Sometimes, the Devil gets a bad rap. Oh, sure, not all of the time — a lot of the time he's evil incarnate — but sometimes he's just a nice guy with a job to do, a job that just happens to be damning people's souls. Here are seven portrayals of the Prince of Darkness that prove being damned doesn't make you a dick.
1) George Spiggott, Bedazzled
If you're going to spend a day with Satan, then you could do a hell of a lot worse than George Spiggott. Played by Peter Cook, Spiggott actually stops Stanley Moon from committing suicide, and then offers him seven full wishes in exchange for his soul — not a bad deal by anyone's standards. Sure, the devil does twist these wishes to have some fun at Stanley's expense (usually when he forgets to specify something) but at the end of the day he spares Stanley's soul. You really can't ask for a nicer devil than that.
2) Jerry Belvedere, Reaper
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was naming himself "Jerry Belvedere." Played with maximum charisma and suavity by Ray Wise, the Satan of Reaper isn't necessarily the nicest of guys, but he's a hell of a lot of fun to hang around. He bestows main character Sam with the powers of a Reaper, allowing him to combat and capture the inevitably evil souls who have escaped from hell, which is probably a good thing. He's usually pretty nice to Sam, even if he toys with him a bit (usually by teleporting him somewhere thematically appropriate, and then abandoning him there). However, Ray Wise's devil still has a job to do, and that's getting people's souls — when one is on the line, you can't expect him to play fair.
3) Satan, Paradise Lost
Milton's Paradise Lost is basically the first time anyone ever presented the devil in an even somewhat generous light. Sure, the Satan of the epic 17th-century poem is incredibly vain and self-centered, and yes, he obviously leads a rebellion against God and heaven. But he's not doing it just to be a dick, he thinks that God is a tyrant and shouldn't get to control him, which neatly parallels the whole free will-versus-predestination argument. Satan is more of a tragic figure in the poem than a true villain, although he's definitely the antagonist of the piece. But between Satan and God, you'd much rather grab a beer with the devil. Basically, the Satan of Paradise Lost is about as sympathetic a portrayal as someone could get away with in the 1600s and not be stoned to death.
4) Myao, The Devil Is a Part-Timer!
It's questionable whether the star of the anime-comedy The Devil Is a Part-Timer is the Devil or simply a Devil, but certainly his minions call him Satan, both before and after he has to flee the fantasy realm he's conquered and hide in modern-day Japan. Stranded without his magical powers, Satan gets a job at the local fast food restaurant MgRonalds (not a typo), and discovers he has quite a knack for it. Not only is he kind and considerate to his fellow employees, especially Chiho, the high school student who has a crush on him but, when Satan is attacked by the church or the legendary Hero determined on his eradication — inevitably leading to wholesale destruction — if the Devil has managed to accrue any magic power, he inevitably uses it to save innocents and clean up said destruction, confusing pretty much everybody.
5) Parry, Incarnations of Immortality
In Piers Anthony's fantasy novels, things like Death, War, Fate, etc., are offices that humans get appointed to — they come with a range of powers and a specific job to do, but the holders can be killed. In For Love of Evil, Parry is a wizard whose true love is killed by the Inquisition, and who Satan helps corrupt by sending him a sexy demoness named Lilah. Satan later tries to kill Lilah, but Parry manages to defeat the Lord of Evil — and Lilah convinces Parry to take the job for himself before it can go to someone awful, like a murderer. As Satan, Parry looks at hell as a necessary evil, punishing those who need punishment, but he's still a pretty reasonable dude. Sure, Parry wants to defeat God, but that's because he feels the current system of divvying souls between heaven and hell is messed up. That said, Parry still goes out of his way to use his powers to make sure the Holocaust never happens, so major points to Satan for that.
6) Satan, South Park
In the strangely thorough theology of the long0running South Park cartoon, Satan is an outright nice dude, if a bit needy, and prone to making bad relationship choice (such as in the South Park movie, when he's partnered with Saddam Hussein). Sure, hell is full of fire and brimstone and lava, and of course bad people are eternally tortured for their sins. But thanks to the fact that Mormonism is correct in South Park, hell is also full of otherwise good people, who simply live in hell like it was another town (albeit one full of fire). Sure, he's tried to take over the surface world and heaven on occasion, but he's still been super-nice about it.
7) Lucifer, Sandman
According to Neil Gaiman's Vertigo comics, in which the most iconic version of the devil made his initial appearance, Lucifer rebelled against God and Heaven three seconds after Creation, and was cast down when he failed; hell formed itself around him. In the modern-day of the pre-52 DC universe, the gentlemanly, David Bowie-esque Lucifer abandoned hell in order to live on Earth, which caused quite a problem when people couldn't die. By the time Lucifer got his own Vertigo comic series, he was running a piano bar and getting on Heaven's nerves by pointing out how awful and totalitarian and violent God and his angels can be. Lucifer may not be quite as good-hearted as some of the other Satans on this list, but he knows that the game is rigged — any evil he commits or is committed has technically been sanctioned by God, thanks to predestination.