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Now that is a man who eats a lot of beef!
Uncle Jimbo, South Park

In western media, Christian demons and devils often have a very specific appearance. You can usually spot them by their horns, demon wings, red skin, Goatee of Evil, furred legs with hooved feet, and sometimes a trident (pitchfork). Satan himself often takes this appearance.

That said, not all of the characteristics are necessary for a character to qualify in this trope. In fact, they don't even have to be red! The character/creature simply needs enough to invoke this classic depiction of demons and devils. The character isn't required even to be a demon. This can apply to characters that are possessed by demons, drawing power from dark powers or magic, or simply come from a race that resembles this type of creature.

This trope has had a long evolution to its modern form. Many characteristics also have their own origin. The red skin seems to have started out as the red clothing worn by Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust, in his guise of a cavalier; this is also the source of the Goatee of Evil. The horns came as accessories to the older cloven hoof, which likely comes from Pan and the fauns or satyrs. Originally the deformed feet were more varied, duck feet, cock's claws, and horse's hooves being sometimes featured. Bat wings were used to show that the demons were fallen angels. Most of these characteristics are not found in representations of devils before the 13th century A.D.

Given the many types of demons and devils in mythology and fiction from the world over, few examples can be counted as aversions or subversions. To qualify as such, there must be clear expectations for a demonic character to look like this; if the vast majority of demons and devils in a fictional universe are not explicitly established to fit this trope, a Lampshade Hanging is required.

See also Fauns and Satyrs. Compare Grandpa God.

Examples of this trope in modern media:


  • Satan in a good number of his appearances. Interestingly, in the Bible itself, the closest thing Satan ever came to looking like this is the red seven-headed dragon form he took on in the Book of Revelation.

Anime

  • Zodd from Berserk evokes the Big Red Devil more than his more Lovecraftian counterparts, what with his great horns and gigantic bat wings when he goes Apostle, though his appearance, though humanoid, is more a cross between a tiger, a bull and an ape.
    • Another example is Femto, the fifth member of the Godhand, who is blood-red with sinister batlike Cape Wings and has the feet and talons of a bird of prey, though he has no horns to speak of and other than that looks mostly human (fitting considering that before the Eclipse, he was once Griffith, one of the main characters of the manga).
  • Scanty and Kneesocks from Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt.
  • Digimon: Venommyotismon
    • Devimon as well.
      • Daemon is also a red devil.
  • The titular Devilman.
    • Amon moreso even than Akira.
    • Subverted with Satan who looks more angelic
  • In Soul Eater, the demon inside of Soul is a mix between this and The Imp.
  • Dabura in Dragonball Z.
  • Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo in the anime and manga of Slayers (his appearances in the novels wildly differ).


Comic Books

  • Nightcrawler from X-Men has the pointed ears and tail. Depends on the continuity whether he's truly demonic or not.
    • His dad Azazel is the red version. Nightcrawler gets the blue from his mom, Mystique.
  • Hellboy is a demon. He has the horns (although he files them down), the hooved feet, and the red skin.
  • Satan is usually a version of this in Chick Tracts.
  • Surtur and the rest of the Demons of Muspelheim in The Mighty Thor
  • Jack of Fables has sold his soul to a series of devils each embodying a different devil stereotype. So far, we'v'e seen Mr Scratch, a Trickster type who sometimes wears red longjohns and fake horns and tail, Pan, a Miltonian, romantic Lucifer and Chernobog. Jack may be running out of soul-buyers.
  • Kid Devil from Teen Titans is just a red devil of average teenage boy height, but his future Red Devil self fits the trope perfectly.
  • Some Hell Lords in the Marvel Universe like Mephisto and Lucifer, the latter of whom turned out to be a rebellious angel named Marduk Kurios who more or less is the actual Lucifer, despite most Hell Lords just pretending to be Satan For the Evulz. Mephisto is slightly less stereotypical in that his "horns" is actually just his pointed red hair hair, but he is still a tall, red, humanoid demon, if thinner and lither than most. His true form is similar but somewhat more alien, his head looking something like an eyeless lizard with no hair or horns whatever.


Film

  • Pictured above is Satan from Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, one of the most played straight versions of this trope.
  • The demon from Insidious definitely fits this trope.
  • Dogma has a horned demon who wears a fedora to hide them. He otherwise looks human.
  • Evil in Legend has red skin and black horns.
  • Subverted in Devil's Advocate and then played straight as the Al Pacino devil goes from looking like an ordinary guy to showing his true form, which is the trope played straight.
  • The Balrog from the Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy is this on fire.
  • The Devil (Liz Hurley) in the remake of Bedazzled rejects this image as "Too 'trick-or-treat'".
    • In the original, George Spigot (Lucifer) preferred to look fully human, but always wore red socks as a nod to people's expectations.
  • While demonic creatures in Constantine are shown as having monstrous forms, this trope is subverted for Satan's onscreen appearance as a human man dressed in a white suit with feet covered in black sludge.


Literature

  • In Pure Dead Brilliant, by Debi Gliori, witch Fiamma d'Enfer fits this trope right down to her name. She's come up with some ingenious ways to hide her demonic characteristics, including human feet prosthetics which screw into her hooves.
  • In Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Crowley also fits this down to his name (a corruption of the name "Crawley" he took as the serpent in the Garden of Eden). He has snakeskin shoes -- at least presumably he's wearing shoes -- and he has slitted pupils. He also has wings.
  • The Discworld demon king Astgl. Normally looks like a human in red tights and fake pointy horns holding a trident. When enraged, has huge ram's horns, claws and wings that are made of pure energy but still look batlike because it's traditional.
  • Christopher Brookmyre's Pandaemonium has a subversion (or even deconstruction) of this trope as its central message. Just because they're big, red, horned, brutal, pointy-tailed, cower from crosses and Bible verse, seem to be immune to gunfire but are burned by holy water, and come from deep beneath the earth, doesn't mean they're necessarily actual demons. The point is not to rely on superstition even when it's very familiar, and also to deliver a Take That to the church.
  • In Childhoods End the Overlords are Genre Savvy enough to warn humans about this before letting themselves be seen.


Live Action TV

  • The Beast from the Doctor Who episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit", who claims to actually be Satan.
  • A briefly seen member of the audience in the Blackadder episode The Witch Smeller Pursuivant.
  • The Halloween episode from season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured a frat house accidentally getting turned into a giant summoning circle or something that would bring a fear-based demon matching this description into the physical world. In the end, the trope is pretty subverted when he really does have this appearance, but is only about 3 inches tall (they just step on him at the end, problem solved).
  • A demon named Izzerial the Devil appears in Angel with this appearance. He's possibly the Buffyverse version of Satan.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, the angelic Lucifer turned into a bat-winged horned red devil when he became corrupted by committing the seven deadly sins.
  • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation featured a being who claimed to be every species conception of the Devil. When she presented herself as Satan, she looked pretty much exactly like this.


Radio


Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons uses this as part of its Fantasy Kitchen Sink; the cover of the 4e Monster Manual features Orcus, one of the biggest baddest demons of the D&D universe, who displays all 5 traits!
    • Balors on the demonic side and Pit Fiends on the diabolic side also qualify, the former once being called Balrogs before the Tolkien estate complained.
    • Many of the archdevils fit this trope, especially Bel (the biggest), Mephistopheles (the reddest), and Asmodeus (the... devil-est?).
  • In Warhammer and Warhammer 40000, demons of Khorne in general and Bloodthirsters in particular.


Theater

  • In Damn Yankees the devil wears a red suit.
  • Classic Mummers' play/ Passion play/ Pantomime devils in their red longjohns and hood with cute little horns on.


Video Games

  • Faust from Adventure Quest Worlds who is more of a Big Purple Devil
  • Illidan from Warcraft. Several of the demons including the Succubi, the Eredar and especially the Doomguard also qualify.
    • The Eredar are probably the closest major race, possessing the whole red skin with hooves and horns scheme. Draenei (probably the nicest of the playable races) look exactly the same except for being blue rather than red, a sign of their common heritage.
    • There were also the Daemons from the original Warcraft I and Warcraft II, who took this form before the Burning Legion was developed and expanded upon in Warcraft III.
  • Carlos from Requiem. Interestingly enough, he is one of your Super Modes.
  • Lou from Guitar Hero.
  • The recurring summons Diabolos and Ifrit from Final Fantasy.
  • Diablo is a mix between this, and Godzilla. But if the first ever trailer for the game is any indication, his original design was much closer to this.
  • The Daedra of The Elder Scrolls series are immortal entities from the realms of Oblivion, and the closest thing to Demons in Elder Scrolls lore, take the appearance of this trope.
    • Some of them, at least. Aurorans, however...
  • Doom has the Cyberdemon and the Baron of Hell.
  • Tchernobog of Blood invokes this, but looks more skeletal.
  • Mephistopheles from Neverwinter Nights addon Hordes of the Underdark. Huge, red, horned, hoofed
  • The Devil/Devil Gen character from Tekken. Alternative costume was an angel in early appearances.
  • The aptly-named Horned Reaper from Dungeon Keeper and its sequel.
  • Lucifer from the Ghosts N Goblins series fits, with Satans and Red Arremers being lesser breeds.
  • In Ultima VI, the Gargoyles which have invaded Brittania and tried to sacrifice the Avatar during the intro are large, red, horned humanoids.
  • Belial has devils of all colors, notably Satan (whos looks like the standard Big Red Devil, only gray).
  • Firebrand from Gargoyles Quest.
  • Eidolon from Hexen II.
  • Devilman from Devil World. Strangely enough, he's blue.


Web Comics

  • In Sinfest the devil is red skinned, has the horns and the tail, and wears the red suit.
    • He has two demon girls, Fuschia and Cyan, who have the horns and tails, but wear bikinis of the color that matches their name.
  • In Girl Genius the Jäger general known as Gargantua looks like this, and wears Spikes of Villainy. He doesn't seem particularly evil, but evidently flies into rage when insulted.


Web Original


Western Animation

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