Angels in Fanworks

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Angel AU
Related: Demons in Fanworks
See Also: Bible, Wings in Fanworks
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Angels are supernatural beings that are referenced in multiple religions. The image of angels in Western fandom spaces is mostly influenced by the angels of Abrahamic faiths, especially Christianity.

Portrayals of angels in both canon media and fanworks vary wildly, with their morality, abilities, and appearance being dependent on the author.

Description

Depictions and descriptions of what angels look like and what they are capable of vary from one religion to the next, and even theologists who share the same religion cannot always agree on what makes an angel an angel.

The stereotypical angel, as seen in Western pop culture, tends to contain these elements:

  • A humanoid appearance
  • Wings, especially bird-like wings with white feathers
  • Robes for clothing
  • An association with the afterlife and especially with Heaven

Angels are almost always presented as benevolent, or at least working in service of the greater good, in religious texts and theology. However, there has been a recent trend in some popular media to present angels in an antagonistic role. An angel's devotion to the greater good may mean sacrificing some people to save the whole world, for example. Depictions of angels as stuck-up, arrogant, or literally holier-than-thou are also increasingly common.

Some sources claim that there is a hierarchy of angels, with some being less powerful than others. The specifics of the angelic hierarchy vary from religion to religion, but the one most familiar to your average Westerner is probably the nine-rank hierarchy put forth by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 5th century[1]. In this Christian interpretation of the angelic hierarchy, "angels" are the lowest rank of celestial being, while Seraphim are the highest rank.

Modern pop culture that focuses on angels often includes a hierarchy, but does not always stay close to the the theological models. It's common to see archangels be the highest rank in Heaven (perhaps most notably in Supernatural).

True Forms

While the stereotypical angel is a winged humanoid, many have noted that religious texts often portray angels as looking very inhuman. As such, some modern works that portray angels will give them a humanoid form, and a much more alien-looking "true form".

Relationship with Demons

Angels are typically portrayed as in direct opposition to demons. The angel/demon dynamic has been explored in many fictional works and is especially popular in fandom. Sometimes angels and demons are written as enemies, but they can also be written as unlikely friends or lovers. The fact that demons are often portrayed as fallen angels can be a prime angst opportunity for some fan creators.

Fandoms with Canon Angels

Angel AU

In an Angel AU, one or more non-angel characters from canon is reimagined as an angel.

Example Fanworks

Fanart

References

  1. ^ The Celestial Hierarchies of Dionysius The Areopagite