I'm going through another read of Terry Pratchett's and Neil Gaiman's ever-popular book Good Omens and I was wondering if Adam Young's friends, the Them, collectively, were analogues of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

It's readily available and easy enough to see similarities between Red (War) and Pepper and between White (Pollution) and Brian. It could stand to reason that Adam Young would represent Death but I don't see any connection between the remaining Them member Wensleydale and Sable (7 letters[sic], sounds like examine).

Because of that last detail, it throws the entire assumption into question. I know that sometimes Terry likes to make vague references and sometimes they are a stretch (see: echo-gnomics = reflected sound of underground spirits).

I figured the Them were drawn to Adam just like the Four Horsemen (read Horsepeople) would have been drawn to him and his presence if he were raised with the knowledge of his nature (being the AntiChrist, that is). I see Them as a pale imitation but nevertheless an (ineffable) inevitability as a consequence to his rather normal upbringing.

To clear up that last bit, if Adam was raised with the Satanic family and with full knowledge of his abilities (those to come) and his destiny, he wouldn't have had the Them but would have the actual Four Horsemen.

So, are the Them supposed to represent the members of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

  • They're pretty obvious human parallels, but I don't think that means War would've fooled around with him as a kid - or little American Warlock the actually normal kid would have had much more interesting play companions than just whatever saints or damned souls were on call.
    – Radhil
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 14:36
  • @Radhil I don't think the Horsemen would have played as his friends in the way that the Them were to Adam but I wanted to see if there was any information that would support the claim for or against if the Them were analogues of the Horsemen.
    – Rincewind
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 14:39
  • 2
    They are (they match colors, they match personalities, and then the finale they each take on their counterpart), I just don't know any outside confirmation. I'll try to find some a bit later, if someone doesn't beat me to it.
    – Radhil
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 14:53
  • It seems to me is pretty confirmed in-universe, it even says somplace that the comparison with Death kind of failed but they went along eitherway.
    – Ram
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 23:23
  • @Ram Can you elaborate or link to a source?
    – Rincewind
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 0:09

3 Answers 3


It's not stated but heavily hinted

  • Brian v. Pollution: Brian is plump and always dirty-looking, there's something "ground in" about the grime on his face, hands and knees that resists ordinary soap and water. Brian generally seems the most cynical of the Them. This seems close to Pollution.

  • Wensleydale v. Famine: probably the most scientifically minded of the gang and regularly reads a magazine ("my comic", as he calls it) of the Look and Learn persuasion, full of history and science. Somehow entirely fitting that Wensleydale should be the one who is tasked with facing down and temporarily destroying Famine.

  • Pepper v. War: Has a decidedly peppery temper and savagely bit the first child to mock her name at school. She would also be happy to tussle with her fellow Them. It's also fitting that Pepper should be the one who is tasked with destroying War.

  • Adam v. Death: During the confrontation they just look at each other, they are both probably the most inhuman of them. Neither of them can really be defeated.

Besides the things the Them have in common with the four horsemen, Adam is, as Crowley puts it, "human incarnate" not good or evil. Had he fulfilled what's written the four horsemen would be his gang, instead he chose his friends and even equipped each of them with a symbolic weapon. However, and I think it's somewhat of a point the authors make, that likeness is not that close and it needs to be a little forced. The Them are truly human and not just mindless entities attracted to Adam, they are his friends and the side he chooses.

  • Great answer, very comprehensive. I agree but to a point. Brian\Pollution and Pepper\War would be the "low hanging fruit" (Crawley and the Garden of Eden), however, I just don't see Wensleydale being equated with Famine. Sable operates outside of the realm of forced attrition and relies on self-denial; whereas Wensleydale takes in knowledge like people take in burgers and fries. At this point, I'm thinking its a British cultural reference (I'm a colonial) or it's a small and overlooked trait that ties them together. Just that one thing, for me, throws it off but it's not a big deal.
    – Rincewind
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 4:35
  • 11
    Note that Wensleydale is a famous English cheese (see also Wallace and Gromit). Named After Food vs Famine.
    – Alan
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 8:14
  • I think Pepper and War both have red hair as well.
    – Pixel
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 2:43
  • @Alan: I thought Wensleydale was a famous English cheese shop owner.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 17:56
  • @Kevin It's a variety of cheese from the Wensleydale region of the Yorkshire Dales. It has protected name status because it has been associated with the region for hundreds of years.
    – Alan
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 23:02

I agree, but healthy versions of the four.

Brian (Dirty) v. Pollution There is nothing wrong with dirt, it is what provides life, it breaks down mater into food (eventually even plastic bottles and oil rot into carbon dioxide and water). Pollution is the extreme, when dirt overgrowth and invasive species overcome the healthy dirt. Too much dirt and you will pollute.

Wensleydale (Hunger) v. Famine There is nothing wrong with a hunger, it is what drives us to improve, hunger for knowledge or food will encourage us to value what we have and learn. Famine is the extreme, when you are hungry but cannot be fed. Too much hunger and you will starve.

Pepper (Anger) v. War: There is nothing wrong with anger. It protects us and those we love, it makes us act, be it the act of running away or the act of defending ourselves, our rights to exist. War is the extreme of anger, it is when anger no longer protects us, but is made into a weapon to harm others. Too much anger and we go to war.

Adam (Mortality) v. Death There is nothing wrong being mortal. Being alive is a gift to be enjoyed, it has a beginning a middle and an end. Death is the extreme to living, it is inevitable but sadly too much at once and we die early. Too much living and you will die.

In my opinion anyway. All the horsemen of the apocalypse are good... in moderation. All children are the very embodiment of the horsemen, children are dirty (helping their immune system), hungry (helping them to grow and learn), angry (helping them to defend themselves and become individuals) and all children live and will eventually die (be it by becoming adults or sadly not making it that far)

  • It sounds like you're responding directly to Ram's answer above. When posting answers, you should focus primarily on answering the question. If you want to comment on a previous answer, there's a separate comment function for that, although you'll need to earn a bit more reputation to gain full access to it. Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 4:54
  • 2
    @LogicDictates This seems to be an answer to the original question, namely "I was wondering if Adam Young's friends, the Them, collectively, were analogues of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?" An interesting one too!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 6:10
  • @Rand al'Thor - I agree that it qualifies as an answer. (Note that I didn't flag it as 'not an answer'.) But it's also clearly a comment on a previous answer, and seems more focused on that than the question. I mean, look at the first couple of words: "I agree"... who is being addressed there? The OP, or Ram? I think it's Ram, as that seems like a response to a statement rather than a question. Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 8:55

In the TV show, when they meet Anathema, Wensleydale refuses her offer of food because his parents make him a nutritious dinner and they like him to come home with an appetite. Also when they meet the four horsemen, the camera cuts between the children and their corresponding horseman.

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