Follow TV Tropes


Good Angel Bad Angel / Live-Action TV

Go To

  • On Just Shoot Me!, Finch is confused when only his Bad Angel appears, and the latter explains that he is too depraved to even have a Good one.
  • Battlestar Galactica's Six and Baltar. Each sees a spectral version of the other (known to fans as "Head Six" and "Head Baltar") right up until the final episode when both doubles appear together for the first time. Although Six is described as the "angel", she spends much of her time just messing with Baltar, and while Baltar is alluded to be a "devil" figure, he actually saves Six's ass a few times.
  • Advertisement:
  • Austin & Ally: Austin ponders whether or not to read Ally's book. Then, a Good Austin and a Bad Austin appear on his shoulders with the Good Austin telling not to read it and the Bad Austin encouraging him to read it. Then Trish dressed in red appears and punches the Good Austin away siding with the Bad Austin.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has Ned trying to decide whether or not to cheat on a history test — and miniature versions of Benedict Arnold and Abraham Lincoln stand on his shoulders to argue the case. (Arnold's argument quickly devolves into crude jokes about how ugly Abe's hat is.) This was a result of a machine designed to put information from his history book directly into his brain blowing up. In a later episode he talks about the machine, saying something along the lines of:
    Ned: That thing brainwashed me. Now whenever I have a moral dilemma, Abe Lincoln and Benedict Arnold appear on my shoulders.
  • Advertisement:
  • Herman's Head is an entire series based on Good Angel, Bad Angel. Herman's thought processes are personified by a set of characters that represent his psychological characteristics and debate his every action, though most of the conflict was between Angel (Herman's sensitive side) and Animal (Herman's lust).
  • Hannah Montana: When Robby Ray learns about and disapproves of Jackson's scam to get accepted into the college Santa Barbera, Jack is confronted by his shoulder angel and devil. His shoulder angel tells him not to break his father's heart while the shoulder devil tells him "you know what to do, just do it!"
  • Lucifer (2016): The mid-season finale of Season 5 has Lucifer Morningstar and Archangel Michael do this to their brother Amenadiel, with the classic "over the shoulder" shot. Of course, given the nature of the series it's Lucifer who gives the good advice, while Michael is the Big Bad of the half-season.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Ned & Stacey, Ned's bad angel encourages him to sleep with Stacey's boss. His good angel concurs.
  • Subverted in episode 5 of Skins. Sid is deciding whether to skip class or not when two of his friends appear, one with horns and another with a halo they stole from the drama department. After initially playing their roles, the (pill popping) angel sides with the devil and says he should skip class and get stoned with them instead.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • An episode where Lister's two internal voices (his Confidence and his Paranoia) become actual people thanks to a mutated disease. His Confidence tells him he's a cool guy who can become whatever he wants while his Paranoia constantly puts him down.
    • Rimmer got to do the rare, full-on "all virtues vs. all vices" version on a moon where Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • Played straight by Adal Ramones in his monologue "La Primavera" (Spring).
  • The 30 Rock episode "Black Tie" plays with this in a rather surreal way. Pete is about to cheat on his wife when Kenneth pops in through a vent, lit by blue light, and tells him not to. Then Tracy pops through another vent, under red light (he didn't have this trope in mind; he just got really, really lost), and argues with Kenneth. Finally, Pete turns to dramatically declare "I'm sorry, I can't do this — I love my wife!" You can see it here.
  • Neatly used in a clip from The Daily Show, in which the "live on location" screens are gradually used to turn Samantha Bee's report on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to dissolve the Canadian Parliament rather than face a vote of no-confidence into a battle between John Oliver (who is English) as the pro-Monarchy "angel" and Aasif Mandvi (who is Indian) as the pro-Independence "angel" over whether Queen Elizabeth II should remain Canada's Head of State, with Bee the confused and indecisive Canadian trying to decide which argument to pick. Oliver wins by promising a Royal Visit.
  • Played for laughs in the Beetleborgs episode "Buggin Out".
  • Full House, where it naturally happened to Michelle.
  • Blair on Gossip Girl at one point uses two of her mean girls as shoulder angel and shoulder devil when trying to decide whether or not to destroy a teacher who put her chances of getting into Yale at risk. The devil wins the argument, with the angel griping about how boring it is to play the good part.
  • Family Matters has this trope with Steve Urkel and Carl Winslow in one episode.
  • A recurring sketch on Late Night With Conan O'Brien was "Moral Dilemma" where Conan would be faced with a small one — e.g. finding a wallet full of cash and deciding whether or not to keep it or return it to its rightful owner. Suddenly, a little devil urging him to do the wrong choice would appear on one shoulder. On the other shoulder, instead of an angel, it would be something like a bear or an astronaut, giving advice pertaining to that character.
    • They also did one warning tourists not to play three-card monte in the subway, with Satan egging a guy on and Jesus assuring him that the game is rigged and no good can come of gambling. The tourist eventually agrees and hands his wallet to Jesus for safekeeping, only for him to run away with it.
  • Maybe It's Me invoked this trope as a comedic exaggeration once. Grant, a guy whose main character trait was his religious faith, had to make a decision. First, he looked to his shoulder angel, who calmly described what he should do. His shoulder devil sat sulking, and when Grant turned to him, the devil grumbled, "Why are you even looking over here? You never listen to what I say anyway."
  • In the Uk run of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Greg Proops has to act out both angel and devil roles for "host" Tony Slattery in "Party Quirks".
  • Unrelated to the above, Jonathan Mangum gets the idea to do this during "Freeze Tag" when he sees Ryan huddled up to Wayne Brady in Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza. Unfortunately Ryan caught on fast but didn't act out the right role, leaving Wayne with two shoulder devils...
  • The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had a Tom Brokaw angel and a Don Rickles Devil arguing about whether or not to follow the Congressman Weiner scandal.
  • In a nineties episode of Neighbours, Julie Martin had the full-size versions discussing whether or not she should cheat during an exam. They weren't dressed as an angel and devil but the intention was clearly the same.
  • One of Babylon 5's major plot arcs was the full-on Psychomachia version of this - its creator has even described it as "the battle for the soul of Londo Mollari."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Stannis Baratheon's main advisors are Ser Davos Seaworth (the angel) and Lady Melisandre (the demon). Where Melisandre counsels using force to achieve his goals, Ser Davos advises restraint. When Stannis and Davos speak on the ship to King's Landing, Davos walks along with him on his right side. When Stannis looks into the flames at Mel's urging, she is clutching his left shoulder. Melisandre even dresses in bright red robes, while Davos wears humble grey roughspun clothing. At first played straight, then subverted in "Mhysa", when both are left in the background of a close-up of Stannis trying to decide on a new course of action, one over each shoulder, each one trying to pull him the other way. However, this is shortly subverted when Melisandre agrees with Davos about going to defend the Wall, which makes it basically the first time in the entire show that they've ever agreed (even they look surprised).
    • A similar shot was also used for Ned contemplating going south in "Winter is Coming," with Catelyn and Maester Luwin arguing the two ambiguous choices.
  • Modern Family. Done hilariously when Haley is working at a country club. Her brother Luke (who hired her) tries to convince her (via walkie-talkie) to stick to her responsibilities, while a club member (played by Vanessa Williams), on her cell phone, tries to talk her into playing hooky. We see the two of them in the background: Luke, in his white uniform, over Haley's right shoulder, and Williams, in a red dress, over her left.
  • An episode of Brimstone, "It's a Helluva Life", has the Devil showing the protagonist all the evil he's done, to convince him he's doomed to Hell. An angel played by the same actor (but dressed like a ceiling painter as opposed to the Devi's suits) tries to convince him otherwise.
  • Parodied in That '70s Show episode "Roller Disco", in which Fez is tempted to take advantage of a drunken Jackie. Instead of Angel vs. Devil, he's got Batman vs. Riddler.
  • Subverted in the Married... with Children episode "Oldies but Young 'Uns", where Kelly's new boyfriend, Vinnie doesn't dare to touch her, because he's afraid of Al. A miniature devil and angel appear on his shoulders, and the devil says: "Oh, grab her, you've got worse beatings for less." When Vinnie turns to the angel, the angel says: "What you looking at me for? If I wasn't so tiny, I would be wild-thinging her myself!"
  • How I Met Your Mother: At a Halloween party Barney (dressed as a devil) and another guest (dressed as an angel) argue about whether or not Ted should urinate from the roof... at least until the angel asks Ted and Barney for marijuana.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gives Will two devils. While he's deciding on whether to "borrow" the car keys and sneak out, his shoulder devil appears. After the devil tells him to take the keys Will expectantly turns towards his other shoulder, only to have his other shoulder devil appear and tell him to take the damn keys already.
  • In the 2011 series of Rab C. Nesbitt, while trying to resist the demon drink, a devil appears on Rab's shoulder in the form of his mate Jamesie Cotter. Rab is Genre Savvy enough to know that he should wait for his good angel to appear (and tells the audience as much). The second angel duly appears in the form of Shane MacGowan, telling him "No luck mate, you've got two bad angels."
  • In The Big Bang Theory 4th season episode "The Hot Troll deviation" Howard is trying to decide whether or not to make a move on his then girlfriend Bernadette, and gets conflicting advice from his imaginary friends Katee Sackhoff and George Takei who are sitting in the back seat of his car. George is the "angel" who advises taking it slowly, while Katee is the "devil" who tells him to "just go for it".
  • In The Haunting Hour episode "My Imaginary Friend" David and Travis are imaginary friends who play the good angel and bad angel to Shawn. In the end, he outgrows the need for either.
  • In Reading Rainbow's take on The Tortoise and the Hare, this happens to LeVar Burton as he struggles to pedal a bike up a hill in a race. The angel on the left wearing all white waves pom-poms and encourages him to not give up and keep trying. The devil on the right, dressed in black and floating on a cloud of red, tells him to stop and smell the flowers and relax. When LeVar rejects this idea, the angel gives a cheer of "L-E-V-A-R, pedal that bike and we'll go far!" The devil doesn't give up, though, telling him that by the time he gets up the hill, everyone else will have crossed the finish line. LeVar rejects that too, saying that even if he loses, he'll feel like a winner for trying. The two later make a brief reappearance as LeVar trains on an obstacle course. Once again, LeVar listens to the angel. At the end, when LeVar finishes the race, the angel tells him that he knew he could do it.
  • In the "Can't Spy Me Love" episode of The Thundermans, Phoebe is torn about whether to use a superhero app to find a boy she had a crush on. She had good and bad angels discussing it on the counter with both agreeing to do it. Bad Angel then revealed that IT Phoebe already got everything ready.
  • In Studio C shoulder angels and devils are portrayed by full-size actors who have to awkwardly clamber up the person they're counseling so they can sit on a shoulder. Then sometimes they have to switch to a different person.
  • Played with Becca in one episode of Life Goes On when deciding several issues during the episode. The Bad Angel smokes and uses a black Stripperiffic attire, whilst the Good Angel uses glasses and is dress in white.
  • Parodied on Mind of Mencia where Carlos' angel and devil are representatives of him growing up in different parts of California; his angel is him from Encino and his devil is him from Los Angeles.
  • One episode of Jane the Virgin had "Mom Jane" and "Fun Jane" as the Angel and Devil respectively.
  • In Season 12 of Canada's Worst Driver, before the distracted driving demonstration, Andrew is presented with a red devil version of himself on one shoulder and a white angel version on the other. The red devil says that he talks on his cellphone while driving all the time but is a good driver. The white angel says that he knows that even hands-free devices pose too much of a distraction, while the devil starts sending texts and taking selfies.
    Andrew: Would you stop doing that?
  • Kamen Rider Build: Late in the series the heroes have a barbecue and Kazumi notices a towel that (he assumes) belongs to his one-sided crush Misora sitting on the back of a chair. He mentally debates rubbing it on his face for the whole Indirect Kiss thing; his Shoulder Angel (Kazumi chained up) points out how creepy and inappropriate it is, while his Shoulder Devil (Kazumi in a beach chair with a Misora body pillow) observes that if she didn't want people using it she shouldn't have left it out. Evil wins...and then he finds out that the towel doesn't belong to Misora, but their ally Gentoku. Which prompts him to perjoratively ask why Gentoku smells so nice.
  • There is an episode of Sister, Sister where Lisa is visited by a shoulder angel and devil of her own. At the end of the episode, they come back to her while she’s eating ice cream. The good angel tells her it’s not healthy for her while the bad Angel tells her to keep eating. Lisa then just decides, “I’m hungry.” and then flicks the good angel away and keeps eating.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Alice", when Tom Paris is lured by the shuttlecraft's female avatar (of whom he has given the name Alice) to drive himself straight into a particle fountain, which is said to destroy ships that venture too close to it, Tom has a tug of war between Alice as the Bad Angel and B'elanna Torres (who appears beside him through a mental comm link) as the Good Angel struggling for control of him so that Alice would lower its shields long enough for Tom to be transported out of the shuttlecraft.
  • The Sherlock wedding episode had Sherlock realize someone was plotting murder during the reception. From his Imagine Spot, we see his Inner Mycroft chastising him to hurry up and narrow down suspects. After slapping himself (not mentally), he decides to trade Inner Mycroft for Inner Watson, because the situation requires him not to solve the puzzle but to save someone's life.
  • Aziriphale and Crowley in Good Omens end up acting like good and bad angels (which they literally are) for Adam. Played with in that they share the same goal, to cancel the Apocalypse. In the finale, when Adam confronts Satan, we see Aziriphale and Crowley standing behind him, Aziriphale over his right shoulder and Crowley over his left.
  • Played with in the Lucifer episode Spoiler Alert, in that A) the two angels are full sized, and just happen to be standing behind and to either side of the character they're advising, B) the "good" angel in this context is Lucifer, aka the Devil; the "bad" angel is the Archangel Michael, and C) the person they're advising, Amenadiel, is also an angel.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: