A lot of contemporary horror fiction uses a strange blend of Christian and Lovecraftian
are good, but not necessarily nice
are bad, but often more fun
; and Eldritch Abominations
from Beyond just want to destroy it all
, or even worse, twist everything into something wholly alien that squicks
out both of the aforementioned parties.
From a story perspective, it makes sense. You see it a lot in stories where God and Satan Are Both Jerks
. The angels serve as foils for the hero, allowing him to show off his rule-breaking attitude. The devils prove the hero's toughness and cleverness by giving him someone to beat
. And the outsiders serve as the villains of the story. Also may be a consequence of an All Myths Are True
system, with angels, devils, Eldritch Abominations
, The Fair Folk
and the three Billy Goats Gruff
all fighting with or over the protagonists.
From a theological perspective, it's a bit muddled. (Oftentimes you can end up with situations where the angels and demons are
squid. Those go here too.) Can result in The Good, the Bad, and the Evil
— angels, demons, and Eldritch Abominations
, respectively. If the angels are rarely seen, expect Evil Versus Oblivion
(devils and squid, respectively). The Lovecraftian monstrosities may not actually be squidlike; that's just a stereotype.
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Anime & Manga
- Berserk has a lot of overlap between the three archetypes, but they do exist to some extent. The Four Elemental Kings represent the Angels, the Apostles and the Godhand that create them are the devils, and the most powerful and malevolent spiritual beings like the Sea God are the squid.
- The Battle for Windham ends up as a somewhat muddled case of this. Griffith, who takes on an angelic appearance, leads his army of humans and Apostles against the now gigantic and nearly mindless Eldritch Abomination that was once Ganishka and his "army" of Cthul Humanoids.
- An Interesting note is that the God Hand are referred to as Five Angels which makes it the case of God Hand being the Angels, Apostles being the Devils and The Squid can be the spiritual entities as well as Ganishka in the battle of windham
- Slayers got it not that clear cut, the dragons are basically the angels: good guys, not very nice and will inflict genocide just as fast to keep "peace"; on the other side are demons who are simply out to destroy everything — or, in the case of Xellos, Greater Beast, and their like, there seem to be some that are just want to be evil but not destroy everything. And then there is Darkstar Dubranigdu from another world just out to end it all, but more likely for the sake of doing it over without the eternal war between dragons and demons.
- Happens in a lot of horror Hentai, particularly those series created by Toshio Maeda.
- In Hellboy's cosmology, horned-and-tailed demons exist (and possibly angels as well), but everyone in the upper echelons of all sides is a nightmare from beyond. The biblical seven-headed dragon from the Apocalypse is made up of seven alien creatures in cocoons, while its spawn are either bugs, frogs or cephalopopds.
- IDW Publishing crossover comic series Infestation has every kind of supernatural creature possible. For instance, the Covert Vampire Operations task force is made up of several vampires (field operatives), a zombie (The Smart Guy), and a demon (an actual horned red-skinned demon... who wears a suit to the office). No actual angels are shown, but a zombie outbreak reveals a strange multi-dimensional Hive Mind creature that infects several parallel realities (i.e. franchises) with a technorganic zombie plague using this world's Magitek. The sequel has another threat in the form of aliens escaped from Area 51 with allied demons living deep underground. After defeating them (and meeting their resident demon's mommy and daddy), they find out that the demons are running away from something else located even deeper. The Old Gods are exactly what you expect. Giant odd-shaped creatures of immense power with tentacles that also proceed to penetrate into other realities/franchises.
- Lucifer has shades of this. The main character is a fallen angel, who deals with other fallen angels, all of whom have their own agendas. There are also other demons active in hell (called at one point the "never born") who are either uglier fallen angels or just more basic demonic types. There are various angels of the non-fallen variety who serve God (nominally - its made clear at times that this God's will or ability to communicate is limited at times). After Lucifer earns a letter of passage outside the established order some other type of thing called a Jin En Mok (we see three) shows up that apparently originated before the established order. They tend to look like what(who)ever they last ate, with the implication that their real form (if any) is not pretty.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's 'verse has angels (the Valar) and devils (Morgoth and Sauron), the latter of whom are classic 'fallen angels' in their origins having started out as members of the angelic order. Dotted through Tolkien's creation, though, are weird primordial creatures like Ungoliant, a colossal dark spider-entity of pure blight and destruction, or the unnamed beings at earth's roots. The latter are more likely to be spiders than squid, due to the author's arachnophobia, but at least one squid (the Watcher in the Water) is confirmed.
- Middle-Earth also, intriguingly, contains something of an inverse 'squid' in the shape of the being known to hobbits as Tom Bombadil: an ancient elemental force with no specific aims or objectives that simply loves existence, he seems not to be an angelic figure and takes no part in the battles between conventional good and evil, in the sure knowledge that before and after all of it he will be there still doing what he does. His only intervention is against Old Man Willow, another primordial entity that loosely fits under the 'squid' category, making Bombadil seem more akin to a 'good' counterbalance to mindless oblivion than anything.
- A persistent fan theory is that Tom is actually an avatar of some sort for Eru Ilúvatar to more freely interact with his creation. This was explicitly Jossed by the author when he still lived. He outright stated that he did not insert Eru to Middle-Earth in any shape or form, to avoid undermining his Christian values, under which that sort of thing only happened once.
- In a more meta sense, Bombadil, Old Man Willow, and Goldberry started as an independent set of stories that were later tacked on to Middle Earth. He literally wandered in from another fictional universe.
- Discworld has a pantheon that's made up of mythological expies, and in one novel shows the equivalent of Hell (although in several, Death metes out punishment to wrongdoers). On the "squid" side of things, there are the creatures from the "Dungeon Dimensions" (a reference to Dungeons & Dragons, described occasionally as resembling the offspring of a squid and a bicycle) as well as the Auditors, who due to Blue and Orange Morality are basically Omnicidal Lawful.
- The Things crave the light and shape of "our" reality, and attempt to break through whenever some really powerful magic weakens the fabric between worlds - it's been said that if they ever succeeded, the effect would be that of an ocean trying to warm itself around a candle. They fit the "not evil so much as alien" bit mentioned above, as Rincewind realises they'd kill us without giving us "the dignity of hatred".
- The Auditors make sure the fundamental laws of the universe continue to work, but find life-forms of any kind infuriatingly unpredictable. When they're not looking for a way to wipe out people entirely, they're trying to make us less erratic by eliminating belief.
- The very first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic speaks of Bel-Shamharoth, a very squidy Lovecraftian horror described as "the opposite side of a coin where good and evil are the same side."
- Merkabah Rider initially involves the battle between Heaven and Hell. In later stories, the Cthulhu Mythos intrudes as a third faction.
- In Perdido Street Station, some of the characters try making a pact with some Legions of Hell to help them fight an escaped abomination. It's a major Oh Crap moment when they realize not even the devil wants to go near it, and they have to go find another abomination. Kraken, by the same author, also invokes this. Albeit with a different kind of angel.
- Sandman Slim
- The Dresden Files actually does feature angels, devils, Eldritch Abominations, The Fair Folk, and the three Billy Goats Gruffnote . This means they have to take time to specify the difference between ordinary demons and Fallen Angels, and why demon-summoning is allowed under the Laws of Magic but summoning Outsiders is most certainly not.
- Demon-summoning (as in calling up demons for information) is technically allowed, as is bargaining to get, for example, a squad of mercenary pixies for the day in exchange for a dozen pizzas. Enthralling (as in crushing free will) is one of the few laws that protects nonhuman entities, mostly because people who enslave demons do not make them volunteer at the soup kitchen. But even trying to learn about the things beyond the Outer Gates is an instant death penalty.
- This also appears in the latest book in the form of the reason for the Faerie Courts' existence; the Winter Court holds back the Outsiders, while the Summer Court keeps the Winter Court from screwing with mortals too much.
- Simon R. Green
- The Nightside has this going on in droves, but with an emphasis on the "Squid" more than the other two. Book 2 has a blend of all three, and devils make more appearances than angels, but in a place where Eldritch Abominations walk the streets... yeah.
- The Secret Histories books also have these.
- The Whateley Universe has this. Phase has fought a demon and devils (in that story at least a Lovecraftian thingy), Fey led a team against Lovecraft-tainted Weres, and some of the main characters (like Carmilla) may be evolving into the squid end of the trope. Some of the secondary characters deal with the angels and devils - Seraphim is... some kind of mutant with access to possibly the Christian heaven, while Merry had to talk to and reject what may have been the actual Devil in order to become a Holy Knight.
- Johannes Cabal shows devils in the first book and Lovecraftian types in the third. The heavenly hosts have not yet been shown, but Cabal claims to know of them, and is not impressed.
- Open to interpretation and dissent, but possibly a case in the Canon Discontinuity The Chronicles of Amber prequels. The canon series gave us the Evil Courts of Chaos and the Good City of Amber (for varying degrees of good and evil), while the prequel series started to introduce the Keye, an alien-looking and inscrutable third force that seemed to be trying to manipulate the protagonists.
- Divine Blood has Gods and Demons and then it has Nameless Things. So far, the only Nameless Thing shown is the one released at Grimsvotn and that was beaten by Lilitu alone. However, she was still recovering from injuries related to that encounter months later and Urd berated the Queen of the Demons for allowing the situation to happen. The matter is further confused by the fact that Lilitu, a powerful and high ranked Demoness, is also a devoutly practicing Christian.
- In The Belgariad, you had the agents of Light (Belgarath, Beldin, Belgarion, etc.), the agents of Dark (Torak, Zandramas, etc.), and the agents of Chaos—the demons.
- This is actually as old as Paradise Lost, which features angels and devils as well as two Eldritch Abominations called Chaos and Night.
Live Action TV
- The Buffyverse is an interesting case. There are humanoid demons and angels but in the highest order, they're both squid.
- Possibly the case in Star Trek. On the side of angels, we have the Bajoran Prophets. For devils, we have the Pah-wraiths and Fek'lhr. And for squid, we have weird extradimensional beings like Species 8472, or the soul-sucking Devidians.
- And depending on the day and their mood, the Q can fit into any or all three categories.
- The mythology in Supernatural has angels from Heaven, demons from Hell, and Leviathans from Purgatory (which Lovecraft himself attempted to access with a portal). The Angels are hardly paragons of goodness, but the Leviathans are predictably the most evil of all of them. Then there's The Fair Folk, who come from another dimension and seem to be in a different category of supernatural beings.
- Possibly the case in Dungeons & Dragons. Originally there was no concept of good and evil, just order and chaos. The gods were opposed by infinite demons from a place called the Abyss, which wrecked all their works. They created angels to fight the demons for them and some of those angels, while remaining loyal to the concept of order, became as destructive and cruel as the demons they faced, seeing it as necessary to do their jobs. They became the first Devils. So now there were both Lawful Evil devils, who want to take over the universe, and Chaotic Evil demons, who want to destroy it. Or so the story goes, anyway; it's just one of many versions of the creation myth...
- There's also the bizarre creatures from the Far Realms, who have a very Lovecraftian vibe. Celestials (angels, archons, guardinals and eladrin) are pure good, fiends (devils, demons, yugoloths) are pure evil, but the creatures of the far realms are just plain alien. Expect tentacles and people going mad from encountering them.
- Definitely the case in D&D 3.5's Spiritual Successor, Pathfinder. The Angels are represented by the Empereal Lords (including the goddess Sarenrae), while The Devil bill is filled by the Demons (and their goddess, Lamashtu), the Devils (and their god, Asmodeus), and the Daemons (led by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse). As for the squid, there's the Qlippoth, primordial evil entities that predate all sentient life, full god Rovagug (who may be an ascended Qlippoth) and various Lovecraftian Entities.
- Exalted, being a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, is made of this trope. There's the gods in Yu-Shan, the Yozis and demons in Malfeas, the Neverborn and their Deathlords in The Underworld, The Fair Folk, the Alchemical Exalted and Void Lords in Autochthonia, the Mountain Folk and Darkbrood, the Dragon Kings, and pretty much anything else you can imagine, all hankering for a piece of the Creation pie for one reason or another.
- New World of Darkness role-playing games have little in the way of angels, but some, like the Quashmallim, are present. Devils (Goetia, creatures of the Inferno) are more of a presence, but not as much as the flavors of Squid (Abyssal Intruders, elder spirits like the Idigam, Cthonians and Kerberoi in the Underworld, even The Fair Folk have strong shades of squid). The Inferno and Abyss do not get along - one wants to corrupt the material world and depends on it to survive, the other wants to destroy reality.
- Mage: The Awakening has a hands-off version of Angels and Devils, with the sorta-benevolent Oracles and the tyrannical Exarchs, and some very hands-on Squid in the form of the Abyss.
- GURPS Dungeon Fantasy does this with the Gods from Heaven, the Demons from Hell and the Elder Things from the Outer Void.
- It also has "nature" as a force, causing some fans to joke that the "alignments" of the game are Good, Evil, Squid and Bunny.
- C.J. Carella's Witch Craft RPG has this in full force, and it comes to a head with the sequel game Armageddon where the Angels and Devils have to join the Pagan Gods and other normal supernaturals to fight off a colossally powerful Eldritch Abomination and its Dark Messiah's Religion of Evil.
- Legend of the Five Rings has the Kami on one side, the Oni on the other side, and then there is the Nothing. Which was on the receiving end of an epic butt-kicking in the previous edition.
- Like everything else in it, this has some basis in Japanese Mythology: On one side you have the Celestial gods, on the other side you have the Terrestrial gods, and then there is the Amatsu-Mikaboshi, god of evil and the stars.
- Nobilis has two factions of Angels (Heaven and the Light), two factions of Devils (Hell and the Dark), one faction of solipsists who don't care about either (the Wild), and the role of the Squid is played by the Excrucians and Actuals. Notably, there's a lot of Light Is Not Good and Dark Is Not Evil (their roles are less good vs evil and more about society and the individual), and the Excrucians are frequently Affably Evil.
- Warhammer 40,000 has the God-Emperor of Man and the Living Saints as the Angels, the Chaos Gods and daemons as the Devils, and the C'Tan as the Squid.
- World of Warcraft similarly plays with this trope. It has Angels in form of the Naaru (who look like giant glowing wind chimes, but are still the good guys), the Burning Legion for the Devils (some of whom match the classic demon descriptions along with some original designs), and the Old Gods and Faceless Ones for the Squid.
- Minecraft has the Nether and the End. The Nether is a Fire and Brimstone Hell, and the End is a World in the Sky where it is Always Night, the terrain is flat save for huge towers of obsidian, and the only inhabitants are Slender Man expies and a giant, nigh-unstoppable dragon.
- Downplayed in the Disgaea series. There are angels, devils, and aliens, but the angels might have faults, the devils might be not so evil, and the aliens aren't quite alien. All of them look very human, and the story usually revolves around a devil protagonist.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, the player character, Pit, is the Angel, the Devils are Hades and Viridi, and the Squid are the Aurum.
- AdventureQuest Worlds has Good, Evil, and Chaos. Interestingly, the forces of Chaos look more like demonic beings with lots of purple colors, and tentacles, while the Shadowscythe are just The Undead.
- Fall from Heaven mostly follows the angels and demons part of this trope, but does include the Octopus Overlords, basically directly lifted right from Lovecraft type stories.
- The Secret World certainly has all three, as befits a game where All Myths Are True, with a horror theme as a major component. The main enemies, responsible for the Filth which influences most events in the game, are lovecraftian "mollusc gods" said to come from some version of deep space. They are called "dreamers", since the filth is actually an idea of theirs made real, which is strong enough to take the form of an oily liquid and corrupt almost everything it touches. In addition, players fight back demonic invasions from a Fire and Brimstone Hell. Angels appear less frequently at various points in the game, including the opening cutscene, and the demonic invasion is led by a fallen angel.
- Diablo mainly focuses on the Angels and Devils, but some Squid are present in the novels, such as the dreamers, who are stated to come from a dimension beyond both Heaven and Hell, as well as whatever Trag'Oul is (although, he's more of a benevolent squid).
- Dwarf Fortress has some aspects of this. There are traditional gods worshiped by various peoples, demons who dwell in hell (and, upon escaping, usually create evil kingdoms or fool people into deifying them), but there are also the Forgotten Beasts, randomly-generated monsters that can come in such flavors as Blob Monster, Mix-and-Match Critters, or Living Statue, with powers ranging from simple fire-breath to producing flesh-rotting gas.