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You were a god-king. You were god of the sun, of luck, of craft, art, of everything valuable to civilization. The Shining One, they called you.

Mr. Ibis, "Treasure of the Sun"

Mad Sweeney is a down on his luck leprechaun who has a hard time understanding how he lost his charm and way. Always up for a good fight, Sweeney is never deprived while in the employment of Mr. Wednesday.

Significance in series[]

"The Bone Orchard"[]

At Jack's Crocodile Bar, when Wednesday goes to the bar for drinks, Mad Sweeney approaches Shadow to warn him about Wednesday.

Wednesday returns with three shots of mead for Shadow to drink. Shadow takes the first shot and Wednesday tells him the mead seals their bargain. Shadow will be his driver and bodyguard and will hold his vigil upon Wednesday's death. Shadow agrees to $2000 a week on the condition that he won't hurt anyone for fun or profit and that he will quit if Wednesday pisses him off. Shadow drinks the second shot to seal the deal and the third shot as the "charm." Wednesday spits on his hand and they shake.

Sweeney starts pulling real gold coins out from everywhere and Shadow asks how he does the trick. Sweeney tells him it's the easiest trick in the world to just pluck them out of the air. Shadow asks again and Sweeney challenges him to a fight for the answer. Shadow declines, yet Sweeney keeps egging him on. He starts to insult Laura and Shadow punches him in the face. They begin brawling, tearing up Jack's bar and fighting until Shadow blacks out.

"Head Full of Snow"[]

At Jack's Crocodile Bar, Jack enters the bathroom with a shotgun to evict Mad Sweeney. Sweeney tells her to not push her luck by trying to shoot at him because it won't work but she does anyway. The beer bottle in Sweeney's hand explodes and it surprises Sweeney. He leaves and is walking along a highway when a friendly man pulls over and offers him a ride. Sweeney gets in and they begin driving. The truck in front of them has a blowout and a load of pipes in the back come loose. A pipe flies through the air, stabbing into their car's windshield and impaling the friendly driver's head. The police come and one of the officers mentions to Sweeney that it is "some crazy bad luck." Sweeney begins looking frantically through his pockets, tossing gold coins everywhere as he discovers one is missing.

Sweeney tracks down Shadow and Wednesday eating lunch in Chicago. He demands his gold coin back from Shadow because he gave him the wrong coin. Shadow asks him how he did the coin trick before he'll tell him what he did with the coin. Sweeney once again claims that he plucked the coin out of thin air. Shadow says Sweeney can find the coin on Laura's grave back in Eagle Point. Sweeney leaves, telling Wednesday he'll see him in Wisconsin.

Mad Sweeney arrives at Laura's grave and begins digging, looking for his gold coin. He gets all the way to the casket and finds a hole burned through the lid. He opens the lid and discovers the coffin is empty.

"Lemon Scented You"[]

Mad Sweeney barges into Shadow's hotel room where Laura is getting dressed and demands his coin back. He grabs her by the throat and the coin glows out from her throat. She flicks him in the throat and he flies across the room, momentarily stunned. She tells him her husband gave her the coin and it is hers. Sweeney explains he gave Shadow a coin meant for royalty on accident. He demands it back and Laura refuses, breaking his finger when he points it at her. She grills him, asking him how he knows Shadow. He reveals he was hired by Wednesday to pick a fight with Shadow at Jack's Crocodile Bar to see what Shadow was made of. Sweeney offers Laura as many gold coins as she wants if she will give back the one she has. Laura realizes that Sweeney can't just take the coin from her; she has to give it to him. He tells her all he has to do is wait for her to decompose enough for the coin to just fall right out of her. He attacks her and shoves her into the bathtub, holding her head underwater. Cops burst in and take down Mad Sweeney as Laura plays dead in the bathtub.

The police car with Mad Sweeney in the backseat arrives at the station forcing Wednesday and Shadow to head out the back. A tree is growing up from within the station, consuming the precinct. The two remaining police officers who arrested Sweeney run into the building, their guns firing as they're also consumed by the tree. Mad Sweeney uses it as his opportunity to escape out the back of the cop car.

"A Murder of Gods"[]

Laura's car is missing so she goes to the Front Desk clerk to find out where it is, only to learn that the police towed it because she was dead. She asks where all the police are and Mad Sweeney shows up, announcing that all of the police are dead. She asks if he has a car and they head out to the parking lot where she frees Sweeney from his handcuffs. Sweeney selects a taxi cab to steal because the alarm is easy to disable. He is doing this because he wants to help Laura find someone to raise her fully from the dead so she doesn't need his gold coin anymore to keep her alive. She needs his help because her body is in the process of decaying and she'll turn to soup otherwise. She asks him what he is and he tells her he is a leprechaun. A gun cocks and Salim asks them to stop stealing his cab. He also wants to know if Mad Sweeney ever met a Jinn. Sweeney replies that if Salim takes them to Kentucky, he will tell Salim where he can find his Jinn along with "a murder of gods."

Laura sits in the front seat of the taxi as Salim talks about how much New York scared him but now he is no longer scared. Sweeney pipes up from the back seat that he's scared Salim won't ever be quiet. He mocks Salim's taxi license because he is not Ibrahim bin Irem. Laura asks if Salim killed Ibrahim and Salim says that he hopes Ibrahim was given a new life just like he was given. He was Salim but now he has a new life and doesn't plan on seeing anyone from his old life. Laura ponders about never seeing her mother again but plans on thanking Christ for that when he raises her from the dead. Sweeney tells her to shut up about Jesus and begins insulting her. Laura grabs Sweeney by the lips and slams his head against the divider, warning him to not use that language around her ever again. She asks Salim if she can smoke because the car smells like a toilet anyway. He tells her to roll down her window and asks her if she is dead because she smells like it. She tells him it is her afterlife. When she was little, she used to pray for her family to disappear and now her prayers have been answered. Salim replies that he prays in thanks, not to ask for things. He prays to find the Jinn because the Jinn is his afterlife and he wants to know more. Sweeney laughs at him as he pulls his cap over his eyes to sleep. Laura reaches over and turns the steering wheel toward Indiana instead of Kentucky.

Sweeney wakes up in the backseat to find that they are not in Kentucky but have arrived at Jack's Crocodile Bar. They go into the bar and order drinks before taking a seat at a booth. Sweeney continues insulting Laura's looks and smell and she tells him to stop trying to shame her because it doesn't work. Sweeney warns her about bringing attention to herself and asks why she came back to Indiana. He tells her her old life is done and Shadow is not obligated to take her back because she's dead and he knows it. The kiss that made her heart beat made Shadow taste the death on her. Shadow has a new life with Wednesday and Salim got a new life with the Jinn and Laura needs to get a new life without Shadow.

Salim lays out his prayer rug on the side of the road for his morning prayer. Sweeney stays with the taxi as Laura sits nearby in a ditch, smoking. Salim finishes his prayer with "Allāhu Akbar. God is great." Laura replies that, "life is great," and he agrees.

"A Prayer for Mad Sweeney"[]

Mr. Ibis writes a story about criminals being transported to the Americas as indentured servants. He tells how hundreds of years prior, Mad Sweeney approached the porch of a former indentured servant, Essie MacGowan of Ireland.

When Essie was a child, she would wait for her father's ship to return while her grandmother told her stories of faeries, púcas, banshees, and leprechauns. She warns Essie about the leprechauns who are too busy guarding their gold to do anything else but they should still leave the leprechauns gifts to receive their blessings.

As Essie grows older, she continues to leave gifts for the leprechauns while passing along the tales of the merry folk to the children in the house where she works. She shares a story about a time she was walking to a lighthouse and heard a hammering noise. She follows after it and becomes lost in the moors. She offers her bread to the leprechauns and falls asleep. When she wakes up, the bread is gone and she can see the lighthouse.

One time, Essie steals some bread and takes it out to the moors. She cuts a strand of hair and wraps it around the bread before she places a gold coin on top. She is giving an offering to the leprechauns in order to ask a favor of them. After she leaves, Mad Sweeney appears to receive the offering.

Essie is eventually sentenced to seven years Transportation to the Carolinas for theft. While Essie is on the ship to the Americas, she leaves a crumb for the leprechauns.

In present day, Mad Sweeney sleeps in the back of Salim's taxi. They stop at Derek Arnold Jr.'s ranch where there is a massive white buffalo statue for tourists to come visit. A Tatanka Ska had been born there but it died a year after it was born from a lightning strike so the visitors stopped coming. Sweeney tells Laura it's because they put the god in a "zoo." Salim brings out his prayer mat and Laura sits on the base of the buffalo statue to watch him pray. Sweeney goes out to a hedge and begins to relieve himself when a raven caws at him. He gets in an argument with the raven about how he is holding up his end of the bargain. Laura interrupts them and tells Sweeney they should let Salim go. Sweeney argues with her, accidentally revealing that all the gods are meeting up at the House on the Rock in Wisconsin. Laura lets Salim know that he can find his Jinn at the House on the Rock and Salim takes off in his taxi. While Sweeney breaks things in anger, Laura walks over to an ice cream truck to steal it. She explains to the driver that he can tell his boss he was robbed and Sweeney punches him to make him look like it.

Escaping Transportation, Essie is in London where she has established herself as a shoplifter and thief. She continues to to leave gifts for the leprechauns who still visit her. As she grows wealthier, the more she forgets to leave gifts. One day, she is caught stealing lace and sent to Newgate, where she is charged for returning from Transportation and for theft.

While in prison, Essie strikes up a conversation with Mad Sweeney who is in the neighboring cell. Essie leaves a portion of her bread for the leprechauns as they chat about Transportation to the Americas. Sweeney reveals that he once had his share of gold and made sure the "King" received his share on time. Essie mentions a woman she met in the Americas named Susan even though that was not her original name. In America, everyone can be whoever they want. Essie longs for a content life with a home and someone to share it with. She tells Sweeney he should go to the Americas and "deliver gold to their king" even though the Americas doesn't have a king yet.

Essie is spared the noose because she is pregnant and sent to the Americas instead. Essie gives birth to a son and becomes a wet nurse and maid for John Richardson. He is a Virginia farmer whose wife had died, leaving behind a baby daughter. As Essie nurses the babies, she tells them tales of the faerie folk.

Laura drives the ice cream truck while Sweeney shivers in the front seat. Sweeney explains that the man who will resurrect Laura will only do it for a favor, not any of Sweeney's gold. He has a hoard of gold from when he was once a king before becoming a bird and ultimately a leprechaun. He was supposed to go to war but saw his death on the battlefield and flew away instead. He is joining Wednesday's war now to make up for that. A white rabbit darts into the road and Laura swerves to miss it, flipping the ice cream truck and throwing Laura out the front windshield. The gold coin flies out of her chest and rolls along the road, stopping a few feet away.

On the farm, Essie regales the two toddlers with stories about spirits and why they leave food for the leprechauns to keep their blessings. John frees her from her indenture and they marry. They have a son and Essie passes on her tales of leprechauns to their three children. John dies from a fever ten years later, leaving Essie to care for the farm on her own.

Over the years, Essie continues to leave food out for the leprechauns and shares her stories of leprechauns with her grandchildren. The tales frighten them and Essie is told keep the stories to herself. One evening while Essie is sitting on her porch, a man arrives.

Mad Sweeney awakens from the accident in the flipped ice cream truck. He sees Laura dead and lifeless before finding his gold coin on the side of the road. He picks it up and remembers the night Laura died. He was in the oncoming car and pulled over afterward, discovering Laura still barely alive on the ground. He tells a raven watching over the accident site that "it's done" as Laura's last breaths gurgle out.

In the present, Mad Sweeney curses in Old Irish at the sky before turning around and crouching down next to Laura's body. He places the coin on Laura's sternum and she returns to life with a punch to Sweeney's face. She flips the ice cream truck back over and is able to get it started again so they can proceed on their journey.

Mad Sweeney approaches an elderly Essie MacGowan on her porch. She doesn't recognize him at first so he tells her how he was brought to the New World by her and others like her. He shows her the gold coin she left for him long ago and offers her his hand. She accepts it and dies. Mr. Ibis finishes writing the tale of Essie and closes his journal.

"Come to Jesus"[]

An ice cream truck pulls up to Easter's Estate and Laura and Mad Sweeney get out. Easter finds out they have arrived and finds Laura in a bathroom, coughing up maggots. Easter is angry Mad Sweeney brought a dead girl into her home but she owes Sweeney a favor. Easter quizzes Laura on her dead state. Laura admits that she is always thirsty and cold. Easter explains she doesn't resurrect, she grants "relife" but first she needs to know the specifics of Laura's death. She looks into Laura's eyes to see the exact moment of death and spots a raven and Mad Sweeney as the last image on Laura's retinas. Easter asks Sweeney if he was working for Wednesday and explains to Laura that she was killed by a god, making it so she can't regift life to Laura. A rabbit alerts Easter that more guests have arrived and she leaves while Laura demands Mad Sweeney to tell her which god killed her. She knows Sweeney isn't a god and squeezes his balls to make him say out loud which god it was. Sweeney admits it was Wednesday who had her sacrificed to get Shadow to a place where he had nothing left. Wednesday has been interfering in Shadow's life since the casino heist because gods like to "fuck with us."

"House on the Rock (episode)"[]

A car carrying Shadow, Mr. Wednesday, Mad Sweeney, and Laura leaves Easter's house in Kentucky and heads to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin. Shadow is still uncomfortable around Laura while Mad Sweeney's bad luck continues to follow him.

At the House on the Rock, Shadow attempts to pick the lock open on the entrance gate. A spider enters the lock and opens the gate as Mr. Nancy appears on the other side. He greets Mad Sweeney and comments on Laura's stench. Wednesday asks if some of the old gods like Whiskey Jack have arrived. Nancy replies that they did not come and Easter is not coming either because Wednesday ran over some of her rabbits. Wednesday informs Laura she can come along but she is "not invited to the party." He reveals to her that he was also dead once when he sacrificed himself for knowledge and hung on the tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days. He offers her an arrangement and she refuses.

Inside the House on the Rock, the Jinn and Salim's conversation is interrupted by Wednesday's entrance. Wednesday asks the Jinn how many have arrived. The Jinn replies there are about a dozen plus Bilquis, who was not invited. Wednesday and Nancy take tokens from the Jinn and the Jinn offers Shadow a token as well but he does not let Laura and Sweeney through.

Bilquis greets Nancy before confronting Wednesday for not inviting her when she is an Old God. Wednesday acquiesces and invites her to "consult the Norns." She inserts a token into a machine where Selina, a fortune telling mannequin, moves around to music before a card is dropped into a slot below for her to retrieve. Wednesday inserts his token next and chortles when he receives his card, causing Shadow to ask what it is. He won't reveal what it says because, "a man's fortune is his own." Shadow inserts his token and receives his card, reading it out loud:

Every ending is a new beginning. Your lucky number is none. Your lucky color is dead. Motto: Like father, like son.

Laura asks the Jinn for a coin so she can get a fortune. He refuses but both Salim and Sweeney convince him to give her one. She inserts her token and receives her fortune, however, it is blank.

After the meeting of the Old Gods, Wednesday takes them to a Motel America diner. He pours mead as the Old Gods feast and socialize. Shadow approaches Laura and they discuss Shadow's role with Wednesday. She warns him about Wednesday before Wednesday interrupts and calls Shadow over to meet Mama-ji. Sweeney walks over to Laura to tell her Shadow is no longer her puppy because he is Wednesday's man now.

A sniper fires into the diner, shooting down Old Gods with bullets engraved with "Deus Mortuorum" (Latin for "God is dead"). As the bullets fly, the Jinn protects Salim and Shadow tackles Laura to the ground.

In the aftermath, Wednesday finds Zorya Vechernyaya incapacitated by a chest wound. He cradles her as Czernobog holds her hand and she dies. Czernobog curses the person who killed her so that they will not die in battle, no one alive will take their life, and "she" will find them. Laura realizes Shadow has been abducted and watches as his golden light fades into the distant sky.

"The Beguiling Man"[]

Laura watches Shadow's light travel farther and farther away from the Motel America diner. While Sweeney, Salim, and the Jinn eat breakfast in the Motel America diner, Laura wants to know what they are going to do next. Mama-ji enters the diner and tells the Jinn that Wednesday wants him to find Old Iktomi at the "Corn Palace" to get Wednesday's spear, Gungnir.

As Wednesday and Mr. Nancy bid farewell to Czernobog, Sweeney heads outside the diner to confront Wednesday. Laura wants to know what they are going to do about Shadow. Wednesday tells Sweeney to help Laura save Shadow while he and Mr. Nancy continue preparing for the war. Laura finds a Mercedes for Sweeney to steal as Wednesday's ravens fly overhead.

Sweeney drives toward Shadow's light as Laura gives him directions. They have a theological discussion about whether or not they are actually gods or monsters made by people. Sweeney points out that she is just as much a monster as the gods are. She destroyed her life as well as her husband's and then cheated on him. Laura argues that it does not mean she deserved to die. He calls it the "greatest sin" to betray "true love." Laura warns him of a cow in the middle of the road. He swerves and misses the cow but runs over a nail and gets a flat tire.

Sweeney changes the tire while Laura holds up the car for him. She accidentally drops it on his foot. They finish changing the tire and Laura vomits up some of her liquefying insides. She promises Sweeney he can have the coin whether she falls apart or finds a way to get her life back. Sweeney mentions he might have another option other than Easter to help her get her life back: the old Baron.

Laura wants Mad Sweeney to speed up because Shadow's light grows more distant. She reaches her leg over and slams on Sweeney's foot on the gas pedal. The road abruptly ends at a field of blue flowers. Laura walks into the field and lies down in defeat. Sweeney follows after, offering a drink from his flask. He sits down next to her and lights a cigarette as he tries to motivate her back into saving Shadow. He has a "shortcut" to catching up to Shadow through his hoard, a smaller variation of Backstage. They stand up and he wraps his arms around her. They travel through the hoard of coins, ending up on the edge of a bridge overlooking a train passing underneath. Laura finally removes the broken handcuffs from around Mad Sweeney's wrists before jumping to the train below with Sweeney following.

Laura and Sweeney climb into a train car. They kill several Spooks, including Mr. Wood, as they make their way through the train. Laura kicks in the door to Shadow's boxcar, knocking Mr. Town over. She is tackled by Mr. Stone and squashes his head beneath her boot with Shadow watching. Laura declares, "I had to save you." The train smashes into Betty as Wednesday looks on with fire and his horse, Gallows, reflected in his glass eye.


As the oncoming train collides with Betty, flames arise in shapes resembling a horse and Betty is reborn in the wreckage. A broken apart Laura calls for Shadow while Shadow climbs a mountain of skulls, trapped in his nightmares. Wednesday has Mad Sweeney collect Laura's body parts and stash her in New Betty's trunk as they leave Shadow behind.

Wednesday's raven, Muninn, flies to Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor to let Wednesday know Shadow has been found and is on his way. Ibis is busy putting Laura back together, eating pieces of her as he works. Laura worries about how much longer she will have before her body falls irreparably apart. Wednesday invites her to come with him to find Argus Panoptes, someone who might be able to help her condition while Sweeney invites Laura to join him in New Orleans to meet the Baron. Laura opts to go with Wednesday.

Sweeney searches for an unlocked car in a parking lot. He finds one and gets in, discovering the car keys in the visor. In the visor mirror, he spots a pit bull in the back seat, who begins barking and attacking Sweeney.

Sweeney steals a boat and tries to start it but it won't turn over. He tries to manually start it with the motor but knocks the motor into the water. The gas line disconnects and leaks all over the boat, causing Sweeney to slip and drop his cigarette, lighting the boat on fire with Sweeney still on it.

Sweeney stumbles down a highway and tries to hitchhike, almost getting hit by a tour bus. The bus pulls over and he is invited to join a Christian rock band on their way to New Orleans.

"The Greatest Story Ever Told"[]

Physical appearance[]

Mad Sweeney has a short, red beard, ginger hair cut in a mohawk and hazel eyes. He has an athletic build and stands at 6 foot 5 inches.

Powers and abilities[]

Mad Sweeney's primary power is his ability to summon an endless amount of golden coins. He can also make them disappear, or make other coins disappear. It is revealed in the second season of the series that all the coins he summons and makes disappear are from or end up in the "Hoard of the Sun", a pocket dimension described by Sweeney as similar to the Backstage but smaller and only accessible to him. It is also revealed that he can send other objects he touches into the Hoard, such as weapons, and that he can use the Hoard as a way of teleportation by sending people through it for a faster travel (he does so with Laura in order to go in a few seconds from one location to another).

Mad Sweeney owned a specific gold coin, described as "the sun itself", a "lucky coin" that imbued him with a supernatural strength and an unnatural luck. When he loses his coin to Shadow Moon, he also loses his luck and starts facing numerous bad fortunes and accidents.

In Git Gone and A Prayer for Mad Sweeney Mad Sweeney is shown able to communicate with Mr. Wednesday's ravens.


He's gone. Your man came, he saw ya, tasted death on your tongue, and he left. He ain't your man anymore. He's Wednesday's man. I saw him give it over. Right over there, right at that table over there. That's where he took his last glass of evil, vile fuckin' mead, and made his bargain with the devil himself. Your piece of shit husband got a new life. Why don't you?

–Mad Sweeney to Laura about Shadow, "A Murder of Gods"

Laura Moon: "How much gold do you have?"
Mad Sweeney: "How much is in a hoard?"
Laura Moon: "What the fuck is a hoard? And why do you have one?"
Mad Sweeney: "I was a king, once."
Laura Moon: "Okay."
Mad Sweeney: "I was. Then they made me a bird. Then Mother Church came along and turned us all into saints, and trolls, and faeries. General Mills did the rest."

–"A Prayer for Mad Sweeney"


To edit the Gallery page, go to Mad Sweeney/Gallery.


Note: The pictures are shown in episodic order. To see the order of the episodes, please visit the Episode guide.


American Gods - Mad Sweeney - Season 2


Pablo Schreiber on Mad Sweeney - American Gods


Get to Know 'The Leprechaun' Mad Sweeney - American Gods - STARZ

Notes and trivia[]

  • Sean Harris had to exit the series for personal reasons, causing Mad Sweeney to be recast with Pablo Schreiber in the role.[1]
  • Mr. Ibis reveals in "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney" that Mad Sweeney is the American version of Buile Shuibhne, a Medieval Irish ruler
    • Mad Sweeney started out as the guardian of a sacred rock in a small Irish glade over three thousand years ago. His madness gave him power.
    • He was cursed by St. Ronan to madness and wandering. On the eve of a battle, he is transformed into a bird and flees in derangement.
  • Mr. Ibis reveals in "Treasure of the Sun" that prior to becoming Buile Shuibhne, Sweeney was Lugh, a king of the Tuatha Dé Danann
    • He was a warrior, a king, and a master craftsman and was a sun god
    • His father was of the Tuatha Dé Danann while his mother was Balor's daughter and a Fomorian
    • It was foretold that Balor's grandson would kill him and during a battle between the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians, Lugh throws a spear through Balor's evil eye and beheads him
      • Interestingly, Sweeney remembered Balor's face as that of Mr. Wednesday, possibly implying that Balor was Odin's incarnation in Ireland.
    • Lugh's spear is one of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
  • Neil Gaiman explained that, to create the character of Mad Sweeney for the television series, he sent a long email to the production team of the show detailling the backstory of Mad Sweeney "starting as a God and being a King and a bird and other things on the way...". [2]
  • When Mad Sweeney shouts in Old Irish in "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney," the rough translation is: "Why does the shit always happen to me? Have I not suffered enough? I am not bad! I am not!!!"[3]
  • the term Leprechaun is sometimes thought to be connected with or derived from the name of the God Lugh.
  • the exact relation between the God Lugh and the King Buile Suibhne is not explained in the Book and does not come from his legend.It's possible that within the Mythology the mortal King of Ireland was seen as the actual incarnation of the highest Celtic God.
  • When interviewed by The Knockturnal, Pablo Schreiber identified Mad Sweeney as a "demigod" that used to be worsipped by Irish people before being abandonned on the shores of America. He also said that Mad Sweeney's quest for his gold coin (his "life force" and "spark") could be used as a metaphor for how people sometimes lose their mojo after giving it to somebody, but then find it back in someone else. [4]