FANDOM


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are the biblical harbingers of the End Times and major antagonists in the novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Known as the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse in modern times - or the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse (given War is female) - they spend much of their time wreaking havoc upon the Earth until they receive a sign that the End is nigh and are gifted with the biblical tokens that empower them to usher in the apocalypse.

In the Amazon Video miniseries, the Four Horsemen are portrayed by Mirielle Enos (War), Yusuf Gatewood (Famine), Lourdes Faberes (Pollution), and by Jamie Hill (Death; physical performance) and Brian Cox (Death; voice).

The Members

War

Little boys, playing with your toys. Think of all the toys I can offer you... think of all the games. I can make you fall in love with me, little boys, little boys with your little guns...
~ War, challenging the Them
The harbinger of war and conflict, she commonly appears as a beautiful red-haired woman with startling orange eyes and a tangible aura of danger about her; when on the road, she dresses in red leather and a red motorcycle helmet. As is the case with the biblical horseman, her token is the flaming sword abandoned by the angel Ariziphale at the start of the novel. When she discards her human appearance in the climax, her skin glistens as if with sweat, and her teeth gleam like bullets.

War possesses an uncanny ability to make herself utterly irresistible to those around her and intensify conflict to violent extremes: in her presence, men fight for the privilege of her company and minor disagreements explode into rioting - even full-blown wars. She takes great delight in spreading conflict wherever she goes, showing no remorse for the lives lost in pursuit of her amusement: even over the course of a simple drive to the rendezvous point, she amuses herself by watching a number of enthralled travelling salesmen attempting to beat her in a street-race for her affections - one that ends with most of the salesmen splattered all over the motorway; for a holiday, she goes so far as to seek out an African nation that has been at peace for the last three thousand years and obliterate it over the course of a single week.

Operating under various aliases - including "Carmine Zugiber," "Scarlett" and "Red" - she spends her days prior to the apocalypse in any job that will allow her to spread conflict: in the past, she has served as an arms dealer, inspiring wars on a very direct basis; however, by the start of the novel, she is employed as a war correspondent, a career in which she has excelled. Time and again, her competitors are mystified by Ms Zugiber's success, given that she restricts herself to nations that have been at peace: somehow, by the time Carmine has finished reporting, the country has always devolved into civil war and bloodshed. However, despite this apparently passive role, Red is not the Horseperson of War for nothing: once armed with the sword and charged with initiating the apocalypse, she will gleefully lead the charge.

Famine

A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny, and see thou hurt not the oil nor the wine.
~ Dr. Sable quoting from the Book of Revelations.
Ushering in starvation and deprivation wherever he goes, Famine is the most public of the Four Horsemen: known to the world as the highly successful entrepreneur and dietitian, Dr. Raven Sable, he commonly manifests as a tall, gaunt gentleman with dark hair, grey eyes and a neatly-trimmed beard; in keeping with his image as a respectable businessman, he usually dresses in expensive suits - but regardless of his attire, he is always clad in black. As with his biblical counterpart, his token is a set of scales with which to measure out the dwindling resources of the world. When his human appearance begins to bleed away towards the end of the novel, he begins to appear "off-station," "sunken" and "drowned out by static."

Unlike War, Famine demonstrates no visible powers prior to the End Times, preferring to spread his specific brand of chaos through more mundane means: as an extremely popular dieting guru, he has made the notion of starvation fashionable to the public, and is regularly fawned upon by models said to resemble "a skeleton in a Dior dress." Likewise, he patronizes restaurants championing minimalistic noveau cuisine, furthering the ideal of upper-crust conformity's triumph over realistic satisfaction. Outside the realm of the rich and famous, his company also markets cheap, mass-produced foodstuffs to the general population as low-fat meals and weight-loss aids: as promised, eating these meals will indeed allow customers to lose weight - along with hair, skin tone and vital signs if enough is consumed. For good measure, his position as the head of an international corporation allows him to spread starvation in more traditional ways, usually enforcing literal famines in Africa. However, as the apocalypse draws near, Famine's supernatural powers begin to visibly manifest: by the time the horsepeople meet at their rendezvous point, his presence causes food to inexplicably vanish, and passers-by find themselves gripped by powerful hunger pangs.

Calm, sophisticated, affable and dapper, Famine is by far the most self-aware of the four: he regularly signs autographs with biblical quotations relating to himself, enjoys eating at a restaurant at 666 5th Avenue New York, and muses aloud that one of the skeletal models fawning over him reminds him of "an old, dear friend" (Death). He is also one of the cruelest of the group, taking great delight in the self-induced suffering of his victims; for good measure, when one of his employees is shown to be enjoying his work, Dr Sable quickly takes steps to have the man fired. In total, Famine's character is best summed up as: "If you had told him there were starving children in Africa, he'd have felt proud you'd noticed."

Pollution

It's not just the nuclear. It's the chemical. Thousands of gallons of stuff... in little tanks all over the world. Beautiful liquids... with eighteen syllables in their names. And the... old standbys. Say what you like: plutonium may give you grief for thousands of years, but arsenic is forever.
~ Pollution, gearing up for the apocalypse.
Prior to the 20th century, Pestilence was among the most successful of the Four; however, when Penicillin was discovered and became commonly accepted in the treatment of infectious disease, the once-legendary Horseman retired in disgust, allowing Pollution to take his place. A sickly-looking young man with long white hair and chalk-white skin, Pollution dresses all in white, and though he is said to be handsome in a rather consumptive way, he appears curiously unmemorable to those around him - exactly the way Pollution prefers things. His token is Pestilence's old crown, its silver instantly tarnished and befouled by Pollution's corrupting touch. When the horsemen cast off their human forms towards the end of the novel, he begins to glisten and ooze as he slowly begins to embody the filth he spreads.

Known as "Mr White," "Albus" "Blanc" "Weiss" "Snowy" and "Chalky", Pollution has taken on a wide variety of jobs over the years, all of them concerned with the proliferation of waste and decay to a certain degree: he worked at both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island just before the two plants went into meltdown, he helped to design the petrol engine, plastics and the ring-pull can, and by the start of the book, is employed as a deckhand aboard an oil tanker - which he is able to sabotage, ensuring that it's cargo ends up being the center of a massive environmental disaster.

Like War, Pollution's supernatural powers are active at the start of the story, and have been put to great use in furthering his cause: he has the ability to influence machines, disabling failsafes and backups on supposedly foolproof systems, ensuring that they break down at just the right time to ensure the spread of toxic substances. He is also preternaturally unobtrusive, able to slip the memory of observers and avoid being noticed until it's too late; through this power, he can also escape any blame for his crimes, ensuring that he is free to continue his reign of terror over the environment. Once the End Times begin, his powers grow in strength: when he is given the crown, his touch becomes toxic enough to tarnish the silver, staining it black; by the time he meets up with the other Horsepeople at the Happy Porker Cafe, Chalky's presence has become corrupting enough to layer everything around him with filth, and he is often surrounded by a small windstorm of crisp packets and old newspapers.

By far the most instinctual of the Horsepeople, Mr White is obsessed with pollution to the exclusion of all other subjects, and spends much of his free time staring enthralled at scenes of befouled wildlife, overwhelmed at the sheer beauty of it all.

In the Amazon series, Pollution is portrayed by a woman and specifically referred to as "they" in gender-neutral terms.

Death

DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.
~ Death, while reaping the soul of the unfortunate deliveryman.
Death is the last and the most powerful (as death is neither avoidable nor stoppable. All living beings must face it eventually) of all the Horsemen and the de facto leader of the four. Known as Azrael to those who have the dubious honor of knowing his real name, he has no interest in spreading chaos or anything other than the occasional game of trivial pursuit, preferring the simple business of reaping the souls of the dead; nonetheless, he does not question the call to Armageddon, fulfilling his assigned role with amoral detachment.

Unlike the other Horsepeople, he is not given a token by the wandering deliveryman, instead being provided with simple note reading "come and see," a biblical quotation. Following his introduction, Death spends much of his time disguised as a tall, imposing biker in a face-concealing helmet: unlike his compatriots, he does not take a form embodying his chosen attribute, but simply discards the illusion in favor of the form he has always possessed - the traditional grim reaper, a grinning skeleton in a black cloak, his status as the angel of death signified by two enormous wings of pure shadow.

Also unlike the other members of the Four, he cannot be destroyed: War, Pollution and Famine may come and go, but Death is eternal. However, with the other Horsepeople banished and unable to complete their role in the apocalypse, Azrael is forced to call the whole thing off and leaves without a fight. He is later seen feeding the ducks at St James' Park while Ariziphale and Crowley discuss the events of the novel.

Role in the novel

At the start of the novel, the Four are preoccupied with their earthly roles: War is kickstarting a revolution in a previously peaceful country; Famine dominates the American food industry, making starvation seem fashionable; Pollution dumps an entire tanker of crude oil at sea; and Death waits patiently beyond sight. Eventually, however, the tokens of each Horsepeople are sent to them in the mail, all delivered by the same jolly courier; shortly after delivering Pollution's crown to him, the deliveryman is unexpectedly run over by an amphetamine-crazed truck-driver and finds himself face to face with Death, to whom he delivers a simple message: "Come And See."

When the Antichrist Adam Young is located in Oxfordshire, the Horsemen converge on him, intending to follow his lead into the final battle between Heaven and Hell. Along the way, the Four gather in the Happy Porker Cafe to catch up on old times and play a round of trivial pursuit; while there, they manage to get the attention of four Hell's Angels bikers, who declare themselves sidekicks to the Horsemen and follow them down the motorway towards Tadwick; after spending a good deal of time arguing over what they're supposed to be apocalyptic bikers of, the unfortunate Hell's Angels end up suffering a catastrophic road accident that leaves all but one of them dead. Death naturally remains behind to reap their souls.

Finally arriving at a military base just outside Tadwick, the Four enter and begin preparing the base for the beginning of the apocalypse, concluding with Pollution using his noted gift for technology to shut down almost every single electrical system on Earth - the one exception being the delivery systems behind the world's ICBMs. Chaos ensues.

However, just as the Four Horsepeople begin to cast off their human forms and ready the world for the apocalypse, Adam Young and his friends arrive at the base. Refusing to accept the offer to lead the Four, he abandons his destiny as the Antichrist, allowing his friends to challenge the Horsepeople one at a time while empowered by his own reality-warping powers, banishing each one of them back to the human subconscious and leaving only their tokens behind. However, Death cannot be defeated or destroyed; he can only be delayed. So, with the apocalypse impossible without the other horsemen present, he is forced to call off the End Times and leave.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Azrael bears a close similarity to the incarnation of Death as depicted in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, including their habit of speaking IN BLOCK TEXT. However, the Discworld's Death is a far more benevolent figure, though Azrael does retain a few of his personable habits - including his rather affable conversation with the Deliveryman.
    • Similarly, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse also appear in Discworld, though War is male (and married) and Pestilence is still in business. During the novel The Thief of Time, the four are briefly joined by Kaos, an ex-member of the group who left before the Horsemen became famous.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.