Good Omens: 5 Things The TV Series Missed From The Book (& 5 Things We're Glad They Kept In)

Neil Gaiman adapted Good Omens for the small screen according to the book and conversations with Terry Pratchett, but there were some changes made.

The Good Omens adaptation is currently streaming on Amazon and is gaining fans across the globe. Starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, the six-part drama was adapted from the book of the same name. Good Omens was published back in 1990 and was co-written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. After a bumpy ride trying to bring it to screen, Pratchett asked Gaiman to spearhead the adaptation just before he passed away in March 2015.

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Gaiman adapted the novel based on both the original source material and other discussions between him and Pratchett in the years to follow. He also served a frontrunner and producer for the show. While the show remains mostly faithful to the book, there are some changes. Here are 5 things which got cut and 5 we’re glad they kept in.

10 Kept: The Introduction

The opening few minutes of the first episode is lifted almost word for word from the beginning of the book, especially the introduction itself. While it has been edited for length and clarity, most of the words are direct quotes.

By keeping the opening sequence so close to the text, it sets the precedent that this adaptation is true to the book, and that’s certainly the case. Where it differs it still feels correct, likely due to the fact that variations are based on Gaiman and Pratchett's own musings.

9 Cut: Footnotes

Good Omens Aziraphale and Crowley timeline

The biggest but most understandable casualty of the adaptation is many of the footnotes. Pratchett was famous for his extensive footnotes, and Good Omens is packed with them. These insights offer extra details about the characters or plot, and each author often wrote the footnotes for the other.

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However, they also contain a large amount of British humor, with many referencing UK locations and landmarks. Rather than needing to explain them to an international audience, most are simply removed. This was an understandable change, which makes the ones that have stayed in all the more welcome.

8 Kept: Queen References

The use of random Queen songs punctuating the soundtrack is an extension of the theory concocted by Gaiman and Pratchett that states "all tapes left in a car for more than a fortnight metamorphose into Best of Queen albums.”

This joke makes frequent reappearances in the book and is simply taken to the next level in the TV show. The idea came about because the album was so popular in the UK that almost everyone had a copy in their car. It was also often found in service stations, which helped perpetuate the joke.

7 Cut: Aziraphale Edits The Bible

Aziraphale may be an angel but he’s not above making sure he doesn’t get into trouble. In both the book and TV series, we see that, at the beginning of creation, he gives away his flaming sword to Adam and Eve for protection.

While he is, mostly at least, convinced this is the right thing to do, he does worry about the consequences. In an effort to cover his tracks in the novel, he edits an early copy of the Bible, adding an extra three verses to Genesis which suggests that “The Lord did not ask him again” about the sword. This was transformed into the scene at the beginning of episode three, but the actual editing process is gone.

6 Kept: Crowley’s Car

Crowley’s Bentley is a thing of beauty and a constant in the book. Not only does the show include the fact that it remains in perfect condition throughout the ages, but they also perfectly captured its fiery ending.

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Crowley uses his car a great deal, and his powers help keep it in shape and running without the need for fuel or maintenance. The car is such a part of Crowley’s life that it’s great to see on screen, especially when it’s on fire.

5 Cut: Chattering Nuns History

Another of the footnotes it’s sad to see didn’t make the cut is the history of the chattering nuns. However, it's good to see the nuns themselves, with the baby swapping scene in particular being a highlight.

In the book, we find out that they are called The Chattering Order of St Beryl and are named after Saint Beryl Articulatus of Cracow, who was granted the miraculous ability to chatter non-stop. The nuns chatter continuously in her honor, except for a half-hour silence on Tuesday afternoons. During this time, they play table tennis if they wish.

4 Kept: Agnes Nutter's Fate

Agnes Nutter, the writer of the Nice and Accurate Prophecies book which underpins the story, has her tale told in episode two. In an interview with The Express, Gaiman reveals that the scene in which she talks about how she wrote the prophecies before she meets her demise originally faced the chop.

He said that he fought for the scene to stay, as it was one that Pratchett had written. It was a wise choice, as seeing Agnes helps set the context for her place in the story. The scene also plays out well on screen, adding some extra drama to the episode.

3 Cut: The Other Four Bikers Of The Apocalypse

In the book War, Famine, Pollution, and Death are accompanied by four Hell’s Angels bikers, who have been tricked into joining them. Along the way, the other bikers try to think of suitable names for themselves. The idea is to name themselves after something terrible. Unfortunately, the best they have includes "Really Cool People," "Grievous Bodily Harm," and "No Alcohol Lager."

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While the script included the quirky bikers, Gaiman confirmed in a Q&A on Twitter that they had to be cut before shooting for budgetary reasons, much to his disappointment.

2 Kept: Aziraphale’s Bookstore

Aziraphale’s bookstore is his true love. He collects old, antique, and rare books from across the ages, including numerous versions of the Bible. In the series, we cannot quite get the same feel for just how many books he has, but the look of the store is incredibly well done.

We also see Aziraphale’s terrible customer service, since he doesn’t actually want anyone to purchase his books. The store is simply somewhere to store them all safely. The addition of the Just William books, a favorite of Adam's, is a nice touch and another nod to the novel.

1 Cut: Geronimo

Good Omens Cast Four Horsemen

The original book is almost 20 years old and there are parts of it which betray its age. The most significant are a few inclusions which would now be deemed racially insensitive. One of these is Geronimo, a Native American spirit guide for Madame Tracy.

He was cut from the show and the casting net was widened to ignore some of the book descriptions in order to create a more racially diverse cast. It’s a move which works perfectly and helps the story feel more fitting for today’s society.

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