Big Red Devil

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In western media, Christian demons and devils often have a very specific appearance. You can usually spot them by their horns, batlike wings, red skin, Goatee Of Evil, furred legs with hooved feet, and sometimes a trident (pitchfork). Satan himself often takes this appearance.

That said, not all of the characteristics are necessary for a character to qualify in this trope. In fact, they don't even have to be red! The character/creature simply needs enough to invoke this classic depiction of demons and devils. The character isn't required even to be a demon. This can apply to characters that are possessed by demons, drawing power from dark powers or magic, or simply come from a race that resembles this type of creature.

This trope has had a long evolution to its modern form. Many characteristics also have their own origin. The red skin seems to have started out as the red clothing worn by Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust, in his guise of a cavalier; this is also the source of the Goatee of Evil. The horns came as accessories to the older cloven hoof, which likely comes from Pan and the fauns or satyrs. Originally the deformed feet were more varied, duck feet, cock's claws, and horse's hooves being sometimes featured. Bat wings were used to show that the demons were fallen angels. Most of these characteristics are not found in representations of devils before the 13th century A.D.

Given the many types of demons and devils in mythology and fiction from the world over, few examples can be counted as aversions or subversions. To qualify as such, there must be clear expectations for a demonic character to look like this; if the vast majority of demons and devils in a fictional universe are not explicitly established to fit this trope, a Lampshade Hanging is required.

The color is opposed by Heavenly Blue.

See also Fauns and Satyrs.

Compare Grandpa God, Red and Black and Evil All Over and Satanic Archetype. Contrast Red Is Heroic, Heavenly Blue.

Not to confuse with Flaming Devil, which is about Satan being fabulous.

Examples of this trope in modern media:

  • Satan in a good number of his appearances. Interestingly, in the The Bible itself, the closest thing Satan ever came to looking like this is the red seven-headed dragon form he took on in the Book of Revelation.

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    Anime 
  • Berserk:
    • Zodd from evokes the Big Red Devil more than his more Lovecraftian counterparts, what with his great horns and gigantic bat wings when he goes Apostle, though his appearance, though humanoid, is more a cross between a tiger, a bull and an ape.
    • Another example is Femto, the fifth member of the Godhand, who is blood-red with sinister batlike Cape Wings and has the feet and talons of a bird of prey, though he has no horns to speak of and other than that looks mostly human (fitting considering that before the Eclipse, he was once Griffith, one of the main characters of the manga).
    • However he is black in both The manga and the second Anime, in keeping with the black motif of the other four members of the Godhand.
  • Digimon:
  • Devilman:
    • Main character Akira transforms into a big, furred demon with bat wings and tail. His fur is black but black-tinged.
    • Amon moreso even than Akira.
    • Subverted with Satan who looks more angelic.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Akkuman in Dragon Ball (The devil fighter in service of Baba). Though he isn't red.
    • Dabbura in Dragon Ball Z is red and has little horns and a tiny goatee.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Scanty and Kneesocks.
  • Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo in the anime and manga of Slayers (his appearances in the novels wildly differ).

    Comic Books 
  • Lampshaded in Lucifer, which is about the Devil himself, who basically looks like an angel. At one point Lucifer and his brother Gabriel are in the Dreaming, which is of course filled with memes from the collective consciousness of humanity. They encounter a Big Red Devil claiming to be Lucifer.
    Gabriel: I think we found a dream of you.
    Lucifer: (Face Palm) Oh, this is embarrassing.
  • Nightcrawler from X-Men has the pointed ears and tail. Depends on the continuity whether he's truly demonic or not.
    • His dad Azazel is the red version. Nightcrawler gets the blue from his mom, Mystique.
  • Hellboy is a demon. He has the horns (although he files them down), the hooved feet, and the red skin.
  • Satan is usually a version of this in Chick Tracts.
  • Surtur and the rest of the Demons of Muspelheim in The Mighty Thor:
  • Jack of Fables has sold his soul to a series of devils each embodying a different devil stereotype. So far, we've seen Mr Scratch; a Trickster type who sometimes wears red longjohns and fake horns and tail; Pan; a Miltonian, romantic Lucifer; and Chernobog. Jack may be running out of soul-buyers.
  • Some Hell Lords in the Marvel Universe like Mephisto and Lucifer, the latter of whom turned out to be a rebellious angel named Marduk Kurios who more or less is the actual Lucifer, despite most Hell Lords just pretending to be Satan For the Evulz. Mephisto is slightly less stereotypical in that his "horns" is actually just his pointed red hair, but he is still a tall, red, humanoid demon, if thinner and lither than most. His true form is similar but somewhat more alien, his head looking something like an eyeless lizard with no hair or horns whatever. All demons though, especially Hell Lords, have Voluntary Shapeshifting and Mephisto in particular has taken on a range of nightmarish and horrifying forms over the years (though most are still big and red).
  • Speaking of the Marvel Universe, Daredevil's iconic red costume has the look, though Matt Murdock is definitely on the side of the angels.
  • Sinestro from the Green Lantern series. This does not apply to his fellow Koruganians Katma Tui and Soranik Natu, who are more Red Skinned Space Babes. Sinestro would be one too, but the air of fear he cultivates makes him come off much harsher, and closer to this.
  • Al Capone takes the form of a red horned demon The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead Left in His Wake). It's ambiguous whether this is a hallucination of the main character or not though.
  • Blue Devil and his (self-appointed) sidekick, Kid Devil, both have horns and technicolor skin. Kid Devil even changed his name to Red Devil later.
  • A big red horned villain actually called Satan turns up in one album of Storm, despite it being set on an alien planet with no link to Humanity whatsoever.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Most of the demons of Hell take the form of giant red humanoids with horns and wings.
  • Satan's Hollow:
    • The Devil is a rather traditional horned red demon with hoofs.
    • One of his closest demon servants also fits this description, although he's also wearing a Nazi Commissar Cap.

    Fan Works 
  • Thousand Shinji:
    • Asuka's alternate shape is a big, muscled, red-skinned devil with huge ram horns.
    • Asukhon's Valkyries are female, red-skinned, horned demons with bat wings and hooves.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • In Pure Dead Brilliant, by Debi Gliori, witch Fiamma d'Enfer fits this trope right down to her name. She's come up with some ingenious ways to hide her demonic characteristics, including human feet prosthetics which screw into her hooves.
  • In Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Crowley also fits this down to his name (a corruption of the name "Crawley" he took as the serpent in the Garden of Eden). He has snakeskin shoes — at least presumably he's wearing shoes — and he has slitted pupils. He also has wings.
  • The Discworld demon king Astfgl. Normally looks like a human in red tights and fake pointy horns holding a trident. When enraged, has huge ram's horns, claws and wings that are made of "magnetism and shaped space", but still look batlike because it's traditional.
  • Christopher Brookmyre's Pandaemonium has a subversion (or even deconstruction) of this trope as its central message. Just because they're big, red, horned, brutal, pointy-tailed, cower from crosses and Bible verse, seem to be immune to gunfire but are burned by holy water, and come from deep beneath the earth, doesn't mean they're necessarily actual demons. The point is not to rely on superstition even when it's very familiar, and also to deliver a Take That! to the church.
  • In Childhood's End the Overlords are smart enough to warn humans about this before letting themselves be seen.
  • In Bored of the Rings, Serutan the Wizard dresses like this, from the black horns pasted onto his head to the cloven patent-leather loafers on his feet.
  • In Horns, Ig becomes the Big Red Devil to avenge his girlfriend's murder. He wakes up with small horns and the power to compel people's worst secrets from them. In time, he develops red skin, a goatee, baldness, and finds a pitchfork in the rubble of a foundry.
  • The dactyl demon Bestesbulzibar from R. A. Salvatore's Demon Wars Saga looks like this... at first. After his body is destroyed at the end of the first book, he spends the rest of the series in his true form as a completely incorporeal spirit so subtle that his presence is almost impossible to detect, and becomes much more dangerous as he's able to manipulate a succession of human pawns and hosts from the shadows rather than being Obviously Evil like his initial incarnation.
  • In The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape advises his nephew Wormwood to use this image as a ploy to prevent his "patient" from believing in real devils, using the fallacious argument that if "something in red tights" is obviously not real, then Wormwood must not be either.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Big Bad of Scream Queens (2015) disguises their identity by dressing like this.
  • The Beast from the Doctor Who episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit", who claims to actually be Satan.
    • There's also the titular being from The Daemons Though not very red, he invokes Satan...
  • A briefly seen member of the audience in the Blackadder episode The Witch Smeller Pursuivant.
  • The Halloween episode from season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured a frat house accidentally getting turned into a giant summoning circle or something that would bring a fear-based demon matching this description into the physical world. In the end, the trope is pretty subverted when he really does have this appearance, but is only about 3 inches tall (they just step on him at the end, problem solved).
  • A demon named Izzerial the Devil appears in Angel with this appearance.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, the angelic Lucifer turned into a bat-winged horned red devil when he became corrupted by committing the seven deadly sins.
  • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation featured a being who claimed to be every species conception of the Devil. When she presented herself as Satan, she looked pretty much exactly like this.
  • Shows up a number of times on Saturday Night Live. Most memorably in the guise of Jon Lovitz being brought before People's Court. Also, Patrick Stewart's version where he choked on a grape and lost his mystique.
    • And Jason Sudekis's "The Devil," who looked mostly human, with small horns and a kids' Halloween pitchfork. He was evil, but genuinely upset with some truly disturbing things being reported in the news.
  • Lucifer plays with this. The titular character takes the appearance of an attractive human male, but occasionally he flashes his true appearance for a split second to scare mortals. While his true appearance is red, it's because of exposed musculature making him resemble a skinned human with red eyes more than anything else. He also points out that he doesn't have horns or a tail, contrary to popular depictions of him. He also had a pair of white angelic wings until he abandoned Hell and cut them off.
  • Occasionally shows up on Good Eats, getting (variously) chased off by a woman with a rolling pin in the pocket pie episode, and explaining the origins of hot tamales, and getting blasted with the fire extinguisher by Alton (who is a Christian in Real Life). He also appears as a Louis Cypher character in the Devil's Food Cake episode.

    Pinball 
  • The antagonist of Gorgar, a giant horned monster with red skin and fangs who lives in a Lava Pit and accepts Human Sacrifices.
  • Arguably, the unnamed "Fire God" in Bally's Fireball might qualify — he's a red humanoid Wreathed in Flames who throws fireballs at the player and has small horn-like protrusions on his head.
    • Played very straight in the sequel, Fireball II, which has horned and fanged creatures throughout, as well as a ball-saving post called "Little Demon".
  • The Devil in Devil's Dare, unsurprisingly.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Red Devil, the nemesis of Mr. Wrestling #2. Their feud lead up to a mask vs mask match in 1972, where Red Devil was revealed to be Dick Byer.
  • AHII looks like a particularly nasty one in All Japan Pro Wrestling with protruding ribs, but he turned out to be a good guy.
  • Mephisto isn't that big, but in 2009 he started competing in weight division that he was really too big for and often wore a red mask with horns, giving one the impression CMLL was invoking this image, with an element of David vs. Goliath.
  • The first anniversary of Ice Ribbon's 19 O'Clock featured Tsukasa Fujimoto and Makoto "defending" the promotion from captain ersatzes of Kaori Hoshi and Big Devil from the television drama Muscle Girls.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons uses this as part of its Fantasy Kitchen Sink.
    • The cover of the 4e Monster Manual features Orcus, one of the biggest baddest demons of the D&D universe, who displays all 5 traits!
    • Balors on the demonic side (big, winged, fanged humanoids with whips and sometimes horns) and Pit Fiends on the diabolic side (big, bat-winged, red, scaly, fanged humanoids with ears that looks like horns) also qualify, the former once being called Balrogs before the Tolkien estate complained.
    • Many of the archdevils fit this trope, especially Bel (the biggest), Mephistopheles (the reddest), and Asmodeus (the... devil-est?).
    • In the Nentir Vale, tieflings (introduced as demon or devil-blooded humanoids in Planescape) are revamped to having basically this appearance, as well as an origin of having been born due to diabolic pacts forged by a corrupt empire.
    • Mystara had a race called the diaboli, who other than the fact they were wingless and purple were based entirely off this archetype, especially the "hirsute" breed, who had goat-like legs. The kicker? They were a peaceful race whose most common In-Universe character alignment was Chaotic Good. People just tended to demonise them because, well, they looked so much like devils.
  • Hero Realms has Tyrannor, the Devourer- a demon that pretty much follows this look: red skin, tallness, and huge horns.
  • In Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000, the more humanoid daemons of Khorne have the most traditionally demonic visual theme of all the daemons of the Chaos Gods, sporting red skin, cloven hooves and horns. The mighty Bloodthirster Greater Daemons of Khorne also add great bat-like wings to the theme.
    • Fallen Primarch Magnus The Red has huge horns along with his naturally red skin makes him resemble the devil.
  • Replace Red with Green, and you get the majority of demons in Exalted. This even applies to Malfeas, the biggest and baddest of them all.

    Theater 
  • Classic Mummers' play/ Passion play/ Pantomime devils in their red longjohns and hood with cute little horns on.
  • The Devils in Nouvelle Experience, who are not villains but naughty tricksters, are a goofy version of this trope — red-clad with half-masks that have various permutations of horns and squat or extended noses. The ruler of the Magical Land, Madame Corporation, initially dresses in Heavenly Blue but has red hair styled to look like horns, and during the second half of the show she switches to a red version of her costume.
  • As mentioned above, Goethe's Faust traditionally gives Mephistopheles as close to this appearance as could conveniently be replicated onstage with a limited budget for makeup, and may be the origin for much of it. Interestingly, though, Mephistopheles actually appears to hang a lampshade on the idea that this is just what devils always look like - at one point he chews out a witch for not recognising him, essentially saying "Look, I've got a hoof and I dress all in red, who else was I gonna be?"

    Video Games 
  • Diablo is a mix between this, and Godzilla. But if the first ever trailer for the game is any indication, his original design was much closer to this.
    • The most powerful of Diablo's Elite Mooks also took this form: the Balrogs from the very first Diablo, the Megademons from Diablo II, and the Oppressors from Diablo III.
  • If you're looking for one in Destiny, then you need look no further than Oryx, the Taken King.
  • Illidan from Warcraft. Several of the demons including the Succubi, the Eredar and especially the Doomguard also qualify.
    • The Eredar are probably the closest major race, possessing the whole red skin with hooves and horns scheme. Draenei (probably the nicest of the playable races) look exactly the same except for being blue rather than red, a sign of their common heritage.
    • There were also the Daemons from the original Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II, who took this form before the Burning Legion was developed and expanded upon in Warcraft III.
  • Faust from AdventureQuest Worlds who is more of a Big Purple Devil
  • Carlos from Requiem. Interestingly enough, he is one of your Super Modes.
  • Lou from Guitar Hero.
  • The recurring summons Diabolos and Ifrit from Final Fantasy.
  • The Dremora of The Elder Scrolls series are immortal entities from the realms of Oblivion, and the closest thing to Demons in Elder Scrolls lore, take the appearance of this trope.
    • Some of them, at least. Aurorans, however...
    • Of the actual Daedric Princes, the only two who usually show as something similar to this is Mehrunes Dagon (Lord of Destruction, Change, Revolution, Energy and Ambition) and Sanguine (Lord of Debauchery and Hedonism). Mehrunes tends to live up to his appearance in a destructive sort of way, Sanguine... is basically a frat boy writ large.
  • The titular creatures from The Horde are bright red and horned.
  • Doom has the Cyberdemon and the Baron of Hell.
  • Tchernobog of Blood invokes this, but looks more skeletal.
  • Mephistopheles from Neverwinter Nights addon Hordes of the Underdark. Huge, red, horned, hoofed.
  • The Devil/Devil Gen character from Tekken. Alternative costume was an angel in early appearances.
  • The aptly-named Horned Reaper from Dungeon Keeper and its sequel.
  • Lucifer from the Ghosts 'n Goblins series fits, with Satans and Red Arremers (of which Firebrand from Gargoyle's Quest is one) being lesser breeds.
  • Ultima both plays it straight and subverts. There're the Daemons in Ultima: extraplanar beings, who are usually evil, and often look like big, red, and horned humanoids. However, there're also the Gargoyles, especially prominent in Ultima VI. The Gargoyles are also red and horned humanoids, but they are a mortal race, who just happen to look devilish. Many people in the world of Ultima confuse the two: for example, a sorceress Rotoluncia in Ultima VII Part II, upon seeing a scholar traveling with a Gargoyle henchman, starts pestering the scholar for secrets of controling Daemons.
  • Belial has devils of all colors, notably Satan (whos looks like the standard Big Red Devil, only gray).
  • Eidolon from Hexen II.
  • Devilman from Devil World has the standard appearance, but strangely enough, he's blue.
  • Horned, the invincible hurry-up enemy from The Fairyland Story. Not that big, though, being Super-Deformed like every other character in the game. Horned is bigger and more vincible as the boss of the homage stage in Rainbow Islands.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising's incarnation of Hades is clearly inspired by this aesthetic, naturally.
  • The very Diablo-like demon lord Ssyba, the final boss of Arcuz 2.
  • Typhon, the Final Boss of Phelios, though he's purple (in the Arcade Game) or blue (in the Sega Genesis version) rather than red.
  • One of the villains in the original King's Bounty is Urthrax Killspite, alias "The Demon King", who is a big green devil. Demons are also a higher-tier army unit (of course Urthrax has some) that line up almost perfectly with the trope description; instead of pitchforks, they attack with Eye Beams that have a chance of instantly slaying half the members of any unit they attack.
  • Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell: Satan is an 8 foot tall, bright red, muscular man with giant goat horns.
  • Squeeze Box for the Atari 2600 ended the game with a red devil dancing in the flames once you lost your last life.
  • In Infernal, Hell's chief agent on Earth takes on this form when he's fought at the end, although looks basically human before that point.
  • Specimen 11 of Spookys House Of Jumpscares is this.
  • Demons in Nexus Clash cover a pretty wide range of archetypes ranging from Eldritch Abominations to tempters and everything in between, but the Infernal Behemoth plays this trope absolutely straight.

    Webcomics 
  • In Sinfest the devil is red skinned, has the horns and the tail, and wears the red suit.
    • He has two demon girls, Fuschia and Cyan, who have the horns and tails, but wear bikinis of the color that matches their name.
  • Some of the demonic characters, including the titular protagonist of My Best Friend Marneao, are this, with a varied appereance. The titular character and his father, Lucifer. are red skinned, horned devils with a tail. There is also a secondary character named Miltch who follows the archetype, lacking the red skin.
  • In Girl Genius the Jäger general known as Gargantua looks like this, and wears Spikes of Villainy. He doesn't seem particularly evil, but evidently flies into rage when insulted.
  • Laampros from The Young Protectors, who is a giant red demon lord from hell with giant black horns and bat wings. Also, he's always naked.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Other 

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