• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
"Don't listen to him. He's trying to lead you down the path of righteousness! I'm gonna lead you down the path that rocks!"
Kronk's Shoulder Devil, The Emperor's New Groove

When someone wrestles with a temptation, two miniature versions of himself, an Angel and a Devil, sit on each shoulder and try to pull him in different directions. The Devil will invariably be on the left (or sinister) shoulder. Sometimes, like in Full House ("The Devil Made Me Do It"), the Angel and the Devil are full people in the room rather than miniatures on shoulders.

Expect a female character's Devil to dress all Stripperiffic, to invoke Evil Is Sexy and Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains. Sometimes, in kids' shows where a little girl is the subject, her Angel self is in a white dress and shoes while her Devil self is in a red dress and shoes. If a character is particularly bad, a common subversion is to give them two Devils. Another is for the devil to kill, injure or incapacitate the angel, leaving only the devil as counsel (or vice versa). Sometimes the devil for males mentions that the Angel wears a "Dress".

A more modern version might include multiple additional characters, based on modern pop-psychology's understanding of a person's mind. For example, the inner child, the feminine side, or the gay side.

Or to put it in more traditional psychological terms, the Angel is the Superego and the Devil is the Id, which leaves the character in question as the Ego. In other words, a kind of Freudian Trio.

The technical, if somewhat dated, term for this is the Psychomachia ("Battle of the Soul"); in its original version, this implied a full-scale war between all of an individual's personified virtues (such as Humility, Chastity, Patience, etc.) against his personified vices (Pride, Lust, Anger, etc.).

Compare Floating Advice Reminder and Ghost in the Machine. When an external character takes it upon themself to play the Bad Angel, they're The Corrupter. Consider Right Way, Wrong Way Pair.

Straight Examples


  • In one of Apple's ads, Mac loans PC his iPhoto book, and PC's good/bad angels appear to argue over whether to rip it in half.
  • One anti-marijuana PSA had a kid with his pothead friends appearing on one shoulder, and authority figures on the other. More of each kept popping up, until both shoulders were loaded.
  • Seen in an ad for TruMoo chocolate milk, to promote that it has "no high fructose corn syrup" and healthy ingredients. A mother asks "What's the bad news?" and the "bad angel" is forced to admit "I got nothing." "He's got nothing" comments the good angel and the bad angel disappears in a puff of red smoke.

Anime & Manga

  • Excel Saga
    • There's a Good Angel, Bad Angel scene in its first episode which culminates in "Good Excel" blowing away "Bad Excel" with a huge pistol ("The bullet of Justice caps Evil's ass!"). Good Excel later gets hauled off by teeny-tiny little Police Excel for murder, while Excel herself is confused and strangely philosophical.
    • Played straight but still very oddly in the manga: Watanabe is debating whether or not to give Hyatt CPR, and is so torn over his intentions that a battle erupts in his mind between Hypocrite Watanabe (dressed like an angel but actually the one representing his perverse side) and Bancho Watanabe (who's dressed as Jotaro Kujo from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure).
  • Chiaki and Fujioka both have an angel and a devil appear behind them in the second episode of Minami-ke Okaeri.
  • Near the end of the Elfen Lied manga, it's revealed that "Lucy" (real name "Kaede") isn't the Hyde to Nyuu's Jekyll, but a semi-neutral personality that had been listening to her completely insane THIRD personality that only cared about exterminating humanity.
  • Played with in Drama Con, where the angel gets melodramatic and cheery over things she shouldn't and the devil mocks her for it.
    • Interestingly, the devil is pretty pragmatic. Both the angel and the devil also get bummed when things don't go well for Chriss, specifically with her love interest.
  • In Hidamari Sketch Miyako imagines her good angel being held back by her bad angel when she wants to do something good but finds her body unable to move.
  • Michael Hanagata's shoulder devil actually pops out of his afro in one episode of Wandaba Style. The angel didn't appear, but it's safe to assume that it's up there, too.
  • In Tramps Like Us, Sumire is divided between the Stripperiffic Black Violet and the conservatively dressed and shy Violet Blanche — Blanche always wins.
  • Eri from School Rumble (manga-only) has some when she invites Harima to her house.
  • In Seikon no Qwaser, Hana has an appearance by her shoulder angel and her shoulder devil. The devil is fanservice incarnate. The two of them get into a Big Ball of Violence around her head.
  • Akihisa, of Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, has both a shoulder angel and a shoulder devil. The devil makes more appearances. Both of them are prone to snarky commentary.
  • Moriaki-sensei in Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is so square that in his angel-devil delusions he pictures them as hand-puppets he handles.
  • The title devil and angel occasionally take on this role in Risky Safety, usually acting as their current charge's voice of reason and/or font of chaos. Conveniently, they only need one shoulder to do this.
  • In one chapter of Hatenkou Yuugi, Rahzel's shoulder devil and angel showed up, followed by a Playboy Bunny version, a schoolgirl version, a maid, a scientist, a nurse, and so on. And then they all started drinking.

  Rahzel: Tons of little Rahzels are having a wild party in my brain.

  • The female protagonist of Hana Yori Dango had a good angel telling her not to marry a rich Jerkass and a bad angel telling her otherwise.
  • There's a scene in NEEDLESS where Blade tries to hit on a currently-crossdressing Cruz, only for Cruz to remind him he's a boy. Blade's angel and devil appear, and both tell him that gender doesn't matter, as long as he's cute.


  • In Tank Girl, Satan offers the eponymous heroine beer in exchange for a powerful artifact: God's Housecoat. Her shoulder angel argues that the Devil is a rotten bastard, while her shoulder devil tells her to take the beer. She takes the beer, but uses God's Housecoat to cause its next wearer to put all of his energy into charitable causes. When we next see the Devil, he is participating in a televised run for charity to raise money for a children's hospital.
  • In Finder, an AI's angel and devil are represented by a one and a zero.
  • A Simpsons Comic features Bart suffering from a moral dilemma, complete with good and bad angels; the good angel knocks out the bad angel by throwing its halo like Captain America's shield, at which point Bart remarks, "It figures that my conscience would suffer from mood swings."
  • Tintin has these appear to Snowy and Haddock on different occasions (most often prompted by the presence of whiskey).
  • Guy Gardner of The DCU had a Good Angel and a Bad Angel appear at one point when he was facing an unconscious Power Girl (which is to say, facing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to cop a feel).

 Bad Angel: Go on. You know you want to.

Good Angel: ...

Bad Angel: Well? Aren't you going to say anything?

Good Angel: I don't have to say anything. Guy would never do that. He's a hero, after all.

Bad Angel: Anti-Hero.

Good Angel: Close enough.

Guy: I hate it when that guy's right...

  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac takes this to a strange place, as there are three major voices talking to him, that comprise about half the supporting cast. These are Psychodoughboy, voice of depression and self-destruction, Mr. Fuck, voice of violence and destruction, and Nail Bunny, voice of reason (or something approximating it). This seems more a metaphor for horrible, horrible, manic depression as much as anything else, although it just keeps getting weirder.
    • And then there's Reverend Meat, to whom Johnny plays the voice of opposition himself.
  • Garfield, debating whether to eat a donut, was confronted by a shoulder angel and shoulder devil in the shape of donuts (respectively marked by a halo and a devil tail). He ate the donut, then ate both angels. Appeared earlier here.
  • In a Pearls Before Swine Sunday strip, we see all four main characters (Rat, Pig, Goat and Zebra) go through this... except Rat, who has two shoulder devils.
    • Another Sunday strip has Zebra talking with one of the crocodiles, and explaining that he'd never be able to go through with eating Zebra because his conscience wouldn't let him. When the croc asks, "What is dis conshuss?" his Good Angel appears... and the croc pops it in his mouth and eats it.
  • The National Lampoon did a number of comic-book stories based on Doug Kenney's high school/college life. One of them is the basis for the Animal House reference below - his shoulder angel probably doesn't help his case by calling Doug by his nickname "Four-Eyes".
  • In Deadpool's Team-Up with Machine Man, Deadpool experiences this with the angel being represented by his current partner (Machine Man) and the devil is being represented by the Puppet Master, who they were currently fighting. True to his character (as well as Machine Man's partially) Deadpool pictured the angel as a drunk spouting off boring robot logic which quickly devolved to binary code speak.
  • The DC Thomson strip "Jimmy Jinx (And What He Thinks)" (originally in Buzz, then The Topper, then The Dandy). His angels were called Goodie and Baddie, and appeared in red-outlined thought bubbles.
  • Once in German comic Rudi, they're fighting whether he should take up smoking again or not. (His buddy Freddy started it again, we see, because his five or so shoulder devils mashed up his shoulder angel.)
  • Dori Seda had them in her autobiographical comic. With the devil wearing a leather corset and stockings.

Fan Works


  Kitty: "This is, like, so surreal."


Films — Animation

  • The Emperors New Groove, as quoted above, has not one, but two entertaining sequences where Kronk, Yzma's loveable-lug henchman, has to deal with the bickering of his Shoulder Angel and Shoulder Devil.
    • The first sequence is good because Kronk's angels are just as dumb as he is: instead of refuting Shoulder Angel's arguments, Shoulder Devil simply replies "look what I can do!" and does a one-handed headstand. Kronk's not impressed.

 Shoulder Angel: No, no, he's got a point.

    • The second one is a subversion: while the Shoulder Angel and Shoulder Devil are disagreeing as to the Right Thing, Kronk misunderstands the Shoulder Angel and thinks the two were actually in agreement. As he converses with them, as so often is done to imply an internal monologue, he's shown speaking aloud and apparently to himself, utterly bewildering the other characters. Eventually the three come to a consensus, because Even Evil Has Standards.
    • The angel and devil just sometimes wind up having their own odd (yet immensely entertaining) conversations unrelated to the subject at hand, then leave, solving nothing.
    • In the series, all characters had little Kronks on their shoulders.
  • In Disney's version of Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket is hired by the "Blue Fairy" to act as Pinocchio's conscience. Note that "Jiminy Cricket" has the same initials as "Jesus Christ". This is intentional, as at the time this was the acceptable replacement term. Pinocchio's own stupidity... er, naivete... meant he didn't need a devil. In the book, he killed the cricket with a hammer, and its ghost came back to haunt/annoy him.

Films — Live-Action

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End gives Jack Sparrow two smaller Jacks that appear to come out of his hair. Instead of the traditional good and evil, the dilemma is between rum and immortality without rum, at least until they point out to him that having rum once every ten years for eternity is still more rum than having it every day of a normal lifetime. He also has less traditional hallucinations that are his size and identical to him, as well as one that is part of Davy Jones' ship.
    • Hilariously spoofed in an alternative dub of the movie made in Russia. Two mini-Jacks introduce themselves as Jack's conscience and egoism. Then they start giving him advice:

 1st mini-Jack: I say we waste the lot of them and beat it!

Jack: Whoa! And what does the conscience have to say to that?

1st mini-Jack: You dimwit, I am the conscience.

2nd mini-Jack (egoism): I don't even want to think of what I actually thought!

  • In National Lampoon's Animal House, Pinto brings Clorette up to Hoover's room, where they have a make out session. After Clorette strips down to her panties she passes out drunk on Hoover's bed, whereupon Good Pinto (dressed as an angel) and Bad Pinto (dressed as a devil) appear on Pinto's shoulders and fight over whether Pinto is going to take advantage of the situation. (He doesn't.)

 Good Pinto: I'm proud of you, Lawrence.

Bad Pinto: You homo.

  • Tinkered with in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Jay is visited by a shoulder devil at first, then is visited by a second devil, who explains they ambushed the shoulder angel on their way over. Once they deliver their tirade, they disappear. Then said angel appears, robes messed up, a few strings on his harp broken, and complete with delirium-induced singing. As the angel leaves, he notes he's going to pay back the two sucker-punching devils.
    • Jay's angel isn't completely pure, though — his parting words are "Don't pull your dick out 'till she asks, or until she's sleeping," accompanied by the same rock music as the devils.
  • Played for laughs in My Name Is Bruce.
  • Animal's Good Angel and Bad Angel succinctly debate whether or not he should play the drums again (With Bad Angel for - it's connected to his taking Anger Management classes) during the big number during the Muppet Telethon:

 Bad Animal: DRUMS!

Good Animal: NO DRUMS!



  • Discworld
    • Although it doesn't actually appear in the form of an angel, Rincewind has an argument with his conscience in Sourcery.
    • Carcer, the villain of Night Watch is described as having a devil on each shoulder, working together and egging him on.
    • The Omnian priest The Quite Reverend Mightily-Praiseworthy-Are-They-Who-Exalteth-Om Oats has two voices in his head which he thinks of as the Good Oats and the Bad Oats. That is: one of them thinks of itself as the Good Oats who encourages living properly and devotion to Om and the other as the Bad Oats who gives him impious and improper thoughts; but the other one thinks it's the Good Oats who encourages being sensible and thinking logically, and the other one's the Bad Oats that just wants blind obedience to the church. In the end, he's able to get them to work together at last.
      • The witch Agnes/Perdita Nitt has the same issue, although in this case it's between the kind, clear-headed Agnes and the sassy, dare-devil Perdita.
  • Referenced in John D. Fitzgerald's Great Brain series: the Great Brain's father comments that he must be deaf in the right ear, since that's the one the good angel is supposed to whisper into.
  • In an Older Than Feudalism example, Plato in Phaedrus describes the psyche as composed of a Power Trio: a light horse, proud, noble, and good-intentioned; a dark horse, crippled and malevolent; and the charioteer who must keep rein on both. All Psychology Is Freudian, but Freud is, apparently, a copycat.
  • Deconstructed Trope in The Screwtape Letters, where the title character is writing instructional letters to Wormwood, who is a literal version of the shoulder devil. The Tempters are highly organized, with a training college, middle management, and harsh punishments for devils who fail to corrupt their "patients." At one point, Screwtape orders Wormwood to subvert this trope by impersonating the good angel and arguing with the other angel over who actually is the one giving good advice.
  • Another CS Lewis book and a rare deadly-serious example is Perelandra. The protagonist, Dr. Ransom, (reluctantly) acts as the "good angel" for the Lady of Perelandra (a next-generation Eve) while she is tempted to disobedience by a/the devil (the "bad angel") possessing the body of Ransom's former colleague.
  • Referenced in Paper Towns when Quentin is blackmailing a classmate into paying for the bikes his friends wrecked.

 "I understand that you do not control Chuck and Jasper. But you see, I am in a similar situation. I do not control the little devil sitting on my left shoulder. The devil is saying, 'PRINT THE PICTURE PRINT THE PICTURE TAPE IT UP ALL OVER SCHOOL DO IT DO IT DO IT.' And then on my right shoulder there is a little tiny white angel. And the angel is saying, 'Man, I sure as shit hope all those freshmen get their money bright and early on Monday morning.' So do I, little angel. So do I."

  • In Andrei Belianin's My Wife Is A Witch duology, the main character, a poet, finds out that his librarian wife is actually descended from a long line of witches. When she disappears into the magical realms because of him, he goes to find her. Once he is exposed to magic, though, he begins to see two figures, both looking like him: an angel in a white robe and with wings and halo named Ancipher and a red, horned (possibly Jewish) demon named Pharmason. Unlike the other cases, these two are real, although no one else can see or hear them. They become the poet's companions (and friends) as he travels through the magical realms looking for his wife and, in the sequel, for her cousin. As can be expected, the angel and demon constantly engage in arguments, usually started by the demon. Ironically, it's the angel who turns these into fist fights. While it may seem that the demon is there only to lead the poet down the wrong path, it's really just his job, and he's actually not a bad guy. In fact, he argues with the poet that if he only had an angel, he'd be married to a nice, proper Christian woman (not a witch), go to church every week, and only have sex for procreation. The demon provides a healthy counterbalance.
    • They can appear either as tiny people on his shoulders or human-sized versions.
    • The second book reveals that Heaven is operated by a Celestial Bureaucracy. Hell then decides to adopt this system, forcing Pharmason to fill out and submit multiple reports in triplicate every day.
  • In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when Jim is telling Huck's dad's fortune, he says that there are two angels at his side: a good, white one at his right shoulder, and an evil, black one at his left.

Live-Action TV

  • On Just Shoot Me, Finch is confused when only his Bad Angel appears, and the latter explains that he is too depraved to even have a Good one.
  • Battlestar Galactica's Six and Baltar. Each sees a spectral version of the other right up until the final episode when both doubles appear together for the first time. Although Six is described as the "angel", she spends much of her time just messing with Baltar, and while Baltar is alluded to be a "devil" figure, he actually saves Six's ass a few times.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has Ned trying to decide whether to cheat on a history test — and miniature versions of Benedict Arnold and Abe Lincoln stand on his shoulders to argue the case. (Arnold's argument quickly devolves into crude jokes about how ugly Abe's hat is.) This was a result of a machine designed to put information from his history book directly into his brain blowing up.
    • In fact, in a later episode he talks about the machine saying something along the lines of "That thing brainwashed me. Now whenever I have a moral dilemma, Abe Lincoln and Benedict Arnold appear on my shoulders."
  • Herman's Head is an entire series based on this. A set of characters that represents Herman's psychological characteristics argues inside his head about, well, everything.
  • In Ned and Stacey, Ned's bad angel encourages him to sleep with Stacey's boss. His good angel concurs.
  • Subverted in episode 5 of Skins. Sid is deciding whether to skip class or not when two of his friends appear, one with horns and another with a halo they stole from the drama department. After initially playing their roles, the (pill popping) angel sides with the devil and says he should skip class and get stoned with them instead.
  • Red Dwarf has an episode where Lister's two internal voices (his Confidence and his Paranoia) becomes actual people thanks to a mutated disease.
    • And Rimmer got to do the rare, full-on "all virtues vs. all vices" version on a moon where Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • The Thirty Rock episode "Black Tie" plays with this in a rather surreal way. Pete is about to cheat on his wife when Kenneth pops in through a vent, lit by blue light, and tells him not to. Then Tracy pops through another vent, under red light, and argues with Kenneth. Finally, Pete turns to dramatically declare "I'm sorry, I can't do this — I love my wife!" You can see it here.
  • Neatly used in this clip from The Daily Show, in which the 'live on location' screens are gradually used to turn Samantha Bee's report on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to dissolve the Canadian Parliament rather than face a vote of no-confidence into a battle between John Oliver (who is English) as the pro-Monarchy "angel" and Aasif Mandvi (who is Indian) as the pro-Independence "angel" over whether Queen Elizabeth II should remain Canada's Head Of State, with Bee the confused and indecisive Canadian trying to decide which argument to pick. Oliver wins by promising a Royal Visit.
  • Played for laughs in the Beetleborgs episode Buggin Out.
  • Full House, and guess to whom it did happen?
  • Blair on Gossip Girl at one point uses two of her mean girls as shoulder angel and shoulder devil when trying to decide whether or not to destroy a teacher who put her chances of getting into Yale at risk. The devil wins the argument, with the angel griping about how boring it is to play the good part.
  • Family Matters has this trope with Steve Urkel and Carl Winslow in one episode.
  • A recurring sketch on Late Night With Conan O'Brien was "Moral Dilemma" where Conan would be faced with a small one — e.g. finding a wallet full of cash and deciding whether or not to keep it or return it to its rightful owner. Suddenly, a little devil urging him to do the wrong choice would appearing on one shoulder. On the other shoulder, instead of an angel, it would be something like a bear or an astronaut, giving advice pertaining to that character.
  • Maybe It's Me invoked this trope as a comedic exaggeration once. Grant, a guy whose main character trait was his religious faith, had to make a decision. First, he looked to his shoulder angel, who calmly described what he should do. His shoulder devil sat sulking, and when Grant turned to him, the devil grumbled, "Why are you even looking over here? You never listen to what I say anyway."
  • In the Uk run of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Ryan Stiles has to act out both angel and devil roles for 'host' Tony Slattery in Party Quirks.
  • Unrelated to the above, Jonathan Mangum gets the idea to do this during Freeze Tag when he sees Ryan huddled up to Wayne Brady in Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza. Unfortunately Ryan caught on fast but didn't act out the right role, leaving Wayne with two shoulder devils...
  • Parodied in the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Slutty Pumpkin", Barney, dressed as a devil Halloween costume and standing behind Ted's shoulder, suggests that he pee off of a roof. A bystander dressed in an angel costume appears behind his other shoulder and opposes the suggestion.


  • The famous Eminem and Dr. Dre collaboration "Guilty Conscience" has Dre and Eminem portraying Good and Bad Angels, respectively, for various people caught in moral dilemmas. Dre wins the first argument, Eminem wins the second, and in the third (whether or not a man should murder his cheating wife and her lover when he catches them in the act), Eminem successfully points out that Dr. Dre has his own history of violence (referring to the Dee Barnes incident) and has no business telling people not to be violent. Dre agrees and they end the song by urging the man together to commit the murders. Dr. Dre: not the world's best Good Angel.
    • Um... it's not always clear because the end of the video is often censored, but this troper got the impression that Dre was so pissed off by Eminem's needling that he urged the guy to kill his wife and Eminem. That would certainly be a much darker and funnier interpretation.
  • Pink's song "Stupid Girls" has a little girl debating between following her expected gender role, and going outside to play football. P!nk plays both a devil and an angel on the girl's shoulders to represent each of these.

Myths & Religion

  • This trope actually originates with Greek mythology, wherein each mortal has a pair of spirits, which are aspects of themselves, and represent good and evil and actually sit on the character's shoulders. The angel/devil interpretation, however, according to The Other Wiki, originated with Islam in the form of kiraman katibin (literally, "honorable recorders"-their job is to write down a person's good and evil thoughts and deeds).
  • The myth of Hercules at the crossroads is a pre-Christian version of the scenario in which the hero makes a choice between Anthropomorphic Personifications of vice and virtue.
  • The earliest mention of the concept in Christian Literature is in the 1st or 2nd century apocrypha "The Shepherd of Hermas". A whole chapter discusses "the two angels that accompany the man : the Angel of Justice and the Angel of Sin".
  • Judaism has the concept of yetzer (ha)tov, or "good inclination," and yetzer (ha)ra, or "evil inclination."
  • An anecdote often attributed (falsely) to Native American legend says everyone has a good wolf and an evil wolf battling in his or her heart. The winner will be the wolf that the person feeds.

Puppet Shows


  • This trope is supposed to date back to the early morality plays just before the development of theatre and Renaissance drama. Each morality play would have a Guardian Angel / Good Angel and a Guardian Devil / Bad Angel speak to the everyman main character.
  • Used in the 16th century play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe actually calls the characters Good Angel and Bad Angel in the script.
  • The Broadway musical Avenue Q features the characters being tempted by the Bad Idea Bears, a pair of Care Bears-like puppets that lean over their shoulders and suggest, well, bad ideas. It's like Good Angel Bad Angel, except that both angels are Bad Angels.
  • In Aristophanes's The Clouds the roles of Good and Bad Angel are played by a personified Right and Wrong arguments, who try to persuade the protagonist's son Pheidippides either to avoid or to enter into Socrates's sophistical "Thinkery," making this trope palaioteros apo to chôma.
    • Speaking of Socrates, Plato tells us that he said to have a personal daemon who was basically a Jimminy Cricket figure. This is interesting because Plato is one of the first recorded instances of people using daemon/daimon to mean something personal and guiding. Earlier it had been used to mean the same thing as deity and only much later was demon exclusively evil. Post-Alexander The Great they started to come up with "Good Demon, Bad Demon" well before medieval morality plays so it's older than you think.
  • This appears late in William Shakespeare's Sonnets and is interesting in that his Devil seduces the Angel. While it's not literally presented as them being on his shoulder, and the Angel and Devil represent the Young Man and the Dark Lady, respectively, it is carried out in much the same way as a classical Psychomachia.
    • Mentioned rather directly in the Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice. Comic relief character Launcelot Gobbo soliloquises about continuing to work with Shylock, and refers to his conscience on one shoulder, and the fiend on the other.

Video Games

  • In Adventure Quest Worlds, a thinly-veiled parody of Good Angel Bad Angel is represented by the "invisible" twins called Xing and Xang. Xing dresses like a complete Emo Teen and Xang dresses like a stereotypical angel. Their job is to "guide" the heroes, but they don't listen to advice in the cutscene -- at least until Evil Overlord Drakath switches Xang with her Chaotic Evil twin in the Mirror Realm.
  • In the Heaven and Hell sim Afterlife, an Angel and Devil appear on screen to give the player advice and to taunt each other. As with everything else in the game, it's parodied; the Angel is The Ditz, and the Devil is erudite and appears to be dressed in a business suit.
  • The god game Black and White also has a Good and Evil Conscience (an old wise man and a wisecracking devil) to give the player advice and color commentary.
  • In The Legend of Kyrandia: Malcolm's Revenge, the titular Villain Protagonist has both an evil conscience named Gunther and a good one named Stewart. The latter is crushed under a rock during Malcolm's childhood as part of his Start of Darkness but returns in-game. Malcolm then asks the player to choose which one to stick with or to choose both since Malcolm himself doesn't care about morality, just wanting to Clear His Name so that he can finally go home and take a nap.
  • A brief scene in the second Simon the Sorcerer game features this trope. Simon being Simon opts to side with the bad angel.
  • In Mass Effect, there are several instances when Commander Shepard must resolve a situation by choosing between a clearly good Paragon option or a clearly evil Renegade option. In some of these cases, Shepard's two squadmates will offer their opinions on which option Shepard should choose with one squadmate supporting the Paragon option and the other supporting the Renegade option.
  • The Suffering used a variation of this trope. When Torque is faced with a moral decision at some points, his wife Carmen acts as the shoulder angel and Torque's evil side acts as the shoulder devil. The sequel has Carmen act as the shoulder angel and Blackmore act as the shoulder devil. In both games, they do not actually appear at Torque's side at these points, but their voices can be heard.
  • The preview trailer for In Famous 2 has a scene where two female characters walking behind Cole are shown at an angle evoking shoulder angel and devil. Over his left shoulder is a biker girl egging him towards destruction while over his right is a federal agent urging him to restore order.
  • The Pyro has this as a Misc. Item: The Cremator's Conscience; they are in a chest pocket. Description: "'Burn him with fire!' 'No Burn him with fire, then hit him with an axe!'"
  • Tao and Lahmu are more or less this to Sahori in Shin Megami Tensei V. Tao tells Sahori what she should do in a given situation. But Lahmu tells Sahori what she should not do in a given situation. Unfortunately, Sahori chose Lahmu over Tao, because Lahmu is surprisingly tempting for such a scary fellow. But the more Sahori listens to Lahmu, the less human she becomes. And the less human she becomes, the more demonic she becomes as well. Luckily, Sahori does the right thing in the end...but unfortunately, the demon on her shoulder eventually decided to kill the angel. And it's not pretty.

Web Animation

  • A series of short flash cartoons, entitled Dog, Buddha, Elvis uses the three title figures to represent a man's psyche.
  • Parodied in the Machinima series The Strangerhood, where Griggs' Good Angel and Bad Angel get into a fistfight, then the other characters' Good Angels show up and throw a party.
  • The Homestar Runner cartoon "The Baloneyman" uses Strong Bad's good and bad angels together as a (neutral) personification of his brain, which he tries to "fool" into feeling refreshed by rubbing a baloney sandwich shaped like a popsicle on his head:

 Devil Strong Bad: You see this guy? Rubbin' a sammich on his head?

Angel Strong Bad: I know, I know... just let it go. You gotta pick your battles.

  • In The Annoying Orange episode Cruel as a Cucumber, Orange wants to get Cucumber to like him. Angel Orange and Devil Orange both pop up to give him advice, but both of them just suggest telling Cucumber lame puns. Angel Orange's suggestions are nicer, though.

Web Comics

  • Parodied extensively in Sluggy Freelance. For instance, the character Riff has such a low-key personality that instead of a good angel and a bad angel, he has an "I dunno" angel and an "I dunno" devil. Meanwhile, Torg's bad angel is way too zealous to be persuasive, and instead of coaxing Torg towards temptation, he usually just yells at him to kill everybody. Two separate strips of the comic are devoted to describing the events at a bar where the good and bad angels of the characters hang out.
    • Though when Riff is confronted with a truly difficult moral dilemma, his angels not only talk but switch shoulders.
    • The most peculiar example is found in the "Meanwhile in Hell" guest strips by Ian McDonald, where the trope is once played straight if humorously — except that the shoulder angel and devil belong to Satan. So we end up with a generically good Satan-angel who is telling Satan to do what's right. The contradiction is never acknowledged or developed, so presumably the joke just wasn't thought all the way through or didn't come out the way intended.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in MS Paint Masterpieces: Mega Man, having an internal struggle, gets two good angels. He points out "aren't one of you supposed to be the bad angel?"
  • In Megatokyo, Piro has been assigned an agent named Seraphim from the "Conscience Enforcement Authority," who effectively fills the role of the good angel. However, she has a non-stereotypical personality, often being sarcastic and frustrated about lack of funding. An obnoxious male character from her past, Asmodeus, shows up to aggravate her and fill the role of the bad angel, not so much tempting Piro toward evil as discouraging character development. Meanwhile, a hamster named Boo ("all that the temp office had") tries to assist Seraphim as Largo's conscience, and he tries hard, but being unable to speak makes a difficult task nearly impossible.
    • Later it turns out that Seraphim is actually supposed to advise her clients on all sides of their moral conflicts, while Asmodeus claims to be morally impartial, stating "fun is fun, there is no good or bad".
  • Schlock Mercenary has some fun with this, starting with this comic, in which Tagon mistakes his good angel for a giant talking bug and shoots him. The next two cartoons in the series revolve around the fact that Tagon knows he's not supposed to take advice from the bad one, and the two angels' increasingly violent attempts to convince or fool him. Or just screw with his head.
  • Narbonic took this trope to its extreme: characters are pestered by little winged personifications of their good sides, bad sides, social lives, inner children... the list goes on. The gag is more prevalent in earlier comics, but it can pop up once in a while in later ones.
  • Subverted in Eight Bit Theater, where Heroic Sociopath Black Mage has a Bad Angel (Evil Side) and a Worse Angel (Atrociously Evil Side) where what little difference they have is severely blurred. When he is at a point where his teammate is in danger, instead of debating whether to help him or not, they debate between letting him die or letting him die and killing everyone. He compromises by letting him die and dancing on his corpse.
    • He also has an Inner Scrutiny.

 Moderately Evil Side: He's supposed to double check what you're thinking before you say anything so you don't look like a jackass or moron. You usually don't pay any attention to him.

  • Insecticomics, a Transformers fan-comic, subverts the cliché here.
  • Used and subverted in Misfile. Ash — a boy who has been accidentally turned into a girl — is understandably disturbed when his Bad Angel appears in the traditional Evil Is Sexy hooker getup. The fact that the Good Angel's outfit is hardly any less feminine doesn't exactly put Ash's mind at ease and Ash has a low opinion of angels in any event. The subversion occurs, of course, when both angels urge or approve the same course of action: Ash's angels team up to encourage her to "assist" Emily through a window and to talk with her after a particularly nasty fight.
    • Considering Ash has the wrong gender recorded in heaven, it's entirely possible this is just a continuation of that screwup. Although the shoulder angels themselves know her real gender.
  • Arguably the entire point, or at least a central theme, of Comedity, where Garth's various psychological elements are characters in their own right and make up a council in his head. Though they aren't just advisors... The personality sprites actually constitute Garth's mind; they're frequently shown piloting his body Mobile Suit Human style.
  • College Roomies from Hell expands on this trope by having the angels and devils be various sizes depending on how much the character listens to one or the other: e.g., nice guy Dave has a life-sized angel, while the Anti-Hero Mike has one barely the size of his ear. There's also April's Imaginary Floating Wiser Self, who seems to be something else entirely but serves as her conscience in a pinch.
  • El Goonish Shive
  • UC: Deviating from Normality started playing with this trope, and twisted it in a side story.
  • Dragon Tails once spent a week's worth of comics tearing this trope a new one.
  • Expertly parodied in this Brat-halla strip.
  • Fanboys: Done a couple of times.
  • Shows up in this episode of VG Cats where crazy old homeless guy Dr. Hobo has, instead of a Bad Angel and a Good Angel, a Hobo Angel who encourages him to do bad stuff, and an Inner Clown who rants incoherently. ("Woof! I'm a cow!")
  • Unicornography lampshades this in one strip by having one character tell both the angel and the demon of the other character "you know, since this is the astral plane, i can heard both of you"
  • Played mostly straight in Too Much Information; Ace's good angel is a ghost he helped "move on", and his bad angel is a sexy demoness. Oddly enough, they seem to have a lot in common...
    • Although the good angel is definitely sneakier than the bad angel, and may be less worried about consequences.
  • Played for laughs in The Last Days of Foxhound, when Ocelot, a frequent double and triple agent from Metal Gear Solid has an attack of "Chronic Backstabbing Disorder", (which is a medical disorder in the comic) and his shoulder angel and devil argue against/for going through with it. A bit of a subversion of the usual outcome, since the devil makes far better points and wins so easily that even he feels disappointed.
  • Least I Could Do
    • Subverted when John's Bad Angel is none other than Darth Vader, who encourages him to sleep with the hot single mom of one of his students. When John asks where his Good Angel is some time later, his question is answered by Chewbacca appearing on the other shoulder. At one point Jar-Jar Binks appears, apparently as a Good Angel, but naturally John has no problem with Vader killing him.
    • Later, the aforementioned single mom has her own Angel, in the form of Jeannie, though whether she's good or bad is unclear (she encourages the woman to sleep with John, and sleeps with Bad Angel Vader as well).
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures
  • Jamie Kingston's shoulder angels in Kismetropolis occasionally agree with each other.
  • Played with in this Casey and Andy strip: Andy wants to talk with a hot girl but his good angel disapproves, and, because Andy is going out with Satan, who has control over all "shoulder demons", she appears instead of Andy's bad angel and threatens him.
  • Alice has them in this strip of Loserz. Note that they look like Super-Deformed versions of two friends of her — the Alpha Bitch being the bad one.
  • Jennie Breeden's Author Avatar in The Devil's Panties often features her Good Angel and Bad Angel, though occasionally the two concur. The Good Angel is dressed traditionally, while the Bad Angel wears a black and red corset, a micromini skirt with platform boots, horns and little bat wings. Both otherwise look like Jennie herself (or like her Avatar, which other strips show as no longer resembling the real artist). Later, they're joined by a Princess representing Jennie's latent girlie side.
  • Penny and Aggie is fond of this one. Aggie's shoulder angel scolds her for thinking of pursuing Karen's boyfriend Marshal — until Marshal tells Aggie that Karen went from a frumpy nerd to an ultra-popular sex goddess purely on her own initiative (when in fact Aggie assisted in the transformation). Then the angel says, "I got nothin'. Go get him." Aggie has no corresponding shoulder devil "You don't get one! You ARE one! Shaaaaaame!"
    • Karen herself has a shoulder angel — who mostly seems to spend her time bound and gagged as the prisoner of Karen's two shoulder demons. See here. At another time, though... See here.
  • Frank from Coga Suro has a classic "shoulder angel" and "shoulder devil". These are unusual in a few ways: his "shoulder devil" has been known to leave Frank and influence others, and his Good Angel has appeared in full human size at least once.
    • When Frank finally activates his Artemis, it has two different colour schemes, echoing the opposing colour schemes of his Good Angel and Bad Angel.
  • This Better Days strip. Add in a... Zen Angel, or something.
  • Parodied in this Something Positive strip.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering webcomic UG Madness, Dominic's shoulder devil tells him to use all sorts of powerful cards reviled among casual gamers. His shoulder angel is no help at all, being a Cloudcuckoolander with Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny
  • An Ugly Hill comic has Hastings' shoulder angel and devil arguing with one another about whether or not Hastings should cheat on his wife with a woman he met in a bar. Hastings reveals himself to be drunk, and the shoulder devil exclaims "He's wasted! I win by default!"
  • Boy Meets Boy uses this trope a lot.
    • The trope is occasionally subverted when the angel and devil are in agreement.
      • Also when it is discovered that Tabitha has no good angel.
    • Its spinoff Friendly Hostility likes to use this one occasionally. There is one sequence where a good angel is attracted to the classic hooker dressed bad angel. She says they can't be together because they are on opposite sides so he gets a transfer to the bad side just to learn that she's transferred to the good side.
  • The sci-fi comic Outrim has Prudence's shoulder beings (representing Reason and Emotion instead of Good and Evil) too polite to disagree.
  • Subverted in Otaku No Yen in this strip. Shortly after appearing, the angel stops trying, since he also agrees with the devil, but had to make an attempt to do his job first. Later on, the devil (having tied up the angel elsewhere) reappears alone and argues that the absence of the angel indicates that there is nothing wrong with what is currently going on.
  • Tony from Charby the Vampirate: His angel just agrees with the devil.
  • Filthy Lies:

 Joel: Two angels? Shouldn't one of you be a devil?

Angel #1: Nope. You are a total candyass.

Angel #2: Totally.

  • YU+ME: dream
    • Fiona only has one such angel/devil, known as Conscience. Lia's Conscience also makes an appearance once.
    • Later it is demonstrated that, in the absence of a conscience, humans really don't need bad angels to turn into monsters.
  • Sarah from Weregeek does it with her RPG characters in this strip: Her D&D cleric and her Vampire character. Then her Shadowrun character intervenes, and the discussion sort of falls apart.
  • In Jayden And Crusader, the character Kat has a mental illness which manifests as a tiny angel and tiny devil when she does not take a proper course of medication, as demonstrated here They do not seem to provide any advice, only to chatter inanely.
  • In It's Walky, when Joyce is finally about to lose her virginity, she has illusions of her slutty alternate "evil" self and the hyper-puritanical "good" person she used to be. The slutty version eggs her on, the puritan castigates her. Their bickering is then interrupted by an illusion of Joyce as the more balanced, mature individual that she is now, who tells them both to shut up as she wants to watch.
  • And Shine Heaven Now, with both Integra and Timothy. Played with in that Integra's angel and devil appear in full-size versions during a storyline taking place in Hell.
    • And now Enrico has Bad Angel...and Delirium, who's filling in for Enrico's good angel while he's lost in her domain. This is taking place while Enrico goes insane with power and starts to slaughter innocent Protestants.
  • In The Wotch, Robin does not have an angel and devil, but a Jedi and a Sith (while his best friend Jason has two Siths who only argue over whether Vader or Maul is better).
  • Ménage à 3
  • Unusually subverted in Bristled.
  • Subverted in Gorgeous Princess Creamy Beamy:

 "W-where's the angel? The one that tells me to be good?"

"That's in cartoons, you ditz. Nope, God only had enough miracle sauce to make one of us per person. And it picked the bad side because... spite, mostly."

"So who's supposed to tell me what the right thing to do is?"

"If you can't figure that out without an angel, then you kind of suck."


Web Original

  • In the Whateley Universe, Jade gives Ayla a literal pair of them as a prank... and thereby inspires other students to come up with their own more or less successful versions in turn. The whole thing escalates until the headmistress ends up banning them.
  • In Periodus, the angel is a positron with a halo and the devil is an electron with horns (1). They don't actually care what's going on; they just love to argue.
  • Kawaii RanChan on livejournal has an odd habit of adding in her own twist on what she calls her shoulder angels assigned to her by a division of angels in Heaven called Angels Inc., which is a company that assigns guardian angels to people in need. The angels themselves always take the form of characters she likes, OOC or not, that way to actually get her response. It is hinted in a few entries from her good angel that "we're less guardian angels, more invisible friends" — which is all just her own satire about herself. Doesn't make her less crazy.
  • Subverted on the "Give In" episode of [1]loadingreadyrun, when the main character is trying to decide if he should shoot someone, and he goes ahead and shoots the guy before his good angel has a chance to give his point of view. The good angel is quite annoyed by this.

Western Animation

  • 2DTV subverted this gag twice with footballer Roy Keane, his shoulder devil egging him on to kick Micheal Owen in the groin. Resisting the temptation, an even bigger devil shows up and eggs him on to do worse, which he then does. Owen's shoulder angel peacefully tells the battered footballer not to retaliate, with a larger angel suggesting they should buy Roy some flowers.
  • Used straight in many of the old Looney Tunes cartoons, though the angels weren't above occasionally telling each other to "Shaddup!"
  • The Simpsons
    • In one of the shorts before The Simpsons became a series; One involved stealing from the money jar, Barts devil tells him to take the money, the angel tells him the same thing in agreement.
    • On the Treehouse of Horror story, "Attack of the 50-Ft. Eyesores," Bart sits on the shoulder of a giant Devil (really a mascot come to life). In his right ear, Bart tells him to destroy the school. He then goes to the opposite ear and says a similar message in a different voice.
    • In another episode (season four's "Whacking Day"), Homer tells Lisa that inside man is a struggle between good and evil that will never be resolved. Cut to an Imagine Spot of Good Homer's grave as Evil Homer (really Homer in a devil costume) doing the cha-cha on Good Homer's grave, chanting "I am Evil Ho-mer!"
    • In "I Love Lisa," Homer tells Lisa to ignore her conscience, whereupon Homer's good angel appears and tells him that's a terrible thing to say. Homer responds with a dismissive "Shut up!", to which the angel replies with a dejected "Yes, sir!" before vanishing.
    • Homer has "Strict Homer" (a murderous police officer with a laser gun), "Funny Homer" (a drunk, partying Homer in rainbow suspenders), and "Intellectual Homer" (Homer in a sweater vest and a mortarboard) within his head, as seen in the episode "We're On The Road to D'oh-Where." The last of the three has been murdered years ago.
    • In "The Frying Game," after killing an endangered caterpillar, Homer's bad angel kills his good angel, telling Homer that now "they are in this together." Then they high-five each other.
    • Various colour coded miniature versions of Lisa represent her various states of mind, including envy, guilt, the conscience itself, and the libido, who's been locked in a cage and isn't allowed to come out until she's 16.
    • When Moe opens up a gay bar, a devil-esque, goat legged miniature Moe with horns appears on his shoulder and gives him advice. When asked where the angel is, the apparition replies "I am angel-Moe". Cue a larger reptilian monster popping up on the other shoulder, reaching over, and devouring the angel-Moe.
    • In yet another episode, Homer is portrayed with 400 devils on his shoulder.
  • In a couple of episodes of Garfield and Friends, Garfield's good and bad angels fight over what courses of action he should take. His bad angel usually uses every method he can think of to send the good angel as far away as he can; the good angel, in return, often reenters the scene through unusual means. (Example: the bad angel mails the good angel to Hawaii. The good angel later walks back through the door carrying luggage and wearing an aloha shirt.)
  • Slightly spoofed in Lilo and Stitch: The Series, where Stitch undergoes the "two devil" variation when he ponders whether or not to get rid of an experiment stealing Lilo's attention away from him.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Earth King", Zuko has a fevered dream of red and blue dragons representing his uncle and sister, a scene which turns literal in the season finale. Also note the Foreshadowing: his "Evil" Ancestor, Fire Lord Sozin, owned a Blue (or, blue-ish, at the very least) dragon, while his "Good" Ancestor, Avatar Roku owned a Red Dragon. Said ancestors were best friends, until the evil one left the good one to die under tons of volcanic soot.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, this trope is spoofed with an angel doughnut and a devil doughnut appearing on Patrick's shoulders.
  • The short-lived show God, the Devil and Bob had a variation on this, where Bob was constantly visited by...well, guess, with the devil trying to prove that there was no good in humanity by focusing on Bob, a crude, loud-mouthed imbecile.
  • In the {Western Animation/{Daria}} episode "Lucky Strike" (where the teachers finally go on strike), Daria gets one of these moments after Ms. Li tries to get her to take the place of a substitute that her mother got fired when she discovered that he was flirting with Tiffany.

 Devil Daria: Not so fast. You'll get out of gym class.

Angel Daria: You? A scab?

Devil Daria: Oh, great. Touched by an angel.

Angel Daria: You'd be betraying your teachers.

Devil Daria: Hey, yeah! You'd be betraying your teachers!

Angel Daria: You'd just be falling into the same trap that managements always use to keep wages low and workers weak.

Devil Daria: Oh, go dance on the head of a pin. You could make Quinn's life really miserable.

Angel Daria: Huh. That's a good point.

Devil Daria: Hey, you hungry?

Angel Daria: Yeah, we can pick this up later.

(the "devil" and the "angel" disappear)

  • In Father of the Pride, Larry (a lion), starving because of his diet, starts contemplating eating his best friend's girlfriend (a gopher). His Devil is a lion, but his Angel is a gopher, and thus barely gets to say anything before the devil eats her.
  • In some old Disney shorts with Pluto the Pup, Pluto has an angel and a devil, who were both dogs like himself; angel dog wore a halo and devil dog wore horns and a red cape. Devil dog usually encourages him to do things like disobey Mickey and chase cats.
  • An early Donald Duck cartoon, Donald's Better Self, has Donald skipping school because his devil told him to while his angel tries to lead him in the right path. By the way, both angel and devil are as tall as the Duck, and they're given normal voices, unlike Don himself... perhaps so Donald has no trouble understanding his inner thoughts?
  • A House of Mouse short features Pluto's angel and devil. Later, after Mickey punishes Pluto for making a mess (when it was actually three kittens who made the mess), Pluto's angel and devil start giving Mickey suggestions. And they don't just look like Pluto's; the Devil even mentions the kittens, which Mickey does not, at this point, know about.
    • They also appeared in another short that for some reason wasn't even aired with that show at all! In this short, Pluto's conscience persuades him into thinking that Minnie Mouse is out to get him after Mickey left him at her house while he was on vacation. Said conscience later makes him have nightmares about Minnie burying him alive, and even drags him to Hell!
  • Several Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats cartoons feature Heathcliff talking to his shoulder angels, in the end he usually ends up listening to his shoulder devil.
  • Metalocalypse
    • An episode has Nathan confronted by his Good Angel, Bad Angel-Murderface and Pickles respectively, at the dentist's office. Murderface claims that taking the knockout gas would leave you at the mercy of a molesting dentist, and therefore makes you gay. Pickles says it wouldn't matter, since you'd be out cold anyway.
    • Another episode had Pickles, now sober, locked in a room with a table full of booze while his bandmates are in danger. The good angel tells him he should go save his friends, the bad angel encourages him to start drinking. He does both.
  • In an episode of The Flintstones, Fred buys a sweepstakes ticket and shares it with Barney who is broke and unable to purchase one. Barney decides to guard the ticket. Fred didn't trust Barney under the influences of good and bad consciences. The devil pursues Fred to sneak into Barney's house to steal the ticket.
  • In Batman the Brave And The Bold, The Phantom Stranger and The Spectre act this way in a certain decisive moment.
  • The short Hector's Hectic Life has this trope after the dog throws out puppies in the cold.
  • Nicky of Pepper Ann, was once seen with two good angels, one on each shoulder.
  • Appears in a few episodes of The Smurfs in the form of Angel Smurf and Devil Smurf whenever a Smurf is tempted with a moral dilemma.
  • A Spanish show called Lola and Virginia has used this with Lola, one of the main characters a couple of times. But they've done it a bit differently.
    • In one episode she asks a student from her friend's karate class to help get back a bracelet that another girl took from her. Lola's friend tells her that karate students don't go around beatin people up. Lola says that's not what she had in mind at all. She smiles innocently, but for a second she changes into a devil version of herself, with a black dress in place of her usual red one.
    • In another episode, Lola is in a contest to win a moped. A classmate is also trying to get it for his brother. Lola feels bad about beating the boy and imagines her devil self beating the boy to the top of a mountain using a helicopter, when he was climbing. Lola's devil self runs for the prize, but is held back by Lola's angel selfs, who restrains her by grabbing her tail. A moment later, when Lola helps the boy win and beat a girl who was cheating, her angel self and devil self actually high five each other.
  • The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had a Tom Brokaw angel and a Don Rickles Devil arguing about whether or not to follow the Congressman Weiner scandal.

Subversions, parodies etc.


  • One of the "Not going anywhere for a while?" ads for Snickers subverted this by having a cartoon Republican elephant and Democratic donkey appear over a (live-action) voter's head in the voting booth and argue about who the man should vote for. Their arguments are parodies of the presidential candidates of that year (George W. Bush and Al Gore); the elephant repeatedly compares himself to his father, while the donkey makes grand claims about inventing things.
  • Played with in one of the Philadelphia cream cheese ads, in that the protagonist herself is actually an angel and therefore has only a devil appear on her shoulder.

Anime & Manga

  • Early in Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate's devil tells him to give up, while his angel tells him not to give up hope...and suggests that he kidnap Nagi and hold her for ransom, which freaks out the devil.
  • Dark Magical Girl Utau in Shugo Chara has two Charas, Iru the Devil and Eru the Angel.
  • Elyse in My Balls doesn't have a good/bad angel, but rather a tsun-tsun angel and a dere-dere angel. Yeah, that's right.
  • The gag manga Cut Away has a girl find a wallet. Immediately her inner angel and demon start arguing over what to do... soon joined by her inner Buddha and inner Shiva. Eventually all manner of inner mythological being joins in the debate ("And they all have my face!"), only to be silenced by her inner high-school principal.

 Friend: So what happened?

Girl: They all went to their class reunion.



  • A Bec & Kawl strip from Two Thousand AD subverted this with a Pagan avatar showing up to present a third option when Beccy is finally given the chance to rule the world.
  • One PS238 storyline involved "cherubs" and "imps", representing Order and Chaos rather than Good and Evil, influencing people's behaviour, and resembling the Good Angel, Bad Angel to those who could see them.

Live Action TV

  • Parodied in That 70s Show episode "Roller Disco", in which Fez is tempted to take advantage of a drunken Jackie. Instead of Angel vs. Devil, he's got Batman vs. Riddler.
  • Subverted in the Married... with Children episode "Oldies but Young 'Uns", where Kelly's new boyfriend, Vinnie doesn't dare to touch her, because he's afraid of Al. A miniature devil and angel appear on his shoulders, and the devil says: "Oh, grab her, you've got worse beatings for less." When Vinnie turns to the angel, the angel says: "What you looking at me for? If I wasn't so tiny, I would be wild-thinging her myself!"
  • How I Met Your Mother: At a Halloween party Barney (dressed as a devil) and another guest (dressed as an angel) argue about whether Ted should urinate from the roof... at least until the angel asks Ted and Barney for marijuana.
    • Made more amusing when Barney tells the other guest to "Go to Hell."
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gives Will two devils. While he's deciding on whether to "borrow" the car keys and sneak out, his shoulder devil appears. After the devil tells him to take the keys Will expectantly turns towards his other shoulder, only to have his other shoulder devil appear and tell him to take the damn keys already.
  • A similar example from the 2011 series of Rab C. Nesbitt. While trying to resist the demon drink, a devil appears on Rab's shoulder in the form of his mate Jamesie Cotter. Rab is Genre Savvy enough to know that he should wait for his good angel to appear (and tells the audience as much). The second angel duly appears in the form of Shane MacGowan, telling him "No luck mate, you've got two bad angels."

Newspaper Comics

  • In one Tina's Groove strip, Tina is confronted by what she assumes are her shoulder angel and devil, representing her conscience and temptation. They inform her that they're actually the team that warns her of embarrassing dandruff, and are there to recommend a good shampoo.
  • In an episode of Arlo and Janis, Arlo is visited by two copies of himself, both identical. One tells him he should be more ambitious, out to change the world. The other says that the world needs more honest, contented, hardworking family men and he's doing fine as he is. He asks, "Shouldn't one of you have a halo and the other horns?" They both shrug blankly.

Video Games

  • In Famous 2 has the characters Kuo and Nix, who each encourage Cole to act towards good or evil, respectively. The subversion? The climax has them switch roles.

Web Comics

  • Brawl in the Family has a pair for Ganondorf, who has a shoulder devil, and a second, more satanic shoulder devil. Lampshaded in [[The Rant the accompanying newspost as the}} "shoulder angel gag".
    • The Alt Text claims that conversely, Peach lacks a bad side.
  • In this Wulffmorgenthaler strip, with the caption: "Sign you're having a serious drinking problem", a man's shoulder devil point to a glass of beer, saying "Drink another beer, you know you want to...", promptly followed by the shoulder angel chiming in with "Great idea! Drink! Drink! Drink!".
  • Nedroid gives us Conscience Bear
  • Absurd Notions presents "the dueling consciences of the sysadmin: 'Lazy' and 'Bastard'."
  • The Japanese Beetle has a villain called The Enabler, whose entire shtick is that he's a Contract Killer using Incredible Shrinking Man and Telepathy powers to pose as someone's Bad Angel and drive them into self-destruction. When he attempts this on the titular hero, Ken's first response is to ask, "Where's the guy for my other shoulder?" He finally realizes something is up when his pre-teen fan Katie asks "Who's that mean little man on your shoulder?"
  • This Lit Brick strip gives Dr. Faustus three shoulder consciences... the third being Mr. T.
  • Cest La Vie. In which Donna's demon on the shoulder takes the form of her cynical and caustic best friend, Mona, berating an angel who is a small helpless version of Donna.
  • In NSFW Comix, when Grant and Spatula have a bet over whether Cuthwald is still as perverted as before, they are talking to him as if they were the Good and Bad angel, and the background provides strategically placed horns and wings
  • Guy from Two Guys and Guy takes all the "no good conscience" characters above and shows 'em how it's done.
  • Juvenile Diversion initially plays it straight... until next page where the two angels get quite intimate.
  • Keti of Footloose has a least 4 imaginary advisor's, two of which represent her non human genetics and two who take the form of two of her friends. They are possibly a product of a mental condition she inherited from her mother.
  • The Order of the Stick has several variations:
    • Playing it straightest is this strip, which references the fact that Dungeons and Dragons (which the comic parodies) has an alignment system based on both good/evil and law/chaos, so in addition to a traditional set of good angel and bad angel, Elan also has a lawful angel and a chaotic angel (who resemble a Modron and a Slaad, the outsiders for those alignments), neither of which are much help — the lawful one speaks in binary and the chaotic one is a Talkative Loon.
      • The good and evil angels also, unsurprisingly, look like a Solar and a Pit Fiend respectively, examples of an angel and a devil in the game.
    • Belkar Bitterleaf, the Heroic Comedic Sociopath halfing ranger/barbarian, has what appears to be a Shoulder Devil and a Shoulder Demon. One argues for his longer-term self-interest and the other for instant gratification. He initially expresses confusion at the appearance of a second devil (evoking the 8BT example), but is told that the angel "doesn't work here anymore". Cut to an angel in a straitjacket saying "He just kept stabbing them, over and over... he's a halfling, he's supposed to be jolly... Why isn't he jolly?... WHY ISN'T HE JOLLY?!" Now there's only two of them... and the Slaad, but "trust me, you don't want him to come out."
    • When Haley the rogue loses the ability to speak, she first hallucinates a version of herself that's dark and sarcastic and cynical — her moody teenage self, acting as de facto Bad Angel. Then her optimism shows up to act as Good Angel. Then, as the stress causes her psyche to fracture further, she has a complete ensemble of her various personality traits, all showing up at once and arguing over each other. It's not exactly helpful. Though the "Bad Angel" is actually quite sensible.
  • Here's another bad-angel variant from Vicious Lies.

Western Animation

  • On the very first episode of Family Guy, Peter's shoulder devil appears - but the angel is missing, revealed in a cutaway to be caught in traffic. Later on, the angel shows up on time, but instead of advising Peter, he stops to listen to his own shoulder devil, because for some reason his own shoulder angel's caught in traffic...
    • Another version from season three ("Ready, Willing, and Disabled") has Peter's shoulder angel shoot Peter's shoulder devil, and threaten Peter at gunpoint to go over and comfort Joe.
  • Mucha Lucha - Ricochet experiences a straight example when he considers stealing something from a classmate. The episode ends on a gag involving the Flea trying to melt the polar ice caps (by rubbing two sticks together), and he gets the two devils versions.
  • In Slacker Cats Eddie uses his hands to pretend to have the angel and devil when deciding on things. The "angel" points out that he's simply there for show and nobody listens to him anyway. At one point Eddie decides on something rather horrible and both the angel and devil are disgusted.
  • Spoofed in the South Park episode "Ike's Wee-Wee", when both sides agree about Mr. Mackey drinking a beer.

 Devil: Go ahead. Drink the beer. It'll calm you down.

Angel: Yeah. Why the hell not? It's just a beer. Don't be such a pussy, okay?

  • Two Stupid Dogs. The small dog's devil side tells him to sell out the big dog. His angel side... tells him the same thing.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures; Plucky Duck has a shoulder devil and a meaner shoulder devil who calls the first one a wimp.
  • Spoofed in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Brother, Can You Spare an Ed?" Ed is sent shopping by Sarah to buy some fudge at the candy store, but Eddy tries to convince Ed to buy jawbreakers for himself and his friends instead. Edd tries to convince Ed to do as his sister asked, and the argument is represented by a Shoulder Angel Edd and a Shoulder Devil Eddy trying to persuade Ed. However, different from a lot of the occurrences of this trope is the fact that the Shoulder angel/devil mirror all of Edd & Eddy's actions, right down to the two of them actually fighting.

 Edd: Stand firm and deliver, Ed! Let integrity be your guide.

Eddy: He's right, Ed. And "integrity" in Latin means "buying jawbreakers".

  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Spitballs" Rocko is trying to catch a foul ball. After receiving The Worst Seat in the House, Heffer suggests they move down. Rocko's devil agrees while the angel protests. When the devil shows the angel the view with binoculars, the angel changes its mind and tells him to get the good seats before they're gone. At the end of the episode Rocko has caught a foul ball but a little kid asks for it. The devil tells Rocko to keep it while the angels says it is better to give then to receive and ensures Rocko gives by hitting him with a baseball bat.
  • In a Timon and Pumbaa episode, Timon's shoulder angel and devil advise him whether or not to eat some friendly termites. As they're arguing with each other, Pumbaa's shoulder angel and devil appear and start arguing with Timon's angel and devil.
  • In The Simpsons, when Moe refurbishes his bar into a gay lounge, he at first thinks of telling his new patrons that he's straight. The first one to pop up is his shoulder devil (essentially Moe dressed in a tuxedo with devil props), who encourages him to hide behind his homosexual façade, but when he says they should wait for what Angel Moe has to say, the devil replies: "I'm Angel Moe". Then, the real Devil Moe (a bestial-looking, hulking red demon) pops up on his other shoulder and devours Angel Moe before letting out a guttural, evil laugh.

Real Life


  "When it comes to talking about Microsoft Access, it seems that two tiny versions of me *poof* into existence, each sitting on a shoulder. The guy on my right wears a suit and always reminds me how great of a tool Access is because it empowers small organizations to develop productivity and information systems. The other guy, sporting a "l337 h4x0r" tee and cut-off jeans, screams in my ear that "Access is a complete abomination" and that the tools to create applications should not be put in the hands of laymen."