Follow TV Tropes


Maou the Demon King

Go To
Ruler of monsters, bringer of nightmares.
"My name is Zoma. I rule the dark world. So long as I live, this world too shall be smothered in darkness."
Zoma, Dragon Quest III

The Demon King / Demon Lord is a Stock Japanese Character popular in Standard Japanese Fantasy Settings, where they are usually referred to as the "Maou" (魔王 — literally "Demonic/Sorcerous King" in Japanese) or "Daimaou" (大魔王 — "Great Maou", often translated as "Demon Emperor").note  The Demon King rules over the "mazoku" (demons/devils, 魔族 - "zoku" meaning people or tribes) and/or "majuu" (demonic/evil beasts, 魔獣 — "juu" meaning beast), and potentially various other supernatural creatures such as The Undead, Vampires, Werewolves and Youkai, often ruling over the realm of "Makai" (魔界, "devil realm" or "evil spirit realm", often translated as "Hell" or "Netherworld") that, unlike the Biblical Hell, does not necessarily have to be an afterlife. Often a Demon King's mere existence spreads some kind of negative influence or miasma which makes wild monsters more powerful and aggressive, or causes them to appear in greater numbers (e.g. by corrupting normal animals into majuu); this conveniently means that killing the Demon King causes most of the threats to the world to collapse. Unfortunately, this tends to be extremely difficult without a dedicated Villain-Beating Artifact.

A Demon King is at least nominally in direct opposition to The Hero, who is usually a Chosen One literally referred to as "the Hero" / "Yuusha" (勇者 — literally "Brave Person" in Japanese), and these stories will generally end with the two fighting to the death in the throne room of Demon King Castle. This opposition may not even have an explanation other than "it's the Hero's job to fight the Demon King," though to be fair most people realistically wouldn't need an excuse to oppose the sort of person we've been describing thus far.

Demon Kings are usually portrayed as recurring characters in-story, so that their position doesn't usually stay vacant for very long. In some cases, after a Demon King's defeat, a new figure will sooner or later rise to fill their vacant throne, claiming their title and cosmic position. In others, the Demon King will simply reincarnate, being periodically reborn or resurrected to assail the world and threaten a new generation of heroes. Other works take middle routes, such as by having a new villain take the place of a reincarnating predecessor if they're somehow killed Deader than Dead or a metaphysical "mantle" that passes from individual to individual when its holder is killed.

While the character was originally played straight as an archetypical villain, it quickly reached the dead horse phase, and more often that not, he's either an Anti-Villain who is just misunderstood, a Designated Villain who isn't even evil or shown doing anything particularly bad, or an outright Hero. In fact, it's very common for the plot to invoke the fact that he's just a Designated Villain up against a Designated Hero, and for the story to actually be about the two fighting their destinies. Other Stock Parodies include a Demon King who goes through dozens of "true forms" in a single fight, or similarly an endless line of The Man Behind the Man (e.g. the Demon Lord was just a pawn of the previously-unseen Demon King, who in turn serves the Demon Emperor, who is a mere shade of the Demon God, etc.).

Demon Kings are prone to having a beautiful daughter who needs protecting. Other times, the Demon King blows the hero's mind by actually being a woman - heroic and sympathetic portrayals are especially likely when this is the case. Romances between Heroes and Demon Kings are also quite common, as it turns out.

As with many JRPG tropes, the first three Dragon Quest games are the Trope Codifiers for this character type, with most instances drawing heavily from the Dragonlord (he of "Join me, Hero, and I will give you half the world!" fame (he's lying)), and/or his ancient predecessor Zoma. The parodic version, meanwhile, was likely popularized by Maoyu. The actual term "Maou" is quite old however, probably originating as a title of Mara, and later being extended to similar figures like Satan.

Compare Demon Lords and Archdevils, Monster Lord, Satanic Archetype and Sorcerous Overlord. Contrast Eternal Hero. A subtrope of Evil Overlord, and often served by an Elite Four. While Demon King Nobunaga can overlap, that's for a general Historical Villain Upgrade for Oda Nobunaga, it doesn't mean he's literally demonic.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Akazukin Chacha: The villain is literally named Daimao (though the subs refer to him as the "Great Devil Lord") and is a Big Red Devil who seeks to kill the titular girl.
  • Datte Maou-sama wa Kare ga Kirai: There are two families in present modern day, one destined to be heroes, the other Demon Kings. A Hero and Demon King are born from their respective families each generation and have the ability to attract followers. In the story, the new Demon King wants nothing to do with the family tradition and peacefully runs a shop. When the Hero (who is a lot more villainous than him, as it turns out) appears to 'defeat' him, things, er... get sexy.
  • Chainsaw Man: The Control Devil, the Big Bad of Part 1, is one of these in an Urban Fantasy setting. She is none other than Makima, the series' morally shady deuteragonist and Denji's love interest. The Chainsaw Man universe is full of powerful devils, and Makima, as one of the Four Horsemen, sits near the very top of their hierarchy. Only beaten out in power by a select few such as the Primal Fears and the original Chainsaw Man, Makima uses her powers to commandeer many of the previous Devils, Fiends and hybrids faced by Denji and his friends, corrupting any being she sees as inferior and bending them to her will. Unlike most female examples of this trope, she does not turn out to be an Anti-Villain, but rather a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose ultimate goal is to either remove humanity's greatest fears from the world or be consumed by Chainsaw Man herself if she fails in doing so.
  • Dog Days: Played with with Valerio Calvados. The title of demon king is merely something that others gave to him due to his study of demons, a title he embraced in order to keep complaint nobles on their toes (and because it was fun). In reality, he's the former crown prince of Pastillage and the hero king that supposedly defeated him is actually one of his comrades (and is implied to be his wife).
  • A less violent example of this is the main character of the manga Don't cry, Maou-chan, who spends a lot more time being treated like a hug me toy by the eastern, and later the new southern heroes than as the personification of all evil.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Big Bad of the fifth and sixth arcs of the original Dragon Ball are the Great Demon King Piccolo and his son/reincarnation Piccolo Jr. They are a Literal Split Personality of God and represent his rejected evil side, to the point where they were classed as demons (specifically "Mazoku" or "Demon Clansmen"). Notably, Dragon Ball Z fleshed out Piccolo Jr. as a character, establishing him (much like Goku) as a member of an alien race (the Namekians) and having him join the good guys, to the point that he became much more well-known as such. Although Piccolo's alien heritage doesn't retcon his demonic origin in any way, since his demonic traits are completely separate from his Namekian traits (Demon King Piccolo is a "demon" in much the same way as how Kami-sama is a "god" in that they each earned such titles).
    • Played Straight with Dabura, king of the Demon Realm who became The Dragon to the evil wizard Babidi during the Buu Saga.
  • Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai has two: Hadlar, the brutal Maou who was defeated by a human Hero 15 years ago, and Vearn, a Daimaou who resurrected Hadlar even stronger than before to serve as the commander of his army (in the process causing Hadlar's since-reformed minions to be tragically brainwashed back into evil). Normally such threats to the world would be handled by an Eternal Hero Ultimate Lifeform known as the Dragon Knight, but he was busy fighting an evil dragon during Hadlar's reign of terror, and has lost so much faith in humanity by the time of Vearn's appearance that he actually joins him as another general. Interestingly, Hadlar has a slow Villainous Breakdown as he realizes that he's little more than Vearn's zombie puppet, and Can't Catch Up with the heroes or even the other generals he's supposed to outrank, which eventually leads him to discard his past ambitions and become a more noble person.
  • EDENS ZERO: The title of "Demon King" gets twisted around quite a bit, as it belongs to the captain of the titular ship, with the first holder of the title being Ziggy — a kindly old robot who performed as the villainous Demon King at a theme park—before it gets passed down to his adoptive grandson, Shiki. After several Lampshade Hangings that the title sounds like it belongs to an archetypal villain, it's clarified that it actually refers to the King of Magimech (魔械 Makai, a portmanteau of the words for "magic" and "machine"), who shares his Ether with machines. However, Ziggy winds up pulling a Double Subversion when he mysteriously comes back to life as a human-hating Evil Overlord. While the circumstances of his revival are a mystery even to himself, it turns out it's not Came Back Wrong because the kindly robot Shiki and the Four Shining Stars knew was actually him under a century of Identity Amnesia, and he really was an evil Galactic Conqueror before that. With his revival came the return of all his memories, and he decides he'd rather go back to his old ways.
  • Invoked and parodied in Fairy Tail near the end of the Edolas Arc: Natsu decides to take the blame for the disappearance of magic from Edolas and make Mystogan (the actual cause) look like the hero by pretending to be the "Demon King Dragneel" (Dragnell Maoh in the original) and terrorizing the people with his fire breath. He's then "defeated" by the hero and sent back to Earthland, making the people hail Mystogan like a savior. Although it would turn out that Natsu really is a "Demon King" of sorts, being the amnesiac E.N.D. created by Zeref and who the dark guild Tartaros falsely believe to be their master due to Mard Geer Tartaros holding his sealed Tome of Eldritch Lore.
  • Theres A Demon Lord In The Floor is a workplace comedy about a demon queen (Amon Patricia) and one of her minions (Nonko) who escaped from her world, only to end up freeloading under a restaurant.
  • Hero Union BBS: The vast majority of worlds the players are stuck in have a demon lord as final boss, with variations on this archetype including having to defeat a hundred of them before finally revealing the real one, falling in love with the hero, the demon lord's son joining the party, etc.
  • Koro-Sensei Quest! is an Elseworld spin-off of Assassination Classroom in which Koro-Sensei is a Demon King in a Japanese-style RPG Mechanics 'Verse and his class are Wizarding School pupils. Koro-Sensei used to be The Hero of the world, only to be bored of the position and take on the role of Demon King thanks to the advice of his career adviser Aguri Yukimura. When that job got boring, he became a teacher to prepare the bugged Class E to kill him in the future.
  • My Hero Academia: All For One in his youth loved reading manga about this kind of character, but was always annoyed at how the heroes would triumph in the end. After he got his Quirk, he saw the opportunity to become that very "invincible Demon King" and show the world how it would really go down, becoming an Ascended Fanboy of the darkest variety as he reveled in the power and life of a "real" Evil Overlord.
  • The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World: Idola mentions that the demon lord of long past was sealed away by a hero from another world. Rosie wields the sword that did the sealing, contributing to his credentials as a hero.
  • Ronin Warriors: While he only lacks the overt title of Demon King, Arago (Talpa in English) is the emperor of the Youja, an evil extradimensional empire who plans to take over the world of humans with his armies of armored demons and spectral warlocks. He's a Tin Tyrant, is served by scores of evil minions and had a Yuusha opponent in Kaosu, a warrior monk from a special clan who once put an end to his rampage during the Sengoku period and crafted the nine Armors used by the titular characters meant to fight his evilness. By the time the story takes place, five of the Warriors are the heroes meant to stop him, while four of the armors fell under his control.
  • 33 Eyes ha Kaiyanwang, the lord of the Triclops, revered as the Demon King by the rest of the people of Darkness (monsters, demons, youkais you name it) who offer sacrifices to him in hope of receiving rewards. Rather than just ruling the world like his technical predecessor Benares (now his Dragon) did, he has longer term plans for the world at large, namely, collecting the primordial light from the entire humanity, merge with it and start a new journey across the cosmo in search for a new place to inhabit.
  • The overall plot of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is kickstarted when Demon King Twilight personally kidnaps Princess Aurora Sya Lis Goodreste of the Unified Human Nation of Goodreste (while she was sleeping) in order to start a battle with the human race, so naturally Dawner the Hero rises to the challenge and to rescue his fiance Syalis... which Twilight takes in stride as he actively seeks to battle the Hero in his Demon Castle and even tries to leave items to him in order to help him arrive early. Moreso, though, Syalis proves to be a much tougher hostage than expected as she regularly gets out of her cell in order to seek materials for a better bed or to sleep better, which unfortunately for the demons, implies the Princess slaughtering several of them and driving the Demon King and his elite officers insane. Some story arcs touch the conflict between Mankind and Demonkind in a different, less conventional way than the usual RPG, though, usually through the perspectives of Twilight, Syalis, and Dawner.
  • Superior is about the demon lord name Sheila who decides to masquerade as a weak demon and follows the Hero because she's bored. She plans on killing him eventually, but finds it increasingly difficult because she's falling in love with him.
  • Uchi No Maou Kamimasen Yo is a comedy about a world where people have "magical pets" that occasionally do battle, but not in any way that's taken seriously. The main character has a "Demon King", and his arch nemesis is a pet that is "The Hero" (and a girl). Although they fight instinctively, the Demon King really just wants her to like him.
  • Tales of Wedding Rings has the Abyss King, the demonic overlord of the dark realm of Vanna and the master of the Abyssal beasts that have plagued the world since time immemorial. His goal, so far as anyone can tell, is to destroy the world by plunging it into the all-consuming darkness of the Abyss. Only the Ring King, armed with the full power of the titular wedding rings, can hope to stop him.

  • The Beginning After the End: As a western take on the Isekai genre, the Big Bad Agrona Vritra is a near-textbook example. He is the leader of the Vritra Clan, a faction of Asuras that was exiled from Epheotus after he uncovered the fact that the leaders of the Asuras, the Indrath Clan, committed genocide upon the ancient Djinn. While he and his clan are referred to as basilisks rather than demons, they nonetheless resemble demons given how they have pitch-black skin and horns (which contain their magical power) and are referred to as demons by some characters who are not aware of their true nature. After being cast out, he and his clan established rule over the distant continent of Alacrya, and have interbred with and experimented on its inhabitants for so long that having Vritra blood is deeply integrated into the Alacryan social hierarchy. Unlike other examples, he and his clan are essentially Evilutionary Biologists, having studied and furthered their insight into the workings of mana long before their fall from grace, and a telltale sign of his corruptive influence is the presence of the same horns of power that all Vritra have. Furthermore, not only is he directly responsible for instigating the main conflict of the story, but it is later revealed that he is responsible for Arthur's reincarnation in the first place. In his quest to control the power of an entity known as the Legacy, he needed two anchor points to manifest her power, those being Arthur's past self Grey and his former childhood friend Nico.
  • Demon Lord, Retry!:
    • Hakuto Kunai was the Demon Lord of the world of Infinity Game, with several minions at his beck and call as well as extremely potent skills and abilities. When Akira is summoned into his avatar, several people start calling him a Demon Lord (much to his dismay) and this causes most people to suspect his character and intentions. Akira himself decides to roleplay a bit of Kunai's true personality while remaining true to his own personal goals and morals.
    • There is also a Demon King, who interrupted the botched summoning that brought Kunai into this world. He was the first enemy killed by Kunai. The Satanists are still working at a different method of summoning a new Demon King, in order to destabilize or destroy the Holy Kingdom.
  • The Devil is a Part-Timer!: Satan was the king of demons in Enta Isla before being defeated by Emilia the Hero, forcing him to flee. Now he attempts to reclaim his throne by working his way up the wage slave ladder at MgRonalds, going by the name of Maou. Unlike most examples, he wasn't born into a position of power, but rather started off as a lowly grunt.
  • The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious: The setting contains multiple worlds in need of salvation, with each one under attack by a different Demon Lord, making the title a lot less unique than in other works. Additionally, the Demon Lords worship their own evil god, who grants them power if they successfully conquer a world.
  • The Hero Who Returned Remains the Strongest in the Modern World: Daiki fought one such demon lord as part of his adventures as the hero, striking him down at the beginning of the prologue. Considering he was a Physical God that far surpassed anything else in the world except for perhaps the goddess who summoned Daiki, everything in Daiki's world is a cakewalk compared to fighting the demon lord.
  • High School DD: The four leaders of the Underworld, where the Biblical Devils live, go by this title (though it's generally translated as "Satan" in English). The original four, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Leviathan, and Asmodeus, died long ago in a three-way war between the Devils, Fallen Angels, and Angels led by God who also died.
  • Journey to the West: Most of Sun Wukong's opponents are called Dawang (Great Kings) or Mowang (Demon Kings), being evil demon lords ruling over hordes of minions, possessing magical weapons or skills and residing in far away, hostile caverns in the wilderness, all generally hostile to the hero or wanting to eat his protege Tripitaka.
  • KonoSuba: The Big Bad is the unseen Demon King who Kazuma and his friends are working to defeat. It will probably be played as straight as everything else in the series.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh! has Ordinary High-School Student Shibuya Yuri, after being literally flushed to another world, crowned as the Demon King of their realm. His latent water-based powers are first harnessed when he calls out on his fiancee Wolfram (whom Yuri unknowingly got engaged due to slapping him per the Great Demon Kingdom custom) for almost killing a maid in their duel. As the series progresses, Yuri has to deal with his powers, the day-to-day matters of his kingdom and his subjects, most likely his equally handsome courtiers, and the impending wars of its neighbors such as Big Cimmaron.
  • Maoyu revolves around the Demon King (who is a woman and got elected to the position after undergoing various trials) and The Hero, who make a pact together to bring peace to the land and stop the fighting between humans and demons. It's also one of the more prominent subversions of the Maoh concept. The female Demon King is benevolent, intelligent and ultimately the most heroic character in the series. Yuusha (The Hero) might be invincible in battle, but it is Maoh's brains that hold the promise of a lasting peace.
  • So I'm a Spider, So What?: There are two "Demon King" skills in the System.
    • The generic Demon King skill, which can evolve into Great Demon King, can be earned by any evil ruler. It grants various perks, such as preventing an enemy from fleeing beyond a certain distance or using Space Magic.
    • The special Demon King skill can only be carried by a single individual at any given time and grants them authority to command the demon race, opposed by the current bearer of the unique "Hero" skill. The Skills are purposefully weighted against the Demon King. Individuals who lose to the Hero are more likely to become Demon King and if the Demon King is more powerful than the Hero, the Hero skill will buff its bearer with MA energy to make for an even match.
      • The unique skills did not originally exist, but when the first human-demon war started a "Hero" and "Demon King" naturally arose on either side. D thought it was amusing so made it a permanent feature.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime:
    • The "Demon Lords" are technically a mix of this and Demon Lords and Archdevils. "Demon Lord" itself is technically just a title given to any monster of sufficiently great strength, but there's a big difference between "self-proclaimed" Demon Lords and "True" Demon Lords. The former can be held by any bigshot monster who wants to claim the title, but the latter are those who have actually awakened their Demon Lord Seeds and acknowledged by the Voice of the World as such, which requires first acquiring the demonic power to manifest a Seed and then consuming a certain amount of human souls to nuture it. The latter are much more powerful and tend to newbie-crush any self-proclaimed ones who can't back up their bark with their bite (or can't receive approval from two existing acknowledged Demon Lords). At the start of the story, there are ten acknowledged Demon Lords with kingdoms of varying strength around the world, but several of them fall into the former category. In fact, most of the world underestimates the true strength of the True Demon Lords since only the lesser self-proclaimed ones have been making noticeable waves while the others prefer to watch and gather power behind the scenes. Eventually, they become the Eight-Star (Octogram) Demon Lords when their numbers fall to eight.
    • First, there are the 1st Generation Demon Lords. These three were the first Demon Lords who obtained the title and hit upon the idea of an organization. They are Guy Crimson, Milim Nava, and Ramiris. In fact, their ascensions all happened very close to one another: Guy awakened first, then Milim shortly afterwards during her world-destroying rampage and the two fought each other for over a week to a draw (and "just" wrecking part of the main continent) before Ramiris arrived and absorbed energy from both of them to calm Milim down, which cost her the title of Spirit Queen. This technically makes Ramiris the oldest "non-awakened" Demon Lord.
    • Then comes the 2nd Generation Demon Lords. They ascended after the True Demon Lords became an organization during the many ancient world wars that plagued the world, and while technically weaker than the first generation are still among the most powerful beings in the setting with their own kingdoms. They are Dagruel, Luminous Valentine, and Dino. Dagruel similar to Ramiris isn't actually awakened because he's a Holy-aligned being who is still so "pure" he physically cannot manifest the innate demonic power of the seed despite his sheer power making up for it, whereas someone like Dino has become "impure" enough to do so.
    • Finally there's the 3rd Generation Demon Lords, which mostly consist of the self-proclaimed Demon Lords. Their numbers both former and current include Kazaream who despite his apparent death is now working in the shadows with a new benefactor, Roy Valentine who was in fact Luminous' decoy Demon Lord to fool the 3rd Generation and most of the world, Carrion, Frey, Clayman who is in fact Kazaream's loyal subordinate put on the council to continue observing the Demon Lords' movements, Leon Cromwell who is in fact a True Hero who nominally should be opposed to Demon Lords and took his position from seemingly killing Kazaream, and Rimuru Tempest. While all are powerful, Guy noticeably considered almost none of them truly worthy as Demon Lords save for the last two due to most of them not being "True" Demon Lords. After Rimuru ascends and kills Clayman for his manipulations, Carrion and Frey step down upon admitting they aren't strong enough to stand among the True Demon Lords and become Milim's subordinates. Roy meanwhile is dismissed by Luminous after the truth of her being a True Demon Lord is blabbed, and he gets killed by Clayman's comrade Laplace shortly afterwards when he makes the mistake of mocking Clayman's death and learns firsthand Clayman was chosen as Kazaream's Demon Lord candidate for his intellect, not his strength and that Laplace is even stronger than Roy himself.
    • The series also calls attention to the "Demon Lord vs. Hero" conflict, with such pairings as Guy Crimson vs. Emperor Rudra, Luminous Valentine vs. Granville Rozzo, and Rimuru Tempest vs. Hinata Sakaguchi. Ironically, in all these cases the Demon Lord and Hero end up being more like a Friendly Enemy scenario or go from enemies to allies. It's lampshaded when Masayuki gets called on by his team that since he's considered a Hero, shouldn't he be fighting the Demon Lord Rimuru in front of him? Of course, neither of the two are interested in a fight at all for their own reasons.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: In the Japanese translation of The Lord of the Rings, the "Witch-King of Angmar" is rendered as Angmar no Maou. While not the Big Bad, he is Sauron's most dreadful lieutenant, being a wraith who dwells in his personal fortress of Minas Morgul ("The Tower of Dark Sorcery"). Unlike Sauron he is actually slain in battle over the course of the story, albeit not by The Hero Aragorn nor The Protagonist Frodo. "Dark Lords" like Sauron and Morgoth are instead translated as 冥王 (Meiou, roughly "King of the Dead"), a title associated with Hades/Pluto.
  • Wise Man's Grandchild: Shin picks up the Embarrassing Nickname of 魔王 (maou), tribute to his status as the world's greatest archmage and leader of the Ultimate Magicians (a Super Hero-esque elite squad of other archmages). The term doesn't have any established usage in this world, and was intended simply in the sense of "Magic King"... but being from Earth, Shin cringes every time he hears it, feeling like people are calling him either a villain or an edgelord. It doesn't help that Shin's primary enemies are Demons of Human Origin who became that way when their magic went berserk, stirring Shin's fears of what might happen to the world in the improbable event that he became a demon himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Youkai in Choujin Bibyun are ruled by a Great Demon King although he turns out to be a Decoy Leader for the true ruler.
  • Genseishin Justiriser has Kaiser Hades, who is the outer space equivalent of this archetype. He's a demonic alien who leads a massive army bent on conquest of the galaxy. The Sazer-X movie even refers to him as a "Space Demon King" when talking about the Justirisers. And then there's Hades's big brother, Majin ("Demon God") Daruga.
  • Henshin Ninja Arashi has the Great Demon King Satan, a hermit who resembles a classic depiction of Lucifer with blonde hair and rides around in a Flying Saucer summoning Western Youkai and other demons to attack the Iga ninjas.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Ohma Zi-O, the series' Greater-Scope Villain, is sometimes referred to as "Maoh" (particularly by his Hammy Herald Woz); and the "Ohma" part of his title was explicitly explained as a rearrangement of "Maoh".note  Even though he's a human being rather than a literal demon, the fact that he destroyed half of humanity and rules over the shattered survivors with an iron fist more than qualifies him for the title — even moreso because 50 years prior he was a completely average, kind-hearted high schooler.
  • Ninja Sentai Kakuranger features a Daimaou as the Big Bad and leader of the Youkai Army Corps. The final episode reveals that he is essentially the physical embodiment of evil, and that evil would spread throughout the world if he were killed, forcing the Kakuranger to instead seal him away. The Shout Factory DVD release renames him to the "Infernal King".

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Funnily enough, the Ur-Example of this trope is not of Japanese origins: The earliest examples of antagonistic demon kings who want to conquer reality is from Hindu Mythology, with characters like Ravana from The Ramayana epic poem, a demonic king who kidnaps Rama's wife and actually managed to conquer both the world of mortals and the gods due to his boon of invincibility, before he was slain by Rama. Similiar demonic beings, usually called Rakshasa or Asura, appear as antagonists in other various stories and myths, usually rulers of some kind and often thwarted by an incarnation of a supreme Hindu deity like Vishnu. What makes them similiar to the maou of modernity is the fact that unlike the singular and eternal Satanic Archetype, multiple of them show up and are punched out in equal measure, along with a 'destined hero' meant to defeat them.

    Video Games 
  • Brave Hero Yuusha: Demon Lord Volza is based on this kind of character, as evidenced by his Arch-Enemy being called the Yuusha. He kidnaps Princess Glynn and forces the Yuusha to go to his castle to confront him. Though in this case, he is forced to team up with the Yuusha and the princess to defeat the greater threat of The Puppeteer.
  • Castlevania:
  • Chrono Trigger: In the Medieval era, a character known as Maou is introduced as an Evil Overlord trying to summon the apocalyptic monster Lavos. However, after being defeated, the Maou (actually a human sorcerer) reveals that he has no interest in conquest, and was just using the mazoku army as pawns in his true plan to kill Lavos. When his revenge on Lavos fails, he no longer has any reason to oppose the heroes and can even be recruited to join the party (meanwhile one of his lieutenants takes up the Maou title in his place). In the initial SNES translation, his title is translated as "Magus" and his mazoku subjects as "Mystics"... except that in most instances "Magus" is used more like a personal name. The DS rerelease reconciles things by translating mazoku as "Fiend" and calling him the "The Fiendlord, Magus".
  • Devil May Cry: Mundus is the king of the Underworld and the ruler of all demonkind. After being defeated by Dante in the first game, his position remains empty until the appearance of Urizen, the Big Bad of Devil May Cry 5. In a bit of thematic irony, Urizen turns out to be the demon half of Vergil, one of the sons of Mundus's archnemesis Sparda, and brother of Dante.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The Dragonlord, the Big Bad of the original Dragon Quest I, is one of the Trope Codifiers, as most modern depictions of the Demon King heavily borrow from him. He's a humanoid sorcerer who steals the Sphere of Light to unleash monsters into the world of Alefgard and kidnaps Princess Gwaelin, and when confronted by the hero, he famously proposes him to rule the world together and split it into two (he obviously is lying, this is a sure Non Standard Game Over). Interestingly, Dragon Quest Builders shows an Alternate Timeline where the hero fell for his ruse. The Dragonlord warped the Hero into a barbarian and became unstoppable, plunging Alefgard into darkness; and he cursed humankind into forgetting how to build and craft, effectively sending them back to the stone age as a twisted act of mercy and because (according to him) by building people rebel against their fate and bring more misery to their li es. Given that the Builder - who aims to return the gift of crafting - is the newest threat to his plans, he tries his ruse again with them, this time stating they would have a new shining world for them to rule.
    • Dragon Quest III: Zoma, the Big Bad, is an evil demonic sorcerer that serves as the Final Boss of the game and is the other Trope Codifier. He reveals himself as Baramos' boss and the evil who took over Alefgard while Baramos set to conquer the Overworld; and as the game is a prequel to the original Dragon Quest, the Dragonlord ends inheriting his castle. Like the Dragonlord, early every modern depiction of a Maou, Daimou or Demon Lord takes inspiration from him.
    • Dragon Quest VI: The first such demon is Murdaw the Dread Fiend, but the player ends up defeating another three before finally defeating their leader the Archfiend. There's another, even more powerful demon lord called Nokturnus, and if the player manages to beat him fast enough he'll take out the Archfiend for you in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • Dragon Quest XI: Mordegon, the Big Bad demonic sorcerer known as the Lord of Shadows who was responsible for the destruction of the Chosen One Player Character's kingdom and the death of his parents the night he was born.
  • Elden Ring:
    • Mohg, the Lord of Blood, fits this archetype nicely: he's a demonic Sorcerous Overlord of a dark cult, has a lair deep underground with a literal river of blood, and his servants are all corrupted creatures such as kidnapped and brainwashed humans, or blood-corrupted Albinaurics made to look like stereotypical red demons. Unfortunately for him, he's a Big Bad Wannabe at best and his scheme for world domination are doomed from the start even if he's not dealt with.
    • Rykard the Lord of Blasphemy is another similiarly demonic (though leaning closer to an Eldritch Abomination) evil sorcerer-king who rules over a barren volcanic wasteland and literally devours souls and whose ultimate goal is to devour the world itself. His personal army consists of strange snake-men creatures found nowhere else in the game's world (because they're implied to be born from him - or rather, the snake-god Rykard fused himself with) and Tarnished his wife managed to corrupt and trick into serving him (so he can later eat them). Surprisingly despite his omnicidal goals, he seems to geniuenly love his wife as well as his adopted daughter.
  • While rarely called such, several Final Fantasy villain fits the description of the archetypical Maou:
    • Final Fantasy has Chaos, a four armed demonic entity and the master of the Four Fiends who plague the world.
    • Final Fantasy II has The Emperor, an unusual human version of this, unleashing demons and controlling demons as well as human soldiers in his quest to conquer the world. When he dies, his soul goes to Hell and becomes its emperor, turning demonic in the process and playing the trope fully straight.
    • Final Fantasy XI has probably the most straightforward example: the Shadow Lord, a mysterious dark overlord from the north who leads the Beastman races, as well as Undead and dark creatures, in a genocidal crusade against the rest of the world. He was defeated and sealed up in his castle, and the vanilla game's storyline revolves around his Beastman minions trying to release him.
    • Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers reveals that in the backstory of the First, there was an entity known as the 'Shadowkeeper' (King of Shadows in Japanese) who caused chaos on the world and generated monsters long before the Flood of Light, and was the Final Boss of Ardbert and his companions' story. Said Shadowkeeper was also one of his companions, Cyella, whom the Ascians turned into the designated villain so that the Warriors of Light could reach a level of strength to satisfy their greater plans. You get to fight a recreation of the Shadowkeeper in the Eden Raids, and in a Mythology Gag has the same or similiar attack names as the Shadowlord above (such as Umbra Slash and Deepshadow Nova).
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In the series' cosmology, the progenitor of all evil is the Demon King Demise, who was destroyed in Skyward Sword, with his lingering hatred giving birth to the various nemeses Link has faced in the other games. He also has subservient demon lords, most prominently his dragon, Ghirahim.
    • The successor to Demise is Ganondorf. While he starts off as a mortal human (a Gerudo to be precise), his quest for power eventually transforms him into a pig demon known as Ganon. Ganon is a persistent threat to Hyrule, returning through the ages in a constant cycle of being sealed away, escaping, being slain, and being resurrected or reincarnated. Ganon, like Demise, exhibits an evil aura and rules over all the monsters that Link faces in his quest. While earlier games in the series translate Ganon's Maou title as things like "King of Evil" or "Dark Lord", games released after Skyward Sword would switch to "Demon King" to emphasise his status as Demise's reincarnation. Games where he's particularly mindless, such as Breath of the Wild, tend to instead refer to him as Majuu ("Demon Beast").
    • Inverted with the Royal Family of Hyrule, which includes the various kings and Zelda herself. As the descendants of the goddess Hylia and the supreme force for good, they instead follow the standard of the Tennō (天皇 — Heavenly Emperor/Empress).
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Malladus is often referred as the Demon King. He once terrorized the land that would become known as New Hyrule before the Spirits of Good imprisoned him with the spirit tracks. He has a subservient demon known as Chancellor Cole who seeks to resurrect his master with Zelda's body, as well as a fleet of demonic trains to do his bidding. A fun trivia, he's actually the first villain to bear the title "Demon King" in the English version, long before Ganondorf was revealed to be Demise's reincarnation.
  • Live A Live: The Lord of Dark, called "Maou" in Japanese, fills the role quite nicely as a lord of demons who menaces a fantasy kingdom from his evil castle, as does Oersted/Odio when he claims the title for himself.
  • Lunar: The Silver Star: The Magic Emperor, Big Bad of the game, commands a group of monsterous beings identified as mazoku in the Japanese versions (the Vile Tribe in the English versions,) making the "Magic Emperor" title a variation on Maou. Some versions of the story hint that the Magic Emperor is himself a mazoku/Vile Tribe member, but in all versions he is a Fallen Hero and something of a Well-Intentioned Extremist...who returns in the sequel and redeems himself.
  • Monster Girl Quest: The Monster Lord is the ruler of all monsters (and the original Japanese is in fact "魔王"). The position technically goes to the monster who can defeat all other candidates for the position, but in practice it's hereditary as the Fateburn family has always won these fights. The current Monster Lord is Alipheese "Alice" Fateburn XVI. And since monsters in this setting are all-female, the Monster Lord is female as well.
  • The Shadowlord in Nier is known as "Maou" in Japanese and appears to be the apparent cause of all the problems the protagonists face with an increasing number of his minions known as "Shades" attacking innocent villagers. However, this is all setup for the revelation that he is actually the soul/Gestalt of the player character and players have been controlling the artificial body/Replicant who serves as the hero. The player character is an artificial body that the Shadowlord needs in order to become human again, but because the former lacks information on the full picture and is fully sentient, neither is willing to give into the other without a fight. The reason Shades are all linked to him is that he's the only thing capable of keeping all Gestalts sane without relapsing into mindless monstrosities and the main reason that they're attacking people is because they're desperate to merge with Replicants and become human again. And then the protagonists kill him since they see him as the bad guy, screwing over any chance for humanity to ever come back in the process. Oops. For bonus points, the endgame in most routes take place in his castle, with the final battle explicitly happening in his throne room.
  • Nippon Ichi: The games' multiverse is full of Overlords, and most of them are demons. A good chunk of the games either have you playing as one or trying to defeat one.
  • Odin Sphere: Odin is the lord of Ragnanival and goes by the title of Demon Lord Odin (Odin Maou): while not a complete monster, he's still a very ruthless manipulator, a crafty opportunist and a terrible father, clearly favoring his daughter Velvet over Gwendolyn, Griselda, or Ingway. In this case the Yuusha figure would be the third playable character Mercedes, who goes on a journey to become a better queen for her people, reinforce her mother's crossbow and use it to defeat Odin in battle, shattering his supposedly invincible flail Balor. Downplayed in that the people of Ragnanival, while brutal, expansionistic and misogynistic, aren't demonic and the Ma in Maou refers more to his incredible magic prowess.
  • The second Monarch in Persona 5 Strikers is author Ango Natsume. He is famous in Sendai for his best selling light novel "Prince of Nightmares", which features an Isekai Demon King as the Villain Protagonist. In the Metaverse, Ango's Shadow takes the role of the Demon King with his Jail following the plot of his book. The plot of the book, and thus the Jail, is a massive Cliché Storm because Ango is a shameless plagiarist who made his novel out of a mishmash of quotes from other books and video games and used the Metaverse to brainwash people into loving his work.
  • Puyo Puyo (and by extension, Madou Monogatari) has Satan/the Dark Prince, described as being the Ruler of the Puyo Underworld. He's also not exactly as evil as he looks, being more concerned with trying to win Arle's love than anything traditionally demonic. Of course, this is probably to be expected considering that Puyo Puyo originally had characters who were parodies of traditional JRPG tropes...
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Some of the most powerful demons are part of the demonic race "Maou", translated to Tyrant in English. Lucifer, in the few times when he's not part of the Tyrant race himself, is instead referred to as "Dai Maō" to indicate his superiority, which is translated to "Devil" (as in the Devil) in English.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Bowser is known as Daimaō Kuppa in Japan, which means "Great Demon King Koopa". He's the king of the Koopas, a tribe of turtles who are inspired by the yōkai demon known as the kappa, alongside a large number of other monsters such as ghosts, skeletons, Man-Eating Plants and assorted creatures. His primary narrative role is to threaten the Mushroom Kingdom and try to kidnap Princess Peach; how effective he is at this varies from game to game.
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of Phantasia: Dhaos is literally referred to as Maou. A hundred years before the game's start he waged war against human kingdoms with his army of monsters, but was defeated and sealed by protagonists' ancestors. Now, he is trying to break free and resume his conquest. He is known to be invulnerable to anything but magic (at least story-wise), which makes him invincible in the game's present time, where magic is in decline. Most of the game's plot centers around finding a way to fight him evenly. Eventually, however, it's revealed that he merely tries to collect enough Mana to save his homeworld, and fights agains humans only because they develop Mana-destroying Magitek. He tried to ask nicely, but, as novels reveal, he was branded as the "Demon King" so weapon researchers could make more money on their products. Dhaos then went full-on Then Let Me Be Evil.
    • Tales of Zestiria's Big Bad Heldalf plays this role, being literally known as the Lord of Calamity. After all, he spreads miasma where he goes, making players be advised to avoid him. Of course, being a Tales game, it's not entirely all it appears with Heldalf being that way due to a curse, and deciding to end all human life to end all sorrow.
  • While Western translations refer to him as the "Serpent King", the titular character of Warriors Orochi is known in Japanese as the "Demon King". This is likely to emphasize the artistic portrayal of what should have been a monstrous eight-headed snake from the myths, as this Orochi is a blue-skinned humanoid instead. It's also worth noting that the kanji to write his name is nonstandard; instead of the semantic 大蛇 (lit. "giant serpent"), his name uses the phonetic 遠呂智 (it has no meaning, and is chosen for its phonetic qualities).

    Visual Novels 
  • Dot Kareshi features JRPG stereotypes as love interests and naturally, the third game focusing on villains has a Demon Lord (though he also has traits of the more modern white haired pretty boy JRPG final boss trope), who developed an inferiority complex after the player steamrolled him after Level Grinding.
  • SHUFFLE!: Forbesii is the king of the demon people. He's a very chill guy, best friends with his godly counterpart Eustoma, and his beautiful daughter Nerine is one of the game's main heroines. Forbesii also plays a bigger role in the sequel/spin-off Tick! Tack!

  • A Fairytale for the Demon Lord is a Korean manhwa webcomic set in a magitek science-fiction world inspired by Norse mythology, where Nameless Knights led by the god-king Odin fight against Demon Lords in an unending cycle to stave off the destruction of the world.
    • Season 1 tells the sordid tale of a Nameless Knight who becomes the Demon Lord Ragnarok to rescue the Princess Nir after she's kidnapped by Odin.
    • Season 2 is set an unspecified amount of time in the past and stars the Demon Lord Loki — who is indicated to be the previous incarnation of the Nameless Knight from Season 1, and a female Nameless Knight he names Nir — who is indicated to be the the previous incarnation of the Princess from Season 1.
  • Sluggy Freelance: The real ruler of the demons of the Dimension of Pain is simply called the Demon King — a towering being of shadowy blackness who's a cross between Demon Lord and God of Evil. He's usually the Greater-Scope Villain, though Torg has a brief but very dramatic confrontation with him at the climax of "That Which Redeems".
  • Mage & Demon Queen has Velverosa, the titular Demon Queen who acts as the final boss of a challenge tower that human adventurers frequently attempt to ascend in order to slay her (or, in Malori's case, profess undying love to her). Vel rules over a wide variety of demonic species, and is a Punch-Clock Villain at best; she uses the tower as a staging ground in order to centralise the conflict between humans and demons, at least until King Albert of Folstina begins to escalate it.

    Western Animation 
  • Samurai Jack: Aku is an evil shapeshifting demon born from the remains of an Eldritch Abomination in Japan and he successfully conquered the entire world after banishing Samurai Jack, the only man who could defeat him, far into the future. Like a classic Demon King, he has legions of demons under his command that were created from his magic (though he replaced them with robots in the future) and he's Made of Evil, impervious to all weapons except a magical sword forged in righteousness. He even has multiple titles to his name, such as the Shapeshifter Master of Darkness and the Shogun of Sorrow. Aku's face is notably based on an oni and in Season 5, he unknowingly has a beautiful daughter named Ashi, who ends up becoming Jack's love interest.