God-Emperor

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When they call him the God-Emperor of Mankind, they aren't kidding.

A God-Emperor is a sovereign who is claimed, by either self or others, to be a Physical God. This trope can apply to anything from a tinpot tyrant with delusions of grandeur to a Galactic Conqueror or Dimension Lord who has a perfectly accurate assessment of his grandeur.

Given its extreme usefulness in either helping found new religions or unify the recently-conquered into new nations, this trope is Older Than Dirt, and long a staple of fiction or fact.

Compare with Emperor Scientist and Sorcerous Overlord, which is how a good many of them get their start; and The Emperor, to whom the God-Emperor trope may apply also. Compare Priest King, when the ruler is head of both Church and State, but not worshiped themselves.

Note that this shouldn't be confused with the divine right of kings, which was a doctrine holding that kings derive their authority directly from God.

If you're looking for an emperor/king/leader of the gods themselves, see King of the Gods.

Examples of God-Emperor include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Bleach, Barragan Luisenbarn in Hueco Mundo. Incidentally, he got ousted by Aizen Sousuke, who himself wants to be this trope on a much larger scale.
  • Ancient Belka from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Verse had the next best thing to a God-Emperor, the Saint Kings, who claimed to be, well, saintly (while it is yet uncertain whether the Saint Kings were worshipped in their time but the modern Saint Church on Mid-Childa is built around worshipping the last one) and wielded magical powers close to that of a Physical God. For a comparison, an untrained, six-year-old clone of the last Saint King went toe-to-toe with one of the strongest Aerial Mages on Mid-Childa, and would have defeated her eventually, had she gotten serious. Considering that with her final Power Limiter removed, Nanoha scores S+ on the aerial mage ranking scale, it would put Vivio and the other Saint Kings at least into SS zone (something that only Hayate has achieved so far, but Hayate's SS is only a composite rank), with the potential to reach SSS (the highest possible ranking) with sufficient training.
  • Emperor of Darkness, Big Bad from Great Mazinger (the first Mazinger Z sequel) was emperor of all Mykene and in later retellings it was stated he was Hades, Greek God of Underworld. Given that the Mykene were an ancient Greek civilization lived underground, it fit.
  • Emperor Zule, Reality Warper Physical God Big Bad of God Mars.
  • Emperor Muge Zorbados, Eldritch Abomination Dimension Lord Big Bad of Dancougar.
  • The kings of The Twelve Kingdoms. Ruling a kingdom comes with such perks as immortality and the ability to speak and understand any language. (Or at least Chinese, Japanese and whatever language is spoken in the Twelve Kingdoms) and quite a few very nice palaces. The downside is that if they rule badly the kirin who chose them to rule in the first place will begin to sicken and die, which means they will die sooner or later as well, along with the weather and youma running wild in the kingdom. If the king doesn't change their ways the only way to avoid this is to step-down from the throne and commit suicide.
  • Father from Fullmetal Alchemist could qualify as this, as he manipulated the country of Amestris since its inception, after obtaining immortality and immense powers from sacrificing an entire country to make a Philosopher's stone.
  • In Naruto, after Nagato seized control of Rain, he was both its ruler and widely regarded as a god by his shinobi.
  • Soul Eater has a low-key example in the form of Lord Death. Almost nobody one questions that he is most powerful being there is. He wields tremendous executive authority, and has done so for thousands of years. From Death City, he commands international paramilitary forces that can cross any border and attack any target without interference. That said, he tends not to meddle much in the affairs of people who aren't would-be Kishin, Witches, Weapons, Meisters, or engaged in the production or use of Magic Tools. And he's great with kids!
  • Eneru from One Piece claims divinity, and has power to back it up. Within his domain he knows all, he can smite anyone from the heavens, he is physically invulnerable, and can travel at will instantaneously, meaning he's nearly omnipresent too. His official title is in fact God. However, turns out he's just using a variety of super powers technically available to anyone with the right results in the Superpower Lottery, and the title of God is just what they call all their kings. He's actually totally insane.
  • Gargoyle of The Secret Of Blue Water makes this boast towards the end of the series, about himself.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Dormammu is an Eldritch Abomination/Dimension Lord/Multiversal Conqueror who rules his own universe as a torture chamber, and wants to take over all other life and afterlife to give it the same treatment. Likely one of the most extreme examples.
  • Ghaur, high priest of the Deviants, at first connives to take over from the king of Lemuria and after doing so calls himself Priestlord, but when he hijacks the powers of the Deviants' god, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien Celestial, he upgrades himself to Godlord. And keeps the title even after losing said power.
  • The Ultimate Marvel version of Thanos is both god and king of a star-spanning empire.
  • Darkseid. As he says in The DCAU, "Here [on Apokolips], I am God."
    • "Darkseid is."
  • Charon from Negation.
    • Bonus points for Charon ruling the entirety of his universe and it's his official title.
  • Torquemada from Nemesis the Warlock is The Emperor who, after coming back from the death several times, earns himself nickname "Torquemada The God"
  • The Joker became this in the Emperor Joker arc in Superman where he managed to gain reality-warping powers by stealing them from Mister Mxyzptlk, and, in a similar manner to Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI when he ascended godhood, the Joker also ravaged the world and turned it into a twisted parody where he could commit all the murder that he wants in various twisted means, including devouring China or killing Batman and Luthor over and over again. Eventually, he decides to destroy all existence so someone like himself would never exist. Thankfully, he managed to stop himself when Superman points out that Batman is what defines him.

Fan Fic[edit | hide]

  • Princess Jody from Super Milestone Wars
  • Shinji and Warhammer 40 K. Shinji. (Yes, that one. ...Sort of.) After all, this is a universe where Memetic Badassery will literally make you a god, and this Shinji is like a mixture of Paul Atreides and Simon the Digger.[1]
  • Stargate: Galactic Imperium. Not shown in either of the series, Area 51 has a computer scientist, Dr. Kevin Leed. Well, his alternate reality self got his hands on An'ran's reality jumping device. And he's got the collective knowledge of the Tok'ra. And he's a bit power-hungry. Result: he decides to use his extensive sci-fi knowledge to infiltrate the Odyssey, copy the Asgard core, steal Atlantis' database then create a huge empire spanning multiple universes. Oh, and did I mention he's a huge fan of Warhammer 40,000?
  • Stargate: Golden Dawn. Amann Adar of the Alesian Empire is a half ascended being that could crush entire battalions of enemies with little effort. Any of the Alesian Council in this story is this trope really.
  • In Embers Earth King Kuei is this, although unlike his arrogant ancestors he's too humble to think this way. His powers are based on those the Emperors of China were said to have had in real life due to their Celestial Bureaucracy, altered to fit the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender & the fic's take on spirits. In the Avatarverse, spirits will object when nature is ravaged by humans (the forest spirit, for example). The only reason a city of Ba Sing Se's size can exist is that the Emperor keeps it safe. He's exactly one rung on the Celestial Bureaucracy beneath the entities the Earth Kingdom worships as gods, and demonstratedly more powerful than an entity generally thought to be on that level.
    • The one time Kuei demonstrated his power, he kicked the Knowledge Spirit Wan Shin Tong, one of the Embers' universe's power players and all of his kitsune agents out of the Earth Kingdom. No wonder everyone prostrated themselves before him except the Fire Nation refugees. Even they went to one knee.
  • In Kickassia's unofficial novelization, N. Bison is constantly referred as "the God-Critic." This is an example, in glorious Purple Prose:

The Nostalgia Critic stood at the army's forefront, dressed in a uniform to rival the greatest generals of the ages. A peaked cap sat upon his brow, marked by a winged insignia of great power and vanity. His cape flowed down to his knees, colored grey like the skies underneath which he was born. A polished chain linked the two lapels of the cape together, and it shined under the Nevada sun like gold mined in neighboring California. Underneath his cape he wore an armored bodysuit of crimson and ebon black, which reached all the way down to boots that reached to his mid shins. He wore white gloves accompanied with silver gauntlets that cradled his forearms of average girth. This was no longer a mere critic. This was a god in human form.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Ra in Stargate, fitting in with the mores of Ancient Egypt as listed below.
  • Persian King Xerxes in 300 known as the God-King.
    • But averted by the real Xerxes and the other kings of Persia who did merely believe in divine right of kings.
  • Ming the Merciless from the Flash Gordon film.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Dune. God Emperor Leto II, the first of the two standard Trope Codifiers. Also possibly the Ur Example of the construct-title of "God-Emperor", at least in the English language.
  • The Emperor Mage from the third book of Tamora Pierce's Immortals series banned sacrifices/offerings to the gods, saying that if people wanted to make sacrifices, they could make them to him instead, as he has more direct power over their lives. Eventually this pissed off the country's Trickster patron deity, and the shit really hit the fan... bottom line, Don't Try This At Home.
  • The Lord Ruler from Mistborn.
    • And God-King Susebron from the same author's Warbreaker though he's much more god than king, being a figurehead whose primary purpose is to be worshipped, rather than to actually run the state.
  • In David Eddings' Malloreon cycle (the sequel of The Belgariad), it is revealed that the emperors of Mallorea are divine per definition, due to the original emperor being a LITERAL God, Kal Torak. The emperor thus holds the official name of 'Kal Zakath', and becomes a major character... but at the end of the book, he changes the policy and drops the 'Kal' (Which is Mallorean for God-King, in case you didn't guess), actually crossing it out in an official letter because, as he puts it, "Now that I've seen some REAL gods in action, it just seems ostentatious."
  • In the Dragonlance novels and Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting, the last Kingpriest, Beldinas Pilofiro, tried to turn himself into this. It didn't work so well.
  • JRR Tolkien: in The Silmarillion, the evil Vala Morgoth (originally Melkor) is worshipped as the god of darkness and death by many frightened slave races, including Man. Ages later in The Lord of the Rings, his once-lieutenant Sauron is given much the same treatment by the orcs. Both of them are of course already actual "gods", or as Tolkien referred to them, Powers of Arda; while Morgoth aspired to be God-with-a-capital-G, Sauron was content only to be seen as such after how Morgoth wound up.
  • No mention of the rulers of Djelibeybi? Shameful. Of course, they actually subvert it. While the rulers do technically have unlimited political and religious power in Djelibeybi, the only person allowed to actually talk to them in any official setting is the High Priest, Dios, who "interpreted" their commands to their subjects, making them largely figureheads.
    • Because of the Disc's Clap Your Hands If You Believe nature, they also have actual godly powers, of a sort. (Teppic is visited by the divine nature of his father in the form of a seagull, and suffers a brief case of Fertile Feet. He can also make the sun rise, although this is only relevant if it isn't actually going to rise anyway).
    • At one point in the story, this is turned Up to Eleven, giving the ruler literal godly powers.
  • The Autarch Sulepis of the nation of Xis in Tad Williams' Shadowmarch series is regarded as a living god, with absolute control over his vast empire and designs on ruling the entire world. Also a Complete Monster who once ordered a man to be tortured to death in his library so he could read and listen to his screams at the same time.
  • The Acts of Caine gives us His Most Beloved, the Ascendant Ma'elKoth, who fulfils this trope until being sent to Earth at the end of Heroes Die. After the climax of Blade of Tyshalle, he abandons the Physical God aspect and just becomes a nonmaterial deity, leaving the Emperor bit to Deliann.
  • Although the God Emperors from The Stone Dance of the Chameleon begin life as mortals, when they ascend the throne they undergo apotheosis, at which time their blood turns into pure ichor.
  • The Eternal Emperor of the Sten Chronicles books fits the profile pretty well.
  • In The Wheel of Time Lanfear's plan is to set herself and Rand up as God Emperors using the infinite powers which they have by using the Choedan Kal to overthrow the Dark One and then challenge the Creator.
    • Rand himself becomes a small-scale one of these, binding several countries under his leadership (and keeping them loyal through the use of his magic powers—he is the strongest spellcaster who has ever lived) and forging alliances with the ones he does not dominate outright. It reaches the point where, even ignoring his tremendous magical abilities, he is the most powerful person in the world through the sheer number of nations he holds in thrall.
  • In R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels, King Obould Many-Arrows is blessed by the orc god Gruumsh with divine power. His subjects begin to see him as the physical incarnation of Gruumsh on the mortal plane, referring to him as Obould-Who-Is-Gruumsh. He gives little actual weight to these ideas, keeping a fairly realistic assessment of his limitations, but uses the moral that belief in him inspires as a tool to establish the first stable, recognized orc state. Ironically, given how he didn't actually believe he was a physical god, after his death he ascended to a higher plane to become a literal (demi)god.
  • The Godkings from The Night Angel Trilogy. The people of Khalidor literally believe them to be gods. The Godkings themselves know they're not gods, but they tend to behave like they think a god would to fool their people. The first and last one was a Complete Monster and they groom their children to be just like that.
  • In the Kargad lands of Earthsea, the (apparently mortal) Godking is worshipped as a deity, which, by the time of The Tombs Of Atuan, has severely pissed off the The Unknown Nameless Ones.
  • Moses, Man of the Mountain has this, both with the obvious example of the Pharaoh, and with Moses himself, who is seen like this by the Hebrews. He's somewhat disturbed by this, as he does not see himself as a god or a king.
  • The Supreme Overlord of the Yuuzhan Vong from the New Jedi Order, while not considered to be on par with the Yuuzhan Vong pantheon, is certainly regarded by his followers as something greater than mortal, and apparently has the powers to back it up. Said powers turn out to be the doing of the real Big Bad, the Supreme Overlord's deformed, Force-using jester Onimi.
  • In the Retief story, "The Hoob-Melon Crisis", the Groaci ambassador to an empty planet declares himself king, since there's no one around to dispute the claim, and then manages to use the argument of the divine right of kings to get himself accepted into the official Groaci pantheon as a God, since he was the one who made himself king.
  • Subverted in the Books of Swords and Books Of Lost Swords series by Fred Saberhagen: the Emperor actually is God. It's just that the Emperor isn't the secular ruler of anywhere, and most people think he's just a wandering clown and mountebank.
    • In Saberhagen's earlier trilogy The Empire of the East, set thousands of years earlier in the same world, this is played straight with Orcus, mightiest of all the demons and founder and ruler of the eponymous empire, until he was overthrown by his right-hand man, John Ominor.
  • While normally just a badass emperor, Richard of the Sword of Truth briefly becomes this in the last book of the Chainfire trilogy, but gives it up after he's made the changes he thinks are necessary.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Star Trek:
    • Kahless the Unforgettable's clone, at least insofar as his becoming figurehead Emperor of the Klingon Empire due to his genetic code having being effectively divinized by the Klingons.
    • The Founders of the Dominion.

Weyoun: Pah-wraiths and Prophets. All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense.
Damar: You believe that the Founders are gods, don't you?
Weyoun: That's different.
Damar: [laughs] In what way?
Weyoun: The Founders *are* gods.

    • Weyoun, the Female Founder's personal Vorta adviser, lampshades this trope:

Odo: Has it ever occurred to you that the reason you believe the Founders are gods is because that's what they want you to believe? That they built it into your genetic code?
Weyoun 6: Of course they did. That's what gods do. After all, why be a god if there's no one to worship you?

  • In Doctor Who, one of the Dalek Emperors started styling itself as "The God of the Daleks" after it rebuilt them as religious fanatics loyal to it.
  • Illyria from Angel, God-King of the Primordium. Of course the show is set several million years after her death, and by the time she returns her demonic empire has crumbled to dust and her mortal worshippers are reduced to a handful of cultists awaiting her return.
  • Emperor Cartagia of Babylon 5 didn't think he was a god yet, but he believed he could ascend to godhood and become a God-Emperor with his dealings with the Shadows.
    • Brilliantly subverted in an early episode when Londo asks Vir how many gods there are in the Centauri pantheon. Vir is unable to give him a clear answer because so many of the Empires numerous emperors have declared themselves Gods, only to be denounced by their successors who declare that they themselves are gods, ad infinitum.
    • Actually, the only one denounced was some noble house who weighted a vote in the senate. Other than that, the Emperors are generally recognized. Still hilarious, as there's too many to remember!
  • Stargate SG-1: The Goa'uld System Lords, who pose as Gods. In fact, most of them actually buy their own propaganda. The primitive people they enslave and oppress believe them to be gods, however.
    • Also, the Ori, ascended beings who masquerade as gods in order to gain worship from people who don't know the truth. Unlike the Goa'uld, though, they can actually back up their claims of divinity, being able to alter matter with a thought, create life, and having technology several thousands of years beyond anything almost anyone else has (the Asgard excepted.)

Mythology & Religion[edit | hide]

  • Most codified monotheistic religions give this, or close enough, as one of the myriad titles of its given subject deity.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh uses the God-Emperor idea found present in its contemporary cultures in the region but not in its own Sumerian civilization. One might ask whether it was Life Imitates Art or Truth in Television (well, truth in ancient stone tablets).
  • The Yellow Emperor being accredited with the invention of traditional Chinese medicine, he supposedly found the secret to Immortality and so, his "death", at the end of his supposedly 100-year-long reign, was supposedly just him ascending to heaven atop of a dragon. Well, that's not to mention that he was actually worshipped for a time.
  • Apparently, The Antichrist will declare himself this.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Warhammer 40,000. The God-Emperor of Mankind, the second of the two standard Trope Codifiers. Funnily enough, unlike other examples, he specifically said he wasn't a god... but after the Horus Heresy? It Got Worse, one of things being the Imperium on whole based upon a fanatical worship of him.
    • In fact, it started before his ascension, due to Lorgar of the Word Bearers establishing a religion around the emperor without his approval. The emperor himself tried his best to eliminate all such beliefs of him amongst the citizens of the Imperium, so Lorgar got one hell of a scorning for what he had done. Of course, as soon as the emperor ascended, he couldn't do anything at all to stop a religion based around him from forming, so in a way, Lorgar may have been successful in the end.
  • Chaos. Josh, God-Emperor Of The Multiverses.
  • The God-Kings of Mulhorand in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting.
    • Before the end of the Time of Troubles, Unther was ruled by an avatar of Gilgeam, the last god of the Untheric pantheon that neither was dead nor had bolted for another pantheon. He was not a good ruler, especially not at the end, but he was the only thing keeping an ancient peace treaty between the Mulhorandic and Untheric pantheons - and therefore between Mulhorand and Unther - valid...
  • Exalted. Though neither were actually gods, the Scarlet Empress and Solar Queen Merela both had strong elements of this trope, particularly in the power department. Also, a common term for First Age Exalted rulers in general is "god-kings". And, this being Exalted, it is entirely reasonable for the player characters to have attaining this status as one of their long-term goals.
    • Given the nature of the powers of the gods and the Exalted, Exalted are powerful enough that apotheosis would be a step down in rank.
    • While many Exalted can be god-kings in principle, the Zenith Caste of the Solars (and their Abyssal and Green Sun Prince counterparts) exemplify it (at least in so far as some can blur the line between priest-king and god-king, though all are made to be kings).
    • Exalted can get worship from mortals, which has a host of benefits.
    • Malfeas has settled on the upper edge of this power belt after his post-War castration. Before that? He had so much power, he couldn't be constrained by a physical form. And the beings he ruled made the gods. And the world. And then kinda got rolled for their lunch money by the Exalted and shoved into hell.
  • The Emperor of Rokugan in Legend of the Five Rings is not a god, but does have literal divine blood due to being directly descended from the original gods of the sun and moon. The first dynasty was founded by their youngest son Hantei, but after the fortieth Hantei emperor died without an heir the throne was taken by the former Lion Clan Daimyo Toturi, himself a direct descendant of the sun and moon's eldest child Akodo.
    • Taken further in that all of the great clans are ruled by direct descendants of the sun and moon, most of them founded by one of their children. The Mantis Clan, which was granted Great Clan status more than a thousand years after the founding of Rokugan, was still founded by a great-grandson of the sun and moon.
    • The Shadowlands to the south was long ruled by another child of the sun and moon, Fu Leng.
  • In the Dragonlance novels and Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting, the last Kingpriest, Beldinas Pilofiro, tried to turn himself into this. It didn't work so well.
  • Iron Kingdoms gives use Lord Toruk the dragonfarther, all mighty ruler of the Nightmare Empire of Cryx, he happens to be a Godzilla size Dragon/ Eldritch Abomination that wants to kill everyone and turn them into zombie robots.
  • Razmir the Living God in Pathfinder, ruler of Razmiran. The text explicitly states that he is a charlatan, but the players may or may not know this.
  • The Lord of Blades in the Eberron campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons is a Warforged who hopes to lead a kingdom of his race to subjugate the humanoids that created them, and some Warforged clerics pray to him for spells.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Essentially your role in nearly all Real Time Strategy or Turn-Based Strategy games. You typically command every unit under your control completely, up to and including telling them to kill themselves, while you yourself are completely untouchable until your complete empire is destroyed. The whole genre is sometimes referred to as "God Games" for this reason.
    • This is lampshaded in Warcraft 3 when you click on a High Elf priest multiple times. At one point he'll say: "I have been selected by the big, metal hand in the sky!" That 'big, metal hand' is your gauntlet-wearing cursor.
  • The Dominions series revolves around this concept in a more literal fashion. Every player takes on the role of a pretender god, very powerful creatures and mages that are making a bid for God-hood, now that the former Pantokrator is gone. This Pretender is represented in-game as an actual unit. You even get your own religion, temples and priests!
  • A not-entirely-played-straight example comes from The Elder Scrolls. In it, the Dark Elves worship the Tribunal, a trio of living, flesh and blood gods. In the modern day they exert great influence, but aren't officially the government and their powers have waned greatly; rather, there's a separate King of Morrowind, who reports to the Emperor. But before Dagoth Ur's return and the Imperial conquest of Morrowind, they really did fit this trope.
    • There is also Tiber Septim. The first Emperor of the Third Era, he achieved apotheosis and is worshipped by Imperial citizens as Talos, one of the Nine Divines. He has an especially strong following in the Legion.
      • In Skyrim worship of Talos has been banned thanks to a humiliating treaty forced on the Empire by the fascistic High Elves. But with some explanation of what "Dragonborn" means it looks like Tiber Septim may have been a demigod in life as well.
  • The God Emperor Fou-Lu of Breath of Fire 4.[2]
  • The Overmind, for the rest of the Zerg, in the original StarCraft; all the more so given the fact that every Zerg, especially the Cerebrates, were manifestations of different aspects of his/its personality.
  • Though the Brotherhood of Nod's religion primarily seems to venerate Tiberium, their leader Kane is also highly venerated by the Brotherhood's fanatics, and his word is considered divine law.
  • Final Fantasy II's Emperor has land, resources, and technology...but he's still just a sorcerer. Then the heroes kill him, the next step in his Evil Plan that results in him taking over Hell, taking over Heaven, and then coming back to the human world to finish what he started. Nice one, Firion.
    • Kefka Palazzo also became this in Final Fantasy VI. Basically, he was technically already made Emperor after he betrayed and murdered Gestahl, but when he also absorbs the Warring Triad's power during the year of his reign, and even by the time he moves the Triad out of alignment, he pretty much became God and Emperor.
  • Kain is deified. The Clans tell tales of Him. Few know the truth. He was mortal once, as were we all.
  • The Touhou series has Suwako Moriya. In a reversal of how this trope usually goes, she started as a Mountain Goddess, then became the ruler of what would become the kingdom of Moriya. Somewhere in there, she single-handedly tamed the Curse Gods of the land. Suwako defended her kingdom from other gods who wished to conquer it, until she was tactically outmaneuvered by Yasaka Kanako, a Wind Goddess, to whom she surrendered. Kanako then become the God-King of Moriya, but the humans and Curse Gods didn't accept her, so she had to settle for joint-rulership with Suwako. This arrangement worked out very well for everyone involved, and continued until the twilight of human faith in the modern era, at which point Kanako decided to move herself, her old friend, and her friend's half-goddess descendent into Gensokyo to gather new faith.
  • Pretty much what the Black & White series is all about.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar's Legions view of Caesar himself is best stated around here, with them believing he is the son of Mars and a God. This goes a long way to explain their fanatical devotion to the Legion. Caesar himself has no such delusions, but his ego is no less massive.
  • Dark Souls has Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight. The leader of the various godly Lords and father of several gods on his own, he rules over man from Anor Londo in Lordran.
  • Claimed by Emperor Sun Hai and Sun Li in Jade Empire. Sun Hai is delusional. Sun Li can back it up.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Bahamut, god and king of dragons, in Eight Bit Theater, who rules by his own divine mandate. Several characters remark that it must be a pretty sweet job and is probably something you have to be born into.
  • Lt. Pibald from Schlock Mercenary is not a God-Emperor, but claimed to be one while applying for demolitions training. Petey seems to be closer to the mark.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Orion's Arm has the cyborg God-Emperor of the Solar Dominion, who founded the religion of Solarism and now serves as the avatar of an Archailect known as the Lord of Rays.
    • Also the major empires are controlled by AIs that are at the point of being Physical Gods so far as anyone can tell.
  • Jayle, in Land Games.
  • Seems to be the most common form of government in the Tales of MU universe. The emperor of Magisteria (the America equivalent) is unique in being a mere mortal, while the Nameless One that the founder of his dynasty rebelled against is still alive.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Fire Lord Ozai promotes himself to this as "The Phoenix King" during the Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, planning on committing genocide to celebrate his inauguration. Fortunately he was stopped before that plan got off the ground.
  • According to the Creation Myth of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Princess Celestia governs the rising and setting of the sun. Her sister Luna used to control the moon, until her envy got out of hand and she wound up sealed away for a thousand years, at which point Celestia took over her powers and duties as well; Celestia of course did not age at all during that time, indicating that she is immortal. They've since made amends, and it can be presumed, though it's yet to be explicitly stated, that Princess Luna has taken up her duties again.
    • The season 4 finale confirms that its not just myth—Celestia and Luna are indeed actually responsible for raising the sun and the moon. This is shown by the fact that when they temporarily transferred all their powers to Twilight Sparkle to keep Tirek from stealing them, the sun didn't rise unless Twilight remembered to make it rise.
    • Of course, unlike other examples on this list (and as much parts of the fandom deny it, jokingly or otherwise), she is a completely benevolent example.
    • While only called Princesses (due to an Executive Veto against the title of queen), the phrase "as Celestia is my witness" was used twice in season 2, giving hints that the populace consider them divine. They were a Shout-Out to Gone with the Wind, but still.
      • Other phrases such as "thank Celestia" and "in the name of Celestia" have also been used.

Real Life[edit | hide]

Declaring themselves as gods has been very common to the rulers in ancient history. It handily brought religious and secular power together, and gave the ruler an absolute power, which was always welcome. The Egyptian pharaohs are probably the most famous example of the trend.

  • Roughly 75% of the history of Ancient Egypt.
  • Japanese emperors before 1945.
    • Actually, this is still in effect. Hirohito sneakily asked the Americans for permission to worship his ancestors according to Shinto tradition, and upon receiving the okay, he made public obeisance to Amaterasu.
      • Japanese emperors always claimed descent from Amaterasu, but playing at being a Physical God really only happened under the fascism within parts of Hirohito's reign.
  • Invoked by the Roman emperors who were Genre Savvy enough to follow the lead of Augustus, the first emperor, and leave orders to deify them after death.
    • Including perhaps the most genre-savvy, Vespasian, whose dying words were 'I think I am becoming a god', a direct reference to the apotheosis of Emperors.
    • It has also been said to be one of the reasons for the whole problem with Christians: as they only had one god, they didn't accept the divine nature of the emperor, who in turn didn't accept them.
      • On the other hand, once most Roman Citizens were Christians, the practice of Caesaropapism began, in which Imperial decree gave legitimacy to the ecumenical councils that he called in the first place to try to end all the squabbles that were messing with Imperial unity.
    • Gaius Caligula jumped the gun and started when he was alive: he even wanted to put his statue in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem! You can imagine how well that went over.
      • On the other hand, there's good evidence that Caligula, in his insanity, thought he was genuinely helping the Jews: "Hey, your Temple doesn't have a statue in it! What a pity! All the other peoples have awesome statues in their Holies of Holies! Here, have mine! I've got too many, anyway. Wait, why do you hate me all of a sudden?"
    • Generally the worse an emperor is depicted as being in our sources the more likely it is that they will state that he claimed to be divine while alive (the other obvious candidate being Commodus, of Gladiator fame). State worship of the Emperor in Rome was generally considered a big no-no throughout the Empire's existence. Outside Rome was another matter.
  • Despite common belief the Persian King-Of-Kings was not worshipped as a god, as the Persians were monotheistic Zoroastrians. The misconception arose among the ancient Greeks, who mistook the Persian practice of proskynesis before the monarch for an act of divine worship when it was in fact a secular social ritual.
  • Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il "rule" over and are (all but) worshipped in North Korea. (Note the present tense for both "rule" and "are worshipped". Though Kim Il-Sung died in The Nineties and Kim Jong-Il in 2011, the elder Kim retains his position as "Eternal President" and the younger is still referred to as "Dear Leader".) The cult of personality revolves around the elder Kim's revolutionary activities and the "successes" of the North Korean economic system. See the first option of the second sentence of this trope page for more information.
    • A few journalists have reported that they are directly worshipped, or at least prayed to. Nobody knows yet whether the new leader, Kim Jong-Un, will receive the same treatment.
  • Before the Republican revolution of the 20th century, Chinese Emperors were each known as the "Lord of Ten Thousand Years."
    • Hong Xiuquan, who led the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing dynasty in the mid-19th century, called himself the Heavenly King and believed he was the brother of Jesus Christ.
  • A running theme in Thai history. Spend any time in Thailand and you will see people praying to icons of King Rama V. King Thaksin the Great went one better, and declared himself to be the reincarnation of the Buddha. (Which is shockingly blasphemous in Thai Buddhism: it amounts to denying that the Buddha achieved nirvana in death, which basically denies that he was the Buddha.) The current King, Rama IX, has attracted his share of veneration, given that he is: a, the longest-serving head of state on Earth; b, reigned over the greatest expansion of Thai prestige and economic growth in history; and c, is listed on this very wiki on the Cool Old Guy page.
  • Every monarchy in human history believed in the concept of the divinity of kings. When Christianity came, the concept was modified to the idea that kings were not gods but they were sent by God. The idea of abdication was unthinkable to many Christian monarchs because it meant abandoning the duty of ruling God had bestowed.
    • This led to huge problems when you got people like Charles Stuart and Nicholas II, who recognised that they were terrible rulers (or sometimes didn't even have the decency to do that) but were convinced that they were nevertheless the only possibility as monarch, because God had sent them.
    • Meanwhile, in China, the rulers had what was called The Mandate Of Heaven, which basically means that as long as they made sure things were going well in the kingdom, they obviously had the blessings of heaven with them. However, when the emperor started caring more about his own pleasures than helping the people, and his officials started making life miserable for everyone, well, it was obvious that the Mandate Of Heaven was removed, and it was time to go kill the emperor, his lackeys, and anyone else who was doing a crap job of ruling the country, and put in someone competent. Given how awful some of the so-called "Good Christian Kings" were, maybe someone should have thought of adding a loophole like that one...
    • They kind of did. Absolute Monarchs in Christendom were a Renaissance innovation. During the Middle Ages, the kings had to contend with both the nobility and the Church, both of whom believed they had a right to govern the land or at least check the monarch's power. Nobles believed themselves worthy of ruling and saw the king as "first among equals," AKA a fellow nobleman who has titular leadership ONLY if he respected his fellow nobles' rights. The Nobles thought that since the Carolignian Monarchy disintegrated during the Viking attacks, and since they (the nobles) were responsible for beating back the Vikings via castle-building, they had the right to rule. The Church, on the other hand, saw itself as superior to both nobles and kings, with popes stressing the fact that they were society's middlemen between themselves and God, that the papacy and the clergy should have the loudest say; they even wrote the rules (The Peace of God and the Truce of God) that stipulated that monarchs and nobles cannot have their armies harming civilians or priests or fighting in holy days. (which the nobles and the monarch still did) If a monarch acts out of line, then either of these parties would step in (usually the nobles) and say that the king or the emperor is a tyrant unfit to rule. In fact, absolute monarchs usually appealed to the townspeople, gentry, and city people for help, trying to cut out the nobles as middlemen and keep the Church in line, as the case was with Spain: when the nobles and the third estate got into scuffles, the Spanish monarchy took the opportunity to side with the townspeople to weaken their aristocratic rivals, which explains why so many Spanish nobles went to the New World to oppress Indians: they could not oppress the Spanish peasants back home. Another famous example was the Holy Roman Empire; when the emperor overstepped his boundaries, the pope and the Church, in conjunction with German nobles, would declare him deposed, and usually support someone else to become emperor.
    • The whole Mandate Of Heaven was simply an excuse for the new rulers to justify their act of rebelling against the old regime and killing the emperors (which could make them traitors in their days' standard). On another hand, if a dynasty is strong enough to keep ruling despite how corrupted it is, no one will ever be able to pull the "Mandate Of Heaven" card on it without suffering horrible fate, just like in modern totalitarian states.
  • Despite not being considered a god (At least not in Ethiopia), Haile Selassie's full title was "His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God".
  • Wilfried Daim published a photograph of a document signed by Adolf Hitler. This document ordered the "Immediate and unconditional abolition of all religions after the final victory", and proclaimed Hitler as the new messiah.

Notes

  1. As well as Batman, Big Boss, Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!), Carrot Ironfoundersson, Lelouch vi Britannia, and Ender Wiggin.
  2. In fact, specifically summoned as a god and emperor by the previous dynasty, which was in a state of civil war.