Follow TV Tropes


Good Angel, Bad Angel

Go To

"Don't listen to that guy. He's trying to lead you down the path of righteousness. I'm gonna lead you down the path that rocks!"
Kronk's Shoulder Devil, The Emperor's New Groove

When someone wrestles with a temptation, two miniature versions of the character’s self, an Angel and a Devil, sit on each shoulder and try to pull the character in different directions. The Devil will invariably be on the left (the conflicted character's left, or "sinister") shoulder. Alternatively, as in Full House ("The Devil Made Me Do It"), the Angel and the Devil may manifest as life-sized people on either side of the conflicted character rather than as miniatures on the character's shoulders.

Expect a female character's Devil to dress all Stripperiffic, to invoke Evil Is Sexy, Hot as Hell, and Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains. Thanks to how common this trope is, it's generally given some kind of parodic twist. If a character is particularly bad, it's common is to give that character two Devils (and vice versa for particularly good characters). Another is for the Devil to kill, injure or incapacitate the Angel, leaving only the devil as counsel (or vice versa). Occasionally, the two may end up agreeing, usually in the form of the Angel giving in to a violent choice, particularly if it's well deserved. Sometimes the Devil for a male character mentions that the angel wears a "dress." ("It's a robe.") It is far less common for the angel to tell the Devil to Please Put Some Clothes On. As the conversation among the three progresses, it may drift away from anything to do with good or evil and resemble a Seinfeldian Conversation involving Metaphorgotten or Sidetracked by the Analogy. That being said, it is Played for Drama occasionally. In this case, the trope is still likely to be played with, since it's very hard to write shoulder advisors seriously; the Good Angel and Bad Angels are likely two separate characters, a well-meaning friend and a Token Evil Teammate respectively trying to sway the protagonist to their side and arguing over the best action. If still part of the protagonist's mind, the Good Angel and Bad Angel are likely hallucinations or encountered in a Journey to the Center of the Mind, and usually something far more abstract than an angelic and devilish version of the character.

The technical, if somewhat dated, term for this is the Psychomachia ("Battle of the Soul"); in its original version, this implied a full-scale war between all of an individual's personified virtues (such as Humility, Chastity, Patience, etc.) against his personified vices (Pride, Lust, Anger, etc.).

To put in more or less psychological terms, what we have is a kind of Freudian Trio, with the Devil as the Id, the Angel as the Superego and the person whose shoulders they stand on as the Ego.

Compare Floating Advice Reminder and Ghost in the Machine. When an external character takes it upon oneself to play the Bad Angel, that character is The Corrupter. When an external character takes it upon oneself to play the Good Angel, that character is The Conscience. Consider Right Way/Wrong Way Pair.

Has nothing to do with Angel/Angelus from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel nor the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • In one of Apple's ads, Mac loans PC his iPhoto book, and PC's good/bad angels appear to argue over whether to rip it in half.
  • One anti-marijuana PSA had a kid with his pothead friends appearing on one shoulder, and authority figures on the other. More of each kept popping up, until both shoulders were loaded.
  • In an old Wendy's commercial, CEO Dave Thomas is caught between a Dave in a white suit and tie, and one in a red suit and dark glasses. They weren't full miniature figures, just head-and-shoulders floating nearby. In a twist, both were morally good but only differed in their food preferences. "Devil" Dave wins but nobody's concerned because "devil" Dave just wanted him to try a burger with spicy cheese.
  • In one Dunkin' Donuts commercial, Fred the Baker is about to get up early to start his day, grumbling "Time to make the donuts..." like he always does. Then a devil version of himself appears, urging him to and sleep in for a change. But an angel appears reminding him of his responsibility to the customers. After arguing, the angel wins, and Fred says, "All right, I'm up already!" getting out of bed.
  • This Subway ad from 1998 has a man ordered by his shoulder devil to eat at Burger King, the shoulder angel giving the argument that Burger King's sandwiches are not as healthy as the ones at Subway's.
  • One of the Bart Simpson Butterfinger commercials has Bart's shoulder angel and shoulder devil argue over whether Bart should share his Butterfinger BB's or eat them all himself. The shoulder devil wins.
  • One of the "Not going anywhere for a while?" ads for Snickers subverted this by having a cartoon Republican elephant and Democratic donkey appear over a (live-action) voter's head in the voting booth and argue about who the man should vote for. Their arguments are parodies of the presidential candidates of that year (George W. Bush and Al Gore); the elephant repeatedly compares himself to his father, while the donkey makes grand claims about inventing things.
  • Played with in one of the Philadelphia cream cheese ads, in that the protagonist herself is actually an angel and therefore has only a devil appear on her shoulder.
  • An ad for Tru Moo chocolate milk had a mom deciding whether or not to buy said milk for her son. A mini-angel milkman appears on her shoulder showcasing the nutritional benefits of the product. Then a mini-devil milkman appears on her shoulder, drinking his mini-gallon of chocolate milk, agreeing with the former.

    Asian Animation 
  • 4 Angies: In episode 8, a shoulder devil and angel appear to convince Kalamare to cheat on a test by copying from Nina's work, and to do the opposite, respectively. Eventually Kalamare gets so fed up with the shoulder devil as she and the shoulder angel give her conflicting advice throughout the episode that she grabs her and throws her out of the way, onto the branch of a tree.
  • Banzi's Secret Diary: In episode 31, Banzi has a crisis relating to spending her allowance on a new backpack on sale, as she had promised herself not to spend more than 45 cents a day so as not to spend all her money at once. An angel appears to her right, telling her that she should save her money; a devil appears to her left, proposing she purchase it anyway since "smart consumers always buy at bargain prices". She purchases the bag and is promptly shocked the next day at school to find she only has a single coin on her.
  • Crazy Candies: In the first episode, during the race, Marshyo sees a candy struggling to make it out of a chocolate lake. A devil version of him appears and tells him not to save her, since she'll have a higher chance of winning if he does. Then an angel version of him appears and tells him to save the candy since she's a friend of his. The devil and angel butt heads with their differing choices for a few seconds before Marshyo decides to save the candy.
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 3 episode 18, Smart S. tries to withdraw money from an ATM machine to buy a super-alloy screw. A shoulder angel and devil resembling him appear, with the devil trying to persuade him to withdraw the money and the angel trying to persuade him not to since he can only withdraw money several times and this is his only remaining chance to do so. This being the very vain Smart S., the devil reminding him that he won't be able to buy his special shampoo without the money and enamoring the angel with the thought of this shampoo is enough to make him withdraw the money anyway.
  • Motu Patlu: In "Motu Banega Don", Motu is thinking of ways to become a Don like John, and a devil resembling him appears and gives him the idea to rob Furfuri Nagar's bank. An angel resembling Patlu then appears and objects to the Motu devil's idea, but Motu tries to rob the bank anyway. Later in the same episode, the Motu devil and the Patlu angel reappear when Motu is given the idea to smuggle gold that is being shipped nearby.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In episode 361, Paddi gives the bib he wears around his neck to Jodie. Later, a shoulder angel and devil appear when he is eating donuts and remembers that he gave the bib to Jodie, so now he doesn't have anything to use as a napkin; the shoulder angel tries to get Paddi to forget about the bib while the shoulder devil tries to get him to steal it back from Jodie. Paddi goes with the latter option, much to the surprise of the shoulder angel.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has the card Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence, a tiny Devil Advisor who tries to convince her planeswalker controller (the player) to deal damage to themselves, growing stronger in the process. She is naturally affiliated with red mana, the color of impulse and blind aggression, and plenty of cards in that color are more than happy to oblige.

  • A variation comes up in a Ron White comedy bit where he cheats on his wife with a woman he meets in Ohio after not having sex in three months. As it turns out, the shoulder devil isn't necessary.
    Ron: And you know that little guy that sits on your shoulder and reminds you of your prior commitments and your moral fortitude? I didn't hear a peep out of that guy. He hadn't been laid in three months either. He was speechless for twenty minutes; then he was like, "Suck her titties!" "I was gonna!" I'm having a three-way with my conscience. As soon as the whole thing's over, he's back at his post. "That was WRONG, mister!" "Hey, twenty minutes ago, you were beatin' off on my shoulder, Monkey Boy."
    • This gets illustrated in Ron White's book I Had the Right to Remain Silent...But I Didn't Have the Ability with Devil!Ron egging him on while Angel!Ron conspicuously does nothing.

    Comic Books 
  • In Tank Girl, Satan offers the eponymous heroine beer in exchange for a powerful artifact: God's Housecoat. Her shoulder angel argues that the Devil is a rotten bastard, while her shoulder devil tells her to take the beer. She takes the beer, but uses God's Housecoat to cause its next wearer to put all of his energy into charitable causes. When we next see the Devil, he is participating in a televised run for charity to raise money for a children's hospital.
  • In Finder, an A.I.'s angel and devil are represented by a one and a zero.
  • The Simpsons:
    • A comic features Bart suffering from a moral dilemma, complete with good and bad angels; the good angel knocks out the bad angel by throwing its halo like Captain America's shield, at which point Bart remarks, "It figures that my conscience would suffer from mood swings."
    • One of the earlier comics has Bart visited by good and bad angels, until he tells the good angel to get lost, and flicks it away.
  • Tintin has these appear to Snowy and Haddock on different occasions (most often prompted by the presence of whiskey).
  • Guy Gardner in "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League" had a Good Angel and a Bad Angel appear at one point when he was facing an unconscious Power Girl (which is to say, facing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to cop a feel).
    Bad Angel: Go on. You know you want to.
    Good Angel: ...
    Bad Angel: Well? Aren't you going to say anything?
    Good Angel: I don't have to say anything. Guy would never do that. He's a hero, after all.
    Bad Angel: Anti-Hero.
    Good Angel: Close enough.
    Guy: I hate it when that guy's right...
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac takes this to a strange place, as there are three major voices talking to him, that comprise about half the supporting cast. These are Psychodoughboy, voice of depression and self-destruction, Mr. Fuck, voice of violence and destruction, and Nail Bunny, voice of reason (or something approximating it). This seems more a metaphor for horrible, horrible, manic depression as much as anything else, although it just keeps getting weirder. And then there's Reverend Meat, voice of emotion, whom Johnny and Nailbunny are opposed to.
  • The National Lampoon did a number of comic-book stories based on Doug Kenney's high school/college life. One of them is the basis for the Animal House reference in Film- his shoulder angel probably doesn't help his case by calling Doug by his nickname "Four-Eyes".
  • In Deadpool's Team-Up with Machine Man, Deadpool experiences this with the angel being represented by his current partner (Machine Man) and the devil is being represented by the Puppet Master, who they were currently fighting. True to his character (as well as Machine Man's partially) Deadpool pictured the angel as a drunk spouting off boring robot logic which quickly devolved to binary code speak.
  • The DC Thomson strip "Jimmy Jinx (And What He Thinks)" (originally in Buzz, then The Topper, then The Dandy). His angels were called Goodie and Baddie, and appeared in red-outlined thought bubbles.
  • Dori Seda had them in her autobiographical comic. With the devil wearing a leather corset and stockings.
  • Michael Turner's Shrugged depicts a world where these angels and devils actually exist and come to Earth from a world called Perspecta to guide and advise people.
  • A Bec & Kawl strip from 2000 AD subverted this with a Pagan avatar showing up to present a third option when Beccy is finally given the chance to rule the world.
  • One PS238 storyline involved "cherubs" and "imps", representing Order and Chaos rather than Good and Evil, influencing people's behaviour, and resembling the Good Angel, Bad Angel to those who could see them.
  • Minnie The Minx from The Beano in one issue had a shoulder devil pop up, with a caption reading "Here's Min's bad side", with the devil encouraging Minnie to commit mischief, and then a shoulder angel pop up with a caption reading "Here's Min's good side". However, in the next frame the angel also encouraged Minnie to commit mischief, with a caption reading "Oh, forgot. Min doesn't have a good side!"
  • The Powerpuff Girls story "Amoeba Prime" (issue #49) had the Amoeba Boys congealed into a monster amoeba invading an amusement park. Blossom is disguised as a ride barker with Bubbles as an angel (what else?) and Buttercup as a devil trying to sway the Amoeba(s) from riding the rides.
  • Hitman (1993) had a clever instance in the 15th issue where a drunken Tiegel tried to initiate sex with Tommy and Tommy's Good and Bad angel said the exact same words, but in a different tone that even comes across in print. His good side using guilt-inducing sarcasm and his bad side is encouragingly sincere:
    Good Tommy: Go ahead. Do it. That's exactly what I'd expect from you, taking advantage of a drunk woman in her moment of weakness. I bet your conscience won't trouble you for a second.
    Bad Tommy: Yeah! Go ahead. Do it. That's exactly what I'd expect from you, taking advantage of a drunk woman in her moment of weakness. I bet your conscience won't trouble you for a second.
  • In Noob, Gaea is shown to have an ignored/mistreated good angel.
  • During Knightquest Jean-Paul Valley had them in the form of Saint Dumas and his father, the previous Azrael. Unfortunately, this was due to his Heroic Safe Mode kicking into overdrive with no sign of the off button anywhere.
  • Giant Days: Dark Esther's good and bad angels show up for a page in issue 14 of the ongoing series. Unusually for the trope, they're Esther's own size. Being Esther's good and bad angels, they're a couple of rather fetching, slightly snarky goths.
  • In "Capt. Sprocket Meets His Greatest Foe Dr. Neutron" in Mad House Comics Digest #5 an angel and devil show up when Captain Sprocket considers running out on a fight which much better superheroes than him are losing.
  • The third issue of the black-and-white 64-page run of Howard the Duck had an Angel Howard and a Devil Howard argue over whether Howard should save Christmas or ignore the danger and look out for himself.
  • In Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel, a pair of these show up. The devil is a hetero girl with a skirt.
  • Trouble (Marvel Comics) sees a version of this with with what was, until the backlash forced it into Canon Discontinuity, a teenaged version of Peter Parker's future Aunt, May dealing with this when she finds out she's pregnant and is considering an abortion.note 
  • In Chlorophylle, Minimum's good angel appears sometimes. Anthracite's too... but obviously he's not in good form.
  • The backup story for issue 52 of the Futurama comic book has Zapp Brannigan being told by Angel Zapp that he must tell the truth of how the soldier he's praised for saving the life of got into a coma, while Devil Zapp insists that Zapp should stick to his lie that he selflessly rescued the injured soldier from danger. In the end, Zapp covers everything up by lying that the soldier was the one who risked his own life to rescue Zapp, which disappoints Angel Zapp but impresses Devil Zapp.
  • In an issue of Harley Quinn (Vol 4), Harley's friend Kevin is debating with himself whether to rescue minor villain Lockwood from a fire or leave him to die. His shoulder angel and devil are both sexy versions of Harley. Who then end up ignoring him and having a Cat Fight.
  • Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 has a retired Bruce Wayne (who hung up the cowl out of shame for resorting to killing the Joker after the villain's discovery of the Batcave caused Alfred to have a fatal heart attack) ponder on whether he should get out of retirement or stay retired, with a vision of Alfred informing Bruce that he shouldn't keep punishing himself for what happened and a vision of the Joker taunting that Bruce lost all credibility when he took his life.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield:
    • The August 18, 1996 strip had Garfield debating whether to eat a donut. He is confronted by a shoulder angel and shoulder devil in the shape of donuts (respectively marked by a halo and a devil tail), the angel donut telling him not to eat the donut and the devil donut telling him to go right ahead. In the end, Garfield eats all three donuts.
    • The Garfield book A Garfield Guide to Safe Downloading: Downloading Disaster! (from the Garfield's Guide to Digital Citizenship series) has Nermal laying in bed with a laptop, too sick to go to the movies. He contemplates that he can't go out to the movies with the guys and will have to wait till next weekend when everyone has already seen the film, a zombie cats movie. "Or... you could go online right now and download the movie," encourages a shoulder devil Odie, but a grandmotherly shoulder angel cat tells him "Oh no! Downloading a film before it's officially released sounds like stealing!"
  • In a Pearls Before Swine Sunday strip, we see all four main characters (Rat, Pig, Goat and Zebra) go through this...except Rat, who has two shoulder devils.
    Devil!Pig: Why do you put up with that stupid rat?? He plays you for a sucker! Stand up for yourself!!!
    Angel!Pig: No, Pig, you must love Rat. He is your friend, and he cares about you.

    Devil!Zebra: Why do you care so much about the other zebras?...You need to look out for Number One!!
    Angel!Zebra: No, no....You must love your fellow Zebras...they depend on you for their existence.

    Devil!Goat: Why do you even talk to the others? They're're much too smart for them.
    Angel!Goat: No, Goat, you must share your gift of knowledge and help the others learn.

    Devil!Rat: Punch the pig.
    Devil!Rat: Punch the pig.
    • Another Sunday strip has Zebra talking with one of the crocodiles, and explaining that he'd never be able to go through with eating Zebra because his conscience wouldn't let him. When the croc asks, "What is dis conshuss?" his Good Angel appears... and the croc pops it in his mouth and eats it.
    • The dailies also show tiny angels and devils fighting for Rat's soul. The angels give up without a fight.
    • Comes up in another Sunday strip, and again featuring Rat. The devil is a fiery Lady in Red, and the some fat guy in his undies.
  • In one Tina's Groove strip, Tina is confronted by what she assumes are her shoulder angel and devil, representing her conscience and temptation. They inform her that they're actually the team that warns her of embarrassing dandruff, and are there to recommend a good shampoo.
  • In an episode of Arlo And Janis, Arlo is visited by two copies of himself, both identical. One tells him he should be more ambitious, out to change the world. The other says that the world needs more honest, contented, hardworking family men and he's doing fine as he is. He asks, "Shouldn't one of you have a halo and the other horns?" They both shrug blankly.
  • Zippy the Pinhead has The Kool-Aid Man and Speedy the Alka-Seltzer Mascot. Because.
  • This was spoofed in this Dogs of C-Kennel strip, where Will sees that the kennel handler's wallet is exposed. Will's bad side appears, telling Will to do it, before Will lampshades about there not being a good angel, before his good side appears afterwards... and steals the handler's wallet then disappears, to then Will's bad side remarks, "Wow... you're one evil soul."
  • In Drabble, when Ralph has to decide how to solve a problem on the spur of the moment, he's consulted by "Smart Ralph" (who tells him to do what makes sense) and "Dumb Ralph" (who tells him to do the wrong thing). Unfortunately, he usually listens to Dumb Ralph and gets in trouble or gets hurt (or both). One time he had to decide whether or not to tell his wife about her annoying habit, and "Dumb Ralph" actually agreed with "Smart Ralph" and told him not to. Unfortunately, a "Dumber Ralph" appeared and told him otherwise, and in the last panel, he was sleeping on the sofa.
  • Once in German comic Rudi, they're fighting whether he should take up smoking again or not. (His buddy Freddy started it again, we see, because his five or so shoulder devils mashed up his shoulder angel.)
  • In Safe Havens, in her youth Samantha was so nice that she had two angels and no devil. One of them eventually turned into a devil as Samantha grew up and became more aware of moral ambiguity and the duality of man.
  • Scary Gary: The Evil Conscience "- that usually sits on your shoulder." visits Gary at one point, except he is life-sized and dressed up in a suit and tie because he figured it would be more convincing, and wants to expand his business model. When Gary asks where the angel is, the Evil Conscience claims he didn’t share his vision, so he just ate him.
  • In one Retail strip, Marla is considering taking a sick day just because it's too nice to be indoors. Her good angel says that would be wrong, and her bad angel points out other employees do it all the time. Then her good angel says someone else would have to do her work, and that wouldn't be fair. The bad angel points out it would be Stuart, and the good angel concedes.
  • In the February 24th 2020 strip of Luann Tiffany's roommate Stef asks her if she want to come to the union with her, but Tiffany tells her she's behind on her college work, she then asks her Angel and Devil consciences what she should do, her angel conscience tells her to ignore Stef while her devil conscience who has a megaphone tells her to go with her.
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn: In this comic, a devil unicorn tries to convince Phoebe to secretly take a cookie, while an angel unicorn tells her not too. Then Marigold shows up and orders both to leave, revealing they're her cousins who love to mess with human children by sowing moral confusion.

    Films - Animation 
  • The Emperor's New Groove features two amusing sequences where Kronk, Yzma's loveable-lug henchman, has to deal with the bickering of his Shoulder Angel and Shoulder Devil.
    • The first sequence shows that Kronk's angels are just as dumb as he is when determining how to get rid of Kuzco: instead of refuting Shoulder Angel's arguments, Shoulder Devil makes snide comments about the Angel's wardrobe, and then says "look what I can do!" while doing a one-handed headstand. He decides to cast them away before making his own choice.
      Kronk: But what does that have to do with anyth-
      Shoulder Angel: No, no, he's got a point.
    • And the second one has Kronk having to explain to his angel self what's going on because Angel!Kronk was busy having his hair done. As they converse, as so often is done to imply an internal monologue, Kronk's shown speaking aloud and apparently to himself, utterly bewildering the other characters. The angel never gets to offer any advice, as Yzma launches into her "The Reason You Suck" Speech, climaxing with her insulting his cooking, prompting Kronk's Devil into a Heel–Face Turn, because Even Evil Has Standards:
      Shoulder Devil: That's it. (pumps his pitchfork like a shotgun) She's going down.
    • In the series, all characters had little versions of themselves on their shoulders and even they have their quirks. For example, Guaca has his shoulder devil arguing that Kuzco rules...and his shoulder angel unhesitatingly agrees. And Malina is a Nice Girl because her shoulder angel tied up the shoulder devil. Thus, she has only angelic advice.
    • Kronk's New Groove: As this film focuses on Kronk this time around, of course his Shoulder Angel and Devil make a return, this time advising him as he tries to impress his Papi. Tipo also gets his own set of Angel and Devil as he contemplates cheating to win a cheer competition.
  • In Disney's version of Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket is hired by the "Blue Fairy" to act as Pinocchio's conscience. Note that "Jiminy Cricket" has the same initials as "Jesus Christ". This was intentional, as at the time, it was the acceptable replacement term. Pinocchio's own stupidity... er, naivete... meant he didn't need a devil. In the original book, he killed the (originally unnamed) cricket with a hammer, and its ghost came back to haunt/annoy him.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • Discussed in Crimson Tide, when Ramsey and Hunter argue over whether to launch, Ramsey insists they have valid clear orders and that they aren’t open to interpretation or little devils or angels on your shoulder.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End gives Jack Sparrow two smaller Jacks that appear to come out of his hair. Instead of the traditional good and evil, the dilemma is between rum and immortality without rum, at least until they point out to him that having rum once every ten years for eternity is still more rum than having it every day of a normal lifetime. He also has less traditional hallucinations that are his size and identical to him, as well as one that is part of Davy Jones' ship.

    Hilariously spoofed in a Russian fandub. Two mini-Jacks introduce themselves as Jack's conscience and egoism. Then they start giving him advice:
    1st mini-Jack: I say we waste the lot of them and beat it!
    Jack: Whoa! And what does the conscience have to say to that?
    1st mini-Jack: You dimwit, I am the conscience.
    2nd mini-Jack (egoism): I don't even want to think of what I actually thought!
  • Guardian Angels: Antoine Carco (Gérard Depardieu) has a good angel (also played by Depardieu) who always suggests him to do good actions for his redemption. Father Hervé Tarain (Christian Clavier) has... a bad angel (also played by Clavier) who always tempts him to sin/do nasty things.
  • In National Lampoon's Animal House, Pinto brings Clorette up to Hoover's room, where they have a make out session. After Clorette strips down to her panties, she passes out drunk on Hoover's bed, whereupon Good Pinto (dressed as an angel) and Bad Pinto (dressed as a devil) appear on Pinto's shoulders and fight over whether Pinto is going to take advantage of the situation. (He doesn't.)
    Good Pinto: I'm proud of you, Lawrence.
    Bad Pinto: You homo.
  • Bachelor Party has a scene that plays with this trope, although there is no shoulder angel/devil. Rick is tempted to sleep with his smoking hot ex, whose face morphs into that of various other characters encouraging him to screw her/stay true to his fiancée.
  • This is the main drive of plot in Cabin in the Sky. When Little Joe is near death, his pious wife Petunia prays for another chance, alerting the attention of both heaven AND hell. The angels and demons then interact with the human characters from Petunia and Joe to The Vamp Georgia Brown, influencing their decisions without the humans actually knowing why their thoughts are being swayed.
  • Tinkered with in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Jay is visited by a shoulder devil at first, then is visited by a second devil, who explains they ambushed the shoulder angel on their way over. Once they deliver their tirade, they disappear. Then said angel appears, robes messed up, a few strings on his harp broken, and complete with delirium-induced singing. As the angel leaves, he notes he's going to pay back the two sucker-punching devils. Jay's angel isn't completely pure, though — his parting words are "Don't pull your dick out 'till she asks, or until she's sleeping," accompanied by the same rock music as the devils.
  • Played for laughs in My Name is Bruce. Bruce gets these when thinking about returning to Gold Lick.
  • The Muppets: Animal's Good Angel and Bad Angel succinctly debate whether or not he should play the drums again (with Bad Angel for — it's connected to his taking Anger Management classes) during the big number during the Muppet Telethon:
    Bad Animal: DRUMS!
    Good Animal: NO DRUMS!
  • The Voices has a cat and a dog filling these roles. No prizes for guessing which one is the "good angel" and which one is the "bad angel."
  • Shows up in Out Of This World, a short 1950s instructional film for bread salesmen and delivery drivers. There's the flamboyant devil, Red, who watches the books for all the salesmen who are bad at their job, and the attractive female angel, Whitey, who watches over the good salesmen. In a plot oddly reminiscent of Job, Whitey brags about how one salesman, Bill Dudley, has just turned his career around and been transferred to her books, so Red makes a bet with her that Bill will slide right back into his old ways if he's tempted. Bizarrely enough, the terms of the bet are that Whitey, the good angel, should be the one to tempt Bill into being lazy and not taking his job seriously; Red never directly interacts with Bill, and only shows up to get on Whitey's case for not tempting him hard enough.
  • Pitch (2009): The demon presses Gene to act on his dark desire for revenge, while the angel tries to convince him otherwise.

  • Discworld
    • Although it doesn't actually appear in the form of an angel, Rincewind has an argument with his conscience in Sourcery.
    • Carcer, the villain of Night Watch Discworld is described as having a devil on each shoulder, working together and egging him on.
    • The Omnian priest The Quite Reverend Mightily-Praiseworthy-Are-They-Who-Exalteth-Om Oats has two voices in his head which he thinks of as the Good Oats and the Bad Oats. That is: one of them thinks of itself as the Good Oats who encourages living properly and devotion to Om and the other as the Bad Oats who gives him impious and improper thoughts; but the other one thinks it's the Good Oats who encourages being sensible and thinking logically, and the other one's the Bad Oats that just wants blind obedience to the church. In the end, he's able to get them to work together at last.
    • The witch Agnes/Perdita Nitt has the same issue, although in this case it's between the kind, clear-headed Agnes and the sassy, dare-devil Perdita.
  • In Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens, the demon Crowley and the angel Azaraphale, detailed by Heaven and Hell respectively to remain in the human world since the expulsion from Eden and, er, guide its steps, could fairly be described as the Angel and the Devil standing on opposite shoulders of the whole human race. This does not work out as their superiors intend: most of the time they informally agree to cancel each other out, spare thenselves the effort, and let Humanity find its own middle way. But just sometimes...
  • Referenced in John D. Fitzgerald's Great Brain series: the Great Brain's father comments that he must be deaf in the right ear, since that's the one the good angel is supposed to whisper into.
  • Plato:
    • Phaedrus describes the psyche as composed of a Power Trio: a light horse, proud, noble, and good-intentioned; a dark horse, crippled and malevolent; and the charioteer who must keep rein on both. All Psychology Is Freudian, but Freud is, apparently, a copycat.
    • Plato tells us that he said to have a personal daemon (who was basically a Jimminy Cricket figure). Plato is one of the first recorded instances of people using daemon/daimon to mean something personal and guiding. Earlier it had been used to mean the same thing as deity and only much later was demon exclusively evil. Post-Alexander The Great they started to come up with "Good Demon, Bad Demon".
  • Deconstructed in The Screwtape Letters, where the title character is writing instructional letters to Wormwood, who is a literal version of the shoulder devil. The Tempters are highly organized, with a training college, middle management, and harsh punishments for devils who fail to corrupt their "patients." At one point, Screwtape orders Wormwood to subvert this trope by impersonating the good angel and arguing with the other angel over who actually is the one giving good advice.
  • Another C. S. Lewis book and a rare deadly-serious example is Perelandra. The protagonist, Dr. Ransom, (reluctantly) acts as the "good angel" for the Lady of Perelandra (a next-generation Eve) while she is tempted to disobedience by a/the devil (the "bad angel") possessing the body of Ransom's former colleague.
  • Referenced in Paper Towns when Q is blackmailing a classmate into paying for the bikes his friends wrecked.
    "I understand that you do not control Chuck and Jasper. But you see, I am in a similar situation. I do not control the little devil sitting on my left shoulder. The devil is saying, 'PRINT THE PICTURE PRINT THE PICTURE TAPE IT UP ALL OVER SCHOOL DO IT DO IT DO IT.' And then on my right shoulder there is a little tiny white angel. And the angel is saying, 'Man, I sure as shit hope all those freshmen get their money bright and early on Monday morning.' So do I, little angel. So do I."
  • In Andrei Belyanin's My Wife Is a Witch duology, the main character, a poet, finds out that his Hot Librarian wife is actually descended from a long line of witches. When she disappears into the magical realms because of him, he goes to find her. Once he is exposed to magic, though, he begins to see two figures, both looking like him: an angel in a white robe and with wings and halo named Ancipher and a red, horned (possibly Jewish) demon named Pharmason. Unlike the other cases, these two are real, although no one else can see or hear them. They become the poet's companions (and friends) as he travels through the magical realms looking for his wife and, in the sequel, for her cousin. As can be expected, the angel and demon constantly engage in arguments, usually started by the demon. Ironically, it's the angel who turns these into fist fights. While it may seem that the demon is there only to lead the poet down the wrong path, it's really just his job, and he's actually not a bad guy. In fact, he argues with the poet that if he only had an angel, he'd be married to a nice, proper Christian woman (not a witch), go to church every week, and only have sex for procreation. The demon provides a healthy counterbalance. They can appear either as tiny people on his shoulders or human-sized versions. The second book reveals that Heaven is operated by a Celestial Bureaucracy. Hell then decides to adopt this system, forcing Pharmason to fill out and submit multiple reports in triplicate every day.
  • In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when Jim is telling Huck's dad's fortune, he says that there are two angels at his side: a good, white one at his right shoulder, and an evil, black one at his left.
  • Played with in The Infernal Devices having Jem and Will be Tessa's angels. It doesn't hurt that they're both part angel.
  • This appears in William Shakespeare's Sonnet 144 and is interesting in that his Devil seduces the Angel. While it's not literally presented as them being on his shoulder, and the Angel and Devil represent the Young Man and the Dark Lady, respectively, it is carried out in much the same way as a classical Psychomachia.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Kaladin has a Good Angel in the form of Syl, a windspren who constantly pushes him to help others and do the right thing. His Bad Angel is something he calls "the Wretch," a part of him that is concerned with nothing but pure survival. It doesn't push him to explicit evil, but simple and pragmatic selfishness. This is still evil enough, though, because he and the slaves around him are in a very dangerous situation, and if he doesn't help them they will die.
  • William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell revolves around this trope with several of the poems as philosophical discussion between angels and demons.

  • Brockhampton: In the music video for "JUNKY", Joba gets a shoulder angel and devil, reflected by the house behind him being half on fire on the side of the devil.
  • The famous Eminem and Dr. Dre collaboration "Guilty Conscience" has Dre and Eminem portraying Good and Bad Angels, respectively, for various people caught in moral dilemmas. Dre wins the first argument, it's unclear who wins the second, and in the third (whether or not a man should murder his cheating wife and her lover when he catches them in the act), Eminem successfully points out that Dr. Dre has his own history of violence (referring to the Dee Barnes incident) and has no business telling people not to be violent. Dre agrees and they end the song by urging the man together to commit the murders.
    • In short, Dr. Dre... is not the world's best Good Angel.
  • Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" features the protagonist's soul caught in a tug-of-war situation:
    I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me,
    He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
    Spare him his life from this monstrosity!
    Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
    Bismillah! (No!) We will not let you go! (Let him go!)
    Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
    Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)
    Will not let you go (Let me go!)
    Will not let you go (Let me go!) Oh, oh, oh
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
  • The video for P!nk's song "Stupid Girls" has a little girl debating between following her expected gender role, and going outside to play football. P!nk plays both a devil and an angel on the girl's shoulders to represent each of these.
  • Liz Phair's self-directed video for "Whip-Smart" features an angel and a devil seemingly perched in trees above her as she explores a bizarre, blacklit dreamscape. They're played by two friends and colleagues of Phair's — respectively, Jim Ellison of Material Issue and Blackie Onassis of Urge Overkill.
  • Santana's song "Put Your Lights On" (sung, and actually written, by Everlast on Santana's Supernatural album) has the lyrics:
    There's a monster living under my bed, whispering in my ear
    There's an angel, with her hand on my head, she say I got nothing to fear
  • OneRepublic's song "Love runs out", the singer mentions having "an angel on my shoulder and Mephistopheles".
  • Schaffer The Darklord has a track on Manslaughterer titled "The Other Devil", a twisted version of this trope which mixes with Crosses the Line Twice by having STD and a squeaky-voiced puppet version of himself play the role of two devils, on either side of Popeye, with one attempting to coax him into amoral actions, and the other pushing him to do something even worse.
  • Nickelback's song "Animals", makes reference to this.
  • Avantasia's entire Wicked Trilogy is essentially one big Good Angel Bad Angel story.
  • Invoked in "Geraldine" by Glasvegas, when the eponymous social worker says "I'll be the angel on your shoulder".
  • Stefanie Heinzmann's song "Devil On My Shoulder" also references this as a metaphor:
    Time to make room for the devil on my shoulder
    Tell my better angels to move the fuck over
  • The second verse of "Jein" by German rap group Fettes Brot is about how the narrator and his best friend's girlfriend are horny for each other. The devil on his right shoulder tells him to go for it because she wants it, too. The angel on his left shoulder warns him that the devil wants to trick him, that this would be shitty behavior, and that liars stink. The two promptly start arguing which doesn't make the decision any easier for the narrator.
  • Beau Young Prince's "Let Go" from the soundtrack ''Spiderman Into The Spiderverse" includes the line "Got a devil on my left and a angel on my right."

    Myths & Religion 
  • This trope originates with Greek mythology, wherein each mortal has a pair of spirits, which are aspects of themselves, and represent good and evil and actually sit on the character's shoulders. The angel/devil interpretation, however, according to The Other Wiki, originated with Islam in the form of kiraman katibin (literally, "honorable recorders"-their job is to write down a person's good and evil thoughts and deeds).
  • The myth of Hercules at the crossroads is a pre-Christian version of the scenario in which the hero makes a choice between Anthropomorphic Personifications of vice and virtue.
  • The earliest mention of the concept in Christian Literature is in the 1st or 2nd century apocrypha "The Shepherd of Hermas". A whole chapter discusses "the two angels that accompany the man : the Angel of Justice and the Angel of Sin".
  • Judaism has the concept of yetzer (ha)tov, or "good inclination," and yetzer (ha)ra, or "evil inclination."
  • An anecdote often attributed (falsely) to Native American legend says everyone has a good wolf and an evil wolf battling in his or her heart. The winner will be the wolf that the person feeds.
  • Biblically, the Book of Job has God and Satan standing, at least metaphorically, on each side of the mortal Job as Satan tries to get Job to renounce God by removing everything he cherishes in life.


    Puppet Shows 
  • Used in an episode of Muppets Tonight, with Seymour and Pepe pretending to be Jason Alexander's good and bad conscience in order to convince him to do an act with Gonzo. And some other episodes.
  • The concept appeared in Sesame Street.
  • Spitting Image: Neil Kinnock has Michael Foot as his angel and Jim Callaghan as his devil while he wrestles over whether or not to reappear on The Tube. He compromises by saying that he can't as he is rehearsing for Last of the Summer Wine, which pleases them both.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One supplement for the Mystara setting included creatures called "blue imps" and "red imps", respectively resembling tiny angels or devils, which would covertly approach and pester young apprentice wizards, trying to persuade them to study either good or evil magics. Although such imps had an existence of their own, independent of the people they tried to influence, this trope clearly inspired the concept.

  • This trope is supposed to date back to the early morality plays just before the development of theatre and Renaissance drama. Each morality play would have a Guardian Angel / Good Angel and a Guardian Devil / Bad Angel speak to the everyman main character.
  • The Broadway musical Avenue Q features the characters being tempted by the Bad Idea Bears, a pair of Care Bear-like puppets that lean over their shoulders and suggest, well, bad ideas. It's like Good Angel Bad Angel, except that both angels are Bad Angels.
  • In Aristophanes' The Clouds the roles of Good and Bad Angel are played by a personified Right and Wrong arguments, who try to persuade the protagonist's son Pheidippides either to avoid or to enter into Socrates's sophistical "Thinkery," making this trope palaioteros apo to chôma..
  • Mentioned directly in William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice. Comic relief character Launcelot Gobbo soliloquises about continuing to work with Shylock, and refers to his conscience on one shoulder, and the fiend on the other.
  • Sigh No More, a 1945 musical revue by Noël Coward, featured a number called "Willy" where the title character is advised by two entire singing and dancing choruses of good angels and bad angels.
    Willy: With all these bloody angels in the house, a chap can't get a moment's peace!
  • Used in the 16th century play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe actually calls the characters Good Angel and Bad Angel in the script.

    Video Games 
  • In AdventureQuest Worlds, a thinly-veiled parody of Good Angel Bad Angel is represented by the "invisible" twins called Xing and Xang. Xing dresses like a complete Emo Teen and Xang dresses like a stereotypical angel. Their job is to "guide" the heroes, but they don't listen to advice in the cutscene — at least until Evil Overlord Drakath switches Xang with her Chaotic Evil twin in the Mirror Realm.
  • In Afterlife (1996), an Angel and Devil appear on screen to give the player advice and to taunt each other. As with all religious elements in the game, it's parodied; the Angel is The Ditz, and the Devil is erudite and appears to be dressed in a business suit. However, both give good advice.
  • Astra Superstars: Invoked in that two sub-boss characters are named "My Devil" and "My Angel" who represent each character's darker and better qualities respectively. To quote the other wiki: "Depending on what is said, the player can encounter the Devil (based on bad judgment of character) or the Angel (based on good judgement of character) to fight before the final boss, though the Angel requires the player to judge their opponent well and not have any hiccups, or else the Devil will inevitably show up, should just one choice be bad."
  • Batman: The Telltale Series. From "The Enemy Within".
    Joker: It didn't feel great, you know? Stealing from her. Like it was a little Harley with a halo on this shoulder telling me not to do it, and then a bat on the other whispering, "Just get it, John." Or did you have the halo and Harley the horns?
  • The god game Black & White also has a Good and Evil Conscience (an old wise man and a wisecracking devil) to give the player advice and color commentary.
  • Catherine uses this method to display the hero Vincent's mental morality as the game progresses, and whether he chooses Catherine or Katherine by the end of the game. At certain points in the game, we hear Vincent's thoughts on the current situation, and they change by having either an angelic cherub or a demonic cherub egg him into their way. Unlike most cases, they don't represent good/evil, but rather order/chaos.
  • Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course has the Nightmare optional boss, which invokes this trope. It takes the form of an angel and a demon above the shoulders of what appears to be a huge skeleton statue of the Devil himself, with the Angel having tiny horns and a friendly-looking demeanor and the Demon looking even more demonic than the Devil himself.
  • The turn-based RPG iOS game Devil's Attorney, which centers around an attorney with little respect to the law or reality, at one point shows a tiny version of the hero in a devil costume floating over his left shoulder. When he looks to his right, a second, identical devil appears.
  • Angela Napoli in Fabulous series has little floating emojis pop up as a Running Gag. For example, in Fabulous: Angela's Sweet Revenge, the yellow one with a halo would say that a marriage should be built on trust, while the red one with horns would sing a bar of "Suspicious Minds". As of Wedding Disaster, they are now represented as miniature versions of Angela herself.
  • Soriz of Granblue Fantasy comically has them for being a Dirty Old Man. They pop up during his SSR training, the good one urging him to continue his training to find his own philosophy, and the bad one trying to make him give up and go back to fooling around. They eventually start arguing so loudly that Soriz ends up beating the crap out of them, giving him the final push he needed.
  • inFAMOUS 2 has the characters Kuo and Nix, who aren't angels, but a pair of Conduits who represent the good and evil sides in the game respectively, each encouraging Cole towards their way throughout the game, and even calling him out on going for the other side. Tellingly, Kuo has ice powers while Nix controls fire and oil. The subversion? The climax has them switch roles.
  • In League of Legends, Tristana's Little Demon skin changes her recall animation to one where she has Little Devil Teemo as her devil whispering into her ear and a similar-looking Teemo in a halo and white robe as her angel. She grabs the latter, throws him into the air, catches him in her cannon, and shoots him offscreen in a spray of feathers.
  • In The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm's Revenge, the titular Villain Protagonist has both an evil conscience named Gunther and a good one named Stewart. The latter is crushed under a rock during Malcolm's childhood as part of his Start of Darkness but returns in-game. Malcolm then asks the player to choose which one to stick with or to choose both since Malcolm himself doesn't care about morality, just wanting to Clear His Name so that he can finally go home and take a nap.
  • Living Books: In Arthur's Computer Adventure, Arthur wants to play the Deep Dark Sea computer game on Jane's computer, but Jane had told him not to touch her computer until after she gets back from the office. On Page 3, if you click on Arthur, his shoulder devil tells him to play while Jane is away, as there's no way she can know, and he wants to be able to find The Thing (a giant treasure chest) so he can win a lot of money. Arthur's shoulder angel then advises Arthur not to listen to his shoulder devil and to listen to Jane instead. Later, on Page 7, after Arthur accidentally breaks Jane's computer, if you click on Arthur, his shoulder angel tells Arthur that he should have listened to Jane. His shoulder devil then tells him to blame his accident on D.W. or Pal. Arthur then tells his shoulder devil that he's not going to listen to him again, since he got him into his mess.
  • In Mass Effect, there are several instances when Commander Shepard must resolve a situation by choosing between a clearly good Paragon option or a clearly evil, or at least ruthlessly utilitarian, Renegade option. In some of these cases, Shepard's two squadmates will offer their opinions on which option Shepard should choose with one squadmate supporting the Paragon option and the other supporting the Renegade option. There is even a hierarchy in 1 to determine which character will support a given course - Kaidan will always support the Paragon option; Liara will support the Paragon option unless your other teammate is Kaidan; Tali will support the Paragon option unless your other teammate is either of the above; and so on down the line, until you get to Wrex, the most Renegade option available.
  • Randal's Monday: Randal gets one of these scenes at Mel's Pawn Shop on the first Monday. The good one is Matt, and the bad one is Marconi. When Matt understands that Marconi will impale him if Randal doesn't sell the ring, he quickly tells Randal to do it.
  • The Secret World begins with an encounter with these: after first being chosen by one of Gaia's Bees, you have a dream about meeting two members of the Host - one a Grigori, the other a Nephilim: the Grigori wants you to choose for yourself and avoid being corrupted by the voices that whisper in your sleep, while the Nephilim wants you to "make the right choices" and follow the will of the voices. They crop up again in the finale after you decide on what to Dreaming Prison.
  • A brief scene in the second Simon the Sorcerer game features this trope. Simon being Simon opts to side with the bad angel.
  • At the end of The Spectrum Retreat, Cooper and the manager take the roles of the two angels, urging you to either leave the simulation, or wipe your memories and remain. It's up to you to judge which is the good and which is the bad, though.
  • The Suffering used a variation of this trope. When Torque is faced with a moral decision at some points, his wife Carmen acts as the shoulder angel and Torque's evil side acts as the shoulder devil. The sequel has Carmen act as the shoulder angel and Blackmore act as the shoulder devil. In both games, they do not actually appear at Torque's side at these points, but their voices can be heard.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Pyro has these with two small Pyro dolls dressed as an angel and devil as a Misc. Item: The Cremator's Conscience; they are in a chest pocket. Description: "'Burn him with fire!' 'No, burn him with fire, then hit him with an axe!'"
  • In World of Warcraft, there are two toys you can loot in Bastion and Revendreth that respectfully summon a val'kyr and a sinstone who will serve as your angel and devil, commenting on your actions and trying to encourage you to do good or bad.

    Web Animation 
  • In The Annoying Orange episode "Cruel as a Cucumber," Orange wants to get Cucumber to like him. Angel Orange and Devil Orange both pop up to give him advice, but both of them just suggest ways to annoy Cucumber. Angel Orange's suggestions are nicer, though.
  • AstroLOLogy:
    • In the short "To Do or Not to Do", while at the store, Libra has both halves of Gemini serving as his angel and devil when he seems to be contemplating taking money from the register while Sagittarius is sleeping at the counter. His devil wins out, but it turns out Libra really just wanted to take a nearby marker and draw on Sagittarius' face in her sleep.
    • "Naughty or Nice" does a variant: as the show is a Mime and Music-Only Cartoon where the only speech is indistinct, Taurus, working as a Mall Santa, asks Capricorn and Gemini if they've been nice or naughty by conjuring angel and devil versions of them and having them pick one.
  • In Chargesdotcomdotbr, there's one story with Corrupt Politician Paulo Maluf receiving visits from these angels. When Maluf stated there was no Money of his in any tax havens, a good angel showed up and told him not to lie. Then a bad angel showed up to point out he's telling the truth. The money he keeps in Cayman Islands isn't his; it's the people's. Then Maluf claims that, if anything on his name is found, he promised to donate everything to Saint House. Upon the good angel's doubts, the bad one claimed he meant the house where Maluf lives with his saint family. Maluf also claimed the accusations are a consequence of the Brazilian Presidential elections of that time because he led the run. The bad angel said it's just someone summon him for an official statement and he runs off to Paris. The good angel quit after that.
  • A series of short flash cartoons, entitled Dog, Buddha, Elvis uses the three title figures to represent a man's psyche.
  • Played with in episode 4 of Helluva Boss when the demonic I.M.P. crew are hired to kill a Mad Scientist who's already been Driven to Suicide, and spend the episode trying to convince him to go through with it while a group of cherubs try to talk him out of it.
  • When hololive English Vtubers Ceres Fauna and Ouro Kronii collaborated for an ASMR stream, the end result was something like this, with them whispering competing advice into the listener's earphones, something they noted. Who was the "good" and who was the "bad" angel depended on which was funniest at the moment.
    Fauna: Everything will be okay. You can do it, I believe in you. It's never too late to learn.
    Kronii: That's called toxic positivity.
    (both laugh)
    Fauna: It's not bad to have an optimistic outlook on life.
    Kronii: Wake up.
    Fauna: Go to sleep.
    Kronii: You know what? Stay asleep-
    Fauna: Wake up.
    Kronii: Stay blind.
    Fauna: Wake up, wake up.
  • The Homestar Runner cartoon "The Baloneyman" uses Strong Bad's good and bad angels together as a (neutral) personification of his brain, which he tries to "fool" into feeling refreshed by rubbing a baloney sandwich shaped like a popsicle on his head:
    Devil Strong Bad: You see this guy? Rubbin' a sammich on his head?
    Angel Strong Bad: I know, I know... just let it go. You gotta pick your battles.
    • It's probably worth mentioning that Angel Strong Bad is noticeably shorter than Devil Strong Bad.
  • In the If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device short featuring Sly Marbo, tiny demonic and angelic versions of Sly appear when he's confronted with a Sadistic Choice. Their advice? "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"
  • In the Napster Bad short "Metallica Millionaire", James Hetfield has just one of these, a devil in the shape of Lars Ulrich.
  • In the Pucca short "The Usual Ching", when Ching is corrupted by the evil in Doga's sock that was mistakenly put in her laundry, she manifests a devil and an angel, the former of which promptly disintegrates the latter with a blast from her pitchfork.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The AIs play with this trope — there's (usually) only one of them to an individual, but they appear floating over the person's shoulder and exist to help and give advice. If you have a good one, great — you don't have to worry about its evil counterpart undermining its efforts. Unfortunately, that same lack of symmetry means that if you get stuck with an evil one, you're pretty much hosed.
    • Season 10 gives us an instance of "Bad Angel, Worse Angel" when Gamma and Sigma team up to dupe Carolina into choosing to have two AI implanted into her.
  • In the Robotzi episode "Sugstanță'', Mo gets both an angel Mo and a devil Mo when he plans to drink the toxic substances prepared by F.O.C.A. However, their personalities are almost the same. Angel Mo at first says they seem very toxic, while Devil Mo wants Mo to drink them and the angel agrees.
  • Parodied in the machinima series The Strangerhood, where Griggs' Good Angel and Bad Angel get into a fistfight, then the other characters' Good Angels show up and throw a party.

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, Jade gives Ayla a literal pair of them as a prank... and thereby inspires other students to come up with their own more or less successful versions in turn. The whole thing escalates until the headmistress ends up banning them.
  • Kawaii RanChan on livejournal has an odd habit of adding in her own twist on what she calls her shoulder angels assigned to her by a division of angels in Heaven called Angels Inc., which is a company that assigns guardian angels to people in need. The angels themselves always take the form of characters she likes, OOC or not, that way to actually get her response. It is hinted in a few entries from her good angel that "we're less guardian angels, more invisible friends" — which is all just her own satire about herself. Doesn't make her less crazy.
  • Subverted on the "Give In" episode of LoadingReadyRun, when the main character is trying to decide if he should shoot someone, and he goes ahead and shoots the guy before his good angel has a chance to give his point of view. The good angel is quite annoyed by this.
  • SF Debris gives Janeway these. Befitting his interpretation of her as an insane tyrant, no angel appears. Instead she has a devil, whose advice she dismisses as "religious crap"; an atom, who can only offer suggestions about the behavior of atoms like combining to form a molecule or splitting to release energy; a cowboy, who is terrified and just wants to get out of there (i.e. away from Janeway); and a spider, who always recommends eating people. Initially she goes with shoulder cowboy and decides to leave, and later listens to the devil, who she mistakes for the cowboy because he's now wearing a cowboy hat.
    • In a later episode she decides to obey the spider, because it's now wearing the cowboy hat. No other advisers appear, suggesting the spider ate them all.
  • CollegeHumor:
    • One skit has a two-minute video where a guy named Chris prepares to masturbate after his roommate leaves. He begins to take off his shorts when his shoulder devil encourages him to jack off naked. When he starts taking his shirt off, his shoulder angel encourages him to keep his pants on in case his roommate returns earlier than anticipated. The conversation goes on until they hear a car pull up. The shoulder angel begs Chris to wait until later, but the shoulder devil gives a heart-warming speech about how there's not going to be a later. Chris and the angel strip naked. And then the roommate walks in.
    • Parodied in this sketch, where the devil, the angel, and several other characters are trying to convince an Unlucky Everydude to put his tax refund or paycheck towards something else instead of his student loans, and to just default on those. Although they all have different reasons.
  • When Valerie walks out on Roy midway through Journey of the Cartoon Man, angel and devil versions of Roy appear to debate whether or not he should go after her.
  • This article.
    "When it comes to talking about Microsoft Access, it seems that two tiny versions of me *poof* into existence, each sitting on a shoulder. The guy on my right wears a suit and always reminds me how great of a tool Access is because it empowers small organizations to develop productivity and information systems. The other guy, sporting a "l337 h4x0r" tee and cut-off jeans, screams in my ear that "Access is a complete abomination" and that the tools to create applications should not be put in the hands of laymen."
  • During Team Four Star's Nuzlocke playthrough of Pokémon SoulSilver, they decide that their character Tantor's pokemon serve this role, with Hux the Houndoom playing the devil and Mr. Stake the Meganium serving as the angel. Unfortunately, Hux's advice involves beating people up and banging their moms, while Mr. Stake has brain damage and can only say "MUHR-STAYK!!"
  • One variant originating on The Internet has Kermit the Frog of The Muppets fame in the role of either the human or angel (depending on the individual meme), facing a sinister hooded Kermit in the role of the devil.
  • A Reaction Shot Image Macro for Squick has a character representing the viewer looking at their computer with a horrified expression. Panel 2 shows their good side/superego, also with a horrified expression. Panel 3 shows their bad side/id equally horrified as the other two. Later versions have panel 4 showing the FBI and NSA agents monitoring the webfeed with the exact same expression.
  • Neopets: In the Advent Calendar comic for Dec 13, 2022, Celandra overhears about what she thinks is a surprise present for Fyora. As she contemplates whether to tell Fyora, tiny angel and devil versions of herself appear next to her head.

Alternative Title(s): Shoulder Angels, Shoulder Demons, Shoulder Angel Shoulder Devil, Shoulder Angel, Shoulder Devil


Good Excel & Bad Excel

Excel struggles whether to carry out her assassination mission as both sides of her inner conscious fight to make her do what they want.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoodAngelBadAngel

Media sources: