What started as a frightening warning in religious texts has become something of a cultural obsession. Whether you see him as the personification of evil itself or a misunderstood fallen angel, Satan has been reimagined time and time again.
While we may love Supernatural’s take on Lucifer and Christopher Marlowe’s literary classic Mephistopheles, there is one medium that remains the unsung hero of Devil portrayals – animation.
Today we’re going to look at five animated devil depictions in Western pop culture.
1. The Robot Devil (or Beelze-Bot) – Futurama
This all-singing, all-dancing, deal-making, ironic-punishment-giving robot is arguably one of the best Futurama characters. Now, let’s break that sentence down a little… The all-singing, all-dancing bit we’ve covered. This guy LOVES a musical number. In terms of ironic punishment, we see his levels of hell and how Bender gets tortured for his wrong-doing e.g. turning Bender into a giant cigar for smoking. And his deal-making creates an entire episode where Fry swaps hands with the devil so he can impress Leela with his musical talents.
Even if it were purely for the pun of ‘Beelze-Bot’, this guy has absolutely GOT to make this list. And once you’ve listened to the Robot Hell song once, it will. Not. Leave. Your. Head.
2. Devil Flanders – The Simpsons
Hi-diddly-ho Devil-irino! In the words of this devilish depiction, “it’s always the one you least suspect!”. In the Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror IV, everyone’s favourite neighbourino, Ned Flanders, is revealed to be the devil himself. And, of course, Homer makes a deal with him, selling his soul for a donut. Juxtaposing mega-religious-do-gooder Ned Flanders with a bare-chested personification of evil has great comedic value and definitely cemented Devil Flanders’s place on this list!
3. The Devil – Rick and Morty
When Summer gets a part-time job in a vintage thrift shop, we meet the manager who certainly has a devilish charm. Rick seems to suss it out, right off the bat; but, he doesn’t seem too interested as he nonchalantly asked “So are you, like, the devil?” This interpretation of the Devil embodies what capitalist society seems to fear more than anything – getting ripped off. The Devil ‘sells’ items for no money and ominously warns that “everything has a price”. For example, when someone gets ‘sold’ an aftershave that makes him “irresistible” to women, he also becomes impotent.
Rick and Morty’s interpretation of the Devil wins major points for ironic comedy and societal reflection.
4. Satan – Anomaly
Okay, so this isn’t a series or a feature length film – it’s from a 6-minute animation short from global marketing agency, Anomaly. They have a bit of a reputation for making well-loved comedy shorts around the festive period, and with Patrick Stewart narrating, 2017 was no different. This time, it featured an unfortunate typo made by a little girl asking Santa for a puppy. The letter ends up in hell on Satan’s doorstep and despite his buff tattooed appearance, the short discovers Satan’s softer side and provides primo wholesome content.
5. Satan – The Adventures of Mark Twain
If Claymation had a prize for being downright disturbing, this rendition of Satan would win it, hands down. Proclaiming himself an angel, this spooky character gives us all chills. From his eerie voice to the mutating mask-face-thing, this sort of content is what keeps me up at night. There’s not too much that can be said about this, but watching this clip is nothing less than an experience.
Who is your favourite pop culture Devil? If there are any we’ve missed, comment below!