We come across heroes everyday and we root for them because they have the qualities and goals that we hold as morally correct. But with every great hero we have a great villain. Whether it’s Jeremy Jamm from Parks and Rec or Joffrey Baratheon from Games of Thrones, we root against them, hoping to see their downfall. But what happens when the villain has redeeming qualities?
The show Lucifer, originally produced by Fox and currently streaming on Netflix with its fourth season coming out this summer, brings to light humanity’s original villain, God’s fallen angel: Lucifer. The show begins by telling the audience the story of Lucifer’s downfall. The angel Lucifer falls from grace and is sent to rule over Hell for all eternity as his punishment. However, the main character Lucifer decides he no longer wants to rule over the condemned, and deems it time for a vacation. He takes this vacation in Las Vegas and chooses to indulge in sex, drugs, alcohol and partying.
Viewers go into the show expecting the worst out of this character because they are dealing with the devil himself. Lucifer does bad things with no consideration for anyone else, he’s greedy, and he’s filled with lust. Viewers see the bad right away as he bribes a cop to get out of a speedy ticket within the first minutes of the show.
However we also get see another, kinder side of Lucifer even within the pilot episode. He makes a friend feel better, and sets her up for success by giving her advice. Lucifer asks nothing in return for the favor, except for her to take care of herself. This shows the audience that Lucifer is capable of selflessness. Later, when she is murdered, Lucifer is determined to find justice for her.
Maybe it’s his daddy issues or maybe it’s rebellious spirit, either way Lucifer is strangely relatable. He is resentful towards his father for casting him out into the depths of hell, so naturally, he decides he simply won’t do it. He refuses to be the Lord of Hell just to please his father. Lucifer is a classic example of an anti-hero. An anti-hero is a central character in a story who lacks conventional heroic attributes. The traditional hero has a fierce moral compass and is upstanding in society, while the anti-hero is flawed. Often times people would rather see the anti-hero rather then the traditional hero, because the traditional hero is too unrelatable. The rise of anti-hero happened after WWII, these men returned from the war having done unspeakable acts. Suddenly this traditional hero didn’t quite ring true to these people. The audience wants to see a flawed main character because that how real people are. The flaws make the character relatable and gather sympathy as the audience hopes to see the anti-hero get their redemption, showing the anti-hero can be saved after all.
One example of that redemption is in the season finale of season one. Lucifer risks his life to save his love interest Chloe and her daughter Trixie. He follows the murderer and is able to save Chloe, however he suffers fatal gunshot wounds in the process. As he is dying he prays to his father asking for him to protect Chloe, in return Lucifer will do anything. Lucifer is willing to go back to Hell just to protect this woman. This is unusual for the audience to see because Lucifer usually puts himself and his needs over anyone or anything else. This is truly a breakthrough for Lucifer as he realizes that some things in life are worth dying for.
Another example of Lucifer’s humanity showing through, is in Season 2 episode 14. In the episode Lucifer goes off the map for a week only to return to Las Vegas with a new wife. This is a shock to the audience because Lucifer and his love interest Chloe had just reached a great point in their relationship. The audience goes through the episode assuming Lucifer has married this woman out of selfishness and lust.
However at the end of the episode it is revealed that this woman was doing Lucifer a favor pretending to be his wife to deter the Chloe from thinking Lucifer and her could have a relationship. Lucifer’s brother figures out his con and calls him out for it. His brother says, “You’re not ignoring Chloe, you’re protecting her, because she had no choice” Lucifer then says “So, I gave it back to her”. This shows that Lucifer is willing to sacrifice his happiness for the well being of a loved one.
Another example of this, is in season 2 episode 13 Chloe is poisoned and Lucifer does the only thing that can save her life, he goes to Hell. Lucifer is aware that there is a fair chance he won’t be able to return to Earth after going back to Hell. The only way to go to Hell is for Lucifer to kill himself. He does this in the hope it will save Chloe. Not only does Lucifer endure physical pain for Chloe, but also mental brutality because while he is in Hell he experiences his own Hell loop, a constant repeating cycle of your worst nightmare. Time after time Lucifer shows the audience he is capable of being selfless and getting redemption.
Lucifer is by no means perfect. But you also can’t label him a Villian. Lucifer is selfish like most people, and perhaps even behaves worse than most. However like every person he is complex, you can’t put him in a box. He does bad things, but does that make him a bad person? Personally, I don’t think so.