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Character Deep Dive: Lucifer Morningstar

Tom Ellis as Lucifer Morningstar praying in Netflix's Lucifer
Source: Netflix

Portrayed by: Tom Ellis
Show: Netflix’s Lucifer

Holy character development Batman! Characters like Lucifer Morningstar don’t come around too often — if at all. So you’ve got to enjoy them while they’re here. And just in time for pride month. Trigger warnings for mental health, self-harm alcoholism and parental issues.

And if there’s anything Lucifer excels at it is entertaining people. Lucifer Morningstar on paper is a character that could be extremely cliché. He’s a bisexual playboy who never lies and has a bit of a Peter Pan complex and a lot of daddy issues. He just happens to be the devil as well.

But what the Lucifer writers and Tom Ellis do masterfully is elevate him from the playboy persona to a deeply complex and rich character. He captured my attention from the very first moment. (I will neither confirm nor deny that I watched the unaired pilot when it leaked). A character that keeps surprising you moment after moment. 

The devil is always looking for approval, from his brother, his friends, Chloe but most importantly, his Father. Got more daddy issues than most magazine’s got issues. Lucifer is immature and completely self centered and yet does little acts of kindness without knowing. He is extremely broken and full of self-hatred which is the crux of the issue.

How do you even begin to analyze a character like Lucifer Morningstar he is the devil, an angel — a celestial creature. We take a page from Linda Martin’s books. 

Why Do I Hate Myself So Much?: Mental Health in Lucifer

Now see that I understand narcissistic tendencies rooted in a complex paternal relationship and a disrupted adolescence.

See just another screwed up patient and you can treat me as such.

(Linda Martin & Lucifer Morningstar 2×08)

Mental health representation in television is not always great or accurate, but Lucifer kicks it out of the park. Multiple characters on the show struggle with mental health and what is so great is that we see them actually go to therapy. It’s probably not great that the entire group of friends goes to the same therapist but when it’s someone as great as Linda — you get it. But we’re not here to talk about them but about the title character, one Mr. Lucifer Morningstar. 

(There will come a point when I analyze why the only characters I have done deep dives on are mentally ill but today is not that day so let’s move on.)

Lucifer Morningstar gives the appearance of a very happy-go-lucky guy. He’s got a good life, a successful business,  is incredibly charming and also very much mentally ill. It’s a great demonstration  of a concept that not everyone understands, you never know what’s going on in someone’s life when you’re looking from the outside.  

What’s so interesting about Lucifer as a whole is that the realization of his issues is a gradual process. So even though he’s a celestial, it feels extremely human. Because those of us that know the process know that it is not linear and it is neither easy nor fast. First, Lucifer has to learn to deal with emotions. As the show goes on we start getting to the root of the pain that hides behind the anger — which Tom Ellis is masterful at. 

Lucifer loses his identity and has to rediscover it a few times during the course of the show and while Season 3 was less than perfect, it did get the message across. Especially when it comes to the wings and the concept of self-harm.

Lucifer is extremely glib about the fact that he’s constantly cutting his wings off in early season 3. Which we know from Season 3, Episode 11 “City of Angels” and the phenomenal performances of Ellis and Lesley-Ann Brandt that it’s an extremely painful process. It’s even referred to as self-harm in the show. Lucifer thinks he’s sticking it to his Heavenly Father, but the only person he is hurting is himself. 

Isn’t that self-harm in a nutshell? Feeling so out of control that you keep hurting yourself for a semblance of regaining it? Hurting yourself because it’s the one thing you can control. It’s an ugly truth that people don’t actually talk about and it’s not usually portrayed in media. We see it in Lucifer with his wings during early season 3, and then in season 4 we see him embracing darker impulses because it’s what he thinks he deserves. 

He stays in a relationship that makes him desperately unhappy, he blames himself for people getting hurt. Season 4 is a fantastic season for Lucifer’s development but it’s also him at his darkest. To the point where his wings literally manifest as devil wings. It culminates in one of my favorite moments on the show. That moment of realization in Linda’s office in “Super Bad Boyfriend.” 

Linda Martin: Why do you think you’ve been lying to yourself all this time?

Lucifer Morningstar: Because the truth is so much harder to face.

Linda Martin: What is the truth?

Lucifer Morningstar: My devil face, my devil wings, everything that has been happening to me is my own bloody fault. I brought this about myself. How’s about that for starters.

Linda Martin: The real truth is what?

Lucifer Morningstar: There is something rotten inside of me. I find it near impossible to drown out the constant cacophony of voices whispering in my ear, telling me I am evil. I’m drowning, doctor! And I can’t stop asking myself… why do I hate myself so much?

(Lucifer & Linda 4×08)

I could talk about this scene for an eternity. We do not have eternity so I shall try to contain myself. Again, props to Tom Ellis and Rachael Harris. The tension and the pain in this scene is not possible without their impeccable acting. The I hate myself realization, the starting point of a lot of our collective issues. It’s not always as clear cut as that of course, there’s always variations to a theme, but a lot of the root points are similar. We blame ourselves for things we cannot change or things out of our control. 

Lucifer Morningstar hated himself for rebelling against his father that he gave himself his devil face. It went away when he saved his mother but returned in killing Cain. That one always struck me because Cain is a murderer who killed Charlotte, tried to kill all of them and deserved to die and yet, Lucifer still feels like a monster for killing him because he’s human. Lucifer’s mind will take any chance to remind him that he is evil, a monster. 

Isn’t that a lot of what mental health is? Constant reminders from your own head that tell you people hate you or that you’re not worthy enough. And of course, the first thing Lucifer does after the breakthrough is pretend like everything is okay. Which again — relatable — you have a breakthrough and you pretend like that’s going to make it better. Like you don’t actively have to work at it. That’s easier after all. Well in Lucifer’s case it started manifesting in his devil face covering his entire body. 

No matter how he tried to stop it — it was like his body was forcing him to deal with it rather than sweep it under the rug. Linda couldn’t help and neither could Chloe — it was all in Lucifer’s hands. He had to look inward and look at the crux of the issue and how he felt. He had to do one of the hardest things we have to do as human beings: forgive ourselves.

It was in admitting he didn’t know to begin to forgive himself but that he wanted to... that his body returned to normal. That was motherfucking powerful. Because it’s easy to turn on ourselves in times of trouble, but we don’t always know how to forgive — especially ourselves. I know I’ve personally struggled with that so it was very cathartic to see Lucifer get to that point. 

No we do not have all the answers but sometimes that’s okay — as long as we take that first step. Which is usually the hardest. 

Daddy Issues: The Plan 

Lucifer Morningstar: Oh his plan for me was quite clear

Father Frank: How do you know it’s finished?

(Lucifer and Frank 1×09)

What is at the heart of Lucifer’s issues? Well his relationship with his father of course. For most of the series we only get Lucifer’s side in this — and he’s very much an unreliable narrator. We get Mum’s side but she actively admitted to manipulating him so it doesn’t really count. 

There’s a few moments that definitely count: Father Frank, God Johnson and of course, the entirety of Dennis Haysbert’s masterful performance. 

When we meet Lucifer he’s very angry and very hurt. He rejects all notions of Dear Ol’ Dad and keeps sending Amenadiel packing when the latter tries to tell him to get back to earth. We get a hint of the deeper stuff with the wings debacle, but it’s not till my absolute favorite Lucifer episode “A Priest Walks in a Bar” written by the brilliant Chris Rafferty, that we actually get a first hand look at it. 

This is another section where I could write wonders but I shall spare you again. Father Frank Lawrence is one of the most iconic Lucifer characters — which is a feat considering he’s in just one episode. But his effect is long lasting. There’s a reason why every time I recommend this show I tell them to at least watch this episode. It’s that important. 

It’s the first time Lucifer opens up about the hurt he feels and the first time we get a sense that things are not as Lucifer thinks. Lucifer, despite his best efforts, deeply cares about Father Frank and I think that he is pivotal to his development. He opens up to the possibility that things might not be what he thinks. Of course when Frank dies the window temporarily shuts down again but it doesn’t fully shut.  

Father Frank: At first I didn’t understand why God put you in my path but then it hit me maybe he put me in yours

Lucifer Morningstar: I highly doubt it, he gave up on me a long time ago.

Father Frank: You’re wrong Lucifer. Remember your father has a plan.

(Lucifer & Frank 1×09)

We get that stunning scene on the balcony, which is the first of many in which Lucifer will scream at the heavens or try to contact Celestials. This is also one of the first hints at Tom Ellis’ impeccable talent as he screams at the heavens angry that Father Frank is dead. He even spends most of the next episode deeply angry and hurt at his Father. 

Here lies the brilliance of the Lucifer writers. Were they aware at the time they were writing Pops what the relationship between God and Lucifer was? One of the big reveals in Pops is that Javier was actually a lot like his fallen father and wanted to reconcile with him and make him proud. They clashed because they were too similar — sound familiar? He ends the episode following in his father’s footsteps in his own way. 

Flashforward five seasons later and we meet God. We get to actually know him and realize just how similar he and Lucifer actually are. Considering Lucifer ends up following in his footsteps and becomes God? It’s an interesting parallel. 

Lucifer Morningstar: Because I’m your son and you rejected me

The other prominent God and Lucifer are in God Johnson and “Once Upon a Time.” God Johnson shows us that at the root of it, all Lucifer wants is to make peace with his dad. He looks like a little kid when God is speaking through Earl Johnson. The moment he says he is proud of him and the smile on Lucifer’s face? That’s not a man who hates his father — that’s someone who is desperate for his love and approval. 

Daddy Issues² 

God: So all seems to have ended well. Does that mean I never should’ve manipulated things to begin with? I have a better question. Wouldn’t you do the same in my shoes? After all, a parent just wants what’s best for their child.

(Neil Gaiman as the voice of God, 3×26)

“Once Upon a Time” might be an Alternate Universe episode, but it gives us a big hint at how God feels about his relationship with Lucifer. He wants what is best for his son. Parents fuck up from time to time  — even if they’re a celestial being. 

(One would say especially if they’re celestial beings.)

It’s clear watching the show that God loves Lucifer and his children. He wanted to give them the freedom to make their own choices and decisions. But he was a little too distant so that was misinterpreted. 

Dennis Haysbert is perfectly cast. He is warm and yet commanding. Personality wise, he’s a lot like Lucifer, has a deep love of music, falls in love deeply and absolutely is the worst at showing his emotions. Tied in with Lucifer’s self-hatred is it any wonder things went south? 

“If all the apples are bad, maybe it’s the tree that’s the problem.”

(Lucifer Morningstar 5×09)

Lucifer’s growth is stunted by the appearance of his Father. We see him take a few steps back and assume that since he and his Father are similar that means he’s incapable of love. It’s that point of the darkest before the dawn. The family dinner is them at their worst. Haysbert’s performance alongside Ellis’ is magnificent. There’s agony in Lucifer’s voice when he asks if he loves them and pain in God’s eyes when he starts to realize his failures.

Then we get that glorious scene with Trixie and God. Where we see God admit that a lot of Lucifer’s failings are because of him. Through the interactions between God and Lucifer, we see them find a new understanding of each other. Like when God is human and gets hurt and Lucifer loses it. God sees the devil face and understanding dawns. 

They needed to actually listen to each other, to fully be able to embrace each other, the good and the bad. In “Nothing Lasts Forever” (another phenomenal Chris Rafferty episode), we see the culmination of this. First, with Lucifer realizing he doesn’t want his Dad to leave. Repeating the same words he said to Father Frank. Then Lucifer understands that it’s his Father’s choice. Which is a testament to his growth because I don’t think the Lucifer of season 1 would have understood. 

“At our family dinner you were right — I could have been a better father to you.”

(God to Lucifer, 5×14)

Ellis portrays the shock and emotion that these words convey. Yet they’re not as shocking as the ones that come next. When Lucifer hears the words he and we, have been waiting to hear for the entirety of the show. God tells his son that he loves him and is very proud of him, and the way Dennis Haysbert’s voice breaks as he says the words ensures there’s not a dry eye in the house. We see the happiness and shock in Lucifer’s face as he hugs his father. It’s another of the moments in which Tom Ellis transforms into a kid who just loves his dad. 

 Another sign of growth? He immediately says that his brother should also hear those words. Which makes God look even prouder. Lucifer feels steadier as they say their goodbyes and we get that beautiful callback to Father Frank’s talk of a “plan.”

It’s a reminder that we need to really use our words and that things aren’t bad as we might think. And to tell the people we love that we love them. 

I Choose You, Chloe 

This is real? Isn’t it?

(Lucifer Morningstar 2×12)

Deckerstar. 

That’s it — that’s everything. 

It is the heart and soul of the show. Lauren German and Tom Ellis have perfect chemistry and a truly wonderful relationship. Deckerstar are basically what all slow-burns on television should be like. 

If you want a deep and meaningful relationship between your main characters, follow the Deckestar method. They have a connection from the start — it’s not love at first sight or anything like that, but it’s a feeling. Chloe barely likes him and he’s mildly intrigued by her. 

It’s in “A Priest Walks in a Bar” that we could call them friends. Since this deep dive focuses on Lucifer we’ll be talking about his side of things. Chloe is the first person Lucifer allows himself to be vulnerable around. To the point where she shoots him and he actually bleeds. He wants to help her and support her even when he still doesn’t fully understand what those feelings are. 

Father Frank opens the door, but it’s Chloe that makes him walk through it and actually connect with his Father. The first true prayer and connection comes from him not caring about his own life but wanting to protect Chloe. 

It’s not the first or the last time he’ll sacrifice himself for her. He dies in season 2 as well to get the formula for the antidote and kills his own brother in order to protect her. A fact that sends him spiraling. It is Chloe that pushes him to be a better man. It’s not that she wants him to change, but she wants him to be the man he always wanted to be.

Because he wants to be worthy of her. It makes sense that he’d have to deal with his issues with his Father before things settled with Chloe as they are a big part of his issues. And yes, God put her in his path but it was their choice to love each other. As Chloe is immune to his charms that means she loves him for who he is — warts and all. 

There’s a lot of shows that claim that there’s no story once the couple gets together but Deckerstar proves that wrong. Sure they have setbacks — the entire thing with Michael and God appearing triggered Lucifer so he becomes invulnerable again. Growth and healing is not linear and Lucifer as a show doesn’t shy away from the uglier sides of it. 

They talk to each other and grow from each other. There’s no problematic tropes like cheating to make drama. Their drama comes from within, from the day to day of a relationship. The highs and the pitfalls. 

They are soulmates and they love each other. We saw in “Once Upon a Time” that even without meddling, they would still find their way to each other. We see their growth through the seasons as Season 5 gave us the glorious piano sex scene, but also a lot of touching as a love language. Mostly initiated by Lucifer himself. Neither Lucifer nor Chloe are big PDA people so the holding hands in public and being affectionate? It’s a big step. 

It proves that intimacy doesn’t come from just sex but from knowing a person inside and out. Knowing their heart and trusting them with yours.

Of course everything culminates in the gorgeous I love you, which Lucifer sacrifices himself to save the woman he loves. As it’s the theme of the show — it’s all about choice. Lucifer chooses to save Chloe because he loves her. 

That is what finally makes him truly worthy. 

It’s About the Found Family

It’s all about the found family. There is a reason it is one of the greatest tropes of our times. Considering we are in Pride month and Lucifer is a bisexual man, it is especially fitting. Because found family is a very queer friendly trope. Because as queer people, our friends are our family and they understand us better. Not to get all the power of friendship but the power of friendship. 

Lucifer is one of the few shows that truly gets this concept. A lot of shows pretend they do, but the characters are barely friends outside of whatever ties them together. Here, our core group is intrinsically linked. Most of the time Lucifer himself is the common thread but through him, a lot of these people became a family. 

Lucifer’s humanity shines through the people he loves. Because he’s full of love and displays it in so many different ways. He helps Charlotte deal with her issues and brings her into the fold. Helps Candy multiple times and is shown to actually care for her. This all started because he cared about Delilah. 

He is like a brother to Ella. One that is always there to listen to her geek out about things or comfort her when she’s sad. It’s of course thanks to Linda’s therapy that he is able to form these connections, but he truly appreciates her not just as a doctor but as a friend. 

There’s something very poignant about the fact that Linda is the first human to be in the know. They help each other out when they’re in need, and he lets her scream at him when she is at her wits end. Then he gives her the courage to actually talk to her daughter. 

The relationship with Maze started when she was his servant, and it evolves to the point where he sees that they are equals. That she’s someone he cares about as part of his family. They get mad at each other a lot, but they are there through thick and thin. 

My favorite of the relationship is of course Douchifer. Because it’s the unlikeliest of duos and yet it’s beautiful. Not just because Kevin Alejandro and Tom Ellis have great rapport but because of the characters. They start in an unlikely place and you’re certain these two will never like each other. But then their dynamic is just pure gold. Which again is the beauty of a show like Lucifer. These two prank each other and pretend to hate each other, but we all know they love each other. They’re supportive and they try to help. Some of the best episodes are the ones that let these two find common ground. 

Through the friendship with Dan we understand a lot about Lucifer himself. We see his fun side but also his jaded side. We love our bracelet bros and pudding stealers. How proud Dan is of Lucifer actually doing the work. We see growing respect and eternal support. We cry alongside Lucifer as he doesn’t understand Dan’s death. He doesn’t want to understand it. As someone who lost a very good friend — it was extremely poignant and relatable. 

Bracelet Bros for life.

And the Actual Siblings (The Ones Who Matter) 

And of course we have Amenadiel. The other version of holy development Batman. Did we ever think that they would become the duo they did from their scenes in the pilot? They love each other and they’re siblings. They are a very realistic (ish because well, celestials) representation of siblings. You both hate them and love them in equal measure at times. But you’d go to war for them. Seeing them grow as siblings and the devotion that both D.B. Woodside and Tom Ellis put into the relationship and their roles? One of the best parts of Lucifer. We’ve seen them angry, we’ve seen them vulnerable, and we’ve seen them grow. 

The scenes in season 5 with Charlie just elevated them to new lengths. How healing must it be that the devil face that Lucifer hates so much — which is representative of the fact that he thinks he’s a monster —  is the only thing that makes his nephew calm down and laugh.

We don’t get a lot about Lucifer’s siblings but what we do get is telling. We know that they were proud of him when he sacrificed himself and went back to Hell. It’s known that Azriel is his favorite sister, and the one that he was closest too. And that he was a really good brother. So good that Azrael made sure he could be a good brother for Ella as well. Because she knew that they needed each other. 

He managed to get the respect of Remiel and Zadkiel who seemed the most against him just by being himself. His true self, not the person they thought he was. Because it’s the point where Lucifer embraces love. 

Because when Lucifer loves someone it shows and it’s infectious. If it can convince the angel of righteousness, there’s nothing he can’t do. 

I know he is a character I will deeply miss when season 6 airs. Lucifer as a show has changed my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will continue recommending the show — especially to aspiring writers because Lucifer is a beauty of a character. Joe Henderson, Ildy Modrovich and all the writers should be extremely proud. Because he is a masterclass in character development. 

Props to Tom Ellis of course because he’s also a large part of what makes Lucifer so unique. 

 I already know that saying goodbye will be hard — so I won’t do that just yet. At least I know I’ll always be able to rewatch and return to my safe space.

The Crime-Solving Devil, truly makes sense — don’t overthink it. 

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