It could be argued that the most WTF thing that’s happened in Preacher, is that AMC’s hit TV show got made at all. One of the most critically acclaimed and popular comics of the ‘90s, Preacher was a no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-wall socio-religious satire that revelled in its depiction of gratuitous violence and sexual depravity. Far from a one-note wonder, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s singular creation was also praised for its keen insight into our relationship to God, its razor-sharp lampooning of organized religion and its undeniable, good ol’ boy values. It was a series of immense heart and supreme craft that resonated with readers on multiple levels.
None of that tends to matter to the executives of a major television network, though. Surely no self-respecting studio exec would take a chance on such a risky venture. Boasting a cast of morally reprehensible protagonists and morbidly evil villains, Preacher isn’t what you would call mainstream fare. And yet, here we are in Season Two of a series that continues to defy expectations and push the boundaries of “acceptable” network television. There have been countless examples of what we lovingly call WTF moments in Preacher, but we feel these 15 jaw-droppers are some of the most depraved, subversive and downright shocking scenes so far. Hold onto your hats, pardners, because the poop is literally going to hit the fan.
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for the Preacher TV series produced by AMC.
15 CRUISE MISSILE
To say that Preacher started with a bang would be something of a gross understatement. In the pilot episode, when Genesis first appears on Earth, it attempts to take up residence in a few different hosts before finding a home in Jesse Custer. First up was a devout African minister, who was unable to contain Genesis’ immense power and literally exploded all over his congregation as the entity exited his body. Next up was a Russian magister, who Genesis also found lacking in some defining way, with similar results.
The third candidate Genesis enters was notorious celebrity and Scientologist, Tom Cruise. Like the other two failed holy men, Genesis found him an unsuitable host, violently (and publicly) scattering his guts all over a Christian Scientist service. Although lacking in details, the scene served notice to viewers of the show’s capacity for sick, subversive humor and set the tone for the entire series.
14 MILE HIGH MASSACRE
In the comics, the Irish vampire Cassidy was one of Preacher’s most beloved characters. A creature of surprising depth and nuance, Cassidy’s capacity for unquestioned loyalty is only equalled by his capacity for violence. Our first introduction to Cassidy on the small screen comes 30,000 feet up in a private jet, where he is ambushed by a squad of unfortunate vampire hunters.
As soon as he uncovers their true identities, Cassidy dispatches his adversaries with unparalleled ferocity and creativity, carving a path of destruction through them using everything from a golf club to a broken wine bottle (from which he pours a draft of life-sustaining blood). The scene culminates with Cassidy plummeting to earth from 30,000 feet up and later recuperating with a little help from an unsuspecting bovine.
13 SACRIFICIAL LAMB
As the well-meaning, doormat of a mayor of Annville, Miles Person found himself leading a town of deviant deadbeats, who really didn’t deserve his good intentions. Constantly steamrolled by town patriarch Odin Quincannon and used by church organist Emily Woodrow as little more than a babysitter with benefits, you had to know things weren’t going to end well for poor Miles.
When Jesse leaves Cassidy to burn up in the harsh Texas sun after realizing his best pal is a true-to-life bloodsucker, he’s saved by Tulip, who attempts to kickstart his regeneration using an inadequate diet of cute little critters. When Tulip passes Cassidy’s care over to Emily, the god-fearing organist realizes she’ll have to increase his nutritional intake. In one of the most chilling scenes of the series, Emily sacrifices her lap dog Miles to Cassidy’s insatiable hunger, bringing an end to one of the series’ only characters with any redeeming qualities.
12 GREEN ACRES IS NOT THE PLACE TO BE
Odin Quincannon is not a man to be trifled with. The town of Annville depends upon his methane plant for its very survival. When Annville’s mayor Miles Person approaches Quincannon with a proposal to shift the town onto a more ecologically-friendly path by partnering with the Green Acres Group, he is initially met with scorn and a stream of the patriarch’s own urine. Later, after a run-in with Jesse, Odin seems to have found his path to God thanks to the power of Genesis.
However, Odin’s insane worship of the God of Meat overrides any love he might have had for the traditional Christian God. He sets up a meeting in his office with the good folks from Green Acres and after serving them a final libation, mows them all down with a high-powered automatic rifle, serving them up to his bloody god in a heap of bullet-ridden meat.
11 ODIN QUINCANNON'S EPIPHANY
Once upon a time, Odin Quincannon wasn't such a vile, insane S.O.B. Long before he became an acolyte of the God of Meat, he was a true family man, who loved his wife and daughter very much. After an unfortunate skiing accident, in which his entire family plummeted to their deaths in a faulty cable car, Quincannon immediately spiralled into madness, transforming into the sociopathic king of poop and meat we came to know and revile throughout the series.
In one of the show’s most disturbing and stomach-churning scenes, we witness via flashback how Quincannon had his family’s remains shipped directly to his office, where he compared their guts to a dead cow’s in front of Jesse’s dad, demanding he denounce God because there was no spirit in human flesh. We were all just meat.
10 ANNVILLE HITS THE FAN
It’s not often that a major television show kills off its entire supporting cast in one fell swoop but that’s exactly what happened in the season finale of Preacher. Let’s set the stage, shall we? After the entire town discovers that the God they thought they knew and loved was missing, things took a rather demoralizing turn for the citizens of Annville. Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy bail on the town and hit the road before the literal poop hits the fan.
In response, Annville goes mad, embracing sin and depravity in all its forms; culminating in the death of Pappy at the methane waste plant that powered the town, during an ill-considered impromptu BDSM session. With no one but a ball-gagged prostitute to monitor the methane levels, the build-up of gas reaches critical. Subsequently, a massive poop-storm erases Annville from the map, in what has to be the largest, most catastrophic fart captured on film.
9 HIGH TIMES
In a slight departure from death, destruction and despair, our next entry features the lovable Fiore, in his guise as the Amazing Ganesh, partying it up with the ever-affable Irish vampire Cassidy. Tasked with getting Fiore to call off the contract with the Saint of Killers, Cassidy takes a decidedly oblique approach to regain the fallen angel’s confidence. Hopped up on a surefire cocktail of hard drugs and free-flowing alcohol, this oddest of couples spends the ensuing two hours and 45 minutes cavorting about Fiore’s hotel room.
Fun is the order of the day as the pair play basketball, read Archie comics in the hot tub and relax while ensconced in a self-made fort built from linen and pillows. Delightfully madcap, the scene serves as a welcome counterpoint to the mountains of bodies piled up in previous episodes and proves nothing brings two people together like heroin, hard liquor and Archie.
8 ARSEFACE GOES TO HELL
One of Preacher’s many defining moments comes just past the midway point of the first season. After a knock-down, drag-out slobberknocker involving a trio of angels, Jesse has just about come to the end of his spiritual rope. While preparing for a Sunday service during which he intends to use the Word on his parish, Jesse and Eugene Root, aka Arseface, have an interesting conversation about forcing people to embrace God.
Suffering from his own crisis of faith, it is nonetheless Eugene who has the right of it: Jesse shouldn’t use his power to force people to worship God. They have to choose their own path to God. Near-mad with power, Jesse loses control of his emotions and in a moment of weakness and anger screams, “GO TO HELL, EUGENE!” It’s a pivotal moment of the series, signalling Jesse’s temporary descent into self-righteous megalomania.
7 OPEN HEART BUTCHERY
If the pilot episode of Preacher opened with a gory bang, then it closed with an equally shocking climax. After pestering Jesse all episode about the difficulties of dealing with his overbearing mother, Annville resident Ted finally hit upon the preacher’s last nerve with yet another droning monologue detailing the trials and tribulations tainting his filial relationship.
Tired of Ted’s incessant play-by-play analysis of his mistreatment, Jesse unknowingly uses the Word to tell the annoying little milksop to “be brave, tell her the truth. Open your heart.” Ted makes the long trip to Florida to confront his mother in her nursing home and follows Jesse words to the letter. Pulling out a kitchen knife, he cuts a hole in his chest and literally opens his heart to his mother, yanking out the still-beating organ right in front of her blood-spattered eyes.
6 ABSENTEE FATHER
In both the Preacher comics and the TV show, God is something of an absentee father. In the final episode of Season One, Jesse uses a purloined angel phone to call Heaven in front of his entire Annville congregation. The plan is to prove God’s existence to Annville’s dysfunctional deviants and put him to the question. Eventually, it becomes clearly evident that the majestic, white-bearded figure on the other end of the holy VCC is in fact a big, fat fraud.
When Jesse uses the Word to force the imposter to admit no one in Heaven knows where the big man is, he’s dragged away from the call by his angelic brethren. Although the scene is primarily played for laughs, this blackly comic tipping point has drastic repercussions for the residents of Annville, precipitating the destruction of the entire town, after it descends into a spiritual whirlpool of sin and vice.
5 NOT ENOUGH GUN
In the second episode of Season Two, Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy are once again confronted by the unstoppable Angel of Death known as the Saint of Killers while resting up at the Relax Inn. After Genesis fails to stop the Saint, Jesse sics a pack of down-home Texas gun enthusiasts armed to the teeth with automatic rifles and grenade launchers on the divine juggernaut.
After surviving the impact of an onrushing delivery van, a hail of bullets from the gun nut brigade and a direct hit with a grenade launched by a soccer mom, the Saint proceeds to mow down anything in his path. Heads explode, limbs disintegrate and blood and organs fly through the Texas night. The slaughter only ends when the Saint realizes his quarry has escaped him yet again. He dispatches his last motel victim (already missing an arm) by plowing his head through a vending machine. Anybody got a quarter?
4 THE MANY DEATHS OF THE AMAZING GANESH
Reeling from the death of his beloved partner DeBlanc, the second episode of Season Two sees a despondent Fiore fall even further from Heaven than he already had in Season One. Desperate to join his friend in death, Fiore attempts to commit suicide multiple times at the Mumbai Sky Tower casino. Although he fails each time, in a bizarre twist of fate, his last attempt—public self-electrocution during a lounge singer’s act—turns him into a local celebrity, after he reappears onstage, hale and whole.
Soon, he is the casino’s top draw, posing as a dour-faced illusionist, who conquers death for his depraved legions of fans. Set to Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life,” Fiore suffers through a startling array of horrible deaths. He gets sawn in two, decapitated and shot through the head with an arrow. Bleakly comical and gratuitously violent, the many deaths of the Amazing Ganesh almost warrant a list all their own.
3 A SAINT WALKS INTO A SALOON…
In the penultimate episode of Season One, we finally get to see the full origin of the Saint of Killers. After suffering the deaths of his family due to the actions of the citizens of Ratwater, the Saint returns to the debauched, vice-ridden town for his signature brand of cold, hard vengeance. Armed with nothing but his trademark twin Colt revolvers and his cavalry saber, the Saint murders every patron in the saloon, saving the bar’s singer for last.
Blood, guts and limbs fly across the bar as the implacable killer deals death with casual efficiency, sealing his fate as Heaven’s divine assassin. As the dust settles and the Saint moseys up to the bar for a shot of whisky, we discover that he’s actually been reliving the Ratwater massacre for an eternity, trapped in the depths of Hell in a sadistic cycle of violence, awaiting his next targets.
2 THE SAINT OF COP-KILLERS
Season Two’s premiere sees the Saint pick up where the previous season left off. Hired by DeBlanc and Fiore to track down and kill Jesse, the Saint catches up to them on the road during a rollicking police chase set to the tune of Dexys Midnight Runners' “Come On Eileen.” In a scene inspired by the comic, the Saint plows through a squad of highway patrol cops. Hopelessly outgunned despite what appears to be their superior firepower, the Saint massacres Texas’ finest without hesitation, remorse or even very much effort.
Our favorite moment (don’t judge us!) occurs when the sheriff—already suffering from a painful case of Maced genitalia—has the top of his melon blown off during the Saint’s opening volley. Not only a scene of abject horrific violence, this sequence also synchs the series’ content up more closely with the source material, much to the delight of viewers familiar with the comic.
1 THROWDOWN AT THE SUNDOWNER
Truth be told, virtually any of the entries on our list could take top spot, but the angelic throwdown at Annville’s Sundowner Motel piles up the corpses like no other scene in the series. Outright ludicrous in its gore-soaked scope, the scene depicts a divine four-way battle royale featuring Adelphi angels DeBlanc and Fiore, Jesse Custer and a relentless Seraphim murderously intent on retrieving Genesis.
Because angels can’t truly die and have a habit of leaving their vacant human shells behind after their termination, the corpses fill the tiny motel room in grotesque heaps as Jesse and the Adelphi struggle to contain their foe without killing her. Finally, Fiore manages to “disarticulate” the Seraphim using a chainsaw, without actually killing her, leaving the angel to be found eventually by Sheriff Hugo Root, who understandably (if a little too eagerly) puts her out her misery.
What’s your favorite WTF moment of Preacher so far? Let us know in the Comments!