Talk:Shoulder angel

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How far back does the angel-on-one-shoulder, devil-on-the-other image go? Did it originate in a political cartoon or something? A TV show? 19:06, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Anybody remember 'Hermans Head'? That show was awesome.

Shoulder Angels derived from Freud[edit]

Unless someone can source the claim that shoulder angels are derived from Freud I'm going to remove that. Personally I think that it is much older than that. -Sensemaker


I was always under the impression that they were derived from Christian morality plays from medieval Europe - most notably Marlowe's Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.XSox 20:38, 28 June 2007 (UTC)


i always thought that the angel and devil always had a specific side? angel on the left devil on the right? or visa verse anyone know? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:06, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

The devil is more often on the left, but I wouldn't say "always". —Tamfang (talk) 16:02, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Is that the person or the viewer's left/right. I would expect the angel to be on the viewer's left/person's right myself. Johnbod (talk) 16:34, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, in the context of shoulders it didn't occur to me to think of someone else's viewpoint. —Tamfang (talk) 20:10, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


If the origin is quite specific, then how come cartoons commonly portray something contrary ?

This sounds to me like clutching at straws to find a link. Isn't it possible that the Islamic belief mentioned is just something similar ? I speculate; so does the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:01, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

plot device or stock character or something else?[edit]

plot device doesn't seem to me to fit at all well; the shoulder angel/devil illuminates what is going on, while a plot device drives events. Could narrative device be the right term? —Tamfang (talk) 06:56, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

   Not a plot device, i think, bcz (as you say) that would provide logic for the direction of the action, but this is more a matter of describing the context of the action. And tho the shoulder personalities resemble characters (by being represented as individuals), they lack all other characteristics of individuals, who are capable of deciding and acting, not just exhorting. They are just one step removed from using a stock phrase: saying "he hesitated over the choice" is kind of like describing individual steps instead of mentioning walking. Or better, it contrasts with condensing the motion into "got tox": you usually have to either leave the indecision unmentioned or say enuf about it that you draw to it more attention than it's worth; i think there's kind of an uncanny valley between not mentioning the indecision and hitting the audience in the face with it (with the shoulder trope), and in that valley much of the audience would feel condescended to, bcz the author seems to have talked down to them. The angel and devil are like the red clown nose, which stands in for a realistically red or swollen nose that might reflect the actor's health rather than the character's: the clear difference from realism makes the point clearly and helps distract from "what would otherwise be a bald and unconvincing" description.
   And perhaps not a narrative device, either, since i expect a narrative to tell a story, not just paint a picture.
   Aren't shoulder guys a metaphoric shorthand for a state of mind, specifically moral indecision, and their "dialogue" really not a series of utterances or actions, but a metaphor (in some cases a quite clear and specific one) for the poles of the indecision? They are a convention for making concrete a state of mind that is hard to describe without hackneyed language. In fact, it's kind of a wink to the audience saying
You'll forgive me for retreading this familiar ground, bcz you too realize that the least hokey way of pointing to the "inner dialog" is to exaggerate the hokeyness that would be entailed by trying to embody a mental conflict realistically.
--Jerzyt 06:48, 13 October 2010 (UTC)


   I 'spose i may just read the wrong comix (Doonesbury, Dilbert) (and i do recall it from the animation of my childhood), but for me the failure to mention its use in special effects in film is surprising. I doubt i've ever seen an example as effective as the pair (on John Belushi's shoulders?) in Animal House, concerning the disposition of the dead-drunk high-school girl who eventually is delivered in a shopping cart to the front of her home.
--Jerzyt 16:27, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Freely-available image[edit]

Dog's guardian angel.jpg

AnonMoos (talk) 12:20, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Considered but rejected. Illustrates the subject well but by an amateur apparently. Dogs are not exactly typical. Johnbod (talk) 14:13, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
I didn't say it was good, I said it was freely-available... AnonMoos (talk) 16:39, 3 November 2012 (UTC)
So what if it's by an amateur (who claims to be a professional cartoonist)? —Tamfang (talk) 00:38, 4 November 2012 (UTC)