Good Omens

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.


A novel about the apocalypse, in which The Antichrist is accidentally Switched At Birth and given to a normal family, where he grows up free from any influence of Heaven and Hell and becomes a completely normal and average child. Well, normal aside from the fact that he's subconsciously using his powers to make sure his small, quaint hometown stays small and quaint...

The mix-up causes plans for Armageddon to spin wildly out of control, as agents of both Heaven and Hell try to find out just why things aren't going as planned. Two of those agents, an angel (Aziraphale) and a demon (Crowley) who have formed a friendly rivalry (more friends than rivals by this point), are trying to find the Antichrist and put a stop to The End of the World as We Know It because they decided they like humanity. Also in the mix are the last witch-finder in England (and his new assistant), and a modern-day witch who is the heir to a book of oddly specific but still conveniently obscure prophecies.

Co-written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, each at the top of their form. The pair considered working on a sequel, but aside from the potential title 668: The Neighbour of the Beast nothing ever came of this.

After years of speculations (and a legitimate fear for the project due to Pratchett's death in 2015), a six-episode miniseries starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant was released by Amazon Video in May 2019.

Some useful annotations for the inquiring (or nonplussed) reader can be found here.

Tropes used in Good Omens include:
  • Abstract Apotheosis: The Bikers under go this when Adam is near. Only Death doesn't change (some things don't).
  • Action Girl: Pepper and War.
  • Aerith and Bob
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Lower Tadfield as the location of the apocalypse.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: The co-Bikers of the Apocalypse.
  • The Alleged Car: Newt's Wasabi.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with Crowley's Bentley after going over the M25. It's on fire, has no wheels, and takes all Of Crowleys concentration just to keep it from falling apart.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: You know Aziraphale's copy of the Bible that accidentally read "Thou Shalt Commit Adultery"? It exists.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Aziraphale is described as giving the impression that he is "gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide". The same passage explains, however, that divine beings are without sexual characteristics (unless they really want) and therefore couldn't be considered to have any sexual orientation.
  • Angelic Possession
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The four Horsepersons.
  • Anti-Anti-Christ: Adam.
    • Zig-zagged. He's a mischievious kid who doesn't quite understand adult morality yet, but doesn't do anything really nasty... then he gets angry at the way the human race is screwing up the world and decides to do something about it. For a bit, he becomes a crazed monster, willing to genocide the human race and build new, better people for him to play with. Then his human side regains control and he becomes basically good, but still with that dark well of evil threatening to burst through every so often.
  • The Antichrist: Adam again.
  • Anticlimax: Just when it looks like the Apocalypse has been averted, a mighty rumble from underground signals that Crowley's boss isn't going to let this go easily. Crowley and Aziraphale arm themselves for the final battle, exchange speeches, change into their true forms, and the human characters decide to join them in the upcoming fight... then Adam waves his hand and suddenly there's no battle to be fought. Everything's back to normal now and the characters can get on with their lives!
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: "Listen, do you know what eternity is?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Human beings mostly aren't [particularly evil]. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye and playing guitars at people."
    • "Many phenomena - wars, plagues, sudden audits - have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man..."
  • Aura Vision: An offshoot of Anathema Device's psychic powers. It causes slight troubles when she can't see a certain person's aura.

"It might, or might not, have helped Anathema get a clear view of things if she'd been allowed to spot the very obvious reason why she couldn't see Adam's aura. It was for the same reason that people in Trafalgar Square can't see England."


She licked a spatter of blood—someone else's—from the back of her hand with a scarlet, cat-like tongue. Then she smiled.

    • Considering what her job is, not that surprising...
  • Blow You Away: Crowley toys with the idea of conjuring up a hurricane to eliminate rival job applicants.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Azrael/Death probably goes here. And possibly God, what with all the ineffability.
  • Brick Joke: Oh so many. One includes Tropical Fish. Then again, consider the authors.
    • The best has got to be 'Let's do the Ritz' around page ten. About two hundred pages later, a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.
  • Buffy-Speak: Shadwell, of all people, when instructing Newt to look out for "Phenomena. Phenomenatrices. Things, ye ken well what I mean" as the main part of his witch finder media-watch duties. Also Aziraphale when drunk.
  • Burn the Witch: On Agnes Nutter. It doesn't work entirely as planned.
  • Call Back
    • The M25 becomes a major hurdle. It was first mentioned in a characterization joke in the first chapter.
    • There's another not quite as important to the plot; in a footnote, it is mentioned that one of four things are true, including the fact that Elvis works at a burger joint. A little while later, Famine visits a restaurant and there's a man flipping burgers... with a cowlick... singing Hound Dog. You do the math.
      • Further supported by DEATH denying having ever laid a finger on Elvis.
      • And a delivery boy pointing out the man and asking, "Does he remind you of anyone?" to which Famine promptly replied "No." Also possibly a slight dig at Elvis, considering Famine probably wouldn't have ever met him.
    • There's also a footnote about the "Buggre Alle This" Bible indicating that this particular edition of the Bible had three extra verses in Genesis 3, and suggesting that they were inserted by Aziraphale. This is a callback to the very first prologue.
  • Care Bear Stare: One of Aziraphale's duties is spreading divine ecstasy. Crowley occasionally covers for him.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Aziraphale's flaming sword.
  • Chekhov's Gag: That Crowley arranged the M25 to be a demonic sigil. It seems like a throwaway gag at first, but it comes back in a big way.
  • The Chosen One: Technically subverted, first when the Antichrist is Switched At Birth one too many times, resulting in the wrong person being prepared for 11 years, and secondly when he then decides he doesn't want to cause Armageddon and convinces both Heaven and Hell not to go through with it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Pollution, who is thought to be of a hippie until people notice he's leaking things everywhere and is groovy about littering.
  • Conflict Ball: War is the anthropomorphic embodiment of one. Wherever she goes, people randomly start fighting (sometimes over her).
  • Cool Car: Crowley's Bentley. Although towards the end, it's a totally hot car instead.
  • Cool Old Guy: Shadwell, for a given value of "cool".
  • Cool Old Lady: Agnes Nutter.
    • Arguably Madame Tracy.
  • Cool Shades: Crowley, which he wears all the time - although to be fair, he's concealing glowing snake's eyes with vertical pupils.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Everybody. With the possible exception of Adam.
    • Arguably, even him. It's noted that trying to understand the ineffable plan is something akin to playing poker for infinite stakes in a pitch black room with blank cards and a dealer who refuses to tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time. It being, by its very nature, impossible to understand except by God, who ain't talking.
  • Crack Fic: It basically is one for The Bible.
  • Crazy Prepared: Crowley keeping holy water on hand.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Crowley takes on a jeep full of soldiers at the Lower Tadfield airbase. By the next paragraph... It's Crowley's jeep.
    • War, after getting her sword in a bar full of armed soldiers, decides it's time to get to know them better.
  • Dark Action Girl: War.
  • Dark Is Not Evil/Light Is Not Good: See Not So Different.
    • "...stretching off to infinity, were the hosts of Heaven and Hell, wingtip to wingtip. If you looked really closely, and had been specially trained, you could tell the difference." Incidentally, this is also a shout-out to a very famous series of pictures by MC Escher depicting... you guessed it: geometrically-spaced angels dovetailing perfectly with geometrically-spaced devils.
  • Deadly Prank: The bucket over the door trick.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Newton becomes one at the end, for some reason or other.
  • Death Glare: When deployed by Crowley reality tends to realign accordingly.
  • Deconstruction: Agnes is a deconstruction of The Seer. On the one hand, we see that she is always right, but sometimes her predictions are oddly specific (don't buy Betamacks), too ahead of their time (jogging helps people to live longer), centered on her relatives in the future (she predicted for 11/22/1963 that a house in a small English city would break down, but doesn't mention the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the same day - one of her relatives might be in that city at that day, but apparently, none of them wanted to go to Dallas), and she didn't bother to order her predictions or explain them in detail. On the other hand, she uses her power to successfully Write Back to the Future (and also to avoid people responsible for delivering said message to snoop), and since she can predict EVERYTHING, this includes knowing when Anathema will read a specific prophecy - so it always fits.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: The Three have big ideas, but are frequently undone by their own misspellings.
  • Designated Girl Fight: An unusual version of one; violent little tomboy Pepper versus War.
  • The Determinator: Crowley. And how.
    • Determined Defeatist: At one point, when things are at their bleakest, he thinks he might as well drink himself senseless while he waits for the world to end. Instead, he drives at top speed to Tadfield to prevent the Apocalypse. In a burning car. That he's holding together through sheer Heroic Resolve.
  • Devil in Disguise: Crowley. His immediate superior is Hastur, who works for Beelzebub, who, in turn, reports to Satan himself.
  • Digging to China: Or from Tibet.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Young family's phone number: Tadfield six double-six.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Dog, a hellhound who goes from a massive terrifying beast to a miniature mutt with a funny ear.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Subverted. Footnotes were added to American version to explain some of the jokes that depend on knowing British geography and such. Except they tend to boil down to "If you were British, you'd be laughing."
  • Doom It Yourself: Newt.
    • He takes this to the level of a superpower. He once got a joke circuit board that isn't supposed to do anything, and ended up building a wireless radio that picked up Radio Moscow.
    • Winds up as a Brick Joke when he "fixes" the launch computers, causing them to fail in spectacular fashion.
  • Dramatic Wind: Happens around Adam when his powers begin to manifest.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By
  • Dream Team: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman... Working together.... Think about it.
    • Though at the time it was written nobody would have come to that conclusion before they actually read the book.
    • And note that this was before either was very well known. They've made clear that neither ever had any moments of "It's so cool that I'm working with you" during the process.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Crowley is something of a speed demon.
  • Earth Is Young: The Earth has only been around for 6,000 years and all the 'old' stuff in the ground is God's decoration. Or personal amusement; consider the dinosaur skeletons.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Anathema. She is a witch.
  • Elvis Lives: A Running Gag (for the record, he unwittingly works for Famine at a burger joint).

Death: I don't care what it says, I never laid a finger on him.


"There are only two ways a child can go with a name like Pippin Galadriel Moonchild, and Pepper had chosen the other one."


"The park was deserted except for a member of MI9 trying to recruit someone who, to their later mutual embarrassment, would turn out to be also a member of MI9."

  • Foil: Crowley and Aziraphale, Shadwell and Tracey, Newton and Anathema, etc. See Geodesic Cast, below.
  • Footnote Fever: For backstory, digressions, gags, set-ups for Brick Jokes...
  • Friendly Enemy: See the Odd Couple entry.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Demon: Crowley.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Parodied by Crowley, who talks to his plants to encourage their growth. Topics include disappointment in growth rates and what happened to the last plant that didn't bloom. His plants are very tall, very green, and very frightened.
    • Aziraphale exhibits this trope in several instances where Crowley is about to get someone killed.
      • Also gets a minor subversion at one point. Aziraphale, having tried and failed to replace a stage magician, ends up suffocating a dove by leaving it tucked in his sleeve for too long. He seems much less bothered by that than by the fact that the hellhound he and Crowley are watching for hasn't shown up, and Crowley's the one who carefully resurrects the bird and sends it on its way.
    • At one point, St. Francis disguises himself as a gardener and plays the Friend to All Living Things trope literally and explicitly for the benefit of an impressionable child. It doesn't exactly work.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: Metatron and Beelzebub are both dissuaded from carrying out Armageddon with the argument that it'd just start the cycle over and ruin a fun experience for everyone by 11-year-old Adam Young, AKA the Antichrist.
  • Functional Magic
  • The Fundamentalist: Sergeant Shadwell, almost-but-not-quite played for laughs.
  • Funetik Aksent: Parodied with Shadwell, whose accent is described as a random, shifting mixture of accents from all over Britain. Likely meant to be a Take That to American portrayals of British accents that unwittingly mix regional dialects.
    • Actually, it's a bit more explicit than that. Shadwell is in fact a direct tribute to a single famous British television character - Alf Garnett, played by actor Warren Mitchell in the sitcoms Till death Do Us Part and In Sickness and In Health. Anyone familiar with the character's physical description, "roaming accent", and personality (he is a comical bigot) will recognize him instantly if they were born and raised in England in the 1970s or 1980s.
      • Alf's accent was fairly firmly in Sarf London, the one area Shadwell's never goes near.
  • Funny Foreigner/Eagle Land: Sister Mary mistakes Mr. Young for the American diplomat. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The sickly potted trees in a South American shopping mall have a sudden rush of energy and tear the place to bits.
  • Gambit Roulette: At the end of the book, Aziraphale notes that the near-miss Armageddon may have been exactly what the God intended. The two sides actually go home to consult higher management when he brings it up to them. Everything may be to plan, but is the ineffable plan after all...

"It can't be chess - it must just be very complicated solitaire."

  • Geodesic Cast: See Foil, above. Also, each of the Them corresponds to one of the the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse.
    • Adam is Death, Pepper is War, Brian is Pollution, and Wensleydale is Famine.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One that's easy to miss. Early in the book when Aziraphale and Crowley nearly run over Anathema Device, they give her a ride back home. She finds them strange and worries that she might have to employ a knife she carries with her for protection until she hears Crowley call Aziraphale angel, after which she remarks to herself "Ah. Well, that explained it. She had been perfectly safe after all." Later on, she thinks of them as "two consenting bicycle repairmen".
    • Another doubles as a Call Back: at their first meeting, Shadwell asks Newt how many nipples he has. Multiple nipples meaning witchcraft are mentioned several times. At the end of the book, Shadwell asks Madame Tracy a question, but we never find out what it is. She responds with "two".
    • Newt recalls that he answered the phone on his first day, he listened to the question and replied, "Marks and Spencer's 100% Cotton Y-Fronts, actually." The line went dead.
  • Giftedly Bad: Newton with electronics. To such an extent that, when he's struggling to prevent Armageddon, the solution is "try to make this computer work better".
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals
  • Glamour Failure: After War, Famine and Pollution return to Tadfield Army Base after being "wrapped around the world", their human bodies don't exactly... fit right.
    • Also, the automated security system raises the alarm when they enter an off-limits section. Granted, that doesn't achieve anything but annoy the soldiers because of humanity's inherent Weirdness Censor (none of the humans can see the four), but it's still interesting.
    • Crowley has a tendency to hiss when he forgets himself.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Spoofed.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Death/Azrael. Crowley, as well, when he's straining himself.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Aziraphale and Crowley most of the time.
  • God
  • Going Native: Aziraphale and Crowley who have more in common with humanity and each other than they do with Heaven or Hell.
  • Good Is Boring: It's explained that Heaven doesn't have any good, notable musicians or actors.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Aziraphale. Members of The Mafia that threaten his bookstore tend to leave and never come back. Just because he's an angel doesn't mean he's weak.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: Subverted, there is little difference between the wings of angels and demons though the wings of demons tend to be better groomed. The fandom mostly ignores this, choosing instead to represent demons' wings as black and angels' as white, or, more rarely, to have the latter simply lighter in color than the former.
    • Fandom preference can be argued for, or rather not actually disproven by canon, as there is no mention of specific colors in the book. Azrael's wings are called "angel's wings" while also being described as black holes into space with visible stars, therefore not even feathers. Both Beelzebub and Metatron could be seen as having flaming red and gold wings, respectively, as they are both on fire. If one makes the assumption that angels only have white wings, there are countless examples of classical artwork and stained glass windows with every color in the rainbow. The concept of only white wings seems likely to have begun with the works of the artist Bougeureau in the 1800's.
  • Granola Girl: Anathema Device is something like this.
  • The Grim Reaper: Similar to but a lot less interested in humanity than the Discworld version (almost nothing like the Sandman version, for the record, except for the wings).
  • Guardian Entity: Aziraphale and Crowley to the Anti-Anti-Christ, sort of. Also, the hellhound to the Anti-Anti-Christ... also sort of.
  • The Gump: Subverted. Crowley received a commendation from Hell for starting the Spanish Inquisition. He didn't, rather he just happened to be in the area when it started. When he finally got around to seeing what this new-fangled Inquisition was, he ended up spending a good deal of time drinking to forget what he saw.
    • Likewise, Crowley and Aziraphale both claimed Milton Keynes as a success, and believed meter maids were a plot by the other side, but both were entirely human creations.
  • Happily Adopted: All three of the babies involved in the birth switching.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Non-sexual example in The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter (the word 'nice' didn't settle on its modern implication until the 19th century). Probably influenced by the story of Alice Nutter and the Device family of Pendle, Lancs., being recorded in a 1612 book called The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in Lancashire - wonderful at the time meaning simply 'amazing'.
    • Also happens when Anathema and Newt are trying to get inside the airforce base. The American guard is very impressed with Newt's fancy Witchfinder credentials, but is skeptical of the part "...about us got to give you faggots"?
      • Although he is excited when he finds out that they wanted the faggots to burn them.
  • Hellish Pupils: Quite literally, in Crowley's case.
  • Hell of a Heaven: Crowley hints that Heaven's a boring place with few composers, theaters and films. "Listen, the point is that when the bird has worn the mountain down to nothing, right then...then you still wouldn't have finished watching The Sound of Music. And you'll enjoy it."
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Crowley runs into a burning bookshop with what everyone else perceives is an intention to rescue the (similarly immortal) angel Aziraphale; but what Crowley is really after, and rescues, is the extremely vital sole remaining edition of The Nice And Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Wyttche.
  • Heroic Resolve: Crowley holds his burning car together through sheer force of will. Hell on wheels, eh?
  • Holy Hand Grenade: "Ever been to Gomorrah? ...I meant afterwards."
  • How Do You Like Them Apples?: Eden is mentioned. Do the math.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Horsemen approach this as Armageddon draws near. Their human forms are described as "ill-fitting" and their human-like personalities start to fade as their basic programming as bringers of destruction becomes dominant. Something similar nearly happens to Adam. Only Death is unaffected - Death never changes, after all.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Crowley is both confused and amazed at how humans are so much better at his job.
  • Humans Are Flawed: "It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."
  • Humans Are Special: Crowley is equally confused and amazed at how humans are so much better at Aziraphale's job.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Crowley and Aziraphale are both changed somewhat by their time on Earth. Crowley's fellow demon Hastur notes this and claims that Crowley is going native. Though even Hastur isn't all that different - when he really wants to let Crowley just how pissed off he is, he uses human curses since he thinks demonic ones aren't volatile enough.
  • I Gave My Word: Crowley is a demon of his word.
  • I Have Many Names: Horsemen... no, Horsepersons... no, fuck it, Bikers of the Apocalypse
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Adam.
    • Newton Pulsifier may also qualify, convincing Anathema not to use the followup book also keeps him from using it.
  • Improvised Weapon: The tire iron.
    • And what happens when the Them face off against the Four Horsemen.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Crowley's Bentley.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Understandably, Crowley takes a look at what people are doing in the Inquisition, and promptly has this reaction.
  • Insult Backfire:

Anal homeowner: "How would you like it if I littered on your lawn?!"
Pollution: "Oh, that would be lovely!"

  • In the Blood: Subverted, Aziraphale argues this in regarding The Antichrist, but Crowley argues that he has just as much chance of being on the side of good, because Lamarck wasn't right.
  • Inventor of the Mundane: Good Omens has a list of people who invented things that, once they were invented, became so ubiquitous no one remembered they ever needed inventing.
  • Ironic Name: Pippin Galadriel Moonshine goes by Pepper, as she is a short scruffy tomboy with a temper.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Newt's Wasabi and the fish boat captain.
    • "The helpful voice was clearly recorded by someone who spoke neither Japanese nor English."
    • Newt's Wasabi has a recorded voice that plays to remind riders to fasten unfastened seat-belts (which never goes off, because hey, it's Newt's Wasabi). At one point, the voice is described as saying "Prease frasten your seat bert".
  • Just Following Orders: Invoked and (duh) played with. A lot.
  • Kid with the Leash: Adam, the young Antichrist, has a pet hell hound which starts off as evil, but since it responds obediently to his commands, behaves like a lovable dog which restricts itself to chasing cats.
    • Its personality changes when it gets Named and its role thus resolved. It is expecting a name like Terror or Stalks-By-Night, but Adam decides to name it simply Dog, whereupon it discovers a tremendous love of its master and a desire to wag its tail.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Aziraphale and Crowley.
  • Knight Templar: Played with for the Witch Finder Army, generally for laughs.
    • Played horrifyingly straight for the forces of Heaven and Hell.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Adam does this to the mortals present at the almost apocalypse, Azrael (or God) does this to Aziraphale and Crowley when they begin to guess at the true nature of the universe. "What were we talking about?"
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The M25.
  • Last-Name Basis: Shadwell and Wensleydale.
    • Anthony J. Crowley (technically, that's not his real name anyway).
  • Lean and Mean: Sable/Famine.
  • The Legions of Hell
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Aziraphale and the Flaming Sword. "Once you learn, you never really forget how."
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Due to Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell's shady book-keeping and limited imagination, the suspiciously small organization that is the Witchfinder's Army is made up of the likes of of Witchfinder Majors Milk, Tin, Cupboard, and Saucepan.
    • On the other hand, he can be forgiven, because the Witchfinder's Army is on roughly same pay scale it was when it was first formed, meaning that not even the fictional Majors, let alone a Sergeant, makes even a whole pound come payday.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell.
  • Louis Cypher
  • Loveable Rogue or Lovable Traitor: Crowley.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Crowley scares off the paintballing commando by turning into something dreadful... "I think the maggots were a bit over the top, myself."
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Subverted. Aziraphale refuses to use his actual powers during his magic act, because it would be cheating.
  • Male Gaze: War's legs get mentioned significantly more times than anyone else's, and with complimentary adjectives attached.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Crowley, and Sable.
  • Meaningful Name
    • Crowley, a reference to occultist Aleister Crowley. It also references his original role as the serpent ("Crawly") that tempted Adam and Eve.
    • Colourful Theme Naming and/or Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Three of the Bikers of the Apocalypse have names that reference the colors of the horses that, according to biblical texts, they ride out on.
      • War takes such names as Scarlett and Carmine.
      • Pollution goes by "White, or Blanc, or Albus, or Chalky, or Weiss, or Snowy", among others.
      • Famine calls himself Dr. Raven Sable.
  • Medieval Morons
  • Mind Over Matter: Aziraphale levitates a scooter.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • Aziraphale, being referred to as a faggot and a poofter on several occasions. Not to mention that Aziraphale and Crowley were mistaken for a couple once, and Shadwell meets them independently and assumes both are gay. It doesn't help that Aziraphale calls Crowley "dear" on a regular basis, while Crowley refers to him as "angel" - literally true, but with certain implications.
    • One of the three first impressions of Aziraphale is "gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide." It's wrong, because angels don't have sex, sexes or sexual orientations, but the implication remains.
  • More Than Mind Control: Temptation.
  • Motor Mouth: The Chattering Order of Saint Beryl is an entire satanic convent of motormouth nuns.
  • The Movie: Averted, for now. Gaiman relies on his fans to inform him of how the film is progressing through Development Hell.
  • Multitasked Conversation
  • Mundane Utility
  • Murder Is the Best Solution
  • My Horse Is a Motorbike: The Horsemen of the Apocalypse replaced their horses.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling/Spider Sense
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much
  • A Mythology Is True
  • Namesake Gag: Anathema Device is descended from the man who invented the device. When Newt doubts this, she says sarcastically that next he'll claim he's never heard of Humphrey Gadget, Pieter Gizmo, Cyrus T. Doodad, or Ella Reader Widget.
    • Device really is a Lancashire name (see below) but seems to be properly pronounced 'DEH-viss', so probably just a regional version of Davis. However, pronunciations of English names can change as families move round the country...
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Parodied and invoked. Sister Mary tries and fails to convince the adoptive father to name the misplaced Antichrist Wormwood, Damien, Errol, Cary, Saul, Cain, and a large number of demons and Hollywood villains, before settling on... Adam. A more persuasive nun convinces the ambassador to name the wrong Antichrist "Warlock".
    • There's also Dagon and Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies), whom Crowley contacts when he needs to talk to his supervisors.
    • Subverted with the Hell's Angels. After joining the Horsepersons, they attempt to give themselves proper apocalyptic names. This quickly degenerates into a laundry list of petty annoyances.
    • Both 'Nutter' and 'Device' are names of real families who were persecuted under the early 17th century witch hunts (though their situation seems rather different to the one described in the book). The case of the Device family is particularly tragic and disturbing (though Anathema's existence suggests that little Jennet must have had children of her own in this 'verse...) Alice Nutter, a yeoman's daughter caught up in the same place, was probably guilty simply of being a Catholic; their story is told in a book called "The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in Lancashire".
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The book Adam wrote and illustrated:

"It was a triffic book. It was nearly eight pages long. It was about this pirate who was a famous detective. [...] If you like I'll let you read it. I bet it was a lot more excitin' than any book you've lost. 'Specially the bit in the spaceship where the dinosaur comes out and fights with the cowboys."


"Well, " said Adam, "We always win, right?"
"Nearly always," said Wensleydale.
"Nearly always," said Adam, "An'--"
"More than half, anyway," said Pepper. "'Cos, you remember, when there was all that fuss over the ole folks' party in the village hall when we--"
"That doesn't count," said Adam."They got told off just as much as us."


1. Witches.
2. Unexplainable Phenomenons. Phenomenatrices. Phenomenice. Things, ye ken well what I mean.

  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Antichrist.
  • Petting Zoo People: Crowley is the Snake.
  • The Philosopher: Crowley and Aziraphale.
  • The Pig Pen: Brian. Pollution in his real form.
  • Playing with Fire: Aziraphale makes a traffic ticket spontaneously combust.
  • Poke the Poodle: Crowley, who's considered an incompetent idiot by his fellow demons for choosing to annoy an entire population than drive one person to ruin and temptation, such as tying up the phone lines of Britain for seconds or causing traffic jams.
    • Subverted by the narration, which backs up Crowley's claim that this a more effective investment of effort for the given corruption. Annoyed people have a tendency towards taking it out on others, and where other demons take years to corrupt a single person, Crowley in an afternoon slightly tarnishes thousands of souls.
  • Precision F-Strike: Aziraphale "Oh, fuck." After six thousand years of practiced not-swearing.
  • Properly Paranoid: At one point, it's mentioned that Hastur is paranoid, which is in fact a very reasonable thing since he's grown up in Hell, where everyone really is out to get you.
  • Prophecy Twist: Tons of them.
  • Psychic Powers: Anathema.
  • Psychoactive Powers: Do not upset the Antichrist.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Crowley. Sort of. Interestingly, his counterpart Aziraphale is a Punch Clock Angel—not exactly a hero, but has the job of inspiring small amounts of goodness in the same way that Crowley causes small amounts of evil. They even take turns doing each others' jobs once in a while and mostly try to thwart each other on a one-to-one basis so neither side really gets the upper hand.
  • Queer People Are Funny: the running gag is that the lead duo are Mistaken for Gay.
  • Read the Fine Print
  • Reality Warper: Adam, and every single supernatural being, to a greater or lesser extent.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Angels, demons, personifications, and other immortals.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: War; Crowley, when he's pissed off.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Crowley and Aziraphale, arguably.
  • Red Right Hand: Crowley has snake eyes, a forked tongue, and snake skin boots that may or may not be actual boots.
  • Religious Horror: Parodied.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Reversed with Crawly/Crowley, who is portrayed as not being all that bad.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Crowley slept through most of the 19th Century.
  • Running Gag: Several, but the way every cassette left in a car for too long turns into The Best Of Queen is particularly prominent.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Aziraphale. "Lord, heal this bike."
  • Satan
  • Science Is Wrong: Parodied.
  • Screw Destiny: The entire book is about breaking away from destiny and people's expectations of you, and finding your own path. At the end, Newton Pulsifer even convinces Anathema Device not to live her life trying to interpret prophecies left to her by a distant ancestor. Also, the Anti-Christ averts Armageddon. However, Agnes may have seen it all coming.
    • Hilarious that the plot to Screw Destiny is actually orchestrated by God, and everything might just as His ineffable plan intended; even the angels and devils really have no idea.

God does not play dice with the universe. He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of the other players,[1] to be involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you rules and smiles all the time.

  • Short Title: Long Elaborate Subtitle
  • Shout-Out: Many, many of them, ranging from Edgar Allan Poe to Dirty Harry.
  • Shown Their Work: You'd think that Nutter and Device were just comedic last names made up for laughs. Anathema's lecture on the topic certainly plays this aspect up. However, if you're familiar with the Pendle Witches then you'll know that they were the last names of some "actual" witches.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Too many to list. It seems no one can make an analogy without being derailed by their listeners.
  • Signs of the End Times: Naturally, given it's the Biblical Apocalypse.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Played with in regards to Adam.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Mr. R.P. Tyler.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Agnes Nutter appears to heckle God on the pyre. Actually, she's addressing Shadwell, whom she predicted would be dreaming about her death in the present-day!
  • The Spanish Inquisition: The children's version involved straw donkeys and asking girls "art thou a witch, viva España?"
    • The dunking stool doesn't work out quite as planned - it's a hot day, and no one doing the dunking quite understands why Pepper's kid sister is the one who gets to go into the water.
  • Spanner in the Works: Sister Mary Loquacious, an incompetent cultist and a satanic nun of the Chattering Order of Saint Beryl.
  • Speech Impediment: Crowley tends to hiss when agitated.
  • Spirit Advisor: Aziraphale is stuck like this for a time.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Not in-universe, but a fandom example. A quick glance at the fandom might have you believe that Aziraphale and Crowley are the main, or even the only, two characters, despite the fact that this is very much an ensemble work.
    • Admittedly the angel-demon Odd Couple does provide a good deal of the philosophical ponderings of the novel, and they pretty much embody the idea of "good" and "evil" being Not So Different. But as for actual effects on the plot, Crowley and Aziraphale are basically running a Hardy Boys Investigation. They put a lot of effort into preventing it, but the net result of their efforts is both jack and squat. Then again, having the entire plot resolved by only the human characters without supernatural help may be the point of the story.
  • Staying Alive: For angels and demons, though discorporation is rather a pain because it involves going through the red tape of requesting a new body from the management.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero/Sue Donym: Mr. (Ezra?) Fell, Mr A. Ziraphale.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: R.P. Tyler is the king of these.
  • Such a Lovely Noun: Mentioned when describing Aziraphaele's book shop.
  • Super Senses: Crowley can see in the dark, but turns on the headlights anyway so as not to upset the other drivers.
  • Sweet Tooth: Aziraphale.
  • Switched At Birth: The main reason why Armageddon fails to go off as planned? A Satanic Nun gave the Anti-Christ to the wrong family. By accident.
  • Take That: Aziraphale's dismissiveness of televangelism and the Rapture while possessing a televangelist who's on the air. "Gosh, am I on television?"
    • It's made clear that this televangelist believes what he says and really does funnel most of his enormous income back into the ministry, doing "what he really thought was the Lord's work". One can only speculate whose cause that helps.
  • Taking You with Me: Agnes Nutter (again).
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Crowley.
  • Telepathy: "He wanted a real gun." Mind reading also seems part of the angelic/demonic power set.
  • Teleporters and Transporters
  • Tempting Fate: "It's over, don't you think?"
  • Terms of Endangerment: War, at the bar, calls her would-be attackers "chaps". In fact, she calls everybody that. Also, Crowley's habit of calling Aziraphale "angel" seems to have a positive correlation as to how much danger they are in. Aziraphale calls Crowley "dear" on a fairly regular basis.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Agnes Nutter.
  • That Poor Plant: Plants, plural, and all of them are Crowley's.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Hastur and Ligur.
  • Time Abyss/Fish Out of Temporal Water: Aziraphale hasn't updated his wardrobe since the 50s.
  • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: Agnes' prophecies.
  • Too Dumb to Live: If Shadwell doesn't have some higher regional superior doling out the pay for the greater general Witchfinder's Army, he definitely fits under this trope, because the pay scales haven't been revised since the organization was founded (back when having a whole pound to burn was posh money), so he fudges the numbers on his budget with made-up superiors and underlings so that he can make enough to survive on.
  • Town With A Light Secret: Lower Tadfield.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Shadwell's cans of condensed milk. He doesn't appear to subsist on anything else.
  • Trickster Archetype: Crowley.
  • Triple Nipple: Shadwell is obsessed with them, since they're one of the signs of a witch. One of Newton's daily duties is to check the Page Three Stunna for it.
  • True Companions: Let's face it, once Crowley rushes into a burning building to save Aziraphale and has a brief Freak-Out when he doesn't find him, it's pretty clear that they're not just amiable enemies.
  • True Name: Crowley is made to sign his true name, in receipt of one Antichrist.
    • The Horsemen are also made to sign their true names in receipt of their weapons.
    • Pollution's pen leaks while signing his, blotting it to the point that it might read "Pollution" or possibly "Pestilence." A reference to an earlier statement that, with the rise of sewers, medicine and antibiotics, Pestilence hadn't had much work lately. Pollution on the other hand...
    • Possibly also God.
  • Trust-Building Blunder
  • Unlucky Everydude: Newt. Literally. He has terrible luck at everything he does, minus finding a job. Gets out of it at the end.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: The same mailman is able to deliver packages to all four horsemen of the apocalypse including killing himself to meet Death and deliver a package.
  • Unusual Euphemism / Gosh Dang It to Heck: "Oh Go--, Sa--, Manchester!", also "making an effort".
  • Urban Fantasy
  • UST: Shadwell and Madame Tracy.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting
  • Walking Techbane: Newton Pulsifer, to an extraordinary extent.
    • Turns into a Chekhov's Skill in the end with the nuclear launch systems. "So? Fix it."
  • Wannabe Diss: Bemused cynical version from demons towards satanists, and from the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse towards the bikers in the bar, who in their turn feel the same about weekend bikers.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Holy water, and the horseshoe over Anathema's door that wards off demons.
  • Weather Dissonance: Simultaneously played straight and Inverted. Lower Tadfield has perfectly normal weather, a little 'too' perfectly normal. It's always hot and sunny in the summer, snows on Christmas, every Christmas. Adam is playing a living Weather Control Machine and unconsciously making the localized weather in his happy little town exactly what it's meant to be for that time of year.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Crowley's reaction to his immediate superiors being rather underwhelmed by his demonic influences (i.e. traffic jams, telemarketers, the M25) on the mortal world.
    • Hastur and Ligur look down on Crowley's tying up London's phone system for an hour at lunchtime (tarnishing thousands of souls in a domino effect of people being in bad moods across the city) in favor of their more artful craft of spending a lifetime trying to corrupt a single pious individual.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Pollution. Until he goes all squishy...
  • Wicked Cultured: Crowley.
  • Winds of Destiny Change: Miraculous near-escapes work like this.
  • Wing Pull: When preparing for the final battle.
  • World-Healing Wave
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: Newt named his lemon of a Wasabi "Dick Turpin"... on account of the fact that it holds up traffic wherever it goes.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Crowley does this when the Dukes of Hell are after him.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Agnes Nutter, Nife and Accurate.
    • Lampshaded to the point of parody when applied to every medieval character's casual dialogue.
    • The passage quoted from the Buggre Alle This Bible.
    • Anathema's spelling is mentioned as being 300 years too late, because she learned to read and write from The Book.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Subverted and played straight at the same time, as spoilered in Gambit Roulette. It reaches the point where one can open up Agnes' book completely at random and find exactly the prophecy needed for the moment.

Aziraphale: Just because it's written doesn't mean it can't be written different somewhere else.
Crowley: In bigger letters, too.
Aziraphale: And underlined.
Crowley: Twice.

  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Brought up in those exact words during one of Aziraphale and Crowley's binge drinking philosophical debates.
    • Turns out to be literal as well. They compare lists of organizations they consider on their side, and a slight majority are on both lists.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Anathema tries and fails to invoke this trope.
  • Yum Yum: War in the bar when "on holiday."

Red unconcernedly withdrew the maraschino cherry from her drink, put it to her scarlet lips, and sucked it slowly off its stick in a way that made several men in the room break into a cold sweat.

  1. i.e. everybody