Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week’s bae is Anthony Crowley!
Who Is Anthony Crowley?
Anthony Crowley – whose real name is just Crowley – is one of the primary characters of Amazon’s Good Omens, based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Crowley was originally Crawley, the demon who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Taking the form of a snake, Crawley was the catalyst for humanity’s fall. Later, on the walls of Eden, however, he wondered if he had done what God wanted. He spoke with the angelic guardian of Eden, Aziraphale, about the philosophical implications of their actions – Crawley providing the temptation, and Aziraphale protecting the humans.
After his success at Eden, Crawley was left on Earth to corrupt the humans, leading to more souls for hell. He spends millennia on Earth, continuously running into Aziraphale, who is his counterpart for heaven. The two strike up an unlikely friendship, and Crawley – who takes on the name Crowley instead – suggests a deal. Hell doesn’t really follow up on Crowley’s specific actions; they’re just interested in results. Since he and Aziraphale keep, essentially, canceling each other out, Crowley has a proposition: just do nothing and tell their respective superiors everything is fine.
Aziraphale is a bit more loyal than Crowley, and is hesitant to mislead heaven. However, he sees that he and Crowley are in effect doing nothing, since they keep a balance between good and evil on Earth. Arrangement in place, Crowley and Aziraphale trade off on miracles, blessing and tempting in turn. Crowley continues to make a name for himself in hell, where the head office is pleased with his “work.” He takes on the name Anthony Crowley to blend in with the humans and sets about basically being as annoying as possible. He’s not really evil, just frustrating enough to make a difference.
Unfortunately, Crowley does his job – or at least, appears to do his job – a little too well. Since he’s somewhat of a star in hell, he is called upon for a monumentally important task: delivering the antichrist to an unwitting human family. This is the Big Plan, the moment all hell has been waiting for. Once the antichrist comes of age and comes into his power, he will spark Armageddon, leading to the final battle between heaven and hell. The other demons see this as their chance to finally win over their angelic opponents. Crowley is a little less enthusiastic.
Crowley has gotten used to his life on Earth, particularly his friendship with Aziraphale. The two have become rather attached to humanity after several millennia among them. Though they are supposed to eagerly await the final battle with their respective sides, they instead decide to do what they can to avert the apocalypse, saving humanity and their mundane lives in the process. They decided to raise the antichrist to be neutral, neither evil nor good, by each influencing young Warlock. Crowley takes a position as Warlock’s nanny, and Aziraphale, a gardener.
For eleven years, Crowley tells hell all is going well, while secretly working with Aziraphale to ensure that Warlock won’t destroy all of humanity when he turns eleven. It’s old hat for Crowley, who’s been lying to hell for at least a few thousand years about just what he’s been doing on Earth. Then, when Warlock turns eleven, the final moment arrives. Will he embrace his evil heritage, or will their plan have stopped things? It turns out that Crowley had misplaced the antichrist, and young Warlock was just a normal preteen. Aziraphale and Crowley must scramble to find a misplaced antichrist and salvage their plan.
Having misplaced the antichrist, Crowley has thrown hell’s plans awry, sure, but he’s also messed up his own plans in the process. He and Aziraphale must find the antichrist, which is easier said than done. It’s been eleven years since Crowley delivered the baby to the wrong family, and the convent where the handoff took place has been destroyed. Crowley enlists the aid of Sergeant Shadwell, a strange man who has often done work for him in the past, to find the antichrist, and Aziraphale does the same. However, the stress is causing their relationship to fragment.
At this point, Crowley is ready to give up. Alpha Centauri is lovely this time of year, and it seems like a good place to wait out the coming apocalypse. However, Aziraphale won’t abandon the humans. They have a big fight, and things seem to be over. Hell comes for Crowley, having finally realized his “work” is shoddy. He dispatches the demons as best he can, and then goes to Aziraphale’s bookshop to regroup, only to find the bookshop burning and Aziraphale, presumably, dead. Crowley gets drunk and prepares for oblivion, only for Aziraphale to show up as a phantom and send him to Tadfield for the antichrist.
Crowley makes it to Tadfield, despite being hampered by his own demonic interference in London traffic patterns. Aziraphale, riding along with a psychic, also shows up, and they prepare for the end – only to be completely useless after all. The apocalypse is averted through no effort on their part, since Adam, the antichrist, did turn out to be a normal kid. Crowley faces judgment in hell, but thanks to a trick with Aziraphale, survives his reckoning. The two have succeeded; they continue their normal lives on Earth and their unlikely friendship.
Why Is Anthony Crowley Bae?
For good or ill, I have had a massive crush on David Tennant since 2005, when he popped out of a blue box and said “did you miss me?” My little Whovian heart was mourning Christopher Eccleston’s ninth doctor, but it took no time at all for Tennant to capture my attention – and my heart. I’m pleased (
or am I?) to report that yes, I am still wildly into Tennant, despite Jessica Jones’ best attempts to sway me otherwise.
Tennant brings Anthony Crowley to life perfectly. He brings a wonderful dash of charisma to the lazy demon, who manages to be – deep down – a good person after all. Many have pointed out the flamboyant physicality that Tennant brings to the role, for good reason. Crowley fully comes to life on the screen thanks to a brilliant portrayal. And, hey, he’s finally ginger.
We all know the seven deadly sins (we did just spend a whole month celebrating pride). One would expect a demon – especially hell’s star demon Anthony Crowley – to embody and glorify the deadly sins at every opportunity. Yet we don’t really see Crowley bring too many of these to life. Lust isn’t even on his radar (despite what some fanfiction tries to convince me). Gluttony is far more Aziraphale’s style, despite being an angel. Greed? Pride? A little, I suppose, but not much. A case could be made for envy, as Crowley seems quite bitter about being kicked out of heaven, envious of the angels who remain.
We see a little bit of wrath with Crowley, though this is mainly him causing wrath in others due to his particularly successful brand of annoyance. The most we see him really get wrathful is when his own creations keep him from successfully reaching Tadfield, or when he thinks Aziraphale has been killed. The rest of the time, he’s pretty mellow. That’s because there is one cardinal sin that Crowley wholeheartedly embodies: sloth. Crowley is the laziest demon you’d ever meet. In the book, Crowley sleeps through most of the 19th century, despite having absolutely no need for sleep as a demon.
This is a Big Mood. Who among us would not sleep for a century if we could? Crowley is incredibly relatable because he’s lazy and tired and just wants to relax. He wants to avert the apocalypse so he can keep his comfy life. He’s famous in hell for his creative ideas, but he mostly just takes credit for humanity’s worst impulses so that he doesn’t have to do anything. When he does do something, it’s generally maximum impact for minimum effort. Crowley gets it.
Good At Heart
Sloth holds Crowley back from being a truly successful demon. He never gets off his ass enough to make a real impact on the world or on hell’s account of souls. But there’s another reason, I’d argue, that he never quite lives up to his potential as hell’s star. Crowley can’t be a truly evil demon because at heart, he’s not truly evil. Even the first action we see from Crowley is less evil than it appears. Sure, he tempted Eve and got the humans kicked out of the Garden of Eden. But even he wonders if that might just be what God wanted in the first place. Crowley seems to be part of a larger (ineffable) plan.
We see the goodness inside Crowley from time to time, particularly in his dealings with Aziraphale. Crowley has a soft spot for the angel and often does things that could be construed as pure kindness, such as saving Aziraphale from the French Revolution, or using a miracle to save Aziraphale’s prized coat after it is shot with a paintball. But the most striking example is when the mysterious Anthony Crowley shows up to save Aziraphale from a Nazi trap in World War II. Crowley kills the Nazis with their own bomb while Aziraphale miracles them to safety.
Should be all good, right? Crowley shows up, saves Aziraphale, and they escape footloose and fancy free. Except Aziraphale forgot about his prized books, which were not saved from the bomb. Or so he thinks; Crowley used a little miracle to save the books, because he knew how much Aziraphale loved them. It’s in these moments you see the truth: Crowley isn’t a bad guy. After all, he was once an angel (who didn’t fall so much as saunter vaguely downward).
What’s Not To Love About Anthony Crowley?
Good Omens is one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long time. It’s fresh and funny, with an entertaining take on the end of the world. It’s hilariously anticlimactic. The characters spend all this time working up to the apocalypse – Crowley and Aziraphale aren’t the only ones trying to prevent it, while the angels and demons are eagerly awaiting it. Then, in the end, Armageddon is averted because of the innate decency of an eleven year old boy. Our “heroes” were nothing of the sort, and did nothing to save the day, despite trying their best.
But despite the anticlimax, Good Omens is absolutely delightful. I’d argue that’s because of the anticlimax. The show isn’t so focused on these mighty heroes doing everything they can to save the world. Instead, it’s focused on these two flawed, petty characters messing everything up. We get to really know Crowley and Aziraphale through their failures, not their successes. And that makes them utterly relatable and likeable, much more so than perfect heroes.
Anthony Crowley is no hero. He’s a demon, who has devoted his life to making humanity just a little bit more miserable. Crowley takes responsibility for a lot of awful things (though it’s debatable how much he did, and how much he just took credit for). But at his heart, Anthony Crowley is not a bad guy. He’s a lazy mess who doesn’t want to see his cozy life end. But he also wants to save others, particularly Aziraphale, and he was once an angel. He’s not good. In fact, he’d probably threaten you if you said such a thing. But he’s not bad. Anthony Crowley is that perfect middle ground, a relatable character who just wants to chill out. Is that too much to ask?