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God and Satan Are Both Jerks

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"God and the devil are idiots!"
Lestat, Memnoch the Devil

So, you're creating a work where the lead characters are up against The Legions of Hell. They're fighting the good fight, going up against Satan and all his demons. Of course, if they're fighting against Hell, this may lead to the question of where Heaven is. And if Heaven's fighting the fight with them, that may give them too much firepower to be interesting... or raise questions about why God, in all his wisdom, isn't doing anything else. Sometimes it's like there's a Devil, but No God, but sometimes characters know for sure there's a God, and he's simply acting as a Badass Pacifist or Stupid Neutral despite the heroes fighting for him.

Then there's the other way: you write a work in which God Is Evil, and the characters Rage Against the Heavens. This leads to the question of whether or not Satan Is Good, which can be... uncomfortable.

So, here's the solution: make it so that neither side is all that helpful. In this situation, God and Satan Are Both Jerks, and neither has humanity's best interests in mind. Hell and Satan will typically be portrayed in the classical fashion, but God and Heaven will usually be portrayed as Knight Templars who don't give a crap about humanity, exulting in their own glories or focusing all their firepower on the fight against Hell with little care for civilian casualties. There is no difference in morality any longer and the only things kept from the Abrahamic religion is that it's all about a dominant god fighting against a less powerful rebellious entity who wishes to take over and/or destroy all of creation. It may as well be a war between Eldritch Abominations. To further avoid offending mainstream religious audiences, the writer may also use a Demiurge Archetype in place of the evil God while having the real God be a case of God Is Good.

The end result of this trope is usually a humanistic or existentialist work, one where mankind learns to get along without Divine Intervention, taking control of their own destiny.

This setting is often home to a Nay-Theist. Related to the Balance of Good and Evil. Why God's intervention in a world that the Devil clearly has a hand in would be considered "unfair" is left as an exercise for the reader.

Jerkass Gods is the polytheistic equivalent. Compare Evil Versus Evil as well as God Is Flawed. Often a reason for getting a live round in Religious Russian Roulette within the World of Jerkass. Also see Heaven's Devils where God and Satan are on the same side.

Despite what you may think, Jesus Was Way Cool doesn't necessarily contradict this trope. It's not unheard of for Jesus to still be a good guy even if God is being portrayed as no better than the Devil.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: It could also count as Devil, but No God in that the God figure is inactive and removed from the normal world, and also not particularly godlike. The 'Truth' entity identifies itself as God (among other things) and shows sadistic glee in inflicting ironic punishments on those who break the laws of nature and engage in human transmutation. However, the Big Bad of the series, Father, is a cruel Satan-equivalent who keeps up a father-god image, and who plots to usurp Truth. At the end of the series, Truth does a bit of dog-petting and also punishes Father in a manner that's so cruel it's kind of funny.
  • Inverted in Highschool DXD, in which both God and the Four Devils are good, if flawed. The main characters are all devils, and the main romantic interest, Rias, is in fact the acting Satan's younger sister. However, they are all noble demons (albeit some rather perverted), and the series takes great pains to show that demons, angels, fallen angels, and simple humans are all really no different from each other. The only thing that separates the three former races from the latter is that they have magic powers, and the only thing that separates them from each other is how they go about granting humans' desires: Angels do it for free while demons and fallen angels request payment for their help, but nothing on the level of selling their soul or the like; normally, a simple monetary payment will suffice. Some demons are shown to be as nice and civil as can be, while angels prove that they can be huge dickheads if they wish, as well. In fact, the only reason the three races even fought in the first place was because God was worried the demons might decide to rise up against Him, so decided to strike first, using The Bible as a propaganda piece to rile the angels into war.
  • Ghastly Prince Enma: Burning Up: In the final two episodes, Heaven and Hell agree to kill off billions of humans in order to harvest their souls for "soulperglue."
  • In Devilman God is an Eldritch Abomination who wants to murder demons only because his vision of order has no place for them, while Satan wants to wipe all humans from the face of Earth so demons can rule over it. In AMON, the titular character opposes them both because, as a chaotic spirit, he is not happy with either's vision of order and God has put the world on a loop so Satan can fall in love with Akira and watch him die again and again and Satan realizes that he/she is quite insane.
  • Slayers: The Demons and their Mazoku underlings are without any doubt evil, out to destroy everything, but the Dragons, supposedly the good guys under the gods, have no qualms about committing genocide or even sacrificing their own for "peace", pushing them just as far on the jerkiness scale. Darkstar Dubranidgdu is an Omnicidal Maniac merged from both the highest good and evil of the Darkstar plane, both agreed to merge, just so they can go all out to destroy everything to end their eternal war.
  • Angel Sanctuary: God, the Angels, and the Demons are all antagonists at some point. Nobody's lovely; some are just worse than others. It's that kind of story.
  • Bastard!! (1988): Knight Templar angels as well as Always Chaotic Evil devils try to wipe out humanity, while fighting each other.
  • In Berserk, the master demon slayer Guts has his eyes set on the Godhand, a quintet of archdevils who produce lesser ones to torment Midland. Itís revealed in Chapter 83 that the Godhand were actually created by the Idea of Evil, a stand-in for both God and the Devil, to make the world as terrible a place as possible.
  • The plot of Future Diary is kicked off when the dying Top God, Deus Ex Machina, decides to choose a successor by forcing twelve ( actually thirteen) people to fight each other to the death for the throne. It turns out that he never had to set up the game at all, but decided that just choosing a successor would be too boring. On the other hand, itís revealed that Yuno Gasai, or rather the First World version, had already won the game, and plans to keep invading other universes to play it over and over, with a never-ending list of victims and destroyed worlds to her name.
  • It's revealed in The Seven Deadly Sins that both the Demon King and Supreme Deity are evil and view the Holy War between them as a game, killing millions for their amusement. The two of them actually usurped and sealed away the true god, Chaos, and once teamed up to curse the demon Melodias and the goddess Liz for their blasphemous relationship.

    Comic Books 
  • If Garth Ennis is writing a comic book featuring Abrahamic religion, this trope will reign supreme. Hellblazer, Preacher, The Chronicles of Wormwood, even his short run on Ghost Rider — all portray Hell as petty and depraved and Heaven as self-centered and militant.
  • This is true of Hellblazer in general — John Constantine is a spiritual anarchist who finds both sides repulsive and stands for common humanity against any sort of supernatural interference or exploitation.
  • In Spawn, the rulers of both Heaven and Hell are equally cruel and evil, and neither gives a lick of spit for the ultimate fate of humanity.
    • More to the point, the beings humans know as God and Satan are simply the children of the true creator deity who has taken a back-seat to their meddling in the world, until in a joint temper tantrum they basically bring about the End Times way ahead of schedule. The Creator directly empowers Spawn who kicks ass on basically the entirety of the remnants of creation, then pushes the Reset Button but leaves God and Satan trapped in a pocket dimension thinking they've destroyed everything they created... and they choose to keep fighting anyway.
      • Remember what was said about how some works with this trope still say Jesus Was Way Cool? In Spawn, Jesus was actually the Creator incarnated as a human being, but most of his teachings have been subverted, corrupted, or concealed by Christianity in order to twist humans into remaining, at least ostensibly, under God's yoke.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: God is a lazy idiot and Satan is an Affably Evil trickster who likes to give Nny a scare.
  • In Planetary, there is a brief mention of some Russian scientists who discover that souls are merely electromagnetic fuel for a war between Heaven and Hell. They decide to check out on an A-Bomb, so that the EMP blast will destroy their souls.
  • In Lobo, Satan is kind of the guy you'd expect him to be. But God... he just finds Lobo's rampage through Heaven funny. When an angel politely asks him to intervene, he throws an empty can of beer at the angel and tells him to get another one.
  • Two characters from Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol — the Red Jack and the Shadowy Mr. Evans — have claimed to be respectively God and Satan. If they were right, then this trope applies, but only a little compared to God and Satan are Both Completely Bonkers.
  • In Lucifer, both God and Lucifer himself tend to be uncaring while angels are Knight Templar types who care little or nothing for humans either way and demons range from For the Evulz Card Carrying Villains to just bored and unpleasant. There are exceptions on both sides but those are the general rules.
  • Lady Death has Satan as Big Bad in its classic continuity and the forces of Heaven are depicted as not much better than the demons, using the souls of mortals who ascend to paradise to fuel a war machine in their war against Hell. God appears briefly in one story as a Dirty Old Man who hits on the titular heroine and offers to "create the next Messiah" with her. However, he is revealed to be Satan in disguise, not the real God.

    Films — Animated 
  • Sausage Party has this as its theme. The "gods" — that is, the shoppers at the supermarket — just want to eat the food characters, whereas the "Dark Lord" — the supermarket custodian — throws the food away once it's passed its expiration date. Both are highly undesirable fates for the food, although most of them don't know that the "gods" eat them until the protagonist finds out first-hand.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Constantine (2005), the major angels and demons subscribe to neutrality, but the lesser ones don't. Humanity is left to sink or swim on its own, while caught between what is effectively a supernatural Cold War.
  • In The Prophecy, rogue Angels led by the Archangel Gabriel are out to destroy humanity because humans have usurped the angels' place in God's affections, and the demons want to destroy humanity because... well... they're demons. God himself is never encountered on-screen, but the angels still loyal to him don't seem to care much about humanity, generally being content to either sit on the sidelines while humanity suffers or focus only on fighting Gabriel's angels.
  • Legion had just about the same set-up, except God was actively helping the anti-human angels for a while.
  • The Mexican movie Macario is related to the below fairy tale "Godfather Death", but a lot of the circumstances are changed, and apparently it was All Just a Dream.
    • The main change is that Death is fortuitously encountered by a humble farmer called Macario, who by chance lucked out on a job and was able to buy two whole chickens for himself, and decides to go deep into the forest to eat them by himself. He runs into Death without knowing who it is, and shares a chicken with it; Death grants him the same deal: if Death appears by a sick person's bed near the side, the person will recover; but if it appears near the foot of the bed, the person will die. When Macario decides to neglect this and upset Death, he is forced to visit it in a cave in the forest, where he finds every person in the world has a candle lit representing their lifespan. Macario steals his own candle to prevent Death from taking him, but trips and his life is extinguished. Turns out Death rolled time back, and Macario DID go alone into the forest, ate both chickens and died from indigestion. This is a VERY old movie in black and white, worth checking out for its trippyness.
  • The Devil's Carnival uses a Black-and-Gray Morality version of this trope. Lucifer's a bit of a self-righteous asshole, and his titular Carnival is pretty horrifying, but what we've seen of Heaven so far is much worse, and Lucifer's begun developing a plan to undermine Heaven's influence by redeeming those whom God won't. Humanity's still caught in the middle, though- Lucifer's not especially good at redeeming people without completely traumatizing them in the process, and while he does take extreme offense to the idea that he has anything to do with misery on Earth (declaring dead children "God's jurisdiction", for example), it's unclear how much he really wants to see humanity saved and how much is just petty revenge on the father-figure who rejected him eons ago. God himself, meanwhile, is a bitter old man who demands absolute obedience from his red-armband-sporting angels, discards anything and anyone he deems imperfect, and looks outright startled when a deceased human man is redeemed and allowed into Heaven, suggesting it's been a long time since anyone's made it there.
  • Hellraiser: Judgement: The demons residing in Hell are the scary, nightmarish inquisitors of human sin, while Heaven is fine with perpetuating evil on Earth if it will strengthen devotion among the flock.
  • In Good Satan, Satan is a loser with poor-impulse control who fruitlessly pines to return to Heaven and cancels the Second Coming by getting Jesus kicked out of Heaven and God put up a front as an affable guy, but is actually a condescending prick that claims the moral high-ground over everyone, often changing the subject before anyone can properly hold him to this. They both learn to be better, though.

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman uses this as a Twist Ending, except with Odin and Loki instead of God and Satan. Throughout the book, the hero Shadow works for Mr. Wednesday (Odin), leader of the "old gods" (the gods of mythology), against Mr. World (Loki), leader of the "new gods" (Anthropomorphic Personifications of modern crazes like technology and the media). Turns out Odin and Loki are working together, instigating a fight between the old and new gods just to get more power for themselves. Odin gets power from war and death, and Loki gets power from chaos, so an all-out war between the gods would make them uber-powerful. Shadow manages to stop the war between the gods by explaining Odin's and Loki's true motives to the combatants. After the battle is averted, Odin's ghost fades and Loki is impaled by a branch of the World Tree.
  • In The Beginning After the End, the main conflict is instigated by the evil Agrona Vritra and the Vritra Clan against the rest of the Asuras who are headed by Kezess Indrath and the Indrath Clan, with both parties pitting the inhabitants of Alacrya and Dicathen respectively against each other in a Proxy War as a full-on Divine Conflict would level the world. However, it turns out the reason for Agrona's Start of Darkness and thus the war itself was that he discovered that long ago, the Indrath Clan had orchestrated the genocide of the ancient Djinn race out of jealousy for their ability to harness the aether, which they believed was exclusively theirs. When Agrona threatened to reveal the truth, the Indrath Clan exiled him to Alacrya. Over the course of the war, the Indrath demonstrate themselves to be Well-Intentioned Extremist Knight Templars who are no better than their enemies when it comes to their treatment of mortals. At one point in the war, the Asuras orchestrate a failed sneak attack on Alacrya without consulting their Dicathian allies, which Agrona takes advantage of to remove their involvement in the war as a violation of their treaty and thus leaving the Dicathians at a considerable disadvantage. After the war ends and the Alacryans conquer Dicathen, Kezess orders his subordinate Aldir to use World Eater Technique to destroy the Elven Kingdom of Elenoir in an attempt to prevent the Vritra from summoning a Person of Mass Destruction known as the Legacy. The attempt fails, as not only does the Legacy survive, but Elenoir is reduced to a barren wasteland and the Elves are almost driven to extinction (to say nothing of the fact that Aldir has a My God, What Have I Done? moment in the aftermath which later drives him to become a Defector from Decadence). In the aftermath, the Asuras attempt to salvage the situation on Dicathen through manipulating the Dicathian resistance. Not only do they lie about their involvement in the destruction of Elenoir, but they also present them a set of magical artifacts that would supposedly grant them the power to defeat the Vritra, only for it to be revealed that said artifacts would in fact enslave their wielders to the Indrath Clan's will. When this deceit is revealed and the Dicathians refuse their offer, Kezess decides to wipe the slate clean by purging what was left of the resistance to make room for more compliant allies, an attempt that was only foiled by Arthur returning from Alacrya and slaying the Asura he had sent to carry out the purge. When Arthur meets with Kezess for the first time since the war's conclusion, Kezess harbors no remorse for his genocidal actions and says that he would not hesitate to sacrifice a few for the Greater Good.
  • In the Christ Clone Trilogy the Christian God unleashes a series of horrors upon the Earth for the unspeakable crime of... a few people believing in certain New Age trends, while The Antichrist successfully deceives the world by harnessing humanity's outrage to God performing atrocities all for some apparent power trip he gets out of making God sad for having to damn people to eternal damnation. Even early in the series God kills or torments millions of people in various horrific supernatural ways indiscriminately, including newborn babies and children, for no readily apparent reason. The first thing He does is detonate all the nuclear weapons in Russia in retaliation for Russia occupying Israel. And with Christianity being true, that means that all those people that were killed are now in Hell suffering for eternity. The only excuse given: "Oh well, they had a choice. God feels really bad about it, but His hand was forced. In fact He's the real victim here."
  • Wendy Alec's Chronicle of Brothers series, in which the biblical story is re-written as adventure fiction. Lucifer, Son of God, comes across as a spoilt petulant brat and throws Teddy in a corner in a big way, on learning that Daddy has new siblings (namely the human race) on the way. Like any formerly only child told a baby brother is coming, Lucifer throws a tantrum and runs away from Home (Heaven), taking a third of the angelic race with him. God is every bit as much a jerkass for letting him go, despite the fact that this opens up Hell as a post-mortem destination for most of humanity and virtually all the fallen angels. And for all his grandiose promises of supplanting God and Christos and whupping their divine arses, every time there is a showdown Luce inevitably gets creamed and despite his intelligence does not learn from events - there is no match, God always wins. So God is an asshole for not managing the situation better and letting it happen; the Devil is a dick for not realizing he can never win.
  • The greater demon Azazel, and the greater angel Raziel are summoned at different points during City of Lost Souls, by the main characters, who desperately need a weapon that can break a demonic bond. The demon Azazel offered a solution at the price of being set free, which the good guys had to decline, while the Angel Raziel was extremely insulted at being summoned 'like a dog' by someone who did not carry 'The Mortal Instruments', and only gave the heroes the weapon they needed as opposed to killing the one who summoned him because the summoner, Simon, had a rune which would kill anyone who tried to hurt him.
  • In the fairy tale "Godfather Death", a poor man desperately looks for a godfather for his newborn son. Both God and the Devil offer themselves, but the poor man rejects God for giving to the rich and neglecting the poor, and the Devil for being a scammer. He accepts Death, because he is the only one of the three who is just.
  • Good Omens puts a marginally less religiously offensive spin on this trope: Satan and Metatron (the supreme angel) are both jerks that see humanity as being mere pawns in the greater war between Good and Evil, and both are quite ready to wipe out everyone on Earth when Armageddon goes down. God Himself, however, generally stays out of the picture until the ending, where it's implied that He's been manipulating both the angels and the demons and probably has Humanity's best interest in mind. Or at the very least considers the apocalypse a lose condition.
    • Aziraphale accidently possesses a televangelist who is, at the moment, talking about the Rapture, and inadvertently reveals that Heaven has no plans whatsoever to teleport the faithful to safety before the End Times - it's all collateral damage as far as the angels care.
  • In the His Dark Materials trilogy, God was the first being created out of nothing and lied to all the angels that came after saying that he created them. He became senile and powerless over the eons, and was eventually killed by two children when they tried to release him from the prison in which Metatron was keeping him.
  • Johannes Cabal: The title character claims that Satan is a "bored sadist", while God is so obsessed with order and neatness that he inflicts Death of Personality on every soul that enters Heaven. This is why Johannes feels driven to discover the secret of immortality.
  • In Michael Moorcock's cosmology, Law and Chaos both tend to be complete Jerkasses who don't care in the slightest how their struggles affect mortals. The best hope for humanity tends to be to Kill the Gods, if that's possible. If it's not, you're probably headed for a Downer Ending.
  • In Simon R. Green's Nightside novels, one book has the forces of heaven and hell duking it out over the same thing, and it's clear that neither side cares in the least how much collateral damage they cause.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, we're supposed to think that the gods are good and the Titans are bad, but YMMV on that, since most of the time it seems like both of them are just jerks. The Titans are overall portrayed as the worse of the two regarding humanity as disposable pawns and entertainment. The Olympians can be helpful and generally promote civilization, but like the myths are incredibly arrogant and hate being embarrassed, shown up by mortals, or putting up with things that piss them off. This leads to often taking out their frustrations on demigods or mortals. This is justified by the fact that this is Greek Mythology, where the gods are notorious for being an astonishing variety of jerkasses with a notable inability to keep it in their pants.
    • The third book of the follow-up series The Heroes of Olympus outright confirms this. The demigods show disgust that Hercules was punished for Hera inflicting him with madness and Achelous the River God admits Olympians are rarely punished for their crimes. Later, after being jerked around by the gods one too many times Percy thinks to himself that the Olympians are marginally better than the Titans and giants, but are neither good nor wise.
  • Rose Princess Hellrage: The Greater God is an extremely deceptive sot who uses liberal amounts of Loophole Abuse and Exact Words to get away with making grand promises and failing to deliver, while, the God of Evil is a Card-Carrying Villain who usually takes it as high praise when people blame her for all the suffering they go through.
  • An untrue, in-universe view from The Silmarillion; held by Fëanor and his followers who absolutely detest Morgoth. However, when Morgoth murdered their King Finwe (Fëanor's father) and stole the Silmarils, the Valar failed to catch him. As a result of this, Fëanor, his sons, and their followers swear an oath that they will not rest until they and only they have retaken the Silmarils and that they will fight and kill anyone who tries to stop them, regardless of their allegiance. This was the icing on the cake as Melkor's earlier lies about the Valar's were elaborate enough to warp Feanor's perception of them, if not subtle enough to leave himself outside of suspicion.
    • Sauron managed to twist Ar-Pharazôn's (the Mannish king of Númenor) mind and convince him that a campaign against Valinor was a good idea. Eru Iluvatar himself retaliated by destroying the whole continent of Númenor and killing millions of innocent humans.
  • The religion of R'hllor in A Song of Ice and Fire has heavy shades of this. According to the believers of R'hllor, there is one eponymous good god and one evil anti-god known as the Great Other. However, the priests of R'hllor are far from being a pure force of good: their "Red God" commands them to burn the heretic and purge the unclean by all means necessary, and the miracles they perform are pretty sinister. As for the Great Other, if he exists, he is behind a race of ice demons known as the Others, who are the greatest threat to humanity in this world.
  • According to Thirsty, God loves humans, and only humans. It doesn't matter if you used to be human. It doesn't matter if you desperately wish you were human. If you're a monster of any kind, you're going to burn in Hell forever. Demons, on the other hand, are exactly as sociopathic as you'd expect them to be.
  • Played with in Torture Princess: Fremd Torturchen. Early on, Elisabeth describes God as the force that creates the world, and Diablo the force that destroys it. Volume 4 reveals that this is the only thing either of them is: they're literally just natural forces that the Church's mythology has incorrectly personified, and neither one is actually good or evil. They simply exist.
  • Memnoch the Devil in The Vampire Chronicles. See the page quote above. However, since all we have is Memnoch's word that all the events happened as he shows them, it could be a case of Unreliable Narrator.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Supernatural has featured demons as the bad guys from the first episode, but in season 4 angels, as represented by Castiel. Problem is, God is generally hands off, and most of the higher angels are perfectly in favor of another war with Lucifer to make sure he's finally taken care of... no matter how many humans get caught in the middle. Archangel Michael is meant to be Lucifer's "good" counterpart, who is supposed to deal with him, but is just as much of a Jerkass. And the Apocalypse is seen by them as nothing more than sibling rivalry. In fact, human extinction is considered a positive element in some angelic circles.
    • Cas spends most of season five looking for his Father, in hopes that if directly entreated he will fix all this injustice and madness. Eventually they manage to get in contact with a being who is in contact with God. God's message is: Back off. He has no intention of helping. Castiel's answer to that is: "You son of a bitch. I trusted you."
    • God himself is clearly disinterested in the genocidal plans of the angels- in fact, he explicitly says (through an intermediary) that the Apocalypse is "not his problem" (the angels themselves seem either convinced He was dead, or disillusioned that Daddy isn't ever coming back home- they are really simply lost without Him, and the Apocalypse is really the closest thing they have to God's Will). However, it is implied that the real reason God thought it wasn't His problem is that He knew Sam and Dean would win without help (and has subtly been assisting them in small ways anyway) and that He is simply a case of God Is Flawed and is actually Chuck. Then the Season 14 finale reveals that God's actually an uncaring jerk who sees everyone in his creation as his own Cosmic Plaything. The moment Sam and Dean go Off the Rails and refuse to play along for his amusement anymore, he decides to kill everything and unleashes Hell on Earth.
    • Then there's all the gods of other religions, most of which are Jerkass Gods who don't care either way as long as it doesn't infringe on their territory, and actively torture and kill humans for sacrifice to keep their powers and immortality functioning. Lucifer himself wipes out most of them as they're convening to discuss how to stop the Apocalypse, in a transparent case of Evil Versus Oblivion. The final season reveals that ALL Pagan Gods were in fact created by the real God, specifically so they could be Jerkass Gods and torment humanity so God Himself can come off as the Big Good and ultimately steal their worshippers via Christianization; the reason for this was because God originally didn't have an established cult or presence, so humans imagined up fictional gods of our own to worship, and that pissed Chuck off. Most Pagan Gods simply don't remember their true origins and purpose, and believe that they were the original creators/rulers of Earth before God and his Angels came along.
  • Babylon 5 uses the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens escape hatch: the Shadows are Social Darwinists who regularly cleanse the universe using proxy wars, believing it leads to a more evolved lifeform base. And the Vorlons are control freaks who take the form of each species' God equivalent and have a history of meddling with their culture. They're basically locked into a millennia-old debate with one another, using the other races as pawns and proofs of their own philosophies. From "Into the Fire":
    Sheridan: The Vorlons ask only one question, over and over; "Who are you?" And you? For you, the question is, "What do you want?" But I have never heard either of you answer that question. Who are you? What do you want?!
    (deafening silence)
    Delenn: You don't know, do you? You've been fighting each other so long, you've forgotten.
    • Sheridan eventually puts them in a position where they'll either have to leave or destroy the younger races because they won't play their games any longer, and tells them to "get the hell out of our galaxy". They comply.
  • Reaper. The Devil is the obvious Jerkass, but all we see of God is him telling an angel to break Sam's hand so that the Devil owns both Sam and Andi's souls. However, this may also be a case of a Riddle for the Ages, as the angel in question (along with swarms of other angels) departs with a cryptic statement implying that God has some further plan in play.
  • In Lost, good and evil appear to be personified by Jacob and the Man in Black respectively. Though one turns out to be the Big Bad and the other passes power to the show's lead character in his final scene, neither has many fans among the characters by the show's end. Their mutual jerkiness is most present in their flashback / Start of Darkness episode.
  • In the universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, evil is, well, evil. Its backed up by numerous Hell Gods and Lords of Evil and even the unkillable First Evil. The forces of light, on the other hand, are represented by the Powers that Be, a group of stuck up, arrogant, uncaring deities who really don't care how horrible the lives of their chosen Champions happen to get, as long as said Champions toe the line, don't argue, and do each and every thing the Powers That Be order them to do, regardless of the cost to the Champion in question.
  • In The Good Place:
    • The Bad Place is a dimension of eternal torment presided over by cruel, sadistic, petty jerks. Meanwhile, the Good Place's standards are so impossibly high that virtually everyone gets sent to the Bad Place, being an average or even a good person who doesn't score high enough on an arbitrary scale gets you tortured forever, and the forces of Good will just let it happen. Also, the score that determines your treatment in the afterlife is fixed- no redemption, no forgiveness, just perpetual agony for not being an absolute Purity Sue.
    • The closest thing the show has to a God is Gen, the immortal Judge of the Universe, who intentionally tries to send the main characters to The Bad Place twice in her first episode. She's also so out of touch with humanity that she's unaware that life on Earth is so complicated that no one is able to make enough ethical decisions to get into the Good Place anymore. And when she is finally made to understand, her solution to the problem is to "cancel" Earth and destroy the souls of all humans in the afterlife, good and bad.


  • In Old Harry's Game, God is a massive jerkass who couldn't care less about humanity but has no problem with their being disproportionately punished. Satan, who is one of the protagonists, is by far the nicer of the two, but he's still a pretty big jerk and fond of torturing the damned for his amusement. That most of the aforementioned damned actually did something to deserve ending up there, whilst those who end up there by default because God sets such impossibly high standards of behaviour seem not to be too badly off, keeps Satan on the Grey side of the show's Black-and-Gray Morality.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Game Master's Guide for the game In Nomine, which concerns the War between Heaven and Hell, provides a variety of options for modifying the tone of the setting; this is one of them, referred to as "Dark Low Contrast".
  • The inspiration for the above, French RPG In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas, has a lot of this going on (most Demon Princes and about half of the Archangels are varying shades of complete asshole), although it's mostly Played for Laughs (French humor can be weird like that). Turns out the whole thing is because God actually falls under Blue-and-Orange Morality, and His actual goal is to make Creation ever more complex, which, as the number of competing sub-factions within Heaven and Hell and of minor players in the game can attest, is going quite well.
  • Nobilis has an interesting case; the Angels of Heaven love beauty and good things — but they want to make everything fit their image of what is beautiful and right, and destroy all the things that aren't good enough for them. The Fallen of Hell, however, love everything. They'll be there for you in your darkest moments, loving you unreservedly. Just like they will for the worst the world have to offer. Which of these is better is very much up to personal interpretation. It has a similar contrast between the Light and the Dark; the Light wants human survival and grand order, while the Dark's ultimate ideal is that humanity as a whole pursues its darker side until it destroys itself - but the Light's focus on human survival isn't particularly benevolent, since it tends to show Fantastic Racism against non-humans and is willing to strip humanity of everything to ensure it survives, while the Dark also wants to free you from the restrictions you chafe under in day-to-day life. So basically, Kinda-Lawful and Sorta-Chaotic Are Also Jerks.
  • In Dread and Spite, the Books of Pandemonium, it turns out that Dread's demon-slaying Disciples are working for higher demons who want to win the war of Heaven and Hell for the forces of Hell, and Spite's angel-slaying Zealots are working for angels who have rebelled against Heaven because Heaven apparently doesn't give a rat's ass about human free will. Whichever side in the Heaven vs. Hell War wins, humanity loses.
  • Demon: The Fallen had a history that started as Rage Against the Heavens — when it seemed like God and her loyalists were keen to let Adam and Eve remain unenlightened animals like the rest of the beasts in Eden, Lucifer and his agents (fearing a disaster that might occur if they didn't do so) raised humans up to true sapience. God, pissed off, shattered the perfect nature of Creation and reduced it to its current fallen state. However, then the Fallen started giving in to Torment... let's just say that by the time the demons got cast into the Abyss, there were few heroes on either side.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • While the Chaos Gods are as bad as you'd expect incarnations of rage, lust, betrayal (and hope) and despair (and love) to be and the C'tan are even worse, the resident gods aren't that much better: the Eldar gods were major jerks when they were still in power, and the God-Emperor (only considered a god by humanity) was an extremely racist Knight Templar who killed trillions (including his own men for propaganda reasons) in the name of his vision of a unified humanity ruling the galaxy. The Ecclesiarchy's rigid adherence to its morals is one of the reasons Chaos cults don't find it too hard to gain new members.
    • The only unambiguously good divinity is Isha, the Eldar goddess of healing... and she's been trapped by Nurgle for millenia, her influence limited to whispering the cure for his latest horrific plague to her children.
    • Even the Ultramarines' Primarch Roboute Guilliman, the closest thing to a Big Good the game ever had, is miraculously brought out of stasis and brought to his father... who it turns out still sees him as nothing more than a tool in his plan. Roboute emerges from that meeting determined to fight not for the Emperor but the Emperor's vision.

    Video Games 
  • In RuneScape, Zamorak and Saradomin, the stand ins for Satan and God have both committed atrocious acts.
  • In roguelikes such as Angband and its many variants, if angels make an appearance, they are even tougher opponents than the demons, since angels are not, by alignment, evil. This implies the in-universe equivalent of God and Satan are both willing to kill the player — which, to be fair, is par for the course in these games anyway.
  • In Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!, the universe was created by the Angel of Light and Shadow, who is then split into two halves: the goddess Mihaele (who appears to retain the Angel's original personality), and the demon Sthertoth, who can be compared to the devil. Sthertoth is the main villain of the game, intending to take over the universe and using both Bomberman and the Elemental Knights as his pawns, and Mihaele intends to destroy and recreate the world in order to defeat Sthertoth. Mihaele and Sthertoth later reunite into the Angel, who attempts to carry out Mihaele's plan despite Sthertoth being effectively gone as part of the Angel, but changes its mind after being defeated by Bomberman.
  • In Diablo, angels are expressly forbidden from directly aiding mankind. The archangel Tyrael tries to give advice, but that's about all he can do aside from taking your cash to resurrect your minions (technically falling under indirect help).
    • And it's explained in some of the supplementary works that a portion of the angels actively despise humanity because they are partly descended from demons, and would be perfectly happy to see humanity wiped out. This is mostly displayed in Imperius and Malthael, who had the reasoning that the humans' demonic essence makes them disgusting and despicable.. However, the other angels aside of Tyrael; Auriel and Itherael; are more considerate towards humanity and prefers that they do not get destroyed. All in all, it's more like 60% Angels are fine with humanity, 40% despise them. But, the 40% also happen to be of higher hierarchy thus more likely listened to or be the picture of Angels overall and... read on.
    • And in Diablo III, Tyrael has had enough, willingly becoming a Fallen Angel so that he can aid humanity directly as a mortal. Unfortunately, as much as they're less disgusted to humans compared to some, Auriel and Itherael couldn't break away from the laws binding them to heaven and follow Tyrael's suit so they're kind of 'unhelpful' until they really need your help. Imperius remains a Jerkass in spite of you helping him, while Malthael went on to become the Big Bad of the expansion Reaper of Souls intending to Kill All Humans.
    • The Player Character, no matter who they are, also starts to have this attitude towards the end of the "Reaper of Souls" expansion pack. Reading their journals seems to imply that the nephalem are starting to think of both angels and demons as monsters, as they seem to be more interested in 'winning the Eternal Conflict', in order to attain domination on all realms, and neither side seems to truly care about the all the collateral damage. The ending, after the player has killed Maltheal, also has Tyrael worrying that the nephalem could be tempted to go after both angels and demons, and could potentially doom everyone.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • The Big Bad Ensemble is between YHVH, who wants a world of total oppressive order, and Lucifer, who wants a world of unrestrained chaos. So not only are the demons complete dicks, so are the angels, though there are usually sympathetic and helpful people on both sides. This is why Omnicidal Neutral endings tend to be considered the best. Lucifer is an extremely Manipulative Bastard, YHVH is an utterly amoral tyrant, Philemon won't do jack in the face of the Apocalypse and abuses his position as the Powers That Be to fulfill his agenda, and Nyarlathotep is simply made of evil. No matter where you look, all extremes in the alignment axis suck.
    • In II, there's another aversion. Lucifer is actually a good guy this time, while Satan is a noble individual corrupted by YHVH's will, and can even turn on YHVH when the latter goes beyond the pale.
    • Devil Survivor is another aversion through Black-and-Gray Morality. In this game, God isn't a complete dick. On the one hand, he's done some shady things, is responsible for setting Cain up to kill Abel, and has put Humanity on Trial with the penalty being the end of free will as angels take control of humanity. But He has very valid reasons for testing humanity, since we've become a species powerful enough to control demons and potentially battle Him, and He actually wants humanity to succeed in handling the crisis and prove themselves worthy - while humans inside the lockdown are doing their best to prove the opposite. Meanwhile, Lucifer's a jerk who's only involving himself for his own amusement, and the actual leader of the demons, Belberith, really is monstrously evil, seeking to take revenge against God by sadistically murdering all his "children".
  • Bayonetta has this. Demons are genuinely evil, interspersed with a few Noble Demons who are honest about their brutality and intentions but can be at least relied on to uphold a deal... until the deal is met. Angels look pretty but are actually monstrous once you get past their gold and marble outer appearance, to say nothing of their personalities. Despite this, both angels and demons have mortal servants in the form of Lumen Sages and Umbra Witches who are both noble organizations, not that this stops angels and demons using both of them for their own desires.
  • The "real" storyline of Guardian Heroes works out like this. Advance Guardian Heroes makes things even worse.
  • It's a bad sign when both god and the devil are Sealed Evil in a Can. Such is the case in the Epic Battle Fantasy series. Of the two, Godcat is the bigger jerkass. While Akron is more or less only doing what it was created to do (cause destruction) having long forgotten why, Godcat is a jealous and spiteful deity who cursed her subjects to have no arms and legs merely because they became too friendly with humans. That being said, Godcat pretty much is both the "God" and "Satan" figure at the same time. She appears as two entities, a light-aligned form that pilots a mechanical tank called the Creator, and a dark-aligned form that controls some sort of demonic flesh vehicle called the Destroyer. Oh, and she created Akron; while his design is much closer to the Destroyer, both forms of Godcat are very willing to wipe out humanity. And Godcat is not even the real divine creator, but herself a creation of the Devourer, who is even worse as it is a massive Control Freak that wants to wipe out the entire Earth to get rid of all threats to its control.
  • Messiah: Satan is, well, evil. God cares mostly about his own safety and doesn't hesitate from leaving humanity at Satan's mercy.
  • In Valdis Story: Abyssal City, Myrgato (Goddess of Darkness) and Alagath (Goddess of Light) are both genocidal Manipulative Bastards who routinely enslave humans and Mind Rape them into becoming Demons or Angels to fight in their Forever War. Myrgato and her Demons are at least honest about their intent to conquer the world, while Alagath's faction are uniformly Holier Than Thou Knight Templar.
  • It really, really sucks to be a human in Asura's Wrath. On one side, there's the Gohma, an army of demonic Heartless and the embodiment of the planet's fury, and on the other side, there's the Shinkoku and the Seven Deities, who've spent 12,000 years building a superweapon to wipe out the Gohma once and for all... which is powered by human souls. Lots and lots and lots of human souls that require a whole lot of genocide to harvest. And then there's Chakravartin, the Top God of the world, and is no better whatsoever.
  • Monster Hunter plays with this. The various Elder Dragons are treated as basically gods on earth. However, being the dragons they are, they usually just do their own thing not caring about humans at best (Ceadeus, Jhen Mohran), or are actively evil to the extent of wishing to bring about the apocalypse at worst (Dire Miralis, Alatreon, Fatalis, the latter of which actually succeeded at one point.)
  • The BlazBlue series is ultimately revealed to have this going on. The Satanic Archetype is Yuuki Terumi aka Susano'o no Mikoto, who is gleefully unrepentant of all the atrocities he commits because he hates Amaterasu that much. Speaking of Amaterasu, it was originally perceived as a benevolent figure that reset the timeline to prevent certain calamity... until we realize exactly what that "calamity" really is. The Origin, the entity that inhabits the Amaterasu unit, originally wanted to be saved from her fate as the "god" of the world, but the "hero" of her story either got lost, swore off his fate, or got destroyed, and Amaterasu rewrote the story from scratch every single time this happened... and only when this happened, regardless of all other calamity that befell the world, usually caused in some capacity by Terumi's handiwork. The "hero" in question is none other than Ragna the Bloodedge in every instance. In other words, the resident 'God' doesn't want her position and wanted to be saved from it, but can't do it herself, therefore she picked a hero and kept repeating the world's events until the hero saves her, any other suffering of another person living in that world, she wouldn't give a damn, as long as she gets saved from the position she never wanted. After all that, is it no wonder Nine and Relius Clover both couldn't possibly care less about Terumi and wish to see Amaterasu destroyed and replaced?
  • This is the opinion of the whole Transcended side in Nexus Clash. The most prominent gods on both the angelic and demonic sides would be more than willing to sacrifice humanity and free will to get an advantage in their endless war with each other. The Transcended reject their entire rhetoric of good and evil to forge their own path and try to win the war for free will itself, but often risk becoming Stupid Neutral as a result.
  • The Monster Girl Quest series has this with Goddess Ilias and the original Monster Lord Alice I, the God and Satan equivalents respectively. Ilias lies about being the creator of the entire world, claiming the monsters were her failed creations, and forbids her human worshippers from being in relationships with monsters (which would lead to the latter's extinction, since they're a One-Gender Race). When she deems humanity to be a failure, she plans to wipe them out and start over. Alice I (the actual creator of monsters) is shown to not be any better in the sequel Monster Girl Quest: Paradox. Here there's an alternate universe in which her side won against Ilias, resulting in a brutal Might Makes Right world (there's also another universe where Ilias won, resulting in a world where everyone is under her strict control).
  • Dwarf Fortress: Demons are immensely powerful beings that could tear apart entire civilizations and will if unearthed by digging too far deep in-game, and are generally just as terrible as expected. Deities, however, can be jerkasses that end up raising those very same demons upon the world to begin with. Even "angels" only use that term loosely — those are simply beings made by the deities, and can be as weird-looking and brutal as the demons themselves. It's quite telling that Armok, the Top God of the DF-verse, is called the God of Blood, and the lore is that he regularly resets entire universes purely out of boredom.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features Galeem and Dharkon, two diametrically opposed beings composed respectively of pure light and darkness, both of whose agendas amount to them being universal threats to the fighters.
  • DOOM Eternal has the Makyrs of Urdak who are actively colluding with The Legions of Hell to invade Earth, thanks to their leader, the Khan Maykr, having made a deal with Hell for the Argent Energy that the Maykrs need to stay alive and stave off Transfiguration — energy that turns out to be made from the souls of everyone who the Khan hands over to the demons. In addition, in the Ancient Gods DLCs, it's ultimately revealed that Davoth, the Overlord of Hell, was the original God, but he became obsessed with mass-producing immortality and grew unhinged to the point that the Makyrs feared his descent into madness and overthrew him, electing one among them as the new Father. Half of ancient mythology is built on a lie uplifting the current Father, while Davoth is an Omnicidal Maniac who wants to preserve demons by exterminating everything with a soul.
  • The Marathon mod Eternal (no relation, although its developers mostly seem amused by the name similarity) uses the "Law and Chaos Are Both Jerks" variant with the Stage Three Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter, who are essentially the setting's closest equivalent to gods - indeed, both are explicitly compared to gods in terms of their power. The Jjaro are so focused on their conflict with the W'rkncacnter - and especially on maintaining the integrity of a timeline that they themselves created - that they are incapable of recognising that they literally possess the power to create an entirely new dimension that completely fulfills their desires without any need to impose their agenda on everyone else. The W'rkncacnter are shown to be similar - Hathor's desire for revenge against humanity, rooted in deep-seated traumas that she has in no way addressed, are the clearest depiction that they have the same blindnesses that the Jjaro have. (Comments from the developers indicate that the W'rkncacnter are simply insane Jjaro, and that Hathor literally becomes a W'rkncacnter by the end of the game). The two are essentially depicted as personifications of Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil, and their conflict would literally end up destroying the galaxy without the player's intervention. Mission Control Durandal, in the game's final terminal, literally calls both approaches "suicidal" before suggesting that imposing one's desires on others through force is ethically objectionable, also implying that a free society requires a balance between order/law and chaos. Incidentally, earlier Jjaro society was idyllic and benevolent, and was formed primarily by cyborg descendants of humans. Also, much of this background mythology was planned to tie in with the story of Halo before Bungie changed the latter to remove its explicit connections to Marathon.
  • In the Annventure series, The Killer/Tyrannia is the local Satanic Archetype and Big Bad of the first two games who leads an army of demons and monsters in rampaging throughout the world, with the intention of overthrowing the god of the setting and seizing his power to destroy everything. Said god, the Grand Creator Yoobii, is far more Affably Evil and not nearly as bad, but is still a callous deity who abandons his creations whenever they disappoint him, and eventually tries to wipe out his universe himself out of self-loathing and insecurity.
  • In the indie FPS Scathe, heavily inspired by DOOM (2016), your boss the Divine Creator and your enemy Sacriligious, the ruler of Hell, are brothers and pretty much indistinguishable from each other except that one is blue and the other is red. Both are bloodthirsty jerkasses who speak in almost the exact same throaty Heavy Metal demon voice. The best ending to the game involves your character telling Sacriligious to go screw himself when he offers you a We Can Rule Together, then going back and killing the Divine Creator for being such an asshole.

    Web Animation 

  • In Sinfest:
  • In the now long gone webcomic, Hockey Zombie, this trope was played with. Both God and Satan weren't jerks but a couple of aging fraternity members who loved to party, drink, and played DDR until they passed out. Also God only allows the people who followed the one true religion into heaven. However he got Satan to make Hell-2. Which is where all the non-damned go when they die. Pretty much it's like Earth but with no lasting consequences and a hellish atmosphere. The titular Hockey Zombie spent his time there in a demonic strip club until he drunk Satan under the table and let him back up... As a zombie.
  • In I'm the Grim Reaper, Satan is a bored, sociopathic sadist. God hasn't been shown to be actively malicious, but it is implied that he has difficulty relating to his creations, resulting in a certain Lack of Empathy. God created the universe as an experiment to answer some question, and hasn't been performing his duties to it for years, leaving it to fall apart from the lack of maintenance.
  • In Maxwell the Demon, hell is staffed by demons who manage to be Card-Carrying Villain and Punch-Clock Villain at the same time, while heaven is a Celestial Bureaucracy that falls somewhere between Good is Not Nice and Light Is Not Good. For example, there's the time when heaven gave didn't protest about hell claiming a whole batch of recently deceased souls ("Not even the ones we claimed for having unpaid parking fines?") as part of a practical joke to have the recently killed cast of a reality show to redecorate hell in Salmon Pink.
  • The Sacred Side and the Blood Side from Space Blood invoke this trope with the Zedi being closed minded religious Zealots who think killing a certain sexuality is good, While the Knights of Len act as the heretic faith. But are Equal-Opportunity Evil. And it turns out that both sides are born of evil and created the Space Blood universe.
  • The Adventures Of God: Jesus Was Way Cool, but God mostly just made the world for laughs and is an alcoholic. Satan is awful too.
  • Though Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has no consistent explanation of what God and the devil are like, God is frequently portrayed as clueless or sadistic, whereas the devil does pretty standard devil stuff, although he might come across as a Punch-Clock Villain. One strip has the devil burying fake fossils and God coming over to say that He's trolling the humans much better with quantum mechanics.
  • Hellgasm Slaughter: God created and abandoned the universe for the sole purpose of growing the perfect gullible race to enslave. Satan is in fact Lilith, and contrary to the literary canon, she ate Adam and Eve so she could create demonkind from their corpses and (very violently) usurp God.
    • After 11 chapters of watching the sickest shit Hell and Humanity can inflict on everything they can get their greasy palms on, Chapter 12 opens with Heaven violently torturing the virtuous. It's enough to make devils gape in shock.
  • It Hurts!!: God and Satan are both massive jerks, what with Satan jerking Pasqualo around every chance he gets and God sending Pasqualo on a Snipe Hunt over something Pasqualo did in a past life but that's not saying much when everyone in the universe is a jerk except the forces of nature more powerful than God, Harmony and Chaos. They've also had their heart of gold moments, such as Satan lending Pasqualo his clothes and God giving Pasqualo a pep talk before the Snipe Hunt. It's also implied God and Satan are actually lovers.

    Web Original 
  • In The Salvation War the story begins with Yahweh telling humans to just lay low and die and give up their souls to be tortured in hell because the gates of heaven have been barred for centuries. Mankind takes it as well as you would expect.
  • Vinesauce Tomodachi Life features versions of both Jesus and Satan on the island (which is far from the weirdest thing to happen there), and they zig-zag this trope. Satan is naturally demonic and deep-voiced, and has expressed interest in deleting the island, but also has plenty of friends, dresses in stupid outfits, and lives in a fluffy, bright apartment, so he's Affably Evil in the end. Meanwhile, Jesus is considered way cool by the islanders and Vinny himself, and is known for spreading forgiveness around, but he has an ego problem that has made him cause more havoc than Satan thanks to helping to split the timeline by resetting the game twice, with the second time being a clearly deliberate attempt to remove evidence of Satan showing forgiveness. The tipping factor is that they both have allied with Isaac, an islander who's on the extreme chaotic end of Order Versus Chaos at best, and the most threatening thing on Vineland at worst.

    Western Animation 
  • TRON: Uprising: Clu (the "devil" of the setting) is indeed evil, with a lengthy track record of genocide, torture, murder, and tyranny already. However, Flynn (the "god" in this setting) isn't all that flatteringly portrayed either; enamored with the Isos to the point of neglecting the Programs, seemingly oblivious to The Grid tearing itself apart from the strain, doesn't bother to heal Dyson's horrific facial wound (which is a major factor to Dyson deciding to throw his lot in with Clu), and unlike what he stated in TRON: Legacy, there is absolutely no evidence he did anything to help the Programs after the coup. At best, Satan is a Jerk and God Is Inept.