3Jane Kowski in M. Night Shyamalan's Devil
Devil is the M. Night Shyamalan-produced thriller about a bunch of people trapped in an elevator. It's very much like a modern day Breakfast Club, except the room is smaller and Judd Nelson has been replaced by the Devil.
Detention seems a lot more murdery lately.
Throughout the film, these complete strangers are picked off one by one, getting beaten, stabbed and hanged every time the lights blink out. It's essentially the world's worst game of red light/green light. Naturally, they begin to suspect each other of the murders, until it's revealed that (spoiler alert) the little old lady was the Devil the whole time.
The real twist is that Shyamalan ran out of legitimate twists right around Unbreakable.
Why She's the Good Guy:
The point to this story is that everyone killed in this movie is a horrible, horrible person. The victims aren't horny kids on a weekend getaway or innocent children with cursed televisions. They're each bad in their own way (one guy killed a mother and son while driving drunk) and the elevator is where they get their comeuppance. So, the Devil purposely rounds up all these ne'er-do-wells and executes them, Old West style.
And sure, you think, but the Devil is still killing people and they're not getting a fair trial. So that's pretty evil, isn't it?
"God loves due process. This really drives him crazy."
All right, try this:
Cross out every instance of the word "Devil" and replace it with "The Punisher."
Exactly. What's more, the Devil even adheres to rules of repentance. The drunk driver/murderer of the group admits his crime to the police, who are watching on a closed-circuit TV, and gets to live because of it. Thanks, Satan, for letting the courts decide what to do with this criminal. You can damn well bet that he wouldn't get that kind of mercy in a Liam Neeson revenge movie.
Judge not, lest ye be judged. Unless it's a film produced by Shyamalan, in which case -- judge away.
2Cadwallader in The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone has depicted Satan at least a dozen times throughout the years, casting him as everything from a bearded old man in a jail cell to a bobble-headed nickel machine in an episode starring William Shatner (seriously).
He's magnificently upstaged here. Shatner, not the bobble head.
But the first time he appeared on the show was in a famous episode called "Escape Clause," where Satan goes by the vaguely Hogwartsian name Cadwallader.
We bring this episode up because 1) this is another good example of the "Devil makes you a deal that seems too good to be true" trope, and 2) because it highlights how writers don't seem entirely sure what exactly the Devil does for a living, or why.
"'Being evil' makes for a terrible CV. Realty is where it's at, careerwise."
The story goes that Mr. Bedeker, an angry asshole and hypochondriac, sees Cadwallader appear in a puff of smoke in his bedroom asking for his soul. It takes around five minutes and three monologues for this dipshit to realize that, hang on, this just might be the Devil. Cadwallader tells Bedeker that he can manifest in any form he wants, which means the Devil has a hilarious sense of humor, since he chose to look like a sweaty, obese man in an ill-fitting business suit.
You try getting demons to measure your inside leg measurement with 7-inch talons.
Anyway, Cadwallader asks for Bedeker's soul in exchange for immortality and indestructibility. It sounds too good to be true, right? If Bedeker can live forever, what does he care if the Devil wants his soul after he's gone? If Bedeker ever becomes tired of eternal life and starts longing for death, he can always invoke the escape clause in the contract and the Devil will kill him quickly.
Why He's the Good Guy:
So Cadwallader gives this guy the perfect deal, and then offers him a chance to back out if he wants. We all know where this is going. Cadwallader is going to manipulate things so that Bedeker is in an impossible situation and has no choice but to invoke the escape clause.
"Ah ha! If I stay sitting quietly here for the next millennia, there's nothing you can do."
Nope. The Devil stands aside while Bedeker spends a glorious second act jumping in front of trains and buses in order to collect piles of money in lawsuit settlements. After a short while, he gets tired of the monotony and starts looking for bigger thrills. He spends every waking hour poisoning himself, leaping off of high buildings, even eventually killing his wife. And by eventually, we mean after about a month.
We'd have barely finished watching the box set of 24 by then.
He develops an ill-thought-out plan to purposely get sentenced to the electric chair just to see what it feels like. If you predict that he'll get a life sentence and thus have to invoke the escape clause, then congratulations, you understand how ironic punishment works.
Admittedly, this is not a happy ending for Mr. Bedeker. The problem is not the deal with the Devil, though, it's that Bedeker is an idiot. It's not clear what he intended to achieve by pursuing a death sentence from the courts. Even if he had experienced the electric chair and everyone had watched him survive it, did he think that people were just allowed to go home after something like that? He would either have been forced to live in prison the rest of his life anyway or have had to pretend to be killed by the chair and then forced to spend eternity buried in a casket.
"Alternatively, I suppose I could have just taken a bath with the toaster."
So ... back to our point from earlier: Is this how the Devil spends his time? Personally finding the dumbest people on earth and then setting elaborate supernatural traps for them? We're talking about a guy who would have almost certainly done something equally stupid/evil if left completely alone. From the Devil's point of view, it's like boasting about the fish you caught at Red Lobster.
At least with the "Devil Went Down to Georgia" example earlier you could say that maybe the Devil just needed a new fiddle player in hell.
While he's going to have to suffer this asshole for all eternity.