In [[TheMiddleAges Medieval Europe]], three boys meet a [[AffablyEvil charming teenager]] who claims to be an angel; in fact, his name is {{Satan}}. Predictably, no good comes out of this.

Also known as ''No. 44'', ''The Mysterious Stranger'' is one of MarkTwain's last works that he was [[AuthorExistenceFailure unable to finish before his death]]. It was written [[CreatorBreakdown just after his wife and favorite daughter died and Twain entered financial trouble]], so it was much more vicious and depressing than any of his other works. There are three different versions of the work in varying degrees of completion, but all involve the angel Satan using his powers to show how much of a CrapsackWorld we live in.

As an interesting side-note, it has long been suspected that this was one of the works that inspired ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', particularily the character of Kaworu. Sadamoto, writer of the NGE Manga, has practically admitted as such.

The full text can be found [[http://www.shsu.edu/~eng_wpf/authors/Twain/Mysterious-Stranger.htm here]].

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!!This work provides examples of:

* AboveGoodAndEvil: True for all angels.
* AllJustADream... "a grotesque and foolish dream."
* AndIMustScream: The narrator's fate at the end.
* AnimatedAdaptation: ''TheAdventuresOfMarkTwain'' movie. Found [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBGGAjMg9vw here]].
* AuthorExistenceFailure
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: Satan [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation may follow this.]]
-->''I can do no wrong, for I do not know what it is.''
* ButterflyOfDoom: Played with. No TimeTravel is involved, but {{Satan}} reveals that even the smallest detail like opening a window can be a MatterOfLifeAndDeath.
* ButtMonkey: Nikolaus. The protagonist takes a paragraph to inform us of [[KidsAreCruel all the nasty things he'd done to Nick throughout their childhood]]. Arguably this gets to CosmicPlaything levels when you get to the kids' first SadisticChoice.
* ChildrenAreInnocent
* CosmicPlaything
* CreatorBreakdown
* DealWithTheDevil
* DevilButNoGod
* FauxAffablyEvil: Satan's initial hospitality is quickly undermined by his disregard for human life, as shown when he kills two figures over their petty dispute, then destroys their village to stop the sound of its mourning. It takes a little longer for him to show his true colors in the last manuscript, but by the end it's clear that he's doing the whole thing for his own amusement. Or one might phrase it as...
* ForWantOfANail
* HarmfulToMinors: ''And how''.
* HumansAreBastards:One of the major themes of the book
* {{Invisibility}}: Satan can hide his and the boys presence when he feels like it.
* InvisibleToNormals: ''Nobody'' even senses that there's something off about Satan.
* ItAmusedMe: Satan screws around with the lives of lowly mortals because it amuses him.
* KarmaHoudini: ''Guess.''
* LightIsNotGood
* LouCypher: Averted, but the protagonists [[SarcasticConfession aren't any]] [[GenreBlind better off]]. Their gullibility may be justified because they're children.
* {{Mindscrew}}: This generally straightforward story suddenly takes a baffling turn in the last three pages, leaving the reader to wonder what, if anything, was real in the tale.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Let's see... How about ''"Satan"?''
* NiceIsNotGood
* NietzscheWannabe: This work ends on an incredibly nihilistic tone.
* OurAngelsAreDifferent: At least, that's what "Satan" says.
* SadisticChoice: The protagonists are forced to choose between a life of suffering for their friend or a [[MercyKill quick death]]. And that's just the first one...
* {{Satan}}: The angel's name is Satan, but he insists that he's that other {{Satan}}'s ''nephew'' and that it's a common name for angels. Of course, there's no way to confirm this, and Satan himself (the traditional one) is a notorious UnreliableNarrator. (Though it becomes an awesome moment of FridgeBrilliance when you consider that "Satan" originated as an ''epiphet given to many unrelated entities'', as it just means "enemy" in Hebrew.)
* SlowlySlippingIntoEvil: August, the protagonist of the third section, comes to rely more and more on the assistance of his "friend." By the end of it, he's having almost as much fun causing chaos as No. 44 himself.
* TakeThat: The last chapter contains one of the most venomous and scathing criticisms of Christianity ever written. Though bear in mind that it is ''Satan'' saying this....
--> ''A God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell mouths mercy, and invented hell mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!''
* TomatoInTheMirror: [[spoiler:"Oh by the way, didn't you ever realize that the entire universe only exists in your imagination and that you barely even exist yourself? Well, so long."]]
* TheTreacheryOfImages: "It was a vision -- it had no existence."
* UnfortunateNames: [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in the claymation:
-->'''Becky Thatcher''': Who are you?
-->'''Satan''': An angel.
-->'''Huck Finn''': What's your name?
-->'''Satan''': Satan.
-->'''Huck Finn''': Uh oh.
-->'''Satan''': What's the matter?
-->'''Huck Finn''': Nothing. Just that it's sure a sorry name for an angel.
** The book explains Satan as being named after his uncle.
* VillainsNeverLie
* VoiceOfTheLegion: Satan in the AnimatedAdaptation.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: The first version of the story, called 'The Chronicles of Young Satan', was set in Missouri in the 1840s, with [[TheAdventuresofTomSawyer Tom Sawyer]] and [[AdventuresofHuckleberryFinn Huck Finn]] playing supporting roles. The second version, called 'Schoolhouse Hill' involved [[SelfInsertFic Twain himself]] [[WriteWhoYouKnow and his friends and family]] encountering Young Satan, who had come to Hannibal, Missouri and later been [[EasyEvangelism converted to Methodism.]] A later version, called the 'Print Shop', or 'Number 44: The Mysterious Stranger', was based around Young Satan becoming a [[IncrediblyLamePun printer's devil]], and showing the [[NietzscheWannabe worthlessness and futility of human existence]] by having him create and then destroy [[CloningBlues copies of the townsfolk.]] The version that we know is an amalgam of the three, crafted by Twain's literary executor Albert Bigelow Paine.

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