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In Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, there are jokes about Elvis Presley that clearly relate to at least three of the four apocalyptic horsepersons.

  • The newspaper War works for is described as follows:

    A typical National World Weekly would tell the world how Jesus' face was seen on a Big Mac bun bought by someone from Des Moines, with an artist's impression of the bun; how Elvis Presley was recently sighted working in a Burger Lord in Des Moines; how listening to Elvis records cured a Des Moines housewife's cancer; how the spate of werewolves infesting the Midwest are the offspring of noble pioneer women raped by Bigfoot; and that Elvis was taken by Space Aliens in 1976 because he was too good for this world.*

    *Remarkably, one of these stories is indeed true.

  • Famine inspects a Burger Lord in Des Moines, where he finds the cook singing Love Me Tender to himself; since this clashes with the recorded Burger Lord jingle, Famine makes a mental note to have him fired.

  • The Horsepersons are gathering for the apocalypse. An arcade trivia game asks for the year when Elvis died, and Death reveals himself by saying:

    I DON'T CARE WHAT IT SAYS, I NEVER LAID A FINGER ON HIM.

Most of the stuff involving the horsepersons happens to each of them in parallel, so it seems strange to have three Elvis jokes but not a fourth. Is there a similar joke involving Pollution that I've missed, or does he get to be the only Horseman of the Apocalypse with no connection to Elvis?

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    Pollution is a newcomer to the Four Horsepersons, so it sort of makes sense that he's the one without an Elvis joke. Commented May 19, 2014 at 8:25

3 Answers 3

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I didn't find any direct joke concerning Elvis and Pollution in Good Omens yet, but the fact that the fourth horseman is described as "a young man dressed all in white. [...] He looked like Victorian Romantic poets looked just before the consumption and drug abuse really started to cut it" can be seen as covert references to Elvis' well known suiting habits and no less well known drug problems.

Since Pollution is also known for its white horse, it may be only a cosmetic choice from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett to match a color theme, but the romantic poet reference can't be explained easily using only the Pollution theme.

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    Also, Pollution's totem is a crown, and Pestilence retired around the time Elvis was born. Huh...
    – Micah
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 17:36
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    @Micah The fourth horseman may, in fact, be Elvis... When you know a bit about fast foods environmental impact (energy used, meals wasted...), why don't work in one as cook if you are Pollution? Especially when we factor in Pollution affinity with discarded packages.
    – Eureka
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 18:22
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    Death was the one with the pale horse: bartleby.com/108/66/6.html If you consider black to be Famine (red is obviously War), then that leaves the white horse.
    – mcw
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 20:25
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    I think the romantic poet thing is a red herring. Pratchett likes this simile; IIRC in Witches Abroad, the cat Greebo takes on human form and is described as looking like a romantic poet who had given up on the opium and tried red meat instead. Commented May 19, 2014 at 8:27
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    The three other quotes all allude to the fact that Elvis is, in fact, "working in a Burger Lord in Des Moines". Pollution is not working in a Burger Lord in Des Moines. Ergo, Pollution is not Elvis.
    – Theoriok
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 11:09
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When Pollution entered the biker bar,

the wind blew empty crisp packets and newspapers and ice cream wrappers with him. They danced around his feet like excited children, then fell exhausted to the floor.

He also wears an all-white suit, and has a crown as his totem (ie., the king). Pestilence also retired the year after Elvis was born, and Death swears he never killed Elvis.

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    The three other quotes all allude to the fact that Elvis is, in fact, "working in a Burger Lord in Des Moines". Pollution is not working in a Burger Lord in Des Moines. Ergo, Pollution is not Elvis.
    – Theoriok
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 11:09
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    ... but can you trust the reports that Elvis is in fact working in a Burger Lord in Des Moines, or is he just the archetypal "man works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis"? Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 21:13
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Was rereading this book and there actually IS a fourth reference to Elvis, but it’s in the FOOTNOTES!! It’s the second footnote on the page, the next chapter down:

The interview was done in 1983 and went as follows:

Q: You’re the Secretary of the United Nations, then?

A: Si.

Q: Ever sighted Elvis?

I feel like it’s a reference to Death, because it seems shifty and evasive.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question wasn't about any reference to Elvis, it was specifically asking about Elvis being linked with Pollution. Does Pollution figure in this anecdote?
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 3:11

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