In The Howling Man there is a staff of truth, well two actually, that holds the devil. According to the show how does that work?

Put another way, why did the writers choose to use a staff of truth and how did they imagine it works?

  • Are you asking about its powers or its symbolism?
    – Adamant
    Nov 16, 2016 at 9:28
  • 1
    Uhhh... "badly" is the first thing that pops to mind, given how he escapes.
    – Radhil
    Nov 16, 2016 at 14:15

2 Answers 2


A majority of any answer is going to be speculative, since the episode never really focuses on the staff. It's just a tool. It's magic. That's usually enough for suspension of disbelief.

The one big power it seems to have - The Devil can't touch - or even affect - the Staff in any way, and it seems to limit what he can do.

Before Ellington frees him the first time, the staff is notably within reach of its prisoner. For any normal man, the Staff wouldn't have been an obstacle at all (a loophole which the Devil exploits repeatedly), it simply would have been removed and the door opened. Likewise he can't seem to force the door at all, even at the end when it's not a real cell and just a closet. Then there's the vanishing act he pulls once he's free - whether it's a teleport or just turning to smoke so he can drift out the window, that's something he didn't pull while bound, in a cell with windows. So the staff definitely suppresses him in some fashion.

It's probably also symbolic - the Staff of Truth that holds back the Prince of Lies (one of the more common names for the Devil).


wikipedia says "Charles Beaumont had originally envisioned that the monks would keep the Devil imprisoned by putting a cross in front of his cell door. Fearful of a backlash in the religious community, the producers substituted the "staff of truth" over Beaumont's objections."

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. While this might explain why the show has a "Staff of Truth," it doesn't really explain how the Staff of Truth works in the show.
    – DavidW
    Jan 11, 2022 at 4:58
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    I am answering "why did the writers choose to use a staff of truth" It is never explained how it works. Jan 11, 2022 at 5:27

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