Preacher (Comic Book)

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Violent, gory, absurdly blasphemous and very funny, Garth Ennis' Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a down-at-heel Texan preacher whose life is turned around when he is cursed with The Word of God, which compels people to do whatever he commands. After finding out that God has abdicated His throne, Jesse sets out on a quest to bring him to task, joined by Tulip, his ex-girlfriend-turned-hitman, and Cassidy, an Irish vampire.

Their quest takes them across the dark heart of America, from the streets of New York to the Louisiana swamps, and along the way they meet inbred hicks, serial killers, John Wayne's ghost, The Saint of Killers, the retarded descendants of Jesus, an ancient religious conspiracy, a pair of perverted Sexual Investigators, Bill Hicks, the anti-Pope, fallen angels, voodoo children, psycho goths, the Ku Klux Klan and a kid with a face like an arse.

The book enthusiastically denies the Christian concept of a loving God, satirizes various aspects of modern living and throws in a few good fistfights and explosions along the way. Highly recommended for splatterhounds and fans of Quentin Tarantino; not recommended for the religious... or at least, not the religious and easily offended. It was published by Vertigo Comics. The series lasted for 66 regular issues, running from April, 1995 to October, 2000. There were also a number of specials and a 4-issue mini-series featuring the Saint of Killers.

Tropes used in Preacher (Comic Book) include:

Jody: "I swear, T.C., sometimes I think you won't be happy 'til you poke every damn thing in Creation. I mean, that time with the cake just about beat all...
T.C.: "At little Jesse's tenth birthday? Goddamn, Jody, that was a cheap little prickteaser of a cake! I knew it wanted it, with its sponge and its cream toppin'. Was all I could do not to nail that slut right there on the table."
Jody: "Good thing you took it out an' did it on the porch, I guess."

  • Author Tract: There are too many times for it to be a coincidence that the plot stops dead in its tracks just so that various characters (Mostly Jesse and Cassidy) can give their opinion about a certain subject. One egregious example is when Jesse hears how Arseface was being sued by the parents of one of his fans because the fan tried to look like him and died by shooting themselves in the face multiple times. Jesse then goes on a tirade about media watchdogs and political correctness, and then for some reason the tirade switches from those subjects to being about people who wear body piercings. In fairness to this particular example, Jesse realizes what he was complaining about and says that he needs to get laid.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Detective Bridges
  • Ass Shove
  • Back From the Dead: Played straight and literally for the most part, with several characters literally resurrected. In fact, this happens so often and on camera, that we actually forget the cliches of the medium when we're reading the comic: Jesse's mother is shown to be dragged to her death by arguably the biggest sadist in the book, but her death scene is only implied. Her return is a Wham! Episode in a series that includes a one-man genocide on heaven, vampires, and a man with an arse for a face.
  • Badass Boast: "There ain't worse than me in all of Hell. Go an' look." (Gunshot)
    • "Give me all the hell you got to spare."
    • Another after surviving a nuclear blast : *spits* "Not enough gun."
  • Badass Creed: Jesse Custer learned his from his father, cribbed from John Wayne;

John Custer: Don't take no shit off fools. Judge a person by what's in 'em, not how they look. An' you do the right thing. Be one of the good guys. 'Cause there's way too many of the bad.

  • Badass Bookworm: Jesse mentions having read every book in the library while in Annville.
  • Badass Family: The Custers.
  • Badass Grandpa: The Saint of Killers was pretty old BEFORE he became immortal.
    • The Texas Ranger also falls into this trope.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Saint of Killers.
    • The Texas Ranger again.
  • Badass Preacher: Jesse Custer.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: And how. If the heroes get shot non-lethally, there's a splash of blood rather than the gaping exit wounds suffered by everyone else.
    • Dunno about that, heroic characters lose arms and eyes in the course of the story too...
    • Pretty heavily averted by Cassidy, who is subjected to a number of wounds that are by no means pretty, particularly when he is being tortured in Masada.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The L'Angelles. Jesse remarks that the L'Angelles must have the "Devil's own piss" running in their veins instead of blood. It was something of a miracle that Jesse's own mother turned out as well as she did -- which is probably why she fled in the first place.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Even God's a prick.
  • Black Best Friend: "Space" to John Custer, and arguably Cindy to Jesse in Salvation.
  • Blind and the Beast: Subverted by Lorry Bobs and Arseface. Both of them are The Grotesque who will Earn Their Happy Ending.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Ambiguous, with Jesus De Sade and Miss Oatlash clearly on the bad side, Herr Starr arguably ambiguous, and on the other hand, the fairly sympathetic treatment of Transparent Closet case Cowboy Cop Paulie, and some of Jesse and Tulip's playing around. Brains and Bondage generally applies, good or bad.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Most of the heroes.
    • Interestingly, though the Saint of Killers originally lived in the Civil War era and slept for a century before waking up for the events of the series, he has no problem dealing with such technology as cars, radios, helicopters, and tanks. Of course, he tends to deal with such things the way he deals with everything.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The Saint of Killers' revolvers. They were forged by Satan to have their hammers never fall on empty chambers. To be precise, when the Angel of Death gave up his position to the Saint, he also gave up his sword. Satan melted it down and reforged it into two Walker Colt revolvers which never misfire, never miss, always inflict a deadly wound, and never need reloading.
  • Broken Pedestal: Subverted with Jody.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Over the course of the series we see the unfortunate genetic result of two sets of inbred families - Billy-Bob's family in "All In The Family" and the retarded children of Jesus in "Crusaders". Lampshaded by Starr.

Starr: Son of man or son of God, you can't fuck your sister and expect much good to come of it.

  • Bungled Suicide: Arseface's origin story.
  • Butt Monkey: Hoover and Arseface get their fair share, but Herr Starr really takes the cake. At the time of his death, this is the sum total of his injuries (deep breath:) one of his eyes is blind, one of his ears was shot off, a scar was carved over his head making it look like a gigantic penis, cannibals ate his leg and a rottweiler bit off his genitals. Oh, and he's bald and has a harsh voice, too. Since childhood. He literally becomes this when he is anally raped by Bill Glover.
    • Joe the bartender also counts, but he's still an optimist. Mistaken (partially his own fault) for a serial pedophile and medically castrated as a result? Check. Inability to sexually satisfy his wife, leading to divorce? Check. Wife winning all the money he got from the state to compensate for destroying his balls? Check.
    • Detective John Tool, "the unluckiest cop in the world"
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Only it's the Father of all Creation.
    • Arguably Jesse has this moment when he fights and ultimately kills Jody. Though Jesse despised Jody, he does acknowledge that Jody was a great influence in shaping his life. Jody's dying words--delivered just before Jesse strangles him to death--are "Prouda you, boy."
  • Captured Super Entity: The Grail has a captured angel that they use for information in "Crusaders".
  • Car Fu: Cassidy drives a pickup into the Saint in the first volume, to no effect.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This being a Garth Ennis work, one shouldn't be surprised. To quote Sheriff Root: "SON OF A FUCKIN' WHORE WHAT THE FUCK IS GOIN' ON FUCK THIS FUCK"
    • Lampshaded hilariously with Saddam Hopper, because he's fucking lousy at it (Even using the Seven Dirty Words).

"We get done with this, I'm goin' back to workin' for the Cubans. At least they know how to fuckin' swear..."

    • More mildly, language-wise, there's "Damn wife died. Damn baby's a girl." to which his friends respond with a chorus of "Damn," of their own. He gets better.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jesse loves his Groin Attacks.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: The Saint looks identical to the late Lee Marvin.
    • The Texas Ranger Tom Pickett seems to resemble Tom Skerritt.
    • Saddam Hopper resembles Saddam Hussein (Duh).
    • And Cassidy is pretty clearly Shane McGowan from The Pogues.
    • There seems to be a resemblance between Jesse Custer and Jim Morrison of The Doors.
  • Compelling Voice: Jesse, due to the Word of God
  • Compensating for Something: After losing his genitalia Herr Starr feels the need to get a bigger gun. And then stand in front of a mirror with it, muttering "Doomcock. Doomcock." Of course, he thought he was just practicing, saying cock then he cocked it and DOOM when he fired it.
  • Cool Shades: Cassidy
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Jesse initially resists using his powers for his own gain...then decides to just say hell with it. By the end of the series, though, he learns some hard lessons about the unintended consequences of rash action.
  • Corrupt Church: The Grail
  • Corrupt Hick: Odin Quincannon in "Salvation". Also known as the Meat King, he is a corrupt hick who operates an inhumane meat plant, orders the death of a local sheriff, is a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, tries to blow up a nearby village with napalm, employs a Hitler fetishist as his PA and repeatedly has sex with a giant female figure made out of sides of ham. Seriously. He was so corrupt his fellow Klansmen started wondering if he was taking the whole racism thing a bit too far.
  • Council of Angels: In "Gone to Texas"
  • Covers Always Lie: If you're new to the series, the cover of the very first issue might give you the impression the Jesse is the antagonist of the series, or possibly a Villain Protagonist, rather than The Hero. Hell, the first issue's cover is the page image for Sinister Minister!
  • Cowboy Cop: Cal Hicks tries to be this, but he seems to embrace the stereotypes of Private Detective more. He has a fancy car (Repossessed because he can't afford it on a police salary), hot girlfriend (Leaving him, probably because he's a virgin with a ridiculously ludicrous idea of what sex is like), on suspension (You can only get away with this if you have a massively perfect arrest record and he doesn't), has a canine sidekick (Doofus, leaves after T.C. spends the night with the dog), and has a drinking problem (Probably brought on by hard-drinkin' detectives on TV). Tries to fly a copter and crashes it. Tries to take charge and it's clear Jody has him outclassed. Talks tough and Jody feeds him to a gator. Really, one of the more inept wannabes.
    • Jesse becomes this in Salvation. Awesomeness ensues. No doubt inspired by:
      • Tom Pickett, the Texas Ranger Jesse and Tulip met when they were younger.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Cassidy's view of being a vampire.
  • Cuteness Proximity: The Saint gets a couple of moments of this with the girl he later marries, and then with their child, though of course it's largely played for contrast. Also, to his surprise, Tulip's Rated "M" for Manly dad (though it helps that she just burped).

Aw, so you're a girl. That needn't be so bad.

  • Dark Action Girl: That one chick. You know the one. With the action. And the dark.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: A whole lot of people. But Jesse and his family gets a special mention.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Starr is the outstanding case, but Featherstone does her best, and most others have their moments.
  • Deep South
  • Depraved Bisexual: Jesus De Sade
    • Bill, Cassidy's old heroin supplier. When Cassidy can no longer get the money for his habits, he says that Cassidy or his girlfriend can give him a blowjob instead: "I'm not particular".
  • Depraved Homosexual: All the queer characters in the series are more or less depraved.
  • Determinator: Many, but special mention needs to be given to Herr Starr, particularly as he hops all the way out of the Arizona desert on one leg, falling down every few steps.
  • Did Not Do the Research: An in-universe example in Eccarius, vampire lord douchebag.
    • One somewhat egregious example is a line in Starr's Start of Darkness where he mentions 'having joined the Wehrmacht to try to bring order to the world'. Germany's armed forces have not been referred to as 'Wehrmacht' since 1945 (and Starr is explicitly stated to be a post-war child), and Germans would be highly unlikely to confuse 'Wehrmacht' with the correct 'Bundeswehr' in conversation for reasons that should be all too obvious.
      • To be precise, it is explicitly stated that Starr's father was a British serviceman serving in the British occupation force in post-war Germany, thereby making Starr Anglo-German. Presumably this makes him bilingual in German and English, thereby explaining his fluency in the latter. It is also implied to be the reason he was bullied by the other children.
  • Did You Just Shoot The Devil In The Face: He did.
    • Did You Just Shoot God In The Face: He did.
  • Dirty Communists: Given that the series is set in the late 90s, it's not a straight example. However, it is stated clearly that the Russians should still be feared - simply because others can use what that country taught its people to to their advantage. Exhibit A, Eisenstein's interrogation of a crippled witness, riding on painkillers.

Eisenstein: A Spetsnaz unit was invited on a N.A.T.O special forces exercise in northern Norway. But the weather closed in faster than expected. The team was cut off. In their patronizing way, the Western military believed they had a lot to teach the Russians. They thought in terms of method... when in fact it was a matter of philosophy. Don't look round. It was forty degrees below zero. The four-man unit stumbled on an elderly couple stranded in their mountain cabin. They had food in their larder for another week. The blizzard lasted two. You can look now.

    • Eisenstein's Spetsnaz bodyguard is eating the man's hand. The man then proceeds to tell Eisenstein everything he wants to know.
    • Be careful, children... Dirty Communists Eats Babies... And, as Jake warns Tulip, they "want to take away our guns".
    • Not to mention Jesse's father's famous "Fuck Communism" lighter.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: What happened to Hoover, who is made by the Word of God to count sand.
  • Eagle Land: Somehow subverted. Warts and all - and they are very big warts - this series reads like Garth Ennis' love letter to America.

Gunther Hahn: The Myth of America: that simple, honest men, born of her great plains and woods and skies have made a nation of her, and will prove worthy of her when the time is right. Under harsh light, it is false. But a good myth to live up to, all the same.

"Gets ya to fuckin' love him and then stabz ya inna back. Love him so much ya don't believe he did it. Blood all over ya. Big fuckin' knife in ya back. An' ya don't believe he did it. Maybe hez sick. Maybe it wasn't him. Just looked like him. Maybe he made a mistake."

    • Later, in the climactic fight between them, Jesse goes all "wrath of God"(Couldn't resist) on him:

Jesse: GODDAMN YOU!! (punches Cassidy)
YOU ASSHOLE!! (punches him again)
WHY THE FUCK DID YOU LET ME DOWN SO BAD!!! (and again)

  • Exposition of Immortality: Proinsias Cassidy. He's a vampire and was made one during the Easter Rising in Dublin 1916, which makes him 80+ during the series' run. He tells Jesse all about how he was turned and how he came to America and all the friends he's left behind and lost to old age through the years during a long conversation on top of the Empire State Building. Turns out he missed a few details, though.
    • The Saint Of Killers got a four-issue mini-series all of his own to tell us about his mortal life in the Civil War and the terrible winter of 1878. He dumps a silver dollar with just that date on the counter of a bar in Gone To Texas, too.
  • Eyepatch of Power
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Though you may feel no need to congratulate either Jody or D'Aronique for their selection.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Odin Quincannon: so monomaniacally racist, other KKK members think he's exaggerating.
  • Evil Matriarch: Marie L'Angelle. And fucking how!
  • Evil Uncle: Jesse's grandmother Marie L'Angelle was Allfather D'Aronique's aunt. It turns out that one of the reasons the Grail leadership supported Starr's pursuit of Jesse was because D'Aronique wanted to punish Jesse for killing his "Aunt Marie".
  • Face Heel Turn: Cassidy.
  • Face Heel Revolving Door: Cassidy. If we look at his history, he starts out as a pretty decent guy, then gradually becomes an amoral jerk, then when he meets Jesse he tries to become a good guy again, but at some point goes back to being a jerk, until finally he is able to save absolve himself and become a good guy again, and (presumably) he stays that way after the story is over.
  • Female Angel, Male Demon: Inverted. Genesis is the offspring of a male angel and a female demon.
  • French Jerk: Napoleon Vichy. "I 'ave come to eat your horses".
  • Funetik Aksent: Arguably, anyone from 'the South' is depected as having a stereotypical drawl to a lesser or greater extent, but particularly Arseface (Indecipherable) and the 'Sexual Investigators' Bob Glover.
    • How did you miss Cassidy? JAYSIS!
  • Gilligan Cut: When Hoover starts getting worried about Starr's behavior, Featherstone reasurres him that he's as stable and rational as ever. Cut to Starr throwing a computer through a high-rise window, with a scream of "FUCKING COMPUTERS!"
  • God Is Evil
  • God Is Flawed: It is eventually revealed that all of the world's problems are caused by being created by a guy who grew up in total solitude (because there wasn't any universe yet!) and thus developed what could be considered a narcissistic personality disorder as well as any number of related mental problems.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Rare male example: Jesse is enslaved in "Salvation".
  • Good Old Fisticuffs
  • Good People Have Good Sex
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Herr Starr's scar is evil, especially since it makes him into a walking Gag Penis.
    • Plus his "star for Starr" scar is what turned him into a bald, gruff voiced calculating killer in the first place.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Cassidy. He takes decapitation in stride. This is used against him when Herr Starr, furious at the depth of his error in kidnapping Cassidy instead of Jesse, calls in his old friend Frankie to continuously shoot him to near-death, then wait for him to heal, then repeat.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Highly averted, with one particularly strong subversion - Billy-Bob's fatal wounding in "How I learned to love the Lord" in 2nd volume.
    • Played straight with the very last death of the comic. Even in this series, Garth Ennis may have thought it a bit much to show the disfigured corpse of God.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Saint, as well as the previous Angel of Death.
  • Groin Attack: Oh so very many. Male genitalia is destroyed in pretty much every possible fashion.
  • The Grotesque: Arseface.
  • Guns Akimbo: It's not enough that the Saint's gun could kill in one perfectly accurate shot; he just has to have a pair of them too.
  • The Gunslinger: Tulip
  • Hand Cannon: Herr Starr's enormously oversized revolver fits the traditional model. Utterly overshadowed by a a certain pair of Walker Colt revolvers.
  • Happily-Failed Suicide: Arseface tried to kill himself because he was sad and lonely, and his idol and his only friend had both just killed themselves and the friend had told him to do the same. After the failed suicide attempt, he does all he can to turn his life around, but can never get away from his face being horribly mutilated by the shotgun blast that so fortunately missed his brain.
    • This may be inspired by the real-life botched shotgun suicide of James Vance after hearing a subliminal message in a Judas Priest song.
  • Have You Seen My God?: The key plot element.
  • Heel Face Turn: The Saint Of Killers.
    • It certainly says something about the series that that character's decision to kill God Almighty marks his Heel Face Turn.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Discussed, with the main characters taking a very negative stand on this kind of behavior and certain villains implying that do some normative crusading along with their racist ditto.
    • As for the attitudes of our hero: At one point, Jesse Custer visits a party hosted by a guy specializing in decadence. This host gets to be surprised twice. First when the preacher approves of the kinky stuff between consenting adults, then when the same preacher beats the crap out of him for molesting children.
  • Homage: The character and backstory of the Saint of Killers are an homage to the characters of William Munny in Unforgiven and the unnamed gunfighter in High Plains Drifter.
  • Hot Mom: Whether she's in her younger days, or an older senior citizen in Salvation, Texas "Jodie" Christina Custer nee L'angelle (Jesse's Mom) is unbelievably sexy.
  • Humiliation Conga: Poor Herr Starr.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That - Jesse quoting King Lear in a thunderstorm.
  • Implacable Man: The Saint. He is thwarted precisely once in the whole series, and only because he didn't know that Jesse's Word of God affected even him. He makes it very clear in his next appearance that it will not work again.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Tulip versus Amy.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Jesse looks a lot like musician Nick Cave.
  • In Medias Res: Issue 8 begins this way
  • Instant Death Bullet: Usually played straight (especially with the Saint of Killers, specifically mentioned to have a gun of instant-death - his bullets are shown to tear people in half at some points), but subverted at least thrice.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: Averted by The Story Of You-Know-Who, which was meant to mention Arseface, being his backstory and all.
  • The Juggernaut: The Saint of Killers. A pickup truck to the face won't stop him, an entire base full of soldiers won't stop him, a battalion of tanks won't stop him, a direct nuclear strike won't stop him. All this is overshadowed by the entire angelic host of Heaven being mobilized against him, which of course fails to stop him.
  • Karma Houdini: After basically all of the skeletons in his closet are revealed at how much a monster he is, Cassidy pulls it off by making a deal with God to capture Genesis. The last pages show him alive, with his curse removed.
    • To be fair, he also demanded that Jesse would survive no matter what happened as one of the conditions. He also lets himself burn to "death" in the sunlight. Before that, he let Jesse beat the shit out of him. It doesn't really make up for everything he did in the past, but at least he doesn't get away without some pain.
      • He couldn't let Jesse beat him, because Jesse used the Voice of God on him to order him to "fight like hell". Jesse beat him because he had training and Cassidy didn't.
    • The Saint of Killers, too, gets off more or less scot-free despite murdering, what, thousands of people? Granted, lots of those people had it coming, but many were just unlucky bastards in the wrong place at the wrong time.
      • Considering that the Saint goes back to sleep at the end, presumably forever since there's nobody left to wake him up, this could be seen as Redemption Equals Death.
      • And this is the Saint of Killers, after all.
    • The Sexual Investigators, Bob Glover and Freddy Allen, border on Karma Houdini status. When we're first introduced to them in the Hunters story arc early in the comic, they're presented as two drug peddling rapists who track down and beat people up for loansharks, caused one of Cassidy's friends to die of an overdose and supply Jesus DeSade with heroin, even though they can hardly be ignorant of his many depraved crimes. Now, they do get beat up by Cassidy shortly afterwards, but much later in the comic Jesse picks them up as hitchhikers on his way back from Salvation. Even though there's no hint that they have repented their former crimes (they still work as bounty hunters for extremely dubious employers, for instance), they are now supposed be likeable and sympathetic, with Bob Glover, the worst of them, talking about his difficult childhood and how coming to America gave him a new start in life, with Jesse unironically calling him one "hell of an American" as he drives off.
  • Kick the Dog: A literal example of this leads to Jesse throwing a Jerkass cop through his cruiser windshield.
  • Knights Templar: The Grail as the outstanding case.
  • Laser Sight: One shows up on Jesse's side to show Klansmen that he's got them covered.
  • The Last DJ: Colonel Holden provides the page quote, and Jesse qualifies too, considering how much easier his own life would be if he sold out his integrity.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: In the Salvation arc, Toby and nerver-seen girlfriend Turleen aren't even thinking of having a baby (Or much else, for that matter) when he tells Jodie that he thought she was pregnant because she'd missed her period. They're not worried, because it happened once before, last month. God, these two are such idiots.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: Subverted in "Salvation". When Odin Quincannon fires a gun that's way too large for him, the recoil breaks his wrist. Also a cute subversion with a very young Tulip driven backwards into a snowbank, with only mittens and boots left visible.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Duke, clearly meant to be John Wayne but never explicitly referred to as such and always drawn with face in shadow. Ditto The King, more briefly.
  • Like a Badass Out of Hell: The Saint of Killers, stopping only just long enough on the way out to shoot Satan in the face for insulting him.
  • Literal Genie: Jesse's choice of words with the Word of God sometimes has... unfortunate consequences. Like the time he told Arseface's father to "go fuck yourself", which resulted in him tearing off his own penis and sodomizing himself with it.
  • Love At First Sight: Tulip and Jesse. While Jesse was on a date with another girl. In a non-romantic sense, all of Tulip's father's apprehension about raising a daughter alone vanished the moment he saw his baby girl's face.
  • Luke You Are My Mother
  • Made of Plasticine: Human beings are ludicrously fragile in this series. Every bone broken will immediately sprout forth from the skin- even breaking someone's finger does this. Kicks to the chin can pop eyes out, punches to the throat are fatal, blood spurts from every single wound, etc.
  • Madness Mantra: "DOOM cock, DOOM cock"
    • "Smear the cheese, smear the cheese... Pluck the hairs, pluck the hairs... Say the name, say the name..."
  • Magic A Is Magic A: The rules of the Voice of God.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Marseille.
  • Moral Dissonance: Neither Jesse nor anyone else ever seems to consider that, for example, after his "bank robbery" the teller who gave him the money probably went to prison. For that matter, Jesse's supposedly high moral standards seem to clash with his constant criminality. And at no point does anyone criticize him for his Violence Really Is the Answer solution to everything.
    • Actually, Cindy does when he's about to throw Odin Quincannon out the window. She fires her service pistol into the ceiling and orders him to stop. When he asks why, she responds "Because it's against the law."
    • To be fair, it's shown that he doesn't always immediately resort to violence. When he picked up Skeeter, he wouldn't have smashed that corrupt cop's face into his windshield had the cop not consistently been a dick to him. This is also subverted when Hoover tries to get revenge on Jesse for forcing Hoover to count three million grains of sand and Jesse realizes that he went way over the line.
  • More Dakka: The Saint, after standing in a middle of a nuclear blast: "Not enough gun".
  • Neck Lift: Cassidy does this during a Bar Brawl.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Cassidy tries to attack the Saint of Killers by ramming him with a pickup truck. The Saint doesn't even flinch, the truck crumples like paper, Cass gets flung through the windshield, past Hugo Root, to land practically on his head next to Jesse. He clearly thought that plan through... (His repeated tendency to not plan ahead or thoroughly is main reason why he gets in so much trouble).

Jesse: Cassidy...?
Cassidy(Bloody and torn up after landing): Cheer up... preacher man... you're rescued.
Jesse(Grinning): Asshole.

  • NGO Superpower: the Grail
  • Nigh Invulnerable: The Saint of Killers, to a degree that's extreme even by comic book standards. Nothing anyone does to him so much as scratches him. He takes the "nigh" out of the trope. Not even a nuke being dropped on him bothers him.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Duke and The King
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted on two separate occasions, after hangings.
  • Not Using the Z Word: They curse, they kill, they blaspheme; but, despite the fact that one of the characters is undead and drinks blood, nobody says the word "vampire" even once.
  • Not with the Safety On, You Won't
  • Odd Job Saints: The Saint of Killers, the Angel of Death's replacement. Whenever you're about to kill someone, pray to him, he's the one pulling the trigger.
  • One-Man Army: The Saint.
  • One-Sided Arm Wrestling: Cassidy, soon after arriving in the US.
  • Only Sane Man: Played with - Starr, for all his own issues, is fairly clearly this relative to the Grail in general.
    • Jesse is this in relation to everyone else in the book, except maybe Tulip. Word of God says this is why he's the hero of the piece.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Starr notices that Cassidy's accent is slipping while he's impersonating Jesse.
  • Our Angels Are Useless: As a Take That, the only angels we meet are either pricks or extremely weak-willed.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Cassidy loves garlic, is unaffected by holy water and crosses and survives decapitation. He can also enter a church, can't turn into anything, and doesn't need invitations to enter anyplace. He doesn't even have any fangs, just regular teeth. The sun's a killer, though.
    • "I tried (turning into a bat) once. Broke both my legs."
  • Out of the Inferno: The Saint takes a direct hit from an atomic bomb. Several scenes later, we cut to him standing amidst the nuclear fire, his perfectly undamaged duster still flapping in the breeze, with a contemptuous look on his face.

Saint of Killers: "Not enough gun."

  • Perma-Stubble
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Saint of Killers, which was realized far too late by an unfortunate tank battalion. How dangerous could a guy who looks like he walked out of a Western set be?
  • The Power of Legacy: Deconstructed, then averted. When Jesse is hanging on to Cassidy from a plane, he tells Cassidy to tell Tulip he loves her, then orders him to let go. Cassidy then reveals himself by telling Tulip he couldn't hear what he said. But at the very end, Cassidy's goodbye letter explains to Tulip what Jesse had really told him.
  • Precision F-Strike: Near the end of the series:

Hoover to Starr: Motherfucker. You evil, soulless, motherfucker.

"Humperdido!"

  • Purple Prose: In the one-shot "Blood and Whiskey", the vampire Eccarius speaks this way. It's revealed that he's a self-important posuer dimwit who just followed what was in the books and movies on vampires without question.
  • Quick Draw: The Saint of Killers can draw his guns faster than a man can see. He uses this to shut down Jesse's Word the second time they meet.

Saint of Killers: "I'm bettin' I can clear holster 'fore your words hit the breeze, preacher. First twitch I see...that's what I'm gonna do."

Self-obsessed, whining little shit! Nobody cared? Nobody Cared? If you two did you this to yourselves, then YOU DIDN'T CARE NEITHER!

"Yeh know I was talkin' about fellas like Pearse, who go on about blood sacrifices, an' glory an' beauty in fightin'? Well they're the ones yeh fuckin' shoot first."

    • A character who is clearly meant to be Neil Gaiman has a sheaf of rolled-up poetry forced down his throat by Cassidy. Later in the same arc, he is mentioned as having achieved great success as a writer by "blending genres".
      • That one's a bit ambiguous. While he certainly bears a strong physical resemblance to Gaiman, the poem that he reads has little in common with his writing style. And anyway, Gaiman writes very little poetry, as he has openly said that he's terrible at it.
    • There are more than a few shots taken at the music industry, media commentators, media watchdogs, political correctness, psychiatrists and psychology buzzwords, liberal and conservative extremists, Goths, Anne Rice, racists, child molesters, self-loathing homophobes, hypocrites of every variety, in fact, it's hard to think of anyone who wasn't told to stick it where the sun doesn't shine at least once during this series. Except John Wayne.
    • And even the Duke spits some Self-Deprecation: he's not a hero, he's "just a broke-down, wore-out ol' Cowboy", Born in the Wrong Century, who made movies about what he thought heroes should be like. But he thinks Jesse made a good hero, warts and all.
  • Tank Goodness: Subverted epically in the War In The Sun arc.
  • Tell Me About My Father
  • The Sheriff: Hugo Root is massively the Corrupt Hick variety of this trope, as well as a supreme Jerkass. Jim Bewley of Salvation is also a Corrupt Hick, but a nicer one. Jesse becomes the Cowboy Cop version of this in Salvation.
  • The Starscream: Starr, to d'Aronique, who thinks being Genre Savvy about this will make using him anyway less risky.
  • The Unfair Sex: Cassidy is a horrible person for confessing to Tulip that he's in love with her, but in a flashback issue, Amy openly acknowledges her feelings for Jesse, but he is understanding and they decide not to do anything about it because they both "love her (Tulip) too much". Eventually, some shadier details about Cassidy's past begin to surface to justify this sentiment, but not until after Cassidy admits his feelings.
    • It's more because Cassidy tries to act on inappropriate feelings that he's a horrible person. Jesse muses(to a horse mind you) that having two women in love with him had interesting possibilities, but shakes it off without a second thought because it's beneath him.
  • The Western: Oh, so many examples.
  • There Are No Therapists: The option is mentioned, but disregarded because "Shrinks are for assholes". Jesse also goes into an amusing rant about the overuse of the word "insecure" and other pop-psych buzzwords and phrases in conversations.

(After Jesse beats a guard at De Sade's party unconscious)
Cassidy: "What d'yeh think, Tulip? D'yeh reckon yer boyfriend maybe needs a wee chat wi' his inner child?"
Tulip: "Hmmm..."
Jesse: "Inner child?"
Cassidy: "Oh aye, you hate that sorta shite, don't yeh? Yeh might just be in denial, but. Maybe yeh need to get some downtime an really try to process yer issues..."
Tulip (Lighting a cigarette): "Mm--the worst one I ever heard--and I swear this is true--was from this Santa Monica asshole I knew in college. This is real, okay?
"'I think it's time you took a swim in lake you.'"
(The men are horrified)
Jesse: "No...!"
Cassidy: "Nobody fuckin' says that!'"
Tulip (grinning): "Honest Injun."

  • Third Person Person: Odin Quincannon.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Featuring Nightmare Fuel on legs Jody, and Squick on legs T.C.
    • Also, Quincannon's two subordinates.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: In Salvation, this leads to a rather intense case of Mood Whiplash. Jesse somehow draws the eye of Ms. Oatlash, a would-be neo-Nazi Baroness who wants to do all kinds of squishy things with him involving leather and chains. He ends up leaving the nutcase chained to her own bed, but is forced to exit the building and speak to his black deputy while fully dressed in a decades-old yet perfectly preserved Nazi uniform. Once he gets back to town, he has a confrontation with Gunther Hahn, who openly admits to being a Nazi working in the Luftwaffe intelligence agency during the war who faked a mission to America in order to desert and go into hiding. However, his real name is Seigfried Vechtel and he worked in a Police Battalion, which involved him in enslaving or killing people and the infamous camps. When he hid in Salvation, he never made amends in any way. When the truth is revealed to Jesse, he gets massively pissed and tosses him a noose to hang himself with. It is revealed later that he has hung himself. Especially heartbreaking because Jesse's mom and Gunther seemed to be getting involved romantically.
    • And because, let's face it, Gunther seemed to have become a pretty good guy other than that one thing.
    • Jesse's conversation with Gunther/Siegfried is an allegory of a trial, with Jesse serving as prosecution and Gunther as defense. The key moral question is: if someone commits a horrible crime, can it be made up for by living a good life afterwards? Jesse's answer, "Some things can't ever be set right," shows that Ennis believes the answer to be "no". Gunther accepts the judgment and the death penalty.
  • Token Motivational Nemesis - Grandma Marie L'Angelle. Also Jody, who claims to have been doing this intentionally ("Try'na toughen you up, boy").
  • The Dog Bites Back: Featherstone turns on Starr when she realizes how far gone he is. He just shoots her. This causes the same reaction from Hoover, with the same result.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After being a Butt Monkey for most of the series, Arseface finds a place he can call home, a job, and a new love.
  • To Hell and Back: The Saint's empowerment.
  • Trampoline Tummy: Disgustingly subverted. The retarded kid who is the last surviving descendant of Jesus apparently amuses himself by taking flying leaps into the copious fat-rolls of the evil Cardinal who rules The Grail. Rather than bouncing hilariously off of it, however, it just makes the cardinal puke by the bucketload, which suits him fine since he's bulimic...
  • Uh-Oh Eyes: Cassidy looks to be a pretty average man in his mid twenties. The only hint of his condition is the horribly bloodshot state of his eyes.
  • Undying Loyalty: The closest thing to a redeeming feature Jody ever displays. He is genuinely upset that Miss Marie will die of old age soon and hates Jesse for giving her trouble.
  • The Unintelligible: Arseface
    • One of Quincannon's subordinates becomes this after Jesse breaks some of his teeth.

Blond guy(After his partner tries to take Cindy hostage at gunpoint, but NO ONE can understand what he's saying): "uh... maybe if I did the talking..."
Cindy: "Yeah, or get this motherfucker some subtitles--"
Blond guy's partner: Thuddub!<Shut up!>"

Grail Elder: This is about mankind's salvation.
Starr: This is about my genitals.

Billy Baker: (addressing The Black Wall) So tell me somethin'. How come you shitheads never write?

  • Watering Down: Custer starts off his massive "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the whole town by telling the bartender he can almost taste the beer through all the water.
  • Weak but Skilled: Jesse is weak relative to Cassidy, but insanely skilled.
  • We Have Reserves: How the Grail attempted to deal with the Saint.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Subverted to hell and back with Jody's attempts to cast himself as this to Jesse. Even when he's a hallucination he pulls this: "Git on about yore vision, boy"
  • Wham! Episode: War In The Sun.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's never explained what happened to Genesis after it's forced out of Custer's mind at the end. Nor what happened to the Angel of Death, the Saint's predecessor.
  • What Have I Become?: Cassidy's reaction to becoming a vampire is actually pretty upbeat.
    • It's implied near the end that the Saint of Killers is disgusted, if not outright horrified, at the atrocities he has committed since becoming who he is.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Frequent. When Jesse rashly or irresponsibly uses the Word, it often comes back to bite him in the ass. A big part of his Character Development comes from realizing that he can't just throw his weight around whenever he wants to.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: "So I got kind of a question. 'Proinsias'?"
    • Also, for that matter, Tulip?
      • Although that much was explained in her backstory ... as, to some extent was Cassidy's name.
        • Tulip's father was in psychological shock from the death of his wife and the disappointment of his child not being a son. All he could think of for a name was that his wife liked "flower names". So he went with the first flower that he could think of, which happened to be "Tulip".
      • Kind-of-lampshaded for Jody, by Jody, while chatting up Tommi.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Jesse and Cindy. The story dances around the possibility of their coupling for some time. Keep in mind that at this point Tulip thinks Jesse is dead and Jesse thinks she's moved on to a relationship with Cassidy and is not sure that dropping in on her life again is fair.
  • Written Sound Effect: Mostly averted.
  • Younger Than They Look: Eisenstein has "looked over a hundred" since he was 12.
  • Your Head Asplode: Oh, so many examples, usually involving the Saint or Tulip.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Directed against the Ricean tradition.
  • Zen Survivor: Played with (not for laughs) in the case of Sally, and subverted all sorts of ways for Cassidy. Also the Saint, temporarily.