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Comic Book / Hellboy

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"In Absentia Luci, Tenebrae Vincunt." note 

In the final days of World War II, the Nazis, through the assistance of Grigori Rasputin, attempted to bring about "Project Ragna Rok" on a small island off the coast of Scotland in an attempt to salvage the war effort for the Third Reich. A group of Allied occultists and soldiers were on hand to witness the event, and found the fruits of Rasputin's labors: An infant demon, quickly nicknamed "Hellboy".

Instead of being killed because, well, he's a demon, Hellboy is whisked away by the United States and raised under the auspices of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, a government organization devoted to... well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Over the years, Hellboy becomes one of the B.P.R.D.'s top paranormal investigators and forms a deep relationship with his colleagues, who include:

Following several weird revelations and a nasty bit of disagreement with the leadership, Hellboy quits the B.P.R.D. and begins Walking the Earth searching for answers about his past and the real reason why Rasputin summoned him all those years ago…

The first spinoff series, B.P.R.D., details the adventures of the organization in Hellboy's absence. New members are recruited, including:

  • Dr. Johann Kraus, an eccentric German medium whose body was destroyed during an astral projection, leaving him alive in the form of moving ectoplasmic gas.
  • Ben Daimio, resident Shell-Shocked Veteran (and with good reason - he died in action and somehow came back to life).

These members of the B.P.R.D. must confront their own pasts, skeletons from the Bureau's own closet and the escalating threat of lingering horrors from pre-human history. This series is almost entirely written by John Arcudi, and had three series dedicated to the origins of the BPRD, 1946, 1947 and 1948.

The success of BPRD and the increasing scope of the story led to further ongoing spinoffs:

  • Hellboy And The BPRD - An ongoing series following Hellboy's first few years as a working agent, along with the return of Agent Stegner from 1947-48. It continues that sub-series' Idiosyncratic Episode Naming, beginning with 1952.
  • Abe Sapien - Abe mutates, leaves the B.P.R.D. and gets his own title. Written by longtime Hellboy editor Scott Allie, and usually drawn by Max and Sebastian Fiumara.
  • Lobster Johnson - a 1930s Pulp pastiche. Usually drawn by Tonci Zonjic.
  • Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder - a Victorian occult detective. Usually drawn by Ben Stenbeck.

And finally, there are some that are (so far) intended to remain standalone stories.

  • BPRD: Vampire - A spinoff of a spinoff of a spinoff starring Simon Anders, a B.P.R.D. agent bent on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against vampires. A showcase series for Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.
  • Sledgehammer '44 - A mysterious man in Powered Armour fuelled by Vril, a mystical energy source, takes on the Nazis.
  • Frankenstein Underground - Frankenstein's Monster (who first appeared in "House of the Living Dead") journeys to an underground world. Got a follow-up/prequel set after the events of Shelley's novel called Frankenstein Undone. And then a distant sequel called Frankenstein: New World, set a thousand years after the events of Ragna Rok.
  • Rise Of The Black Flame - Adventurers journey into 1920s Siam in search of a cult, in the story of how Raimund Diestel became the supernatural assassin the Black Flame.
  • The Visitor: How And Why He Stayed - The story of the mysterious alien watcher who witnessed Hellboy's birth in 1944, and met him again in Hunte Castle in 2001, where he died. This is what he did in between. Written and drawn by Paul Grist.
  • Koschei The Deathless - In a pub in Hell, Koschei and Hellboy meet for a drink, and Koschei tells the tale of how he became Russia's deathless soldier.
  • Rasputin: The Voice Of The Dragon - Professor Bruttenholm first learns of a mysterious mystic planning something big to aid the Nazi war effort. Meanwhile, Rasputin navigates the internal politics of the Third Reich.
  • The Crimson Lotus - the origin story of the Crimson Lotus, nemesis of Lobster Johnson and grandmother of Ben Daimio.
  • The Sarah Jewell Mysteries - the further adventures of one of the adventurers from Rise of the Black Flame.

There was also two role-playing games - the first using the GURPS rules from Steve Jackson Games, the second using the D&D 5E ruleset.

B.P.R.D. has its own page. Please put tropes for that comic and its spinoffs on that page.

Created by Mike Mignola.

Hellboy contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Most high demons in Hell are surprisingly patient, understanding and reluctant when it comes to Hellboy. Even Astaroth, High Prince of Hell, doesn't try to force Hellboy into fulfilling his role in the advent of Apocalypse. They'd much rather he take up the role willingly.
    • Even lower demons (like the one that took possession of Hellboy's crown) admit that sometimes their feuds with Hellboy are somewhat petty. Of course, that doesn't stop Hellboy from kicking their collective rear ends.
  • Against the Grain: Just about every supernatural creature Hellboy meets tells him he (and more specifically his hand) will bring forth the Apocalypse. He evokes Screw Destiny and disregards their prophecies. One such creature even makes Hellboy's sawn-off horns grow back, but he snaps them off and uses them as weapons.
  • Alien Abduction: "Buster Oakley Gets His Wish"
  • All There in the Manual: You really have to read a lot of mythology to get a lot of the idiosyncrasies of the plot. This includes mythology from film, television, novels, and other comics.
  • Alternate Continuity: Both the movies and Hellboy Animated have differences from the comics.
  • Anachronic Order: While the B.P.R.D. series usually progresses on a fairly linear path, since characters like Hellboy and Abe are so long-lived, Hellboy and Abe Sapien stories might take place at any point in their careers. Also, since the characters often deal with hauntings or creatures from long-lost civilizations popping up, events from decades/centuries/eons prior might be told while "present day" events are shown concurrently. The franchise being able to jump around so much is actually one of its selling points.
  • Anal Probing: Almost happened to Hellboy after he was abducted by aliens, but he decided that he didn't like that idea so he kicked all their alien asses.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: Though the lines between them are often blurry.
  • The Animated Series: Sort of: a handful of animated movies were released and shown on Cartoon Network / [adult swim]. Notable for showing that Doug Jones was capable of doing Abe's voice as well as his body. In fact he even uses a distinctly different voice as in the cartoon Abe is a different type of character.
  • Anti-Human Alliance: The Queen of Blood gathers one to destroy mankind. Unfortunately for them, she has no intention of restoring their world.
  • Apocalypse Cult: There is a large number of cults and secret societies—Project Ragna Rok, the Oannes Society, and the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra, to name a few—hoping to trigger the apocalypse. Most of them are operating under the logic that the world is going to end anyway, but if they're the ones who pull the trigger, they'll at least have some measure of control over the destruction.
  • Arc Villain: While the Ogdru Jahad serves as the greatest threat to Hellboy's world, and there are a fair share of recurring baddies running around, most individual stories have their villains:
    • The Wolves of St. August: William Grennier, the last member of a werewolf family out to destroy the town that killed his kin.
  • Arc Words: "It's true." turns up conspicuously often when Mignola himself is writing. It rather fits the All Myths Are True nature of the universe.
  • Ascended Demon: Hellboy is so heroic, his spilled blood sprouted lilies during his "paranormal graduation exam" of sorts… An entire field of them bloomed across the ground where he died. Particularly impressive since in traditional Christian iconography lilies represent purity; roses represent the blood of a martyr. Jesus's blood apocryphally did the same.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: One possible interpretation as to Hellboy's ultimate fate at the end of Hellboy in Hell. Also, this is what ultimately happens to those who wear the Sledgehammer Armor.
  • Author Appeal: "Hellboy is a combination of everything I like. Old movies. Fairy tales. Old pulp magazines. Stan & Jack early stuff. Victorian ghost stories. I try to take everything I like and cram it in to one thing." - Mike Mignola's Reddit AMA.
  • Back from the Dead: Hellboy has essentially died and returned to life on at least one occasion. The second time, it sticks.
  • Badass Boast: The Ogdru Jahad: "Hellboy… Your fall should be like the fall of mountains… But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning and shall be forever… The first and the last… The world come full circle. You think you can fight me, kill me, as you would a beast? I am not the wheel—I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. We are bound together in that. I was the wind in the stars before this—Before planets, before Heaven and Hell—And when all's done I will be wind again, to blow the world as dust back into endless space".
  • Badass Longcoat: Of the second Hellboy story, Mignola said it taught him two things. The first was that HB looked better in a trench coat. note 
  • Badass Normal: Corrigan, Captain Daimio, and some of the other BPRD agents. Also Lobster Johnson.
  • Bathtub Mermaid: Abe Sapien has a large saltwater tank at the BPRD headquarters. He doesn't need to be wet to survive, but he does need to be submerged in good clean water every so often to stay healthy.
  • Beast and Beauty: Hellboy and Anastasia, Kate or Alice.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the Third Wish Storyline the Sea Witch Bog Roosh grants each of her granddaughters one wish as a reward for bringing her Hellboy. However each of the wishes backfires horribly, the first granddaughter getting murdered by the reanimated corpse of her true love when she wished to be reunited with him, the second granddaughter drowns after being turned human when she wished she could breath air and for legs so she can go on to land to be with a man, and the last granddaughter wishes for a spear that her father lost a long time ago, but this somehow leads to her father's soul being sent to Hell.
    • In Sullivan's Reward, Sullivan is being rewarded in gold for feeding people to his Haunted House. He's been feeding it drunks and vagrants, and getting a few gold coins each. He decides to feed it Hellboy, and when he appears to have succeeded he triumphantly calls out to the house asking what the reward for HIM would be. An entire 8-foot by 3-foot by 3-foot block of gold coins crashes down the stairs, crushing him.
    • A similar example came from a man who wished for "Enough gold that, should I lay down, I find a crown upon my head". The demon tells him that the gold he seeks is already hidden within his castle's walls. Later, he is turned into an ape-like beast and gets knocked through a wall, the impact killing him. His body falls onto the pile of treasure the demon mentioned, where a crown rolls to rest atop his head.
    • In Tony Masso's Finest Hour the titular mobster being hunted by The Lobster asks is asked by a demon what he wants and he replies "I wanna beat the Hell outta [The Lobster]. And then I wanna see the goddamned look on his face when he knows I beat him". The Demon gives him the power to do just that, and quickly The Lobster finds himself battered, weaponless, and hanging on to the shattered remains of a window, several stories off the ground. The demon then takes the power away from Masso and sends him hurtling to his death, as he only wished for the power to beat The Lobster, not the power to kill him.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Grigori Rasputin as master mystic. Granted, even many of his contemporaries thought there was something weird about him.
  • Berserk Button: Hellboy really doesn't like Nazis.
    • He also gets ticked off by racist behavior toward his colleagues.
  • Big Bad: Rasputin, Herman Von Klempt, Baba Yaga, the Queen of Blood.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Ualac and Igor Bromhead.
  • Black Speech: A lot of witches and sorcerers use this.
  • Blood Bath: Hellboy: Wake the Devil references the original legend about Elizabeth Bathory. The blood baths are only mentioned, not shown, but the iron maiden that was used to obtain the blood plays a pivotal role in the plot.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Hecate claims as much in one of the epilogues to "Darkness Call".
  • Born of Magic: Roger the homunculus was an inert, man-shaped mass of herbs and horsedung that had lain still for hundreds of years. Then when Liz Sherman came close, he suddenly absorbed her pyrokinetic powers, granting him life at the expense of her own (she didn't want the powers, but it turns out they were too big a part of her, leaving her a Soulless Shell). Later he gave it back but was given the means to remain "alive".
  • Brains and Brawn: Abe and Hellboy, though Hellboy is nearly as bright as he's strong and impulsive and Abe is every bit as tough as he's smart. Although the Alternate Continuity film plays up this trope more.
  • Call-Back: "Hellboy, your fall should be like the fall of mountains". And indeed, when Nimue finally tears out Hellboy's heart and kills him, Hellboy turns to stone and crumbles to dust.
  • Catchphrase: Shares one with Nathan Drake: "Ah, crap!" He also tends to get out a "Son of a--" before everything goes to hell for him. He also often shouts "BOOM" when he hits someone hard enough.
  • Censor Shadow: Goes hand-in-hand with Full-Frontal Assault. (The Chiaroscuro makes it easy).
  • Chekhov's Armory: Just about everything Hellboy sees or does in "Wake the Devil" (and a couple of the short stories, like "Box Full of Evil") comes back to haunt him in "Darkness Calls".
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Alice Monaghan from "The Corpse".
  • Chiaroscuro: When Mignola's doing the art it borders on tenebrism.
  • Church of Happyology: One such cult goes by OHM (Original Human Metalanguage) supposedly trying to find the original human language. They're actually trying to summon an Ogdru Hem.
  • Clothing Damage: Hellboy's Badass Longcoat rarely survives his missions.
  • Clue from Ed.: Used very sparsely, generally to point you out which prior stories a referenced event occurred in. They are not attributed to an editor.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Duncan Fegredo would draw Bruttenholm to look like John Hurt.
  • Comic-Book Time: Averted. The series does not employ a sliding timescale, and most events are dated around the time the arc is published, with, for instance Hellboy quitting the Bureau in 2001, and not being heard from for nearly ten years. The characters are more ambiguous. Tom Manning, Kate Corrigan and Liz Sherman seem to have aged in real time, but that may be due to Guy Davis's different art style. This was mentioned by a fan in a letter to the editor, who responded with "They look pretty good for their ages, but they're pseudomilitary. They work out".
  • Cosmic Horror Story / Lovecraft Lite: It's up in the air which of the two the series falls under; it really depends on which wins in the end: You Can't Fight Fate or Screw Destiny.
  • Crossover: With The Goon, Next Men, Beasts of Burden, and The Savage Dragon, as well as a memorable three-way crossover with Batman and James Robinson's Starman.
  • Crossover Cosmology: The Hellboy cosmology is a mishmash of different beliefs and religions ranging from ancient Egypt to Abrahamism to Theosophism. The Creation Myth is that God (Abrahamism) created the world, then sent a number of angels down to watch over it. These angels created Ogdru Jahad and most of them were cast into Hell for it, led by the angel Pluto (Roman mythology). Later a second set of angels were thrown down as well led by Satan (Abrahamism). Meanwhile, lesser spirits were sent to Earth to become the first people, the Hyperboreans (Theosophism drawing on Greek writings) who were led by the wise king Thoth (Egyptian) but were seduced into the worship of the goddess Hecate (Greek).
  • Cross Through: Themes or plot elements often echo across series in this fashion. For instance, in publication terms, Hellboy's drinking problem in Darkness Calls and The Wild Hunt is also important in Hellboy In Mexico, published concurrently but set in the 1950s, and the details of Sir Edward Grey's history were revealed simultaneously in the modern day and in his own Victorian-era spinoff.
  • Crystal Prison: The Ogdru Jahad's prison. Unfortunately, it's starting to fall apart.
  • Curse Cut Short: Hellboy's "Son of a-" could well be his catchphrase seeing how often he says it.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Liz Sherman and arguably Hellboy himself.
  • Custom-Built Host: Several 19th-century scientists managed to grow giant human bodies in vats, which they use as remote-controlled drones. Johann (a disembodied spirit in a special ectoplasm containment suit) manages to possess one, which leads to problems as he veers straight into The Hedonist and isn't on-site when there's trouble.
  • Dead All Along: Lobster Johnson in The Conqueror Worm.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: A given in the Hellboy stories set in the 1950s, a time when racism was widespread in the US, where non-white BPRD agents like Susan Xiang (Chinese-American) and especially Woodrow Fairfield (African-American) are subjected to racist prejudice.
  • Demon Slaying: Hellboy's standard M.O..
  • Deus ex Machina/Dropped a Bridge on Him: Hellboy's conflict with Astaroth ends very abruptly when Astaroth is devoured by the demon Leviathan, due to a previously unmentioned grudge between the two of them.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Hellboy says this multiple times during his journeys in Hell. As a seasoned veteran of the Weird, this is saying something.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Also Hellboy's M.O.. Given Hellboy's true name and nature, this probably applies whenever someone punches him out.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Armageddon is underway. The B.P.R.D. and Hellboy have won countless battles, but each comes with a terrible cost. No one has any hope for victory at this point. The only thing they can hope for is to prevent their enemies from remaking the world in their image, fulfill the end of days with courage, and throw a light into the future, as what may have been destined all along.
  • Dull Surprise: Liz Sherman's default expression for most of the Hellboy comics. Justified, as she's supposed to be depressed and heavily medicated due to her tragic past, and in the later BPRD series, she gets better.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: At one point early in development, Hellboy, Danger Unlimited / Next Men, and Monkeyman and O'Brien were part of a Shared Universe. This detail was soon dropped when all three creators of their respective comics agreed that it would be too complicated to coordinate. However, some references still made it into Hellboy's pages, most notably the superhero "The Torch of Liberty" from Danger Unlimited being present when Hellboy arrived on Earth. The Torch of Liberty was never mentioned again in later issues, and superheroes in general were absent entirely from Hellboy's worldbuilding.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Ogdru Jahad and their 369 offspring Ogdru Hem, which are Sadu-Hem and Katha-Hem, among others. H. P. Lovecraft's influence here is no surprise.
  • Evil Chancellor: By the end of the Lobster Johnson miniseries The Burning Hand (set in 1932) it's clear that Isog is this to crime boss Arnie Wald. He acts subservient and deferential to him in order to let him think that he's in charge.
    • Astaroth reveals that his ultimate plan is to become this for whoever becomes ruler of Hell.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Nearly everyone Hellboy encounters seems to have their own agenda for the Right Hand of Doom and the Ogdru Jahad, believing that they can control their powers (even Hell seems to think they can use the Dragon). It is implied that they are all delusional, and that the release of the Ogdru Jahad would simply result in the annihilation of reality. Hecate is the only one who seems to be aware of this, but pursues it anyway and mocks those who believe they can twist the power to their own ends (she suggests that it might be possible that a new world will be born from the ruins, but it doesn't really concern her).
    • Igor Bromhead seems particularly unable to understand this principle.
    • The various short story collections contain no small number of would-be occultists with just enough knowledge to be a danger to themselves and others, trying to use powers beyond their control for usually very petty ends.
    • Lampshaded in the first story when a bunch of aliens detect signs of activity from the sleeping Ogdru Jahad. The aliens wonder who would be stupid enough to wake the damn things since the Dragon will simply burn the universe to cinders.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Rasputin
    • Igor Bromhead clearly tries to be this.
  • Eye Scream: Hellboy shoots out the Baba Yaga's eye in the 60s. And gives up his own to pay her back!
  • Extranormal Institute: The BRPD's offices.
  • The Fair Folk: In the comic book short story "The Corpse", Hellboy rescues a baby taken by Fairies; since then, the fairies and their king have taken a particular interest in Hellboy.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The size of an Olympic swimming pool.
  • Fantastic Noir: Many stories involve Hellboy investigating paranormal occurrences, Mike Mignola's art helps give it that noir feel.
  • Fantastic Racism: Subverted with Hellboy, interestingly enough. Even though he's literally a big red devil with horns and a tail, people's general reaction to him ranges from curiosity to indifference rather than fear and hatred. The one time someone did pull the whole "it's a demon, kill it!" deal, he was pretty much unanimously slapped down. Ironically, more racist behavior is shown toward Hellboy's non-white colleagues in the B.P.R.D., as shown in the stories taking place in the 1950s.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Astaroth and his horde's reaction to Hellboy having breakfast
    Mammon: It is the boy. He has eaten the pancake.
    Haborym: He will never come back to us now.
    Astaroth: Truely, this is our blackest hour.
  • Fertile Blood: In "The Nature of the Beast", there's a legend that when the monk who first killed the St. Leonard Worm was injured fighting the dragon, lilies grew from where his blood fell. When Hellboy fights the Worm, lilies grow from where his blood fell as well. This is significant because Hellboy is a half demon and the prophesied Antichrist, but he is so good despite this fact that he becomes an Anti-Anti-Christ.
  • Frog Men: The demon-spawn frog monsters.
  • From Bad to Worse: Hellboy's dead right when Armageddon is starting. Crap.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Plenty of characters evolve from background filler to anti-villain or full-blown villains given enough of an Eldritch Power-Up and long enough timeline.
    • Gruagach was a minor fairy who took the place of a human child. After being found out by Hellboy, he unleashed a boar-headed giant on Hellboy, got stuck in the giant's shrunken body, and ended up freeing Nimue to get his revenge.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Queen of Blood's nakedness only adds to her creep factor.
    • Other villains do this as well.
  • Gainax Ending: The ending for the Hellboy side of the storyline is a giant flaming Hellboy with fully grown horns and wings trashing Pandemonium, walking along a beach in his usual form, finding himself in a mansion, and meeting a glowing sphere, pyramid, and cube. Lampshaded by Mignola himself.
    Mike Mignola: When they see issue nine and in issue 10, they’re gonna go, what?!
    • Although this makes some sense in context of a Mythology Gag, as the whole scene is a reference to a one-shot "The Magician and The Snake" by Mignola and his daughter, published in The Amazing Screw-On Head anthology: in the story the magician tried to impress the king and made a sphere, a pyramid and a cube disappear before their eyes. Later he explains to his pet snake that he overexerted himself during the spell, and the objects will eventually return, and then he will die, so they have to live to the fullest and enjoy the time left to him. Later the objects indeed return, and the magician dies peacefully, content with how he spenth his life.
  • Ghostapo/Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Jet Packs, LEGO Genetics, Hollywood Cyborgs, living heads in jars, the Spear of Longinus, and quality occult advice from Rasputin the Mad Monk; you name it, the Nazis had it. Mignola's Hitler had more toys than Batman.
  • Ghost Pirate: Hellboy fights the reunited head and body of Captain Blackbeard before he's separated again and dragged off by his many, many victims.
  • God Is Good: Aside from the plentiful holy relics, badass undead saints and Our Angels Are Different types that occasionally lend a hand, Hellboy is Catholic. He doesn't burst into flames at the sound of church bells, and stakes, crucifixes, etc. have no effect on him despite his demonic nature. Even going to Hell doesn't seem like too much of a torment to him. The guy upstairs is pretty forgiving.
  • Grimmification: It's never the Disney version of fairy tales.
  • Grand Finale: Hellboy in Hell for Hellboy himself, as he conquers the Inferno and then disappears into a beam of celestial light.
    • The third series of B.P.R.D., The Devil You Know, serves as this for the whole Mignolaverse as most of humanity survives and settles underground in the subterranean world while Earth is revived, as it will be inhabited by a new race of frog people as prophesied from early Hellboy stories, though Mike Mignola will continue to write more stories revolving around Hellboy's adventures from the past.
  • Guest Fighter: Is one in the Injustice 2 videogame, fighting DC characters, Mortal Kombat characters, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as of the second DLC pack.
  • Hand Cannon: Hellboy uses a whole series of handguns from a single-shot pistol of some very large caliber given to him by The Torch of Liberty (a WWII-era superhero), through a more modern (though ultimately unreliable) autoloader that would make the Desert Eagle wet itself in awe, to a plain old antique Colt M1911A1 to replace his custom sidearm when it went MIA.
  • Hand of Glory
    • In Box of Evil, Igor Bromhead uses a Hand to steal a box that had the demon Ualac trapped inside. It paralyzes the home owner while Bromhead steals the box right in front of him and Bromhead leaves the Hand behind him forcing the home owner to wait for hours till he could move.
    • Another appears in Being Human, Hellboy has a Oh, Crap! moment when he sees it while Roger remains unaffected because he's "not human". It doesn't help Roger's angsting about not being human.
  • Headless Horseman: King Vold, leader of the Wild Hunt.
  • A Hell of a Time: Hellboy's ultimate fate is apparently to spend eternity in Hell, which apparently isn't as bad as it sounded at first. Billions of people and demons to meet (or fight), a house, possibly some family, and a nearly infinite world to explore forever. In other words, more like the norse Valhalla than anything. Then again, he is a demon... At the end Hellboy is seemingly taken to heaven after wandering hell for a while, though he returns to the world of the living for the last time in Ragna Rok.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A man named Sullivan lures people who won't be missed into a room in his house where they are killed, receiving a few coins falling down the stairs. When he lures Hellboy inside and asks what price he'll get for him, a refrigerator-sized block comes crashing down the stairs.
  • Hollow World: The BPRD miniseries Hollow Earth and King of Fear, as well as Frankenstein Underground, where the titular character ends up in the ruins of an ancient underground Hyperborean city. Becomes a major plot point later in the third BPRD arc, The Devil You Know, where the subterranean world becomes the ultimate refuge for the surviving humans around the world after Hellboy has the BPRD deliver the coordinates for all the underground entrances in the world which he received from Sir Edward Grey.
  • Horns of Villainy: Subverted by Hellboy; he may have horns, but he keeps them sawn off and filed down and is anything but evil. He regularly has to snap them off whenever somebody tries to convince him he's destined to be the Beast of the Apocalypse.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: And boy are they pissed off.
  • I Know Your True Name:
    • Used with great consistency to control and contain demons, though hubris usually gets the better of the summoner in question. This is one of Hellboy's early weaknesses until he realizes Anung Un Rama isn't his name but his title - which his enemy had taken from him. Cue Hoist by His Own Petard.
    • Becomes Hecate's weakness after she reincarnates into Ilsa Haupstein, despite there being no trace of Ilsa left.
  • I Want Grandkids: In "Curse of the Haunted Doll", the ghost of Kate Corrigan's mother bugs her about this.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Hellboy doesn't seem to mind (too much) that he's a demon raised among humans. Even if he was kept hidden away from the public. Part of this has to do with his unique heritage. He's only half demon.
  • Interspecies Romance: Hellboy and Kate dated for a brief time before ending the relationship on good terms. More recently, Hellboy has fallen for Alice, the girl he rescued decades ago from the fey folk.
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: Both the UN and the Pope gave Hellboy "honorary human rights".
  • Instant Taste Addiction: A young Hellboy falls in love with pancakes after trying them, and they become his Trademark Favorite Food, with a bonus funny scene of the denizens of hell lamenting that he'll never return to them now that he's discovered pancakes.
  • Iron Maiden: Rasputin sacrifices Ilsa Haupstein to become the incarnation of Hecate in an Iron Maiden.
  • Kill It with Fire: Liz uses this a lot, obviously. Also, the BPRD usually sends one "flame-thrower guy" with field teams when they expect contact. Most of the cosmic entities can be killed with fire, though not all.
  • Killed Off for Real: Nimue tears Hellboy's heart out in the last chapter of The Fury and drops it into Hell, while Hellboy's body turns to ash. Most sources point this to being the permanent sort of death.
    • He's definitely permanently dead in the physical world, but still exists as an entity within hell, which he will apparently spend the rest of eternity exploring in a surreal spinoff.
  • Knight Templar: The Knights of Saint Hagan, a Crusader who rose headless to fight in the last battle of the Crusades. His followers continued their campaign to destroy all things Satanic with considerable success. Hellboy lampshades their 'kill em all' approach as misguided... however, most of the demons and heathens killed certainly deserved it. (Mignola admits they're a straightforward Expy of the real deal. The Knights of Saint Hagan meant he wouldn't have to worry about working around the Templars' complex real-life history and mythology and could just make things up).
  • Living Labyrinth: A standard of the various haunted and cursed places Hellboy often explores.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Susan Xiang gets a sinking stripe after a harrowing vision where she sees Varvara imprisoned, followed by the apocalyptic future where Hellboy is dead, Varvara is free, the B.P.R.D.'s Colorado headquarters is in ruins, and the Ogdru Hem are loose in the world.
  • Loose Canon: The novels other than the first pair (which are, per the official timeline, considered part of the normal canon) seem to be considered this, in that they have Mike's approval (and his illustrations) but he reserves the right to ignore them if he wants. It may equally apply to the Original Flavor guest stories in Weird Tales. All of these tend to be Monster of the Week stories anyway, rather than possibly contradicting the Myth Arc.
  • Magical Database: Both movie and comics, featured the agency having an extensive database/library of the occult, where our hero's Mission Control usually digs up a vital piece of information for defeating the Monster of the Week.
  • Masked Luchador: Lobster Johnson, as imagined in a series of mexican horror movies of questionable quality
    • Hellboy also teams up with some in one of the Christopher Golden novels, which are apparently part of the comic continuity.
    • And he teams up with a trio of brothers that used to be these before becoming monster hunters in a one-shot.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Used and inverted by the protagonists and the antagonists in "The Black Goddess".
  • Mind Screw: Mignola is a great admirer of mythology and fairytales, and the Hellboy comics often adhere more to that sort of curious dream-logic than the more linear storytelling most modern readers are accustomed to. This is especially prevalent in the one-shots, as the larger Story Arcs, by their very nature require a more cohesive approach. In his introduction to The Hydra & The Lion, Mignola comments: "I've always said that in supernatural stories you need bits that are beyond human comprehension. This one is pretty much made of those bits".
  • Monster Modesty: Hellboy wears little more than brown shorts and a trenchcoat. His chest is completely bare.
    • Abe Sapien and many other non-human characters often wear pants and nothing else.
    • Hilariously subverted when Captain Daimio meets Roger, is flabbergasted by the (literal) block of wood and ring on his groin, and tells him to put some pants on. When it becomes apparent that Roger's groin-block is so large that pants do absolutely nothing to hide them and make him a walking prince albert joke, Daimio quickly tells him to, on second thought, lose the pants.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: While not outright evil, it seems that the head of Research for the B.P.R.D., Dr. Roddel (And to a lesser extent his associate Dr. Cobb) is not a particularly compassionate man. He had to be talked into the procedure that woke Abe from his Magical Sleep, and refused to do the procedure that revived Roger after he was first brought back (Abe had to sneak into the lab and do it himself). Abe describes his first few days awake in the B.P.R.D. research labs as "Terrifying", and we see him in a tank with attached electrodes surrounded by dead fish (Presumably that they had thrown into the tank to feed him and never cleaned up after). Hellboy agrees, stating from his own experience that the lab boys will keep going, finding new things to experiment towards until told to stop. Hellboy says this as he charges into an experiment in progress, pulls Abe from the tank he's in and takes him to the cafeteria for a sandwich.
    • Herman von Klempt, however, fits this trope to a tee.
  • Mysterious Past: Oh, yeah. The exact amount of mystery varies between characters. Several have even gotten enough plot attention to not be mysterious anymore.
    • Hellboy himself seems to favor this over knowing his full past and origins: "I like not knowing. I've gotten by for 52 years without knowing. I sleep good not knowing.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, Ogdru Jahad, Anung Un Rama.
  • Nazi Hunter:
    • Hellboy acted as one after the war. In the non-canon Savage Dragon crossover he even killed Hitler himself.
    • The Lobster as well, before his death in 1939. And as a ghost afterwards.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Hellboy of course. After he and Liz leave the Bureau, Johann's status as a ghost in a shell means he's currently the B.P.R.D.'s ace in the hole during combat missions. He simply switches bodies/suits if he takes damage. It takes an Ogdru Hem's psychic assault to even slow him down.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Cyborg gorillas? A Nazi astronaut possessed by eldritch abominations? Mexican wrestler demons? Bring 'em on!
  • Occult Detective: Hellboy and other B.P.R.D. field agents are paranormal investigators, who investigate supernatural occurrences.
  • Offhand Backhand: Done to a hapless vampire in House of the Living Dead by Hellboy using a blessed sword.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hellboy's had so many of these moments, it's practically become his Catchphrase. A few villains have had them as well. The better ones involve monkeys.
  • Ominous Cube: In the final panels of the comic, while wandering Hell after Satan is killed, three glowing objects suddenly appear in front of Hellboy: a sphere, a pyramid, and a cube. The comic ends immediately after they appear.
  • Orc Raised by Elves: The eponymous character Hellboy, a demon considered as the Antichrist, who was found by humans as a baby to be later raised to become an All-American Hero.
  • Our Angels Are Different: So far we've seen ones that look like flaming skeletons with no legs, and another that looks like a giant maggot with a metallic black mask, pointy legs and wings made of flayed human skin, with a floating spear of fire that follows it around.
  • Our Archons Are Different: In this case they're Watchers, the first beings God created and unwittingly created the Ogdru Jahad.
  • Our Demons Are Different: HB's pretty typical, physically, but the other demons we see keep getting progressively weirder as time goes on. The bizarre crow/bat/udder thing in BPRD: The Universal Machine probably takes the cake.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: While always referred to as a dragon or serpent, the Ogdru Jahad is an Eldritch Abomination, currently seven cocoons in deep space with snakelike bodies and elongated skulls.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: A race of grey-skinned mountain faeries from "Jutland" appear in The Wild Hunt. They are short, bearded, and like crafting with metal and gems. While they haven't yet been identified as such, they fit the dwarven archetype to a T. A similar group shows up when Hellboy fights the ghost of Norse Frost Giants.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Given the nature of the series, this is to be expected. Besides classical vampires, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. have faced off against a number of variations.
    • Vampire-Human hybrids made from injecting the mentally and physically disabled, gay, and other prisoners that the Nazis had rounded up with vampire blood.
    • The Manananggal/Penanggalan, a normal-looking woman by day, who at night detaches her head from her body to feed, ALL of her internal organs leaving with her.
    • The bestial and corpse-like vampires of Mexican folklore
    • The Varcolac, a Titan-esque King of the Vampires that can devour the moon.
    • The vampire lords (a group to whom Vladimir Giurescu and Baron Koenig also belonged) are of the more classical kind. However, they also have a centuries-old plan to take over the world. That is, if the ongoing apocalypse doesn't beat them to it. And if Simon Anders doesn't wipe them all out in the meantime.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Despite there being no masquerade in this world, Abe shows up to the Cavandish estate in Seed of Destruction in one of these, including a hat, sunglasses, fake beard and Conspicuous Trenchcoat.
  • Physical God: Hecate, The Queen of Blood.
    • Hellboy himself would become one of these if he ever took up his place in Hell. He's on the verge of it as he is already, given his strength and how hard it is to kill him. And as of the end of Hellboy in Hell, he has arguably become one.
  • Position of Literal Power: When the Bog Roosh puta a nail in Hellboy's head sealing him in her grotto he can only leave when the new Bog Roosh removes it from his head. As only the Bog Roosh could remove it.
    • Hellboy has this too, his crown is an important symbol and when another demon takes it he gets a Powerboost.
  • Precursors: The Hyperboreans, the "First Race Of Man" who began as incarnated lesser "angels" or spirits.
  • Public Domain Character: Frankenstein's monster. According to Mignola, he's the Shelley version but with a strong James Whale influence, since Bride of Frankenstein is his favourite film. Also, in this version "Frankenstein" is his name, by his own choice.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • This happens to Abe in an awesome way in the B.P.R.D. story "The Dead". He returns to field duty… but not for long.
    • The Torch of Liberty never appears nor is referenced following Seed of Destruction. Most likely because he's John Byrne's creation and once Byrne left he took the character with him.
  • Red Shirt: Just about any non main BPRD character who tags along with the main characters on their missions isn't coming back. They did, however, Take a Level in Badass in several side stories. The extreme danger normal humans face working for the B.P.R.D. is discussed many times. They do their jobs anyway.
  • The Right Hand of Doom: The Trope Codifier.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: Scenes involving Hellboy's childhood and the early years of the BPRD are sometimes set at the Roswell Army Air Field, where the Bureau was based until the famous 1947 spaceship crash. (It's possible that they might've been able to stay there, were it not for an incident involving kid Hellboy, his dog Mac, and some of the residue from the ship. In the aftermath, it was decided that the time had come for the Bureau to go its own way, at which point it moved to the Connecticut facility seen in stories set during Hellboy's tenure as a BPRD agent).
  • Satan: Mentioned in The Wild Hunt as having been asleep for the past two thousand years. Is currently dead thanks to Hellboy stabbing him to death in his sleep.
  • Screw Destiny: Hellboy was born to bring about the Apocalypse. He's not happy about that. In the second trade paperback Wake The Devil, Hellboy actually says "Screw you!" as part of his Shut Up, Hannibal! to Hecate after she lectures him about his destiny.
    Hecate: Accept the truth of your existence or be destroyed! You cannot escape your destiny!
    Hellboy: Gonna try.
    Hecate: Time is coming to ring down the curtain on man. Already, the four horsemen are loose in the world. It is for us to darken the sun, turn the moon to blood, and put out the stars. Then you and I alone, forever in the dark—
    Hellboy: Shut up! Not gonna happen… 'cause you're very, very ugly… and… you have a giant snake body!
  • Shout-Out: Many stories are extended love letters to creators or genres Mignola (or his collaborators) like. In particular, there are frequent references to the Weird Fiction writers, from Howard to Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith to Manly Wade Wellman.
  • Show Within a Show: After his death in 1939, two-fisted adventure hero The Lobster became the subject of a number of these: Pulp Magazine stories, comic books, Film Serials, and finally Mexican movies with The Lobster (or, rather, "Lobster Johnson", the last name taken from the Secret Identity he was given in the pulps) as a Masked Luchador. Compared to his Real Life, they all make for massive cases of Adaptation Decay, and are all considered atrociously terrible, although some people (including Hellboy himself) enjoy them anyway. The existence of these adaptations allow the Hellboy-verse's US government to cover up the existence of the real Lobster (and the fact that he was a spy for them in WWII), and as a further side-effect, the character is more readily known, on both sides of the Fourth Wall, as "Lobster Johnson".
  • Silent Scenery Panel: Lots of close-ups of thematically-important artwork and statuary.
  • Smug Snake: Igor Bromhead, a hedge-wizard who makes a point of knowing more about the task at hand and being better prepared than his companions, and likes to lord it over people. That said, he still doesn't know nearly as much as he thinks he does. At the end of his first appearance He is saved from being arrested or killed by the BPRD by invoking the Demon Prince Astaroth, who in return gives him the lower body of a reptile. Later he imprisons Hecate as part of a bid to become the King of Witches, but winds up trying to eat the moon, which leaves him bloated and wracked with pain and begging Hellboy to kill him
    • Astaroth himself, while a demon lord, seems pretty confident that Hellboy will fulfill his destiny willingly in time. Later, when Hellboy doesn't, Astaroth reveals that he planned to rule Hell with Hellboy as a figurehead. This doesn't end well.
  • Spinoff: So far the main Hellboy series has five official spinoff series, including B.P.R.D.(which has its own 194x/Vampire sub-series), Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien, Witchfinder, Sledgehammer '44, and Frankenstein. Not to mention the Odd Jobs series, the Weird Tales comics, and all the novels (a couple of which are considered canon); there's a whole lot more to the Hellboy universe than just the original comics.
  • Squick: In-Universe. Hellboy's seen a lot of stuff, but in Conqueror Worm he's particularly unhappy when he finds that the psychic radio the Nazis were using used the severed, mummified heads of saints that were actually psychics.
    Hellboy: This is the worst place on Earth.
  • Start X to Stop X: Lampshaded by Hellboy when he gets captured by the Bog Roosh.
    Hellboy: So you had a dream that when I die the whole world gets destroyed and you're going to stop that— by killing me? You're a genius.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Happens a whole lot.
  • Stylistic Suck: See Show Within a Show, above.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Hellboy with his demon abilities such as healing factor and his guns such as "The Good Samaritan" a revolver made of church bells that can kill demons.
  • Supernormal Bindings: Rather common when dealing with demons. When attempting a summoning, anyone with half an ounce of sense will use some magical binding or words of power to prevent the demon from leaving the summoning circle. (Of course, anyone with a full ounce of sense wouldn't be summoning demons in the first place, because things always manage to go wrong even with these barriers in place).
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Apparently, Hellboy is lost to the forces of darkness forever because he ate pancakes.
  • Technology Porn: One word: Helicarrier.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: See Oh, Crap! above.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: If there's a non-supernatural foe in the comics, there's a good chance they wear a swastika.
    • Ghostappo: They're not mutually exclusive either.
  • Timm Style: In the OVAs. Was likely used for being cheaper to animate than Mignola's actual style, while still being somewhat similar.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Hellboy's version of Armageddon consists of a seven aspect god of chaos, its spawn, the forces of hell, and every magical being left in the world with a grudge against humanity vs. a half-demon, half-human hybrid (with the fist of an angel), an undead army of Christendom, a global paramilitary defense agency, and a walking atomic bomb. That's the Cliff Notes version.
  • The Unmasqued World: Since at least the early 1950s, when Hellboy was on the cover of Life magazine. He was granted honorary human status by the UN and is something of a paranormal celebrity. There's a reason people don't freak out when a giant red demon shows up to investigate a were-rat infestation. In the first trade paperback, while Hellboy stands around in broad daylight when on missions, Abe Sapien wears a coat, hat, goggles, and a fake beard to hide his amphibian nature. The Companion explains that Abe was never too keen on drawing excess attention and lacks the natural charm that Hellboy uses to overcome the fear his appearance causes. Hellboy even speculated at one point that it's easier for people to accept him because Hell seems "more abstract" than anything that reminds them of the weird things in the oceans that they know are real. Thus Abe uses the Coat, Hat, Mask and Hellboy doesn't.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: An omake strip showed Hellboy dealing with one of these, but the ending reveals that a tiny imp was behind it, not the machine itself.
  • Villainous BSoD: In Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand, The original Black Flame is shot by everything from handguns to submachineguns to a 4-inch shell from an Anti-Aircraft cannon and the most they were able to do is stop him for a few minutes. He is only defeated when Cindy Tynan forces Isog to run over the Black Flame's wife and partner Kamala. The Black Flame, who has shown little emotion to that point, is clearly crushed, and collapses and allows himself to be taken into custody then
  • Villainous Legacy: Grigori Rasputin is the most prominent of the Ogdru Jahad's acolytes, and Hellboy's most personal foe, as the one who summoned him to Earth in the first place. While he's killed in The Conqueror Worm, his acolytes remain a thorn in the BPRD's side.
  • Villain Team-Up: In both the main series and B.P.R.D., see main article for details.
  • The Virus: One of the more horrific, and common, fates in Hellboy is being transformed into horrible demon-spawn frog monsters. No race, gender or age group is spared.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Hellboy almost never wears one. When he does have a shirt, it usually doesn't last very long.
  • Wham Episode: "The Chained Coffin", where Hellboy's parents are revealed.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Something Hellboy must deal with often enough.
    Remember Hellboy, to be something other than human, does not necessarily mean to be something less.
    • In the books, the BPRD comes down on the wrong side of this question when it fits Roger the Homunculus with a self-destruct.
    • And this comes up in The Black Goddess a bit with Johann.
  • The Wild Hunt: In the Hellboy short story "King Vold", Vold is the headless huntsman in the sky. His hounds are the ghosts of Viking berserkers. In the later "The Wild Hunt", Hellboy joins an eponymous group of British noblemen brought together to hunt giants.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Mary, from "The Sleeping and the Dead".

And there you go.

Alternative Title(s): Lobster Johnson, Hellboy Dogs Of The Night, Hellboy And The BPRD, Young Hellboy, Sir Edward Grey Witchfinder, Rasputin Voice Of The Dragon