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The figure of the Devil in TV shows

Popular culture, and TV shows, in particular, are prone to use and revisit mythical figures, religious allegories, and biblical references, and, among, them, the Devil. Whether he is called Lucifer or Satan, the one who rebelled against God and have incarnated evil ever since seems to be an everlasting source of inspiration for screenwriters, creators, and showrunners. However, in recent shows like Supernatural, and, even more, in Lucifer, the Devil is – to a degree at least, especially in Supernatural where he is and stays an antagonist – humanized. His so-called evilness is – once again, to a degree – nuanced, and there is more to his psychology than evil for evil’s sake. It is especially flagrant in Lucifer, as Lucifer is the main character. He is a hero with flaws and qualities, a hero confronted to very human dilemmas, to fear, to loss, to love, a hero we are rooting for.
How Devil-like characters have been written and treated? As it evolved? Can we discern a tendency, in recent TV shows, to develop, or even humanize, the Devil? How is it done? How could such a tendency be related to the evolution of the “Good vs Evil” trope? And, potentially, what are the exceptions to the recent transformations – or lack of transformation, if we can’t discern a real tendency – and how can we explain them?

  • Great topic. Other shows to consider covering: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; Reaper; 666 Park Avenue; Good Omens. – Emily Deibler 4 weeks ago
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  • Definitely an interesting topic for discussion! However, it bears pointing out that the idea of the Devil not being pure evil isn't new. It actually goes back to John Milton's Paradise Lost, which was written in the 1600's. – Debs 4 weeks ago
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  • Very good topic! I would suggest, if you can, looking into South Park's Satan, who is very much confronted with the human dilemma of love and sexuality. Some films that I would suggest would be the Ghost Rider films and The Devil's Advocate. I believe that there is a Paradise Lost reference in Advocate. – tolkienfan 3 weeks ago
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