Follow TV Tropes


Demon of Human Origin

Go To
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

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 and Angelic Transformation. See also Evil Makes You Monstrous. Contrast Humanity Ensues. Compare and contrast Eldritch Transformation, which is an exaggerated form of this trope.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, the Toguro brothers were once human, but asked to be transformed into demons as their prize for winning the Dark Tournament.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Yubel from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was a human in her previous life.
  • Devils in Dorohedoro are Magic Users who've gone through years of training and passed the Devil Exam.

    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.
  • 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  
  • 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 the Ultimate Universe though, being the Devil's bounty hunter is the Ghost Rider's default.
    • In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Dormammu is revealed to be a human sorcerer when he's depowered.
    • 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.
    • Nick Spencer's Spider-Man: 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 his true identity is Harry Osborn.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In the Swamp Thing comics, 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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lady Death:
    • Lady Death is technically not a demon, but was burned at the stake in mediaeval 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Constantine: 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 a part angel or demon.
  • 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.
  • Dust Devil: According to Joe, the Dust Devils had once been men before passing on to the spirit world.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 Ninth House, the twist provides an example of this trope. Darlington turned into a demon to survive.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 Equals Authority 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In St. John Chrysostom's homily on Jesus' exorcisms and miracles, 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, 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  
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000:
      • "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 'Em All and let God sort them out" was (allegedly) coined - formed a particularly powerful daemon of Khorne. Meanwhile there are in-universe rumors that lesser daemons are in fact the souls of those who devoted themselves to a deity without impressing it enough to be elevated to a Daemon Prince. For example:
      • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 were so impressed with her that they decided to turn her into a Deathlord when she became a ghost. This isn't the only option, however. See "Other" for the other option.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • Demons are not formed from individual souls, but by the sins of Chaotic Evil souls who arrive in the Abyss, and as a result a single mortal is capable of spawning hundreds of lesser demons — and contrariwise, multiple souls may need to merge to create a powerful demon.
    • 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 to get where they 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 don't go there without some disruption of the normal process), or by dragging living mortals directly to the plane and converting them.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • In Live A Live, Knight in Shining Armor Oersted becomes The Demon King of Hatred, Odio, and causes the game's plot.
  • In Afterlife (1996) both demons and angels are recruited from the souls they oversee in their respective afterlives.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 childe Raziel strikes a similar deal with the Elder God and returns as a soul-devouring apparition.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: