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Coat of arms of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Fabricati Diem Pvnc.

The Ankh-Morpork City Watch (originally the Night Watch, commonly referred to as "The Watch") is a fictional police force within the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett. The watch is based in the city-state of Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld. While Pratchett initially intended only to give the Watch a minor role in the Discworld novels, it has since made frequent appearances, and several books feature the Watchmen prominently. As Pratchett himself has stated,"I wanted to give them a spot to shine in the sun, but it turned out to be a full blown tropical vacation."

Fictional history[]

Note: Some of the information repeated below was taken from The Discworld Companion and the 1999 Discworld Diary, which had a City Watch theme, and has not been confirmed in any of the Discworld novels.

The Ankh-Morpork Watch & Ward was founded in AM 1561 by King Veltrick I. They had full copper armour and a copper shield inscribed "Fabricati Diem, Pvncti Agvnt Celeriter" ("Make the Day, the Moments Pass Quickly", Veltrick's motto). Four days later Veltrick's son assassinated him, and became Veltrick II. Since he had little interest in maintaining a police force the smart armour and equipment of the Watch quickly deteriorated.

At this time there were four separate forces: The Palace Guard, who guarded the palace; the Cable Street Particulars, who served as government intelligence; the Ward, who acted as gate-guards, thief-takers etc. during the day; and the Watch, who served the same purpose in the hours of darkness. The force comprised one commander, five captains, ten sergeants, forty corporals, lance-corporals, constables and lance-constables, and, in times of emergency, a "citizens militia" of varied size.

Public opinion of the Watches (the Ward became known as the Day Watch) was never high, and reached an all time low when a Commander, who had told the public not to take the law into their own hands, was thrown onto the Ankh with a cry of "If it's not in our hands, whose hands is it in?" The Guilds were policing themselves by this point, so the Watch was becoming increasingly irrelevant.

The Watch had a brief respite in AM 1688, following the Ankh-Morpork Civil War, when Commander Suffer-Not-Injustice Vimes and his Ironheads became the city's rulers. However, after he was deposed in favour of the Patricianship the Watch sank even further into obscurity; he was (until recently) the last Watch Commander. Under the rule of the Patricians, not only did Guild Law apply in the Guilds, but the only laws that applied anywhere else were the whims of the man in charge.

By the time of Homicidal Lord Winder's rule as Patrician, there were only a handful of Watch Houses remaining. The Cable Street Particulars were thriving, however, having changed from intelligence agency into a secret police force, employing torture with gusto. During the Glorious Revolution of the Twenty-Fifth of May, their building was burnt down by members of the Night Watch from Treacle Mine Road. The change in Patricians did not lead to an improvement in perceptions of the Watch, and when Lord Vetinari replaced Mad Lord Snapcase, and even theft was legalised, there seemed to be no point to them at all.

The Night Watch now comprised four men, based in the old Treacle Mine Road Watch House, and all there because they couldn't do anything else. While the Day Watch had become another of the city's gangs, the Night Watch couldn't even manage that. As they saw it, their purpose was to walk down the street chanting "Two o'clock and all's well", and if all wasn't well, they found another street.

This changed when Constable Carrot joined, and the Watch saved the city from a dragon. Following the destruction of their Watch House, they moved to larger premises in Pseudopolis Yard (a parody of Scotland Yard) and started recruiting more members, especially from ethnic minorities such as dwarfs, trolls and the undead. The Watch has even admitted a vampire (under duress, of course; Vimes detests vampires for that same reason he does kings and assassins — in his mind, they prey on people). When they saved the Patrician's life Vetinari agreed to increase the force's stature, with new Section Houses being built around the city. The remains of the Day Watch were incorporated into a new City Watch, commanded by Samuel Vimes.

Since then, the Watch has become a proper police force, dealing in crime prevention and investigation, rather than simple thief-chasing. They now have a forensics section, a Traffic Division and the Cable Street Particulars have been revived as a plain-clothes division, on the grounds that one has to have secret policemen, because sometimes there are secret crimes (although this exists on an ad hoc basis, because Vimes and Carrot believe watchmen should wear a uniform). A Watch Academy has been set up, although watchmen trained there often get "poached" by other Sto Plains city-states who have seen the advantages such a force has. Vimes tolerates this, because it is useful that coppers all over the plains have been trained to obey him.

A Guild of Watchmen was set up by Corporal Nobbs during a series of interesting events in The Fifth Elephant, but lasted only as long as it took Samuel Vimes to find out about it.

Another recent addition are "the Specials", based on the Watch's ancient right to establish a Citizen's Militia in emergencies. Known members include the Librarian (who was actually made a Special Constable long before the Militia was set up); Mr Boggis of the Thieves' Guild; Sam Vimes' butler Willikins; and a clacks operative named Andy "Two Swords" Hancock who carried a disturbing amount of weaponry.

The Watch's current motto is "Fabricati diem, pvnc". This is nonsense in Latin, and doesn't actually mean "Make my day, punk", although it looks as though it ought to; this is the nature of most "Latatian" in the books, and is not unusual. However, Fred Colon insists it means "To protect and serve".


Ranks in the Ankh-Morpork City Watch (and insignia where known) are:

  • Lance-Constable(rank used while in training)
  • Acting Constable (brevet rank to which Corporal Carrot promoted Lance-constables Cuddy and Detritus to during their time in the Citizen's Watch in Men At Arms)
  • Constable
  • Lance-Corporal (one-bar chevron)
  • Corporal (two-bar chevron)
  • Sergeant (three-bar chevrons)
  • Sergeant-at-Arms (crown over three-bar chevron, may no longer be in use)
  • Lieutenant (was mentioned in the book Night Watch, may no longer be in use)
  • Captain (one pip)
  • Commander (traditionally comes with a knighthood)

Uniform and equipment[]

Watch uniform consists of a brown shirt and knee breeches (hence the derogatory nickname of "brownjobs", which could also be a reference to the equally derogatory term for the RAF, "Bluejobs"), chainmail, an iron breastplate, an iron and copper helmet, sandals or boots and a waterproof cape. A watchman will also be issued with an oak truncheon, a sword and crossbow (or cultural weapons of choice) and an hourglass and bell. Special consideration had to be made for the troll Sergeant Detritus. His armor was originally made for a war elephant (though he has since received his own custom-made - and very large - breastplate), and his crossbow is a reformatted siege weapon from which the only safe haven is one hundred yards behind Detritus. At least.

Dress uniform for a Commander of the Watch, unfortunately, originally included a highly polished breastplate, red tights, and a helmet with plumes. Vimes never wore this if he could possibly avoid it. He has since radically altered the dress uniform, removing the tights, but was unable to delete the ornamental breastplate. The Commander carries a ceremonial truncheon with a silver knob on the end and the legend "Protector of Thee Kinge's Piece," a spelling mistake that greatly amuses Vimes (his reaction on seeing it was, "Which piece?").

Watch badge[]

The current watch badge was commissioned following the events of Men at Arms. It is an eight-pointed copper star, with the city coat-of-arms in the centre. Around the arms is written "Fabricati Diem, Pvnc", a truncated version of Veltrick's motto. Sam Vimes retains his original badge, a simple copper disc or shield (accounts vary) inscribed AMCW and with the badge number 177. A badge with the motto "The Innocent Have Nothing To Fear" was proposed by Carrot, but vetoed by Vimes.


Until recently, a watchman could send a message for back-up by ringing his bell as hard as possible. This was briefly replaced by a whistle. Currently, a watchman on patrol will have at least one homing pigeon and a set of semaphore paddles. The Watch did at one point experiment with "semaphore helmets", however they were not a huge success, particularly in a high wind.


The City Watch also has an ancient oath:

  • I, [recruit's name], do solemnly swear by [recruit's deity of choice] to uphold the Laws and Ordinances of the city of Ankh-Morpork, serve the public trust, and defend the subjects of His/Her [delete whichever is inappropriate] Majesty [name of reigning monarch] without fear, favor, or thought of personal safety; to pursue evil-doers and protect the innocent, laying down my life if necessary in the cause of said duty, so help me [aforesaid deity]. Gods Save the King/Queen [delete which is inappropriate].

Captain Carrot, when swearing recruits in, chooses to say it precisely as written, including punctuation("... and defend the subjects of His slash Her bracket delete whichever is inappropriate end-bracket Majesty ..."). Vimes, with his slightly tarnished personality, sees the oath as leaving huge amounts of freedom for the officer, and ruler after ruler has failed to notice that the City Watch's oath says absolutely nothing about obeying orders and is firmly worded in favor of the subjects rather than the government. Vetinari, who is aware when Vimes feigns stupidity for his own purposes, may suppose that despite occasional headaches Vimes considering himself a servant of the law rather than any specific leader makes him less susceptible to outside corruption.

During the events of Men At Arms, then-Acting-Constable Detritus recruits a number of Trolls into the Watch, swearing them in with a more succinct, ceremonial Trollish oath, roughly "I will do what I told; otherwise I get my goohuloog head kicked in."


Ankh-Morpork City Watch

The vigilant Ankh-Morpork City Watch in Guards! Guards!. From left to right: Nobby Nobbs, Carrot Ironfoundersson, Samuel Vimes and Fred Colon. Illustration by Paul Kidby.

The primary members of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch are (see the linked articles for full details of the characters):

Commander Sir Samuel Vimes[]

Samuel Vimes is the Commander of the City Watch, it is all he has ever known and he now brings the dirty tricks he learned as a street copper to his new role. He also makes sure to pass these tricks of the trade on to new recruits. Under Sam Vimes, the Watch has become a real force in the city and both the force, and its Commander, have become targets for those they annoy. Unfortunately for Vimes, this is practically everybody. In his time in the watch he has married the richest woman in Ankh-Morpork and had a son with her, young Sam.

Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson[]

He is a very (very very) noble knightley captain and is suspected by many to be the lost King of Ankh-Morpork. He was raised by dwarves in a mountain, and still considers himself to be one, despite being two meters tall. He is quite amiable to all of the citizens of Ankh-Morpork, getting to know any of the people or cultures after a very short period.

Captain Angua von Überwald[]

A daughter in the notorious werewolf family in Überwald, Angua is recruited into the Watch as part of a plan to employ "ethnic minorities". Carrot Ironfoundersson, then a corporal, and most of the Watch believes she represent the minority group of women, but by the end of the book, almost everyone knows that she is, in fact, a werewolf. However, Angua is a strict vegetarian - except for when she's a wolf; then she goes after chickens, but is sure to go back later and leave money on the doorstep.

Sergeant Detritus[]

He is a troll that likes to carry some terrible weapons with him.  His previous occupation was a splatter (like a bouncer, but with more force) for the Mended Drum.

Sergeant Fred Colon[]

Blue Glass Arrow Main article: Fred Colon

Corporal Nobby Nobbs[]

The only human in the watch who has to carry a certificate proving his species. Disqualified from the human race for shoving. Loots any bodies he comes across.

Sergeant Cheery Littlebottom[]

Constable Reginald Shoe[]

Lance-Constable Salacia "Sally" von Humpeding[]

Constable Dorfl[]

Constable Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets[]

Visit-the-Infidel-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets (sometimes referred to as Visit-the-Ungodly-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets) is a Constable of the City Watch. He is generally just called 'Constable Visit', or occasionally by his nickname 'Washpot'. The term comes from the line "Moab is my washpot. Over Edom will I cast out my shoe." in Psalm 60. This is exactly the type of phrase Constable Visit would quote from the book of Om. He first appeared in Feet of Clay. He is referred to by Pratchett as follows: "There's one in every station, and Constable Visit was enough for two."

He is an Omnian of a gentle but determined proselytising nature. He can clear a large crowd in seconds, just by talking to them about religion and threatening them with pamphlets (principally "Unadorned Facts" and "Battle Call". In off-duty moments he goes door to door with his fellow Omnian, Smite-the-Unbeliever-with-Cunning-Arguments. His door-to-door preaching may be a parody on Jehoviah's Witnesses, as they are well known for it. His name is, apparently, shorter in Omnian. Samuel Vimes says he is a good copper, his highest form of personal praise. Entire pubs have been known to draw the curtains, turn off the lights and lie on the floor whimpering at news of his coming down the street. The only "entity" not afraid of Visit's endless proselytising is his friend and fellow constable Dorfl, a golem with endless patience and a desire to argue faith rationally.

Lance-Constable A.E. Pessimal[]

A.E. Pessimal was first a government inspector assigned (in Thud!) by Lord Vetinari to inspect the Watch and judge whether the Watch gave fair value for the civic funds it used (who watches the watchmen?) and to inspect the Unseen University in "A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices". He is described as a neat little man, with very shiny shoes, and has no friends and no sense of humor. He does not have a first name, as others would understand; he was 'initialled' at birth rather than named. He was in a position to seriously inconvenience Vimes with difficult questions such as "Why is C.W.St.J. 'Nobby' Nobbs in the Watch? Are you aware you employ a petty criminal?"

Eventually, Vimes decided to shake the man up, and swore him in as a Special Constable for the duration of an impending street fight of roughly a thousand trolls and dwarves. Vimes thought he could scare the man while showing him what it was like to be a copper. Instead, A.E. took his position seriously, to the point of bare-handedly attacking and trying to bite a troll who took a swing at Vimes. This action remains one of the few events to have totally shocked Vetinari, when he heard about it in Vimes' report ('Mr Pessimal? Mr A.E Pessimal? We are talking about the same person? Small man, very clean shoes?').

A short while later, A.E. came to Vimes' office and was offered the position of Lance-Constable and adjutant, with an estimate that he could be a Sergeant in a year. Vimes' reason for taking A.E. on was A.E.'s patience and intelligence; Vimes needed someone who could look through paperwork and understand what was being said by sifting out important or suspicious facts. Vimes reasons that A.E. always wanted to be a Watchman and was stopped by his weak stature. As a condition of his employment, A.E. was told that he would go on patrol twice a week, so he would be able to learn what's important. A.E. is also one of the few people Vimes allows to call him "Mr. Vimes," saying that the man "earned it all in one go."

Constable Igor[]

Igor is an Igor who was considered "too modern" for Überwald by his family, and went with Samuel Vimes to Ankh-Morpork. He specialises in genetic experiments ("bio-artificing"), which, on the Discworld, involves really small stitches. His creations include a pet rabbit called Eerie, a particularly suitable name as he grows spare human ears on it. Another early experiment was breeding noses, which act as independent lifeforms until sewn on. He also experimented with swimming potatoes in the hopes of breeding Fish & Chips. Like with all Igors, Constable Igor is highly talented in successfully sewing back on arms, legs and other assorted body parts, even if they aren't the person's original bits.

He was considered to have a speech impediment for not lisping, implying much of a Igor's strange behavior is purely out of traditional and showmanship. Vimes employs him because of his surgery methods, which Vimes considered to be considerably more advanced than most of Ankh-Morpork's doctors, in that most of his patients survive, and he doesn't use hot tar.

Constable Downspout[]

Constable Downspout, who first appears in Feet of Clay, is a surveillance expert for the Watch. Being a gargoyle, he is capable of remaining motionless in one spot and watching for days at a time, a "world champion at not moving" as Vimes once put it. He has no use for money and instead receives his salary in pigeons, which he eats.

Corporal Buggy Swires[]

A gnome. Introduced in Jingo (possibly in The Light Fantastic; there was a gnome identified only as Swires), Buggy possesses the hard-nosed, bellicose personality typical of his species, proving able to shout down uncooperative witnesses despite being only six inches tall. He has since established himself as the sole member of the Watch's Airborne Section through his ability to tame various species of bird (most recently a buzzard) to act as aerial reconnaissance. He resembles the Nac Mac Feegle, tiny, heroic men use identical methods to tame birds for riding. He appears to have the same strength as a normally sized human, compressed into a gnome's body; as a result, being headbutted by Buggy is like 'being hit with a steam-powered toffee hammer.'

Minor Watchmen[]

Special-Constable Andy "Two Swords" Hancock[]

Mentioned only in Thud!, Andy Hancock is one of the "Specials", a group of militia men trained by Sergeant Colon. He is described as being an "amiable man with an amiable smile". He fights with two curved Agatean swords and nunchaku, which he calls 'Agatean numknuts' (probably a reference to 'numchuks' a common term for the nunchaku in the United States. Or a pun - see "numnuts"). He is probably either an extremely competent fighter, or just a wild ninja wannabe. It is stated that he destroyed three practice dummies in thirty minutes. When not practicing, Hancock works for the "Grand Trunk" clacks company, supplying the Watch with information.

Sergeant Stronginthearm[]

Dwarf desk sergeant, killed just prior to the beginning of Night Watch by the serial killer known as Carcer.

Acting-Constable Cuddy[]

Introduced in Men at Arms. One of the first dwarf recruits who put aside his differences with trolls and became a good friend to Detritus. Killed by Dr. Cruces towards the end of the story. There are hints that Carrot may have buried the "gonne" of the story, as well as the book containing the royal lineage, in Cuddy's coffin to keep it safe (and to give Cuddy a good weapon for the afterlife).

Constables Flint and Morraine[]

Two troll watchmen. Introduced in Men at Arms but only have very minor roles. They were the first two non-watchmen conscripted into the Carrot's 'Citizen's Militia' by Detritus (he threatened to kick their goohuloog heads in). It is unclear however if these two trolls bear any resemblance to the two trolls, Flint and Morry, in Moving Pictures.

Flint was briefly elevated to sergeant under the tenure of Acting-Captain Fred Colon (promoted to run the watch during the temporary resignations of Carrot and Angua while Vimes, Littlebottom and Detritus were serving as ambassadors to Uberwald in The Fifth Elephant), much to the annoyance of Nobby Nobbs, who had been obviously gunning for the promotion himself.

Lance-Constable Bluejohn[]

The Watch's largest Troll officer, Bluejohn is a gentle and retiring troll. He is so big that he is used as the riot shield for the rest of the Watch officers and he is often used during crowd control. This is because, wherever he is sent, he is the crowd.

Constable Coalface

Coalface was a Troll residing in Ankh-Morpork working as a privy cleaner. He also happens to be a righthand troll for Chrysoprase in the Breccia, however, and is described by Fred Colon as a nasty piece of work, and as making Detritus look clean by comparison.

In Men at Arms, Captain Quirke arrests him for the murder of Hammerhock, a dwarf. To Quirke, this is all the evidence he needs- especially since someone claimed to see him on Rime Street just before the murder. In this case, though, there's no way he could have killed Hammerhock - he couldn't have gotten through the door. However, the Patrician could not care less- when a crime is commited, a criminal must be punished, but it doesn't really matter whether the criminal punished actually commited the crime he is being punished for. And since everyone was undoubtedly guilty of something, the net result is that justice is done. (And Coalface is guilty of many things, given his membership in the Breccia).

This view of crime and punishment is not shared by other members of the Watch, however, especially Carrot. Carrot leads a city militia (that by chance are comprised of the entire Night Watch) to the Day Watchhouse where Coalface is released (after Carrot lays out Quirke). Detritus then swears Coalface in as a temporary Watchman, because the dwarves in the crowd (who blame Coalface for killing Hammerhock) would quickly kill him. While some persuasion is required to get Coalface to join, he does eventually swear the ancient troll oath of "I will do what I told otherwise I get my goohuloog head kicked in."

He insists that he "never took nuffin" and "never did nuffin, neither" for the rest of his brief time in the Watch. Coalface and Bauxite then are ordered by Colon to apprehend an enraged Detritus, and as Coalface is the less circuitous thinker, he comments that they are now going to get their goohuloog heads kicked in anyway...

By the time of The Fifth Elephant, he has left the Watch and became a common criminal again. Done It Duncan, when called to Assist the Watch with Their Inquiries, mentions that he, not Coalface and his boys, raided the gold vaults a week ago. Nobby comments afterwards that now they know who did the haul at the gold vaults as a result.

Corporal Ping[]

Introduced in The Fifth Elephant, he has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. In the midst of a murder investigation, he takes a moment to inform Commander Sir Samuel Vimes that 'ping' is a dialect word, meaning watermeadow. He also appears in Night Watch.


A special watchman working in the Ankh-Morpork Opera House during Maskerade. Has not been seen or mentioned since, except indirectly in Feet of Clay, when Carrots writes to his parents that there are now "secret policemen".

Wee Mad Arthur[]

Sworn in by Fred Colon during the events of Feet of Clay. Was made a special Watchman for that night. His species was not stated at the time, but he is described as tiny and angry like a Gnome; like Buggy Swires, he has human strength in a six-inch body. His suspicious similarity to the Nac Mac Feegle was eventually confirmed in I Shall Wear Midnight when he arrests the Feegles and Tiffany when they demolished a bar in Ankh-Morpork.  He speaks with Rob Anybody while he is 'in prison' who confirms Arthur is a Feegle.  Arthur travels back to the Downs and takes up residence (for a while) in the mound with the rest of his new clan, occasionally running into difficulties due the Feegle's traditional distrust of policemen.

Later, in 'Snuff' Arthur is back after taking 'a vacation' and assists Vimes with bringing him news of Colon's sickness from the Ungue Pot and also gathering evidence of the crimes against the goblins taken from the Shire. 

The Librarian[]

Given a badge during the events of Guards! Guards! Because he still has the badge (as no one dares take it away from him) he continues to help out the Watch from time to time, such as giving Vimes the book of General Tacticus in Jingo and helping keep a barricade between rioting dwarfs and trolls in Thud!, and other threats to people that might eventually turn into obvious threats to books.


  • Constable Brakenshield - A dwarf constable of the watch who is introduced in Thud! in a fight with troll constable Mica
  • Connstable Schist - Troll constable of the watch mentioned in Thud!
  • Constable Mica - Troll constable of the watch introduced in Thud! in a fight with dwarf constable Mica
  • Constable Haddock - constable of the watch mentioned in Thud!
  • Corporal Ringfounder - a dwarf member of the Watch mentioned in Thud!
  • Brick - Troll constable of the watch mentioned in Thud! - originally a gutter troll who is reclaimed by Detritus.

See also[]

References and notes[]

External links[]


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The original article was at Ankh-Morpork City Watch. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Discworld Wiki, the text of Wikipedia:Wikipedia is available under the Wikipedia:GNU Free Documentation License.