A God I Am Not
"Janey tells me she's afraid; she says I'm like a god now. I tell her I don't think there is a God. And if there is, I'm nothing like Him."—Doctor Manhattan, Watchmen
This is a character who is godlike, yet dislikes the comparison and firmly identifies themself as a mortal. They may be a godlike Flying Brick a la Superman, a Reality Warper like Doctor Manhattan, a Physical God like Tom Bombadil, or someone who somehow got the powers and duties of an actual god. The crux of their rationale is usually that they are still mortal, human, and terrestrial in enough ways that they don't want to make the claim. Maybe they still think in mortal terms about time and morality, and aren't a Time Abyss or Above Good and Evil. Maybe they don't want the responsibility all that power entails. Then again, it may just be the thought of being actively worshipped that's squicky to them.
Where this gets interesting is when a character who fits all the criteria for a god (and may even be one in the setting's cosmology) still chooses not to think of themselves that way because it would drive them mad. With all that power Samaritan Syndrome could make them take responsibility for EVERY bad thing that happens. On the other end, power corrupts, and the Pride in claiming godhood might make them evil. Then again, they could develop a Blue and Orange Morality from the sheer alien experience of it and grow divorced from their mortal roots, which they adamantly oppose.
Generally, this character is someone who can be trusted not to let omnipotence go to their head, and may even actively seek to get Depowered or pass on the mantle because it's too much of a hassle. Usually this character was at one point a mortal who got Super Empowered into the job, though an actual god may take this position out of disdain for their peer's Jerkass God behavior.
Compare Stop Worshipping Me!, which is specifically about anyone who discourage being worshipped for any of a number of reasons.
Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]
- Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena is the Rose Bride: the immortal or possibly undying holder of the all-powerful Sword of Dios. She just wants to be a normal girl and is generally depressed about being the Rose Bride.
- Inverted by her power-mad and also immortal or possibly undying brother Akio, who wants the power of Dios for himself.
- Medaka from Medaka Box. Numerous characters including her siblings remark on her being the pinnacle of perfection. Yet she sees herself as just another flawed being (which admittedly is true) though this may be through a desire to convince herself of that rather than anyone else.
- Zig-zagged in Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack. On the one hand, people often refer to Black Jack as 'the surgeon with the hands of God'; but on the other many of this series' stories revolve around how doctors can't fix everything, and that even the most brilliant surgeon in the world can occasionally lose patients to arbitrary causes.
- Yurie from Kamichu! is completely unassuming and seems vaguely uncomfortable about the obligations of her new divine status.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- Watchmen has Dr. Manhattan himself.
- The Mighty Thor is a borderline example. Generally speaking, he's fine with calling himself a god, or being called such (being part of a pagan pantheon helps), but doesn't encourage actual worship. This attitude contrasts with Superman's, who actually does deny that he's a god actively, but usually has more "worshippers" than Thor does.
- Superman has been the recipient of worship, and even the odd church or two set up in his name. He's been described as an angel on a number of occasions. This makes him very uncomfortable, though his discouragement has often times only increased the faith of his followers.
- Link feels this way after reclaiming his godhood in The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13, preferring to retain his mortal mindset (and family). He hates the flippancy of the other gods, especially his three aunts, and refuses to behave the way they do.
- Much later in the story he finally embraces the orderly, precise mindset of a god - but makes it clear that he can go back and forth between the two at will.
- In the Nobody Dies side story Six AI's, One Continent, the Reego (or at the very least Una) are not entirely pleased with the humans they've been rescuing and looking after forming a cult and worshipping them. Except for Tres, who milks this for all its worth with a race of sapient arachnids who mistook her for a god.
- Pops up near the end of Ponies Make War: Twilight taps into the full power of the Elements of Harmony during the Final Battle, and acknowledges to herself that she's become a Physical God... and she's horrified by the concept, stating that nopony should have that much power.
Literature[edit | hide]
- Just because Matthew Swift came back from the dead supercharged and full of Electric Blue Angels does not mean he's anything like God. Please stop asking.
- The Eschaton, from Charles Stross's novels Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise.
- Lightsong from Warbreaker is a Returned, a person who died and got raised from the dead by some unknown force, the Returned are worshiped as gods by people in the country of Hallandren, where the story takes place, but Lightsong doesn't see things that way.
- Also from Brandon Sanderson, in The Alloy of Law, part of Harmony's sacred book that sets forth his religion is an explicit prohibition against actually worshipping Harmony. Of course, if you've read the original Mistborn trilogy, you'll know that this is because Harmony is Sazed.
- Borderline example in Percy Jackson and The Olympians, where Percy is offered godhood as thanks for saving Olympus from the Titans, but turns it down, instead asking that the Gods recognise all of their Half-Blood children.
- Ardneh denied being a god at the end of the Empire of the East trilogy by Fred Saberhagen, and instructed Rolf that humanity must cease to worship limited beings. It didn't really help, because thousands of years later, at the time of the Books of Swords series, he was still being worshiped, despite having been dead for thousands of years.
- Arthur Penhaligon from Keys to the Kingdom keeps insisting he's not planning on acting as the Heir to the Architect (that 'verse's God) but no one believes him, and he keeps having to conquer more and more of The House in self-defense.
- The God-Emperor of Warhammer 40,000, although his countless followers would say otherwise.
- Specifically, he tried to construct an Imperium based on complete atheism, despite the fact that he knew full well about Chaos gods and demons. Of course, since Chaos gets even stronger with DIRECT worship he had good reason. There's speculation that he didn't want the temptation that being the object of all that affection would bring... Not that there was much difference between the "reverence" of the days of the Crusade and the "worship" of the later Imperium.
- The Lady of Pain from Planescape has apparently limitless ability to enforce her rules within Sigil (to the point where actual deities obey her dictum that keeps them out). She doesn't have many of these rules, but one of them is that you absolutely must not worship the Lady of Pain as anything remotely approaching divine.
- It's speculated that her rejection of worshippers is the reason the actual gods stay out: they'll respect her territory as long as she respects theirs.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Final Fantasy II's Emperor Mateus is like this, though he eventually ascends to godhood.
- In Terranigma, Ark essentially invokes this by not responding to A God Is You.
- The geth in Mass Effect worship Sovereign as a god, but Sovereign is kind of insulted by the comparison. Evidently gods have nothing on Reapers.
- Advent Rising: Even though humans are worshiped as gods by some of the alien races (for a darn good reason too), Gideon (MC) always denies it whenever he is called one. However, much later he comes to realization what this image still entails some consequences. Also, one of the surviving humans jokes that he "[is]n't the only demigod around here" when she demonstrates her powers for the first time.
- Asura from Asura's Wrath is openly disgusted when humans begin bowing and scraping to him, and is infuriated when he learns that his former comrades are using their "divine" status to harvest souls for Mantra, declaring that there is no need for gods "that only take". But the pinnacle of this attitude comes about when Chakravartin tries to convince him to become an all powerful god. His answer is succinct and pointed: "I refuse."
- The SCP Foundation has SCP-2662, which zigzags this Trope. It seems to be a teenage version of Cthulhu, and like it's more famous relative, attracts cults of worshipers. However, it finds this attention unwanted and disgusting, only wanting them to leave it alone. It has even suggested they try other, more respected religions. However, it also has suggested it might be open to such things when it gets older, the likely reason it is classified as a Keter.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Avatar is the closest thing that world has to a god (besides spirits). But, the current Avatar, Aang, just wants to be a normal kid and even runs away from his destiny at one point. He gets over it eventually.
Katara: Why didn't you tell us you were the Avatar?
Aang: Because I never wanted to be.
- Princess Celestia from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is a powerful alicorn who controls the sun, but prefers to be treated as a normal person. It's the same with Luna, although her outdated mannerisms make her seem more haughty and intimidating than she actually is.
- In the Grand Finale of Generator Rex, Rex gains the full power of the Meta-Nanites as his family always intended and he becomes a Physical God. He only uses that power once to initiate a global Cure event before deciding that he doesn't want godhood and orders the Meta-Nanites to shut down so that no one, including himself, can access such power ever again.