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 titular mysterious stranger using his powers to show how much of a CrapsackWorld we live in[[note]]though in one of the versions he's not Satan[[/note]].

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

The full text can be found [[http://www.shsu.edu/~eng_wpf/authors/Twain/Mysterious-Stranger.htm here]]. Tropes from any version of the novella are welcome.

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!!This work provides examples of:

* AboveGoodAndEvil: True for all angels.
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Subverted. Girls like Marget and Lilly fall pretty hard for "Philip Traum", but they remain clueless about his dark nature.
* AllJustADream... "a grotesque and foolish dream."
* AndIMustScream: The narrator's fate at the end.
* AnimatedAdaptation: ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfMarkTwain'' movie. Found [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBGGAjMg9vw here]].
* 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.
* CentralTheme: The inherent flaws, hypocrisies, and insanities of man, and his revered "Moral Sense".
* ChildrenAreInnocent
* CosmicPlaything
* CrapsackWorld: A truly horrifying example. The ending [[spoiler:may or may not mitigate this]].
* DealWithTheDevil
* DevilButNoGod
* DoubleMeaning: Satan holds [[ExactWords true to his promises]], and, as Theodor found out, suggesting his words to be a cruel and underhanded ProphecyTwist seems to be his only BerserkButton.
* TheEndingChangesEverything: Possibly. Taking the ending at face value implies that [[spoiler:the whole story was just a nightmare, and that the godlike entity Theodor could make better worlds in the future]]. On the other hand, it is far more likely that [[spoiler:Theodor really is just a lowly human, all of the horrible events he experiences "really" did happen, and Satan made him think he had godlike power so that he no longer knows of those horrors]]. Considering [[CruelMercy what Satan did]] to [[spoiler:Father Peter]], this second interpretation is depressingly plausible.
* FaceOfAnAngelMindOfADemon: Literally. Satan is noted to be quite handsome.
* 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.
* NoEnding: "No. 44" is as close as the tale gets to seeing an actual ending. Both "Schoolhouse Hill" and "The Chronicle" end, rather abruptly, right in the middle of character dialogue.
* {{Omniglot}}: In "Schoolhouse Hill", Forty-four can master any language in an [[InstantExpert instant]], much to the surprise of everyone else.
* OurAngelsAreDifferent: At least, that's what "Satan" says.
* ReligiousHorror
* 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."]]
* TranslationConvention:
** Set in Renaissance-age Austria, the characters are obviously speaking ''German'' to one another.
** Forty-four's conversation with his headmaster in French in "Schoolhouse Hill".
* 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: PlayedWith. Everything in the story makes just as much sense if one assumes that Satan really ''is'' lying his ass off the whole time, and it is impossible to tell whether he is or not.
* VoiceOfTheLegion: Satan in the AnimatedAdaptation.
* YouAreNumberSix: In some versions, Satan goes by "Fourty-four", or, "No. 44, New Series, 864,962".


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