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Film / Hellboy (2004)

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"As you entered the lobby, there was an inscription: 'In the absence of light, darkness prevails.' There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. Make no mistake about that. And we are the ones who bump back."
Professor Trevor Bruttenholm

Hellboy is a fantasy action film adaptation of Mike Mignola's comic book series. It is written and directed by long-time fan of the comic series Guillermo del Toro. The cast includes Ron Perlman as the title character, Doug Jones as Abe Sapien (voiced by David Hyde Pierce), Selma Blair as Liz Sherman and John Hurt as Trevor Bruttenholm.

In the final days of World War II, the Nazis and Grigori Rasputin open a portal to the Void, attempting to summon the Ogdru Jahad to destroy the world. Allied soldiers, with the help of occult expert Trevor Bruttenholm, destroy the portal, but not before something comes through: a baby demon. Bruttenholm adopts him and the soldiers of the unit name him "Hellboy."

Sixty years later, Hellboy is one of the best agents in the US government's top-secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, alongside Abe Sapien (a fish-man with Psychic Powers) and Liz Sherman (a pyrokinetic who vacillates between wanting to be on the B.P.R.D. and wanting to be a normal human). They're joined by Nave Newcomer FBI agent John Myers, who was chosen specifically by Professor Bruttenholm to provide the moral support for Hellboy to become a man.

And Hellboy will need all the support he can get: Rasputin has been resurrected by his lover Ilsa Haupstein and his personal assassin Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. The villainous trio frees the hellhound Sammael, as the first step in a plan to force Hellboy to fulfill his destiny and destroy the world.

A sequel was released in 2008, titled Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Two Animated Adaptations produced by del Toro and featuring the same cast were released in 2006 and 2007: Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood & Iron. A third film was planned but ultimately canceled, and the series was rebooted with Hellboy (2019). A second reboot had been announced.

Hellboy provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass: In the graphic novels, Kroenen is just a gas-masked Nazi with a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate. The first movie turns him into a Surgery Addicted Clockwork Nazi Cyborg Assassin with a taste for arm blades...and a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Abraham Sapien goes from reasonably handsome (if fishy) in the comics and animated movies to a much more inhuman, fish-like appearance in the films.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Hellboy is a rough condensation of the plots of Seed of Destruction, The Right Hand of Doom, and Box Full of Evil, with a sprinkle of Wake the Devil. Hellboy's character design was also slightly modified, as in the comics he has cloven hooves instead of feet.note  The producers also worried about having to change the Right Hand of Doom to a Left Hand of Doom before casting Perlman, who is ambidextrous.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Liz has Selma Blair's natural black hair instead of auburn like the comics and animated movies.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Professor Bruttenholm's relationship with Hellboy (as father-son) gets a lot more focus here than in the comics.
  • Affably Evil: Rasputin allows Professor Bruttenholm a moment to prepare for his death and assures him that it will be quick, and it is. Kroenen generally prefers efficiency over sadism anyway, but still. Considering that the professor is terminally ill, it may even count as a Mercy Kill. Their little theology discussion beforehand, while decidedly antagonistic, is still very civilized.
  • Alien Blood: Behemoth bleeds a purple liquid as Hellboy chops down its Combat Tentacles and makes it blow up.
  • Alternate Continuity: Mignola said in one of his interviews that he felt that the way he did Hellboy was just one interpretation, and he didn't want the movie to be a rehash of that, so he let del Toro interpret the franchise his own way for the movies.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: Hellboy's devilishness and the Lovecraftian elements are obvious. Angels don't appear directly, but their dried tears keep Sammael's essence restrained until his release, and religious icons possess holy power.
  • The Antichrist: Hellboy, though he's not too keen on the idea and becomes an Anti Anti Christ.
  • Art Imitates Art: A brief video clip of Hellboy copies the famous film footage of Bigfoot.
  • Artistic License History:
    • Look closely at the soldiers in Professor Bruttenholm's taskforce as they take the picture at the start of the film; one is black, at a time when the forces were still segregated.
    • Rasputin's legendary Rasputinian Death is related by Bruttenholm as true, but there is actually scant historical evidence supporting this popular tale. He was simply shot three times, once to the head. Of course, Rasputin wasn't an immortal wizard who joined the Nazis either.
  • Ascended Extra: Bruttenholm and Kroenen get much larger roles here than in the original comics.
  • Asteroids Monster / Explosive Breeder: Sammael. It lays a lot of eggs, and every time it gets killed, two of those eggs hatch and immediately grow to adulthood. Nothing short of firebombing all the adults and all the eggs simultaneously can stop them.
  • Audience Surrogate: Myers. Most viewers agreed that one was not necessary, hence his absence from the second film.
  • Author Appeal:
    • The film has a strong influence from Mike Mignola, with Nazis, eldritch abominations and a very dark, Gothic tone.
    • The main B.P.R.D. hallway features creatures preserved in jars, and the design of Sammael includes a visible spine, both common hallmarks of del Toro's work.
    • The presences of Ron Perlman and Doug Jones are del Toro staples.
  • Badass Boast: Hellboy threatens hell itself in plain and matter-of-fact language: I said, "Hey, you, on the other side - let her go. Because for her I will cross over, and then you'll be sorry!"
    • Professor Bruttenholm gives a fantastic one while explaining the B.P.R.D.'s motto to Myers: see Badass Creed below.
  • Badass Bystander: The aggressive security guard on the train, who makes the unfortunate (albeit fairly understandable) mistake of thinking that Hellboy is a bad guy.
  • Badass Creed: The Bureau naturally has one—"In absentia lucis tenebrae vincunt."note 
    Bruttenholm: In the absence of light, darkness prevails. There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. Make no mistake about that. And we are the ones who bump back.
  • Badass Longcoat: Hellboy in the standard-issue B.P.R.D. trenchcoats. Kroenen in his black leather Nazi trenchcoat. Also Rasputin in his intricately embroidered coat.
  • Bad Moon Rising: After Rasputin forces Hellboy to use his giant right hand to unlock the Tunguska door by sucking out Liz's soul, the door sends some kind of energy ray to the moon, which turns into a portal to let the Ogdru Jahad enter the world.
  • Bedtime Brainwashing: The villain does this to Liz, resulting in Liz burning the entire asylum.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Grigori Rasputin as master mystic. Granted, even many of his contemporaries thought there was something weird about him.
    • Adolf Hitler as an accomplished mystic. Early in the movie, Bruttenholm briefs Myers on the Occult Wars which happened when the Nazis acquired mystical artifacts (such as the Spear of Longinus) and ended when Hitler finally died in 1958. Myers corrects him, saying Hitler died in 1945; Bruttenholm simply gives an amused "Did he now?"
  • BFG: One of the B.P.R.D. agents wields one, but by the time he charges it up, it's too late.
  • Big Bad: Grigori Rasputin, who spends the film trying to summon world-destroying Eldritch Abominations.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Rasputin's Tomb.
  • Big Eater: Hellboy, if the massive plates of food brought into his room six times a day are any indication.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Kroenen's preferred weapon.
  • Bloodless Carnage: During the fight scenes, Guillermo del Toro uses everything but blood: sweat, Sammael spittle, slime, gumballs, and coins from a pay-phone are just a few examples. The only bloodshed that occurs is symbolic.
  • Body Horror: Sammael. The very first one we're introduced to, after it escapes the train, falls onto the tracks. You get a nice visual of its legs and spine literally twisting around instead of it just simply rolling over to get up, complete with the sickening sounds of bones cracking.
  • Bodybag Trick: Used by Kroenen to infiltrate B.P.R.D. headquarters.
  • Bond One-Liner: Hellboy is fond of these. "I'm're not."
  • Book Ends: Begins and ends with a monologue asking "What defines a man?"
  • Brains and Brawn: Hellboy is superhumanly strong and tough, while Abe is a psychic genius.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Yeah, throw rocks at the pre-teen pyrokinetic. Real smart, kids.
  • Burning with Anger: Liz, when she's angry at Hellboy. Or about to go whoop some ass. Either or.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Sammael is called a hellhound. He does not resemble a dog in any way (except his canine teeth.)
  • Came Back Wrong: Rasputin returns from the Void with an Eldritch Abomination in his stomach, although it's not technically "wrong" as far as he's concerned.
  • Civilization Destroyer: Hellboy is apparently the Beast of the Apocalypse and is fated to destroy human civilization on Earth, which is what Rasputin wants.
  • Clockwork Creature: Kroenen is a clockwork Nazi.
  • Co-Dragons: Kroenen and Ilsa act as equal (yet separate in function, with Kroenen being the more physical enforcer while Ilsa is the more cerebral one) enforcers to Rasputin.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Hellboy has a red light on his communicator, Abe has blue. Those colors are also their B.P.R.D. callsigns.
  • Combat Tentacles: Behemoth uses them in its fight with Hellboy.
  • Comic Books Are Real: Hellboy is only known to the outside world as an urban myth and the star of a series of comic books. When John Myers meets the real Hellboy, HB himself complains that the comics never get his eyes right.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Hellboy spends a lot of the first act battling the first Sammael, but as the number of Sammaels grows, he has less difficulty with each one.
  • Cosmic Horror Story / Lovecraft Lite: If anything, the movies are even more upfront with the Lovecraft influence: Mignola's Ogdru Jahad are reptilian, while del Toro's are betentacled crustaceans.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: Hellboy's first fight with Sammael leaves his right hand on fire. He lights a cigar with it before putting out the flame.
  • Covered with Scars: Kroenen, as a result of his addiction to surgery (though, being a century-old assassin, he's no doubt racked up a few battle scars as well).
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: Played with. B.P.R.D.'s headquarters are very poorly disguised as a waste disposal facility, an elaborate, beautiful structure with impressive statues all behind a large entrance gate...and a tiny sign out front claiming it to be a waste disposal business. The transports for HB and Abe are disguised as garbage trucks.
  • Creator Cameo: Both original comic author Mike Mignola and director Guillermo del Toro appear, dressed as a knight and a dragon respectively, in the scene where a costume party is attacked.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Much like the original comics. Devils, Lovecraftian horrors, fairy-tale creatures, and God are all implied to exist.
  • Crystal Prison: The Ogdru Jahad are contained within these.
  • Cute Kitten: Hellboy loves cats. There's even a scene where he goes out of his way to save a box of kittens from falling to their deaths during a fight with Sammael.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Hellboy himself, though the villains try to convince him that he should be evil.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Hellboy's dialogue is laced with some of the snarkiest deadpanning of any film in the 21st century thus far. Professor Bruttenholm gets a pretty good one in 1944, so apparently that's where he got it from.
    • Liz also has rather snarky moments, and given her depressing background, this makes sense.
  • Deal with the Devil: Inverted: Hellboy briefly submits to his true form in order to get the love of his life's soul back (long story short, Grigori Rasputin steals her soul, stating that he can only get her soul back to her if he opens the gate).
  • Demon Slaying: One of the primary jobs of the BPRD.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Hellboy's handgun shoots specially-made bullets with holy water, garlic, white oak, silver shavings... "the works".
  • Description Cut: Tom Manning states on TV that the B.P.R.D. does not exist. There's then an immediate cut to an establishing shot of B.P.R.D. headquarters.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Hellboy's standard M.O. Also, given Hellboy's true name and nature, this probably applies whenever someone punches him out.
  • Doing Research: During Hellboy's fist fight with Sammael, Abe Sapien is researching Sammael and relaying information to Hellboy. He asks how to kill Sammael, and Abe replies that the book doesn't say how.
  • Dull Surprise: Selma Blair's portrayal of Liz Sherman. Justified, as she's supposed to be depressed and heavily medicated due to her tragic past, and she gets much better in the second film, after she finally comes to terms with her emotions and powers.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Rasputin's crazy Clock Punk mausoleum.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Ogdru Jahad, Sammael, and Behemoth (that thing that crawled out of Rasputin's stomach).
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Rasputin materializes from the shadows of Liz's asylum dorm room the moment the door is shut, which was achieved by a simple but effective Stop Trick.
  • Expy:
    • The Sammael have similarities to the Frog Monsters, with their build, prehensile tongues and elongated faces.
    • The "Behemoth", the Eldritch Abomination that comes out of Rasputin to fight Hellboy in the ending is largely an expy of Sadu-Hem from the original "Seed of Destruction" comic.
  • Exploited Immunity: The title character's immunity to fire comes up a few times:
    • Hellboy defeats a demon by grabbing a live subway rail. The electrical current is unpleasant for Hellboy, but fatal to Sammael.
    • When Hellboy is fighting swarms of Sammaels, Liz the pyrokinetic releases a fire blast that takes down all the Sammaels while leaving Hellboy intact.
    • Hellboy finally defeats Behemoth by pulling the pin on his grenades and jumping into its mouth. The ensuing explosion destroys Behemoth from the inside out, while Hellboy is Blown Across the Room but otherwise fine.
    • When Hellboy and Liz finally kiss, her powers light them both up in a flaming blaze. Scary to think what would've happened if poor Myers had been the one she fell in love with. Do you take your FBI agents medium or well-done?
  • Extra Eyes: Sammael has three eyes: two on the right side of its head, and one slightly larger on the left.
  • Extranormal Institute: The B.P.R.D.'s offices.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Kinda. After revealing his plan to the Professor, as well as the knowledge that they would kill him afterwards, Rasputin assures him that his death will be quick and painless. Seconds later, Kroenen swiftly stabs him through the back of his neck, at the top of the spinal cord, killing him instantly.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Professor Bruttenholm doesn't struggle when Rasputin and Kroenen come for him, knowing that there's nothing he can do to escape them and nothing more he can do to foil their plans than he has already done.
  • Fanservice:
    • Perlman mentions that all the female TAs were "smitten" with Hellboy, and suspects that many were crestfallen upon seeing him out of makeup and costume for the first time.
    • Abe Sapien spends the majority of time shirtless and is very fit.
    • In the movie, Liz apparently burnt all her clothes off before falling unconscious, so Rasputin kindly gives her a big blanket (and nothing else). On the movie case, she's also wearing a clingy black dress never seen in the film.
  • Feed It a Bomb: The death of the Behemoth.
  • Film Adaptation (Live-Action): An adaptation of the Hellboy comics, includes an Origin Story.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Hellboy starts out treating Myers like crap, partially due to him being a Nave Newcomer and partially due to the Love Triangle between them and Liz. By the end of the film, he finally shows Myers some respect when he helps him realize he has control over his own destiny. Of course, then there's the fact that Hellboy had Myers literally Reassigned to Antarctica in the sequel.
  • Fish People: Abe is an Icthyo Sapien (thinking fish), an amphibious humanoid.
  • Foil: Rasputin is this to Hellboy. The latter is a demon who chooses to defend humanity, and prefers brute force and assorted guns to get the job done. Meanwhile, the former is a (undead) human who willingly chose to side with an Eldritch Abomination and is more skilled in the occult, relying on his underlings to do the dirty work. His final scenes show that he cares little for humanity, telling Hellboy that Earth's destruction will go unmourned by the rest of the universe.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: Rasputin is sucked belly-first into the portal during the opening sequence, his already-liquefying body bending in half, backward (urk!).
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Hellboy's stone hand has only four fingers.
  • Friendship Moment: After Manning spends most of the movie complaining that Hellboy is an insubordinate menace, Hellboy saves his life from a death trap and then they team up to defeat Kroenen. Afterward, they have a friendly moment, which because it's Manning takes the form of him being a curmudgeon about the way Hellboy lights his victory cigar and teaching him how to do it properly, thus making the cigar actually taste better.
  • Gas Mask, Longcoat: Kroenen wears this combination in the opening scene when he's in Nazi uniform. Later, he just keeps his mask.
  • Gentle Giant: Hellboy loves cats and he doesn't mind the kid on the roof he meets while spying on Myers and Liz's date.
  • Ghostapo / Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The movie doesn't even start to show off the Nazis' capabilities with a Clockwork Nazi assassin. World War II was simply the public face of the decades-long "Occult Wars" which began shortly after World War I and lasted until the Allies finally killed Hitler in 1958. Only Mignola knows how America Saved the Day.
  • Gilligan Cut: In the beginning, when Tom Manning is interviewed on TV.
    Manning: — I want to tell you and I want to tell the American public one thing. This Bureau for...umm...
    TV Anchor: — ...Paranormal Research and Defence.
    Manning: — (looks towards camera) There is... No. Such. Thing.
    [cut to properly subtitled facility of B.P.R.D]
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Averted, as Abe's goggles protect his aquatic eyes while also, as expected, looking really cool
  • Good Hurts Evil: When Hellboy regrows his horns and is briefly evil, the crucifix from his rosary leaves a burn mark on his hand.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Ogdru Jahad, a team of Eldritch Abomination aliens worshiped by Rasputin, who tries to lay the world to waste by using Hellboy as a way of summoning them.
  • Groin Attack: When the Professor is recalling the history of Rasputin, he mentions that when Rasputin died the first time he was castrated as part of his death by Humiliation Conga.
  • Hand Cannon: Hellboy's enormous, customized "Samaritan" revolver, which holds four rounds and is made from consecrated materials such as iron from church bells and pieces of the True Cross. He uses two special types of rounds: "Whoppers" (explosive-tipped and filled with materials that can injure supernatural creatures) and "Trackers" (leave a dye trail that can be used to follow a wounded target).
  • Happily Adopted: Hellboy's fond memories of his surrogate father and his supportive childhood is a fundamental reason of why he keeps trying his best to do the right thing, as hard as it is.
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: Kroenen doesn't seem to have a working heart or blood in the film adaptation, but the clockwork device that keeps his body in the upper left side of his chest where his heart should be.
  • Hellgate: Rasputin's portal to the Void.
  • Hellhound: Sammael. Though he looks more like a cross between a Thanator and a Predalien than an actual dog.
  • High-Voltage Death: Double Subverted when Hellboy is battling Sammael the first time. Hellboy grabs the third rail of a subway. He just gets jolted, but Sammael gets barbecued. Hellboy then lights a cigar off a flaming bit of Sammael stuck to his stone hand.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Rasputin in reality was little more than a weird, opportunistic fortune teller, while this story draws heavily from propaganda painting him as a malevolent wizard bent on domination.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: When Liz is still having problems accessing her powers, she goads Myers with this.
  • Holy Burns Evil: When Hellboy embraces his demonic power during the climax, Professor Bruttenholm's cross burns his palm when Agent Myers throws it to him. However, during the rest of the movie, Hellboy has no problem with using holy objects such as the components of his Depleted Phlebotinum Shells.
  • Holy Water: One of the ingredients in the custom revolver rounds Hellboy creates for hunting demons, alongside white oak, silver shavings, and clover.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Hellboy is said to be 6'5" and is a mountain of red muscle, while Liz has a slender and feminine frame.
  • I Call It "Vera": Hellboy's Hand Cannon is named the Samaritan.
  • Idiot Ball: In retrospect, leaving Kroenen's body unattended, and leaving all his gear in the same room, might not have been the best idea.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Hellboy. He sands down his horns to fit in and generally likes to pal around with the other B.P.R.D. agents when he's not working.
    • Liz resents her power, and Hellboy believes part of the reason she left the BPRD was because she felt like she wasn't a part of the normal world there.
  • I Know Your True Name: Invoked and played with, as Rasputin knows Hellboy's real name, Professor Bruttenholm most likely knows but refuses to say it, and the viewer is left wondering if Hellboy himself knows right up until his final confrontation with Rasputin. Turns out, Hellboy does know his demonic name: Anung Un Rama.note 
  • Ignore the Disability: Clay warns Myers not to stare at Hellboy's filed horns...with predictable result.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Karl Ruprecht Kroenen is impaled against a column during the opening battle but survives it and disappears. In Russia he tries to make Hellboy fall into a spike-filled pit inside Rasputin's tomb... but ends up thrown into it himself instead, after which Hellboy throws a huge gear on top of him for good measure leaving him stuck in a And I Must Scream state if he's still conscious and unable to piece himself back together.
    • Rasputin gets a horn shoved into his belly after Hellboy snaps out of his control.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Kroenen is capable of deflecting bullets at his attackers and Diagonal Cutting stone statues.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Myers possesses this, according to both the Professor and Abe, with it being implied that the latter determined this through his psychic abilities.
    Professor: In medieval stories, there is often a young knight who is inexperienced, but pure of heart.
    Myers: Oh, come on. I am not pure of heart.
    Abe: Yes, you are.
  • In-Series Nickname: Hellboy has two: "H.B." and "Red".
  • In the Style of: Hellboy reads a Jack Kirby-styled Hellboy comic book at one point. He considers it a Guilty Pleasure.
    Hellboy: I hate those comics. They never get the eyes right.
  • Interspecies Romance: Hellboy (demon) and Liz (human).
  • Involuntary Group Split: When the agents enter Rasputin's Elaborate Underground Base, they're split into two groups by rising walls, literally seconds after stressing the importance of sticking together.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: During Professor Bruttenholm's funeral.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: Manning, regarding Hellboy's irresponsibility as a commanding officer. Such a good point, in fact, that the movie has him immediately follow it up with a bigoted rant so we don't stop thinking of him as a jerkass.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The children that gang up on Liz in her childhood memory go as far as throwing stones at her.
  • Kill It with Fire: Liz uses this a lot, obviously. Sometimes she becomes a Woman on Fire for that extra boost of awesome.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Hellboy's soft side is established early when he's introduced in a bedroom filled with pet cats. Hellboy also goes well out of his way to save some kittens during his fight with Sammael in the subway.
  • Kiss of Death: Rasputin gives it to Liz. It's not death for her but for all the other inmates of the looney bin she's in, because it makes her fire power go haywire and blow up the whole building.
  • Kiss of Life: Hellboy to Liz.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At the library when Hellboy goes to face Sammael alone:
    Myers: Hey, no one goes with him?! Jesus!
    Abe: Hmm... no. He likes it that way. The whole "lonely hero thing"...
  • Lightning Bruiser: By human standards, Hellboy is definitely this, but since his actual fights tend to be against various supernatural creatures, he can be anything from a Fragile Speedster (compared to the Behemoth) to a Mighty Glacier.
  • Lip Losses: Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. On top of the many cybernetic modifications and acts of Self-Harm inflicted on his own body, he's also revealed to have sliced off his upper and lower lips by the start of the film - hence why he never speaks and usually wears a gas mask to cover the injury.
  • Living Labyrinth: Under the mausoleum in the film's final act.
  • Love Triangle: Between Liz, Hellboy and Myers (who seems to vacillate between trying to reconcile Liz and Hellboy and falling for Liz himself).
  • Magical Weapon: The Spear of Longinus is said to make its wielder invincible, and to have caused Hitler's power to grow tenfold when he acquired it during his rise to power, though fortunately it's safely locked away in the B.P.R.D. and is not important to the plot.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Kroenen's Living Labyrinth (actually Rasputin's Tomb) comes complete with Spikes of Doom and Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom.
  • Masquerade: Hellboy, the B.P.R.D., and the occult are all kept secret from the public, and one of Tom Manning's jobs is to appear on TV and deny that they exist.
  • Mercy Kill: Kroenen delivers one to Professor Bruttenholm by stabbing him in the back of the neck on Rasputin's orders.
  • Meta Casting: When discussing the film, Mignola and del Toro were considering who should play Hellboy. They each said they had a particular actor in mind and decided to each write their choice down on a napkin and turn them both over at the same time. They had both written "Ron Perlman." Given that Perlman was large and deep-voiced, had extensive experience working in heavy prosthetic makeup, and was already a del Toro regular, the choice was rather obvious.
  • Mistaken Death Confirmation: Dr. Bruttonholm's autopsy of Kroenen somehow overlooks that he's merely suspended the clockwork that animates him, which costs Bruttonholm his life.
  • Mobile Fishbowl: Abe sometimes wears water goggles and water tanks when he is out of his tank. Based on the comics this is more to keep him from drying out than to help him breathe; he has both lungs and gills.
  • Muggles: Every supernatural entity's opinion of ordinary humans, including B.P.R.D. agents.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Abe and Hellboy are both quite muscular and both spend a lot of time shirtless.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Hellboy gets presented a comic book based on him, similar (but distinct) to his actual source material. In the cover you can see Von Klempt and one of his Krigoffs, characters from the comics that haven't made their way to the films as of yet.
    • Rasputin dubs Sammael "seed of destruction". This film (loosely) adapts the first arc of the comics, appropriately titled Seeds of Destruction.
    • The lightning and angles used for the scene Myers and a doctor discuss Liz from behind a glass are lifted almost directly from a similar scene in the comics arc titled Almost Colossus.
    • Roger the Homonunculus, a comics character, can be briefly glimpsed as a statue in the B.P.R.D lobby.
  • Nave Newcomer: Myers, who doesn't know much about the supernatural and carries some naivete from his youth with him.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, the Ogdru Jahad, Anung Un Rama (the last a subversion...although it being a subversion depends entirely on whose side you're on).
  • Nazi Gold: The guide who led Ilsa Haupstein and Kroenen to the site where Rasputin could be resurrected is paid by them with a gold bar stamped with a swastika for his services... and then Kroenen promptly stabs him in the back.
  • New Era Speech: Rasputin gives one of these just before carrying out a ceremony to release the Ogdru Jahad for the Nazis.
    Rasputin: What I will do tonight can never be undone! I will open a portal and awaken the Ogdru Jahad, the seven gods of Chaos! Our enemies will be destroyed, and from the ashes, a new Eden will arise.
  • Nice Guy: Myers is said to be "pure of heart" by Abe, and he'd know.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Hellboy does this on several occasions, from causing Sammael to multiply each time he kills one of them (including the original Sammael, setting off the chain reaction), to getting several Red Shirts killed by running off on his own.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Hellboy can get hurt, but he's extremely durable.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Kroenen is a Nazi clockwork zombie cyborg assassin who can sprout blades from his wrists sleeves.
  • Nurture over Nature: The core of Hellboy's character, as he was created to herald the return of various Eldritch Abominations but was raised by a good man.
  • One-Liner: "I'm fireproof. You're not," and, "I'm gonna be sore in the morning..." Made all the better because this was the last line Ron Perlman recited while working on the film. The cast and crew gave him a standing ovation.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: After resisting Rasputin's temptation to summon Eldritch Abominations to Earth, Hellboy kills Rasputin—which allows another abomination, hiding inside Rasputin, to begin wreaking havoc.
  • Pedestrian Crushes Car: Hellboy punches an oncoming car with his stone fist to save Myers who is lying in the road, causing it to flip over them both.
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: Rasputin.
    SS General: Five years of construction and research, Grigori! Five years! The Fuhrer doesn't look kindly on failure!
    Rasputin: There will be no failure, General. I promised Herr Hitler a miracle... I'll deliver one!
  • Power Incontinence: Liz's pyrokinesis blows up an entire city block when she's eight years old. Later in life, Rasputin uses that memory to have Liz destroy the mental institution she's living in while she's asleep. It's the biggest reason she's afraid of her power.
  • Practical Effects: Used extensively and very effectively throughout, as is del Toro's tradition. Basically, any monster that's not running or fighting is a suit or animatronics rather than CGI. Even the Sammael had an actual physical suit built (complete with motorized tendrils!)
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: The motto of the BRPD is "In absentia luci, tenebrae vicunt." Or, "In the absence of light, darkness prevails."
  • Product Placement:
    • Hellboy first bonds with Bruttenholm over Baby Ruth bars, which are shot in their original wrapper. Modern bars are seen in the modern scenes.
    • Hellboy steals a six-pack of Bud Light, which receives a lot of close-up camera attention.
    • Dunkin' Donuts boxes and coffee cups are seen scattered about Hellboy's room.
    • Hellboy sips on a can of Red Bull with the label facing the camera during one scene in his room. Feels amusingly fitting considering the color of the character and the last name of the director.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Liz Sherman; she's more like a little sister to Hellboy in the comics. Played with when Liz tells Myers that she's known Hellboy all her life. In the original stories, Liz had a stronger romantic interest in Abe.
  • Protagonist Title: Hellboy, our hero.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: Kroenen. Not only does he love his tonfas (bladed tonfas at that), but when he's shown without his trenchcoat, he's got several knives strapped to his arms and legs.
  • Psychic Powers: Abe is telepathic and able to read the past of objects and places, probably to allow them to do an Info Dump for the audience without it seeming too awkward.
  • Rasputinian Death: Rasputin, obviously...and he's still not technically dead.
  • Red Shirt: The ordinary, unnamed human BPRD agents are in the movie mainly to get picked off by the bad guys at dramatically appropriate moments.
  • Removing the Earpiece: Done twice by H.B. The second time, it leads to several redshirts getting killed while he can't be reached.
  • The Right Hand of Doom: Hellboy's stone right hand is literally the Right Hand of Doom.
  • Rule of Cool: Anything Kroenen does runs on this. The museum fight is probably the best example, where he can spin his blades fast enough to deflect bullets and shoot them back at the guards.
  • Say Your Prayers: Rasputin allows Professor Bruttenholm a moment to do so before having him killed by Kroenen. If the rosary is any indication, he made use of it.
  • Screw Destiny: Hellboy was born to bring about the Apocalypse. After Myers reminds Hellboy that he has a choice, Hellboy tells Rasputin what he thinks of his destiny by ripping off his own horns and stabbing Rasputin in the gut with them.
  • Self-Harm: According to Broom, Kroenen suffers from "surgical addiction", a severe form of masochism that made him mutilate himself and he survives all of that only thanks to some kind of black magic.
  • Sinister Subway: Hellboy fights Sammael on underground railroad tracks and later in the middle of a crowded subway station.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The scene of Bruttenholm befriending "baby Hellboy" is very reminiscent of the Baby Ruth scene from The Goonies — including the yummy-sounds.
    • There are shoutouts to Mike Mignola scattered about - in Liz's flashback sequence, one of the buildings is called "Mignola Plaza", and one of the headstones in the Russian cemetery is inscribed with Mike Mignola's name in Russian.
    • Hellboy lives on the 51st floor of the BPRD HQ.
    • Hellboy calls Kroenen "Pinhead" at one point.
  • Shown Their Work: With Mignola and del Toro co-producing, it wasn't hard to squeeze in all kinds of obscure mythological references. Of course, it's a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, so...
  • Smoking Is Cool: Hellboy is constantly smoking cigars. It may double as a real-life Actor Allusion as Ron Perlman is an avid cigar aficionado.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: When Liz has her pyrokinesis fit in the psychiatric institution, the CCTV cameras go to full static as the fire wave destroys them, and again in the auction hall in TGA, along with the lights blacking out.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: Kroenen uses his blade-tonfas to block bullets and shoot them back at people.
  • Spy Catsuit: Abe's wetsuit is effectively this.
  • The Stinger: Halfway through the credits is the punchline of a Brick Joke.
  • Stock Scream: As an unnamed Nazi scientist is thrown against the portal in the beginning and reduced to a skeleton before disappearing, a classic Wilhelm scream is heard.
  • Stopped Reading Too Soon: A variation; Abe Sapien reads off the description for the Hellhound from a book to Hellboy. Hellboy supposedly kills the hellhound before Abe finishes, after which he mentions the last few sentences about resurrection.
  • Stop Trick: The moment that the door of Liz's asylum dorm room is shut, leaving it in shadow, Rasputin materializes out of the darkness. Del Toro pointed this out as one of the most effective special effects in the film, and it was achieved by a simple Stop Trick.
  • Storyboarding the Apocalypse: Rasputin gives Bruttenholm a vision of Hellboy causing the end of the world.
  • Stupid Evil: It's unclear just how intelligent the Behemoth is, but the fact Rasputin calls it "the master" is suggestive — in which case, it wasn't very smart of it to swallow Hellboy whole when he had a bomb on his person, which ultimately kills the beast from the inside. Possibly justified by a lack of familiarity with terrestrial technology.
  • Supernormal Bindings: Rasputin binds Hellboy in stocks and chains inscribed with Hellboy's true name. The only way for Hellboy to break these bindings is to say his name, tacitly submitting to his destiny as Prince of Hell and bringer of the apocalypse. Of course, making Hellboy fulfill this destiny is Rasputin's entire goal.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Baby Ruth bars. Also, milk and cookies from a nine-year-old kid.
  • The Team Normal: John Myers is just a normal FBI agent thrust into the world of the supernatural.
  • Tempting Fate: "We'll be all right as long as we don't separate." Cue sliding walls rising up from the floor and splitting the group in two.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: They are quite real, as the Professor points out. The B.P.R.D.'s job is to understand them, and stop them from harming ordinary people.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Hellboy when about to be swallowed whole by the Behemoth while he's carrying a live bomb.
    "Oh, this is gonna hurt."
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Ilsa, Kroenen and von Klempt.
  • To Hell and Back: Hellboy threatens it when he saves Liz.
    Hellboy: I said "Hey, you on the other side; let her go. 'Cause for—[chokes back a sob]—for her I'll cross over...and then you'll be sorry."
  • Touch Telepathy: Abe Sapien can learn about objects or people by touching them. For example, he can touch a weapon left behind at a crime scene and see exactly how the crime happened or he can touch a superior's hand and realize the man is dying of cancer.
  • A True Story in My Universe: We see some Hellboy comics on the actual Hellboy's legends.
  • The Tunguska Event: A deleted scene available on the DVD release's special features states Rasputin's giant rock, sent to Earth by the Ogdru Jahad, was the cause of the Tunguska explosion.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Hellboy, Liz, and Abe are each supernatural and make up the core of the BPRD.
  • Underling with an F in PR: Hellboy is a Big Red Devil who's part of a secret government agency charged with eliminating supernatural threats before the public gets wind of them. Hellboy apparently didn't get the memo on that last part, because he enjoys having his picture taken with people, much to the director's chagrin. Note that in the comics, his existence is in no way a secret, and in fact nobody ever even bats an eye at his appearance.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Myers. Once he adjusts, he's pretty much unfazed by the rest of the movie's events.
  • The Unintelligible: Ivan, the desiccated half-corpse Hellboy resurrects during the final act, talks with a fittingly dry, raspy voice and in (presumably) some form of Russian, which makes everything he says largely impossible to understand for the average western viewer. Hellboy and his team seem to understand him quite fine, though, if Liz's snickering when Ivan insults Hellboy is any indication.
  • Urban Legend: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., until he goes public.
  • Villain Teleportation: Used by Rasputin.
  • Welcomed to the Masquerade: The movie begins with Agent Myers being brought in to the BPRD, a paranormal investigation unit. Downplayed in that his FBI skills don't do him any good against the various monsters and ancient evils they meet up with. He was only brought in to be a positive influence on the title character.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out if Clay survives his stabbing (but it's strongly implied that he wouldn't).
  • With My Dying Breath I Summon You: Rasputin summons the Behemoth this way - if it wasn't a case of the Behemoth simply being released by Rasputin's death, in which case, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Hellboy almost becomes this after Rasputin kills Liz in front of him and sends her soul into the Ogdru Jahad realm in order to force him to become the beast of the apocalypse and unlock the portal. The only reason H.B. doesn't is because Myers manages to get him to snap out of it by reminding him of what he once was and that he can choose his own destiny.
  • Yawn and Reach: Lampshaded
    Kid: Look! He's yawning! He's ''bored!
    Hellboy: Yeah, yeah, the ol' "stretch and yawn trick." Watch and learn, kid.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Invoked by Myers to convince Hellboy to refuse Rasputin's demand to free the Ogdru Jahad.
    Myers: Remember who you are! [...] You have a choice! Your father gave you that.
  • You Are Worth Hell
    Ilsa: (to Rasputin, seconds before death) Hell will hold no surprises for us, my love.
  • You Killed My Father: Hellboy to Kroenen, after Kroenen kills Professor Bruttenholm. "You killed my father! Your ass is mine!"


Video Example(s):


The Odgru Jahad

A race of powerful, unknowable entities from the dawn of time, the fabled Seven Gods of Chaos are imprisoned within a vast crystal cocoon floating somewhere in deep space, waiting to be released and bring about the apocalypse.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (26 votes)

Example of:

Main / EldritchAbomination

Media sources: