Escaped cancellation twice, Lucifer is now returned for a sixth and final season on Netflix, wrapping up the saga of the devil, Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), and detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), the mortal love of his life.
The show, based on original comics by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, and Sam Kieth. It was originally premiered on Fox in 2016 under Tom Kapinos, with co-showrunners Ildy Modrovich and Joe Henderson. The show was cancelled three seasons later, then saved by Netflix for a season 4. Lucifer was intended to end with a two-part season 5, but the streaming service ordered another season right as the showrunners were finishing up.
“I feel like the legacy of a show is so defined by whether it sticks the landing,” Henderson said in an interview with TV Guide. “And that was where our concern came from, we felt like we were about to stick the landing and it was, ‘Do we want to jeopardize that?’ But what we realize now is, this is us sticking the landing.”
Season 5 ended with Lucifer becoming God. Chloe becoming his number two in heaven (even though she had a young daughter on Earth who just lost her dad), and Maze (Lesley-ann Brandt), who begins the series as Lucifer’s most loyal demon follower, taking over Hell. In season 1, God sends Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) to Earth just to tell Lucifer to return to hell. If he wanted him in heaven as a God-in-training, he could have very easily made that happen. So when season 5 ends with Lucifer winning a civil war to take God’s place, it suggests God’s plan isn’t set in stone.
Season 6 complicates that perception a little. The answer to whether people can escape what the powers that be intend for them ends up being a firm “maybe.” And while that new answer isn’t as clear-cut, it’s much truer to the spirit of the series, which is to say that nothing about identity and purpose is completely black and white.
When it premiered in 2016, it was a police procedural with a side of supernatural intrigue, the story of an angel who rebelled against God and was sent to hell for his crimes, and the mortal female detective who’s immune to his devilish charms. Early in the series, the cases Chloe and Lucifer worked on together were almost all human-on-human violence, with no demons or biblical baddies. The main conflict was whether Chloe would find out that Lucifer was, in fact, the devil, not just some rich guy living out a weird fantasy.
Lucifer didn’t start building its mythology until seasons 2 and 3 when it delved a little deeper into its core themes of forgiveness and change. But the uneven quality of the villains meant that the show’s effectiveness varied. The season 2 arrival of Lucifer’s mother, Charlotte/Goddess (Tricia Helfer), allowed for complexity over the questions of whether she’s a villain or just a woman betrayed by her husband and sons. Neither the Goddess nor Charlotte are cut-and-dried characters. Their complexity helps challenge Lucifer’s understanding of good and bad and by extension, of hell and heaven. But the season 3 big bad, Cain (Tom Welling), is much less compelling. He’s tragic, but also straight-up evil.
Season 4, the first after the move to Netflix, takes the story a step further, combining the questions of fate and the good/bad binary in a new villain, Father William Kinley (Graham McTavish). But in his desperation to prevent the prophecy from coming true, he inadvertently causes it. Because he believed so strongly that Lucifer is evil, he believes the devil is actively trying to fulfil this prophecy, instead of just focusing on his day job.
His story aligns with the recurring conflict between what the characters want and what they deserve, according to the Bible’s clear-cut ideas of good and evil. Take Amenadiel, Lucifer’s more righteous older brother. In the show, angels self-actualize their own powers, and in season 2, when Amenadiel sins and starts feeling unworthy of Godly gifts, he loses his angel wings. He gets them back only when he realizes no sin is unforgivable, and that people can change. Lucifer goes through the same thing in season 4 after Chloe learns his true identity. He believes he’s a monster, so he literally starts to look like one.