ByGrant Hermanns, writer at
I know way too much about movies, my mind is like a walking IMDB, only not perfect. Don't forget to hit up my Twitter: @grantheftautho
Grant Hermanns

Everyone loves Satan. He's been a constant character in stories going back centuries, but even some of our most hallowed writers would probably agree that there are some terrific Satans in movies and TV.

Whether taking a comical approach to portraying the Lord of Hell or illustrating his brutal habits on screen, the many different iterations of the devil investigate all the human failings we've associated with the big red guy.

Differences in personalities make it difficult, even ridiculous to compare some versions to others, but there's no denying each portrayal has something unique and fun – or terrifying. Let's take a look back at the best movie and TV Satans over the years.

Lucifer - Supernatural

  • Actors: Mark Pelligrino, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Rick Springfield
  • Seasons: 5, 7, 11, 12 (Current)
  • First Appearance: "Sympathy for the Devil" S5, Ep. 1
  • Genre: Comedy, Horror
  • Role: Antagonist

A fans-favorite character and also one of the most hated characters on the series, Supernatural's version of Lucifer is a menacing and daring portrayal of the fallen angel. Played by not just one, but four different actors over the course of the series, Lucifer has orchestrated many of the unfortunate events that Sam and Dean Winchester have had to deal with during multiple seasons. That includes narrowly preventing the apocalypse. Though Lucifer is only ever in charge of Hell for a brief time on the show, the writers still capture his menace and evil intelligence perfectly, with each actor that is possessed by the character bringing him to life wonderfully.

Crowley - Supernatural

  • Star: Mark Sheppard
  • Seasons: 5-12 (Current)
  • First Appearance: "Abandon All Hope..." S5, Ep. 10
  • Genre: Comedy, Horror
  • Role: Independent (Part Protagonist, Part Antagonist)

This one is squeaking by on a technicality, but the technicality is big enough to argue for Crowley's spot on this list. Initially introduced in the series as the King of the Crossroads demons, acting as the boss to the demons who give out deals to those who sell their souls over, Crowley quickly became the King of Hell in season six after the Winchesters prevent Lucifer from taking over. Though Crowley is often portrayed as caring very little about Hell or ruling it, his maniacal reign over the underworld and his antagonistic fights against the heroes establish him as a really good pseudo-Satan.

Lucifer - Constantine

  • Star: Peter Stormare
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Genre: Action, Horror
  • Role: Antagonist

Though many comic book purists had issues with the film as a whole, there was no denying that one of 2005's Constantine's successes in the film was delivering one of the most chilling portrayals of Lucifer in screen history. Though he isn't seen until the final act of the movie, his appearance is still a pivotal moment for the story, and his entrance just goes further towards emphasizing the evil Lord of Hell's dark motives and preferences. Whether it be Stormare sucking his tongue through his teeth, or declaring John's soul would be the one he'd personally collect, it's one of the best portrayals of the Devil yet.

Old Woman - Devil

  • Star: Jenny O'Hara
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Genre: Horror
  • Role: Antagonist

It's been seven years since this film came out, so if this is a spoiler for you, then you're too late to the party in the first place. The mystery through the whole film of who is really the devil is finally revealed when the unnamed Old Woman, who was thought dead by the rest of the victims trapped in the elevator when she was found hanging by a wire after a blackout, rises from the dead with black eyes and a darker voice. Though the actual appearance of The Devil is only limited to a few minutes, the portrayal is still one of such an intense spite and terrifying rage that it's hard to forget (or even sleep) after watching the reveal.

John Milton - The Devil's Advocate

  • Star: Al Pacino
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Genre: Drama, Thriller
  • Role: Antagonist

Keanu Reeves just can't seem to get away from the Devil, as he fought him in both Constantine and the 1997 cult classic, The Devil's Advocate, in which he goes up against the Devil in the form of John Milton, the owner of a prestigious law firm aptly named after the author of "Paradise Lost." While initially an ambiguous portrayal that's rife with interpretations of whether or not he truly was the Devil, it's confirmed in the final third of the film that Pacino's John Milton is indeed Satan himself. But this ambiguous portrayal works wonders for the character, as we truly see the evil lengths the King of Hell is willing to go to win what he wants and to torment his target and break them down mentally until they can do nothing but give in. While Pacino might not capture a terrifying or scary element that is so often seen on-screen with the Devil, he still captures all of the intelligence and manipulation that he's known for.

Satan - End of Days

  • Star: Gabriel Byrne
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Genre: Horror
  • Role: Antagonist

The year 1999 was filled with paranoia that the come of a new millennium would usher in an apocalypse, whether technological or religious, and End of Days captured all of that paranoia with terror and style, additionally delivering one of the most evil and sinister portrayals of The Devil yet. As we follow the Lord of Darkness' journey to conceive the Antichrist on New Year's Eve with a pre-destined woman, we get to watch Gabriel Byrne deliver a portrayal of Satan that is chilling and carries a calm demeanor that just emphasizes the villain's confidence in his plans.

Lucifer Morningstar - Lucifer

  • Star: Tom Ellis
  • Seasons: 1-2 (Current)
  • First Appearance: "Pilot" S1, Ep. 1
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  • Role: Protagonist

In the first on-screen appearance of a character from DC's "The Sandman" universe, audiences are introduced to Lucifer Morningstar, the owner of the Lux nightclub in Los Angeles as he decides to quit running Hell and help LAPD Detective Chloe Decker solve murders. Though the TV adaptation loses the comics' iconic blond hair look, it loses none of his wit, intelligence or scheming that made the character an icon. Tom Ellis does such a good job of capturing all of the character's charismatic demeanor and sharp sense of planning, it's easy to be charmed by this iteration of the Bringer of Light that easily lands him on this list, even if he's not ruling Hell.

Satan - South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

  • Star: Trey Parker
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Role: Pseudo-Antagonist

Probably the least intimidating Satan on this list, South Park's iteration of the biblical antagonist featured the most unique take on the character yet, turning him from an outright monster into a complex character with layers not previously touched upon. Though the character still enjoyed torturing the lost and demented souls that entered Hell, he still showed a much softer side not often seen from the Lord of Hell, including his need of a meaningful relationship with Saddam Hussein and musical talents in wanting to live on Earth.

Satan - Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

  • Star: Dave Grohl (yes, that Dave Grohl)
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Role: Antagonist

He's large, he's menacing and he's a metal god, er, I mean devil. The titular band journeys to find the Pick of Destiny to become the greatest band of all time, which legend has it the pick is a chip of Satan's tooth. Upon breaking the Pick and leaving it outside the bar they perform at, it's discovered that the owner of the bar is Satan hiding in human form and is made whole again when finding the Pick, being able to use his powers on Earth and being challenged by the pair to a rock-off. The legendary rock-off features some of the funniest and smartest lyrics that only the Devil would use to win the battle, as well as some intense guitar playing and drum solo that make this a memorable portrayal of Satan portrayed by the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl himself.

Darren Farley - Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell

  • Star: Matt Servitto
  • Seasons: 1-3 (Current)
  • First Appearance: "Welcome to Hell" S1, Ep. 1
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Role: Semi-Antagonist

Adult Swim has featured a number of original programs that feature unique humor and a quirky sense of their worlds, and this can easily be seen in the office comedy, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, which follows demon Gary as he tries to outshine his intern who shines in Satan's eyes more than Gary. Setting a workplace comedy in Hell is already such a unique twist on the genre and delivers plenty of comedic gems, but Matt Servitto's portrayal of Satan is easily one of them. The writers and Servitto deliver so many of the personalities often seen as being devilish, while also playing a casual laissez-faire ruler that only checks in when he feels like he has to care.

Black Philip - The Witch

  • Star: Wahab Chaudhry
  • Release Year: 2015
  • Genre: Horror
  • Role: Antagonist

Though we are not treated to a human manifestation of the Dark Lord until the final 10 minutes of the film, the brief full appearance of Satan in The Witch is still one of the most maniacal and chilling portrayals of the character. He remained in disguise throughout the majority of the story as the main family's goat, Black Phillip, and while in disguise, he was able to slowly manipulate a chain of horrific events that would result in the eldest daughter, Thomasin, remaining as the sole survivor in the family and signing her soul over to The Devil upon discovering Phillip's true identity. Combining some tense and intelligent writing that show Satan's scope and planning in getting what he wants with a truly chilling performance (cameo, really) from Chaudhry make this one of the creepiest and jarring portrayals of the ruler of Hell.

Darkness - Legend

  • Star: Tim Curry
  • Release Year: 1985
  • Genre: Drama, Action
  • Role: Antagonist

In arguably one of the most popular cult classics in film history, veteran actor Tim Curry delivered a thrilling and compelling performance as the lead antagonist, Darkness, as he tries to leave his realm of shadows and enter the world. Though he is not directly referred to as Satan or The Devil in the film, based on his appearance, location and motives during the story, it's clear Darkness is a version of the Lord of Hell himself. Curry delivers such a charmingly evil performance as Darkness that makes it easy to hate him, but oh so easy to fall in love with him at the same time.

The Devil - Bedazzled

  • Star: Elizabeth Hurley
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Role: Mostly Antagonist

While the film itself was not nearly as celebrated critically as the original film, Elizabeth Hurley's portrayal of The Devil in the 2000 remake of Bedazzled struck a much funnier and more memorable chord in audience's hearts. In trying to attain the soul of a lonely, geeky man with a major crush on a co-worker, The Devil gets him to sign a contract granting him seven wishes in exchange for his soul. Both the original film and the remake took a comedic approach to telling the classic Faust fable, but it was Hurley's charming performance and over-the-top antics in getting what she wants that made the remake worthwhile, delivering one of the funniest and most clever portrayals of Satan yet.

Honorable Mention

Satan - Little Nicky

  • Star: Harvey Keitel
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Role: Protagonist

It was one of Adam Sandler's least financially successful films, yet carries a large cult following, and one of the reasons Little Nicky worked was thanks to the hilarious performance from Harvey Keitel as the Lord of Hell. While the character is portrayed as a ruler falling apart, literally, after one of his sons escape from Hell, Keitel does it with such a vibrant energy and sharp eye for comedy that it's easy to connect to his portrayal of Satan.

What are some of your favorite portrayals of Satan in film or on TV? Any not on this list? Let us know in the comments below!


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