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Big Red Devil

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 and Satanic Archetype. Contrast Red Is Heroic, Heavenly Blue.

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.

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Zodd from Berserk 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.
  • Scanty and Kneesocks from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.
  • Digimon: Venommyotismon
    • Devimon as well but he is Black and not Red.
      • Daemon is also a red devil.
  • The titular Devilman.
    • Amon moreso even than Akira.
    • Subverted with Satan who looks more angelic
  • In Soul Eater, the demon inside of Soul is a mix between this and The Imp.
  • Dabura in Dragon Ball Z.
    • Akkuman in Dragon Ball (The devil fighter in service of Baba). Though he isn't red.
  • Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo in the anime and manga of Slayers (his appearances in the novels wildly differ).

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Kid Devil from Teen Titans is just a red devil of average teenage boy height, but his future Red Devil self fits the trope perfectly.
  • 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).
  • Sinestro from the Green Lantern series.
  • Al Capone takes this form in The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead Left in His Wake).
  • 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.

    Film 
  • Pictured above is Satan from Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, one of the most played straight versions of this trope.
  • The demon from Insidious definitely fits this trope.
  • Dogma has a horned demon who wears a fedora to hide them. He otherwise looks human.
  • Evil, played by Tim Curry, in Legend has red skin and ENORMOUS black horns.
  • Subverted in Devil's Advocate and then played straight as the Al Pacino devil goes from looking like an ordinary guy to showing his true form, which is the trope played straight.
  • The Balrog from the Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy is this on fire.
  • The Devil (Liz Hurley) in the remake of Bedazzled (2000) rejects this image as "Too 'trick-or-treat'".
    • In the original, George Spigot (Lucifer) preferred to look fully human, but always wore red socks as a nod to people's expectations.
  • While demonic creatures in Constantine are shown as having monstrous forms, this trope is subverted for Satan's onscreen appearance as a human man dressed in a white suit with feet covered in black sludge.
  • In the film of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Hades looks suspiciously like this sometimes.

    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 Childhoods End the Overlords are Genre Savvy enough to warn humans about this before letting themselves be seen.
  • In Bored of the Rings, Serutan the Wizard dresses like this, from the back 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.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Beast from the Doctor Who episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit", who claims to actually be 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. He's possibly the Buffyverse version of Satan.
  • 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.

    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.

    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 Points Of Light, 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.
  • In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, daemons of Khorne in general and Bloodthirsters in particular. Khorne himself is depicted as one as well when he's not a Space Marine in brass armor with a skull helmet.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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 I 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 Daedra 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...
  • 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 Gargoyles Quest is one) being lesser breeds.
  • In Ultima VI, the Gargoyles which have invaded Brittania and tried to sacrifice the Avatar during the intro are large, red, horned humanoids.
  • 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 more purple 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.

    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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Him from The Powerpuff Girls has the red skin, the horns, the yellow eyes, the Goatee Of Evil, and rather than hooved feet, crab claws.
  • Satan from South Park.
  • The Red Guy from Cow and Chicken.
  • Chernabog in Fantasia's "Night On Bald Mountain" sequence, has horns and bat-wings.
    • Its also important to keep note that Chernabog from the Night On Bald Mountain sequence was originally called Satan. After the controversy this received, Disney retconned him from Satan to Chernabog, an evil Slavic deity.
  • Satan's appearance in Animaniacs.
  • Trigon from Teen Titans.
  • Doctor Satan in The Haunted World of El Superbeasto becomes this after gaining all the sudsy powers of Hell.
  • Flanders the Devil in The Simpsons.
    • Also shows up when Bart gets hit by a car.
  • Hades from Hercules resembles a Big Red Devil, believe it or not. Seriously, just take a look at him!
    • Subverted, since Hades is colored blue. He does turn red when he gets angry, however.
  • Unicron from Transformers is esentially this version of Satan in the form of a robot.
  • The Heinous Family on Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Donald Duck: There have been many times when he's angry that he's resembled a devil. The cartoons "Rocket Ruckus", "Trombone Trouble", and "Soup's On" are just a few.
  • Pluto (no, not that Pluto!) from The Goddess of Spring.
  • The prime-time Bugs Bunny Show had an episode where Sam ended up in Fire and Brimstone Hell in new footage as a device for linking to classic cartoons, where the Devil (big, red, goatee) offers to send Sam back to earth if he'll send Bugs down there. After a few typically unsuccessful attempts, Sam has enough and dons a devil suit, gleefully opting to stay down there.
  • Appears twice on The Critic. Once when he declines keeping the cast of Wings on the air for another season:
    Satan: Tell them there are some things even MY power cannot accomplish!
    • And again when he auditions to be Roger Ebert's replacement:
    Auditioner: And so Tim Allen's performance proves, once again, that while Disney movies may not win awards, they keep America smiling. How was that?
    Gene Siskle: You're Satan, aren't you?
    Auditioner: [transforms into Big Red Devil] You win another round, Siskle, but we shall meet again! BLEH!!
  • Shows up on Family Guy along with the "Super Devil".
  • In Fugget About It, Jimmy's boss morphs into one and prepares to eat him alive. Luckily it was a story Jimmy was telling when stoned.

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