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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"

Mad Sweeney is a leprechaun.

BackgroundEdit

Mad Sweeney was a medieval Irish king who 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. He was brought to America by Essie MacGowan and others like her. He eventually lost his accent after living in America for so long.

Significance in seriesEdit

"The Bone Orchard" Edit

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" Edit

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" Edit

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" Edit

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" Edit

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" Edit

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."

Physical appearance Edit

Mad Sweeney is described as having a short, red beard and mustache with "pale blue eyes." He is lanky and taller than Shadow, who has to look up at him.

Powers and abilities Edit

  • Object-based power: Mad Sweeney's "lucky" gold coin imbibes him with supernatural strength and unnatural prosperity. When he loses his coin to Shadow, he loses his luck as seen in "The Secret of Spoons."
  • Animal Communication: In "Git Gone," Mad Sweeney is shown communicating with Mr. Wednesday's ravens. He also converses with one of Wednesday's ravens in "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney."

Notes and trivia Edit

  • 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 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.
  • 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!!!"[2]

References Edit

  1. http://tvline.com/2016/05/06/american-gods-sean-harris-leaving-mad-sweeney-recast-exit-starz/
  2. https://twitter.com/schreiber_pablo/status/875776234923347969

I only met Mad Sweeney twice, alive. The first time I thought he was a world class jerk with the devil in him. The second time I thought he was a major fuckup and I gave him the money to kill himself. He showed me a coin trick I don't remember how to do, gave me some bruises, and claimed he was a leprechaun. Rest in peace, Mad Sweeney.

Shadow Moon at his wake, Chapter Eight

Mad Sweeney is a leprechaun.

BackgroundEdit

Mad Sweeney is originally from Ireland and was guardian of a sacred rock there over three thousand years ago. He was brought to America by a girl from Bantry Bay and eventually lost his accent after living in America for so long.

Significance in narrativeEdit

Chapter Two Edit

Mad Sweeney arrives at Jack's Crocodile Bar in Nottamun and joins Shadow and Mr. Wednesday. Shadow begins doing a coin trick and Mad Sweeney then performs his own coin trick, making gold coins magically appear from all over and collecting them into an empty glass. He drops the coins into his pocket where they disappear once more. Shadow is impressed and thinks it is a variation on the "Miser's Dream." He challenges Shadow to fight him and he'll reveal how he did the trick and then starts a fight with Shadow when Shadow won't accept. Later, Shadow discovers Mad Sweeney had given him a gold coin. It is this coin that raises Laura Moon from the grave.

Chapter Eight Edit

Shadow again encounters Mad Sweeney in Cairo, IL. Shadow goes out for a walk in the early morning after it had snowed the night before. He sees Mad Sweeney under a bridge smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. He asks Mad Sweeney what is wrong, and Sweeney says that he made a major mistake. He refers to the coin he gave Shadow when they first met at the bar, the coin that Shadow gave to Laura, and says that it was the wrong coin, reserved only for royalty. He asks Shadow to give him the coin back and tells him he’d give him as many coins as he wants, but Shadow explains that he no longer has the coin. Sweeney explains that Wednesday had asked him to pick a fight with Shadow at the bar to see “what he was made of”, and warns him against working for Wednesday, who he refers to as Grimnir. He is also shivering, and Shadow recognizes the shiver of a junkie in withdrawal. Mad Sweeney asks for some money for “a ticket out of here”, and Shadow gives him a twenty.

When he returns, Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel are hosting a service for Lila Goodchild, and they ask Shadow to pick up a body the police phoned about. When he arrives at the site, he sees Mad Sweeney frozen with a twenty-dollar bottle of whiskey in his lap. On the way back to the funeral home, Mad Sweeney talks to him, saying that Shadow killed him. Shadow, however, insists that it’s the cold and the alcohol that killed him, not Shadow. Sweeney also asks that he get one more meal.

That night, Shadow, Ibis, and Jacquel set an extra place on the table and pour everyone expensive Irish whiskey. Ibis tells Mad Sweeney's story: he was made to protect a precious stone in Ireland, and was brought to America by a young Irish girl looking for a place to make money. They all get drunk to the point that Sweeney starts adding to the conversation and Sweeney reminds Shadow how to do the coin trick: you take the coin out of nowhere, out of the hoard, and out of your mind.

Physical appearance Edit

Mad Sweeney is described as having a short, red beard and mustache with "pale blue eyes." He is lanky and taller than Shadow, who has to look up at him.

  • He wears a denim jacket covered with sew-on patches, one of them showing two vultures on a dead branch and beneath them, the words PATIENCE MY ASS! I'M GOING TO KILL SOMETHING!
  • He wears a T-shirt which says: IF YOU CAN'T EAT IT, SMOKE IT, OR SNORT IT...THEN F*CK IT! and a baseball cap which states: THE ONLY WOMAN I HAVE EVER LOVED WAS ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE... MY MOTHER!

Notes and trivia Edit

  • Mr. Ibis reveals 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.
    • Most Irish focused on local myths such as the Bean Sidhe, the banshee, who came to wail at the walls of a house where death soon would be, and Saint Bride, who was once Bridged of the two sisters (each of the three was a Brigid, each was the same woman), and the tales of Finn, of Oisin, of Conan the Bald, and the leprechauns (which were actually the tallest, not the smallest, of the mount folk).
  • He smokes Lucky Strikes
  • He drinks Southern Comfort and Coke, instead of Guinness. "Stereotypes. You have to learn to think outside the box, there is a lot more to Ireland than Guinness" said Mad Sweeney.


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


  • Jack's Crocodile Bar - Shadow and Mad Sweeney

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