Firefly and the Special Level of Hell

In the 2002-2003 science fiction television series Firefly, one of the main characters is threatened with a “special level of Hell” in the clip below.

You can watch Firefly on Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, and on Vudu.

Contributed by Philip Smith (University of the Bahamas)

Homer Simpson’s Donut Hell

Hell-Ironic-Punishments-Division-Door-SimpsonsThe Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror IV” (S05E05): after losing his soul to the devil in a bargain over a donut, Homer is subjected to punishments in Hell’s “Ironic Punishments Division,” where the demon in charge of force-feeding him donuts is astonished at his capacity.

See a clip from the episode on YouTube.

See also the action figure released by MacFarlane Toys (pictured below).

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Criminal Minds, “Burn” (S10E02)

Criminal_Minds_season_10_episode_2-Dante-Circles-Hell“There’s been a string of killings, from a drowning, to strangulation, to a hit and run. There seems to be no connection – except all the victims are fathers with sons the same age, and the killings are following the sins laid out in Dante’s Circle of Hell. Apparently, the UnSub has some serious daddy issues.” — CBS

During the episode, the killer hallucinates a voice repeatedly crying to him, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Magnificent Century, Season 1 (2011)

In Season 1, Episode 14 of  Magnificent Century, Concierge Ibrahim is seen to be reading the Divine Comedy in his office.

Contributed by David Francis

Hannibal TV series, “Antipasto” (S03E01)

Hannibal-Antipasto-Dante-Vita-Nuova-TumblrIn the first episode of the third season of the TV series Hannibal (2015), “Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) recites a sonnet by Dante Alighieri, the first poem of Vita Nova, a collection of compositions published in 1295.

A ciascun’alma presa e gentil core is the description of a dream Dante had after meeting his beloved Beatrice for the second time. In the dream, the poet sees Amore (personification of love) holding Beatrice, asleep and wrapped in a cloth, in his arms. Amore holds the poet’s heart in one hand; after waking the woman up, he feeds her with the heart, which she doubtfully eats. After this, joy turns into pain and the poet sees Amore crying, disappearing in the sky with Beatrice in his arms.

“The poet Guido Cavalcanti interpreted Dante’s dream by writing the sonnet  Vedeste, al mio parere, onne valore.

“The reference to the symbolical act of cannibalism in the poem sounds ironic in Hannibal’s mouth.” — Cinematic Literature on tumblr, August 31, 2015

See also the animated GIFs posted by fringeofmadness on tumblr.

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The Fall (S2 E2): “Night Darkens the Street” (2014)

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Among scheming serial killer Paul Spector’s books in his clandestine
hotel room is THE INFERNO. His 16-year-old minion, Katie Benedetto,
reads out the first few verses in a beautiful Italian. Paul then
attacks Katie, and in the following episode, she breaks into his hotel
room and leaves a not-so-nice message in lipstick on the bathroom
mirror.    –Adam Glynn (Bowdoin College ’17)

Westworld S01E05: “Contrapasso” (2016)

Episode 5 of the first season of the HBO original series Westworld is called “Contrapasso.”

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To read about key moments from the episode, see this October 30, 2016, blogpost on The Hollywood Reporter (beware of spoilers!).

David Brooks and Dante’s 7th Circle

brooks“On Meet the Press this morning they were discussing whether Donald Trump has the temperament fit to be president. Alex Castellano was trying to make a comparison between Clinton and Trump as ‘old testament’ vs. ‘new testament’, and right around 41:30, Brooks disagrees and says it’s more like we’re in Dante’s Inferno in the seventh circle of hell…”    –Allen Yu (Bowdoin, ’14)

Meet the Press, July 31, 2016

“Map of Hell” on National Geographic Channel (May 2016)

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“Short of booking Satan himself, the National Geographic Channel could not have found a better celebrity guide than Danny Trejo for its Sunday special, “Map of Hell.” Mr. Trejo is everything you want in an underworld escort: scary, snarly, seeming as if he could reach out of the television set, slash your throat and eat you at any moment.

Credit his persona from the movies, where he tends to play extremely nasty characters. He takes enthusiastic advantage of that image here as he leads a tour of the evolution of ideas about hell, beginning with Virgil and proceeding to early Christianity, Dante, evangelicals and so on, with side trips to things like horror movies. […]”

–Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times, May 13, 2016

See also, Mark Strauss, “The Campaign to Eliminate Hell,” National Geographic, May 13, 2016

Avatar: the Last Airbender

In season two, episode 12, Avatar Aang and his friends Sokka, Katara, and Tof take a refugee couple across a deadly strip of land named “The Serpent’s Pass.” Before they start the path, they come upon an archway with the words “Abandon hope” inscribed on it.

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The episode is available to watch here.

Contributed by Alex Sallade (University of Delaware)