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"The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands."
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Angels and other holy beings are often treated as human-like figures or beautiful. After all, they're usually forces of goodness and light. But not all angels are pretty; some look outright terrifying and not remotely human. They take the form of bizarre monsters, Alien Geometries or even being so alien no man can understand or withstand them. Or maybe they still resemble humans, but their power and demeanor distinctly isn't.

This actually has some basis to it. In The Bible, angels would say "fear not" because their appearance and power were terrifying. The Book of Ezekiel portrays many angels as more like Starfish Aliens, like flaming wheels with eyes and wings.

Often invokes Holy Is Not Safe, with the angels being dangerous due to their sheer power and being on a higher plane from us Puny Earthlings. Despite the appearance, these angels can still be good, though if they're evil or God Is Evil expect this to be more common.

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A sub-trope of Eldritch Abomination and Our Angels Are Different. Not to be confused with One-Winged Angel, though many One Winged Angel forms can be these as well. See also Angels, Devils and Squid.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Doctor Strange, Afterlife is an angel who is turned into a downright Gigeresque monstrosity by the pain he endures in the Realm Between. It’s a temporary condition, but notable nonetheless.
  • In Runaways, the Gibborim are angels, but they are also Omnicidal Maniacs who have been trying to bring about the end of all life on Earth.
  • Supergod: Malak Al-Maut was created to be an angel by Iran, and even named for the Angel of Death. The destructive aura of his Walking Wasteland powers show that without any free will, his "connection to god" only leaves him more prone to lead to horrific destruction than without it.
  • The Spectre: Aztar, aka the Spectre, is the agent of God's Wrath, a ghostly angel that bonds to a human host. He's portrayed as a Horrifying Hero resembling a pale white man, who uses his Reality Warper abilities to punish evil-doers in the worst way possible.
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    Films — Animation 
  • The Prince of Egypt: The Angel of Death. It appears from a vortex in the night sky as nothing more than a flowing mass of light, gliding silently through cities while killing all the firstborn of Egypt. When two Egyptian guards see it rising up before them, they abandon their post and flee in terror.
  • The Angels in Time Masters superficially resemble winged humans, but thats only because the ones we see onscreen are assimilated humans. They are actually proxies for a shapeless, blobby mass of light, God, and behave essentially like zombies, either converting or killing planetary populations.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army: The Angel of Death. Or possibly AN Angel of Death, as she specifically states that she's "Hellboy's Death." To say that this angel is very weird is a massive understatement. Guillermo del Toro apparently based "her" on Mexican angel paintings which depict them as having eyes on the wings. Also doubles as a Dark Is Not Evil example as being at worst neutral and by having the wings colored black.
  • In Noah, they all start out as glowy wispy beings literally made of light, but the ones we see were encased in stone as punishment for helping humanity by teaching them technology and other things they were not ready to know yet and were supposed to discover on their own. They pretty much became six armed rock people that look nothing like commonly known portrayals of angels.

    Literature 
  • The Boy With The Chainsaw Heart: The angels are massive mechanical creatures bristling with wings and armaments.
  • The Fallen: End of Days and Armageddon introduce the Architects and their leader the Overseer, both ostensibly angelic beings that look in no way like humans, with the latter having developed a pretty potent A God Am I mentality.
  • His Dark Materials: Angels aren't really divine higher powers (though they like to tell you they are)! They're actually self-aware incarnations of the Applied Phlebotinum that feed off sentience and powers the universe. They can either just spring into existence or, a ghost, with the help of another angel, can rise to angelic status. They die, have immeasurably long lifespans, and envy humans for our bodies — angels have no real bodies, so they cannot experience real sensations. They appear in the books as translucent, winged humans but this is simply for the convenience of humans, and because human minds are too tiny to comprehend their true appearance; their real forms are described as being somewhat like architecture.
  • I, Lucifer: Angels are not winged humanoids but rather celestial beings of metaphysical energy. Angels suffer from pain if they commit evil acts (Angelic Pain), as well as corrupt their essence. This means demons are technically still Angels but are consumed with unimaginable pain constantly and their visage is a horrific reflection of their nature.
  • The Space Trilogy: The eldila (of which angels are a sub-caste) from Perelandra are portrayed as Eldritch Abomination Energy Beings akin to angels in the Book of Ezekiel. It's pointed out that meeting a good eldil is even worse than meeting a bad one. When faced with evil, one can still hope for the good to save you, but what do you do when a good eldil is still terrifying?
  • Most angels in Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet;

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dominion: The weak "Eight Ball" angels are indistinguishable from demons, having no physical form and requiring human hosts to manifest.
  • Doctor Who: The Weeping Angels are alien beings that resemble angel statues, who send people back in time to feed off the time energy of the life they could've had. They can reproduce through ideas, are quantum-locked into statues if observed, and are so ancient and alien that not even the Time Lords know what exactly they are, calling them "the Weeping Angels of old" (when the Time Lords call something old, it's significant). It's unclear however if they're anything like traditional angels, or if they're just taking the form of a generic angel for some reason.
  • Supernatural: While angels in Supernatural look like normal people, that's only because they are inhabiting human hosts. The true form of angels will cripple or straight up kill anyone who witnesses it except for their true vessel.

    Myths & Religion 

    Roleplay 
  • World War X: Samyaza is a horrendous abomination with five faces and wings covered with dozens of eyes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Demon: The Descent: Angels of the God-Machine are more programs brought up by it than traditional nice looking angels, and can be in a multitude of different forms, from humanoid to animalistic or anything in between. Coming into contact with them can render humans Stigmatics.
    • Mage: The Awakening: Angels of the Supernal Realm of Aether are close to the Biblical version of angels. Their manifestations are uniformly striking, beautiful, and alien. Whirlwinds of fire or peacock fans of burning eyes are as common as winged humanoids, androgynous and unearthly.
    • Promethean: The Created: The qashmallim. Despite the fact that the books make it very clear that they are not angels, they can take any number of forms (including Biblical-style renditions such as a man with four faces or a flaming chariot), they have powers that are Biblical in scope (such as calling down a rain of fire or turning a human into a pillar of salt), and they're made of the "Divine Fire" that powers the universe and act in service of a guiding force known as "the Principle." Just to be confusing, the books also make it very clear in some points that they are angels. Sometimes in the same sentence.
  • In Nomine:
    • The Seraphim (serpents with six eyes and six feathered wings), Ofanim (constantly spinning wheels of flame), and Kyriotates (a whirling cloud of limbs and body parts) all fit the bill.
    • Malakim do not fall. Which means that they can take so much Discord that they become "Dark Malakim", warped things that distort the Symphony around themselves on account of being something that is neither angel nor demon and thereby so utterly abhorrent that they warp the Symphony by their mere existence. They also steal the Essence of others.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Brisela, Voice Of Nightmares, the mutated combination of Bruna and Gisela of Innistrad, keeps an angelic typing despite being transformed into a servant of the Eldrazi.
    • This is what the compleated Angels of New Phyrexia have become. These once beautiful metal-winged Angels (no, the metal isn't the abominable part since on all life on the plane has metal parts with one exception) are now as monstrous as any Phyrexian. While still keeping the angelic typing.
  • Pathfinder: Various archons are distinctly eldritch in appearance, ranging from lantern and mote archons (glowing balls of light) to codex archons (sentient books) to harbinger archons (miniature orrery).
    • Iophanite angels are miniature versions of the biblical ophanim, resembling flying burning wheels. They are, however, Lawful Good and generally pretty friendly.
  • Scion: Akhetaten's cherubs manifest as balls of light.

    Video Games 
  • Bayonetta: The angels of Paradiso are anything but friendly-looking. Angels are depicted in all manner of shapes and sizes; human-sized winged soldiers, giant hulking baby-faced brutes, angelic automobiles, horrific abominations with writhing tentacles with multiple heads and upside down faces. Almost all of them are depicted with angelic white wings and a Gold and White Are Divine motif. The developers actually used the depictions of angels from the Bible as inspiration for how they should look.
  • Dark Souls II features the Darklurker, a mysterious, angelic being that appears out of nowhere in the middle of a mostly-empty realm of darkness who the game actively refuses to explain anything about, with a soul description that only reads "Perhaps it's better that some mysteries remain unilluminated." The only hints as to what it may be come from next game in the backstory of the in-game religion related to the below-mentioned angels.
  • In Dark Souls III: The Ringed City, angels are parasitic entities tied to larvae attached to the bodies of certain Londor pilgrims. They may use light magic, but they are in no way good.
  • Digimon: Lucemon is an angel Digimon resembling a young child with six white wings, and his evolved form trades in half the wings for demon wings — fairly standard. His further evolved forms, however, are much more horrific — Lucemon Satan Mode is a titanic draconic monster with a metal plate bolted over its face and the glowing emblems of the Seven Deadly Sins hovering around its body, while Lucemon Larva — supposedly Lucemon's truest form — is an alien, semi-transparent embryo-like creature with multiple thin wings attached to its back.
  • Dungeon Crawl has Cherubs, described as having a head with four faces, and Ophans, a wheel within a wheel that are both covered with eyes. Both are among the extensive list of holy creatures.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: In the Shadowbringers expansion, the sin eaters of the First, a world nearly consumed in a flood of heavenly light, are very similar to Bayonetta's angels. They're gold and white, many have multiple feathered wings, and come in all shapes and sizes, from humanoid to animalistic. They're also near-mindless monsters who exist only to kill and convert living beings into new sin eaters, infecting them with an imbalance of light-aspected aether that slowly renders them mute and emotionless, their skin becoming hard and white like plaster, until they're overcome by a final, horrifically painful transformation.
  • Heroes of the Storm has an "angelic" skin for perhaps the second most popular example of a Big Red Devil. This "Archangel Diablo," as the tooltip says, brings a whole new meaning to "holy terror".
  • Kingdom Hearts I: End of the World introduces Angel Star Heartless. That's right, Heartless with big, white wings and halos, using the light-based spell "Holy." They are still evil and trying to devour your hearts though. True to the trope, they don't look remotely humanoid.
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards: The True Final Boss of the game is Zero Two, an upgraded and even more terrifying version of Zero from Kirby's Dream Land 3, with a golden halo and red-and-white crystal wings. Its battle theme uses an Ethereal Choir.
  • The Secret World: members of the Host normally look completely human, with perhaps the odd Red Right Hand here and there. Eblis, on the other hand, sports perfectly-smooth white skin, an Eyeless Face, no genitals, and a body that's several feet taller than the player characters and covered in dozens of glowing tattoos; for good measure, he can manifest six wings of pure energy, and his first appearance features him bringing a colossal sandstorm with him. It's not established if this is some kind of mutilation caused by his exile from the Host, or if this due to Glamor Failure - and this is what all members of the Host secretly look like.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Archangels have received a significant redesign from their usual Winged Humanoid look, resembling large heads in the middle of mechanized bodies with coral-shaped limbs. Michael and especially the second form of Merkabah are even worse than that.
  • Silent Hill 3: Valtiel appears to be the closest thing to a physical angel in Silent Hill, on account of the association with the God and Metatron, but remains a Humanoid Abomination regardless. His head vibrates and twitches rapidly, obscuring his facial features; although there are not many features to behold, as his face is The Blank and leathery, with a series of crude stitches where his mouth should be.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: The Big Bad of the game is Galeem (pictured), an angelic entity made of wings with a glowing orb in the center. It introduces itself by destroying the entire universe (bar Kirby) to recreate it and impose its perfect order. Its rival, Dharkon, isn't any better.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Naaru are creatures described as the Holy Light given form, consisting of symmetrically arranged weird-shaped crystals floating around a central "heart". They communicate telepathically, causing pleasant chime sounds to echo in the minds of those they relay messages too. They have a mission to recruit the "Army of the Light" that is to fight against the Burning Legion. While most Naaru are generally benevolent, their leader, the Prime Naaru Xe'ra, is a Scary Dogmatic Alien who would convert beings to the light even against their will.
    • Nathrezim are demons, a cross between your typical Looks Like Orlok vampire and a Big Red Devil. Then there's Lothraxion, who is a Nathrezim infused with the Light as sort of an Ascended Demon. He is benevolent, if somewhat fanatical, but doesn't look any less monstrous than his demonic brethren.
  • Ōkami: The "Fire Eye," a mook that consists of a flaming wheel with multiple eyes on it's rim and one big eye in the center, heavily resemble descriptions of Ophanim, the bizarre flaming wheel angels connected to Cherubim. This is probably completely unintentional, as it takes inspiration from a Japanese Youkai like most enemies.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Fear Mythos: The Archangel, fear of religion and religious dogma among other things such as being a bastardized form of the afterlife itself, has no physical form of its own that people can comprehend, and so reduces itself to human forms for convenience. It isn't benevolent in any way.
  • SCP Foundation: A lot of the SCPs that resemble or are angels are treated as this, unsurprisingly for the setting:
    • Dr Clef's proposal for SCP-001, the Gate Guardian, is Archangel Jophiel, a colossal being with a Flaming Sword hotter than the sun and can completely remove something from existence with it. It's so powerful even Able doesn't want to go near it. Fortunately the Gate Guardian is passive and spends most of the time guarding the Garden of Eden.
    • SCP-469 (Many-Winged Angel) resembles the common depiction of angels, just with a lot more wings. It absorbs sound by causing people to scream in pain through a potent neurotoxin and has stinger-like wings. It does something truly horrifying if it hears a bell ring.

    Western Animation 
  • Raava in The Legend of Korra may be the light spirit, but she looks like a giant flatworm. Moreover, she is almost indistinguishable from the dark spirit Vaatu.

 
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Fortitudo

Fortitudo, one of the four Auditio of the Hierarchy of Laguna and one of the more powerful angels of Paradiso.

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