A Perspective Flip as applied on a cosmic level and a natural corollary to God Is Evil.
You know the story: a long time ago, there was a conflict between the Powers That Be. The good guys won, and the bad guys got to suffer (a popular misconception would be to rule) in Hell instead. But it could be you're not getting the whole story. Maybe Old Scratch (or his in-world counterpart, thinly-veiled or not) has been Wrongly Accused. Maybe his loss in the war with God/the gods was the original Downer Ending, and the bastards who did win have been tarring him with the propaganda brush ever since. Wouldn't that be a Mind Screw?
Another variation is that God isn't necessarily evil; he and Satan may just have Creative Differences. Or maybe God just doesn't care. It's even possible that he and Satan are actually good buddies. In these versions, if the reasons behind it are mentioned at all, Satan's bad reputation may be chalked up to misinterpretation on the part of mankind; particularly if he and God don't really have anything against each other. It could even be that the entire "warring angels" part never really happened. "Demonizing" the, well, demons could be the work of a Corrupt Church.
This was quite common in earlier times, where Satan was seen as a servant of God, who performed an important role in testing peoples' resolve. Satan is derived from the Hebrew "ha-Satan", Which quite literally means "the Accuser" — and what he accuses you of is sin. * Though it can be interpreted as him accusing YHWH of sin, and the Arabic "ash-Shayṭān" (from the same Semitic root} can also mean "the adversary", but that's besides the point.
Appears often in Rage Against the Heavens plots, although it doesn't have to - it's easy to portray God as the Big Bad without bringing Satan into it at all, usually by portraying humans as the good side. Also seen in settings with Black and Gray Morality, where Satan may not be good, but he's better. This kind of one-two punch is a red flag that you're living in a Crapsack World. There's no telling what The Legions of Hell will be like in a Satan Is Good setting; they may or may not even work for him, and if they do they may be just as Wrongly Accused as their leader or he may be just barely keeping them in check.
The important distinction between Satan Is Good and Villain Protagonist or Sympathy for the Devil is that, while the latter cases may make him sympathetic, in this case he's actually heroic. Depending on how idealistic the world is, he may be an Anti-Hero (he probably is) or even a Noble Demon, but he's definitely on the better side. In other words, Satan making an honorable decision, letting someone go because he has nothing against them, or helping the protagonist with something that is mutually beneficial does not immediately make for a Satan is Good situation. Note as well that just because God Is Evil it doesn't necessarily follow that Satan Is Good. He can just as easily be as bad as his counterpart, ineffectual, or absent. By the same token, just because Satan Is Good does not necessarily imply God Is Evil; Have You Seen My God? situations in particular allow for Satan Is Good without going in for God Is Evil.
If Satan Is Good, expect to be treated to A Hell of a Time when you die, assuming you don't end up on the other side of the fence. Remember: Dark Is Not Evil and Light Is Not Goodnote Although Satan is also known as the Light Bringer.
Compare Cry for the Devil. See also God and Satan Are Both Jerks.
In Slayers: Next the Lord of Nightmares, the ultimate Creator beyond good and evil, maker of both with a purpose for each, ostensibly the source of all chaos in the universe and god-boss of all Mazoku (demons), doesn't quite live up to her bad hype, as she not only makes short work of the Big Bad (though admittedly in a very cruel manner) but also returns Lina to life when pressed by Gourry (instead of, say, smiting him). Xellos, the series' resident Devil in Plain Sight, chalks it up to her sense of humor. The bad reputation is presumably firstly due to the fact that a being that doesn't take sides is easier to put in the bad camp, and secondly because she is extremely destructive when invoked; people who see Giga Slave and know what it can do out of control undoubtedly have a hard time in considering its originator as anything but evil.
In Kaori Yuki's Angel Sanctuary, God is the big bad and Lucifer aka Sakura Kira most of the time isn't entirely evil, he's more an Anti-Hero who only does good things because he promised the woman he loves, Alexiel, to break her free which involves the destruction of fate. At the end, he himself tells Setsuna he did it all because of his promise. Furthermore, whether you're an angel or demon doesn't have anything to do with your alignment.
In Shina Dark he does appear to be good overall. Satan has all sorts of horrible things written about him (even to the point where he is believed to be a pedophile and a sex maniac). However, he really is just a good natured, lazy, couch potato, who has numerous 'accidental pervert' moments. In fact he doesn't even look like what you would expect him to look like. So much so that his Butler is often mistaken to be Satan. Though refusing to fight ('It goes against the Beauty of battle if you fight the boss first') and sending your maid to fight first and then attempting to duck out of the battle with out fighting may not be considered good by some. Then again, if said maid is a Robot GirlPerson of Mass Destruction, that's pretty much justifiable.
In Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, Loki the Trickster from Norse Mythology is not evil. Apparently Baldr tried to kill him and Loki killed him in self-defense; which caused Odin the All-Father to go insane and try to punish Loki by any means imaginable; even if it means trying to destroy the world in Ragnarok and blame it on him.
In Bastard!!, the fallen angel Lucifer better known as Lucien Renlen, Dark Schneider's alter ego fights to protect humanity when all the other angels are trying to exterminate them.
However, as it turns out Satan himself (who's a different character from Lucifer) and The Legions of Hell are just as evil as you'd expect.
Dragon Ball has had Demon King Piccolo, who was later reincarnated into Piccolo Jr. who eventually became good (and never was as completely evil as he claimed to be, despite having been evil in his previous life). There was also a character named Mr. Satan who was never evil to begin with. Finally, there's Dabura, a demon who went to Heaven and reformed his ways (anime version only), with the explanation being that sending a demon to Hell when he dies would hardly be a punishment.
In Ghost Sweeper Mikami, God and Satan are both good guys; the former is in charge of maintaining order, the latter in charge of maintaining chaos/change. The closest we have to a leader-of-all-wicked-things is Ashtaroth (it's implied that he only recently gained the ability to do that).
Turns out Demon Overlord Satan in Hataraku Maou Sama is actually a pretty decent and hardworking guy who protects humans on Earth from the excesses of some of his underlings. Or at least he is after Going Native in Japan. He even passes up opportunities to return home and resume his conquest because there are people in need of his protection. And because he doesn't want to miss his shift at MgRonalds.
If you can look past the Fanservice and gratuitous nudity (no small feat, mind), High School D×D shows that Devils really aren't all that evil. No more evil than anyone else in the world is capable of being. Satan is actually a Reasonable Authority Figure(and the brother of the lead female protagonist), and "Satan" is the title of the current ruler of the Devils. It turns out that while Angels have been fighting Devils for ages, the Holy Bible is merely just the largest piece of propaganda that God ever created. Angels and followers of God maliciously attack them because they were told that they are evil and must be destroyed (They don't show any mercy to normal humans either, which is how the whole series starts.) There are magics in play for each side though. For example, a Devil reading or reciting the Bible will experience pain for trying. The devils usually just try to get by with using their magics to curry favors from clients. They use their magics to fulfill some type of reasonable desire or request, and are paid for their services, but not with people's souls or anything like that. All in all, Devils, and Satan, are just ordinary people trying to live their lives. It's just propaganda that makes the Angels and Fallen Angels give them trouble.
In SHUFFLE!, the Demon King is a friendly and gentle person, and his best friend is the God King who has a funny personality. Both wouldn't really mind if the protagonist Rin won't marry their respective daughters (in the anime, he chooses Asa instead). Well, since Fantastic Racism doesn't exist in this world, neither humans nor Gods nor demons are evil. The only "bad" thing the demons have ever done during the series would be Project Yggdrasil, but it's not that the the Demon King wouldn't regret it, and he considers the subjects of Project Yggdrasil as people. He really cared for his daughter's clone Lycoris who sacrificed herself to save Nerine, he's genuinely nice to Primula, and he apologizes to Ama for what he and his men have done to her (she doesn't mind though).
God is also sympathetic, making this the creative differences version. Indeed the final story makes it seem less like a great cosmic saga and more like the tales of a powerful and distant father and his troubled, bitter son.
His appearance in the Sandman is more ambiguous. His first appearance seems rather standard Lord of Damnation, but his later appearances show him as a mostly neutral force in things, trying to live his own life. Now that he's abandoned Hell. His rant about people choosing to come to Hell and their lies about him stealing souls pissing him off also made him far more sympathetic, if not necessarily good. Also, he has style. And he can admit to admiring God's work with sunsets.
Neil Gaiman tends to portray Lucifer's Fall as all part of God's plan in a number of his works, such as "Murder Mysteries". Albeit a plan poor Lucifer was never let in on...
Further explored in Hellblazer, with the reveal of the First Of The Fallen. Turns out, Lucifer is A Devil, not THE Devil. His backstory of rebellion against God is the same, but he was not the original evil. When Lucifer is cast into Hell, he finds the First Of the Fallen already there. Lucifer eventually takes control of Hell, but it's only because of sheer power, and he's a half-hearted torturer of souls at best and not actively antagonistic to humanity, mentioning in The Sandman that the expression "the Devil made me do it" is fundamentally incorrect because he's never made anyone do anything. Indeed, forcing anyone to do anything goes against Lucifer's personal philosophy of freedom at all costs. In contrast, the First Of The Fallen is DEFINITELY what the average person thinks of when they hear the title of The Devil: contemptuous to humanity and reveling in the torture of the souls of the wicked.
In Crimson, Satan is the only one of the angels who maintains a close relationship with God. It's implied that the other angels have become so full of themselves that they can't recognize God for who he really is. God and Satan have creative differences but team up to manipulate the other angels into achieving mutual goals for each other.
In Proposition Player, Hell Mary points out that the "other side" rushed their book through production without letting her side make a point for them, and asks Joey if he could really picture his friends in heaven, kowtowing to the big guy and trying to outdo each other at telling Him how great he is. She is also savvy enough to level with Joey and, later, switches allegiance and joins his group when he decides to become a big player. Her celestial counterpart, meanwhile, is a huge jerk who alternately tries to buy off the souls or threaten Joey passive-agressively, and makes no secret of what a misogynistic, power-abusing, sociopathic asshole he is. (He also doesn't realize that intimidation doesn't work on a cynical bastard like Joey.)
Dilbert has Phil, the ruler of Heck and Prince of Insufficient Light. He's basically a harmless version of the devil who inflicts very minor punishments on people for very minor sins. He also turns out to be Dilbert's boss's brother.
In the French comic Professor Bell, every 1000 years a Devil gets 7 days to break out of Jerusalem, if he succeeds he is free to wreak havoc across the Earth. The Devil from 1000 years ago was vanquished by priest-mages who created golems to stop him. Eventually he ended up locked in a pit where his only distraction was a ton of Bibles to read, and over the years has turned... not exactly good, but True Neutral at worst.
In the comic Nancy in Hell, Lucifer is basically The Load. He was cast into the Primordial Chaos for showing free will, and Hell grew up around him independent of his wishes. All he wants to do is get back to Heaven, but Hell needs him to stay put to maintain its existence, and clouds his mind with doubts to ensure that he stays put. Nancy's tasked with keeping Lucifer on-message long enough for them both to escape.
In the Swedish comic Himlens Änglar by Jan Romare, the Devil is usually shown to be really bad at his job, his evil acts usually goes no farther than putting banana peels on the sidewalk for people to slip on. In one extended story ark, his background is explained in more detail and he even goes to therapy to handle his performance anxiety and general depression. The Devil there goes on to tell the psychiatrist how he started of as a regular angel but got more and more depressed and disenchanted of his boss God because of the various old testament-horrors he had to watch and take part in. The Devil then decided to go down to earth in order to speak directly to the humans and try to make them (and his boss) act a little better. He became known as Jesus and was unfortunately killed horribly before being sent back to heaven. God was really upset about his subordinate's behavior, because "now people will expect me to live up to all the nice things you told them about me", and as a punishment, he sent the Devil down to hell to become the Lord of Evil.
In Ben 10Hero High: Sphinx Academy, the character Lord often lampshades this trope. Once commenting on how he was the good guy since he has turned people to salt, fed them to whales and caused a flood to wipe out humanity. Then states Satan is evil because he punishes people who are evil. After finishing that sentence he openly asks "which one of us is the bad one again?"
Satan is portrayed quite sympathetically in his brief appearance in Wholly Moses.
Satan, played by Elizabeth Hurley, in the remake of Bedazzled 2000 , whose purpose is not so much to tempt men to fall but to offer the choice of falling and during that take the choice to redeem themselves, earning salvation. She's actually quite fun to be around and likes her most recent temptee. It's shown that there is no cosmic battle of good and evil between God and the Devil and they're actually on pretty good terms.
In the original 1967 Bedazzled 1967, Satan (Peter Cook) isn't really evil, just kind of irritating in the pranks he pulls; he only tempts people to win a bet with God (first one to get 100 billion souls) and get back into Heaven. In the end, God is shown to be the something of a Jerk Ass when he denies poor old Lucifer access back into heaven on a technicality, and laughs about it. When Satan starts ranting about how much worse he's going to be from now on and how bad he's going to make the world, this seems to be exactly what God wants.
He even explains that he's only a fallen angel because God was being such a dick, he just said "Well, screw this!".
Little Nicky takes a slightly different route, with Hell being set up as a parallel agent to heaven less about tempting the good and more about punishing the bad. The only tempting is done by the devil's two mutinous sons. The current Devil is actually the second, replacing his father, and believes in maintaining the Balance Between Good and Evil and raising his kids right. Nicky is the product of a drunken tryst between Satan and an angel at a "Heaven/Hell mixer".
In The Prophecy series, Satan acts like a complete asshole but for the most part is firmly on the side of humanity, due to his desire to maintain the status quo. The Big Bad is the Archangel Gabriel, who has gone rogue and started a second Civil War in heaven.
Well, that was more a case of Enemy Mine/Evil Versus Evil than this trope. Lucifer opposes Gabriel largely because Gabriel is treading on his turf.
Dark Angel: The Ascent, where demons are just the people who guard and enforce Hell, and answer to God. A demon family is even shown clocking off and saying grace before a meal.
William Blake's Prophecy epics heroicise Satan, or rather his allegorical equivalent Orc, against the tyrannical Angel of Albion. Blake is also perhaps the most prominent member of the Misaimed Fandom evoked above, famously writing that Milton was "a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it."
In the "Von Bek" novels from Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion novels, Ulrich von Bek finds himself damned and in the presence of Lucifer, who is now good. Lucifer had decided he wished to make peace with God, and been charged with ending suffering on Earth as the price of his redemption. Lucifer can't act directly, so he asks von Bek to aid him by returning the Holy Grail to the earth and ending "the World's Pain." The Grail is a symbol for our power of rationality, which Moorcock sees as the only way we can end our suffering, and of course this being so would redeem Lucifer, as it would mean the entire apple thing was ultimately to our benefit.
In Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice, Satan empathizes intensely with the pain of human existence, (particularly before there was a heaven and souls simply continued existing between worlds for all eternity) and frequently accused God of being arrogant and uncaring towards his creations. God eventually agreed, but gave Memnoch a job he despises; punishing the wicked and purifying them so they can enter Heaven. Granted, we only have Memnoch's word for this and he turned out not to be entirely trustworthy.
In the Prince Roger series by David Weber and John Ringo, one important supporting character's ENTIRE RELIGION is based on this. The character's religion came about as a result of a religious purge war on her home planet, with everyone not in line with the Corrupt Church being labelled Satanists. Thinking that Satan can't be all that bad if the Corrupt Church was an example of God's wishes, they pretty much just took the rites and litany of their Corrupt Church and switched all the names and references around as part Insult Backfire and part Take That. Hence, their religious practices bear little resemblance to those commonly associated with Satanists in the media; the entire name is arguably a joke masquerading as a religion. As for their actual beliefs: The Archangels at some point decided they could run the universe better than God, and imprisoned him (which is also why evil happens, according to them; the Archangels are powerful and wise, but neither omnipotent, omniscient nor omnibenevolent). Lucifer tried to defend God, but failed and was cast out of Heaven. Now he sits in Hell, amassing his forces and biding his time until Armageddon, when he will lead his army into Heaven, defeat the Archangels and free God, who will then grant Lucifer's followers the Promised Land as a reward.
Lucifer is the main character of Catherine Webb's Waywalkers duet, and is a bastard son of Time and Magic and mankind's last hope against Chronos. He has been subjected to a ruthless smear campaign by his half-brother, Jehovah, son of Time and Belief, to the extent that even most other immortals believe he is evil, though they really should know better. He is actually quite a nice guy who lives in London disguised as a mortal. Despite this, Jehovah is not evil, per se; he's just a Jerkass. On top of this, Lucifer's bad rep was one of the many result of his father's plan to turn him into the ultimate weapon against Chronos.
Not surprisingly, given its very anti-religious theme, the Adversary in the His Dark Materials trilogy is described as an extremely sympathetic figure - the leader of the rebel army of angels that attempted to overthrow the Authority (who was simply the oldest being, and only CLAIMED to be the creator to legitimize bossing everyone else around) in aeons past.
Well, the character who was the leader of the fallen/rebel angels is the angel Xaphania, and she is pretty much still going around in the universes; needless to say she's wise and "good". Lord Asriel (named after the angel of death) fits the role better, but his Knight Templar status makes him occasionally quite unsympathetic, specially in the end of the first book, where he considers his goal more important than the life of his daughter's friend, Roger. Arguably, Metatron is also similar in role to Satan, having taken over from The Authority after being his right-hand angel, but he is clearly evil (and used to be a human).
Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy is not a straight example, but still worthy of mention. Here, Hell is a gloomy but all-in-all pretty cozy place, and its ruler, Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, is easily the nicest guy in the entire series.
....besides all the guys that don't torture, slaughter and generally rip to bits their enemies and the enemies of their families. But yes, overall very decent, definitely a protagonist.
Perhaps "easily one of the most upstanding, honorable, caring guys" would be a better way to put it. He can be nice, but even more than nice he cares deeply for others, and sometimes that involves showing some teeth. And after all, he is the father figure (or actual father) to every main protagonist and even the not-so-main protagonists in the series.
The other two male main characters are Daemon and Lucivar. It was obviously the author's intention to do this.
This is essentially the entire point of The Devil's Apocrypha.
Jeremy Leven's novel Satan, His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S portrays Satan as essentially helpless and neuroses-ridden, subverting the "Lost Son" concept by making God and Satan half-brothers. They shared a mother, "Fear." The book was adapted in 2002 as "Crazy As Hell". The book really leaves the question of whether or not Satan is evil up to the reader.
I, Lucifer, wherein Lucifer (he doesn't like to be called Satan) narrates his life and his brief attempt to earn his way into Heaven, doesn't present him as being good, but since God does present himself as good, Lucifer has to be evil by default. By anyone's standard, God is not exactly a good person; in the end, it's implied that God only offered Lucifer the chance to come back to Heaven because He's certain that the latter won't accept, and when it seems like he will, God manufactures an emergency in Hell that requires Lucifer's attention. It's not so much Satan Is Good or God Is Evil as They're Both Dicks.
In Fifth Business, the Devil figure in the story ends up being an intelligent and charming woman who helps the most in the main character's quest of discovering who he is. As he says later, "The Devil turned out to be a very good fellow."
In Timothy Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage, Satan is a seven-foot-tall angel. In drag. Who goes by Lucy. And Satan's far, far, far better of a character and person than Noah and his ilk.
Several of Neil Gaiman's works, including Good Omens and "Murder Mysteries," enjoys playing with the morality paradox that God always intended for Satan to fall, and that by doing so he's performing his proper function in God's plan.
That said, we never actually meet Lucifer in Good Omens, and when we almost do, he's a terrifying, nigh-unstoppable force of destruction about to massacre the cast in a temper tantrum at being denied Armageddon.
Peter Ustinov's (yes, the actor) novel The Old Man and Mr. Smith had God and Satan as best friends, traveling the countryside. Satan (Mr. Smith) tended to commit minor offenses, such as stealing, that bothered God (The Old Man) a bit, but it was always just to help out, and The Old Man couldn't deny that he directly benefited from Mr. Smith's pragmatic approach to problem-solving.
Shan-wei is the Safeholdian Church of God Awaiting's equivalent of Satan. However, what only a select few know is that Pei Shan-wei was an actual person who tried to deflate the A God Am I ambitions of her fellow "Archangels" Eric Langhorne and Adorée Bédard and was murdered for her trouble.
According to the Friar's Tale in The Canterbury Tales, all of Hell operates with permission from God. One minor demon observes that he and his guys actually provide opportunities for salvation, by resisting the temptation they offer.
In Jeff Long's Deeper Satan is a True Neutral entity that played a major part in uplifting the humanity to its current status in hopes of releasing himself from a metaphysical confinement beneath the Earth with its aid, but it's implied that if his release would actually happen, he would cause immense destruction without even noticing or caring, like only an immortal being with little experience with human contact could when facing fragile mortals.
While not quite calling him good Mark Twain opined in one of his essays that Satan had never gotten a fair trial and deserved to be able to tell his side of the story.
Then he gets his chance in Letters from the Earth. Satan's a little rebellious and every so often gets a time-out, but he just can't comprehend how much of a Crapsack World humans make for themselves, all in the name of a pseudo-God. The God Is Evil corollary here only applies to the fictional one that Man comes up with, not the 'real' one.
In Kurt Vonnegut's novel Timequake, Kilgore Trout writes a book that has the Devil giving Adam and Eve the apple, because he sincerely wants them to become intelligent.
In Natalia Vasilieva's Black Book of Arda, Melkor (the Tolkienverse's Satan equivalent) is good.
Sammael in Storm Constantine's Burying the Shadow is an alternate world interpretation of Satan. In this world God was supposed to move on to another plane of existence and Sammael was to take his place, but he decides against it. This was starting to screw up the world, so Sammael and some of the eloim rebelled and were banished to Earth.
This is the ultimate goal of wizards and the Powers That Be in the Young Wizards universe. The Lone Power invented entropy and death, and for these gifts was sent away until he could learn better. Rhiow in The Book of Night with Moon describes it best:
But what time is about, they say, is slowly winning the Lone One back to the right side. When that happens, the Whisperer says— when a billion years' worth of wizards' victories finally wear sa'Rrahh down enough to show her what possibilities can lie beyond her own furious blindness and fixity - then death and entropy will begin to work backward, undoing themselves; evil will transform its own nature and will have no defense against that final transformation, coming as it will from within. The universe will be remade, as if it had been made right from the beginning. ... Every time one of us stands up knowingly to the Devastatrix, she loses a little ground. Every time one of us wins, she loses a little more. And the Whisperer says that the effect is cumulative. No wizard knows whether his or her act today, this minute or the next, might not be the one that will finally make the Lone Power say, 'I give up: joy is easier.' And then the long fall upward into the light, and the rebirth of the worlds, will start...
This is explored in the Joe Hill novel Horns, in which the protagonist wakes up one morning with a pair of horns and supernatural abilities allowing him to influence people and know their deepest, darkest thoughts. He soon comes to believe that he's becoming a devil, but for every character he punishes for their urges and transgressions, he helps just as many to find peace and happiness. He also muses on the nature of Satan, who does God's work by punishing sinners but also accepts humanity for what it is and celebrates sin/human nature, compared to a God who runs a theological protection racket.
Played with in the Christ Clone Trilogy. The end of the second book almost convinces you God really is the bad guy.
Ghislain Taschereau's Inspector Spector series, where the hero's secret weapon is being the world's greatest police detective after selling his soul to the devil. The devil is a really cool guy and making deals with him always comes with great perks, such as being nearly invulnerable and Spector's infinite ammunition .666 caliber handgun. On the villainous side, Godall Mighty keeps trying to erradicate humanity to restart from scratch and succeeds in the final book.
Live Action Television
The Devil as presented in Brimstone wasn't necessarily evil. In fact he was in charge of punishing evildoers, hence his need to get the 113 escapees back to hell. He was, however, an unrepentant Jerkass.
Dukat was also a true believer in these demons, having been possessed by Kosst Amojin, who's hinted to be their ringleader. He led this cult for a while until his old vices got the better of him, disillusioning his followers and turning them against him. His own faith in the Pah-Wraiths remained undiminished to the end, albeit still thoroughly intertwined with his selfish and twisted motives. (Considering his old enmity with the Bajorans, it makes a lot of sense that he'd side with their demons against their gods once he started believing in the supernatural premises underlying their religion.)
Subverted on Supernatural: Lucifer would like to convince you that he's the good guy, but he's clearly just an egotistical bastard. At times he'll come off as Affably Evil, but then he'll go and do something that completely averts this, i.e. killing off an army of demons (his children) to summon Death, exploding Castiel, snapping Bobby's neck, beating the living crap out of Dean (while wearing Sam's body!) etcetera, etcetera. Then again, on this show, no higher power can possibly be good.
A recurring bit on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" features them inviting the Devil on to discuss something heinous in the news, only to refuse to take credit on hearing the act actually described.
Voltaire's "Almost Human" is, essentially, the Devil's lament about being cast from heaven and being constantly despised by angels (or The Fundamentalist; it's not exactly clear), despite being basically the same as humanity.
Cormorant's "Ballad Of the Beast" is a possible example, as it portrays Jesus giving in to all three of the devil's temptations and calling him his friend. At the end, Jesus claims that he is "now free". It may also be a case, for God sends out an angel to keep Jesus from dying when he jumps, of God and Satan Are Both Jerks.
In Power Sympathy's "Lightbringer," Lucifer states that he was created as God intended, and that his fall and temptation of mankind is the will of God.
Not outright stating it, but Running Wild's song "Satan" shows him in more anti-heroic light.
Despite the song's title, "Sympathy for the Devil" portrays Satan as an arrogant and malevolent presence who haunts all of humanity's great atrocities. Though there is an Aesop in there about how these evils are really the fault of humans or specifically, the human denial of their own capacity for evil, hiding under the guise of civilization and ascribing their flaws to a sarcastic devil who they assign all responsibility for their own actions.
OK Go wrote a musical response to "Sympathy for the Devil" called "A Good Idea At The Time," which depicts him as, at worst, apathetic to said atrocities.
Now it's true about my wealth, true about my taste
But you don't need no help from me, you'll lay yourself to waste
Mythology / Religion
In Judaism, Satan is not a fallen angel, the serpent in the Garden, or Lucifer. He's a regular angel submissive to God's will. He distinguishes himself by being critical of humanity's capacity for evil, and specifically proposes a test of faith for Job. His name comes from the word for "adversary" or "accuser" and his role is more like that of God's prosecuting attorney, the "devil's advocate." In fact, the title of Adversary does not necessarily belong to one angel; it could be the title of whichever angel is being argumentative at the moment.
Jewish folklore also has Ashmodeus, the demon king (and a separate character from the above). He is presented as a malevolent tempter, but he's also kind of a Punch Clock Villain. When not "doing his thing", he spends his free time studying Torah and in several stories, he comes across as something of a Noble Demon.
He is, however, a particularly dangerous Stalker with a Crush, at one point falling in love with a mortal woman and murdering seven of her husbands in succession before being exorcised.
The Yazidis, a religious minority in western Iran, call the chief angel in charge of running the world on God's orders the Peacock Angel, Melek Tawuse. They consider him an intermediary between humanity and God. They don't even believe in Fallen Angels, considering evil to be entirely the result of human misbehavior. However, owing to a Yazidi faith about Melek Tawuse that closely resembles the Muslim faith of Iblis/Shaitan's rebellion against Godnote In the Muslim faith, God orders Iblis to bow down to Adam, and he refuses, starting the Rebellion of the fallen Djinn. In the Yazidi faith, God orders Melek Tawuse never to bow to anyone except God, then tests his obedience by ordering all the angels to bow to Adam. Only Tawuse passes the test by not bowing to a being less than God, earning him his place as the lead angel., they are very frequently accused ofworshipping Satan by people with a One Myth to Explain Them All mentality.
Anton LaVey's Church of Satan, and Modern Satanism in general. Modern Satanists like LaVey don't believe in a literal Satan, but consider him to be a symbol. In his later writings, LaVey implied that God might very well exist, but if he does, he's an asshole.
Indeed, a careful reading of LaVey's Satanic Bible suggests that he did believe in a very real Satan, albeit as a vaguely pantheistic Jungian Archetype. (It lists the names of several old pagan gods of destruction and evil and contends that these are also proper names for Satan.) Certainly, LaVeyan Satanists believe Satan's power is very literal and real: Anton's own daughter claims to have slain him by smiting him with a death curse.
There's also Traditional Satanism, which does believe in a literal Satan. Their view is that Satan is the one who really wants what's best for them, or that he simply wants them to think for themselves (most well-known example being the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil).
There was a group called the Luciferians that was persecuted by the Catholic Church as a heretical sect during the Middle Ages. As with this trope, the Luciferians believed that eating from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil was a positive thing, and that Lucifer was the noble Creator opposing an evil and repressive god who had better press. They never worshiped evil or performed dark sacrificial rituals the way Satanists in contemporary and modern media were/are supposed to do. There are also modern day Luciferians who believe the same thing.
Interestingly, many if not most Luciferians avoid associating Lucifer with the common perception of Satan, some going so far as to refer to Lucifer as the Holy Spirit or Paracletus and even referring to the god of the Torah/Old Testament as Satan. Satan Is Good who is God assuming God Is Good. But this leads to a logical problem identifying Satan Is Good with God, given the God Is Evil trope.
In Classical Mythology, Prometheus subversively gives the gods' protected knowledge of fire to humanity, not unlike the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil offered by the evil serpent in The Bible. When the myth first appeared in Hesiod's Theogony, Zeus was a wise and just god who sentenced Prometheus to eternal suffering, while the Titan Prometheus was to blame for the suffering of humanity. Prometheus Bound turns this around, making Zeus a cruel tyrant and Prometheus the benefactor of humanity's rise to civilization (Older Than Feudalism).
The suffering of humanity was blamed on Pandora, not Prometheus.
The god Endovelicus became identified as Lucifer after Christianity became dominant on the Iberian Peninsula, but he was already quite established as a benevolent god in the native pantheon.
Theodicy is the philsophical/theological question of why evil exists. One thing that emerges from a study of theodicy is that, if you accept that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, then Satan mustserve a good purpose, or else God wouldn't allow him to exist!
The Gnostics generally viewed the Hebrew God as a false and sometimes malevolent demigod of sorts known as the Demiurge and considered the Serpent in the Garden of Eden to be a messenger from the "True, Unknowable God." Because Jesus is also considered a messenger from God in most Gnostic traditions, this leads to an association between Lucifer and Jesus that most modern Christians find odd and heretical. (However, Lucifer and Satan are considered separate entities in Gnosticism; sometimes the Demiurge is even referred to as Satan.)
Theosophist believe that Lucifer and Satan are two different entities and Lucifer is not evil, is the carrier of Light (i.e. wisdom) while Satan is an unrelated evil demon. The association between both was mistakenly done by the Church.
Michael Aquino's Morlindale is a retelling of some of the backstory of Lord of the Rings that paints Melkor and Sauron as ultimately heroic figures.
Col. Aquino used to be the equivalent of an archbishop in the Church of Satan. Satan Is Good, indeed.
As an additional note, Eru Ilúvatar, the traditional analogue of God in the Tolkien mythos, is notevil; rather, he is a True Neutral embodiment of the natural order of Arda (although in the view of Melkor and Sauron ( and eventually Pallando), this order is inherently unjust and something to be struggled against). The Valar, on the other hand...
Lucy in the Mr Deity online shorts. An amiable and rather pleasant (if short-tempered) woman and Mr. Deity's on-off girlfriend, who only agreed to be Lord of Hell to do Mr. Deity a favour, really doesn't like the 'passive-aggressive' references to her being a 'snake' in the 'script', and would much rather that her avatar be a bunny. The only thing about her that really comes even close to actually being 'evil' is her slight over-enthusiasm for the torture and punishment of adulterers, and it's implied by Mr. Deity's uncomfortable reactions whenever she brings it up that he's more than a little responsible for that particular attitude.
Satan attempts to clear up misconceptions about him on his FAQ page.
The Satan of Old Harry's Game is quite offended by suggestions he isn't the Ultimate Evil, or has some sort of soft spot, but the evidence is against him. One season involved him trying to make the world a better place, purely to alleviate the overcrowding in Hell, of course. In a later season, he's perturbed when dogs and babies start ending up in his domain, insisting things have to be fair, or what's the point? He also refers to the Rebellion as an attempt to bring some sort of democracy to Heaven (although he's a bit defensive when Gabriel asks if it was because he wasn't allowed to ride the flaming chariot).
In White Wolf's Demon The Fallen, the Player Characters are part of The Legions of Hell, and Lucifer is presented as the sympathetic leader of La Résistance. And not merely "sympathetic": Lucifer loves humanity probably more than anyone else ever did in the world's history, including the Jerkass God (and possibly even Jesus). It is exactly because he loved humans more than God that the Rebellion (later labeled "the Fall") happened, but this being the World of Darkness, it didn't work as planned. After Lucifer tried summoning his former comrades, not knowing that time spent in the Abyss had caused them to become Eldritch Abominations, he created Christianity in order to fight them.
Some In Nomine campaigns feature this portrayal of Satan. The core books leave the characterization of both him and God ambiguous enough that it's mostly a question of how the Game Master portrays the world.
Nobilis second edition has Lucifer be so principled that millennia in Hell haven't corrupted him at all. And the major efforts of the Fallen Angels at this point in time are all about protecting the world from the omnicidal Excrucians. However, those principles he cleaves to so strongly? Inflicting Suffering, feeding Corruption, and using Power.
In third ed, the Angels love beauty and justice, but only the Devils love everything. For daring to stand up for the monstrous, the wicked, and the corrupt, the Angels cast the Devils into Hell.
In the "Don Juan in Hell" dream-sequence interlude of George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman, the difference between Heaven and Hell is not presented as being between good and evil. Rather, Hell is a place for those who love pleasure, love and beauty to be happy; Heaven is a place for the higher-minded, intellectual, aspiring sorts who worship the "Life Force" (a philosophical concept in which Shaw, apparently, actually believed). The Devil is a gentleman who left Heaven and set up Hell because he found Heaven intolerably boring. God is not mentioned at all; the implication is that there is no God, save the Life Force.
Shin Megami Tensei games dance around this one. According to Christianity, he actually is a bishonen seraph. As it is their custom, Atlus did their homework. The page image shows him when he's interested in becoming (or acting as) your ally—he becomes much more demonic-looking when he gets hostile. Also, Lucifer most often appears as a chessmaster who honestly cares about Humanity in contrast with the angels, who only see them as cattle and labor. The problem? He has very interesting ideas about the concept of Perfection for Humanity... On the other hand, Satan is a very different gent altogether. Who just happens to have the angelic title of The Accuser, and simultaneously be YHVH'sDragon... and an Eldritch Abomination.
Elisa Than ("Satan") in The Bastard Of Kosigan was actually out to save everyone from being subjugated by Gabriel's totalitarian regime (there is no actual God in that story). Leads to a bunch of entertaining revelations, like Jesus having been given his powers by the "demons" (John and Judas were the only actual supernatural beings among Jesus and his Apostles), and the "angels" starting Islam to force all of Europe to unite under Catholicism (which they created to subvert Jesus' original message).
The tenth Fire Emblem game, Radiant Dawn, also played with this. The role of God was taken by the Goddess of Order, Ashera, while Satan was depicted as the Goddess of Chaos, Yune. Neither goddess are truly good or bad (and are actually two parts to a whole), but ancient propaganda had Yune portrayed as a "dark goddess", although this was actually for a noble, albeit misguided, purpose to preserve ethnic and political relations. It doesn't last, and when Ashera decides to pass judgment on the world and turns humanity into stone, it's Yune, long depicted as the "dark goddess", who assists the heroes to save the world.
Satan is the protagonist himself and son of a Prometheus stand-in in Tears to Tiara. The angels are a bunch of jerkasses. More precisely genocidal jerkasses. They had a hand in creating other races like elves, giants and dragons. When these did not live up to their expectations, the angels did their best to wipe them out. That is why in the present day, these races are now represented by scattered remnants of nigh extinct civilizations. Of these, the elves are in the best shape simply because Arawn stood up for them. And the angels have decided its now humanity's turn.
Ivalice has it both ways, with two Satan counter-parts. One of them is the above mentioned Venat, whose strives to free the mortal characters from The Occuria, but the other is the esper Ultima, who rebelled against them out of pride, and ends up trying to take over Ivalice in Final Fantasy Tactics.
In The Elder Scrolls series, many of the religions share more than a few similarities in the origins of Nirn. What may be Lorkhan, a fallen god in the Elven pantheon that deceived all the other gods into creating the world, may be Shor, the champion of all mortals in the Nordic pantheon. Given that Lorkhan's importance varies between the pantheons, this overlaps with God Is Evil.
There is also the difference between the Aedra and the Daedra, who—on the surface anyway—function as Angels and Demons, respectively. But it isn't as clear-cut as that. A few Daedra are out-and-out evil, such as Molag Bal and Mehrunes Dagon. The rest don't easily fit any moral standard. Some, such as Hermaeus Mora, are more morally ambiguous. Others, such as Azura and Malacath generously gift and genuinely protect their followers. Others, like Sanguine and Sheogorath, have no set goals and just do what they want. Of course, this isn't to say they are unambiguously good either, since they have no problem with manipulating, tricking and generally making the lives of mortals miserable to make them do what they want, amuse themselvesor for reasons mere mortals cannot divine. Like Lorkhan, each race worships or despises the Daedra differently. In example, Azura is a major deity of the Dunmer and Khajit pantheons, and Malacath is considered the father of the Orsimer race.
In Touhou, Shinki is basically Satan; female, extremely powerful and somewhat nice. However provoking her is not a good idea and she could easily destroy entire cities on a whim. The sole reason why she was attacked in the first place by Reimu and Marisa was because she send demons to Gensokyo - as tourists. This caused a lot of trouble.
Although it's important to note that the place that she created and currently rules, Makai, is not Hell; the bad afterlife is showed later in the series, and has no relation to her or her realm. Really, she is Satan only in motif, being a six-winged ruler of demons that lives in a palace called Pandemonium.
In Disciples the demonic hordes are a nasty bunch, but their overlord Bethrezen has been royally screwed over by his fellow angels. In the third game, he is the only one who does not want to restart the world.
Satan is portrayed as a cute and generally nice young woman in the webcomic Casey and Andy; it's later revealed that God is her father.
In his brief appearance in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Satan isn't exactly good...however, he is a man of his word, and ends up whimpering, about his rebellion, "I just wanted to hear I did a good job sometimes." It's an impressive feat to make eight-foot-tall-muscley-red-demon!Satan have a moment of Woobiedom.
Not exactly good but in The Devil's Panties Satan comes across more as an Affably EvilPunch Clock Villain than really evil. In later strips there is a demon simply called "The Devil" who is a childish Cloudcuckoolander and is more mischievous than outright evil.
K's Uncle Luc in Blip appears, for all intents and purposes, to be Lucifer. But he's very polite, and visits her in her dreams to teach her art, music, literature and the like. He seems to be in conflict of some kind with Heavenly forces, but since those forces are conspiring to crush K's artistic potential, he comes across as a genuinely helpful fellow. K is the "blip" in god's plan, and her very existence threatens to alter the future in unpredictable ways, so it remains to be seen whether Luc's true intentions are good or bad, but it's easy to sympathize with him when his "crime" involves making one girl's life less miserable.
In Mortifer, Lucifer is actually an angel who's job is to prevent the fallen from escaping hell.
Jones: I don't understand! I know I could have tried to be a better person, but I did my best. I didn't kill anyone.
Satan: I know, great job. here is your welcome package with cologne, margarita mix, a bottle of Patron and a dance card. Enjoy the eternal party. Seriously, what are they saying about us up there?
Mr. Deity has the Devil's role depicted as the title character's wife "Lucy" (Lucifer). Whenever she's on screen she's a charming and polite woman who is actually very critical about many of God's more questionable decisions such as not allowing women to vote or homosexuals to marry. She just happens to also be in charge of the Hell department and on one or two occasions openly admitted not to totally enjoy her job.
Satan in South Park is a rather nicePunch Clock Villain. He tortures people, sure, but mostly he is portrayed as naive and needy; his apparently-darker moments seem to mostly be an act. His boyfriend Saddam Hussein on the other hand... Furthermore, while we see more than a few people getting tortured, we also see plenty of people just wandering around doing their thing without hassle in parks and town squares that seem quite nice, considering the fire and brimstone surrounding them. Considering that only Mormons get into heaven in South Park, hell is filled with perfectly good people, so there's no reason for Satan to be mean to them. They might even get a chance at one of those nice condos out by the lake of fire! And don't forget the costume parties and Hawaiian-themed hula-dancing! And on one occasion, he even visited Heaven temporarily to ask God for advice.
Satan: Thanks, God. I forgot how clear you made things.
God: It was good to see you again, Satan.
God points out in the aforementioned episode that Satan's gone through quite a bit of Villain Decay to get here.
"Driving to bur-ning man! Driving to bur-ning man!"
In the short-lived series God, the Devil and Bob, the Devil is portrayed as being needy and clingy, even whiny at times, although he is prone to violent outbursts. In his very first appearance, he complains about is failure to raise koi fish to God, with whom he seems to have a pretty amiable relationship.