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Demon of Human Origin

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Fulgrim, before and after his transformation into a Daemon Primarch of Slaanesh.

"It might take centuries, but sooner or later Hell will burn away your humanity. Every Hell-bound soul, every one, turns into something else. Turns you into us."
Ruby the Demon, Supernatural, "Malleus Maleficarum"

This demon was once a mere mortal, usually someone who had been sent to Hell but eventually joined the ranks of his torturers. In some settings this may be the only way that new demons are created, with every demon having once been a soul sent to the basement.

Perhaps they were cursed to suffer this fate or their souls were tortured until nothing but a monstrous apparition remained. They could also have sought it out deliberately, acquiring the powers of hell at the cost of their humanity. Or maybe The Devil directly made them the offer to become one of his infernal minions. Whatever the case, what Was Once a Man is now a new demon.

This may be the ultimate goal of a Hell Seeker. Given enough time, someone this ambitious may even become one of the officers or actually overthrow the big boss himself.

The process is not always irreversible: see Ascended Demon for those who manage to redeem themselves.

This idea is Newer Than They Think, at least in Western circles. The Book of Revelation indicates this is not possible, as demons are simply the Fallen Angels who joined Lucifer in his original Fall from Heaven. Humans are also categorically capable of redemption, so while the Devil can tempt them into sin, a sinner can't literally forsake their humanity to become a bodiless spirit of pure evil.

Subtrope of Our Demons Are Different. Compare Deity of Human Origin, Angelic Transformation, and Human-Demon Hybrid. See also Evil Makes You Monstrous. Contrast Humanity Ensues. Compare and contrast Eldritch Transformation and Transhuman Abomination, which are exaggerated forms of this trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: As the world has a heavy amount of Clap Your Hands If You Believe, all the monsters are in some way created by humanity and the stronger ones border on Deity of Human Origin:
    • An artifact called a Behelit can, given the right circumstances (typically a Despair Event Horizon on the part of its owner, which always seems to happen sooner or later Because Destiny Says So), open a temporary portal or convergence between our layer of reality and what is basically Hell. There, the owner of the Behelit is offered a Deal with the Devil by a quadrumvirate (later a quintumvirate) of Demon Lords And Arch Devils called the God Hand. In exchange for a significant sacrifice (usually the life of a loved one), the bearer of the Behelit will be transformed into a powerful (and often, depending on their inner desires, horrific) demon called an Apostle. Considering that the bearer is nearly always on the brink of death (or in too much spiritual pain for more life as a human to be very appealing), they nearly always take the offer. The Crimson Behelit can be used every 216 years to create a new member of the God Hand for an even larger sacrifice, making them examples as well. It's worth noting that Kentaro Miura took a lot of inspiration from Hellraiser (see below) when he created his demons.
    • Apostles can turn humans into lesser monsters called Apostle Spawn without a sacrifice.
    • Many lesser demons that are drawn by the Brands of Guts and Casca are created from the negative emotions of dying humans. Monsters of the Qliphoth in particular, including trolls, ogres, and many strange unnamed creatures, are created by human nightmares.
    • Emperor Ganishka's Daka army was made by dropping pregnant women into a pool made of still living apostles that were stitched together. Once the woman is submerged inside, her unborn child becomes infused with evil and turns into a monster known as a Daka.
  • In Beyond Evil (also known as Aku No Higan) the demon-like beings who trade in human lives are all implied to have once been normal human beings.
  • Black Butler: In Season 2, Ciel Phantomhive becomes a demon due to the multiple parties messing about with his Faustian Bargain with Sebastian, who can't eat his soul as a result.
  • Chainsaw Man:
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Demons are originally humans who were turned into such monsters because of Muzan and his underlings giving their blood to them — willingly or not.
  • Devils in Dorohedoro are specially selected Magic Users who've gone through years of training and passed the Devil Exam. The end result is basically the original Magic User being fused permanently into a suit of biological Powered Armor, becoming invincible, virtually omnipotent, and cheerfully insane. They then spend all their time doing whatever amuses them, whether torturing people in Hell, granting wishes, or pigging out on unhealthy food that can no longer hurt them. Only Chidaruma, the first and greatest Devil, has no human origin.
  • Hell Girl: Ai Enma. During her dying breath, she cursed the villagers that sacrificed her and her parents to their mountain gods. That same night, she came back to life and burned the whole village down, killing everyone in it. After that, she was sent to hell, and the Lord of Hell forced her to take the job of Hell Girl or else she and her loved ones would suffer in hell eternally. The job comes with a powerful set of powers, and over the course of 400 years she gains enough mastery of it to be able to confront the Lord of Hell, as seen in the end of Season 1. She manages to get off the job at the end of Season 2... and after a complicated set of events, takes the job back at the end of Season 3. Michiru also becomes a Hell Girl through a very similar set of circumstances in Season 4.
  • High School D×D: This technically applies to the protagonist and most of his True Companions, with a heavy order of Dark Is Not Evil and Our Demons Are Different. With their numbers greatly depleted by fighting in a three way war between themselves, the Heavenly Hosts and the Fallen Angels, the Devils devised what is called the Evil Pieces system that can transform other races into Devils to bolster their numbers and make up for their extremely low rate of reproduction. It's not restricted to humans though as it can affect Youkai, Valkyries and Half-Human Hybrids (among others) as well.
  • In Inuyasha, a human can make a pact with lower youkai. He offers his soul to them, and than they turn him into a half-demon. However, the resulting half-demon is no longer the person he was before, because the lower youkai now dominate him. Naraku was born that way.
    • The anime shows that Sara Asano and the black priestess Tsubaki become half-demons in the same way.
    • The manga shows the monk Nikosen, who turns into a pure demon. After being defeated, Sango says many demons once were human.
  • In Strait Jacket: The Corruption gradually turns magic users into demons. The titular jackets are designed to be worn by demon hunters to prevent this happening but aren't foolproof.
  • In Ushio and Tora is often implied that many Youkai were once humans who turned into monsters. They include Oni, the Kyouma, Tengu and the Azafuse such as Tora himself.
  • Yubel from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was a human in her previous life.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, the Toguro brothers were once human, but asked to be transformed into demons as their prize for winning the Dark Tournament.

    Card Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering, demons are concentrations of Black mana. While these tend to occur naturally (or from the spells of dark spellcasters), some examples involve transformation from non-demon beings.
    • In the Greek Mythology-inspired Theros, demons are born from the souls in the Underworld that have built up enough resentment and hatred at being stuck there that they're transformed by Black mana.
    • The Chain Veil casts a curse that transforms its wearer into a demon to avenge the artifact's creators. This has happened to Ob Nixilis, once a human planeswalker but now a demon (not that it would have mattered much anyways, since old planeswalkers could transform into anything; he just got stuck in that form) and Garruk Wildspeaker (saved at the last minute).
    • The Planeswalker Tibalt was a normal (albeit evil) human on Innistrad who in desperation used a fiendish spell that fused him with the essence of devils (which in Magic basically means less powerful, more chaotic demons), leaving him in permanent Big Red Devil mode.
    • The city of New Capenna is run by five crime families, and each of those families is headed by a demon; while none of them were human (they include a vampire, a leonin, and aven, a sphinx, and a dragon) they were mortal (with the exception of Xander, a vampire), and only became demonic after making deals with a group of arch-demons to rule in their name, while they were off fighting the Phyrexians. This also had the side effect of blurring their memories of their pre-demonic lives, which is a problem as they're the only beings alive old enough to remember what actually happened when New Capenna was founded, which is a plot point.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The fact that Caliga shares the same ATK, DEF, Attribute, and Level as Aleister — plus the similar clothing — implies it is a mutated Aleister. And then Aleister the Meltdown Invoker's card art is showing him turning into Caliga.

    Comic Books 
  • Arawn: The main character became the King of Hell, but he was once human. This came about after he was possessed by an actual demon who then absorbed the energy of a Physical Goddess but was killed when his Soul Jar was destroyed, leaving Arawn with their combined power.
  • DC Comics:
    • Justice League of America: In The Nail, the Joker returns from Hell, complete with new infernal powers, to try to drag Batman back with him. He almost did, too, except... he's Batman.
    • Swamp Thing: Anton Arcane was considered so evil as to be transformed into a demon after he died and went to Hell.
    • Hellblazer:
      • Nergal lived in ancient Babylon before he was burned as a witch for sexually abusing children. He was then tortured in hell for thousands of years before he was initiated into demonhood (though this has since apparently been retconned). He would later oversee Anton Arcane's transformation into a demon.
      • Ironically, Ritchie Simpson ended up as one of these by stealing Nergal's vacant body; unfortunately for him, Agony and Ecstasy decided that this wouldn't be enough to make him a true demon and dragged him down into Hell to make sure he earned his demonhood.
    • The heroic Blue Devil was originally just a stuntman stuck in a costume, but became an actual demon after a deal with Neron.
  • Empowered: The demon who gave Sistah Spooky her magic powers as part of a bargain reveals he is this trope. In life, he was a telemarketer who was stuck in a cubicle on the phone all day making crummy deals with gullible people. He says that he hated this job when he was alive, and hates it even more now that he's stuck doing the demonic equivalent of it for all eternity.
  • Lady Death:
    • Lady Death is technically not a demon, but was burned at the stake in medieval Sweden before overthrowing Lucifer and becoming the Queen of All That Is Dead and Dying, giving her a host of supernatural powers along with immortality.
    • Her enemy Purgatori is another interesting variation since she looks like a stunningly attractive Big Red Devil, but is really the result of vampirization mixing with her Fallen Angel heritage.
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Ghost Rider:
      • Some Ghost Riders got their story in this manner, though not usually by their own will in the main series, such as with Johnny Blaze and Zarathos.
      • In Ghost Rider (2020), one of the Jack O'Lanterns is revealed to have become a demon. He escapes Hell with the help of Lilith, but is sent back by Danny Ketch's new Spirit of Corruption form.
    • The Incredible Hulk: Bruce Banner's father Brian was a repugnant piece of work as a mortal man. After death, his hatred for his son is so strong his spirit continues to torment the Hulk, usually in service to entities like the Chaos King and the One Below All. When first confronting the Hulk after death, Brian transforms into a monstrous fire-breathing demon version of Hulk, and when merged with the One Below All, becomes a demonic presence that can possess gamma-mutated beings.
    • Spider-Man: In The Amazing Spider-Man (2018). Kindred is a mummified centipede-themed demon who says he was once human but was sent to Hell and became a demon, and has a potent grudge against Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 #50 reveals that his true identity is Harry Osborn.
    • Ultimate Marvel:
      • Being the Devil's bounty hunter is the Ghost Rider's default.
      • Dormammu is revealed to be a human sorcerer when he's depowered.
  • Satan's Hollow: The Shadow Man was once a satan-worshipping human known as Burdaine. His goal was to become an arch-demon at the Devil's side, who instead turned him into a lesser demon to punish him for a previous failure, becoming a rather weak Living Shadow instead.
  • Spawn: Spawn struck a Deal with the Devil to get out of hell. Numerous retcons mean that the details vary, but typically he is granted undeath and a host of demonic powers with the understanding that he will one day lead The Legions of Hell against heaven, and typically he's none too keen about keeping up his end of the bargain and always searching for redemption to get out of it.

    Fan Works 
  • Mike's New Ghostly Family: William Afton, after collaborating with demon lord Vucarik to escape from Hell and absorb the demonic essences of younger Nightmares, gets transformed into Nightmare Springtrap, a demonic version of animatronic that defined his life after the first death. Though his power is much weaker when compared to the real Nightmares, he's still extraordinarily powerful by human standards. Thankfully, he gets defeated in the Battle in the Center of the Mind against Mike Schmidt, and, after losing his demonic powers and getting brutally tortured by Mike, gets sent back to Hell by Nightmare.
  • The Prince Of Death: Light becomes Prince of the Shinigami Realm.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • Lord Tirek, who in this series is a Composite Character of his G1 and G4 selves, is currently a demonic beast of world threatening power and perceived by ponies as the In-Universe Satan analogue. However, he originated as a mortal centaur and Prince of the Centaur Empire. Then he consumed Pandora's Box of Dark Magic and mutated into what he is now.
    • Lilith the Witch Queen was once a normal human woman. However, she's long sense mutated into an immensely powerful and demonic Pure Magic Being that could destroy the entire world if she was ever fully unleashed.
  • Queen of All Oni: It's eventually revealed that Tarakudo was originally a historical samurai called Minamoto Tametomo. He sold his soul to the Oni in exchange for power, and was transformed into one after his death.
  • Webwork: Similar to the Queen of All Oni example above, Tarakudo states himself to have been a mortal human who ascended to the Oni ranks like Jade.
  • Adopted Displaced: In Three More Things!, Tso Lan is so impressed by Valmont's cunning and deviousness, and well aware of Bai Tsa's affections for him, that he offers to find a way to ascend him into a Demon Sorcerer, possibly to replace the deceased Shendu as Demon of Fire. Instead, after Bai is banished back to the Netherrealm, Valmont's rage causes him to transform into the Demon Sorcerer of Light.
  • Transcendence AU: After a dying Bill attempts to possess Dipper, Bill dies, and his demonic energy ends up being fused with Dipper, turning him into a demon.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes the Movie: Misery Loves Company: This is revealed to be the case with the citizens of Miseryville, as the damned are stripped of their memories and then transformed into monsters or demons after becoming sufficiently miserable. Jimmy and Heloise are still human because they are nowhere near as miserable as the average Miseryvillian, with Heloise only transforming after Jimmy is forced to depart Miseryville for Joyville.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Constantine (2005): The novelization says that the half-breeds are dead people who were so good or bad in life that they got to come back to Earth as part-angel or demon.
  • Dust Devil: According to Joe, the Dust Devils had once been men before passing on to the spirit world.
  • The Exorcist III: The Gemini Killer was a man so evil that he became a demon after striking a deal with the ancient demon Pazuzu (the one who possessed Regan in the first film).
  • Ghost Ship: Ferriman reveals himself to be one of Hell's agents, a "salvage expert" responsible for collecting new souls to bring back home and make his bosses happy. Specifically, he notes that he was given the job for a lifetime of sin, indicating that he was once human.
  • Hellraiser: The Cenobites rule over a Hell-type dimension of pain and pleasure where they torture those who used the Lament configuration puzzle box that opens the door to their realm. Each Cenobite was once a human soul until their humanity was slowly chipped away. When they die they actually turn back into humans.
  • This is the Devil's modus operandi in Hunk. He gets humans to sell him their souls, and then turns them into demons to serve him in Hell. He claims to be experiencing his greatest demonpower shortage since the Crusades, which is why he particularly wants Bradley's soul, as he believes Bradley will help him trigger World War III. At the end of the film, it is revealed that the Hot as Hell O'Brien was originally a 10th Century princess who sold her soul to avoid a Viking marriage her father sold her into.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger's backstory involves being burnt by a lynch mob and after dying, striking a deal with three dream demons to return as an undead nightmare-controlling monster, apparently so he could eventually kill the whole world.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean, Davy Jones was once a mortal sailor who fell in love with the goddess Calypso and was charged by her with ferrying the souls of those who die at sea to the other side. When Calypso spurned his love (or so he believed, at least) Jones abandoned his duties and carved out his own heart, in the process transforming into a Cthulhu-like creature widely regarded as the nautical embodiment of the devil. His crew is also composed of damned souls he rescues from death at sea in return for a century of utter servitude; like their master, they're slowly transforming into monstrous hybrids of human and sea creature.
  • In Sometimes They Come Back Again, the three murderers who are killed by the hero have become demons. In the prequel movie, three other murderers returned as undead, but this time they became demons. It probably plays a role that Tony Reno and his two friends were disturbed in a magical ritual, which should turn them into demons.
  • The Windmill Massacre: According to the legend, Miller Hendrick was a human who made a Deal with the Devil. When Hendrik was eventually killed by a mob, the Devil was so pleased with Hendrik's work that he made him Hell's gatekeeper. However, as demon, Hendrik now cannot harm the innocent or those who truly repent of their sins.

  • The main demonic antagonists of a few Fighting Fantasy books, namely:
    • Oldoran Zagor from The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and its two sequels, was born as a hybrid between humans and demons, but retains humanoid features for most of his appearances... until eventually in Legend of Zagor, he became fused with a powerful Bone Demon from Amarillia, transforming into a full-fledged demon.
    • Zanbar Bone, one of the franchise's most infamous Demon Princes, who shows up in City of Thieves (1983) and The Port of Peril, used to be the child of human sorcerors, but after being imbued with demonic powers and realizing the true extent of the Dark Arts, then slays his own parents, started his own demonic cult, and becoming an all-powerful Skeltal Demon.
    • Voivod from Legend of the Shadow Warriors, whose backstory remains unknown to the readers even after completing the quest. His identity turns out to be a last-minute plot twist; for players do not defeat Voivod by slaying him in battle (thanks to his Resurrective Immortality which brings him back from the dead in seconds), but instead by using an enchanted spear to purge the demon in Voivod, turning him back to human.

  • Downplayed somewhat with the Witchkings in The Arts of Dark and Light. They didn't make themselves complete demons with their transhumanist magic, but they did infuse themselves with sufficient demonic essence to become radically superhuman (or perhaps subhuman) liminal beings.
  • Ciaphas Cain: In the short story "The Beguiling", Cain wipes out a Slaaneshi cult with an artillery strike after killing its leader, Emeli, when she tried to seduce him into being a Human Sacrifice. Several decades later in the novel The Traitor's Hand, Cain encounters Emeli as the final boss; she's been turned into a daemonette during her time dead.
  • The Culture: In Surface Detail, the Pavuleans are one of many societies who believe in Brain Uploading of the dead, and more controversially one of a few who believe in having a virtual Hell as well as a virtual Heaven. The demons in the Pavulean Hell are uploaded sadists. There aren't enough sadists in Pavulean society to create all the demons, but they just made copies of the ones they've already got. One of the main characters, Chay is given demonic powers but as an Angel of Death, granting oblivion to one tortured virtual a day.
  • Lower case d demons in Derek Landy's Demon Road trilogy are humans who've made a Deal With A Upper Case D Demon to transform into a super strong Big Red Devil (colour can vary) at will.
  • Fablehaven: As revealed in Champion Of The Titan Games, no demon is born a demon, they were all members of other races (dwarves, humans, dragons, possibly a unicorn) who turned themselves into demons through centuries of evil and Black Magic. While demons can reproduce, the offspring will not themselves be demons (it's not explained exactly what they are).
  • In Gimmicks Three, by Isaac Asimov, the protagonist signs a contract with a demon. After ten years of everything he wants, he will be given a test. Should he pass, he becomes a demon (Hell has a growing staff shortage), otherwise, he is a regular damned soul. Shapur, the demon he deals with, claims to have gone through the same process.
  • In "Hell-Bent", a short story, the protagonist is an irredeemably evil young man who makes a Deal with the Devil to become a demon and gain immortality and incredible power, and proves his suitability by callously carrying out evil acts toward his parents and wife. Unfortunately for him, once he's a demon in Hell, he finds himself being horribly tormented — turns out that demons are tortured in Hell like everyone else and Satan had sold the benefits of demonhood in a way that implied that this was not the case.
  • The Icelandic Sagas: In the "Tale of Thorstein Shiver", a short tale from the Book of Flatey (c. 1390), the Christian Thorstein encounters an imp from Hell who introduces himself as a certain Thorkel the Thin, a warrior of the pagan times who died in the famous Battle of Bravellir. All the same, the demon also relates in conversation that Sigurd and Starkad, two famous heroes of the pagan days, are tortured in Hell.
  • In The Master and Margarita, the trickster demon Fagot is revealed to having once been a human knight cursed for a blasphemous joke. His awesome sense of humor is part of the curse, and he hates being a trickster, as his true form reveals.
  • In Ninth House, the twist provides an example of this trope. Darlington turned into a demon to survive.
  • Neil Gaiman's short story "Other People" (published in Fragile Things) has a man being tortured by a demon. First the demon tortures the man physically, with 211 different intruments. Afterwards he strips the man of the lies he has told to himself and then the demon shows the man the consequences of his actions and how they affected other people. To the man it seems that the process takes several thousand years. At the end of the story the man isn't recognizable as a human any more. By the time the tortured man comes to his senses, he's alone in the chamber and a very familiar man enters. The tortured man understands the cyclical nature of his position and starts torturing the newcomer just as he had been tortured.
    Time is fluid here.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's novel The Spirit Ring demons are ghosts, human souls which are unable to go on to God after death, and instead linger on in the world. Most such ghosts slowly fade away to nothingness, but a few are strong enough that they gain the ability to sustain themselves without any physical body or other material form, feeding on sin—seeking to increase anger and fear and despair—and thus becoming demons.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Not humans, but the basic concept of this trope is there; the Voidbringers are actually a bunch of spren and singers who’ve aligned themselves (willingly or not) with Rayse/Odium, being granted access to the Surges and effectively becoming cosmic horrors. Venli and the Listeners make the terrible mistake of summoning the Everstorm, Odium with it, and are promptly used as bodies for the newest Voidbringers, with Venli herself becoming a puppet for Odium.
  • In Terry Brooks's The Word and the Void and Shannara series, demons (small "d") are humans who sold their souls to the Void and received supernatural powers in return. Their nature varies — some demons lose their humanity entirely and become bestial monsters, while others are more like especially sociopathic humans with Black Magic. This is in contrast to Demons with a big "D", who are corrupted faerie creatures and are far more ancient and powerful.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Big Bad of the third season deliberately sets out to become a demon.
    • Vengeance demons are all former humans who attracted the attention of a lower power by using dark magic to get revenge on someone they believed had wronged them.
    • Played with in the case of the vampires, who are in general only half-demon, the other half being the humans that they took over. Some pureblood demons look down on vampires for being half-breeds, though as Anya says, none of the demons remaining on Earth are pureblooded; they're all hybrids of some kind or another.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Unlike the source material, Banelings are dead people whom the Keeper allows back into the realm of the living, provided that they kill at least one person every day. The first day they don't, he takes them back.
  • Supernatural:
    • This is how demons are created on the show — essentially anyone who goes to hell will eventually end up with a job there, as their humanity is stripped away and they become a demon. This means that demons are essentially a type of ghost — for instance, burning the bones of either a demon or ghost's mortal remains will destroy them for good. The quality of the position is directly based on how tough the person in question is; Hell is an Asskicking Leads to Leadership place, and the only person with a guaranteed spot, Satan, is both out of circulation and an archangel, meaning he outranks the rest of them so totally he could probably ash the whole place by himself.
    • Between Seasons 3 and 4, Dean takes a job and spends ten years torturing souls in Hell. He doesn't get to leave and it scars him for life. He gets yanked out before he could get proper job security/transformation. At the end of Season 9 he dies and because he was carrying the Mark of Cain, he is cursed to be resurrected as a demon.

  • The music video for Panic! at the Disco's "Emperor's New Clothes" follows the events of the "This is Gospel" music video with the lead singer Brendon Urie falling just outside the gates of Hell before gradually turning into a demon.
  • Udoroth, a song by A Sound Of Thunder tells the legend of the eponymous Udoroth, a once mortal man condemned to Hell for every mortal crime and soon rising up to become a demon lord himself.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Christianity
    • In John Chrysostom's homily XXVIII on The Gospel of Matthew, those who say the dead become demons are called drunk old women and frightened children for how absurd their idea is. The homily compares the soul of a body becoming an independent spirit to the transformation of a man into an ass. He similarly dismisses ghosts.
    • In an article of the Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas argues that even if men do not become demons or angels, after death they will be treated equally to the spirits and become members of their hierarchies.
    • Emanuel Swedenborg, a mystic whose writings inspired a new denomination of Christianity (Swedenborgianism), claimed in his book Heaven and Hell (1758) that "Heaven and hell are entirely of the human race... There is no angel or demon created as such."

  • Brimstone Valley Mall: At the end of the first season, Trainee, Damien, and Raven all sell their souls to Mammon and become demons. The main characters, all natural-born demons, are mostly just impressed these random human teenage goths actually managed to persuade one of the seven princes of Hell to make a deal with them.

    Tabletop Games  
  • Ars Magica is set in a Historical Fantasy medieval Europe where the Christian Heaven and Hell are real. Demons are recruited from Fallen Angels, corrupt non-heavenly Spirits, and the most depraved souls of the damned. However, most people who end up in Hell don't become demons, just Human Resources.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Mortal souls become Petitioners on one of the Outer Planes based on their alignment, but the process works differently for Lawful Evil souls sent to the Nine Hells of Baator or Chaotic Evil souls bound for the Abyss. Such souls join The Legions of Hell as the diabolic or demonic equivalent of conscripts — meaning, in this context, highly expendable Mooks — and may be promoted to more powerful types of Baatezu or Tanar'ri based on their performance — even the mighty Orcus was once a lowly Dretch. In the devils' case, promotions (and demotions) follow a strict hierarchy, complete with "dead ends" or alternative advancement paths, while the demons are more unpredictable and may randomly transform into a more powerful fiend based perhaps on the whims of the Abyss itself. Some mortals may join a devilish or demonic cult in hope that they'll get fast-tracked through this process to become a mighty Pit Fiend or the like, but even if this is possible there's no guarantee that they'll retain their identities — becoming a devilish Lemure, for example, involves being subjected to unspeakable tortures until the Petitioner is a mindless blob of ruined flesh free of any traces of humanity. At the same time, it's zigzagged: Lawful Evil devils can only be created from petitioners, but Neutral Evil daemons (or yugoloths) are all created by other means. Demons can be created from petitioners, but most are simply spawned from the Abyss.
  • Exalted:
    • The Solars of the First Age were killed off in the Usurpation because many of them had become mad, monstrously inhuman tyrants, the rest weren't far behind, and they were getting worse. The ghosts of thirteen of them are now the Deathlords, one of the most dire threats contemporary Creation has ever known.
    • In the Shard known as Burn Legend, Yamajin come about when an Akuma is killed and proves him or herself worthy to the Yomi Kings in the Thousand Hells. They get spiffy new moves, including the option to go One-Winged Angel, at the trivial expense of having their presence in an area gradually taint it with Hellish energies. But hey, who cares about that when you can hit like a tank?
    • Also shows up as a possible option in Return of the Scarlet Empress for the Scarlet Empress herself. In this option, the Empress dies, but the Neverborn are so impressed with her that they decide to turn her into a Deathlord when she becomes a ghost.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters:
    • All player characters are pacted and merged with super-ghosts because they were too hard-assed, too willful, or just insufficiently partied out to stay dead. And then they get to take it out on non-superpowered ghosts.
    • Geists themselves are not necessarily demons, but ghosts that have burned away their mortal memories in order to embody aspects of their own death, gaining power over the elements of the Underworld.
  • Infernum: A ritual called "Change Species" allows a spellcaster to transform a human or an angel into a demon, permanently. Rumors exist of a reversed version of the rite, but nobody claims to actually be able to perform it. It's easier to transform a corrupt soul than a pure one, but a particularly powerful and malicious magus could force a pure hearted person into the nightmarish existence of a demon, condemning them to feed on human suffering and misery.
  • Pathfinder has many outsiders originate from mortal souls who migrate to the Outer Plans upon death and over time "mature" into full natives of their new abodes. Consequently, all of the main fiends — devils, daemons and demons — ultimately originate from mortal souls. Because this process almost always results in all of a soul's memories being wiped, however, the resulting outsiders rarely carry much in the way of personality from their prior selves.
    • Lawful Evil souls in Hell are tortured over centuries into becoming mindless masses of cancerous flesh called lemures. The most evil souls may get promoted into more powerful forms, but all they go through the mindless stage first.
    • Neutral Evil souls damned to Abaddon who manage to avoid being eaten long enough will transform into daemons, the only trace of their origin being that include themselves in their loathing for all mortal life.
    • Chaotic Evil souls who arrive in the Abyss become grotesque larvae with mortal faces, feeding on the filth of the Abyss until they eventually become demons embodying the sin they most indulged in while alive. Demons are also capable of reproducing directly with each other, resulting in them being the most numerous kind.
    • Finally, it's possible for an exceptionally vile individual to bypass the normal processes that destroy the original mind and transform directly into a fiend of the appropriate alignment, through committing great atrocities or bargains with fiendish entities. This doesn't work very often, though — daemons in particular have a tendency to just eat the soul anyway. There are also cases where, for whatever reason, an outsider may retain or recover their mortal memories.
      • There are at least two known demons born from extremely prolific serial killers and who retained all of their former memories — the nascent demon lord Nightripper and the babau Mangvhune. In both cases, this has resulted in them becoming exceptionally fearsome and dangerous demons.
      • The demon lord Kostchtchie is especially notable for having completed the mortal-to-demon-to-demon-lord tradition without ever having died — he was turned into a hideous, undying giant after trying to force Baba Yaga to make him immortal and eventually made his way into the Abyss, where centuries of exposure to its influence and the evil in his own heart caused him to eventually transform into a demon himself. He's extremely proud of this, and considers himself superior to other demon lords as a result — after all, they died before they get where they now are.
    • The lesser fiendish species known as either kytons or velstracs were originally born of selfish and depraved thoughts given form, but now propagate themselves by either tormenting souls that end up on the Plane of Shadows after death (in similar fashion to the main fiends, though souls typically only go there if they worshipped a velstrac demagogue or Zon-Kuthon), or by dragging living mortals directly to the plane and converting them.
    • The first rakshasa were humans who became obsessed with immortality and underwent a ritual to bind their spirits to the material plane by way of devouring a totem animal. Ever since it's been plagued by shapeshifting fiends with the heads of beasts and backwards hands who are reborn when slain. Unlike most fiends they dwell on the material plane instead of having their own realm, being primarily concerned with earthly pleasures.
  • Warhammer:
    • "Daemon Prince" is the title awarded by the Chaos Gods to servants that have most pleased them, as they "ascend" them from mortaldom to immortal daemonhood. It is the ultimate goal of most Chaos worshipers, particularly leaders. However, they're apparently still lower than Greater Daemons in the hierarchy, and a worshiper can just as easily be turned into a Chaos Spawn, sometimes for the same feat.
    • Most daemons are formed from the emotions of mortal or material races congealing into monsters, and the most pure and concentrated "mass" of emotional energy forms into deities. For example, the Massacre of Béziers — where the phrase "kill them all and let God sort them out" was (allegedly) coined — formed a particularly powerful daemon of Khorne named the Ragged Knight. Some lesser daemons are also described as being formed from the souls of those who devoted themselves to a deity and were impressive enough to earn some kind of reward but not enough to be elevated to a Daemon Prince. For example:
      • Bloodletters, the lesser daemons of Khorne, are described in Fantasy as being created from the souls of Khornate warriors who pleased their god through causing great slaughter and dying suitably impressive deaths.
      • Plaguebearers are lesser daemons of the Plague God Nurgle created from the souls of those who die from his favorite diseases, particularly Nurgle's Rot. The power of the Plaguebearer is determined by how long the victim endured the disease before perishing, with those who survive the longest often rising to become Daemon Heralds who act as the commanders of Nurgle's Plague Legions. While the plaguebearer was at one time explicitly stated to be the souls of those who died by Nurgle's Rot, it may now be the case that Plaguebearers are created from their suffering instead. It's not entirely clear how it all works, perhaps deliberately due to the nature of the Warp and the Winds of Magic.
      • Furies, lesser daemons of Chaos Undivided, are said to be formed from the souls of mortals who avoided making pacts with any god and instead chose to use Chaos for their own ends.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • Many of the Primarchs of the Traitor Legions, after fleeing into the Eye of Terror (Hell on Earth... IN SPACE!), were "promoted" to Daemon Primarchs, even more powerful than ordinary daemon princes.
      • Doombreed, Khorne's first human Daemon Prince, is heavily hinted to have been none other than Genghis Khan in life.
    • Warhammer Fantasy: While they're never outright called daemons, the Beastmen (initially created when millions of humans were mutated by Chaos when the polar gates collapsed) basically fit the bill as horned, hoofed, fanged, tailed, clawed, magically-corrupted monsters who make up much of the rank-and-file of The Legions of Hell. Per Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: The Old World Bestiary, "there is no absolute dividing line between Mutant and Beastman, or between Beastman and Daemon; rather, there is a spectrum of taint."

    Video Games 
  • In Afterlife (1996) both demons and angels are recruited from the souls they oversee in their respective afterlives.
  • Bloody Battle: By using "Demonify", a syringe filled with a mysterious red liquid, you will turn into a demon that grows in power the more it damages other players.
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain: Kain struck a deal with a necromancer to escape hell, and was returned to Nosgoth as a vampire for it. And in the sequel Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, his child Raziel strikes a similar deal with the Elder God and returns as a soul-devouring apparition.
  • Dark Deception: Secret notes hidden throughout the levels reveal that all of the monsters the protagonist has to face throughout the Dark Dimension are the souls of sinful or criminal humans who were twisted into monstrous forms fitting their vices (Greedy people become statues of gold, Trolls become little clown-gremlins, abusive mothers literal Mama Bear...). However it is subverted as other kind of evil spirits and demons exist in the Dark Dimension, and it is made clear that they never were humans.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Some of the demonic-themed bosses in Dark Souls were the children of the Witch of Izalith, twisted by her transformation into the Bed of Chaos: Quelaag was bonded to a giant demonic spider, while the Ceaseless Discharge was twisted into a giant, lava-seeping monster. That being said, most of the bosses that are actually called demons are spawned from the Bed rather than human in origin.
    • The Covetous Demon in Dark Souls II was a man besotted with Mytha, the Baneful Queen, but she only had eyes for the Old Iron King. Eventually, his gluttonous overconsumption transformed him into a giant creature that vaguely resembles Jabba the Hutt.
  • Demon's Souls: Humans can transform into demons if they offer themselves into the service of the Old One. The player character can choose to stop the final attempt to lull the Old One to sleep,and in doing so he is rewarded by being elevated into the Old One's most powerful archdemon.
  • Devil May Cry: Starting with Devil May Cry 2, this has become the main goal of every Big Bad, usually for the sake of more power. Examples include Arius, Arkham and Sanctus and by extension, the Order of the Sword (including Agnus and Credo) via the Ascension Ceremony. Devil May Cry 5 twisted things a bit: V is Vergil's human side that was cast off, and his goal is to return to being a half-demon.
  • Diablo: Demons have found many ways of converting humans into demonic servants, from the humanoid Morlu (the fate of human sorcerers trying to bind demons to their will) to the scorpion-like Tormented Stingers (made by cutting and twisting the corpse of a human sacrifice). Then again, humans in the Diablo universe are of demon (and angel) origin, inverting this trope.
  • The Disgaea series and its related works has had this happen a few times. Then again, humans are capable of becoming either demons or angels, mainly depending on their actions in life (and of course, angels can fall just as demons could ascend).
    • In La Pucelle this seems to be the canonical fate of its main heroine, Priere, as she became an Overlord after beating several of them by herself. In La Pucelle Ragnarok's Golden Ending, she beats the Dark Prince out of Croix and utterly destroys Noir singlehandedly.
    • In Makai Kingdom both Salome and Seedle were once humans, but became demons. This is a major plot point as the two were members of a human adventuring party. Seedle had the hots for Salome, but she didn't reciprocate. This drove him to try and force himself onto her, and she stabbed him to death in retribution. Seedle's sheer animosity at being killed by her landed him in the Underworld, where he basically killed everything to become its master. Salome was burned at the stake for killing a "noble samurai", where she soon ended up in the Netherworld, meeting with Zetta.
  • Doom:
    • Doom (2016): Olivia Pierce opened the Hell Portal for good to allow the demonic forces to invade Mars in exchange for her own elevation into godhood. It turns out that this means ripping out her original personality and forcefully transforming her into the Spider Mastermind demon.
    • Doom Eternal: It's shown that all the demons of Hell are in some way the product of humanity and other sentient species as a result of the Khan Maykr's deal with Hell. Many mortals who end up there end up suffering enduring torture until their soul can be extracted and used for Soul Power, while the soulless body over time becomes a new demon. Although, the Hell Priests were allowed to retain their old personalities for giving up all of Argent D'Nur on a silver platter to the Dark Lord.
  • Elsword:
    • Ara's big brother was a normal human and a famous man in their village before the demonic forces corrupted him, turning him into a humanoid demon, Ran.
    • Due to having his soul bound into the demon Lu, Ciel becomes partly demonic. As Lu becomes Diabla (her third job path), she regains most of her demonic power, and some of those leaked into Ciel; Demonio ("advanced" Diabla) is where Ciel becomes closer to a real demon.
  • One of the very late game techs in Evolve Idle is Demonic Ascension. After spending lives and resources to explore Hell itself, the player is given the option to sacrifice their civilization to infuse themselves with demonic power and become a Lord of Hell.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Voidsent are revealed to actually have originally been the citizens of another world which fell to darkness and have become twisted and corrupted as a result.
    • Although the threat of primals is mostly waged by beastmen tribes, a handful are actually born from the Spoken races, with some of those humanoids becoming the primal in question. These include Shiva, summoned by Ysaile Iceheart; King Thordan I and the Knights of the Round, summoned by Archbishop Thordan VII and the Heavensward; and Tsukuyomi, summoned by Yotsuyu.
  • Friday the 13th: The Game: The new version of Jason is based on a What If? scenario if after Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, he escapes Hell as a demon. The result is... not pretty.
  • In I=MGCM, A few demons the heroines fight were once alternate selves of the heroines from identical alternate universes before they’re slain and corrupted by demons and their demonized selves from other alternate universes.
  • This is played with in the Kingdom Hearts series, where if someone dies the darkness in someones heart gets converted into a Heartless, and how strong they are depends on how much darkness was in said person's heart, though the person themselves is never turned into one.
  • League of Legends: While the creatures specifically called demons do not start as humans, the very demon-like Darkin did. After their lore was reworked, they were confirmed to be Ascended of Shurima, twisted by exposure to the Void and the mind-shattering shock of the destruction of Icathia — making them humans who were upgraded to divine, near-godlike beings, and then twisted into monsters. The only Darkin to have regained a full form, Aatrox, takes the form of a Big Red Devil just to make the comparisons explicit.
  • Ba Wang, the main villain of The Legend of Silkroad, used to be a human warlord, one who is overtly ambitious and power-hungry before he sold his soul to the forces of evil. He takes the form of a Big Red Devil as you fight him, and if you win he ditches his demon form via Bishōnen Line, turning into a far more humanoid appearance... but still have glowing red eyes as an indication of his demonic nature.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Demon King Ganon, the Big Bad of the whole series overall, was once a mortal Gerudo human named Ganondorf. Though several games of the franchise give Ganondorf different origin stories of how he became Ganon, it always involves Ganondorf seizing a MacGuffin of great power, typically the Triforce, and said-power granting him immortality and mutating his body into that of a pig demon. Skyword Sword subverts the traditional story by implying that Ganondorf was born from a Dying Curse of a genuine Demon King named Demise, with ancillary media suggesting that Ganondorf himself is Demise's mortal reincarnation. This means Ganondorf was always a demon and his transformation into Ganon is simply him assuming his true form.
  • In Live A Live, Knight in Shining Armor Oersted becomes The Demon King of Hatred, Odio, and causes the game's plot.
  • Our hero Abel in Majyuo ends up having to become one in order to get a leg-up for what he's supposed to be doing. Namely, killing off his own kind to save his family.
  • Due to the purely Player Versus Player nature of the franchise, all demons in Nexus War games are former humans who chose to descend to demonhood after a sufficiently low plunge on the Karma Meter. At higher levels, they can strip away their remaining humanity, make more pacts with the Dark Powers, and become even worse demons — though later games also give them a last chance to get off the road to hell at this point if they really try.
  • Odin Sphere:
    • Lord Brigan was released from the Netherworld by Queen Odette to possess Odin after Gwendolyn killed him — only to be beaten out of Odin and banished for good by Gwendolyn.
    • King Gallon was once The Good King of Titania, but an invasion from the armies of Valentine forced him to use the Darkova spell, transforming him into a massive Cerberus that crushed the invading army but also drove him mad and made him ravage his own kingdom until he was killed by his son Edmund. When he ended up in the Netherworld still transformed, Odette cursed him to forever rot and regenerate, making him an undead Cerberus. Once Odette dies, Gallon becomes the new King of the Netherworld and leads the undead during Armageddon to destroy the living world.
  • Onimusha: The first three games deal with the aftermath of demons taking the soul of Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga and striking a deal with him to become a demon and give demons sway over Japan. After the king of the demons is killed at the end of the first game, Nobunaga becomes the new demon king (it happens more often than you'd think) and begins to lead them in conquering Japan, with the eventual goal to Take Over the World.
  • Penny Arcade Adventures: In Underhell, human souls undergo a slow transformation into demons over centuries, until nothing is left of their former selves. This is Tycho's justification for why every soul needs to be sacrificed to create a universe without Hell. This doesn't pan out the way he thought it would.
  • The Secret World: Played with.
    • Most humans unlucky enough to end up in the Hell Dimensions are little more than fuel sources used to sustain the decaying world; however, a rare few souls are spared this fate and empowered to serve as soldiers in the armies of Hell — the most prominent of which are Cassius, Brutus and Judas Iscariot. Of course, despite the powers they've been granted, they're still just slaves and not all that impressive compared to the more exotic varieties of Hellspawn.
    • Theodore Wicker is a much weirder case of this: originally an Oxford-educated mage, he set off on a quest to send himself to Hell — all for the sake of restoring the fallen dimension to its former glory. Because Hell's environment is inherently corrosive to human physiology, Wicker had to magically alter his own body before finding a way in, to the point that he tore out his heart and stripped away his soul. By the time players finally meet up with Wicker, he's become an immortal hybrid of human and demon with a Missing Reflection and a distinct demonic reverb to his voice... and he's also leading the denizens of Hell in a revolution against Satan!
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei I: In order to get his final revenge on Ozawa, the Chaos Hero fuses with one of your demons and becomes a half-demon himself.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne: By reclaiming the eleven Candelabra, using them for their intended purpose as keys of the Labyrinth of Amala, and reaching the elevator at the bottom, the Demi-Fiend elects to cast away his humanity, become a full-blooded demon, and march against Kagutsuchi with full intent on murdering the multiverse.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: Jimenez fuses with his demon Bugaboo to save both of their lives and becomes a half-demon. On the Law route, he completely renounces his humanity when he goes One-Winged Angel.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV:
      • The Black Samurai/Lilith turns citizens of Mikado into demons by exposing them to literature.
      • A human that consumes a Red Pill will transform into a demon.
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG!: The second half is about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold doing this after they killed themselves following their rampage at Columbine High School. At the end, they take on Satan himself, defeat him, and become his minions.
  • Total War: Warhammer III: Being set in the Warhammer universe, Daemon Princes show up, with the two main ones being The Dark Prince (the final launch player character, representing the Daemons of Chaos Undivided) and Be'lakor the Dark Master, the first Daemon Prince ever. Additionally, the Champions of Chaos DLC allows the Warriors of Chaos to bestow marks and other blessings from the dark gods onto their lords, with the eventual option to convert them into Daemon Princes.
  • In Wild ARMs Lady Harken is revealed to have originally been human but was turned into a demon by Alhazad. What makes this worse is she used to be Jack's closest friend and possible lover.

    Visual Novels 
  • Contract Demon: Any mortal who makes a contract with a demon will have their soul bound to the Netherworld, causing them to become a demon when they eventually die. The catch is that the mortal will also suffer a Death of Personality as the demon form completely overrides their former being.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Keela once was an ordinary girl who was trapped in the Unworld, then she made a Deal with the Devil and became a demon.
  • In Hazbin Hotel all sinners become demons when they arrive in Hell, their forms reflecting their sins; the worse their sins are, the less human they look. note 
  • RWBY: In Volume 6, the series' Big Bad, Salem, was revealed to have been a lonely young woman who was cursed with immortality by the gods for her failed attempts to bring back her dead lover. Interestingly, the "demon" part is the only aspect she doesn't seek out for power, but only for the sake of undoing her immortality. This also fails, and doubly curses her with the primal urge to destroy everything.

  • Dominic Deegan: Karnak was a human who averted a war in Hell by attacking the Demon of War. He was carried down to Hell (mostly for being a Yandere who happened to piss off a Demon Lord), became a Demon Lord himself, and ultimately triumphed after another Hell war as the first Overlord.
  • Exterminatus Now: Being a 40K crossover, there are a couple of villains with the goal of ascension to Daemon Princehood. Morth actually succeeds.
  • In Hellbound Mel was a witch in life, then became a succubus after her death. Her sister Kyota also went to Hell and became a demon for *ahem* other reasons.
  • In Hell Inc most of the demons fit this trope. Sara the Intern, a recently-damned soul with demonic potential, still looks human, although she is wearing a headband with horns on it. It is implied that physical transformation into a more classically demonic appearance happens with time and experience, or with a promotion from unpaid intern status.
  • Problem Sleuth: Mobster Kingpin "descends to demonhood" as he becomes the Final Boss.
  • Sandra and Woo: In the "Divine Comedy" arc, Larisa sells her soul to the Devil, who says he'll make a succubus of her because anything else would be a waste of her talents.
  • Gretyl, from The Settlers, was originally a transgender human woman. That was about two thousand years ago, though, and she is now a pretty powerful demon.
  • In Welcome to Hell, all demons begin as humans that get a Devil's Job Offer.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Odio (spoiler)

His loved ones dead and his life and reputation ruined by betrayal, the once noble hero is left with nothing except hatred and an empty throne awaiting a master.

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Example of:

Main / DemonOfHumanOrigin

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