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To Hell with This Infernal Job

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"In the beginning...
The angel Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and condemned to rule Hell for all eternity.
Until he decided to take a vacation..."

The Devil calls it quits.

Why? Sometimes Being Evil Sucks. Being the Lord of Hell comes with some perks (a big palace, demons to order around, no one throwing you into lakes of fire etc.), but when you get right down to it, you're still in Hell. Everyone around you is either a demon or a damned soul, and either way odds are they're complete Jerkasses.

Your 'loyal' minions are constantly scheming against you, and often the only thing that keeps you afloat is that they're all scheming against each other too. You do nothing all day but dish out torment and punishment, all according to a set of rules laid down by the very entity you initially rebelled against (usually). The job sucks, the working conditions suck, and after enough millennia, you might just up and leave.

In many versions, Satan is actually stuck in Hell, but if the plot uncovers some Phlebotinum that gives him a way out, he'll be gone in a flash. In many stories where this plot occurs, the outgoing Devil tries to stick the protagonist with the post, but sometimes he just up and leaves the place to its own devices.

According to (some) actual Christian theology, the Devil will be stuck in Hell after the Last Judgement, not as a ruler, but as one of the tormented. For now, he is instead the ruler of 'Earth', and may have never even been to Hell. But these matters are always reinterpreted by contemporary culture, with the notion that Satan is in charge of Hell gaining much prominence thanks to The Divine Comedy and later Paradise Lost. Settings in which the Devil is able to just vacate Hell tend to see him as an Anti-God of similar stature to God and opposed to him, so that his leaving upsets the Balance Between Good and Evil.

Despite the fact that it may sound like a Sophisticated as Hell version of the latter, this trope is not related to Take This Job and Shove It. However, that trope may very well describe ol' Scratch's sentiments when he performs this trope.

Compare Death Takes a Holiday, when they're only on a temporary leave, and Hell Has New Management, for when someone else removes the Devil. Contrast Faustian Rebellion, for when someone who was given an infernal job by the Devil quits it. Compare and contrast Being God Is Hard, when God himself wants to call it quits.


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    Comic Books 
  • In The Sandman (1989), Lucifer closes Hell, chases all the demons and damned souls out, locks the gates, and hands Dream the key before heading off to Earth. Lucifer follows his subsequent adventures.

  • Terry Pratchett's first ever published work (at age 13), "The Hades Business" (which can be found in his collection A Blink of the Screen), has this happen as the punchline to the story. Satan hires a marketing genius to spruce up Hell and make it a desirable vacation destination. The poor fellow does so, but deliberately makes the place so successful that Satan can't get a moment to himself with all the activity and noise. Finally he gets fed up and repents so he can return to heaven.
  • Johannes Cabal characterizes Satan as a "bored sadist", and in The Fall of the House of Cabal, it's revealed that he quit the job in disgust and vanished, to be replaced by one of his erstwhile minions. However, this is uncertain, given the implication from Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute that Satan is actually an aspect of Nyarlathotep acting for his own amusement.
  • Downplayed in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Although Hades isn't going to give up ruling the Underworld any time soon, he's pretty damn bitter about the fact that he's stuck in an underground cave almost all the time, ruling over a bunch of kvetching spirits, with a gateman who always wants a raise. Plus he's not happy about the fact that Everybody Hates Hades.
  • In the Sandman Slim series, Samael arranges a confrontation between the titular protagonist and his nemesis for who will be Lucifer, so he can go home to Heaven.
  • In The Vampire Chronicles, David Talbot reveals he once witnessed a conversation between God and the Devil at a small Parisian cafe. In it, the Devil was begging God to give his job to someone else, as he was really tired of tormenting souls. The book Memnoch the Devil expands upon this and reveals that the only reason Memnoch (the Devil's true name) is doing the job is to get as many people as possible to get into Heaven (in this 'verse, Hell is more like Purgatory in that one can be transferred to Heaven, once certain conditions are met) by using torture to get souls to forgive God.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Lucifer (2016), the In Name Only adaptation of Mike Carey's comic, Lucifer simply decided he was sick of Hell and left to open a nightclub in Los Angeles. However there's an archangel who's determined to get him back at his post.
  • Supernatural:
    • Lucifer is imprisoned in Hell for much of the show's run, but when he breaks out and walks the Earth in season 5, he becomes de facto ruler, as most demons adore him and immediately become his loyal followers. He's only interested in ruling the demons insofar as they can help further his plans, however, and in fact hates all demons and intends to ditch Hell and exterminate the lot of them once he's conquered Earth and Heaven.
    • Inverted in season 6 when Castiel ends up in charge of a pro-Earth faction of Heaven, fighting the archangel Raphael and his followers in a bid to prevent a second apocalypse. Castiel takes his command very seriously and ultimately goes to extreme lengths in his efforts to win the war, but he finds the whole situation incredibly stressful and privately admits to Dean that he'd much rather just be on Earth with the Winchesters.
    • Played for Laughs in season 11 when Lucifer is freed again. He does technically take charge of Hell (and takes a particular glee in forcing ex-king Crowley to be subservient), but has little use for the demons this time around and is more interested in playing on a tablet and figuring out how destroy his aunt.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • While mainstream Christianity doesn't really believe this would happen per se, there are parables told in churches where the devil quits his job and has a garage sale where he sells his tools: greed, pride, hate, doubt, discouragement, etc. There are many different versions of these parables, often where different tools have different prices, so the parables are generally intended to compare how effective those vices are.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Forgotten Realms setting, the evil adventurers Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul once challenged Jergal, god of death, murder, and tyranny, for godhood. However Jergal had grown tired of his job and divided his portfolio between them voluntarily (death - Myrkul, murder - Bhaal, and tyranny - Bane), content to be simply the archivist of death.
  • Pathfinder: The Demon Lord Nocticula grew dissatisfied with her existence as a Fiend and ultimately succeeded in ascending to divinity. As a goddess, she turned away from evil and relinquished control of her old Abyssal realm to her former lover, the succubus Shamira.

  • Dominic Deegan: Nobody wants to be in Hell, not even the Demon Lords who rule over it. Besides the fact that there are roaming beasts and even weather events that harm or destroy the souls living there, its very nature means that no goodness or happiness can last for a significant period of time. Karnak states that everyone who gets a smidgen of power while in Hell attempts to escape at some point. Ultimately, Karnak himself is the only one who desires to stay in Hell and get some meager joy from it, if only because he decided that he was chosen by Hell itself to serve as a sort of warden to keep the rest in line. Getting to torture his traitorous Infernomancer when he died was probably a big perk.