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The Depressing True Story That Helped Create American Gods' Version of Vulcan

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Starz’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods has to expand to fill a TV season and one of the ways they’re doing that is by adding more gods and going more into their backgrounds. One added character is the metal-forging god Vulcan, played by Corbin Bernsen (Psych). It turns out that his addition actually came from Gaiman.

Co-showrunner Michael Green explained to Entertainment Weekly what happened:

He’s a brand-new addition who came from an experience Neil had. He was going through a small town in Alabama where he saw a statue of Vulcan. It was a steel town and, as he told the story, there was a factory that had a series of accidents where people were killed on the job and they kept happening because an actuarial had done the numbers and realized that it was cheaper to pay out the damages to the families of people who lost people, rather than to shut down the factory long enough to repair, and that occurred to him as modern a definition of sacrifice as there might be.


Not only is that one of the bleakest true things I’ve seen in a while, it’s a perfect match for the tone of American Gods, which draws a historical link between everything that humans have worshipped in the past to everything humans worship now.

American Gods has gods that no one cares about anymore, gods that have adapted to the new world, and brand new gods. This version of Vulcan fits into the second category, with co-showrunner Bryan Fuller saying that they turned the volcano god into the gun god because “We started talking about America’s obsession with guns and gun control and, really, if you’re holding a gun in your hand, it’s a mini volcano, and perhaps, through this character, there’s a conversation to be had.”


We’re excited to see what conversation the show chooses to have between a Roman god of fire and metal and Mr. Wednesday, given that they’re both very old gods with the ability to ruin lives.