In The Arms of an Angel: The Hanjobadiel Story [“Lucifer” Season 5, Episode 14]

Courtesy of Netflix

If there’s one thing to know about Netflix’s pop-culture smash hit “Lucifer,” it’s that the Devil-to-penis joke pipeline is a flaccid circle. 

OK, I’m kidding.

The show is obviously much deeper than that. And despite the show’s cheeky (and sometimes over-the-top) innuendo, the emotional beats still hit just the same. You can see this tremendously heartfelt and humorous combo collide in “Nothing Lasts Forever” directed by Lisa Demaine and written by Chris Rafferty.  

In lieu of spoilers, I’ll be brief and basic: this jam-packed episode’s main thread deals with Lucifer as he helps plan a nice retirement for his father, God. 

As God is on his way out to another universe, he decides to have one last hurrah with all of his children via a large BBQ retirement party. 

During this grill-based shindig, God formally announces his retirement and it plunges all the celestials into panic. When the Angels look to Amenadiel as the natural (and well-liked) successor to the throne, Lucifer deters them in a roundabout way to announce his candidacy.

And within that announcement for Lucifer’s candidacy, the handjob-Angel joke was born. 

(In case you missed it, you can catch this sexual innuendo tête-à-tête between the 5:30-9:30 mark.)

Gabriel: So, Dad. Since you’re retiring, there’ll be a new you, right? Who’s it gonna be? If it’s a secret, whisper it in my ear. I won’t tell a soul.

Remiel: It’s obvious who will replace Father. It’s Amenadiel. 

Lucifer: Well, actually, it’s not going to be Amenadiel. It’s going to be the handsomest of us all. 

Gabriel: Hanjobadiel? 

Lucifer: No, not Hanjobadiel. It’s going to be me.

If you’re anything like me, you probably stopped and rewound the show, just to make sure you heard what you thought you heard. One of Lucifer’s siblings was, in fact, named Hanjobadiel.  

Lucifer has an incalculable amount of siblings, and surely coming up with celestial names can be hard at times. Most likely unintentional by the writers, but it makes all the sense in the world that God, played by Allstate’s “Are you in Good Hands?” spokesperson, Dennis Haysbert, probably named one of his fictional children after such an intimate hand-related act. 

I know that the purpose of a joke becomes less funny if you try to explain it, but you can’t possibly just pull a name from the sky like that and expect people not to be curious. 

According to writer Mike Costa in an interview with LCL Reviews; it all started with a little bit of research. 

“We try to pull names from actual religious texts […]. But sometimes, we do invent our own and that one was original to the show. [Because] of the mythology in our show, every Angel has a specific “roll.”  We thought an Angel with that Scandinavian sounding name would be a friendly, giving type.” 

Armed with sheer journalistic curiosity and my ability to never leave well enough alone;  I set out for answers on the oral history of how Hanjobdiel, the Angel of Giving, came to be….

[Below, I used my outtakes from my Season 5B TV Guide interview with co-showrunners; Ildy Modrovich and Joe Henderson, and an upcoming interview with writer Chris Rafferty to compile a handy guide (and international translations) for such a seminal name.]

Hanjobadiel: A Manual History 

Destiny: Other than perhaps the DaVinci code, Westboro Baptist church, Nietzsche, who is the enemy for Godcifer because once he’s at this ultimate form, like who can mess with God?  I don’t think it can be Michael can’t it?

Ildy Modrovich:  Interesting. You’re wondering who the big bad is. Oh, well, that’s an answer you have to tune in and see. 

Joe Henderson: I have an answer for that… 

Destiny: It’s Hanjobadiel, isn’t it? 

Modrovich: Yes. 

Henderson: I think every season Lucifer’s greatest enemy is himself. 

Modrovich: I was just going to say that. 

Destiny: OK, let’s backtrack and talk about Hanjobadiel that name is just so funny… 

Henderson: Hanjobadiel was the result of a room running gag that went horribly wrong or horribly right. [laughs.]

Destiny:  Since all the siblings show up in your episode, “Nothing Lasts Forever” would you like to talk about Hanjobadiel? The handsomest Angel of them all? How did you choose which siblings to name and use?

Chris Rafferty: [The writer’s room] had talked about having the Angel barbecue in my episode. And so I did research ahead of time for other existing Angel’s names because you know, we use existing Angel names like Michael and  stuff from the comics, like  Gabriel. So, I made a list for us to choose from. And they’re so they’re mouthfuls, you know;  Zadkiel, is a weird name, Amenadiel… it took some of the writers on the show two seasons to figure out how to say his name correctly [laughs.] 

And then offhandedly, Joe [Henderson] was talking about a random Angel and he just called him Hanjobadiel. And I love that kind of humor. And I started cracking up. 

One writer even thought he said something completely different, but we just  laughed about it. 

And that was that. But then when I wrote the script, I found a way to put it in and surprised Joe. 

 I was like “Joe, you can’t say Hanjobadiel and not expect me to find a way to write it in.” 

And he was so tickled and he was really worried. Joe was like: “I don’t know if this is too risque. I don’t think we should put it in.”  And I was [begging] “Joe, just let me put it in. It’ll be subtle.” That’s why you’ve got this “the most handsome of us all” line, you might not even notice, you know? 

On my list that I made was: the Angel of animals, the Angel of messages,  Angel of this, Angel of that, and Hanjobadiel…the Angel of giving. That’s not canon like the rest, but it’s the writer’s room.

Destiny: That joke is so wild and super American. I was speaking with Ildy and Joe, and they mentioned the international Netflix’s were basically like “Did you mean not this name?” Because it’s so niche. You can’t translate a name, especially a name like that … 

Rafferty: I’m fine with that because, you don’t have to understand what the name means you know, like it’s just a name, so you don’t have to, but if you’re American and if you catch it and you laugh? Perfect. 

I like humor where it’s not like: “hey, look at me, I’m making a joke.” I just put something in and if it makes me laugh maybe somebody else will get it.

Destiny: Does writing humorously come naturally to you? What’s your process for breaking down a joke like this? 

Rafferty: It’s all a matter of taste. Every single person has their own tastes, especially when it comes to comedy. And when you’re a writer; you just have to figure out what you want to do. And I like to put in things that make me laugh. That [joke] is my kind of humor. Even in regular, everyday life.  I don’t tell jokes to make other people laugh. I like making myself laugh and then if someone else laughs, that’s great. But at least I’m cracking up. So with  Hanjobdiel, I just had to make it work organically in the script. And I didn’t do a bunch of diversions. I just knew it as I was writing it. 

I do have an alternative ending to that scene, do you want to hear it? 

Destiny: Uh, yes please! 

Rafferty: So specifically I left the “D” out of his name, you know? So it’s just Han-job-adiel. So no one can really say [anything to me]. Because I can then say: “No, it doesn’t say [Handjob].” Originally, I wrote a draft that had another line after God’s [the chosen Netflix cut: “who wants another hot dog?”].  But then Joe was like: “this is too much.”  So, I took the line out. But then, on the day when we were shooting, I pulled somebody aside  that was sitting next to me and told them what the original joke was.  And then that person was like: “oh my God, you have to do that.”  So, I went and I told Dennis to say [the deleted line.] He started cracking up so hard. So the original scene goes like this: After God says: “Who wants another hot dog?” The scene cuts to the crowd of Angels, and Hanjobadiel raises his hand timdly, and God says “One more wiener for Hanjobadiel, coming right up!” 

[You can get more about Hanjobadiel’s deleted scene over on Chris Rafferty’s Instagram]

Modrovich: What’s really funny too, is that there was this whole email chain back and forth because they translate Lucifer into many languages, and [Netflix] was trying to figure out if this [name] was an accident. But that’s what’s so great, it’s meant to be a pun. We very carefully said and stated that it’s more of a pun.

Henderson: It’s just a name! 

Modrovich: Yeah, only for the English language [laughs.] 


Post Interview script: Out of curiosity when the season launched, I asked the Lucifans on Twitter to send me their international translations (spellings) of the name.

The winner so far? Netflix Portugal with Masturbadiel, which absolutely trumps the subtlety of the joke making it that much more hilarious. 

If you want to see the original Twitter thread with entries from Romania, Spain, Norway, Japan, Greece, Russia, Mexican-Spanish, and Poland click here. 

 [Eventually I’ll compile them all into their own post] 

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