Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” doesn’t normally conjure up images of the Bible. However, the executive producers of the Fox television network show Sleepy Hollow have drawn a major connection between one of its main characters and the book of Revelation.
The Headless Horseman (also known as Death), famous for terrorizing the town of Sleepy Hollow in Irving’s story, is recognized in the new television series as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse encountered in the final book of the Bible.
The series’ main storyline centers around hero Ichabod Crane, frozen in time for 250 years, who comes to the present day to combat the Headless Horseman. Crane works with local police to help stop the horseman before he and the other three horsemen “bring about the end of days" as told in Revelation.
"I think we gravitated toward the Bible as being really relevant to our storytelling once it became about the four horsemen of the apocalypse,” executive producer Alex Kurtzman told TVGuide.com. “Everyone has different interpretations of the Bible and what it means. Ultimately, whether you believe the stories literally or you think they’re allegory or metaphor, they are about how we live our lives, and they are a search [for] meaning of why we’re here on this planet and what our purpose is as a species. ... It’s an endless well we can draw from.”
Kurtzman’s cohort, Roberto Orci, says there are several biblical references used in Sleepy Hollow.
“There are a lot of characters that play into coming in and out of the apocalypse,” Orci told TVGuide.com. “The seven signs—what’s our version of that, and who can we adapt that’s not so obvious? Even the population of Sleepy Hollow is 144,000—that’s a number from the Bible [the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel].
“There are a lot of details from the Bible, but we’re not trying to do the Bible literally. The Bible is the starting point.”
The series premiere, which aired Monday, hinted that Sleepy Hollow is a seven-year story. Kurtzman told TVGuide.com that even that concept came from the Bible.
“As we were looking through Bible stories, we came across seven years of tribulation and two witnesses chosen to work out whether or not the apocalypse will happen,” Kurtzman said. “It was perfect. It was right there for us. But that being said, I think we have very consciously made a choice to say, ‘You are going to be satisfied by each episode. Yes, if you want to wait seven years to find out whether or not the apocalypse is, OK.'
“But we did use that particular passage to pressure the network to keep it on the air, to say, ‘It’s in the Bible.’ Do you want to defy the Bible?”
Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Fox.