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The Devil is a loser, and he's my bitch!—Lordi, "Devil Is A Loser"
And some make him into a petty, somewhat nerdy and overall pretty normal (if unrelentingly evil) guy. He may be worried about getting his Wood Elf character to level 70 or catching the latest episode of Avatar and The Airbending Fellowship of Vampire Slayers than actually punishing the damned, or perhaps he's unattractive, unpopular and lives in his mother's basement. Either way, any Badass who ends up down there is in for a bitter shock.
This is the other side of the infernal coin. Satan as a stylish, seductive badass is actually pretty recent -- medieval portrayals have him a thug, dangerous but also easy to fool and really only waiting for someone stupid enough to sin. And, of course, he's no match at all for the forces of heaven -- heck, even a mortal guy with a cross could drive him back. Trope named for a Lordi song.
For other non-threatening supernatural beings, see Don't Fear the Reaper.
- Neron in Underworld Unleashed loses because Captain Marvel's soul is too pure.
- Neron gets to keep most of the evil souls he's taken, however, including Lex Luthors and the Jokers. They don't want them, anyway.
- Neron also loses his throne in the Reign in Hell comics. Satanus also joins Neron as a Devil who is a loser by losing his throne to Blaze.
- Neron gets to keep most of the evil souls he's taken, however, including Lex Luthors and the Jokers. They don't want them, anyway.
- Lucifer in the titular comic Lucifer has an Alternate Character Interpretation as a complete tool who really has no point other than to be spiteful to his old man.
- Mephisto used to be the Marvel Universe's butt monkey. One More Day actually did a bit to reverse his Villain Decay.
- Loki in the Thor comics tends to be this as well.
- The First of The Fallen will NEVER succeed against John Constantine.
- Subverted by Sandman Lucifer. He's the only one to really break the cycle.
- Bedazzled contains possibly the most literal example ever, in which Satan loses a wager with God and is sent to a Villainous Breakdown.
- The Haunted World of El Superbeasto cranks this one up to eleven.
- To be fair, Dr. Satan is not Satan himself, just some nerdy guy styled after him.
- Satan in the Divine Comedy is a towering imbecile, trapped chest-deep in ice and forever crying and beating his wings in a vain attempt to escape, which only cools and hardens the tears into ice, trapping him.
- Another Loser Devil shows up in the Eoin Colfer novel The Wish List.
- The devil takes the form of an emaciated, impoverished down-on-his-luck country gentleman in The Brothers Karamazov. He also seems pretty resigned to be being blamed for all of mankind's ills. Not suave or sophisticated at all, but still capable of causing the occasional Heroic BSOD.
- Although he claims to take this form to mess with Ivan's sense of self-importance.
- In C. S. Lewis' Perelandra, the Devil is perfectly capable of feats of supreme intelligence, strength, and many other virtues -- which is precisely the trouble; he doesn't really like to use them, because they're good things. He's a petty, spiteful bastard who'll just as soon kill frogs or rip up chunks of turf for the pleasure of killing something as corrupt an entire world.
- Lewis also creates a different loser devil in The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape is a grumpy old demon with No Sense of Humor, whose list of things he can't stand about Heaven includes God's disgusting, hedonistic love for His physical creations, not to mention His habit of playing music at all hours of the night. Silence is no improvement, as Screwtape prefers some good, loud, decently ugly noise.
- This is half the point of The Devil's Storybook and The Devil's Other Storybook, both by Jane Yolen. The other half is how he still wins as often as he loses.
- Andrew Wyvern in James Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter is a fairly disgusting creature, who only seems to succeed because God's an absentee landlord. Morrow stated in interviews he was trying to avoid the various tropes so the Devil wouldn't be the most interesting character.
- Left Behind has the devil as pretty incompetent.
- To the point where he becomes sympathetic solely because of how badly he gets beaten.
- Not that he doesn't try to turn it around, but he was destined to lose at God's hand anyway.
- Lucifer in The Book of Joby is fairly petty, and gets crapped on by birds.
- The underlying characterization of Satan in Paradise Lost. Despite his fancy rhetoric and impressive figure, he's just posturing as an epic hero and making self-defeating arguments that even he admits are bogus. He's simply too proud to ask for forgiveness and admit his mistakes in front of all his loyal followers. Even in the battle scene he gets clobbered unconscious the moment he takes the field. Of course, there are a lot of people who see him as exactly the epic hero he presents himself to be.
- Chichikov from Dead Souls definitely invokes this with the whole "buying people's 'souls'" thing and he's a lot like the "devil as small time bureaucrat / loser" portrayal in other works. In fact, both Chichikov and Scratch store their souls in a box - the only difference is that Chichikov's are metaphorical.
- Torak of The Belgariad and Azash of The Elenium. Both are incredibly powerful in physical/magical terms, but they're also crippled, handicapped by an inability to change, stupid, and totally unable to understand human emotions, which ultimately results in both their downfalls.
Live Action TV
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Caleb, right-hand man to the First Evil, refers to Satan as a "little man" (at least, compared to his boss).
- One Saturday Night Live sketch features a musician making a Deal with the Devil only to discover that Satan is a phenomenally crappy songwriter.
- Another one features Patrick Stewart as an initially impressive Satan who then chokes on a grape and finds that he can't command any respect from his lackeys anymore.
- In an episode of Northern Exposure, the town is visited by Satan, who is a dumpy and unimpressive man more interested in small acts of betrayal than diabolical evil. He ultimately fails to corrupt the citizens of Cicely even slightly.
- There's a The Whitest Kids U' Know routine in which the Devil is depicted as an effeminate Southern guy who spends two minutes of screentime going on what Wikipedia calls "unprecedented rants against people who make assumptions of what the Devil is".
"Would you please stop that?"
- On an episode of X-Play about the time a World of Warcraft expansion came out, Morgan apparently made a deal with the devil to have him level up her character. Unfortunately, the Devil apparently sucks at WoW.
- In the Quebec surreal comedy sketch show Phylactere Cola, one skit shows Satan living in a basement appartment, having to deal repeatedly with annoyingly persistent Jehovah's witnesses. They manage to convert him in the end!!
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Santa Claus" Mike Nelson sings "The Devil is a Wiener" to the tune of the soundtrack.
- This is the premise of the Lord of the Rings Mary Sue Hunters story The Game of The Gods. In it, Morgoth attempts to derail the books by inserting various Mary Sues in it, but ends up getting them killed through a loose grasp of the lore, the cleverness of his opponents, and sheer lack of common sense. By the end of the story, he's become rather pitiable.
- The song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band portrays Satan as "way behind" on his quota for souls. In desperation, he makes a bet with Johnny, a local Georgia fiddle player, to a fiddling contest. Though Satan is portrayed as a pretty badass dude, he's no match for a good ole Georgia boy and gets beaten handily. Johnny freely gloats and insults the devil throughout the song and ultimately snags his shiny golden fiddle.
- It has been pondered that Satan lost the battle but won the war by making Johnny fall prey to greed and pride.
- A squeal balled: "The Devil Comes Back To Georgia" also made by the Charlie Daniels band tells of how ten years after the Fiddle Duel, the Devil challenges Fiddle Player Johnny, now a family man and father, to a rematch. Seething from his defeat years before, the devil tells Johnny that his pride will be his downfall and takes the Golden Fiddle away as Johnny is tuning it, though the Fiddle player still has his old fiddle in his woodshed. After getting warmed up on his old fiddle due to having not been playing since the birth of his son, Johnny and the Devil duel once again. Its not exactly clear at the end, but from the sounds of things, Johnny kicked the Devils ass...again.
- Then of course there is the Trope Namer itself, which is Lordi's song The Devil Is A Loser, as quoted above. The song ridicules someone for making a Deal with the Devil... because they were stupid enough to make a deal with someone that pathetic.
- The song "War is my Destiny" by rapper Ill Bill describes the fallen angels who served Satan during the rebellion as promptly dethroning him after they were cast from Heaven for his failure to deliver on his promises. A new Devil is crowned in his place. Satan later manages to somewhat redeem himself in their eyes after the Biblical Flood by coming up with a plan to corrupt mankind by manipulating them through the word of God.
- Stryper's (Christian glam metal band) To Hell With the Devil dismisses the Devil from a Christian perspective.
- "The Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden was perceived by some to out the band as Satan worshipers... the song itself plays out like a horror movie (it was inspired by The Omen). However, the "Run to the Hills" single artwork has Eddie, Maiden's zombie mascot, in a fight with the devil. The Number of the Beast album shows the aftermath, Eddie holding the Devil's decapitated head. Maiden rightfully pointed out that they were not encouraging worshiping the Devil as he was the LOSER in the battle.
- In Useful Notes/Islam (as opposed to the religion of Islam) the devil (called Iblis, who was never an angel) is not only stupid but ugly as well which makes a folk theory/Alternative Character Interpretation that he and God were once lovers kind of odd. Then again, Love Makes You Crazy, Dumb, and Evil.
- It's folklore, don't think too hard about it.
- Should emphasize that this is at best a myth; and certainly the idea that God and Satan were ever lovers is not one that appears in any Muslim religious text. In fact, orthodox Muslims would regard it as downright heretical.
- In Mormonism the Devil is the loser of the war in heaven. Basically, it boils down into different versions of the Plan of Eternal Salvation. Lucifer's plan involved everyone not having free will, guaranteed entry into heaven, and the glory for all of that belonging to himself since it was his plan. Jesus wanted everyone to have free will even though it meant that yes, there will be sinners and evil people, as well all the people going into heaven deserving it for trying act ethically over the course of their lifetime and all the glory going to God because God enabled it and probably had it all in mind anyways. Lucifer eventually becomes Satan, stewing in Outer Darkness (Hell) and trying to upset the Plan of Eternal Salvation at every chance he can get. Which, of course, helps to enable the entire thing.
- The Devil is still treated as a very dangerous character. Yeah, he's lost, but his goal shifted from elevating himself above God by forcing humanity into salvation, to taking as many souls down with him as he can.
- Irish folklore, in contrast with most traditions where a Deal with the Devil will end up with the person who made it being the fool, thinking they could trick the devil, tends to portray the Devil as a total sucker who will buy just about anything. In most stories, the protagonists will get away with swindling the devil without consequences and souls intact, and in the few where they do suffer some consequences, they tend to result either from character flaws on the part of the protagonists or the devil being a sore loser. For instance, the tale of Jack O'Lantern, where he ensured that he could not be taken to hell but neglected to make sure that he could get into heaven, and for this oversight will eternally wander the earth, carrying a lantern to keep evil spirits away. Not very surprising for a culture that evolved wordplay to an art form and considered that if someone was swindled it was the victim's fault for being an idiot. St. Patrick may have changed that (driving the snakes/liars from Ireland), but early Irish Christians, reading the bible, seem to have been very unimpressed with the devil's intelligence by comparison. Swindling the devil is still acceptable, apparently, with the ordinary human protagonists playing Karmic Trickster.
- Generally, if you read Medieval folklore about the Devil, he will usually be presented as a diminutive, ugly and stupid, easily tricked by ordinary peasants on a daily basis. The more powerful, imposing Devil only started emerging during the Reformation period when religion went from a fairly laid back routine back to Serious Business.
- Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light from Dilbert. He even has a giant spoon in place of the usual pitchfork, and claims to be from Heck. May or may not be related to the Pointy-Haired Boss.
- Confirmed by the strip: They're at least half-brothers (and the Pointy Haired Boss was always their mom's favorite).
- From The Far Side:
The Devil: (staring out his home window) Tell me, Margaret... Am I a butthead?
- Poor, poor Fan(Damn) from the Swedish comic Himmlens Änglar(Heavens Angels), in this series he is The Woobie.
- The Devil in Old Harrys Game is a somewhat whiny guy who has trouble keeping his demons in line and can be foiled by a dead professor or the director of a privatised water company. He is however portrayed sympathetically, as he has to spend eternity in Hell just for rebelling against God once.
- The Ebon Dragon, from Exalted. He's basically the Devil-figure of the setting, the master of betrayal, lies, and deceit, and the only one of the Yozis who operates on standard human morality...but see Word of God's explanation for exactly why his villainy is represented not by alternative interpretations of the Virtue system, but merely by having bad Virtue scores:
"The Dragon's evil is supposed to be pathetic. It's supposed to be contemptible. That doesn't make him weak, but he's not heroic in either a classical or contemporary sense. He's a force of evil without scruples or principles. He stands for nothing save making things worse for everyone. He will stab you in the back at every turn and he cannot be reformed. ... When you face the Dragon, having Virtues greater than him, you can look down on him. You can see that he's not simply different or alien, but a loser. And yet, losers can win. He's a smart loser, a cunning loser. He's a loser unfettered by any moral restraint holding him back from hurting you any way he can get away with. He cheats. He cheats very well. He might just win. But it won't be a heroic victory. To make it so would miss the point. He's giving the finger to all the humanists and transhumanists and alien weirdos. He says you all suck. But the truth is that he just sucks compared with all of you and on some level, he knows it. I said there were two bad things that alternative Virtue did as a model for the Dragon's wickedness. The second is that you give him an excuse. Oh, he runs from fighting? Actually, he's just smart enough to duck out when he's losing. It's all very reasonable, you see. No. Wrong. He's a coward who bolts in terror from the heroes and lies to himself and others about why he did it. Even if he can make himself stay as an act of antagonistic defiance, he can't make himself stop being terrified. He can't escape into the Other. He's stuck playing in the same moral sandbox as everyone else and he absolutely fails at it."
- In Antonin Dvorak's opera The Devil and Kate, the sheer bitchiness of the chatterbox Kate is such that even Lucifer is afraid of her, and is willing to do anything in order to send her back to Earth.
- In the Sam and Max episode "What's New, Beelzebub?", Satan is a rather ineffectual middle management of Hell, LLC. He has no respect from his subordinates, and is at the beck and call of the Big Bad, who eventually fire him.
- The Devil from Dinosaur Comics spends all his time talking to T-Rex about video games and internet slang. And he drinks grape juice from concentrate.
- The webcomic In His Likeness. Of course, God has a few issues as well.
- Pictured above is the Devil from Sinfest. While he IS a pretty badass dude, more than a few strips feature him being mocked by God, toyed with by the angel couple Ezekiel and Arial, and made aware that he's Lonely At the Top. The closest thing he has to a friend is his Loony Fan Lil' Evil, a Harmless Villain who's faith might as well be Ho Yay.
- In Sluggy Freelance Satan is the victim of cyber attacks by Riff, ends up doing the nasty with a cat while drunk, and gets chewed out on a daytime talk show for not taking care of the resulting demonic kitten children.
- Once faced with Tennyo and Generator in the story "Sit In" in the Whateley Universe, the demon lord (okay, brevet under-baron) Phesclangorenthal rapidly turns into this.
- Discussed by Moviebob, he believes that when you take away all the stories and rumours, the devil is less Lex Luthor, and more Starscream.
- The Red Guy With No Pants from Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel.
- Notably, he's referred to as the devil only in the first show's pilot (in which his "Evil Plan" is to make Chicken smoke cigarettes).
- On South Park, Satan may look scary, but he's a self-sabotaging abused lover of Saddam Hussein.
God: What the hell happened to you?
God: You got kicked out of here for being a headstrong rebel. And now you're a whiny little bitch.
- The Robot Devil from Futurama. The guy is outsmarted by Fry and in one episode is seen in jail.
- In God, the Devil and Bob, The Devil is shown more as an incompetent in-feminine weirdo with creator issues then a power master of temptation, sometimes even is self destructive in his own evil schemes.
- Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes is largely a Smug Snake Harmless Villain who is incapable of running things without Heloise.
- Played with in Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil: Satan seems like a harmless yuppie right up until the point where he tries to murder you in your dreams with burrowing flesh-worms.
- In Bonus Stage, Satan rambles on about nothing and makes people watch Time Squad, watch Shrek 2 or eat his mom's spaghetti. He also lets Joel, Phil and Elly out of hell.