Our Demons Are Different

"We are called demons precisely because we do bad things."
Tablet, Graffiti Kingdom

  1. An evil spirit or supernatural being (generic)
    • synonyms: devil, fiend
  2. Fallen Angels who rebelled against God (Christian)
    • ...or, the disembodied spirits of formerly-living half-Angel/Half-Human Hybrids (called "Nephilim", meaning "Fallen Ones" and "Marvelous Ones")
    • ...creations of Fallen Angels (Christian again) or Evil Jinn (Islam) created to help lead humanity astray and or torment them note 
  3. a lesser or inferior god or spirit (Greek); see Obake/Youkai, Our Fairies are Different, Our Genies Are Different
  4. a damaging spirit, as opposed to a creating or defending spirit (Egyptian)
  5. a daemon; ask Aristotle for the details; see Good Angel, Bad Angel, Spirit Advisor

Where do your demons live?

Who do your demons work for?

What do they look like?

What is the difference between demons and devils?

What are your demons' common powers?

What are your demons' common weaknesses?


There's no doubt about it. No matter what you choose, Your Demons Are Different.

  • If the source is Japanese, and the demons are really different, the reason may be simply that, in translation, the word "demon" is being substituted for a completely different word, youkai, which really doesn't have a correlating concept in English. "Faerie creature" is probably closer when it comes to traditional function in folklore (in fact, on the occasions where "fae," etc. is translated into Japanese, the term will probably contain the same "you" as "youkai"), but "demon" sounds more likely to kick ass, despite faeries being pretty damn scary.
    • And even if they don't use youkai, Japan still has a lot of words that get translated as "demon." Mazoku, Youma, Akuma...

Specific Types:

Series which have protagonists up to Demon Slaying especially rely on this trope, as the various ways a demon can be different can often determine how a demon hunter actually operates.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • D.Gray-Man has Akuma, mechanical constructs powered by human souls, torn back from the afterlife to execute an eternity of slaughter, which can evolve into stronger forms. 4 levels to be exact.
  • In Beelzebub, the demons look more "human-like" than anything else. They're typically possessed of magical power, and humans can make contracts with them to draw on that power, although that's not always safe to the mind and body of the human in question.
  • Hana To Akuma takes the Judeo-Christian version of demons, and tosses them in a blender with Western vampires and shapeshifters. Their king's named Lucifer, they consider fresh human blood a delicacy, and can alter their physical forms with a little magical aid.
  • YuYu Hakusho by a landslide. Hell, most of the demons in that show are different from traditional Japanese demons.
  • InuYasha is a classic example of youkai that are translated as "demons," even though they don't have to be evil. The oni suffer this too, despite that youkai and oni are completely different classifications. Although some oni had the misfortune of being called "ogre" instead.
  • Ushio and Tora is much the same as YYH and IY in the sheer variety, although traditional Japanese youkai tend to feature.
  • In Berserk, the Apostles are sometimes referred as demons, and given they are horrific beings straight out of nightmare, this isn't inaccurate. They can take human form, but always have a "tell" that serves to mark them as anything but. Their true form can be humanoid, but many are decidedly not, since their true forms represent the forms of their souls within the Astral Realm. However, every Apostle is unique because every one of them Was Once a Man, and they became demons when they got their hands on a Behelit and then reached an emotional nadir where they would do anything to escape their situation, at which point the Behelit summons the Godhand, and they will make an offer to become a demon in exchange for the sacrifice of those the bearer most holds dear. Apostles are fortunately physical monsters, so they can be killed with weapons, although pretty much every Apostle is hard as hell to kill.
    • The Godhand themselves are immensely powerful, god-like demonic lords that rule the Astral realm. They manipulate fate and reality to cause as much suffering as the world possibly can have while remaining in the Astral realm, since they are not physical. They can possess objects to manifest on Earth, but this manifestation is only about as powerful as most Apostles. However, once every 1,000 years they can perform the Incarnation Ceremony, to manifest in the physical realm as themselves. When they do this, they are every bit as powerful as one expects a demon god would be. Interestingly, just like the Apostles, every member of the Godhand were humans too, and their Crimson Behelit is a special Behelit that only appears once in 216 years. Instead of sacrificing one person the bearer holds dearly, the Ceremony of the Godhand demands the sacrifice of... well, everyone the bearer knows. The true source of these Behelits, the Idea of Evil, is the lord that rules over the Godhand and all of reality.
    • In addition, other demonic beings exist in the form of evil spirits created from the souls of those who died in the grip of negative emotions like fear and hatred (which happens a LOT in this Crapsack World), which like to possess animals, corpses, susceptible humans, and even the very snow itself in one case. These beings are drawn to Guts's Brand of Sacrifice and are always seeking to claim him.
  • Chrono Crusade has demons that were called "akuma" in the original Japanese, and are based somewhat on the Judeo-Christian, European tradition. ...Kinda. They have horns which draw in spiritual energy to fuel their powers (like regeneration), and many of them are somewhat humanoid, but their forms typically vary—there's a Cat Girl demon, the relatively human title character, some demons that appear more like insect monsters...oh, and they appear to be in control of strange technology. In the anime, it's somewhat implied that they are corrupted, fallen angels, but in the manga it's revealed they're actually aliens, whose mothership crash-landed in the Atlantic ocean hundreds of years ago.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima! demons seem to just be powerful creatures that people summon to do stuff for them, generally killing so far. Demons themselves seem to be along the lines of a Punch Clock Villain and display no animosity, are pretty cheery when saying goodbye and are rather casual. Then again, they don't seem to mind the whole killing innocent people thing much, either.
    • The Magic World shows us some demons who have their own free will, and they're shown to be... well, mostly like other humans and humanoids really, except with horns and other demonic features. Some are good, some are bad, some work as announcers, and some work as bounty hunters who lament the fact that their fearsome appearance means the scary fights are mostly dumped on them.
    • It's also apparently possible to become a demon by using a lot of Magia Erebea.
    • As a Fantasy Kitchen Sink Negima has many beings that get translated as 'demon': Kotarou and Setsuna are half Youkai (also called Hanyou), the most commonly summoned demons are Oni (which could probably be called Ogres), there are Kishin (translated often as demon god) like Sukuna, Mazoku (sometimes called 'True demons') like Morborgran or Zazie and her sister 'Poyo' or even half Mazoku Mana, Akuma (devils) were shown to come in low level forms like Rubicante, or high level like Graf Wilhelm Josef von Hermann. Also the form Negi is changing into thanks to Magia Erebea is called Mamono (demonic being).
  • The demons of The World God Only Knows are natives of the Underworld, who appear near-indistinguishable from humans, apart from magical abilities, some odd quirks (strange dietary preferences, unusual hair colours, etc.), and have a minimum lifespan of several centuries. Later, it's revealed that these are the new demons; the old demons, their predecessors, found they could draw power from negative emotions, and corrupted living humans to strengthen themselves. The new demons revolted, overthrowing the old demons and setting up their own society.
  • The demons in Raideen are aliens, complete with cyborg monsters and robot mooks. It's implied that human legends of evil spirits were caused or influenced by previous wars with these creatures.
  • The demons in Devilman are ancient organisms who can fuse with other living things and inanimate objects to gain many abilities and powers from what they've fused with, taking them over completely. Thus they look like the chimerical creatures from ancient texts. They have psychic powers normally of varying strengths. However, human consciousness is lethal to them. But a person who's scared or otherwise loses control of their higher mental functions can be taken over. Should that person have a pure heart, however...they will posses the demon's flesh and gain their superpowers! And thus was born Devilman!. They also showed up in a Crossover movie featuring Devilman and Mazinger Z.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh! the demons look exactly like humans, and are not inherently good or evil. They do, however, live five times as long as humans and have magical abilities.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins They're HUGE, practically ogres, are incredibly destructive, and have multiple hearts.
  • In Naruto, there are nine super powerful demons that are differentiated by the number of tails they have (1-9). They have enormous amounts of raw power in the form of chakra that greatly surpasses any average human ninja in the series (though there are some exceptional shinobi, like Kisame Hoshigaki, A the Raikage, and the Third Rakage, whose power is said to be on equal levels with a tailed beast). While thought to be just merely animalistic demonic monsters, Biju are highly intelligent. Even after millennia since the Rikudo Sennin's death, they still care for him since he's their father. And Naruto is The Chosen One the Sennin prophesied which would see the Beasts for what they truly are, good beings that deserve respect.

    Then, late into the Fourth Shinobi war, we meet the Ten-Tails which is the primordial beast which all nine Biju came from. It is Above Good and Evil and just... is... and can control weather, shoot either a Wave Motion Gun or lob unholy nukes across entire countries - and wipe them out. When Naruto tried measuring its strength in Sage Mode he and Kurama in comparison (Kurama being the strongest of the nine) were in front of the planetoid that represented the Ten-Tails.
  • March Story: They're called Ill, possess objects, and once they kill someone with your body they will never let you go. This is March's backstory. She got (slightly) better
  • The Korean Webtoon Lessa is populated by the evil "demans" who have red skin, glowing eyes, horns, and eat souls, but they're basically vampires with a different diet — they can turn other humans into demans and they're weak against sunlight.
  • In Slayers, demons are known as "Mazoku" and are the progeny of Dark Lord Shabranigdo, who is the closest thing the setting has to Satan (in the loosest possible sense, since God here is Chaotic Neutral and the chief good deity is Shabby's equivalent). They can create more of their ilk, and are divided into generational ranks, from highest to lowest: Shabranigdo, the Mazoku Lords (Shabby's direct progeny), Generals and Priests (progeny of the Lords), Master Mazoku, Lesser Mazoku, Brass and Lesser Demons (who are so weak that they aren't even styled Mazoku). The lower their rank is, the less is their ability to take A Form You Are Comfortable With: Lords, Generals and Priests have no trouble assuming human form, Master Mazoku have Red Right Hands and everything below that always looks monstrous, like the traditional demons. They feed on negative emotions, and spread fear and suffering to survive; they can be driven away by love and friendship, trapped in pentagrams, defeated with Astral magics or Black magics that use the power of a more powerful Mazoku. There are also Half-Mazoku, who are mortal beings or dragons made demonic (Valgaav and Zuuma are examples).
  • It's only one of many theories, but in One Piece, some researchers believe that Devil's Fruit houses actual devils, and that users actual gain their powers from these evil spirits. A superstitious CP9 member named Jabra told of a rumor that suggested that these devils would fight if placed in close proximity of each other, possibly ripping their way out of whoever had eaten them in the process; however, Blueno (himself a Devil's Fruit user) contradicted this claim, stating that Grand Line scientists have noted that the phenomenon only occurs when one consumes two Devil Fruits. (Thus far, no-one in-story has been dumb enough to try this. Indeed, Jabra's story sounds absurd, because Devil's Fruit users fight each other rather often without anything like that happening.)
  • One Doraemon movie depicts demons as aliens.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, Homura identifies herself as a demon upon rewriting the Law of Cycles. Whether this title symbolizes her evil or her self-hatred depends on the viewer- although she certainly looks like one, what with the black wings.
  • Fairy Tail: The series has two kinds of demons. One is the Galuna Islanders, who have human size and shape, can sprout bat wings, and are a peaceful race overall. The other consists of demons from the Book of Zeref, who are generally massive, have unique and deadly magic, and are extremely hostile to humanity.
    • The latter group has been distinguished by the name "Etherius".
  • Dogma from Hell's Kitchen looks like a human with some serious Rapunzel Hair, barring his fangs and freaky, cross-shaped pupils. He wears a noose and, as Satoru learned the hard way, is immune to Holy Burns Evil. Also he's blonde.
  • Dragon Ball: The franchise has several different kinds of demons, and even actual demon species. Many people, who aren't demons by default can become demons. Even when the Saiyajin Saga outed Piccolo as a Namekian, it didn't make him or his previous incarnation less of a demon. Prior to the Saiyajin Saga, it was established that those killed by demons didn't go to the afterlife, but their souls were forced to be stuck in the living world. This lore has been forgotten since the Boo Saga.
    • The Demon Realm ruled by Dabra are all demons with very special powers. Dabra himself can turn people into stone by spitting on them, breathes fire, can summon swords, etc. His sister Towa can possess people and turn them into demons and she can time travel to change history, rather than creating new timelines.
    • Devils are inhabitants from Hell, and Uranai Baba is able to bring one of them to the living world as her mercenary.
    • Enma Daiou and his subordinates are Onis and their job is administrating the after life. Enma Daiou decides whether a person goes to heaven or hell.
      • In Z Movie 12, one of the Oni was corrupted by the evil energy of hundreds from hell's inhabitants, turning him into the incarnation of evil, Janemba. Janemba has the abilities to alter reality and connects the after life with the living world, bringing back thousands of dead people to life.
    • Pure evil beings regardless of their race and species can become demons. There are clans of those demons, with two of the most prominent examples being led by Piccolo Daimao and Lord Slug, both leaders being Namekian.
      • While Piccolo Daimao's reincarnation was also born as a demon Namekian, he wasn't as purely evil as Piccolo Daimao himself. After Piccolo Jr.'s defeat by Goku, he didn't try for world domination and he seemed to become less demonic, as Kami noticed that Raditz and Goku, who were killed by Piccolo, passed on to the afterlife. The demon aspect was quickly dropped as the more fantastical supernatural elements were supplanted by more of a science fiction vibe.
    • The Makaioushins are the demon equivalents of the Kaioushins.
    • Demon Gods (Majin, but not related to the Majin race) exist in the franchise as well, but it's not known whether they are related to the Makaioushins or not.
    • Majins are a race of demons. The original Majin was Majin Boo, but Dragon Ball Heroes reveals that the pure good Majin Boo spawned several offsprings, creating his own race. According to the manga, Majin Boo was created by Bibidi, but Word of God retcons this by saying that Boo already existed long before Bibidi controlled him.
    • Makyans are a demon race from the planet Makyo, the most prominent example being Garlic Jr.
    • Hildegarn from Z Movie 13 is referred as a Phantom Demon. He was originally a statue that was based on a Demon God (see above), but evil wizards turned him into a living monster. Fitting to the name Phantom Demon, he can turn into smoke to evade attacks.
    • People possessed by the Black Mist Water (used by Garlic Jr.) or by Babidi become demons as well. When Babidi does this to people, they earn the title "Majin", but they are not related to the Majin race per-se.
    • Earth has also its own demon creatures.
  • Ah! My Goddess has demons who live in hell as a counterpart to gods living in heaven, each are treated as another dimension more than an afterlife. Demons also have red or purple facial markings, while gods have blue.
  • My Monster Secret: Akane is a demon who simply appears to be a girl with horns and Combo Platter Powers, including duplication, Shapeshifting, enhanced lifespan, Telekinesis, Teleportation, and summoning objects (and, when she's hungry, EldritchAbominations). As far as evilness goes, she's mainly The Gadfly, though she does have occasional Jerk Ass moments, such as threatening to destroy the earth with a meteor to force someone to back her a cake.

    Comic Books 
  • Demons in The DCU speak in rhymes. Well, the higher positions of middle management do; one's position in Hell is partly signified by how well one can speak. The lowest ranks can't form language, the Lords of Hell speak clearly and fluently, and Hitman featured one demon several ranks below Etrigan who could only say, "I am Baytor!" In the DCU Hell, a "lower" position is the better one. When Demons improve their standing in Hell, they fall even deeper into the pit. So a promotion is technically a bad thing. Neron was "promoted" to Rhymer after he screwed up big time. And he got killed off. For now anyway.
  • Raven of Teen Titans is half-demon/half-human who must control her emotions lest her demonic side be set free.
  • Mike Mignolia's Hellboy, equipped with fire-engine red skin, cloven hooves for feet, and a right hand which can summon the Apocalypse. Oh, and immense horns on his head that need to be sanded down on a regular basis. In spite of his origins, he's one of the good guys.
    • We get to see more demons as the series goes on. Some, such as Astaroth, Ualac & Helldad fall into the same horned humanoid mold as HB, while others seem to be a twisted combination of various human & animal parts. One storyline in B.P.R.D. features a demoness whose true form has the head of a crow, the wings of a bat, tentacles & an udder with dozens of human-like breasts hanging off it.
    • Part of this variation is because the different artistic styles of Mike Mignola and Guy Davis (the main artist of B.P.R.D.). While Mignola's demons and various monsters tend to be based more directly on real life animals, Davis tends to have a more Body Horror feel to his work. In one of Davis's sketchbooks he even comments that he had to tone down some of the "tentacles and Lovecraftian bits" for one of his demons before the comic went to print.
  • Marvel Comics' Anti-Hero Son of Satan is, as the name implies, the Half-Human Hybrid son of a very powerful demon who claimed to be The Devil. Of course, Marvel later backpedaled on the whole "real, honest-to-badness Biblical Satan" issue, and which of the many powerful Marvel demons it actually is has been Retconned several times. For that matter, the very nature of demons in the Marvel Universe seems to be a matter of some contention; fallen or degenerated Physical Gods, leftover magical energy from the early days of life on Earth, holdovers from the Creation of the Universe… And of course, the fact that all of them lie their horns off all the time makes it no clearer. Their behavior also varies quite a bit. Some (Mephisto, namely) stick to standard "deals, contracts, and bargains" behavior and seem quite comfortable with that, others (Dormammu, Chthon) are active schemers who are very much a threat to existence, and still there are others (Nightmare) who can't be reasoned with, but don't exactly try and do anything crazy beyond general malevolence.
  • Demons in Necrophim are strange-looking humanoid beings who resent having to share Hell with the Necrophim, and want the angels to finish what they started with Lucifer.
  • Devils in Harvey Comics (ie: Hot Stuff the Little Devil) aren't really evil. Like ghosts, they love playing tricks, but don't mean to cause any lasting harm.
  • The Hellspawn from the series Spawn are humans who made a deal with Malbolgia, the ruler of the eighth realm of Hell, to return to earth for either love or vengeance. Such people usually get sent back several years to a decade after their original death. They're infused with dark energy matter known as Necroplasm, which they have a limited supply of outside of Hell, and are bonded with a symbiotic armor that acts to protect its host. Hellspawn have inhuman strength, speed, movement and healing, and have the ability to use necro-magic (supernatural powers including teleportation, phasing, resurrecting the dead, necro-energy blasts, and much more). In addition, Hellspawn are able to "feed" off the evil energy of the world including people and "dark animals" (rats, bats, roaches, worms, insects, wolves, and snakes), and are also empathic beings able to sense the emotions of others whenever they choose. Finally, they can manipulate the elements and fly. A Hellspawn's time on earth is limited, and every time he uses his necro-magic, it brings the spawn closer to a second death and a return to Hell. The Hellspawn's job is to supply Hell with souls for its army by killing people with his energy, either innocent or evil.

    The true demons of the Spawn universe are even more powerful than the Hellspawn. Violator, the main demon that the main character deals with, is superhumanly strong and resilient and has various supernatural powers including shape and size shifting, healing, telepathy, possession of others, the ability to breathe fire, teleportation, and necromancy.
  • Divangelic from Empowered is a pair of Conjoined Twins - her right half, Vanity, is a devil, but her left half, Charity, is an angel. The mind boggles...
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Various types of demons are seen. Most of The Legions of Hell are big, red, horned humanoids, though Lucifer himself looks could almost be mistaken for human. The succubi also originate in hell, and are ambiguously sexual shapeshifters. All demons love human souls, which they eat for lunch. The Big Bad himself is a half-demon spawned by the Devil.

    Fan Fic 
  • Demon Spawns Series: In this series of Groj Band fanfics, siblings Corey and Trina Riffin are revealed to be demons. They can alter their appearances and have their own different Elemental Powers. However, they lose all of their demon powers for the day if they come in contact with holy water. They're also the children of Satan.
    • Both siblings are half-human. While Trina takes after her father, Corey is more like his human mother Amethyst.
  • In the Pony POV Series, General-Admiral Makarov/The Shadow of Chernobull is commonly called an "Imagination Demon", though Mother Deer implied it wasn't the case but "close enough". The Shining Armor crew also apparently had a run in with a "fear demon" somewhere in Zebrafrica, but this was a largely Noodle Incident. The creatures sealed in Tartarus are quite demonic in nature, but are actually entities from a destroyed universe.
    • It turns out that Demons in this universe are Fallen Draconequi, making Discord an example of this trope.
  • Demon Penguins, from the Club Penguin Fanon have a weakness to silver, are created through a cloning machine, and have their heads explode when they die. They can also be resurrected through cheese and have retractable horns. They are usually red, and carry pitchforks which allow them to teleport.
  • Lupine Tree has Lumber Jack, a human soulnote  fused with a timberwolf tree's soul. This fusion fits within Equestria's broad definition of a demon. Once Celestia learns of this, she orders him to be observed by the Paladin Order.
  • In Thousand Shinji:
    • The Keeper of Secrets is a daemon of the ''Warhammer 40,000 universe, created by one of the Chaos Gods and unable to survive out of its home dimension.
    • The new Chaos Gods create new lesser daemons called Black Pharaohs, Valkyries and Reiglings. They're "fragments of their masters’ wills, creatures sent out to do their bidding, mirrors of their thoughts and emotions." They're not nice but they're not necessarily evil.

    Films — Animated 
  • Okay, it's not really a demon, but at the end of The Incredibles, Jack Jack's powers include setting himself on fire, turning into heavy brimstone, and transforming into the freaking baby devil. It's probable they are homages to a famous superhero with similar powers, i.e., The Human Torch, Silver Surfer, and The Demon. Or he could just be an Expy of the Super-Skrull.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dream Demons in A Nightmare on Elm Street. They are ancient and serpentine in appearance, and hold lordship over all nightmares. They find the most evil human imaginable, who they will grant the power to turn dreams into reality. They chose Freddy Krueger, and made him immortal too.
  • The genie race in the Wishmaster series are largely merged with much of the folklore about demons. The Djinn are one of three entities made by God (the others are Angels and Humans) while demons are not stated to exist as separate beings, the wish-granting is identical to a Deal with the Devil since the Djinn's prize is the wisher's soul, and their home dimension is almost identical to Fire and Brimstone Hell, where the souls he collects are gathered to suffer eternal torture.
  • Ferriman in Ghost Ship is a wicked former human who became a servant of Hell because of his sins. He collects souls for his infernal masters, calling himself a "salvager". He doesn't make deals, and instead tries to tempt people into committing crimes out of the sin of Greed to damn their own souls, which he can then take "home" when he fills his quotum. He can shapeshift, recover from gunshot wounds, and mark ghosts to become his servants in death.
  • Though not stated as such in the film itself, the title monster of The Babadook is this sort of creature.

  • The Aash Ra Va of the Astral Dawn series function in the role of demons. The dark Earth spirits later take over that role after the Aash Ra Va leave the Nine Dark Worlds.
  • In Shaman of the Undead, they are entities that live on the other side of the mirrors in various hells, although most seems to be ruled by the Tempter. They can possess people, and people "tainted" by black magic and demonic possession may become demons themselves. Most of them crave human flesh and souls, although some (like Bad Luck) satisfy themselves with pranks.
  • In Piers Anthony's Xanth series, there are traditional "minor" demons (tempt humans, collect souls, horns, tails, etc.) and the Greater Demon X(A/N)^TH, a vast cosmic being who powers the entirety of Xanth's magic.
    • The smaller demons are also not necessarily evil (though they usually lack souls). Males tend to be big bullies, although some like Beauregard can get along fine with mortals. Females tend to be more naughtily sexy than malevolent. And all bets are off should any of them receive all or part of a soul: it tends to make evil monsters into good guys. As for the big, cosmically powered ones, they are also not evil, although they basically view mortal creatures as insignificant ants, and use them as the pieces in their big universal chess game.
  • Dora Wilk calls all citizens of hell "hellians" and divides them into devils (fallen angels) and demons and czarts, who lived there before devils arrived and took charge. All three groups are super-strong and look like humans, although some odd horn or strangely-colored eye might come in play and demons have bristles instead of hair. Demons are stronger, have magical powers and are divided into Families of Anger, Temptation, Chaos and Beasts, and czarts are less powerful, but independent and more humanlike.
  • The title character of Isaac Asimov's "Azazel" series of short stories is just out to help people... but his poor understanding of humanity and rather incompetent human intermediary tend to cause it to fail hilariously. Though he may actually just be a Sufficiently Advanced Alien. Also, he's only two centimeters tall. And the Unreliable Narrator may be making him up.
  • In the Myth Adventures series by the late Robert Asprin, "demon" is just a corrupted form of "dimension traveler", meaning that the term takes in a wide variety of species - and that humans who travel to another dimension are also regarded as "demons" there. Some demons look the part, like the horned, red-skinned, goat-legged Deveels, but even they're just avaricious Space Jews.
  • In R. Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse, demons (called ciphrang) are incorporeal beings from the Outside who are summoned by Functional Magic to take physical form in the world. Ciphrang vary in power, but the strongest are a match for the strongest sorcerers. They find the physical world painful and hate every second of being inside of it. The cost of summoning them is that after the summoner dies, the demon will torture him forever out of revenge. Some people don't think the cost that high in a world where sorcerers are considered damned anyway.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files (particularly Death Masks and Small Favor), the Knights of the Blackened Denarius are human hosts to fallen angels. Each host, after an initial temptation, took up one of the thirty titular denarii (the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas for betraying Christ). Each of the Fallen lives within its human host, who grants him or her various abilities such as Voluntary Shapeshifting. If a host is killed, the coin he or she holds comes out of the corpse, which reverts to human form, and attempts to catch another host.
    • They are specifically known as the Fallen though. "Demon" is a generic term for any being from a specific region in the Nevernever.
    • In addition, there are a variety of super-demons known as Outsiders that come from outside reality itself. These are considered so horrible and dangerous that any wizard who summons one (or even seeks out detailed information about them) is sentenced to death. Also, one of the Senior Council members, the Gatekeeper, has it as his job description to keep the Outsiders from getting in.
  • The demons in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen are any type of alien creature from an Another Dimension. There are many different kinds; the only commonality is that they can be summoned and controlled by sorcerers or alternatively bargained with. As a consequence, some of the demons seen in action are gentle souls who just want to go home to their old life as a humble extradimensional peasant.
  • In Kim Harrison's The Hollows, demons are not mythological beings but a powerful race of Black Magic using Shapeshifter aliens living in the novel's Alternate Universe Dark World the Ever After. They can be summoned to make a Deal with the Devil for things such as magical knowledge, assassination, or in one case giving legal testimony. Demons often attempt to manipulate the deal in order to take the summoner into the Ever After and enslave them as a Familiar which is considered A Fate Worse Than Death.
    • Later on, it is revealed that the demons are the ancestors of the Witch Species of the series. An ancient elven curse reduced the demons' fertility, resulting in their offspring being short-lived and unable to combine ley line magic with earth magic, cutting them off from the most powerful spells a demon can perform. These became the first generation of the witches.
  • Douglas Hill's young-adult novels Blade of the Poisoner and Master of Fiends featured demons that resembled everything from giant vultures to grotesque crystalline golems to Eldritch Abominations. They were all hard to kill to some degree or another, and all uniformly nasty.
  • C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters is an exploration of what sort of society demons might have. The demons' physical form is not described (though when Screwtape gets particularly infuriated he becomes a large centipede, requiring him to fetch a secretary to take dictation), but Hell is sort of like a Police State full of Corrupt Corporate Executives - ordered under Satan, but still squabbling and infighting amongst themselves.
  • In the Colt Regan universe, Demon is a sort of catchall term for various types of extraplanar beings with whose traits vary wildly from type to type. Often containing one (or more than one) of the common traits listed above.
  • Nasuverse demons are rather unique in that they are described as an actual 'substance' in and of themselves. Unlike other phantasm creatures (e.g. unicorns), they are created from the images of humanity and exist only to draw in disruptions. Possessions are actually the demons' attempts to draw pain and suffering away, but being 'impossible' creatures, their manifestation generally causes harm and eventually kills the host.
    • Then you have all the cultural variants which may also be labeled as demons but are completely different, like the ''oni'' in South-Asian countries.
  • In the Incarnations of Immortality series, Demons can be created out of "ether" by the Incarnation of Evil and can look like pretty much anything he wants them to.
  • Demons in Good Omens are of the typical biblical Fallen Angel fare, with the exception that their wings don't really change — they just keep them better groomed.
  • In The Descent by Jeff Long, it turns out that there is a physical, real-life equivalent to Hell and demons - an underground world of tunnels and the brutish "hadals" that inhabit it. These creatures are degenerate hominids with demonic features and a taste for senseless, incredibly brutal violence. They are also led by a kind of Satan.
  • Middle-Earth demons are Ainur (angels) who joined Morgoth in rebellion against Eru Ilúvatar. Being shapeshifting spirits with various areas of influence, they come in several types, ranging from relatively weak vampires and werewolves to the immensely powerful Balrogs (and possibly Dragons too), and Sauron who seems to be (mercifully) unique in sheer power level.
    • Despite "orc" deriving from an old word for demon, Tolkien's orcs are not demons of any kind (though it's implied that some of their commanders were orc-shaped demons) — rather, they were mortal creatures likely bred from Elvish and/or human stock. Real demons, such as the aforementioned Balrog, are far more powerful.
    • There are also rather odd beings of uncertain origin, like Ungoliant, a bizarre spider-monster whose nature is never explained. As all the evil in Arda was caused by Morgoth, she might even have come from somewhere else. Then there are the frightful, "nameless things" that "gnaw" the roots of the Earth, mentioned but never described by Gandalf.
  • There are two kinds of demons in the Night Huntress books, those in their own corporeal bodies and those possessing hapless victims. A possessor cannot be killed, as they simply jump away into the nearest living thing when their current host dies, although they may be exorcised, or their host killed with nothing in range for them to possess. Corporeal demons are vulnerable to salt and cannot cross thresholds without an invitation, and can be killed if stabbed in the eyes with a knife made from demon bone.
  • In Black Dogs, demons are incomprehensible creatures stretching out into unknown dimensions, able to be summoned and controlled by uttering their names.
  • In The Guardians, demons are Fallen Angels who followed Lucifer in his bid for God's power. They are bound by Rules not to harm humans or deny their free will, but they can still tempt them with bargains and wagers.
  • In Quantum Gravity, demons live on another plane of existence, and Hell is not a physical place. Devils are best described as evil spirits, and are basically the opposite of everything that demons stand for. Demons make everything an art—you might not want to think too hard about that—and are very much for being one's self, regardless of what that is. Devil's push people to make sacrifices (of self) now for some vague reward in the future, e.g. the greater good, prestige. A demon with (a) devil(s) cannot behave a a demon, and becomes an imp; imps push people through/around Hell. Demons come in many colors, and every shade means something different. Humans cannot become demons, but any creature who can interact aetherically can. Zal, for instance, is born elf but is also a demon.
  • The Demons (or, if you're a Morindim, the Devil-Spirits) in David Eddings' The Belgariad and The Malloreon, are incredibly powerful beings who can be summoned by the truly reckless (or the truly stupid) to do their bidding; practitioners of this are known as magicians or wizards. The smarter magicians bind their Demons inside an illusion and protect themselves with pentagrams and other magical protections; as long as the Demon remains inside the illusion, it must do it's master's bidding, if and when it breaks out, the pentagram will (hopefully) protect it's master. The stupidest magicians just summon the Demon and try to force it into doing their bidding. They seem to come in an infinite number of forms, and have a wide variety of powers from the application of sheer brute force, to More Than Mind Control, and full on Demonic Possession (of a freakin' dragon, no less). They seemingly cannot be killed, and must be sent back to their own universe; this is a pain for the heroes, especially once two contenders for the role of Big Bad start using a pair of Demon Lords as their respective Dragons; unlike normal Demons the Demon Lords are consenting to work for their masters, largely to fullfill their own agendas. Hell, their home base, is alternately described as another universe, and a "state of mind"; they are said to work for a Satanic figure known only as "The King of Hell," who seeks to become ruler of the universe. It's worth noting that summoning a Demon never ends well; eventually it gets away and either eats you, or (in the case of the two Demon Lords) drags your soul into Hell and feeds upon it for the rest of eternity.
  • Terry Brooks:
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, demons are a major element and have been in the Back Story; one of Prospero's son is nicknamed Demonslayer.
  • In Sara Douglass' The Crucible trilogy demons are the offspring of angels and mortal women who are consigned to Hell to keep them out of their fathers hair and because the angels consider procreation shameful although some have avoided this fate and seek to overthrow their fathers rule of Earth.
  • The negative implications of demons are completely averted in the Dragaera series, which has a lot of Dark is Not Evil present, as the term only means "someone who can be summoned" without any moral implications. Verra the Demon Goddess (the patron goddess of some of the protagonists and the mother of one of them) is called as such because she was formerly a slave to the Jenoine before taking her position. There's also a character called the Necromancer who is an undead demon summoned from a place called the World of Seven Doors, who thereafter serves Sethra Lavode and aids the protagonists. This probably also explains why a gangster in the series is known as the Demon—he's an assassin and can be "summoned" for the right price.
  • In Kage Baker's Children of the Sun series demons are actually air elementals (Their name for themselves is "Children of the Air"). They're not necessarily evil, but are very chaotic. They have a natural form, which can only be seen by those with magical sight, but they can assume (or be forced into by a magician) a physical form. If it's a chosen form then they can also dissolve it and their next physical form can be totally different. If forced magically into a form they are stuck in it until released or killed. If their owner has their true name then they can be returned to that form. If not then they are free.
  • The Age of Fire series has demen ("deep men") - horned, dorsal-spiked, carnivorous hominids who inhabit the more inhospitable parts of the Lower World. They're not really demons per se, but the similarities are probably intentional.
  • In the Riftwar Cycle, there are seven known levels of existence, with each being more dangerous than the one above it. Mortals come from the first level; demons are from the fourth and fifth (the overwhelming majority of demons featured in the series are from the latter). They are characterized by being incredibly vicious and living only for the id, and possess the power to absorb traits and knowledge from other living things they eat; there are several different "paths" a demon's evolution can take as it aborbs more powers, though they all seem to start out as imp-like beings, and will eventually reincarnate if killed. They are ruled in their own realms by Demon Kings, the most notable of whom are Maarg and Dahun, but can be summoned by sorcerers to the mortal realm (weaker demons are much easier to summon and compel- incredibly elaborate preparations are needed for an attempt to summon Dahun, and no attempt is even made to try and control him). A Kingdom Besieged had a young demon named Child as a major POV character though it turned out she is actually a dead human character reincarnated as a demon- exactly how it happened we don't know yet.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them describes some magical beasts as demons. All they have in common is that they're small, vaguely malevolent, and rather pathetic.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East and Book of Swords universe, demons are powerful evil spirits who used to be nuclear bombs. When a general global nuclear war broke out, the United States activated a device called Ardneh that literally changed the laws of nature within the vicinity of planet earth to make nuclear reactions much less likely, preventing the chain reactions that make nuclear bombs, and nuclear reactors, possible. While this saved the human race, it also led to the collapse of technological civilization, and made magic possible and real. In this new, magical, world, the nuclear bombs became the demons. Fortunately, Ardneh still lived to fight them.
  • Roger Zelazny:
    • In The Chronicles of Amber series, "demons" is the term used to refer to all of the creatures that inhabit the Courts of Chaos, other than the Lords of Chaos themselves (a distinction which gets a bit blurry at times). Some look like the traditional horned and scaly monsters, but they run the gamut from talking cats to mathematical abstractions (they are creatures of Chaos, after all). The one thing they all have in common in that they are all capable of Voluntary Shapeshifting to one degree or another. This is not so much a magical power as it is an evolved survival mechanism for living in Chaos, where the environment is frequently subject to change without notice.
    • In Lord of Light, the demons are actually natives of the planet who lived there before humans came. They are disembodied creatures with the power to manipulate energy, and can possess people by controlling their neural activity, which they love to do so they can experience the pleasures of the flesh that they long ago abandoned. They are known as Rakasha, after the snake demons of Hindu Mythology, but when they choose to manifest, it is usually as a pillar of fire, not a snake. Their energy-manipulation abilities are similar to Sam's, but his are more powerful, which is how he earned the title "Binder of Demons".
  • The Book of All Hours - the Unkin. Humans that experienced a unique event in their life that allowed them to touch the Vellum underneath reality. In the multiverse inscribed on the surface of the Vellum, these meta-humans have long since taken up different roles, presenting themselves to mortal humans in different ways in pursuit of power.
  • In the web-novel Domina, demons are just humans who used the toy maker to add horns, fangs, and maybe a tail to their bodies. Although there are the succubi...
  • Sandman Slim has Hellions, which are the traditional fallen angels, kissi, who are the detritus of God's creation of the universe and feed on chaos and negative emotions and demons who are fragments of the Old Gods.
  • Felix Castor has demons of many stripes, ranging from the old standards (Asmodeus, Moloch, succubi like Juliet) to more mindless, rampaging things (The Naming of the Beasts sees something Juliet compares to a herd animal of Hell possessing a gymnasium). Like ghosts, they can be called up and exorcised by any number of means. And on rare occasions, it's possible for a human ghost to metamorphosize into a demon.
  • The Laundry Series uses "demon" as a catch-all term for some of the intelligences called down from the platonic realms. The books have so far featured unbound incubi (taking the form of an old lover), bound succubi (turn the host into a sex machine, but consume the souls of those they sleep with - and if not fed, they'll eat the host's soul), and lamia (reptilian kill machines). Most of the creatures are more akin to the Great Old Ones than conventional demons, though.
  • In the Children Of The Lamp series, demons apparently exist (one or two are encountered) and are apparently Fallen Angels, but are only vaguely described. The Evil Djinn serve as demonic stand-ins, and their three tribes (Ifrit, Shaytan, Ghul) are all named after demons or evil spirits from Arabic legends. The most powerful and evil Djinn in the world, Iblis, is even named after the Islamic Devil.
  • In The Warded Man, the corelings rise up from the Core each night, and they, and their remains if they are killed, are destroyed by exposure to sunlight. They are almost immune to normal weapons, but can be kept at bay and even killed by wards, though the offensive wards were lost until Arlen rediscovered them.. They are also divided into various subtypes, most of which are associated with an element. They have animal level intelligence except for the mind demons, who are dangerously intelligent and Always Chaotic Evil.
  • In the Night Watch series all demons are just Dark (i.e. selfish and egoistic, but not necessarily evil) magicians in their Twilight form. They can assume it at will when in "normal" world, and they automatically switch to it deep in Twilight. Since all magicians are born and grow up as humans, their appearance reflects the views of their society and Evil Makes You Monstrous is played straight. Thus teen delinquents in Dark Watch (or Face of Black Palmira) look like Big Red Devils from crappy movies.
    • Not all Dark Others become demons: witches and warlocks (the ones "connected with nature") always stay human, albeit the stronger they are, the older they look; Dark magician Edgar stays more or less human, which says a lot; Fafnir was a dragon; Anton describes one mook he killed as a humanoid lizard.
    • Then there are "lower Others" — generally not very strong in their narrow specialization, quite weak outside it and with a very limited choice over their form. One such creature mentioned in passing in Day Watch is a "beskud"note  — literally "miracle devil". Little info is given other than slitted pupils and triangular teeth. It is not elaborated if beskuds share lower Others' ability to convert humans to the likes of themselves. If vampires and werebeasts can do that, maybe so do beskuds.
    • Daevanote  or jinn is something else entirely — "a golem made out of pure energy". Very powerful, hard to control and near-indestructible, unless the magician knows a very specific spell. In medieval Middle East creating and controlling a daeva was a part of exam to the rank of Great Magician.
    • Devona or "daeva-possessed" has nothing in common with daeva aside from being Central Asian. This is a human infused with magic to be a better assistant to a powerful mage. The one we get to see is a master of combat magic and Obfuscating Stupidity. His introductory chapter ends with Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Ro.Te.O has its devils possessing Elemental Powers and the standard bat wings. These guys fit definition 2 dot point 2 best although they aren't the creation of the Fallen Angels, rather they're the creations of this universe's Satan. Otherwise, they're pretty human... the main seven demons (and the two Fallen Angels in existence) going so far as to stand for each of the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Demons in the Discworld series are inhabitants of the Demon Dimensions and are malevolent. Exactly what they're like beyond that seems highly variable, but it tends towards the Eldritch Abomination end of the spectrum.
  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy "demons" are more like genies, who exist on a different plane and can project themselves as almost anything but have no real physical form. And they don't like to be called "demon" anyway; that's what the magicians call them.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, we have the Voidbringers. Shrouded in Myth, these things are generally agreed to be terrifyingly evil and powerful, but little is known about them. Words of Radiance implies that the Voidbringers are in fact Voidspren (small slivers of Odium) possessing various physical forms to affect the world.
  • In the Daniel Faust series, Demons are divided by Choirs of Sin, which influence their personality and powers. For instance, a demon from the Choir of Lust gets a corrupt cop addicted to her touch as if it was heroin, while people become so listless in the presence of a Sloth demon that they might starve to death instead of getting out of bed.
    • Doing evil for evil's sake is a pretty low priority for demonkind, at least the ones we've met so far. They're either out to satisfy their own ambitions (Nicky and Sullivan) or they're operatives in the endless cold war between Hell's feuding courts (Caitlin and Emma). They can be polite and even friendly — as long as they're getting what they want. Stand in their way, though, and the politeness vanishes in the blink of an eye.
  • The main villian of Fancy Apartments is a dark spirit named Vrotheus the Vile. Dangerous, powerful, evil, and with a great fondness for hexes and curses. Oh, almost forgot to mention: is also a large ham.
  • The main villain of When Demons Walk is a demon, and for most of the plot it seems to be quite the average demon, but in the end, it turns out that all the demon's evil plans had the goal of returning home after hundreds of years of being bound to the human world.
  • Last Mage, apart from one Fallen Angel, has interdimensional travellers with more or less Uncanny Valley looks, more or less Blue and Orange Morality and generally slightly starfishy. Not hostile at all, until you are hostile to them, which humans, unfortunately, are wont to be.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, Demonkin are a type of Darkfolk. They come in a variety of forms; ranging from the classic Big Red Devil, to nightmarish amalgamations of insect and reptile parts, to truly abstract and alien conceptual embodiments. Most are capable of shapeshifting, but they are unable to disguise their distinctive kaleidoscopic eyes.
  • Childhood's End is an interesting example. The reason mankind "made up" demons looking like they do in mythology is because of a pre-memory of the fact that the alien race that will eventually arrive and take the children to the next stage of evolution have wings and horns.
  • Demons in Runemarks are so different they barely qualify for any of the traits listed above. From what has been mentioned, they originate in Chaos, are subordinate to Lord Surt (although Loki and Angie are pretty much just out for themselves), have Voluntary Shapeshifting, and are 'almost, but not quite the same thing' as gods, who are often referred to by the Folk as 'demons', mainly because the religion that has taken over from (what we would recognise as) Norse paganism in this universe would really rather people not make a distinction between the two.
  • Tanith Lee has several races of demons in her Flat Earth books. They live Underearth, ruled by the dark prince Azhrarn the Beautiful, Lord of Wickedness. The Vazdru, like their prince, seem like beautiful more-than-human beings, while their servants, the Eshva, live for their dreams and sensations; and the little Drin are master craftspeople somewhat like Dwarves. Her amazing tales of these not-always-malevolent beings seem similar to Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian and occasionally Russian and even Irish myth, but are in many respects like nothing that ever was.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle has two types of beings that people call "demons".
    • Quethnethogs, as they call themselves, are actually Wild creatures that look like large dromaeosaurids with opposable thumbs and emit a fear-inducing aura as a weapon - which is why they became known as demons.
    • Any creatures that possesses other creatures is known as a demon, even if it was human in life.
  • In The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, everything has three souls: the name-soul, the clan-soul, and the world-soul. If something's souls are scattered upon death so that it loses its clan-soul then it becomes a demon: it still remembers its life, it just hates everything that lives because the light of life is blinding to demons. The other options are ghosts, who have lost their name-souls and so have no memory, and the Lost Ones, who [1] have no world soul.
  • The Vagrant Trilogy: Unbound infernals are amorphous things with no clear personality. It takes effort for them to gain a form to protect themselves from the world. The most powerful are those who have found ways to survive; the Usurper possessed the corpse of Gamma and resurrected it (though it did a poor job), and the Uncivil wove herself a cloak of corpses that her cultists repair. In addition to the Usurperkin and the Uncivilkin, there are other lesser infernals with no allegiance and little intelligence.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Despite Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel ostensibly taking place in the same universe, demons had a drastically different role in the two series, and indeed this meant that by the end of it things shifted drastically. In early Buffy, demons are Always Chaotic Evil - always - while representing the fears and traumas of high school teenagers. In early Angel, demons represent the downtrodden. Sometimes. Except when they're Always Chaotic Evil. By the end of things, "demon" basically just meant "extra-dimensional alien" (except for the ones who were from Earth but pre-dated humanity, so it was still pretty confusing...)
    • This is justified arguably by the fact that all living demons are actually hybrids, so while some might be Always Chaotic Evil, others might just be chaotic neutral. The only true demon we ever see is the Mayor after his ascension, aside from the "top surface" demon coming out of the Hellmouth in the season 1 finale and in "The Zeppo". We never see the whole thing, though. We do get to meet one of the Old Ones (Illyria), but only after she uses Fred's (human) body as a vessel. Her true form is only shown in an illustration. The Scourge claim to be pure-blooded, supported by the fact that a machine designed to kill anyone with human blood didn't affect them. This may be because they have a sufficiently low percentage of human blood; as stated, there are no truly pure demons remaining on Earth.
    • It may be that more of the demons in Buffy were Always Chaotic Evil than in Angel because Buffy takes place in Sunnydale, a town built on top of a Hellmouth and specifically founded to be a feeding ground for demons, while Angel takes place in Los Angeles, which has a greater diversity in the evil to demon ratio.
    • Given that Buffy's demons and magic are frequently a metaphor for growing up, the demons going from appearing as Always Chaotic Evil to being more varied in their portrayals could simply be a metaphor for the realization that life is not always as black and white as we think it is when we're young. Case in point, Clem. Appearing in seasons six and seven, he's a nice guy, with the exception of liking kittens.
    • Truth be told, a lot of demons in later Buffy episodes seem to be more Always Chaotic Neutral or Always True Neutral. Take Anya's vengeance demons for example. They're not explicitly malicious, and in many ways act like bureaucrats of the demon world. They have hopes and dreams and desires, and if it means they have to make a man's penis explode in the course of their jobs, so be it. Most of Anya's relatives at her wedding are actually quite friendly, and only turn on people once Xander's dad starts acting like a complete asshole. Really, like in Angel, the implication seems to be that demons just have different standards of goodness than humans do.
    • There are several instances where Angel kills a horrible looking demon monster only to learn that he was actually on the side of good, and assuming him to be the enemy. There are guardian demons, protector demons, empath demons, healer demons... Most look quite monstrous regardless of their profession.
  • In Supernatural, the demons, both the low-level ones and the high-level ones like Azazel, Lilith, and Alastair, are human souls that have been twisted by Hell's torments, Lilith being the very first human soul Lucifer (himself a Fallen Angel, naturally) corrupted.
    • Demons in the Christian mythological sense exist too, in the form of Satan, though his host of rebel angels is conspicuously absent.
    • Cain is a third type of demon, cursed directly by God instead of twisted by Hell. The Knights of Hell may or may not be a semi-separate variant related to his mark as well.
  • Reaper's demons have horns and can shapeshift, but mostly look and behave a lot like normal humans. Some of them even want to bring down the devil for non-selfish reasons. By planting flowers. Don't knock it, it probably would have worked in about 400 years or so.
  • Charmed uses demons as the main antagonists for most of the series. Generally, the term "demon" is used for any magical person or creature who uses their powers for evil. Initially, many demons had odd, otherworldly appearances as well as coming in more human-looking varieties, but budget-cuts in later seasons led to ALL demons basically looking like humans with a penchant for either black leather or sharp suits. At times, warlocks are also treated as low-level demons.
  • Lost Tapes, despite being about mysterious animals, has a few supernatural demons appear in it. Mainly, the Hellhound and The Jersey Devil. It also features the "Dover Demon" - no one knows what the hell that one was.
  • Kamen Rider Wizard has the Phantoms, demons summoned by a dark magic ritual which included a Human Sacrifice. They're born when a person with magical potential called a 'Gate' crosses the Despair Event Horizon and seek to repeat the process with others so Wiseman can perform a ritual called the Sabbath.
  • Of course, It is incredibly common for Super Sentai\Power Rangers to use Demons and Youkai as Monsters of the Week. The Big Bad of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger is called "Dai (Great) Satan", though he's just a giant floating head.... who yells a lot. Not exactly what one would think of when thinking about Satan. (Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers dropped that whole aspect and turned Dai Satan into Lokar, a random monster who served Rita.)
  • In Crazyhead, demons possess ordinary humans and go about unseen by most, save for seers such as the protagonists. They seemingly can transfer from body to body when injured and kill the host upon being exorcised.


    Mythology and Folklore 
  • In the Old Testament, demons like Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies, were the gods of other tribes in the near East. Beelzebub was a corrupted form of Ba'alzebul, or translated from Phoenician, "Lord of the Temple". Zebub means "flies" in Hebrew, so it was a kind of a Take That! to old Baal. Didn't help that at least one Baal (there were a bunch of them; not surprising since the word just means "lord" in most of the languages of the region) had a habit of divination by watching flies. (hey, the Romans did it with birds...)
  • The English word Demon comes from the Greek Daimon (Latinized to Daemon), but in pre-Christian Greek Mythology the meaning was quite different. A Daimon is a spirit or minor deity that lurks in the background doing minor things gods don't want to bother with, or personifying concepts like Death, Sleep, Famine, Insanity, Piety, and Hope. Generally Kakodaimones were the bad ones, and Agathodaimones were the good ones. Daimon was also used for a sort of personal guardian "fate" or soul-double that accompanied a mortal through life. Sometimes a mortal could become a Daimon. However, this was simply seen as a different form of existence, instead of a remarkable change.
    • The oldest sources have Daimon used in reference to the Gods. The Christians refered to the Greek Gods as Daimons/Demons because that is what they were actually called by their own worshippers. Few of the Demons were what we would call good.

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    Tabletop Games 
  • Word of God says that the Mortasheen equivalent to demons are The Devilbirds, birds that have been psychically charged with certain emotions and must eat said emotions for sustenance, tending to do it in the most horrifying ways possible.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has always maintained differences in Devils, Demons, and Daemons. Mostly. There have also been numerous minor fiendish creatures, such as Rakshasas, Oni, Barghests, Demodands/Gehreleths, and so on.
    • In the original edition of D&D, there were only Demons, with no Devils. The most powerful type of Demon was the mighty Balrog (which became the Balor after the Tolkien estate complained).
    • In the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Devils are Lawful Evil and come from Hell, Demons are Chaotic Evil and come from the Abyss, and Daemons are Neutral Evil and come from Hades. They were given little to differentiate each other aside from how Character Alignment defined their behavior.
    • In the second edition, due to controversy about being Satanic, the terms Demon, Devil, and Daemon were banned from the game and renamed "Fiends", which were separated into the Lawful Evil, corrupting, tyrannical Baatezu (Devils) from Baator; the Chaotic Evil, monstrous, bloodthirsty Tanar'ri (demons) from the Abyss; and the Neutral Evil Yugoloths (Daemons) from the Gray Waste, who are extremely manipulative and expert liars. The Planescape campaign setting introduced the Blood War, an eternal conflict between the Baatezu and Tanar'ri, with the Yugoloths serving as mercenaries and arms dealers for both sides.
    • Basic D&D, which had a different and in some respects more complex cosmology from the "advanced" version, cast demons as not-quite-Immortal creatures aligned with the Sphere of Entropy and had no separate devils as such. It did, however, have the "diaboli" — rather, well, diabolic-looking humanoid creatures native to the Dimension of Nightmares who in a bit of a twist (and unlike some other monsters from the same dimension) were very much presented as a case of Dark is Not Evil.
    • Third edition restored the names Demon and Devil, but otherwise changed little about their role in the game. They also retained the Yugoloths (but did not go back to calling them Daemons), but downplayed them. The Blood War was still going.
    • Fourth Edition finally broke the tie between the two Devil and Demon categories in nearly all aspects:
    • In Eberron, Demons and Devils are not a huge part of the setting. The concept of the dimension-spanning Blood War is limited to a single plane, Shavarath, where the Demons, Devils, and Angels are all locked in constant combat. Yugoloths still presumably exist in Eberron's cosmology but are given little attention. The more important fiends are the Rakshasas, who are actually native inhabitants of the world rather than extraplanar beings, and they ruled the planet for millions of years before being ousted from power by the dragons. The setting also includes two other broad categories of fiend, Daelkyr (Humanoid Abominations who are thematically closer to Cthulhu and co. than traditional demons) and Quori (nightmare spirits who seek to preserve their own reality by controlling all mortal dreams, and already rule one continent through the original Path of Inspiration) which are not technically demons, but might be colloquially referred to as such.
    • In Ravenloft, Demons (and fiends in general) are rare and mysterious beings, which enter the setting by transposing their bodies with those of morally corrupted human beings. Once in the Land of Mists, they are unable to return home; many acquire additional powers by performing rituals in various domains. Demons are able to cross sealed domain borders freely, as their vast evil cancels out the influence of darklords in a small area around them.
    • Pathfinder follows the example set by 2nd and 3rd Edition D&D, minus the Blood War. It defines the actions of the three fiendish races by their motivations: Devils want to corrupt the minds of mortals, Demons want to corrupt the body, and Daemons simply want to kill. Devils want dominion, Demons want destruction, and Daemons want mass extinction.
    • In Dragonlance, Demons, Devils, and Daemons exist, but they are all subservient to the gods of evil. Since the evil gods seem to prefer using their mortal servants to carry out any tasks they want done, the three fiendish races are rarely seen.
  • In Infernum, a D20 setting, demons are biological weapons created by Fallen Angels by crossbreeding themselves with Spawn (sort of mindless, soulless, proto-type lifeforms), then established into the nine Breeds (Artificer, Beast, Deceiver, Fiend, Hulk, Imp, Malcubus, Stalker, Slaver) by a long regime of surgery, crossbreeding, incest and black magic. Realising they were expendable in the eyes of their "fathers" they rebelled, ate all of them they could catch, chased the others clear out of hell, then took the place over. They torture souls to extract a substance called 'iliaster', which is literally meat, drink and fuel to them. And these are your player characters. Oh, and there's no real difference between 'demon', 'devil' and 'daemon' — "demon" is the name of the race, whilst "devil" is a title given to demons that have performed a notable and impressive feat and "daemon" is the lowest of the noble ranks, awarded to demons that display true mastery in some art or skill.
  • The RPG In Nomine has an incredible assortment of demons. All they have in common is that they're Fallen Angels, and every demon is a perverted version of the angel they used to be. The exceptions are the Lilim, who are all the children of Lilith and were never angels. While all (non-Lilim) demonic Bands are indeed perverted/corrupted versions of a Choir of angels, the vast majority of "young" demons have been created in Hell. The difference in outlook of a "Hellspawn" (who never saw Heaven and just knows the propaganda of the Demon Princes) and the actual, older Fallen Angels (who do, often painfully, remember their time in Heaven) is pointed out in one of the player character sourcebooks as important to keep in mind when roleplaying a demon. Still, even Hellspawn who never were angels in the first place can achieve redemption and become one of the Choir that corresponds to their Band.
  • Exalted:
    • All true demons are a type of spirit that is a part of a Yozi — Eldritch Abominations / dethroned Creators of the Universe. Each of the 23 Yozis has multiple souls with minds and wills of their own — at least 12, but the most powerful among them, Malfeas the Demon City, has 23. These are called Third Circle Demons. In turn, each Third Circle Demon itself has seven souls, these are called Second Circle Demons. The Second Circle Demons can create new species of demons, which are known as First Circle Demons. The First Circle demons can range from 24 fingered harpists who use time as a harp to beetles that swim through flesh and eat poison. Oh, and shape-shifting prostitutes are in there as well (they don't want your soul either, just some flesh to make a baby with way too many parents). Oh, and the major religion of the setting considers summoning them OK as long as you know what you're doing (and are a Dragon-Blooded, mortals shouldn't reach above their station, which is genuinely good advice on demon summoning in game).
    • And then there are the Infernal Exalted, who come from Solar Exalted shards warped by the aforementioned Yozis. While the Infernals start out as humans given great power with a few demonic touches and a First Circle demon's voice in their heads, they ultimately develop into something closer to a Yozi than a human. And they don't have to stay under their Yozi patron's control, either.
  • In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 daemons are created by the Chaos Gods, who themselves are the personifications of mortal emotions in the Warp. In Warhammer the Realm of Chaos is effectively Hell, but its 40k counterpart does a few things differently.
    • The Warp in Warhammer 40,000 is the source of all Psychic Powers in the setting, functions as the universe's "Hyperspace", and is where mortal souls go after death. The Warp is made of "psychic energy" affected by, and possibly created from, the emotions of sentient life. Eventually, particularly strong emotions gave birth to the aforementioned Chaos Gods, along with lesser daemons who act as extensions of their corresponding god's will. Daemons of a particular god will represent various aspects of its patron.
    • Thankfully, daemons are unstable in the Materium, and must pass through a Warp rift, be summoned via ritual, or find a host. Once they have crossed into our plane of existence, however, daemons are extremely dangerous, as they tend to be empowered by literal gods or warp reality around them. The trouble is that any psyker that has not been discovered and trained to control his abilities is susceptible to sudden, involuntary Demonic Possession.
    • Finally, one more way these daemons are different, is that as purely psychic beings they are extremely vulnerable to anti-psychic weaponry and cannot even touch blanks. This has allowed some factions to develop a few specialized anti-daemon countermeasures. Such weapons are rare, however, and More Dakka is often sufficient to kill Lesser Daemons. Of course, when all else fails, there's always Exterminatus.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Maeljin Incarna, who are high-ranking servants of the Triatic Wyrm who reside in Malfeas. The Maeljin Incarna each serve one of the Urge Wyrms by spreading corruption among humans.
    • Banes are minor spirits that serve the Triatic Wyrm. Banes can possess living beings, thereby transforming them into fomori.
  • The demons of Demon: The Fallen are angels who were stripped of corporeal form and cast into the Abyss; a recent clusterfuck in the spirit world freed most of them, though some of them were summoned to Earth by mortal sorcerers, bound to inanimate objects, and eventually became Eldritch Abominations. A demon typically needs a soulless body (e.g., someone who's brain dead, a severely catatonic mental patient, a recent murder or suicide) to retain a presence on Earth; strangely, this is actually a humanizing experience for many demons, as they get to experience what humanity's like after millennia of abuse. They still retain many of the powers they had as angels (which range from controlling flame to reshaping flesh to overseeing the dead), but can willingly tinge these powers with "Torment," which makes them more destructive and more likely to screw with humans.
  • In World of Darkness: Inferno (the New World of Darkness take on the subject), demons are embodiments of sin, looking to spread the sin they identify with on Earth to increase their power. Some demons can possess humans, giving them access to special abilities deriving from their iconic sin, both literally and thematically. Demons dwell in Hell, a realm of sin incarnate. The ultimate origin of demons is unknown; some demons are ghosts and spirits who fell to corruption, but not all.
    • Mage: The Awakening adds Goetic demons (the mage's own subconscious desires and inclination toward sin given spiritual form and manifested in the real world) and the demons of Pandemonium (natives of a Supernal Realm entirely unrelated to Hell).
    • Demon: The Descent introduces another take. Unlike the spirits covered in Inferno, these demons are former agents of the God-Machine who broke their links either by accident, deliberate achievement of free will, or "system fault." One of the stated moods of the line is "Techgnostic espionage."
  • Demons in Magic: The Gathering are generally somewhat expensive to summon, powerful, and potentially a hazard to their summoner. (A classic example is the Lord of the Pit, which basically turns on its controller if not regularly fed other creatures.) Most of them fall into the purview of black on the game's color wheel.
    • There isn't that much fluff as to where they come from, except in the Kamigawa block, where Oni are a particularly evil type of demon that make deals with ogres. Kamigawa is one of the few blocks to have demons without a trace of black mana in them - there are two oni that are mono-red.
    • Outside Kamigawa, most demons are the bat-winged, clawed, fanged, gigantic monster kind. However, one early demon was the flightless, half-fungus Mold Demon.
    • In Innistrad, demons cannot be truly destroyed, only sealed away, and their inhuman desires and urges take physical form as little devils that spawn from them and wreak havoc.
      • Griselbrand finds out that demons aren't so indestructible when up against a Planeswalker.
    • There's also the Red aligned devils, which are essentially Internet trolls with far more means to do damage. In an inversion of the Dungeons & Dragons system, Demons are Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil, while devils are Chaotic Evil.
  • Gamma World demons are an incredibly recent addition (As in, this current edition is the first to have them) to the game, basically being other-dimensional beings that can only appear in the world with the right mathematical equations. Some of the demons include a Creepy Child, a Sinister Minister, a demonic police officer that is an obvious homage to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and a gigantic Poisonous Demon.
  • Demons in Reign — although exceptionally powerful magical beings — are of decidedly natural origin, hatching from eggs that form in the earth of the game world. They also get really freaky as they get more powerful, to the point that the most powerful can usually break off parts of themselves to act as independent agents, and are statted with the system the game uses for kingdoms and organizations, rather than characters. Also, since they hatch from eggs in the ground, the world's giant fleas made of earthen materials which suck minerals out of the earth tend to be full of them.
  • Fiends (Demons in Japan), in Yu-Gi-Oh!, have their own type, and go all over the place as a result. Almost all of them are DARK, and they vary from (often lethal) Joke Characters (Kuriboh), to chess-based legions of Hell (Archfiend), to Demonic Invaders from Another Dimension (Dark World), to Horny Devils (Yubel) to Evil Counterparts (Evil Heroes), to borderline Eldritch Abominations (Raviel, the Devil Gods, Darkness Neosphere). It's sort of a catch-all category for things that could potentially be viewed as evil and aren't The Undead, in which case they're Zombies (well, Undead in Japan) Alien Invaders, which are almost always Reptiles for whatever reason, or Knight Templar, in which case they're usually Fairies (Angels in Japan).
  • Nobilis features both Devils and Demons. Devils are Fallen Angels (the motive for their Fall differs between edition: in first and second editions, they held corruption to be the highest principle, the foundation of existence, while in third edition, they fell because they believed everything, no matter how evil, deserved love); Demons are the beings who have populated Hell since before Lucifer's Rebellion, and are on a much smaller (spiritual) scale.
  • Daemons in The Splinter are more similar to malevolent elementals than traditional demons.
    • There is also the fact that they're part of a massive VR simulation that somehow became real.
  • In Unknown Armies, demons are treated more like ghosts are elsewhere. They are uniquely obsessed souls who were incapable of letting go of the mortal world, and as a result their personality rots away until the obsession is all that's left. In order to fulfill the obsession (which can be anything from finishing a novel to eating painfully spicy Mexican food), they have to possess humans. They can be summoned by magick users, but while they do usually know about the occult underground to some extent, they can and will lie as much as possible in an attempt to get a body to ride. Worse, someone with a high Soul can unwittingly allow a demon to possess them any time they play with an Ouija board or even pray. Demons aren't evil, exactly, but because of their focus on fulfilling their obsession, they will only show compassion if it's convenient for their goals. They're amoral, but not necessarily immoral — though given the need for possessing humans, morality falls by the wayside fairly quickly.
    • Demons can also possess animals, but by cramming themselves into such simple beings, they lobotomize themselves in the process. Eventually the spirits of the demon and the animal intertwine, and this fused soul can then possess a human and create a lycanthrope. Lycanthropes are a three-way struggle between the animal, the demon, and the poor blighted human host. When the animal is in charge, the person retroactively becomes that animal, and further was always that animal. The human is erased from existence entirely, but in a roughshod fashion that reveals that something's wrong if you know where to look. When the human or demon regain control, the human always existed, and the animal never did. This can lead to such oddities as someone seeing a lycanthrope crow, which becomes a human again, which leads the witness to believe that they saw a flying person but didn't think anything of it.
    • The kicker is, because the adept schools of magic require a near-delusional obsession with a paradoxical worldview, adepts are far more likely to become demons than anyone else. So if you're an adept — and you probably are, as it's the fastest path to power in the game — you might have a rather interesting afterlife to look forward to.
  • In Rifts, Demons come from Hades, Deevils come from Dyval. They don't like each other very much. There are also the Chaos Demons, the Archaic Demons of Russia, the Oni of Japan, and the Infernals of China, who are all separate groups. Technically, only denizens of Hades are "true" Demons, but in practice the term is usually applied to any supernaturally powerful intelligent species (even Deevils, who tend to become homicidal when confused for Demons).

    Video Games 
  • Doom's monsters are invaders from Hell. They either take a monstrous physical form or they possess humans who become zombies, and some of them, such as the Cyberdemon, the Spider Mastermind, and the Mancubi, have cybernetic enhancements. Mainly the only way you can kill these things is with lots and lots of firepower, with rockets and energy weapons being used against the most powerful ones. In Doom 3, you have to use a magical weapon called the Soul Cube to take down the biggest and baddest one of them all. Likewise, in Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil, you have to use The Artifact, a weapon created by Hell itself, to kill off the guy who started it all. Oh, and he turned into a skeleton-dragon. Oh, and at the end, it makes you invincible, incredibly fast, and causes you to turn hell knights into Ludicrous Gibs with your bare hands.
  • 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. The Dremora, a specific race of Daedra, are the closest thing (aesthetically, at least) to traditional Demons. It is even Lampshaded in an in-game book that the word "Demon" is simply a mistranslation of "Dremora" that became popular with the general populace before anyone could correct it.
    • Also, many are pretty friendly, although it depends upon the Daedra Prince. Some are princes of Destruction, or Rape, for example (the habitation and minions of the former were portrayed, in Oblivion, as looking pretty much like a standard-issue hell) and then there are princes of dawn and dusk, madness, dreams, and so on. Also, because they are immortal, they have completely different concepts of good and evil. So Mehrunes Dagon (the equivalent Satan more or less) cant be seen as really evil, since his reasons for the Oblivion invasion could be far too hard for mortals to understand.
    • It might be better to think of the Daedra as a whole as differently moral... being quite immortal, the actions and fates of mortals are of fleeing interest. Summoned by a mortal wizard and forced to do his bidding? Being bound into a magical sword for a thousand years? When you can exist for millions, its of no more irritation than a human might experience with a few weeks in jail.
  • The Warcraft universe is depicted as a typical Angels, Devils and Squid Universe.
    • On the one hand, there are Eldritch Abominations referred to as the 'Old Gods' or 'aberrations' but never as 'demons' per se (even though they are just as evil and just as old as anything you might want to call a demon).
    • On the other hand, a whole menagerie of your typical horned and/or hoofed and/or tailed and/or bat-winged humanoid demons together with an assortment of many other nasty things comprise an organized army of demons called the Burning Legion, originally created by a corrupted deity who went mad after fighting too many Eldritch Abominations.
      • Some of these "true" demons were originally natural species, such as the Eredar, that were corrupted and inducted into the Burning Legion, others, such as Voidwalkers and Abyssals, spontaneously generated out of the twisting nether, or the void or other sources of powerful arcane and fel magic. Many demons in the legions are also cybernetic or entirely artificial constructions; like giant magic robots powered by demonic energy.
    • The Draenei invert more than one trope related to demons, like Fallen Angel and Ascended Demon. They are a good guy race and not demons, but look somewhat like demons (hooves, horns, etc.) because they are those Eredar who never "fell".
    • The mechanics of the games categorizes all NPCs into a limited number of groups that can interact with specific spell types. Demons, Aberrations, and Elementals are all distinct categories mechanically.
  • Sparda in Devil May Cry seems to be some sort of part-insect/part-goat humanoid thing. Also, Dante and Virgil are humanoid lizards in their devil forms, and just about every demon is completely different to each other. During the gameplay, you are supposed to fight minor demons and few of more "famous" ones appear as mission bosses.
  • Bowser himself could be considered one, seeing as he has the title of Daimaō ("Great Demon King") in Japan.
  • Demons in Dwarf Fortress are physically an extremely varied lot - procedurally generated beasts (as are Titans and Forgotten Beasts), ranging from horrible amalgamations of mundane animals with uncanny features such as three eyes, composed of things like ash or snow or what have you (though immune to fire and temperature regardless), with terrible poisons that will do anything from causing mild itchiness to making your eyes rot - but they all fly and ALL want to rip you to pieces. And there's more of them in Hell than there are ants on Earth. Sometimes they hijack human civilisations by tricking the inhabitants into believing they're a god, or goblin civs by means of brute force.
  • Final Fantasy XI's demons are of the summoned-and-serve variety that serve the Shadowlord, although it seems they originated from Odin, a Celestial Avatar.
  • Disgaea demons are generally absurdly powerful pointy-eared humanoids with a penchant for Card Carrying Villainy and breaking the fourth wall. There are also "monster-type" demons that include anything from Beasts, The Undead, or Dragons, to Metallic monsters and Cat Girls.
  • In the Diablo setting, demons are psychotic hordes sometimes created or altered by their leaders, the Prime Evils and the Lesser Evils. Even though they seem to have free will, they still do the bidding of their particular masters without question. They come in a huge variety of forms — from almost-human to green porcupines to the Blob to totally alien. In the second game, many enemies are not true demons, but creatures mutated by the forces of Hell. Killing demons primarily sends them back to Hell, which is the reason that the Soulstones were created — the angels needed a way to keep the Prime Evils from returning.
    • In the first game as well - the undead are not demons but corpses animated by the power of the Prime Evils, and the weaker creatures like Scavengers are mutated once-natural animals.
  • In City of Heroes, demons are explicitly magical, and most commonly associated with the Circle Of Thorns (an evil cult/lost civilisation… it's complicated). Other demons include the Wailers, who make deals with wannabe musicians and attack with the power of sound, and the demons bound by Anti-Hero Infernal, and his Mirror Universe counterpart.
    • Infernal is a demon, or at least a half-demon, as well. His mother turns out to be Lillitu, the Succubus Queen.
    • And that's only the official demons in the game lore. Good luck trying to count all the types of demon and half-demon player characters running about.
  • Arcana Heart demons are pretty much like your traditional demons. You know, comes from hell, could get summoned with a ritual, has horns and wings and fangs... well, besides the fact that all the demons we've seen so far are generally good, cheerful sorts with the most evil one being the Jerk with a Heart of Gold Mike. Oh, they're considered so much of an Unusually Uninteresting Sight amongst humans that they can legally get married to human women and receive jobs in the corporate world while their obviously half-demon children (complete with little wings and fangs) go to school and become friends with the local Miko (who will nonetheless note to said friend that there are certain rules against demons threading on their shrine). There is even one that is a nun.
  • In Guilty Gear, although the eponymous Gears are artificial magical creatures intended for human evolution, how they're made and treated, as well as being hunted down by a Christianity-based order, their general appearance and their One-Winged Angel forms, make them parallel traditional demons. They also can mate with normal humans and have half-Gear children (complete with Gear features and possessing a One-Winged Angel form).
  • Albion, demons are magical creatures deliberately created by wizards for use as living weapons by giving form to their fears. The list of fears they came up with for the game isn't very imaginative or sensible, as the only demons in the game are Fears, Animals, Plagues, and possibly Storms.
  • Demons in Dragon Age: Origins are denizens of the Fade that long to experience mortal life and are defined by different emotions: Rage, Hunger, Sloth, Desire, and Pride. To this end they frequently attempt to possess mortals, mages being their ideal targets. (Mages are self-aware while visiting the Fade and a possessed mage becomes a new creature called an abomination.) Some of Anders' and Justice's dialogue in Awakening hints that any spirit of the Fade can become a demon if their desires become too strong. This is likely the reason Justice is both fascinated and disturbed by the love that his deceased host Kristoff and his widow Aura shared — the desire for such a thing could very well turn Justice into a demon.
    • This is demonstrated in Dragon Age II, where Ander's hatred of Templars has turned Justice into a demon of Vengeance. Anders can let Vengeance take control of him as a sustained ability; he will do more damage in this state, but can't be healed.
  • Demons in Lusternia are extraplanar entities that were corrupted by the effluence of an Eldritch Abomination, ruled over by a council of similarly corrupted Demon Lords. They come in four varieties: slimy, greedy little imps; androgynous, sex obsessed fiends; crimson skinned classic demons; and hulking, winged Archdemons. They can be trafficked with, but only by Nihilists.
  • Touhou can a be a bit complicated. To begin with, there are creatures called akuma in Japanese which is translated as devil; additionally vampires are a type of devil. Oni may also be a type of devil; some are said to work in the Celestial Bureaucracy and others live in an abandoned hell underground. (Note that the Japanese word for vampire contains the character for oni). All of these have been referred to as types of youkai (but clearly not all youkai are devils). It gets more complicated with the existence of Makai (literally Demon's World). It's apparently not hell, but it's said to be inhabited by demons in the translation, which may/may not be different from devils. It should be noted that Makai is ruled over by an obvious Satan analogue but she is in fact described as being a God, and having created the place.
  • In Primal the inhabitants of all worlds except for earth are called demons. Only the wraiths and djinns have a real tendency towards evil, and even among them there seem to be some people who are quite okay. The udine and ferai are actually rather nice people, and none of the demon races look in any way demonic.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, "Demon" is actually a catch-all term for any supernatural being ranging from goblins and fairies to gods; even angels are technically one specific type of demon (though they'd probably be very angry at you if you called them that). Demons in general are still very bad news for unwary humans, despite not all being horned monstrosities straight out of a Doom game. This goes back to one of the original meanings of the word, simply "spiritual being." Technically the original word was "daemon", but close enough.
    Jonathan: My demons are a bit different!
  • Karel in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword is known as the "Sword Demon", but despite his name and bloodlust, he's actually a good guy, and later abandons it in favor of "Sword Saint" or "Saint of Swords", also known as "Kensei" in the original Japanese.
  • Might and Magic have had multiple types of demons and devils since the beginning of the series. The first were powerful hostile creatures with no apparent connection to the later ones in the same 'verse, while the second type, introduced in the sixth game of the RPG series and third game of the strategy series, was a race of invading aliens properly called Kreegan but called devils by mortal races because some of them looked like mythological devilsnote , with demons being simply one of their subspecies. The Ubisoft-verse has another story altogether.
  • Darkstalkers uses demon as a term for monsters that are extremely powerful.
  • In Dark Souls there are several varieties of demon, and all of them were birthed from the Bed of Chaos, which is what the Witch Izalith became after a magic ritual went wrong.
    • In Dark Souls II, none of the demon enemies from the first game show up, likely because the Bed of Chaos is long since dead. There are three bosses called "demon": the Covetous Demon, the Smelter Demon, and Demon of Song. If any have a connection to the Bed of Chaos is unknown, but Black Knight weapons don't do extra damage to them like they did to demons in the first game, so it seems unlikely.
  • Demons in Dungeon Maker II: The Hidden War are mostly humanoid and most of them even live on Earth with humans. They also seem to be a Fantasy Counterpart Culture based on feudal Japan.
  • Clive Barker's Jericho is set in "The Box", a sort of nightmarish dimension which God created to act as a prison for a Humanoid Abomination called the Firstborn. Every once in a while, the Firstborn attempts to escape The Box by using gullible humans as it's pawns, and it requires seven powerful warriors skilled in the supernatural arts to seal it back again, but doing so takes the pawns, the warriors and a piece of reality with it. The pawns, the warriors and any unfortunate goons taken along with the slice of reality are trapped forever in The Box, and if- no, sorry, when they are killed in there, they are brought back as hideous, insane abominations by the Firstborn.
  • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity: There are four kinds of demons: rock demons, pyro demons, snow demons, and shadow demons.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has three programmed, sword fighting, Horned Humaniod demons of the Chinese/Japanese variety at the end of the third sword training level.
  • Given the Guilty Gear games' continuous use of Christian motifs, the titular Gears loosely fit, as they play on many aspects of Christian demon mythology. They're not from Hell and they don't serve any Satan analogue (as they were created by humans from genetic engineering), but they do have various supernatural powers, tend to switch between looking absolutely monstrous and looking nearly human, work under bigger and more powerful Command class Gears, and have a weakness towards certain magical and holy weapons. Gears usually also have mental problems ranging from anti-social personalities to full-blown misanthropy and delusions of grandeur, though some Gears don't want to hurt anybody and in fact can be fairly decent people, as is the case with Dizzy, Testament and Sol Badguy.
  • The Ing, from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. They're born from an alternate, "Dark" plane of reality, and seek to destroy the light one. They can't survive in the light plane, so they possess various creatures in order to carry out their goals. Light-based weaponry is very effective against them. In their standard forms, they look like monstrous spiders or tentacles, and they can transform into an amorphous sludgy puddle to escape or evade attacks. They are malevolent, animalistic, and pose a threat to anyone who gets in their way. They are definitely aliens, but they are also demons in all but name.
  • The Infernal Demons in the Bayonetta franchise are beings based in Darkness, not Evil, however both Dark is Not Evil and Dark is Evil varieties do exist. Madama Butterfly, the demonic lord that Bayonetta has her Deal with the Devil contract with, for instance, has only ever been shown to completely loyal to her, and even shares a fist bump of friendship in the sequel when some of Bayonetta's demons start turning on her just to show she's still as trustworthy as ever.
  • Pony Island: They're specially-programmed AI named after famous demons, made to guard the core files from deletion. Whether or not the actual demons they're named after are inhabiting the program is up for interpretation. The only obvious "real" demon is Satan himself.
  • Both Pio and Tia from Potion Maker the only known demons in the game, are winged humanoids with pointy ears. It is also mentioned that their physical growth is slow, albeit Tia is an exception.
  • In Valdis Story: Abyssal City, "demon" refers to a human that has sold their soul to the Dark Goddess Myrgato. Lower-ranked ones are barely different from humans, while the generals have either taken or been given enough souls to become monstrous and powerful.
  • The Deadly Six from Sonic Lost World belong to a race of demons known as Zeti. They live on a floating continent known as the Lost Hex, and have the ability to manipulate electromagnetic fields.
  • Demons in Nexus Clash start out as mortals cursed by the forces of Good for their wickedness, who learn to subvert and shape that curse and make pacts with greater Evils to become beings ranging from seductive tempters to scheming demon lords to nigh-unstoppable behemoths to gibbering tentacle-spawning freaks. The variation is because different sorts of demons get their powers from different Dark Powers, who all hate each other and can't agree on what exactly a Demon is.

    Visual Novels 
  • SHUFFLE! has a demon race, and a god race. It basically means they're capable of magic, and they have long ears. Demons have longer ears than gods.
  • In The Second Reproduction, the demons are a powerful race with pointy ears and magical powers. All of them also have red eyes and really long lifespans.

  • The demons of The Dragon Doctors come in a rainbow of shapes and sizes. Some threaten people by manipulating their emotions, but the most insidious ones verge on transcending their medium to attack their victims on a metaphysical level.
  • E-Z and Gearhead from Powernap certainly look and act the part, although quite what they are, remains to be established
  • Demons in Heartcore are highly diverse (protagonist Ame is a succubus, while some of her rivals include incubi, salamanders, and sprites), but are all capable of reproducing with one another, regardless of the type of demon they are, or their gender.
  • Zoophobia enjoys and invokes this trope heavily. To name just a few, Damian, Zill, these and these characters are all classified as demons, or at least half-demon. Yes, really.
    • And also the many, intricate and diverse classifications of demons.
  • Reynardine from Gunnerkrigg Court is a talking mythological fox who gained body-snatching powers and subsequently lost his original body. Now he exists as some kind of fiery fox spirit that can't survive outside other people's bodies, which stinks for everyone else because he invariably kills his host. (This seems to be the sole reason why Sir Eglamore calls him a demon.) His cousin is a Trickster-god.
    • Zimmy, unkempt and nasty girl with freaky red eyes covered by black goo, was called a demon by Reynardine (who avoids touching her). Tom confirmed, though, that she's a human and it was just an invective in this case.
      • Though it seems pretty clear that human as though she may be, Zimmy isn't just a human.
    • It seems that in Gunnerkrigg Court "demon" is simply a pejorative used by people of ethereal beings that are dangerous, or that they simply don't like. Renard doesn't identify himself as demon, nor does anyone who befriends him. Likewise, he's prone of accusing Zimmy of being a demon, but no-one else agrees.
  • The Order of the Stick is based on the Dungeons & Dragons rules, but gives it a little twist. The main fiendish character is Sabine, and debate still rages over whether she is a demon or a devil (see Tabletop Games above for the distinction). Haley couldn't tell which type of arrow (silver for devils, cold iron for demons) would penetrate her Damage Reduction, so she used both, and still isn't sure which one worked. OOTS also features the Inter-Fiend Cooperation Commission, an experimental alliance between Demons, Devils and Daemons, who seek to prove that the three factions can achieve more together than apart. Sabine (and now Qarr, who at least is definitely a devil) works for them, further obscuring the issue of what side she is actually on. As for why no one can tell what Sabine is, both demons and devils feature attractive, winged, female creatures. Sabine most closely resembles a demonic succubus (she can shapeshift, drains life force, and describes herself as an "incarnation of illicit sex") rather than a devilish erinyes. However, she was sent to be the concubine of the explicitly lawful Nale. The revelation that she works for the IFCC might finally be an explanation for this, as it would give a reason for a chaotic being to be serving lawful interests.
  • The Inferni citizens in My Best Friend Marneao. The demons in the comic are horned humanoid monsters, with sharp teeths and red eyes, and a specific kind of super power, while other Inferni residents like Marneao, Lucifer and Miltch are human looking red devils with the classical horns and tail. The Inferni are slaves to Heaven after the new God ascension, and are not allowed to kill humans, and their home is not that bad compared with the elitist Heaven city, which is constantly attacked by abominations. In inferni, people can have a second chance, and demons and humans can have a relationship. The demons that attack our protagonist are also not really bad guys, just employers doing their job.
  • The incredible [and sadly concluded] webcomic Demonology 101 by Faith Erin Hicks had demons that walk among people, but have pointy ears and teeth.
  • Some of the demons in Sluggy Freelance come from the Dimension of Pain. Others can be summoned through the Book of E-Ville. Although it was implied the demons of the Dimension of Pain are less traditional demons and more like sentient creatures (human or otherwise) transformed by magic and a poweful mutagenic compound. The Demon King may be the only true demon in the entire dimension.
  • Buwaro from Slightly Damned has GOT to be the worst demon ever. The only danger of dying with him around is death by hugs. Unless, of course, you take his star pendent off.
  • Demons in Heroes of Lesser Earth are of the summon via conjuring variety.
  • Demons in Kismetropolis are of the fallen angel variety.
  • Demons in Drow Tales are actually creatures from other dimensions that don't have a physical form (and usually appear as floating red lights or black shadows with eyes) untill they latch on to the aura of a victim and eventually take over their body. Some of them like Khaless or Umpus are intelligent, and can pass off as full fledged members of their masters' clans. Most of them however are just animals that attack anything they see without a summoner to direct them.
  • Demon Eater The demons are cannibals and only transform after they eat.
  • Zebra Girl: The whole plot revolves around the accidental transformation of the title character from a normal girl into a demon, complete with hooves, bat wings, prehensile tail and pyrokinesis. It's a lot less fun for her than it sounds.
  • 8-Bit Theater gives us incest, urine, and bad haircut demons.
  • In Chirault, "demon" is apparently a blanket term for a lot of different dangerous (or not) creatures. These include horned humanoids (like the protagonist, Kiran), cat girls (called Kyrions), emaciated frog-monsters, and titans made of mud and tentacles. Some of these are intelligent, and some aren't.
  • In Planes Of Eldlor, an army of demons are lurking just on the other side of the rift, a gateway to their realm.
  • The Water Phoenix King
    • Darumatha is a classic Miltonian demon in many ways, announcing itself from the start as "The Demon-Dragon of Broken Hours," proclaiming its desire to overthrow the existing pantheon and rule the cosmos in turn, and tempting mortals to do its bidding with offers of unlimited power, glory, and treasure and/or Hannibal Lectures. It is also a shapeshifting entity bound from of old by the elder gods, whose default form is a world-spanning metal (yes, metal) serpent and whose preferred alternate form is that of a beautiful young woman. Despite having many good points to make about authority, righteousness and power, Darumatha has turned out to be definitely Evil. However, the difference between it and "the gods" is not so much a category one as a matter of metaphysical history being written by the victors, as the former ruling god and his angels were pretty horrible people themselves.
    • People tend to call any magical and/or dangerous thing a "demon" as well, such as shapeshifters, but this is not as careless usage as it first seems, since the lines are a lot blurrier than in Western mythology: anyone or anything can ascend to a "higher" level of being, given enough willpower, ambition, ability or training, and in theory become a demon/god if not defeated first. It's not easy, and it's not as if there are scads of ascending supernaturals around, but as in Eastern lore, it's possible: not all supernatural beings are the direct and deliberate creation of a deity.
  • In Wapsi Square, demons live in a separate world outside of our time line, attach themselves to sentient host creatures, and act in an advisory role. Most people can't see them directly, and they just seem to be a voice in the back of their heads. However, people can become living doorways to the demon realm, allowing them to see and speak to demons directly, and communicate with demons that aren't their own. In addition, if such a person dies under traumatic circumstances, such as a car accident, the demons can take control of the dead body, and continue to live without the host. They usually follow Blue and Orange Morality, but they do have a very strict set of rules.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has both angels and demons. The biggest difference between them is that the angels are subversive while demons are much more upfront.
  • The Demon in Friendly Hostility used to live in Fox and Collin's refrigerator. Not only is he not evil, he works as a nurse!
  • Demons in The FAN are psychic parasites that are formed as a result of powerful negative emotions in the minds of individuals with sufficient magical or psychic energy. They usually grow larger as they feed off these energies and eventually take over the host. Demons can be enslaved and called in using summoning magic. So far, their only weakness seems to be an enchanted camera that can trap and banish them.
  • Demons in Goblins are ancient entities from the deepest depths of reality (read: Hell) who are able to gain sustenance by inflicting suffering on the souls of other beings. They used to acquire suffering to consume by invading the realm of the gods and choosing some lesser divine entity to wage war against; when mortals came along, demons found them less satisfying as a meal, but the fact that they were plentiful and easier to subdue means many demons have switched to preying on them instead (Thunt, the author, likens this to a bear raiding trashcans in a suburban area). The concept of a Deal with the Devil arose because a demon who can aquire ownership of a mortal soul can torture it for the rest of existence, providing an infinite source of food. However, only the most powerful demons are able to take souls by force; most have to persuade a mortal to part with it willingly.
  • In Adventure Dennis the demons come in a variety of shapes and sizes and apparently live in Demonsylvania, ruled by King Demonevil. They kidnap the mayor because of his battery disposal policies.
  • Devil Girls in Sinfest are created by being "bomfed" (no, this is not an Unusual Euphemism, it's more of a sound effect) by Satan. There are also other devils who may have been bomfed or may have been born that way.
    • Blue at least appears to at one time have been a non-Devil girl in "Divinity School" with a young Jesus ... possibly an angel-in-training who was later tempted/corrupted by "bad boy" the young Devil. Young Blue has neither horns nor a tail.
  • The demons of Wildlife can be summoned and bargained with, but they are notorious tricksters and fond of using the Exact Words of a contract to trip people up. Taking a contract with them and failing to keep your end of the bargain generally means forfiting your soul to them.
  • The sura in Kubera are pretty obviously demons, being powerful supernatural creatures of varying strength that oppose the gods. The most powerful sura, the Nastika, are basically demon gods—they're actually more powerful than the gods, the difference is that the gods can resurrect themselves infinitely, while the Nastika only get to live once.
  • As a result of having The Gateway to Hell in his territory, Iceland in Scandinavia and the World has "dark matter demons" hanging around his house. He treats them as somewhere between cute pet and annoying pest.
  • In Hell(p) demons are Hell's government and look pretty human save for occasional horns, tails, and wings. Although in this world, anyone can have those and more. People generally dislike and distrust them, but some think they aren't all bad. Confirmed when one demon joins the team of human protagonists.
  • In Jason Shiga's Demon, demonism is an inheritable genetic condition which results in a parasitic flastical - a four-dimensional "soul organ" containing the person's personality and memories. Upon death, a demon's flastical will latch on to the nearest suitable host; however, the demon will die permanently if the nearest suitable host happens to already be "possessed" by another demon.

    Web Original 
  • In Soon, I Will Rule The World! this trope is invoked here and parodied here involving our world's demons taken from the Ars Goetia.
  • In The Antithesis, Demons only differ from angels by their phenotypes of black wings and dark hair. They live in the same world, but exist on lower layers of a planet that encapsulates Heaven and Hell, called "The Atrium". They do not possess the evil characteristics of the Judeo-Christian religion, but are actually a population of humanoid-looking beings, and their society contains moralistic values, political hierarchies (the highest being Lucifer, their leader/Military Commander/President, the second highest being the Archdemons) that formulate their Parliament, known as the "Obsidian Court". They are characterized with eccentric personalities, and their culture is embellished in art, literature, and theater.
  • Limyaael has a checklist of what to consider when creating demons.
  • In Demonic Symphony the demons are the embodiments of emotional energy projected on the world
    • In theory this means that there should be demons for other strong emotions such as love, but this isn't really touched on during the book.
  • In the online novel John Dies at the End, the demons turn out to be extradimensional genetically engineered bioweapons created by an insane organic supercomputer from an Alternate History. Somehow, they are still affected by crosses, prayers and the Bible.
  • In Tales of MU demons need to feed from humans to survive, and they have a craving for human flesh well beyond said need... and most of the rest is hearsay. They do have a strong association with fire, and have been shown to possess humans and tempt them. The story also has another class of Petting Zoo People called "yokai" who in Fanon sometimes fall prey to the translation problem mention above.
  • The Salvation War has several different variants of demon. They are fallen angels, distorted by their environment. They invade 21th century Earth as part of the apocalypse. It doesn't work. That said, even the angels and, by extension, God/Yahweh and his brother, Satan are more akin to Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, with all their magic explained through various levels of EM field telepathy and generating of massive bursts of electricity, not to mention "body not built for flying" able to do so through internal sacs of gas that give enough buoyancy for their wings to lift... But tend to catch on fire or explode when damaged too much.
  • In The Questport Chronicles, many of the demons are said to be demon transformers who can take on any appearance they wish.
  • On the online Spec Evo project A Scientific Fantasy, demons are a family of giant lemurs.
  • In Pact, demons are Always Chaotic Evil beings of entropy. Each one appears to be a unique entity, and they are divided into seven choirs based on their abilities. The most powerful of these choirs, the Choir of Dark, are straight-up Eldritch Abominations that simply erase things, sometimes even from memory.
  • In Void Domain, demons are eternal beings from Hell, also known as the Void. On a surface glance, the Void is anything but. Domains provide anything a demon could ever want. It creates the opposite problem. There's nothing to work for. Nothing to live for. And yet, dying leads to something much worse. A demon's death sends them to a place that lives up to the name until they can claw their way back to their domain.
  • The Grimm from RWBY are monstrous Living Shadow creatures who are stated to have no souls and are attracted to the negative emotions of humans. Their motivations are unknown beyond Kill All Humans, and so to are their origins. The finale of Volume 3 shows that there exists an intelligent humanoid one, named Salem - and she seems to know Ozpin.

    Western Animation 
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes takes place in Hell, and the entire population is made up of demons. For the most part, they seem to have no special powers and are human in all but apperance. That being said they resemble pretty much any kind of monster or strange creature imaginable rather than the more conventional Satan-like beings (The Heinous family being the exception). Word of God says that Lucius is a Reality Warper, but we never see it in action. Though there was that one time where he snapped his fingers and there was a change in location...
  • The demonic creatures from Neighbors From Hell are basically as neurotic as people on Earth.
  • The demons in Pluto's Judgement Day are all portrayed as a jury of demonic cats.
  • The Legions of Hell in Teen Titans fourth season are mainly composed of floating, mute fire-creatures. A similar but scaled-up version with legs was summoned three seasons prior. But Trigon is even bigger, has blood-red skin instead of solid flame, antlers, and four eyes - basically Diablo with mutton chops instead of a tail. Raven, his half-demon spawn, has grey skin, purple eyes and indigo hair.
  • In The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, quite a few supernatural beings are referred to as "demons". Not all of them are evil; in fact, many are quite decent folks.
  • In Gravity Falls, Bill Cipher is referred to as a demon. He doesn't look very scary, he's just a flat triangle with an eye in the middle, but he has the power to enter people's dreams and can cause a lot of damage. He can also possess a person's body if they agree to it (willingly or otherwise). He's more dangerous than he first seems, however: Bill's ultimate goal is to escape the Nightmare Realm into the mortal world. When he manages this in the Grand Finale, he gains Reality Warper powers and turns Gravity Falls into his personal World of Chaos.
  • In the Rankin-Bass version of The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, we have the Wind Demons. We only see one (the Commander), but he looks like a cross between a bat and a mosquito, tends to cause bursts of wind before he speaks, and while not malicious, is the most vocal detractor toward Claus being made immortal.
  • Demons make up the majority of the primary rogues gallery in Jackie Chan Adventures. The second season featured a family of demon sorcerers as its Big Bad Duumvirate, with one of them, Shendu, being the overall Big Bad of the show. The fourth season featured Japanese Oni as its villains.
  • In Ugly Americans, demons are not Always Chaotic Evil but never good-aligned (though they have some rather sinister practices by our standards), resemble the usual red (or pink for females) humanoids with horns, and also have Bizarre Alien Biology like giving birth through the top of their skulls and lactating fire when in heat.
  • Demons also appear in The Real Ghostbusters and its sequel series Extreme Ghostbusters. In the first they are intelligent beings akin to the Judeo-Christian stereotype, and in one episode the Ghostbusters went to hell (which is shown to be like an office) after a demon hires them to deal with a humiliating wish he has to grant; the disappearing of every chicken on Earth. In Extreme demons are more Chaotic Evil.