A shoulder angel is a plot device used for either dramatic or humorous effect in animation and comic strips (and occasionally in live-action televison).  The angel represents conscience and is often accompanied by a shoulder devil representing temptation. They are handy for easily showing inner conflict of a character.  Usually, the angel is depicted on (or hovering near) the right shoulder and the devil or demon on the left, as the left side traditionally represents dishonesty or impurity (see Negative associations of left-handedness in language).

The shoulder angel often uses the iconography of a traditional angel, with wings, a robe, a halo, and sometimes a harp. The shoulder devil likewise usually looks like a traditional devil with reddish skin, horns, a pitchfork and (sometimes) cloven hooves.  Often, both resemble their host.  The idea originates from the Christian concept of a personal guardian angel, who was often considered to be matched by a personal devil who countered the angel's efforts, especially in popular medieval dramas, like the 15th century The Castle of Perseverance. In both this and Christopher Marlowe's  play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, of about 1592, the "Good Angel" and "Bad Angel" offer competing advice (Act 2, scene 1, etc.) to the hero. In several modern fictional stories, a way of showing that a certain character is especially evil or mischiveous is by showing the character with a second shoulder devil instead of the angel, showing the shoulder angel giving the character the same bad (or worse) advice as the devil or by showing them being persuaded by the devil to kick the angel out.

There is a similar Islamic belief of Kirama Katibin, two angels residing on either shoulder of humans which record their good and bad deeds.  However, these angels do not have influence over the choices one makes, and only record one's deeds. They are also called Qareen.

==See also==
* Archangel



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