Special Features – What Do The Pub Names in The World’s End Mean?

Luke Owen looks at the pubs in The World’s End and what their names might mean….


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WORLD’S END

If there is one thing that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg do very well when writing scripts, it’s foreshadowing. They always drop in little nuggets that will either give you a clue of how the film will progress or make a joke that you’ll laugh at later on because the punchline finally arrives.
The best example of this of course is Shaun of the Dead, in which Ed tells the recently dumped Shaun exactly what they’ll do the following day – only it ends up being surviving instead of drinking. They have a “Bloody Mary” in the morning, a bite at the King (Phillip)’s Head and finally “shots at the bar” as the zombies pour in.
The World’s End has two examples of this. Gary King’s opening montage narration explaining the events of that fateful day in 1990 follows the exact same pattern when they try in 20 years later. They get into fights at the same time, get thrown out at the same points and lose their friends at the same points.
However the second example, and the one I want to look at today, are the pub names and how they relate to the plot. As soon as the movie was announced we all knew the pub names were sure to have double meanings. And while we can’t know for sure what they mean until the DVD comes out and Wright and Pegg explain in detail, we can at least speculate…

Pub 1 – The First Post

This one should be fairly easy to work out.

While of course that name refers to the fact that the pub used to be a mail service, (until a businessman felt that weary travellers might prefer to “get twatted”), the given name for The World’s End most likely means that this simply is first pub they visit on their crawl. As far as I can remember, there isn’t anything in the following conversation that would suggest otherwise. Unless there is some deeper meaning in regards to the ‘Starbucks’ treatment of small town pubs. Which leads us too…




Pub 2 – The Old Familiar
This won’t be the first pub on our list to have a double meaning in my estimations.

The name either refers to the ‘Starbucks’ treatment of local pubs, or the arrival of Oliver’s sister Sam. I lean more towards the former as Wright uses the same location, the same blocking and the same camera movements to show just how all pubs are getting the Weatherspoons make over to remove their unique and rustic charms. Everything looks and feels the same as the previous pub – hence The Old Familiar.

The second option could equally be true. The arrival of Sam brings out some old familiar feelings for Steven, who has been in love with her since they left school. The same can be said for Gary who wishes to continue their disable toilet adventures that they started back in 1990, going back to The Old Familiar. As I said, I lean towards the Starbucks argument, but the other two reasons would not surprise me.
Pub 3 – The Famous Cock
There isn’t a great deal of story being told in this pub. The only thing of note is the introduction of Crazy Basil and his wild stories of The Bermuda Triangle and underwater Nazis. However he is not The Famous Cock – Gary is.
It seems that back in 1990, Gary was thrown out of The Famous Cock for being a drunken lout and that ban is still being upheld. The boys are once again denied service because Gary King is a massive Famous Cock.

Pub 4 – The Cross Hands

Another pub that could be up for double interpretation.
The first would be that The Cross Hands is the first pub where we see our heroes actually work together as a team. Up until this point they have mostly been feeling sorry for Gary as the placate to his childish adventure, but when their backs against the wall they cross hands (if you will) to fight off the Robots That Aren’t Actually Robots (the pub sign backs up this argument).
However, the more likely scenario is that the name refers to the Robot’s method of attack – stretching their hands out to grab the victim’s faces in order to get their DNA. You could say that their “hands” are very “cross”.
No?
Pub 5 – The Good Companions
After their initial fight with the Robots, the boys decide that the only course of action is to carry on The Golden Mile so as not to arouse suspicion that they know what is going on. To do this, they walk down the street as best friends to the sounds of The Doors, heading towards the next pub.

In said pub, they all walk to the bar together, sink their pints together, finish each others sentences and stumble back out the way they came.

Just like all Good Companions do.
The pub signs also feels a lot like our heroes to right? The four sad fools following the one happy fool?


Pub 6 – The Trusty Servant
Look – another double interpretation pub!
As the boys arrive to the pub, Oliver (who back in 1990 dropped out at this point), heads off to the toiler while Gary tries to get information from The Reverend Green, a local weed dealer who they used to by drugs from back in the day. During the conversation, they semi-discuss the Robot’s intentions and how they are not slaves. However during this conversation, the Reverend gets a phone call which seems to spell out his doom. Has he now become a Trusty Servant?
It is important to note that his is where Oliver gets assimilated (for lack of a better term) and is replaced with a robot version of himself. Which could subtly suggest that in fact O-Man is the Trusty Servant that the pub is referring to, and not the Reverend.

Pub 7 – The Two Headed Dog

Quite an easy on this one.
During their time in this pub, they run into Sam again who is out with the Twins – who later reveal themselves to be the robots and therefore The Two Headed Dog.

Seems a bit harsh to call them dogs though…

All happy with that one?

Pub 8 – The Mermaid

One of the more subtle pub names to work out.
The Mermaid is a nightclub in Newton Haven where the boys encounter a school themed disco, Steven learns more about how the Robots get their DNA and – more importantly – Gary, Pete and Andy get trapped by the infamous Marmalade Sandwich: two blondes and a redhead. These women, who haven’t changed since 1990 apparently, start to dance, kiss and lick our heroes with an almost hypnotic quality – not unlike the siren’s call that Mermaids used to trap pirates.
The Marmalade Sandwich are also on the pub sign too.

Pub 9 – The Beehive

Another subtle one here.
This is not only the pub in which we discover that Oliver is now ‘one of them’, but it’s also where we learn just what the Robots are trying to accomplish. Our heroes get tempted and teased into joining ‘them’ by their old school teacher, Mr. Shepard (his name also referring to how he is trying to flock them all together).
Essentially what the robots want is for everyone on the same level and work together as a cohesive unit of peace and harmony – just like the bees do in their hive. Hence the name of the pub, The Beehive.
You could also argue that the fight scene that follows sees our heroes fight off the robots as the swarm like bees, but I believe it’s the other reason.
Pub 10 – The King’s Head
This is the only pub on the list that I’m really not sure on. So little happens here (other than a great subtle nod to Shaun of the Dead‘s fruit machine) that it’s hard to work out what the name refers to.
Obviously, the King in the name is Gary King but what is about Gary’s head that the pub name refers to? My only guess could be that this is the pub where Gary finally loses it. The drunk adventure has finally taken over him as he desperately wants to finish The Golden Mile. So, even with certain death following him, he carries on drinking because it’s all he has left.
So, you could say that he loses his head? As in, The King’s Head?
No?
Pub 11 – The Hole in the Wall
Aside from The Two Headed Dog and the upcoming final pub, this is one of the easier ones to figure out. Although it doesn’t become obvious until the very end of the scene.

With Andy trying to chase down Gary (while fighting off the advancing Robots), Steven gets into Gary’s car in an effort to get out of Newton Haven. Sadly for him though it doesn’t quite work out as he crashes through the wall of the pub and (seemingly) get’s taken by the Robots.

A car in through the wall certainly creates a hole doesn’t it?

Pub 12 – The World’s End

Now this one I really struggled with.
Just kidding.
This is not just the pub where Gary, Andy and the not-dead Steven finally put an end to the Network’s plans to take over the world, it’s also the pub that leads to the world’s descent back into the dark ages. Quite simply put, this is where everything ends. This is The World’s End.

As I said at the start of this, Wright and Pegg are very good at dropping in subtle hints when putting scripts together – and The World’s End is no different. These pub names have been given names for a reason and it’s a lot of fun to try and work out just what they mean.

So there you have it. I might be very wrong with my estimations, but it’s fun to speculate before the DVD comes out. And should I be right on some of them  I can have a sense of smugness about myself for working out their little clues. Or I’ll be proven wrong and this was all a waste of time.
What do you think the pub names in The World’s End mean?
  • Joe

    For me, the King’s Head pub addressed the idea of Gary being the king of Newton Haven again as this is the first time that he has made it to the 10th pub on the golden mile. It is from here that his eyes are truly set on completing the crawl and the image on the billboard of the pub looks surprisingly like Gary King (minus the large curly wig)

  • Joe

    For me, the King’s Head pub addressed the idea of Gary being the king of Newton Haven again as this is the first time that he has made it to the 10th pub on the golden mile. It is from here that his eyes are truly set on completing the crawl and the image on the billboard of the pub looks surprisingly like Gary King (minus the large curly wig)

    • Luke Owen

      A very good shout actually. Thanks!

      • Alec

        Also, Gary King is unconscious at the start and comes round to pour himself a pint, so the King Head is where King’s head gets better?

      • Alec

        Also, Gary King is unconscious at the start and comes round to pour himself a pint, so the King Head is where King’s head gets better?

        • Luke Owen

          That is also a good shout. As I said, it was the one I didn’t really have much of an idea for.

          • Rich

            Nice write up, Got most of them myself too. As for the kings head isn’t that where andy and gary come to blows and we find out gary is a patient with mental problems, hence the kings head. My thoughts anyway

          • Luke Owen

            That’s not until The World’s End. In the King’s Head he gives them the keys to the Beast and tries to carry on the Mile.

          • David Booth

            I feel that you have totally missed the point on ‘The Old Familliar’ The name seems obvious to me, as they enter the pub it is identical to the previous pub rendering it ‘familliar’

          • JD

            that is what he said?

          • Luke Owen

            That’s not until The World’s End. In the King’s Head he gives them the keys to the Beast and tries to carry on the Mile.

          • Rich

            Nice write up, Got most of them myself too. As for the kings head isn’t that where andy and gary come to blows and we find out gary is a patient with mental problems, hence the kings head. My thoughts anyway

        • Luke Owen

          That is also a good shout. As I said, it was the one I didn’t really have much of an idea for.

    • Luke Owen

      A very good shout actually. Thanks!

    • Joley

      The King’s head foreshadows Gary ripping off the head of his younger self, holding The King’s head. C’mon, guys!

  • Andy C

    I thought it was The King’s Head, as shortly after this pint he bangs his head really hard against the wooden beam to prove he isn’t a blank?

    • G

      Didn’t he bang his head on the beam in the smoke shack (Bowls club place)?

  • JD

    Great write up! The King’s Head was the only I wasn’t completely sure about too.

  • Dane Whitman

    This is excellent work. I would add that the good companions shows actors masks which fits with the performance they give of normal drinkers in there. I would also say that the mermaids is the clearest as it is very similar to the Odessey. So much so I wondered if all the pubs might point to that poem: cyclops, lotus eaters, Circe, etc.

  • Amedeus

    Going off of what Joe said about the King’s Head sign looking like Gary King, I think it’s worth noting that The Trusty Servant looks like the Reverend, down to the facial hair. I can’t remember precisely what the other two guys looked like who joined the conversation opposite Gary from the Reverend, but I’m willing to bet that they’re the two behind him on the sign, as well.

    There seem to be a lot of little bits like that in these signs. If you look at The Cross Hands, the tiles sort of bring to mind a bathroom tile, and there’s some blue stuff on the sign across a couple of the hands and arms, indicating how they now have “blood” on their hands, so to speak.

    In fact, in these specific images you’ve got here, there’s also blue on The Two Headed Dog and The Bee Hive, both places where they wound up getting into fights. And of course, the final three are presented as being on fire, being the ones where Gary got all fired up to finish the crawl, and also the point of no return following The Bee Hive, where the entire town was actively chasing them.

    Edit: I’ve also just noticed that the king in The King’s Head has some red on his lip, like he’s been hit. I could be remembering wrong, but I’m pretty sure that this is the place where they bring Gary unconscious after Andy hits him and knocks him out.

  • Vulcan With a Mullet

    I noticed how much the Trusty Servant sign looked like Reverend Green too. The Kings Head went by too fast in the film, but now I see it definitely looks like Gary. The guys did an excellent job on all the elements of this allegory. It’s like “The Pilgrim’s Progress” crossed with “Village of the Damned”!

  • Noah

    I thought the kings head was referring to the fact that Gary was the only one who had a beer at that pub. The foam on the top of a beer is called the head, so it is the “Kings Head”.

    • Joley

      Gary rips the head off his younger self and holds his own head, aka, The King’s head. How does everyone NOT GET THIS?!?!? Wright just foreshadowed a simple joke.

      • Derek

        Because Edgar has stated that that the pubsigns foreshadow what happens IN THAT PUB, not the next one. It refers to Gary King being the only one to get a drink there.

      • dsfdsfds

        That’s not till The World’s End though. It has to be something that happened in the pub.

  • Duhbviously

    The King’s Head refers to the scene where Gary smashes his head repeatedly against a post. It doesn’t matter that this doesn’t take place in the actual pub. The names of the pubs are laying out the outline of the story, just like that opening dialogue from Shaun of the Dead.

  • Peter

    What about the Rising Sun, at the end?

    • Be Bo

      My feeling is that he wants to revive the human human race from the new dark ages. He is the the rise of a new King. To be honest I’m slightly vague on why he’s so ready to kill humans, but Wright’s foreshadowing is there. Andy spoke of having to have the balls to order a water amidst a bunch of drunk paint faced (tattooed) football fans (humans?). He’s given up his crutch and wants to rise to what it takes. The rest is again vague, why does he have blanks with him (granted I think they were the ‘new kids’ as a posed to the new ver of his old friends)? And why does he seem so ready to kill humans? That said, I think he’s seen the light and wants to bring back a little of the ‘robot’s’ civility back. Symbolically meaning he’s grown up and realizes that (in my feeble way of describing) we need a little of the fucked up human and robot society for this world to work. And now that he’s concored the golden mile is new quest to resurrect/create a new world. That’s a just theory, right?

  • Derek

    Noticed something just now you didn’t mention; every pub where they actually fight the robots, the pub sign has subtle spatters of blue on it. The Cross Hands, the Two Headed Dog, the Beehive and The Hole in the Wall. None of the other signs have these spatters.

    • Evan McArdle

      Furthermore, note how the last three signs have flames on them? The last 3 pubs is where the stakes are raised and the end of the world is more important than The World’s End to everyone but Gary.

  • Rob

    I may have the order wrong here, but wasn’t The Hole in the Wall also the pub that everyone but Gary wanted to skip, but then realized that they’d have to cut through it anyways? As in, there was a wall between them and their destination and the pub was the ‘hole’ in that wall?

  • Râ Zörbak

    SPOILER :
    I also noticed that the pub Gary and his robotic companions entered in the end of the movie, to ask for a glass of water before picking a fight, is named “The Rising Sun”.
    Because even after the World’s End, there is a new beginning, a new day coming.
    And here, we clearly Gary King engaged in a new quest (more noble this time) full of courageous acts and sword-fights in the middle of a new Dark Age, like a real King seeking a graal.
    After all, At World’s End wasn’t a story about the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning !

  • M. Scott Anderson

    I think it’s also interesting to note that in the fight at the Two Headed Dog, The final twin standing has four legs on their body.

  • Bill

    They did not “come up with the pub names” Simon Pegg said himself that these were all real pubs. He also mentioned he and his wife met in the worlds end

  • Simon

    Isn’t the king’s head mentioned in Shaun of the dead? (“We’ll have a bite at the king’s head”) I guess the name works as a reference as well as an indication of plot :).

  • Alex Sheard

    I thought the king’s head one was because there was a line where steven asks gary ‘have you lost your head?’