American Gods Wiki
American Gods Wiki

Deities are powerful anthropomorphic beings that have control over various aspects of the world. They are thought-forms created by the collective belief of humanity and by the worship and rituals of religions around the world. The gods are the main focus of both the American Gods novel and its TV series adaptation.

Generalities about gods[]

  • Gods are entities born out of the belief, adoration and worship of living beings (mostly humans, though Those of the Cliffs originate from the tales told by animals). As a result, lack of belief and worship leads to gods fading away, and being forgotten is considered by them to be worse than simply dying.
  • Gods can split into different versions of themselves. For example, the "Old Gods" of American Gods are actually merely North-American avatars and incarnations of deities from other parts of the world.
  • The existence of gods depends on the land they exist on. As seen in American Gods, North America is a land that is "not good" for gods, forcing them into a weakened and fragile state. However, if a deity is on its native land, they will be stronger, and their tie to the land will allow them to resist better the fall of their religions or the ceasing of their worship.
  • Gods are also sustained and revitalised by sacrifices, and the deaths of humans as the sacrifices grant the god they were sacrificed to a lot of power.
  • In American Gods, Mr. Nancy explains that the Old Gods (and by extension gods in general) are not social creatures, but rather "exclusive" beings. Their need for worship, adoration and respect makes them unable to "do well" with other people, and forces them to lead selfish and isolated existence, either on their own or in a small group of entities similar to them. He also mentions that gods naturally like to be "big" and hate whenever they are forced into "small" or "shabby" existences.
  • In American Gods, Loki explains that gods are not entities of "magic" but rather of "focus". According to him, the "thing" of being a god is that they are "concentrated, magnified" essences of themselves ; they are not themselves per se but rather the "them" that people believe in ; being a god means that the deity becomes one with what humans think they embody (be it the thunder, the running of a horse or wisdom). They use the belief and the prayers they obtain and turn into into a "certainty" that allows them to "crystallize" themselves into something "bigger, cooler, more than human".

Types of gods[]

American gods[]

Old Gods[]

Main article: Old Gods

"Old Gods" is a term used in American Gods to refer to all the gods and affiliated entities (including lesser forms of gods such as fairies, jinns, trolls, kitsunes and more) who were brought to America through human activity. These entities are all coming from existing cultures, religions, folklores and mythologies. However they are but copies of the original entities - American avatars of a deity whose original version is still living in their homeland. Due to American being a "bad land" for gods, the Old Gods are greatly weakened by the lack of active belief or adoration, and they need to find alternative forms of worship to not fade away.

New Gods[]

Main article: New Gods

The New Gods are deities born in the modern-day America. Not belonging to any kind of mythology or folklore, they are gods and supernatural entities born of the unconscious worship and belief Americans put in things such as technology, money or media. Born out of the "faith gap" left by the fall of the "Old Gods", they are a younger generation of deities that frequently antagonize the Old Gods.

American entities[]

Main article: American entities

Outside of the Old Gods and New Gods, America is home to numerous supernatural entities native to its land, from spirits of the Native American legends to culture heroes of United-States folklore. Due to being tied to the land itself, they are stronger and more resistant than any other deities in North America, though the disparition of their people and cultures did them a great harm.

Non-American gods[]

Original gods[]

A general term covering all the deities and entities who the Old Gods of America are merely avatars or incarnations of. Tied to their native homelands, these deities are stronger and more powerful than their American counterparts, and often have different personalities.

Those of the Cliffs[]

The pantheon of animal-gods Mr. Nancy belongs to. While they are known as characters of folktales and legends of West Africa, Anansi Boys reveals that they are among some of the oldest gods in existence, originating from the stories told by animals.


"Demigod" or "half-god" are unofficial terms used to designate children born of the union between a human and a god. While mostly human in nature, they inherit mystical powers and abilities from their divine parent. They are seen as much in American Gods as in Anansi Boys.


  • When asked if the idea of the gods being shaped by and reliant on human belief in American Gods was inspired by the deities of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Neil Gaiman denied it. He explained that Terry Pratchett and him talked a lot about the subject over the years, and thus were "two people walking the same path", but not copying each other. He rather took inspiration from the works of Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison and Thorne Smith. He also explained that he was mostly re-using an idea he had already put in place in his comic book Sandman. [1]