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"Death my scepter and pain my crown! KNOW THAT YOU FACE DEMOGORGON! PRINCE OF DEMONS!"
Demogorgon, Prince of Demons, Baldur's Gate 2: The Throne of Bhaal

Somewhere between Satan and the Legions of Hell are these guys: Maybe the setting doesn't want to deal with a single representative of all evil, maybe they felt dividing the stuff up makes for more fun intra-demon politicking. Maybe they felt it allowed for more specialization and character, or maybe it's easier to deal with underlings than Old Scratch himself.

For whatever reasons there are these guys: usually with names taken from the Apocrypha or Dante's Inferno, these guys can be described as Almost-Satan, for when the real deal isn't as fun to use. They're often given fancy titles and pretty much do whatever Satan would have done had he been present. Also, if you actually kill one or stop their schemes, it's still an accomplishment, but it's hardly a collapse of the demonic system. There will always be another to replace the one that falls. Perhaps even the killer. Keep in mind, killing one is a lot harder than it sounds, because miraculously driving one's Hit Points to zero usually involves Fighting a Shadow.

Common in all sorts of fantasy works, usually serving under a God of Evil (or possibly Satan himself) and plotting against them. May be the center of a Religion of Evil or the true identity of the being worshiped by a Path of Inspiration. This trope is the Evil Counterpart of the Council of Angels, although these guys tend to be a lot less likely to cooperate with each other. When the Enemy Civil War breaks out, they're the ones in charge of either side.

Compare and contrast the Legions of Hell for the grunts and Satan for the big guy himself. See also Our Demons Are Different. Much like deer, the size of their horns can denote their status. Typically also a Monster Lord. See also, Elite Mook.

The good equivalent are either called Celestial Paragons or simply Archangels.

Examples of Demon Lords and Archdevils include:


Anime & Manga

  • In the anime and manga series Blue Exorcist, there are the Eight Princes of Hell. So far, the only ones that have appeared are Amaimon (the Earth King) and Astaroth (the King of Rot). As Amaimon's older brother, it's possible that Mephisto counts as well. Other demon princes have been named in supplementary material, but have yet to show up in the story.
  • Chrono and Aion from Chrono Crusade are arguably of this class of demon. Both of them are described as being "high ranked" devils. Duke Daffau, the leader of the Pursuers (sort of like a demon police and military) is definitely one of these, too.
  • The Godhand are the five most powerful demons of the Berserk universe, and are in charge of creating new demons and occasionally, new members of the Godhand when they are summoned by Behelits. They, in turn, serve the Idea of Evil.
  • Graf Wilhelm Josef von Herrmann of Mahou Sensei Negima, a demon of the higher ranks who was summoned to help in the destruction of Negi's village. He also sells wishes for those interested. Order now, and you could get any three wishes for a low, low introductory price.
    • Demons appear to be ranked on a scale of nobility. Graf is a Count.
    • Poyo Rainyday is said to have a very high rank, enough in fact to be a final boss
  • Kokuyo from Wish by CLAMP is the Son of Satan. He's invited to the Bridge with Satan, God and the Four Archangels and is always refered to as being of a high rank in Hell.
  • Mazoku-Lords in The Slayers are the five servants of Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo, this universe's Satan equivalent. Since Shabranigdo is temporarily unavailable, they are free to act as they choose, politick against each other and create more underling Mazoku.
    • To date (in the anime continuity): two fragments of Shabradigdo out of seven and two Mazoku-Lords are safely dead.
  • As part of how it enjoys n the broader Digimon canon, there exists a group by the name of the Seven Great Demon Lords, consisting of... well, seven great demon lords: Daemon, Barbamon, Leviamon, Belphemon, Beelzebumon, Lilithmon and their leader, Lucemon. In actual apperances in media, they've been portrayed rather inconstently and never together though:


Comic Books

  • The Marvel Universe has a huge variety of demon lords, Mephisto and Satannish usually being the most prominent. There's also a Satan, his relation to the others is unclear.
    • Mephisto, Satannish and a few others are "brothers" in the sense that they were born from the same "mass of evil energy", possibly the one left after the destruction of the Elder Gods. Also, officially Satan has NEVER appeared in Marvel Comics; it's always been some other demon impersonating him. This is a Retcon, probably for politically correct reasons, as Satan was a regular character in the "Son of Satan" (now known as Hellstorm) series in the 1970s. That "Satan" was later revealed to be Marduk Kurios, possibly a corrupted version of the Babylonian god (but there's someone else claiming to be that deity, too.) He showed up again when Wolverine went to hell. The "Satan" who created Ghost Rider was revealed to have been Mephisto.
      • Mephisto has claimed to be the source of all evil on several occasions. Of course, Mephisto lies. The true nature, if any, is kept intentionally vague.
        • Well, what with his appearance, being one of the few demons to actually offer humans deals with the Devil and trying to corrupt pure souls, he's probably the closest thing the MU will ever have to Satan.
      • Marvel did have a "Satan", but that later retconned because of the CCA at the time. Recently, Marvel introduced the biblical Lucifer into the Marvel universe, but insists he is a different entity than Satan(which isn't invalid). Fallen angels seem to be a different beast than the Mephisto type demon lords altogether.
      • The first appearance of the "Son of Satan" was in an issue of Ghost Rider. Daimon and Satana Hellstrom's and GR's Satan were the same entity, originally.
    • Recently, it was revealed in a Fear Itself Tie-in, that the Demon Lords have meetings around Satan's empty throne. Mephisto even mentions, that while Demon Lords like to falsely claim to be "Satan", none of them dare do it near Satan's throne, or even sit on it. If they did, they'd be torn apart by all the other claimant hell-lords.
      • It was noted though by Mephisto that Marduk Kurios really does believe and persistently insist that he is in fact The real Satan, so for all we know "Satan" may originally have been the official title for the ruler of Hell and not a specific entity, with Marduk the first holder of the title until he was eventually deposed and failed to regain his throne ever since.
        • It should be remembered after all that during the Chaos War storyline, the Devil Powered by All of Hell's Fire who personally battled Marvel's biggest Big Bad to date, the Chaos King itself (who is the yin to the yang of Eternity himself), in the last stand of the Marvel nether realms, was Marduk Kurios.
    • There are also many demon lords who don't go after the title of Satan but have no less nefarious goals, such as Lilith, Blackheart, Asteroth, The Beast Of The Hand and Plokta. All but the latter are confirmed to have different origins than the main group though.
  • The DCU is very similar to the Marvel Universe in this regard.
    • DC only recently got its own infernal hierarchy settled with the "Reign in Hell" miniseries after decades of contradictions. Note: this series renders most of Lucifer's stories (from DC's Vertigo comics) out of continuity.
  • Hellboy, of course. Hellboy himself is the son of an unnamed demon prince. The demon prince Astaroth plays a major role in Box of Evil. And "Pancakes" has cameos by a number of devils of various ranks.
  • Doug TenNapel seems fond of this. In Creature Tech, Dr Jameson makes a deal with the demon Hellcat. And the protagonists of Black Cherry are menaced by the demon lord Tail.

Film

  • Demon Knight has a arch-devil known as the Collector, who distinguishes himself by saying that a particular eye-ball weakness only applies to "lower-level" demons. His true form is the only demon that we see with wings.

Literature

  • Raymond E. Feist's Serpent War saga features two demon lords: Maarg and Jakan, both of which are manipulated by other forces.
    • The more recent Demonwar Saga elaborates further on this; there are five Demon Kings (Maarg was one, and new Big Bad Dahun is another) who each rule a different territory of Hell and continually feud with each other over who gets what, and each is served by numerous lesser demon "captains" like Jakan. There's also a Demon High King, but whether he's a seperate entity or just a title claimed by the currently most powerful king is unclear.
  • The Discworld novel Eric features politicking among the demon lords.
  • In The Screwtape Letters, some aspects of Hell's Lowerarchy are mentioned in passing. (Yes, Lowerarchy--Hell's bureaucracy is inverted. Satan's title is "Our Father Below".) Screwtape himself is in a middle-management position.
  • In the various versions of the Faust story, Dr. Faustus makes his deal with the demon Mephistopheles.
  • In The Malloreon a pair of demon lords become involved in their struggle. This is clearly a very bad thing, such that even the Big Bad of the series doesn't want them present, aware that Evil Is Not a Toy.
  • Good Omens has both Legions of Hell and Demon Lords and Archdevils and Satan himself, at the end.
  • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, he's not sure whether he's met Satan himself or one of his higher-ups lower-downs.
  • The Balrogs from The Lord of the Rings and the rest of the Tolkienverse. Massive flaming beings ten yards tall, that wield a whip and a gigantic sword and are so immensely powerful, defeating one almost killed Gandalf, one of the strongest beings in the material world.
    • Sauron himself also qualifies, occupying a place between Morgoth and the Balrogs in the demonic hierarchy.
      • Side note: The Balrog DID kill Gandalf. He was just sent "back" which means he was reborn.
        • Not quite. Gandalf died of exhaustion after killing the Balrog.
  • Stationery Voyagers has the Dark Wanderer, analogous to Beelzebub as depicted in The Pilgrims Progress.
    • Mezelwradd and Lorkush are just the Vile Chameleon's disguises, used to create Consto's religion and the Yehtzig cult, respectively.
  • Referenced in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time books, where a solid percentage of the Quirky Miniboss Squad - who are just superpowered evil humans - are named after classic demon princes. Asmodean==Asmodeus, Bel'al==Belial, etc.
  • The Dresden Files has brought up the hierarchy of demons once or twice. Archdemons are mentioned as a hypothetical in Fool Moon and Harry theorizes that the villains in Small Favor could only have trapped the Archive with the power of a fallen archangel.
    • On a slightly lower level, Anduriel, the Fallen Angel who is "partners" with Nicodemus, is stated to have been one of Satan's captains during the Fall and is currently probably the most potent Fallen active directly on Earth.
  • In The Guardians, Hell is in the middle of an Enemy Civil War, and both Lucifer and Beliel have lieutenants among the Legions of Hell.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, their enemies include one of the powers of Hell, and one demon deposed from that position and out to get it back.

Live Action TV

  • Supernatural has a number of named archdemons such as Azazel, Lilith, Alistair, Crowley (the last two being a Shout-Out to the occultist Aleister Crowley), Samhain...
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Giles sought to face Barvain, the Demon Prince. But The Initiative got to him first.
  • Angel has Archduke Sebassis, "bonafide nobility of the fiery down under" and commander of 40 Legions of Hell.
    • The Senior Partners and the Old Ones, such as Illyria, may count as these as well.
  • In Charmed demons had the Source of Evil and a power ranking for lesser and greater demons; as the series advanced so did the level of power the enemies they faced.

Music

  • The multi-named speaker in Voltaire's "When You're Evil" is presumably one of these.

 When the Devil is too busy and Death's a bit too much

They call on me, by name, you see, for my special touch

Myth & Religion

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons has loads of examples, mainly in the Planescape setting.
    • The Lawful Evil devils are ruled by Asmodeus (probably the most direct Satan-analogue) and supported by a pretty complicated hierarchy of devils, the most important one being the other eight Archdevils or Lords of the Nine: Bel, Dispater, Mammon, Belial (and his daughter and co-ruler Fierna), Levistus, Glasya, Baalzebul, and Mephistopheles; there are also a couple of exiles, most notably Geryon and Moloch. The lesser unique devils are known as Dukes of Hell and serve the above as vassals.
      • 4th Edition makes Asmodeus the God of Tyranny instead of an Archdevil. He still is the lord of all devils and the other Archdevils remain unchanged.
    • The Chaotic Evil Demons have an "uncountable" number of Demon Lords, Demon Princes, and Monarchs of Demondom, the most famous being Demogorgon (who looks like a tentacled, two-headed mandrill), Graz'zt (the Abyss's Magnificent Bastard), and Orcus. Lolth, the goddess of the dark elves, is alternately describes as a Demon Queen or a true deity. Jubilex, who rated a Shout-Out in the Wrath of the Dragon God movie. Probably only because his name happened to fit the open-the-door riddle, but still...
    • The Neutral Evil Yugoloths have mostly avoided this, although there are the ancient Baernoloths, the General of Gehenna, and the incredibly powerful Oinoloth Anthraxus, possibly the oldest of their kind.
      • At least one source says that Anthraxus may be the current Oinoloth, but there were others as well - and his position was not secure. Each of them had names based on some form of disease.
    • Apomps the Three-Sided God is the singular ruler of the gehreleths, a sort of weird offshoot of the yugoloths.
    • The Slaad Lords--Ssendam and Ygorl--are the most singularly powerful of the Chaotic Neutral slaadi. While not actually evil, they are so alien and insane that the mere proximity of them can drive one to madness.
    • The alternate rules set usually referred to as Basic and Expert eventually added its own versions of Demogorgon and Orcus in the Immortals set. They were evil immortals, included to be opponents of the (presumably) good immortals typified by the player characters who had ascended.
  • Pathfinder has the archdevils Barbatos (an honorary archdevil), Dispater, Mammon, Belial, Geryon, Moloch, Baalzebul, and Mephistopheles all answering to Asmodeus who is both the greatest of the archdevils and a god in his own right. There are countless demon lords, including Lamashtu (who like Asmodeus has achieved true godhood), Pazuzu, Baphomet, Cyth V'Sug, Nocticula, Angazhan, Abraxis, Kostchtei, and Flaucos. Finally, the Neutral Evil daemons are ruled by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a quartet of archdaemons who once answered to the singular Oinodaemon.
  • Warhammer Fantasy has various demon princes and Greater Demons that serve the four Gods of Chaos. In Warhammer 40000, the fallen Primarchs largely take up this role.
    • Warhammer 40k has rules for Daemon Lords of Chaos, Greater Demons even bigger and more powerful than most of their kind. They are Gargantuan Creatures that cost from between 666 (Slaanesh) to 999 (upcoming Tzeench Daemon Lord) points so they're only usable in extremely large-scale games, and for a good reason as they can pretty wipe out armies single-handedly.
  • In Nomine has the various Demon Princes: a dozen or so in the core rules and an unspecified number of "minor" ones, some of which have been detailed in the supplements.
  • In Talislanta, the most powerful devils are called "shaitans", and constitute a race in their own right that rule over the lesser diabolic races.
  • Exalted has the Yozis, as well as the Third and Second Circle demons. Interestingly, these aren't entirely separate beings--Yozis have multiple souls, which manifest as living beings in their own right: the demons of the Third Circle. These guys also have multiple independent souls, who are--you guessed it--the Second Circle demons. Incidentally, demons of the First Circle are just the generic Legions of Hell, having a more traditional relationship with their respective lords. In any case, named authorities of Malfeas include Malfeas (no, he's not named after the Demon City; he is the city), Cecelyne, She Who Lives In Her Name, Adorjan, the Ebon Dragon, Hegra, Szoreny, Kimbery, Isidoros, Sacharavell, Oramus, Ligier, Erembour, Orabilis...and numerous others. Making up a full list would probably double the size of this page, and that's not even counting their full titles. Or the fan-made ones...
    • And there are canonical Charms to allow a high-Essence Infernal Exalt to spawn his own pantheon of subordinate souls, with one major difference from the Yozis: while Yozis have to have a defining, or "fetich" soul to anchor their self-image (Malfeas has Ligier, the Green Sun, for example), Infernals get to keep using the one they started with, meaning they lose a major Achilles Heel.
  • The Dark Eye features twelve demons who act as evil counterparts of the major gods. Also there is the Demon Sultan, a true Eldritch Abomination in demon form. ("Daemon Sultan", incidentally, was one of the titles for Azathoth in the Cthulhu Mythos.)
  • Demon: The Fallen has these. In fact, they are the bosses (ostensibly) of the player characters.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a hellish plane called Phyrexia, filled with these guys. There's Gix, Davvol, Tsabo, and many others. Some people even ascend (descend?) to this role, such as Volrath, Ertai, and Crovax. The new Phyrexia doesn't have a Big Bad, just five praetors who also fill this role.

Webcomics

Video Games

  • Baldur's Gate, as mentioned above, has you face Demogorgon, the Prince of Demons, in the expansion. You also encounter a "Lesser Demon Lord" in the Drow City.
  • Nippon Ichi's The Verse has this throughout, mostly focused in the Disgaea games and Makai Kingdom. Multiple Netherworlds are ruled by Demon Overlords; with Demon Lords as the second highest rank; and they often war with each other. Beyond Overlord one starts getting into God of Evil level; and this is not healthy mentally.
    • It should be noted that Overlords were not originally part of this trope, as they're essentially the Big Bad and Satan-equivalent of their universe. The Multiverse concept just got a little out of hand, to the point where the entire cast of Makai Kingdom was made up of Overlords hanging out in the space between Netherworlds.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has:
    • Archduke Azazel, who possesses odd tastes and lives in Pandemonium, one of the largest cities of Hey Deze. Satan is around, but just enjoys heavy metal.
    • Spookyraven Manor has books that tell you of the Nether Planes. A secret chamber also allows you to summon demons if you know their names. One of the demonic names can only be learned by eavesdropping on demons attempting to summon him to Hey Deze, indicating he's probably not a local.
    • "Ol' Scratch" is the Hobo Lieutenant of Fire.
    • Infernal Seals dwell in "the Abyssal Plains." Again, there are demons in Hey Deze who try and fail to summon one, implying it's from somewhere else. Seal Clubbers are adamant that no one deserves Seals - not demons, not hippies, not anybody.
    • The Lord of Revenge, whose name consists of randomized letters different for each player. Responsible for converting your Nemesis into their demon form.
  • The Barons of Hell from Doom.
  • Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy IV each have their own versions of the Four Elemental Fiends, who represent the corruption of the natural elements. Lich, Marilith, Kraken, and Tiamat serve Chaos in the Final Fantasy I, serving as important storyline bosses. The Archfiends that appear in Final Fantasy IV, Scarmiglione, the Blighted Despot, Cagnazzo, the Drowned King, Barbariccia, the Empress of Winds, and Rubicante, the Autarch of Flame, fit the trope better, though, since they have names derived from Divine Comedy, grandiose titles (at least in the DS version) and make reference to having some connection to hell, whatever that means in that universe.
    • However, unlike the Four Fiends of Chaos, who are actual demons corrupting the elements, the Elemental Lords (or Archfiends) of Final Fantasy IV are actual spirits of nature, as they tell you in "After Years" while asking to put them back to sleep.
  • Diablo is all about these. By the end of Diablo II you'll have killed nearly all of them, and for the next game they're making up new ones as well as bringing some of the old ones back.

 "Seven is the number of the powers of Hell, and Seven is the number of the Great Evils."

Duriel, the Lord of Pain

Andariel, the Maiden of Anguish

Belial, the Lord of Lies

Azmodan, the Lord of Sin

Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred

Baal, the Lord of Destruction

Diablo, the Lord of Terror

  • Warcraft has Sargeras the Fallen Titan, a kind of demonic Satan/GodOfEvil figure, and the über-demons that serve under him, most notably Archimonde and Kil'jaeden.
    • The proper title of Archie and KJ would be "Legionlord", or "Fiery Lord of the Burning Legion" ("sir" will do fine, too).
    • Interestingly, every single one of these figures has now been slain or at least defeated in lore. Archimonde was destroyed at the World Tree in Warcraft III, Kil'jaeden was defeated at the Sunwell in World of Warcraft, and Sargeras' physical form was destroyed ages ago at the Well of Eternity. Of course, given how Death Is Cheap in the Warcraft universe, it's likely that any/all of these could be back at some point.
      • The only one who's canonically dead is Archimonde. Kil'jaeden just got kicked back through the Sunwell so hard that his necklace fell off. As for Sargeras, his latest alt just got deleted.
  • Dept Heaven has a complicated system in its underworld--the demons are ruled by the titular lord of the underworld, who oversees the demon gods; the demon gods oversee the Accursed, and the Accursed are in charge of regulating basic Mook demons. Apparently a demon's intelligence and competence determine its rank, and rank is very important in Niflheim, as survival of the fittest is the only real law. The underworld itself can only be explored briefly in Riviera's Bonus Level of Hell, but the Accursed and demon gods have starred as enemies in both that game and Knights in The Nightmare.
  • Nethack features several of these guys. The nastiest by far is Demogorgon, but it is possible to finish the game without meeting him.
  • Dominions has five Arch Devils, six Ice Devils, and four Heliophagus' who resemble 'classical' devils and have powers related to fire, ice, and darkness respectively, as well as four Demon lords, who resemble well, some of the more bizarre designs from medieval manuscripts.
  • Shadow Hearts has Asmodeous and Astaroth as major threats in the second game. Each one of them is powerful enough to wreck the world once fully manifest.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei series, operating on All Myths Are True, have several demon lords and arch devils from christian, jewish and islamic lore making multiple appearances. All of them are unique and each of them are said to command a significant portion of the demons. Lucifer himself is the strongest amongst them and seems to command the fealty of most of his fellow demon lords through sheer Asskicking Equals Authority. In several of the games he is one of the main characters' staunchest patrons in their fight against God.
    • It should be noted that Shin Megami Tensei makes a difference between Lucifer and Satan: Lucifer is the First of the Demons, the Fallen Angel who rebelled against YHVH, while Satan follows his Judean interpretation as an agent of YHVH's judgement and serves as The Dragon in most of the games. Persona 3: FES would further muddle this up by introducing Helel, Lucifer prior to his fall, as a Persona. Helel has yet to make an appearance as an actual demon in a main Shin Megami Tensei game, however.
    • Devil Survivor features several of these archdevils as major antagonists, all of whom are involved in a There Can Be Only One fight over a title known as the King of Bel.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic series has a unit called Archdevil in the Inferno town, not to mention many of its heroes are effectively demon lords.
  • Swords of Sandals Crusader has Archfiend Zeerzabahl. However, rather than being an evil overlord on his own, he is working with Hechaos The Scourge, who sold his soul to him in exchange to his services. Though he feels like he wasn’t being paid nearly enough, he chooses to fight alongside him anyway.
  • Lusternia has the Demon Lords of Nil: Gorgulu, who is Body Horror incarnate and an endlessly ravenous incarnate of greed; Nifilhema, who delights in Cold-Blooded Torture and the beauty of combat; Ashtorath, The Berserker and a Big Red Devil, appropriately representing rage; Baalphegar, a Giant Spider Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge, who weaves plots that span millennia; and Luciphage, an endlessly patient chessmaster and their devilishly charismatic leader. The Nihilists guild can form pacts with the Demon Lords, and usually pledge themselves to the service of one above the others (the one whose ideology most matches their own).
  • In Final Fantasy II, a central element of the plot is that the Emperor has made a Deal with the Devil (quite literally, according to the novelizations Satan himself rules hell in FFII-verse) to summon the Legions of Hell in order to Take Over the World. However, when the heroes kill the Emperor, he ends up killing Satan and taking over Hell, and thus the heroes are obligated to journey to the palace of Hell to take him out for good. And it is in the palace of Hell that the Demon Lords and Archdevils of FFII are found, two of them even named Astaroth and Beelzebub.
  • Solium Infernum runs on this trope.
  • Ghirahim, the Big Bad of The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword has the title of "Demon Lord", and he appears to be the leader of the demons of the surface and the most powerful demon next to his master, Demise, Hyrule's God of Evil.


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