Top 10 TV Satans

16:00, Mar 25 2013

The History Channel's current series The Bible features a Satan who just happens to look like Barack Obama. Cue the standard media controversy.

But what about the time Erik Estrada played the Devil in According to Jim? Not having seen the episode, I can only assume The Devil took on the form of the star of CHiPs to congratulate Jim Belushi on his good work lowering the quality of entertainment to the point where people will happily sell their souls for the promise of a second season of Hank.

The point being, The Devil turns up on television so often - the following ten examples barely even scratch the surface - that the only surprise is that it has taken this long for His Satanic Majesty to be mistaken for a serving US President.

Hey, it's got to be a step up from the time he was played by Gary Coleman on an episode of Unhappily Ever After.

1. Bob in Twin Peaks. 

The only reason no-one called him The Devil was because they were too busy screaming their heads off at the sight of him. Sure, it's fun to think of The Devil as this slick, supercool guy who makes vaguely menacing wisecracks, but c'mon: if The Devil actually showed up we'd be crapping our pants five seconds before we died of fright. Which is exactly the response everyone has to seeing Bob.


2. Bryan Cranston in Fallen. 

That's correct: Walter White played Lucifer in this 2007 mini-series about a teenager who discovers he's half angel. Sadly it seems Cranston is playing the Devil as "mildly disappointed dad" rather than "I am the one who knocks", but you know somewhere in there people are going choke on their own vomit while he watches and Bam! Suddenly he's off poisoning little kids. Plus you've got to love a promo that features the line "it all starts with Fallen: The Beginning". Thank God for that, I was about to start watching at Fallen: Somewhere Around The Middle.

3. H Jon Benjamin in Lucy: 

The Daughter of the Devil. This isn't the best animated show by any stretch, but gets to number three solely on the strength of H Jon Benjamin's Lucifer. Why?

Because H Jon Benjamin can only do one voice, which means The Devil here sounds exactly like - depending on your age and viewing preferences - Ben from Dr Katz, Archer from Archer or Bob from Bob's Burgers.

And more importantly, it works both ways: maybe this means Ben secretly is The Devil? In which case, this collection of clips is seriously creepy.

4. John Glover in Brimstone:

How's this for a premise torn from the cover of a heavy metal album: in 1983 detective Ezekiel Stone was damned to Hell for killing the man who raped and murdered his wife (said rapist having gotten off on a technicality, as everyone did in the 1980s).

Fifteen year later 113 of Hell's most evil souls busted out and The Devil, being both pissed off and hella lazy, sent Stone back to Earth to track them down.

On the down side, Stone was played by Peter Horton, AKA the hippy English teacher Gary in thirtysomething, making him only slightly more threatening than a Hello Kitty dishwashing glove.

But on the upside, Glover was pure gold as The Devil, going around giving legally parked cars parking tickets and tying people's shoelaces together.

And he could be pretty sinister when the moment called for it too, especially when people started ragging on a girl he was totally crushing on.

5. Ray Wise in Reaper: 

Okay, this is pretty much the best casting in the history of television. Laura Palmer's dad as the scheming, sleazy, scenery-chewing Devil? Hell yeah!

You've just got to love a demonic symbol of ultimate evil who uses the word "nifty".

As for the rest of the show, that's somewhat less nifty: hardware store schlub Sam (Bret Harrison) discovers his parents sold his soul to the devil so how he has to go to work collecting souls who've escaped from Hell.

Wait, does that scenario sound a little familiar?

Joint 6. The Robot Devil in Futurama. 

"Aw crap, singing. Mind if I smoke?" 

Joint 6. Mandy Patinkin as Lucifer in Touched By An Angel. 

"Aw crap, singing. Mind if I smoke?"

7. Gary Cole in American Gothic: 

While no-one dares come right out and say it, Sheriff Lucas Buck of Trinity, South Carolina is clearly The Devil with a capital D.

And a capital EVIL too, come to think of it. When he wasn't luring the locals into moral dilemmas that usually ended in madness or death, he was hunting down local orphan Caleb Temple, who may or may not have psychic powers and be Buck's son.

A great show cancelled before its time, it also had the magical ability to make those Brady Bunch movies where Cole played Mr Brady seem like the most disturbing take on the Manson family ever.

8. Trey Parker in South Park.

Animated shows just love the Devil. God, The Devil and Bob even had Alan Cumming as The Devil, which is pretty damn smart Devil casting.

Non-Simpsons animated series don't get much bigger than South Park though, and while its Devil is best remembered as Saddam Hussein's henpecked gay lover - not a sentence you get to say in many other lines of work - like pretty much all animated versions of The Devil he's handy when it comes to a tune as well. Hit it, Hitler!

9. Brad Dourif in The Norm Show.

Wondering where Calvin Harris ripped off the idea to have Brad Dourif playing The Devil in the video for his song Drinking From the Bottle?

Wonder no further! Okay, just kidding, having the always demonish Dourif play Satan is such an obvious idea I had it myself when I was thirteen.

Come to think of it, I should totally be collecting royalties for this.

And for that show where Zooey Deschanel plays a quirky yet adorable airhead. And that movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a robot.

10. Mark Pellegrino in Supernatural: 

Of course Supernatural is going to feature the Devil; is there any supernatural being this show hasn't featured? Skeletor perhaps? Mr Tickle? Salem the cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch?

Anyway, it seems good guy Sam freed Lucifer to walk the earth but then Lucifer wanted to possess Sam so he could walk the Earth and say what now?

Anyway, this is one of those non-scenery chewing versions of The Devil, which never really work because what's the point of being evil if you're not going to have some fun?



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