Fools who laugh on Earth must weep in Hell!
~ Mephistopheles' most famous quote.

Mephistopheles is a demonic figure from German folklore who was made famous in the legend of the German magician Dr. Johann Georg Faust (simply known as Faust) but would become a stock character in Germanic literature as a type of folk-devil and a personification of evil. His name is also another alias for The Devil.


Despite his scholarly eminence, Faust is bored and disappointed. He decides to call on the devil for further knowledge and magic powers with which to indulge all the pleasure and knowledge of the world. In response, the devil's representative Mephistopheles appears. He makes a bargain with Faust: Mephistopheles will serve Faust with his magic powers for a term of years, but at the end of the term, the devil will claim Faust's soul and Faust will be eternally damned. The term usually stipulated in the early tales is 24 years.

During the term, Faust makes use of Mephistopheles in various ways. In many versions of the story, in particular, Goethe's drama, Mephistopheles helps him to seduce a beautiful and innocent girl, usually named Gretchen, whose life is destroyed. However, Gretchen's naive innocence saves her in the end and she enters Heaven. In Goethe's rendition, Faust is saved by God's grace via his constant striving—in combination with Gretchen's pleadings with God in the form of the Eternal Feminine. However, in the early tales, Faust is irrevocably corrupted and believes his sins cannot be forgiven; when the term ends, the devil carries him off to Hell.

Movie appearance

The most important movie where Mephistopheles appears is the 1960 German film version of Faust. In this famous movie, he was portrayed by Gustaf Gründgens, whose representation inspired many Mephistopheles -actors in the future.

Powers and Abilities

Mephistopheles is a powerful demon who possesses a variety of supernatural abilities and magical spells:

  • Immortality: Mephisto is implied to be immortal because of his self-description that he lived long before the universe existed.
  • Dark Magic: When Mephisto reveals himself to Faust with his dark magic for the first time, he says he is a part of that power that always wants evil, but always makes good, which might mean that Mephisto is part of evil itself.
  • Shape-Shifting: Mephisto came into Faust's lab by disguising himself as a poodle.
  • Controlling Elements: Mephisto said that he tried to destroy the world often with the elementals and if he would not have kept fire for himself, he would never have anything. In "Auerbach's Keller", he creates a small flame to scare the guests.
  • Mind Control: In "Auerbach's Keller", he hypnotizes the guests when they attack him, resulting in them hallucinating being in a strange land and almost killing each other, believing the others to be fruits
  • Reality-Warping: In the movie (but not in the book), he is shown to warp reality: in the disguise of a poodle (the poodle's not seen in the movie), he ran behind a shelf in Faust's lab, starting to shift his shape with smoke. When Faust tried to command the being he let come into his house, shouting against the smoke, Mephistopheles is shown to sit already on the floor behind Faust.

Popular CUlture

  • In the Marvel Comics universe, there exists a demonic entity known as Mephisto, who serves as an enemy to Ghost Rider, the Silver Surfer, and many other heroes.
    • A different version of Mephisto also appears in the Ghost Rider films, portrayed by Peter Fonda in the fist film and by Ciarán Hinds in the sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.