groin. He sprays for several seconds, in visible agony the entire time.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Orginally mused by Odin Quincannon to be a method of torment in Hell, it's eventually revealed that being made to relive the worst moment of your life over and over again for eternity is exactly what's happening there.
    • For the Cowboy, it's reliving the last few days of his life, starting with the journey to Ratwater to get medicine for his daughter and ending with killing some kids in a school and all the occupants of the bar where the preacher hung out. The cycle is broken when DeBlanc and Fiore show up to set him after Jesse.
    • For Eugene, it's the day he talked Tracy Loach down from killing herself, only for her to shoot herself anyway because he kissed her. He then tries to shoot himself rather than face Mrs. Loach, but the gun misfires, leading to his disfigurement.
    • For Adolf Hitler, it involves a disastrous lunch date in which his artwork is criticized by an art dealer, he chickens out in standing up to some Communists, his girlfriend leaves him, and a Jewish man takes the last plum cake, leaving him ashamed, alone and hungry.
  • Have You Seen My God?: God has abandoned Heaven and may be on Earth. The search for Him is likely to be the rest of the series' Myth Arc, as per the comics.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Donnie decides to be merciful to Jesse because Jesse was merciful to him. In the season one finale, he and Betsy end up helping Jesse evade the police and get to the church.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The jazz song "A Walk to the Peak" is dissonant, chaotic, and described by one character as sounding like "the end of the world." According to Tammy, it's also God's favorite song, so take from that what you will.
  • Heroic Suicide: In "On The Road", Father Mike kills himself rather than let the Saint of Killers force him to reveal where Jesse is.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Fiore and DeBlanc, though as of "Finish The Song" the heterosexual part may be up for debate.
  • Hippie Jesus: In the Cold Open for "Dirty Little Secret", Jesus is portrayed this way.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Adolf Hitler is among the damned of Eugene's cell block in Hell.
  • Hollywood Law: After he arrests Cassidy, Root discovers he's a vampire by running his prints, which turn up his arrest records going back to the 1920s. However, records have not been digitized nearly so far back, and even then not all of them are in a central database.
  • Humble Goal: Quincannon motivates his men to charge into Jesse's gunfire by offering them a food court in the new compound. When the rest of the men flee, Clyde continues to charge in, chanting, "Food court! Food court!"

    I - P 
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: Tulip goes to Emily's house and yells at her to "stay away from my boyfriend", despite the fact that Jesse and Emily are not a thing.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Averted by the end of the first season for both kids and dogs.
    • Played straight in "Dallas". The Saint spares Viktor's young daughter after she tells him where Jesse is.
  • It Gets Easier: The first time Tulip feeds a pet to Cassidy, she spends the whole day playing with it, petting it, and trying to give it one good day before it dies. A few days later, she has a house full of animals and is casually talking about which pet stores won't sell to her because they suspect something.
  • I Have This Friend...: Jesse, discussing the end of the world with a street preacher in New Orleans, creates an imaginary parishioner to talk about him selling one percent of his soul.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison:
    • Eugene asks if Jesse will give Genesis back to the two men in the motel, only for Jesse to quickly remind him that he never said anything about the two men in the motel. This is how Jesse figures out that the Eugene he's been talking to is actually just a figment of his imagination.
    • Lara nearly blows her cover as "Jenny" when she mentions Tulip's time in Dallas, which Tulip hadn't mentioned. She's able to get out it with some quick thinking and some help from Hoover.
  • Insistent Terminology: Fiore and DeBlanc call the dented coffee can where they keep Genesis "the domicile," correcting anyone who refers to it otherwise.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Eugene's disfigurement makes his dialogue very hard to understand, and everything he says is subtitled, but the other characters don't seem to have any trouble understanding him, though it could be justified in the case of those who have spent a lot of time around him, and are used to "translating" his speech.
  • Killed Off for Real: The Saint of Killers seems able to permanently kill angels, as neither DeBlanc or the female seraphim come back after he shoots them. Later on, Fiore takes advantage of this and has the Saint pull a Mercy Kill on him.
  • Kill ’Em All:
    • Every person who is not Jesse, Cassidy, Tulip, Fiore or the Cowboy has died as of the Season 1 finale.
    • This is the fate of the Vietnamese village Herr Starr is deployed to, including the pig.
  • Klingon Promotion: Herr Starr kills his sole remaining rival applicant to the Grail to join. He then takes control of the organization after throwing his superior off a high-rise balcony.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In the season one finale, Cassidy and Tulip sum up Jesse's plans to roam around, get into adventures and meet strange characters. It sounds an awful lot like they're pitching the show's future seasons. Cassidy even enthusiastically states, "I could go for that!"
    • Before that, in "Monster Swamp", Cassidy tries to explain the situation with DeBlanc and Fiore to Jesse, gets sidetracked, and says, "We gotta get you out of here! Road trip! You've gotta know that's where this is headed!"
  • Lighter and Softer: While it's still very much a Crapsack World, it's a little less cynical and gruesome than the comics it's based on.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Of the comic series of the same name.
  • Love at First Punch: Tulip, in a case of mistaken identity, beats Cassidy up and throws him out of a window, getting his neck impaled by a piece of glass. Cassidy, it appears, has fallen for her hard.
  • Love Dodecahedron: In the first season, Jesse and Tulip are exes, though Tulip still calls Jesse her "boyfriend" rather than her "ex" most of the time. Emily has a rather obvious crush on Jesse, too. Jesse, on his part, seems basically oblivious to Emily and determined to resist Tulip. However, what would be a regular love triangle gets complicated when it turns out that both Tulip and Emily have other prospective paramours: Emily is in a Friends with Benefits arrangement with Miles, while Tulip seems to be developing a similar relationship with Cassidy, and both Miles and Cassidy are clearly quite smitten with their respective lady friends, adding a whole extra layer of complication when both women would much rather be with Jesse. By the end of the first season, Miles and Emily are dead and Jesse and Tulip seem to be getting back together while Cassidy looks on enviously, apparently trimming this down to a normal Love Triangle. By the end of the second season, everything is derailed on account of Tulip apparently dying after being shot by Lara.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • Until the Word of God finds Jesse, it makes anyone it floats into explode, starting with an African priest, a Russian Satanist priest, and even Tom Cruise at a Scientology gathering! Also Bloody Hilarious, as the African priest was proclaiming his status as a prophet before detonating into a cloud of Pink Mist, and Tom Cruise exploded in front of hundreds of people - on camera! His public funeral service is a shot on a TV in a later episode.
    • Season 3 has the Word of God enter a number of other people, with equally messy results.
    • Due to being a vampire, Cassidy survives jumping out of a plane without a parachute, but the impact destroys the lower part of his body. It's a bloody mess of mangled flesh with his intestines as the only recognizable organs.
  • Madness Mantra: Under the influence of Genesis, the man who kills himself in front of his mother spends the entire trip to see her repeating Jesse's instructions to himself. Everyone around him that notices is visibly weirded out.
  • Magitek: Both Heaven and Hell seem to make use of miraculous gadgets. Angels carry special phones for communicating with Heaven, and the torments in Hell are administered through projectors that force the damned to relive their worst memories. The latter are even shown to be breaking down periodically and requiring the attentions of an infernal repairman.
  • Manchild: Denis acts like a rebellious teen after being turned into a vampire. He's incredibly horny, plays his music too loud, looks at porn on a laptop that he quickly hides when someone enters the room, and generally causes his father no end of trouble.
  • Masochist's Meal: Eugene can't eat solid food because of his disfigurement, and thus has to down a smoothie of sorts consisting of pureed vegetables and raw meat.
  • Meaningful Name: Annville's going to take a pounding.
  • The Men in Black:
    • DeBlanc and Fiore, the men on the trail of Genesis, certainly give off this vibe, though they don't wear black suits. They even claim to be working for the government at one point. It turns out that they're angels.
    • Inverted by the Grail, which is a secretive and powerful conspiracy playing this role, but they all wear white suits with red accents.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Sheriff Root does this to the Seraphim, although how he does it suggests a darker motivation than just relieving her pain.
    • After the events of Jesse's final church service, Tracy Loach's mother smothers her with a pillow.
  • Messianic Archetype: Subverted. The Grail does indeed have Jesus' descendant...but due to a lot of inbreeding, he's a mental defective with facial deformities.
  • More Dakka: After the first time DeBlanc and Fiore are thwarted by Cassidy, they try to storm the church with assault rifles and wearing heavy duty body armor. Cassidy simply runs them over with the church van.
  • Mundane Afterlife: Hell is depicted as a giant prison where the condemned are made to relive the worst moment of their lives on a loop forever. Season 3 does reveal that the Ninth Circle is, at least, a far more traditional Fire and Brimstone Hell, complete with lava, a floor of bones, and a giant tusked skull with a rather nice office for Satan in the mouth.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • One of the promos for the show is a recreation of the first issue's cover.
    • In the pilot, Tulip notes that Jesse cut his hair and that she doesn't like it, referencing the mullet Jesse sports in the comics. We actually see Jesse sporting the mullet in several flashbacks.
    • A Nirvana sticker can be seen in Eugene's locker. In the comics, Arseface was a huge fan of the band and apparently considered Kurt Cobain his hero. When Kurt committed suicide, Arseface attempted to follow suit.
    • Jesse's favorite actor is John Wayne. In the comics, it is taken further as Wayne (his face conveniently hidden in shadow) serves as Jesse's conscience. In season 3, he has a dream sequence in which the character appears.
    • The Great Ganesh has a poster of Bill Hicks on his dressing room wall. Hicks makes an appearance in the comics, and Jesse is a big fan.
    • When the main trio are doing research on the Saint of Killers in the library, one of their sources is the actual Preacher comic book special that tells his story.
    • The episode "Dirty Little Secret" contains Tulip and (undercover) Featherstone bonding while playing the song with the same name as the episode title by The All-American Rejects. This is also the first episode where the band's lead singer Tyson Ritter appears.
  • Noodle Implements: Starr's dinner date with the daughter of the Louisiana governor is a variation: He's about to perform some sort of sex act on her that requires her to keep a stick of butter under her chin and hold her breath, but he leaves before providing any more details.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Tulip and Jesse deliver one to Carlos off screen.
  • No-Sell:
    • One of the vampire hunters pours a bottle of holy water on Cassidy. It has no effect beyond making Cassidy wet. Cassidy gives the guy a "not this bullshit again" look and bites into the guy's neck.
    • Every punch Jesse gives to the Seraphim has little effect.
    • The Saint of Killers is unaffected by Jesse's Genesis powers.
  • Nun Too Holy: One of the residents of Hell in Season 2 wears a nun's veil.
  • Oblivious to Love: Starr has no idea that Featherstone has a crush on him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • DeBlanc and Fiore's reaction when they succeed in extracting Genesis from Jesse...but it escapes and goes back into him, destroying the "domicile" in the process.
    • Jesse, when he realizes that the Saint of Killers is immune to Genesis' power.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Englishwoman Lucy Griffiths (Emily) slips sometimes.
  • Offing the Offspring: Cassidy ends up killing Denis when he can't control his vampiric impulses.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Tulip takes down a helicopter and an unknown number of heavily armed assassins with a homemade bazooka.
    • Jesse disarms and beats up more than a half-dozen armed men who invade his church.
    • Jesse and Tulip beat Carlos to a bloody pulp, even after giving him a tire iron and gun to even the odds.
  • Off with His Head!: The Cowboy begins his murderous rampage through Ratwater by decapitating the kids in the schoolhouse and ends it by doing the same to the Chinese man singing in the bar.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Angels are indistinguishable from normal humans aside from the fact that they're immortal. If killed, they reappear at once from the nearest door; thus, the only way to stop them is incapacitation. So far the only exception is the Saint of Killers, whose gun destroys angels and sends them to an unknown fate. Most are middle management types, but one seraph shows up as well, a sort of warrior angel apparently.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires extend their fangs when they feed and can survive grievous wounds and heal them quickly, though it requires them to consume a lot of blood. They seem to be at least slightly stronger and quicker than most humans. Holy water doesn't harm them at all. They can eat, drink and use the restroom. Drugs affect them, though they seem to have more tolerance than humans and can build up a superhuman tolerance over the years. They can function during daylight hours and in indirect sunlight. In fact, it seems that just having a bit of shade over their head is enough to let them wander around in broad daylight. Direct sunlight, however, will cause their skin to burst into flame and eventually immolate them. Vampires can develop additional powers, including shapechanging, flight, and greatly augmented strength and speed, but only if they turn lots of people into vampires.
  • Overly Long Gag: The fight between Jesse, DeBlanc, Fiore, and a seraph, with the latter three respawning when they die, in "Sundowner." Topped when the seraph's mostly under control and Cassidy comes in and headshots her, starting it all over again.
  • Personalized Afterlife: Hell seems to consist of the damned being trapped with their own sins, reliving them forever.
  • Pet the Dog: After repeatedly browbeating Emily to stay away from her man, Tulip finally guilts herself into treating her nicely and helping her out.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Tulip, a petite woman with no trouble taking on opponents far over her size.
  • The Plot Reaper: In the first season finale, practically the entire supporting cast is wiped out when Quincannon's methane plant explodes and wipes out Annville.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Parodied in the first episode as part of an Establishing Character Moment for the town of Annville. A radio host references the change of Annville's mascot from "Chief Red Savage" to the more "politically correct" mascot of "Pedro the Prairie Dog," and tells listeners to give the new mascot a "West Texas hello." This consists of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the mascot and its apparent only supporter. The next scene has the sheriff referring to "Chief" as a "beloved cultural icon." When Jesse insists that it could be worse, he says he knows about worse; worse is a Japanese man marrying his pillow.
  • Postmodern Magick: A Japanese company has developed technology to extract a fraction of a person's soul and convert it into an easily ingestible form to be transferred to another person.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The comic's Road Trip plot structure has been completely revised so that each season can focus on a single area. The first season is turned into a Prolonged Prologue set in Annville, while the second season takes place almost entirely in New Orleans. This allows the show to reuse locations and maintain a more consistent cast across each season.
    • Jesse doesn't wear white pants, as he does in the comic, because they would look weird in live action. They don't look strange in the comic, but even Cassidy comments on how odd they are.
    • Cassidy doesn't keep his shades on at all times, since that would limit the actor's ability to emote. Consequently, his bloodshot eyes are dropped.
    • Cassidy's ability to function in indirect sunlight is greatly enhanced so that the character can appear in more scenes during the day.
    • Eugene appears to have briefly taken John Wayne's role as Jesse's Imaginary Friend/personified conscience, though the Wayne character does make an appearance during a dream sequence in season 3.
  • Prolonged Prologue: The entire first season is essentially this, as it's spent introducing us to the characters and basic mythology, resolving the situations that the characters find themselves in at the start, before setting them off on a central Myth Arc more closely in line with the story from the comics. In an aftershow special, Seth Rogen revealed that this was deliberate, to explore in detail things about Jesse and his motivations that the comic glossed over.

    Q - Z 
  • Race Lift: Tulip is white in the comics, but actress Ruth Negga is half Ethiopian.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Serial date rapist Tyler disgusts even the other damned souls in Hell.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: After luring the population of Annville into coming to church with an offer of a free flatscreen TV, Jesse gives them one.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Herr Starr has a star-shaped scar over one blind eye and a shaved head.
    • T.C. has a combover and rotten teeth.
  • Revenge: Tulip's main motivation throughout the first season is to find and kill a man named Carlos as payback for his betraying her and Jesse years prior. The full reveal comes in the season finale: Carlos took off with the money from a bank heist the three of them were pulling off, purely to spite Jesse and Tulip for their happiness. The icing on the cake? The stress of that betrayal caused Tulip to miscarry her and Jesse's baby.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: When Tulip is kidnapped by Viktor, Jesse goes to his house and uses the Word to make sure no one stops him, and gets into a fight with a Torture Technician before finding her in a room with Viktor.
  • Role Reprisal: Noah Taylor previously played Adolf Hitler in the 2002 film Max.
  • Room 101: In hell, this is "the hole", where prisoners who act nice or break the rules in other ways are sent. When Eugene is sent there, it's revealed to contain a device called the Extrapolator, which twists the prisoner's original torment into something much more personally damaging. In Eugene's case, it's Tracy accepting his kiss but then revealing that she's fallen in love with someone else...namely Jesse, who comes out of the bathroom. Seeing them kiss drives Eugene to kill himself. The Extrapolator's effects can be resisted, but it works to subvert the resistance so that the punishment still happens. Eugene has to undergo several iterations of this before the backdoor in the Extrapolator room will open.
  • Running Gag:
    • In the first season, someone keeps changing the All Saints Congregational sign in Annville to say sarcastic or obscene spins on the original message.
    • People griping at Cassidy to fix the church's air-conditioning.
    • Fiore and DeBlanc handing over their whole wallets when they need to give someone money.
    • At least once a season, Cassidy finds a way to bring up how much he hates The Big Lebowski, often comparing it to other Coen Brothers movies he likes better.
    • In the second season, Cassidy claiming that a surprisingly wide variety of things are made from the foreskins of circumcised babies.
    • In season 3, Herr Starr dons a wide range of hats to hide the scar that makes his head look like a penis. He sometimes changes hats between scenes.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: A bit zig-zagged. Betsy has bruises from her interactions with Donnie, but she candidly states that she "likes it." Their son believes that his father is abusing his mother, but Donnie takes him aside and tells him that adults are "complicated" and that the noises he hears from the bedroom aren't him beating her. Later scenes make it clear that they're engaging in consensual BDSM play in the bedroom. The characterization avoids Bondage Is Bad when the couple make a Heel–Face Turn at the end of the season.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When asked about his story, Cassidy confesses to being a 119-years old vampire from Dublin on the run from a group of vampire hunters. Jesse thinks he's joking.
  • Saying Too Much: Lara slips up, mentioning Tulip robbed banks in Dallas, which wasn't part of their conversation. Tulip first agrees she must have just forgotten, but then when she's still suspicious, Lara gets F. J. to come over acting like her supposed abusive ex-boyfriend when her very identity is questioned. This works to make Tulip believe it.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: At the end of "Sokosha", rather than send the Saint back to Hell (which could be a problem now that he has 1 percent of Jesse's soul), Jesse locks him in the back of the Soul Happy Go Go van and drives it into a swamp in Angelville.
  • Shirtless Scene: Jesse and Cassidy get their fair share of them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The repeated obscene or mocking messages on the church sign in S1 are a shout-out to the Couch Gag with the hotel sign in every episode of Fawlty Towers.
    • Cassidy hates The Big Lebowski and analyzes the relative quality of the rest of The Coen Brothers' oeuvre.
    • After his brawl with Fiore and DeBlanc, Cassidy grabs a chainsaw and says, "Right. Say hello...to my little friend!"
    • Jesse likens the aftermath of the Sundowner Motel fight as "a bit like Pulp Fiction".
    • Jesse's favorite actor is John Wayne.
    • When DeBlanc and Fiore wait for the minivan that takes them to Hell at the John B. Robert Dam, the show uses the same location and camera angles from the scene in Breaking Bad where Jesse Pinkman and later Walter White wait for the vacuum cleaner repairman. Showrunner Sam Catlin was a write/producer on Breaking Bad.
    • Emily watches Psycho, which is implied to inspire her to take an extreme and immoral action much like Marion Crane in the film.
    • After Emily locks Miles in the same room as Cassidy, the camera angle is similar to The Shining, when Jack Torrance talks to Grady while locked in the Overlook Hotel's pantry.
  • The Siege: Jesse spends most of "El Valero" holed up in his church, holding off Quincannon's men.
  • Slasher Smile: Cassidy, with his mouth crammed full of sharp teeth.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The three main protagonists, a trio of exceptionally kickass people, smoke like chimneys. Granted, Everybody Smokes in their town.
  • Snuff Film: Characters appear to be watching one in "Possibilities", and there's a glimpse of a poster for Houston's Fourth Annual Snuff Film Festival. In what can be called Snuff Audio, Odin listens to animals being slaughtered.
  • Soul Eating: The beginning of "Sokosha" shows a poor couple selling something, which we later find out is the man's soul, which the company then sells to rich people as cures for ailments. Later on, when Jesse gives the Saint the 1 percent of his soul that was extracted, the Saint promptly eats it.
  • Spotting the Thread: Jesse's first real clue that the being who appears before the congregation isn't God is that at one point he picks his nose. The masquerade quickly starts falling apart when Jesse calls him on it.
  • Start of Darkness: A flashback reveals that Odin was just a regular workaholic when his whole family was killed in a freak cable car accident. He denounces the existence of the soul because he cannot find any difference between the bodies of his family and the cows in his slaughterhouses, proclaiming, "It's all meat!"
  • Stealth Pun: Mumbai Sky Towers, featuring Frank Patel and the Great Ganesh, is an "Indian casino."
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • In the first season finale God on his heavenly throne looks horribly cliched and cheap, and for a good reason: It's an angel pretending to be God, who is missing. Later on it's revealed that it was actually the soul of a human actor who thought he was auditioning for a part as God and was murdered so his soul could be taken into heaven.
    • In the car chase in the second season premier, the film stock suddenly gets a lot of scratches and the color balance changes to resemble an old 1970s exploitation film.
  • Take That!:
    • When Cassidy hears the name of Genesis for the first time, he comments, "What, like the bloody band?" and states several times that it's a terrible name.
    • One of the neo-Nazis is wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat from Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. This is a reference to accusations of a link between the alt-right supporters of Trump's presidency and white supremacist groups.
  • There Was a Door: When Tulip breaks into the Schencks' place, looking for Jesse, by shooting into the door, Betsy remarks that the door was open.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: The Angel of Death's name is Sydney.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Tulip walked right into Too Dumb to Live territory in Season 2.
  • Torso with a View: The Seraphim, thanks to being shot by the Cowboy.
  • Torture Technician: Viktor Kruglov employs one who has a room packed full of instruments, and is completely matter of fact about his work.
  • Trash the Set: In the first season finale, the townfolk tear up the interior of the church after finding out about God's absence. Later on, it goes even further when Quincannon's methane power plant explodes, destroying the whole town, with special focus on the All Saints church.
  • Unwanted Assistance: After a seeming eternity of Jesse and the custodians trying to incapacitate the Seraphim without killing her so she can't respawn, they almost seem to have managed it... when suddenly Cassidy bursts in and kills her with a headshot. They all give him a Death Glare.
  • Villainous Rescue: The Saint of Killers and Hitler's stormtroopers help Tulip escape from the Bus to Hell.
  • While Rome Burns: Upon discovering the truth about God, the town starts to go straight to Hell. As most of the townsfolk begin tearing apart the church, Emily gets a wicked grin and begins to play "96 Tears" on the organ.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • No one has much of a problem attacking the Seraphim who's trying to kill Jesse.
    • As an Action Girl, Tulip gets into quite a few scraps with people who don't display any hesitation in attacking her.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In the pilot, Cassidy is attacked by hunters on an airplane using crossbows, wooden stakes and axes. One pours holy water onto Cassidy's head but it has no effect, as sunlight is the only thing from vampire mythology that will actually hurt him.
    Cassidy: When will you ijits learn?
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Genesis is an angel/demon hybrid, and possesses power that angels fear.
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Alternative Title(s): Preacher

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