Jerkass Gods

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This is the story of a time long ago, a time of myth and legend, when the ancient gods were petty and cruel, and they plagued mankind with suffering.

These gods aren't lazy, but you really wish they were.

Perhaps they view all of life as a cosmic game, with humans as mere pawns and tools. Perhaps they're hungry for worship, either literally or figuratively, and are willing to resort to manipulation to get it. Maybe it's the age old adage "power corrupts", or maybe they're just trolls, but whatever the case, the deities are just jerks. They view human life as a source of entertainment, or an inconvenience.

This trope is Older Than Dirt. The (literally) Ur-example might be Inanna, Sumerian goddess of getting laid and ultraviolence. As might be expected from someone of that description, she took exception to being spurned by the hero Gilgamesh and summoned a heavenly bull to go on a rampage through his city. It did not help that as he turned her down, he listed all her exes and how she arranged their terrible deaths.

Compare and contrast Abusive Precursors, and for cases where Jerkass doesn't really cover it, God of Evil, and God Is Evil. Anyone playing Religious Russian Roulette with a Jerkass God probably won't like how it ends. In video games, where you are the god, see Cruel Player Character God. For the inversion, see God Is Good.

Examples of Jerkass Gods include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Kami-sama in Ah! My Goddess frequently doles out unnecessarily harsh punishments and will wipe out an entire planet to preserve the integrity of the Yggdrasil with little hesitation.
  • The gods in Saint Seiya, unsurprising considering they're based on the Greek Pantheon. Poseidon wanted to drown the world to fix it (well, it worked the first time, didn't it?), Hades just plain wanted to kill everyone "Just Because", ditto Abel/Lucifer and Apollo. The big exception is Athena. Lesser non-evil gods are Odin (whose avatar-priestess was corrupted by Poseidon's men) and Artemis, being more a Lawful Neutral type devoid of her peers' narcissistic megalomania. Poseidon also gets an honorable mention as being not so evil that, even though he was Sealed Evil in a Can, helped thwart Hades' plot.
  • Saiyuki: Most of the gods are universally pricks to humans and one another. Even the Merciful Goddess herself comes off as manipulative and self-centered.
    • And the story it's based on which could easily be titled The Journey West: Or wherein Sun Wukong is a gigantic prick to everyone he meets.
  • An interesting inversion occurs in Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok where Odin is the jerk and Loki is the good guy.
  • Many of the various gods in Kurohime are assholes to pretty much everyone, including their own allies and worshippers. Except for two so far, the head god who we haven't actually seen do or say anything yet and one other... Shirohime, who is Kurohime's love for humanity personified.
    • Never mind about the head god. When we next see her, she is eating the sun, which, in this world, is made of Life Energy and spirits.
      • As it turns out, ALL of the High Gods are jerks. And Planet Eaters.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has The Truth, a mysterious godlike entity that exacts an "equal toll" on those who attempt human transmutation. While he is supposed to be a neutral party, he seems to take an almost sadistic joy in his "fines". The fact that he tends to act smug and playful about it doesn't exactly help.
    • He even shows some very unfair (or at least indiscriminate) tendencies when he takes away Mustang's sense of sight as punishment for performing human transmutation even though Mustang had been literally forced to do it with no way to stop the transmutation and the person who was ultimately responsible had received no punishment at all.
  • One Piece's God Eneru. Granted, their "God" (Kami) is merely the title of the ruler of Skypiea, but his Logia powers almost justifies his status.
  • In Wild Wind, the gods cause a piece of heaven to fall to earth because they are fighting, and then order that the poor, innocent, confused creatures who fell with it be killed because they are an involuntary danger to humanity.
  • Zeus of Saint Beast who overthrew the old jerkass god and slept with his wife, then proceeded to become increasingly tyrannical: ordering his angels to kill any beings on earth who don't acknowledge him, yearly purging angels for minor offences under the guise of honouring them, and eventually ordering Pandora to unleash a box of evil on earth, imprisoning the Saint Beasts when they try to stop him, raping Judas, brainwashing Goh, Gai, Rey and Shin after they get free to turn on their friends and banishing Judas and his own son (by aforementioned goddess), Luca, to hell, and sealing the other four in stone once they overcome the brainwashing. And then he retires out of annoyance.
  • The photorealistic, afro'd disembodied head that passes for God in Oyasumi Punpun wobbles on the line between this and God Is Evil. He starts out merely not caring about Punpun, refusing to answer his questions and belittling him for even thinking of asking him, but as the series goes on, he begins steadily whittling down Punpun's self-confidence, tells him that the only way to protect oneself from those who want to hurt you is to kill them, and overall savagely beating on the already fragile situation that Punpun and his relatives (and the world as a whole, at that) are getting worked deeper and deeper into.
  • The Beast Gods of Fushigi Yugi really do only care about prolonging their existence by absorbing the souls of their priestesses.


Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Preacher (Comic Book), God is a pathetic, needy, abusive, enraged creature. So are his angels.
  • In Lucifer, God is an aloof and dickish meddler. As is Lucifer, who wants nothing more than to be his own creation.
    • Part of this is caused by the filter we see things through. When God finally shows up he's more out of touch than anything else.
      • He is omnipotent and omniscient, so "out of touch" doesn't really describe his situation accurately - it's just that he created the entire universe simply as a backdrop for a philosophical experiment that only has three main characters in it, and a few important statists. Everything else is just background, and largely irrelevant to Him as individual beings.
    • Subverted hard with Elaine Belloc, who becomes God and puts other people's lives and welfare above her own happiness and desires.
  • In Spawn, God and Satan are twin omnipotent entities who are depicted as utterly amoral children.
  • God (and Lucifer) in Crimson are surprisingly moral individuals, the prior spending time doing good deeds and giving the latter a standing invitation to get his old job back. The archangels on the other hand are all over the slippery slope, with a few being downright sadists. Driven home when they put Alex on trial in a diner... after first killing the occupants painfully for their sins. (God resurrects and forgives the victims when the angels aren't looking.)
  • Zeus in Incredible Hercules justifies this by claiming that gods need to be jerks so that humans have someone to blame when everything seems to be going wrong.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • The Dalns gods in With Strings Attached. Although the one time a god actually appears it's entirely benign, and they seem to be the only force that gets Baravadans to do anything useful, the Fans mention that the Dalns gods are responsible for trashing C'hou in the past.


Film[edit | hide]

  • A borderline case appears in Oh, God!. While God (George Burns) is not particularly malicious, He also doesn't seem to care about the difficulties that His messiah Jerry (or his family) goes through in delivering His message.

Jerry: "I lost my job, you know."
God: "Lose a job, save a world. Not a bad deal."

  • Clash of the Titans: In the original, the gods are fairly true to their mythical inspirations. In the remake, they're possibly even more dickish than in the myths.
    • Except Apollo in the remake, who defended the humans.
  • In Erik the Viking, the Nordic gods (particularly Odin and Thor) are depicted as nothing but a group of apathetic kids that almost condemn the heroes into the pity of Hel for them arriving in Valhalla without being killed in battle.
  • In the original Bedazzled, God and Lucifer (called George here) had a wager: if George could get ten billion souls into hell before God could get ten billion souls into heaven, then God promised to allow him to return to heaven. George achieves this, and then some, but God reminded him of another condition he had to fulfil: he had to perform a selfless good deed. George then goes off and allows Stanley (to whom George had given seven wishes in exchange for his soul) and released him, only to be told that, since he only did it to get back into heaven, it wasn't really selfless. George is understandably steaming at this revelation, while God laughs in his face.
  • Calypso of Pirates of the Caribbean, goddess of the sea, fell in love with a mortal man, who was then offered the position of captain of the Flying Dutchman. The conditions of the captaincy are that you do the job for ten years, and if, after that time, your love is waiting for you when you get your one day on land for the decade, you can go free and someone takes your place; otherwise you've gotta keep doing the job until someone kills you. Calypso didn't wait and Davy Jones was stuck being the captain of the Flying Dutchman. She claimed that Davy shouldn't have expected anything else from her because she's the embodiment of the capricious and treacherous sea.
  • Loki in Thor and The Avengers hopes to exact revenge on his brother Thor by first taking over the throne of Asgard and then subjugating the entire population of Earth. Along the way, he causes a lot of chaos and manages to make pretty much everyone really angry on a personal level.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Most Discworld gods, who have a habit of going to atheists' houses and throwing rocks into the windows, and consider lightning bolts to be the answer to any theological debate. They also play games with the lives of men, but first they have to get the board out, and look all over the place for the dice.
    • Special mention goes to Nuggan of Borogravia. Even his own sincere worshippers had to ignore some of his commandments, since they named as Abominations such things as babies ("I take it people still make them here?") and the color blue ("The sky is blue!" "Devout Nugganites try not to look at it these days.")
      • Though granted, it's implied most of the absurd Abominations are mere echos of Nuggan's will since it's stated he's dead.
      • This is only in Borogravia, mind, where he can't thrive because his followers now worship the religion rather than the god (this is also what happened to Om, see below). Elsewhere on the Disc he's alive and kicking, as a minor god of paperclips, small things in their correct places in desktop stationery sets, and unnecessary paperwork.
    • In Small Gods, Om, who's had his consciousness raised, points out to some of the other gods that a lot of people are going to get killed in the battle that's shaping up.

A Tsortean God of the Sun did not even bother to look round.
"That's what they're for," he said.

He really regrets saying that.

  • While Minshus in Stationery Voyagers is the essence of good, he will occasionally let his angels dish out Cool and Unusual Punishment on victims who really deserve it. Maurice, being the angel of death, has been known to abduct some of his victims. Filforth tries to avoid having any contact with gay bars for a reason.
  • All of the Gods in The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock. Especially Arioch, the title character's patron, the Lord of Chaos.
  • Amongst the Eldritch Abomination gods created by H.P. Lovecraft, technically just Nyarlathotep counts. The others aren't least bit concerned about humans, or maybe don't even know of our existence, being mostly mindless, chaotic abstractions. But Nyarlathotep seems to love to dick around with humans, typically demanding human sacrifices when summoned, even though he almost certainly doesn't need them for anything, and occasionally giving humans some extra chances to destroy ourselves, even though he could destroy us effortlessly if he really wanted. It seems that he doesn't care about outcomes—he just likes to dick around.
  • This is somewhat Flanderized description used by later writers. In Lovecraft's original works Nyarlathotep stands in the way of humans who seek forbidden knowledge more often than not, although he can be persuaded to be little more lenient with human sacrifices. On the other hand, his first appearance, before Lovecraft had figured out what to do with him, he was basically the embodiment of scientific progress, and drives humanity mad by overwhelming them with cosmic knowledge.
    • This is the approach used in the Affectionate Parody webcomic The Call of Whatever, and once humanity starts jerking Nyarlathotep around in turn (thanks to Occultech's helpline boosting cultist survival/success rates), he quits his job. This was more Jerkassish than you would think.
    • The gods of Earth, or the Great Ones from Lovecraft's Dreamland-stories also qualify. They tend to be petty, selfish and short-tempered. Partially this is due the way humanity threatens their very existence with their insatiable curiosity, but there's little excuse to how they steal Randolph Carter's magnificent city from him in Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath just because they want it for themselves, and justify it as "divine wisdom".
  • The entire Greek pantheon, and most of the other creatures with god powers, in Dark Hunter series.
  • Lord Khersis, the primary human god in Tales of MU, once smote a confused little girl who was praying to him for guidance just because she was half-demon. And he's one of the nicer deities.
  • Amusingly justified in Percy Jackson and The Olympians. The capricious, thoughtless attitudes of gods and demigods are at least partly due to the fact that, by human standards, they're all suffering from ADD.
    • Well, the demigods are; the gods are just kind of made that way.
      • And yet some still manage to be sympathetic, via Freudian Excuse. (Hades, for example, has spent three millennia as the target of all the gods' Jerk-Assness and ostracism for ... drawing the unluckiest straw.)
    • The demigods, who are the protagonists of the series, also sometimes resent their parents for being Jerk Asses and ignoring them; the gods are eventually called out on it and forced to acknowledge all their children. (Whether this had any effect on how many affairs the gods have remains to be seen.)
  • Not only are the gods of the Book of Swords jerkasses, but several of the swords have jerkass qualities themselves. I'm looking at you Coinspinner and Wayfinder.
  • The demon Xanth in the Xanth novels.
    • All of the greater demons (of which Xanth is one) in general; they are involved in a complex game with more similarities to Nomic than the classic Chess, and people are only rarely used as pawns in certain rounds - most of the time, they're not considered at all. Xanth is practically an exception to the norm, as he does show genuine concern for the residents of the land (after being freed from the Brain Coral, he returns so the land of Xanth will have magic) and has an intimate relationship with one in particular.
  • All of the "new" gods in American Gods are vicious, backbiting, and desperate for worship, and a few of the old gods (especially Odin and Loki) are, too.
  • Almost all the Greek gods in Anne Ursu's Cronus Chronicles (with the exception of Persephone). The Big Bad is a demigod who wants to enslave humanity, and most of the other gods either don't care or are actively trying to revenge themselves on the heroes for standing up to them. In the end the heroine blackmails the gods into leaving humanity alone.
  • While Jesus Is Way Cool in Christopher Moore's Lamb his father's reaction to Joshua's pleading for humanity is "Screw 'em".
  • The first chapter of Glen Cook's Surrender to the Will of the Night has one survivor of a scouting party return to report to the god that sent the party out—although the survivor had been driven mad by his experiences. "His god rewarded him as gods do. It devoured him."
  • A number of Tom Holt's novels have jackass deities. In particular, God is portrayed in Grailblazers as being not so much evil as prone to Moral Myopia and Disproportionate Retribution, with two people being cursed to immortality for the incredibly minor sins of giving Jesus a pair of socks instead of frankincense or myrrh and failing to wash up for Him at the Last Supper. Other deities aren't treated a hell of a lot better.
  • Most of the Everworld gods seem to be this way, or at best they're a bit petty and tend to overreact. This isn't helped at all by the fact that they're pretty much stuck in that mindset with literally no way to change.
  • In CS Lewis's Till We Have Faces, much like the Greeks, the people of Glome think of their gods as petty brutes and try to do as little to attract their attention as possible. The Fox, a Stoic philosopher from Greece, dismisses these ideas as "lies of poets" and considers the Divine to be above such pettiness. In the end, both views are wrong, in different ways.
  • The Fantasy Pantheon of Shadowmarch is heavily inspired by Classical Mythology (to the point that the three head gods are clear expies of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades) and as such the majority of them are portrayed this way. Or rather, were- Kupilas, the Hephaestus-analogue, eventually got fed up with them and succeeded in tricking them all into hibernation- only a few demigods and Zosim the trickster are still active.
  • In the Iron Druid Chronicles the Norse gods are portrayed like this, especially Thor who is a supernatural Jerk Jock to everyone outside his pantheon. Odin is a Manipulative Bastard who will use and abuse humans and gods alike to further his goals. Some of the old Greek and Roman gods also have tend to be collosal jerks. In contrast Jesus and the various versions of the Coyote are quite decent and care about humans. The North American version of Thor is heavily influenced by the comic book Thor and is quite a nice guy compared to the original.
  • Chronicles of Chaos explains this trope thusly: in this universe, moral laws and destinies have supernatural weight, and breaking or bending them carries penalties. Olympians, however, have the power to change those moral laws, which mean they aren't bound by them. At all.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Supernatural the trickster demi-god from Tall Tales and Mystery Spot also known as Loki and Gabriel is more of a jerkass demi-god. His victims, especially the Winchesters and definitely Sam, probably wish he was a lazy god rather than an archangel.
  • In the Farscape episode Prayer, Aeryn mentions an ancient myth about how the ancient Sebaceans used to worship a goddess named Tenka Bru, until she suddenly destroyed the seven main planets they lived on. When her dying worshippers asked why she had done this after they did their best to honor her, she replied, "Because I can." Apparently, this is why the modern-day Peacekeepers refuse to believe in any religion.
  • God is messes with Al Bundy a few times in Married... with Children. Al is a bit of a jerkass too though.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess usually don't care about accuracy, going for Rule of Fun every time, and Anachronism Stew doesn't cover the half of it. They do believe, though, in doing the Greek gods' characters correctly by showing them as the jerks they are, well, except for Hades, who is dark but (usually) the only decent one.
    • Sometimes, they make Hades sorta a dick too actually. And not all other Greek Gods were ALWAYS portrayed negatively. Sometimes they're even The Atoner, especially for former Big Bads like Hera or Ares. Others are just kinda out of touch, like Zeus.
  • The Stargate Verse is built on this trope, specifically Stargate SG-1. The Goa'uld take on the identities of all sorts of gods (or perhaps were the origin of the myths; it's never specified) and often rule with an iron fist. They view humans as disposable slaves and potential host bodies. In the episode "Pretense", Zipacna compares humans to cattle.
    • In seasons nine and ten, the Ori come into the picture. They're Ascended beings who want to convert every single mortal into worshipping them. If you refuse, they denounce you as evil and burn you alive for heresy. Unlike the Goa'uld, who rely on technology to make them seem godlike, the Ori actually have supernatural powers to reinforce the belief of their followers, producing incredibly devoted soldiers who are willing to kill every single person who doesn't accept Origin.
    • Similarly, the Ancients themselves might qualify. Sure, they're the "good guy" counterparts of the Ori, but despite their power and Ascended status, they have rules against interfering with the affairs of mortals, up to and including letting a half-Ascended Goa'uld run around slaughtering billions and gaining a foothold into destroying the entire galaxy just to punish one of their own for helping him Ascend on accident.
  • Animus from Power Rangers Wild Force is ultimately good, but has a really skewed sense of priorities, being more offended at times by human pollution than by the evil demon things. At one point he tried to take his kids[1] and go find another planet to live on since we filthy humans had polluted this one up too much, though he later claimed that this was a Secret Test of Character.
    • Mind you, the pollution is what gave rise to the evil demon things.
    • Daizyujin is this to an extent in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, notably in regard to Burai. But he's not nearly as bad as Daijinryuu in Gosei Sentai Dairanger, who among other things compels several people to jump to their deaths from tall buildings.
    • Daizyujin is pretty much based on the gods of a lot of religions, being better than the ultimate evils that are around but wouldn't know the meaning of the word "fair." In Burai's case, Burai was only needed to awaken Dragon Caesar, and, though they could probably save his life, which is On Borrowed Time, they don't because "it is not needed for him to survive." This is far from the only instance of Guardian Beast Jerkassitude in the series - the fact that the Rangers were working for such Bad Bosses is responsible for most of the dark aspects of an otherwise Lighter and Softer series.
  • This is how God comes off in the West Wing episode "Two Cathedrals", especially in the wake of President Bartlett's tirade in the National Cathedral.

Jed Bartlett: (to God) "You're a son of a bitch, You know that? She bought her first new car and You hit her with a drunk driver. What? Was that supposed to be funny? 'You can't conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God,' says Graham Greene. I don't know whose ass he was kissing there, 'cause I think You're just vindictive."


Myths & Religion[edit | hide]

  • As mentioned under Anime, Sun Wukong, from Journey to the West, was such a jerkass god that even the other gods (many of whom weren't exactly nice themselves—case in point, kicking one of their own out of heaven and turning him into a river-dwelling, man-eating monster because he accidentally broke one of the Heavenly Emperor's vases/teacups) went to Buddha and begged him to put a stop to the monkey business.
  • GREEK/ROMAN MYTHOLOGY. Trope Codifiers. The Greek gods are widely remembered today for being spoiled children with fancy powers at best and at worse total assholes. Part of this is due to flanderizing their jerk side and ignoring their benevolent side combined with Values Dissonance. They were held to different standards than humans and were the center of the universe instead of humans. The other reason is they often were just massive jerks because they could be. Even the best of them have one or two stories with few exceptions.
    • The only exceptions tended to be Hades, Hermes, Demeter, Hephaestus, and Hestia. Hades due to hanging out in the underworld all the time and being one of the most law abiding. Hermes tends to punish only the unjust and gets by on Rule of Cool. Hestia was the most peaceful and is hardly involved in any myths. Hephaestus also tends to be one of the nicer ones considering all the crap his fellow gods put him through. Demeter is also a good mother and even acted as a nanny at one point to a mortal baby.
    • One of the worst ironically is Zeus, who himself is the god of law and upholder of morals. While there are some stories of Zeus punishing evil doers and rewarding the just many of his stories are about his dalliances with immortal and mortal women. At times forcing himself upon women, doing little to protect them from his wife Hera, among many other highly questionable actions like the Pandora's Box incident make him perhaps the biggest jerk of all.
    • Also worth a mention is Ares. Even back then, Greek scholars wrote about how men run in terror from this bloodthirsty god of war, and he is probably the closest thing the Greeks had a to a God of Evil. He was portrayed more positively by the Romans however, due to them having a stronger military tradition than the Greeks.
      • It is worth mentioning, however, that Mars was originally a Roman god who later just became equated with Ares. Mars was, to say the least, not such a jerk.
  • Abrahamic God lapses into this, especially in the Old Testament. His treatment of Job, for example, can easily be seen this way. More detail is not needed.
  • The Norse Gods. All of them tend to have their moments depending on the version of a story. Often this is justified by the other party being a huge dick first, the action being somehow necessary for the good of the world, or just plain the other party can fight back unlike defenseless mortals. They also tend to get held accountable for their actions more than the Greeks.
    • Thor, strongest of the Norse gods, as the old myths are full of him being a complete dick. He went on a fishing trip with Hymir, Tyr's father, after he cut the head off Hymir's finest ox to use as a fishing lure, he almost dragged the Midgard Serpent into their boat, which would've sunk them had Hymir not cut the line. Later he threw a cup at his head—it just keeps going like that. And this was a guy Thor needed a favor from. In one old myth, Thor got annoyed with the dwarf, Litr, and kicked him into a pyre. Baldur's funeral pyre.
      • To his defense, Litr did spit into Baldur's pyre, so he had it coming.
    • On the other hand, Thor was one of the most benevolent gods toward humanity and respected as an honest, hard working god who represented the common people.
    • Loki, the trickster-god of firelight, is certainly not the most admirable god in the pantheon. But many consider him a Magnificent Bastard or Loveable Rogue on account of his antics and tricks generally causing more trouble and indignity for the other gods than for humans.
      • Not to mention, the other gods mostly seem to have deserved it since he was probably traumatised by the number of times his pantheon treated him as expendable or suitable rape victim. Yeah, you read that right. Odin, Loki's father, decided to get out of paying the guy who was building Valhalla was to get rid of his work-horse. Instead of just killing the horse, he orders Loki to become a mare and seduce it. Loki gets pregnant and trapped as a horse until he can give birth...to a giant, eight-legged horse...that his father then takes as his own personal war-horse! It's hard not to cheer when you hear that Odin is doomed to be eaten at Ragnarok, especially since it is apparently Loki's giant wolf-child that does it.
    • Odin, while generally a good guy, sometimes comes off as a massive jerk. Sure, he generally likes people and helps them, but he's not trustworthy, prone to have his devoted or especially competent followers killed in messy ways so they join him in Valhalla. Sure, it's for the best, but losing the favor of the God you faithfully serve and fight for mid-battle would surely suck
  • The Shinto pantheon wasn't free from its share of jerks. Given that there's around 8 million gods in the Shinto pantheon, that's not exactly surprising....
    • When the goddess Izanami died, her husband, Izanagi, traveled to Yomi to save her against her wishes. When he saw that his wife had turned into a rotted corpse, Izanagi ran away in fear with an enraged Izanami pursuing him, and pushed a boulder into the mouth of the cave which led into Yomi, trapping Izanami inside. Out of anger, Izanami declared that she would kill 1,000 of his people every day.
    • Tsukuyomi was invited to a feast by Uke Mochi, the goddess of food, who made the food by turning into the ocean and spitting out fish, then facing the forest and wild game came out of her anus, finally she turned into a rice paddy field and vomited up a bowl of rice. Tsukuyomi, disgusted by the repulsive way the delicious meal came to be, killed Uke Moshi.
    • Amaterasu and her brother Susanoo had an antagonistic relationship. After being ordered to leave the heavens by Izanagi, Susanoo bid his sister farewell before challenging her to prove his sincerity. They each took an item from another to birth gods and goddesses from them. From Susanoo's sword, Amaterasu birthed three women and Susanoo birthed five men for her necklace and declared himself the winner since he had produced men. Susanoo, being the Storm God, became restless after a brief period of peace and went on a drunken rampage destroying his sister's rice paddies, defecating in her irrigation ditches, throwing fecal matter at her temple, and last but not least... he threw a flayed horse at her loom, which splintered into hundreds pieces, killing all her hand-maidens. Coincidentally, this is also the story of how Winter came about-because it was at that point that Amaterasu proceeded to hide herself-and thus, the sun-in a cave to get away from him.
      • Unlike most deities, Susanoo actually faced repercussions for this-after the other gods managed to pry Amaterasu out of her cave, they then proceeded to happily kick him out of heaven until he proved he wasn't completely worthless. This managed to get through to him, and he later slayed the dragon Orochi as penance...and to score a wife. He's still a jerk, he's just a mature jerk now.
    • Ookuninushi, while generally seen in positive light, is actually quite the jerkass. When Amaterasu requested that he hand over the country to her descendants, he seemed alright with it and agreed to do it. Then, several generations later, he caused a plague during emperor Suujin's reign, demanding a new temple to end it. Doing so stopped the plague, but the god was apparently still angry, because he then made the next emperor's son dumb, requiring the emperor to build another temple to him.
  • Indra from Hindu Mythology fits this trope. Whenever someone—be it human, God or demon—gained too much power, Indra would send the beautiful Dancing Girls from his court to upset their prayers. He also has bad habit of raping sage's wife by disguising as her husband.
    • We ought to note here that according to scholars of comparative linguistics and mythology, Indra is cognate to Thor and Zeus. Explains a lot, don't you think?
      • Unlike Zeus though Indra actually has to pay for it by being humiliated time and again. Either he loses his throne, cursed by a sage, his greatest victory rewritten so Vishnu saves him and does all the real work, or something else. In the end he went from being the Lord of the Universe to a minor weather god and lord of the elements.
  • Ishtar, according to Gilgamesh, is highly untrustworthy, and has the tendency of turning her lovers in moles and beasts when she's tired of them. And when Gilgamesh refused to sleep with her, she sent a huge, angry bull to destroy Ur.
    • Enlil caused The Great Flood because humanity annoyed him with their sounds.
  • Freaking every single one of them in Aztec Mythology (except Quetzalcoatl, and even he had his moments). When your rain and fertility god likes his food young and crying, and one of two rulers is literally the god of Magnificent Bastards, there's little wonder why they thought it was a Crapsack World.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The deities in Warhammer Fantasy Battle & Warhammer 40,000. All of them. Canon does sometimes seem contradictory on this point, though.
    • Khorne wants to see people fight battles, the bloodier and more gruesome the better. In the Warhammer Fantasy Battle universes, simply being a god of war makes him a possible good guy, while the fact that your viscera would be just as pleasing to him as your enemies, makes him one of the bad guys.
    • Slaanesh might want to help you to experience every positive sensation that you can, even turning negative sensations into new kinds of pleasure... but he definitely wants to force you to experience everything, as a kind of torture-orgy.
    • Papa Nurgle either wants you to help you to accept the pain and suffering of existence in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle universes, even nullifying some of the effects for you... so that you will be grateful enough to help him "spread the love" by infecting healthy people with incurable diseases and unhealing wounds to help them see how bad the universe is, so that they will turn to Grandfather Nurgle and he can help them, too.
    • Tzeentch definitely is a Jerkass God, because he is the god of scheming to such an extent that anything good or bad in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle universe is his doing. His grand master-plan was responsible for every single happy moment of your life...and every single moment of negativity of any kind.
  • Many gods in Exalted have grown corrupt and complacent without anyone to answer to.
    • The Usurpation came to be because the Golden Age Solars had turned into this, as well.
    • And even before becoming the Yozi and Neverborn, most of the Primordials were selfish Jerkasses who, when they weren't playing the Games of Divinity while the Gods did all the actual work, amused themselves by tormenting the inhabitants of Creation or their ugly brother Autochthon.
  • Sen Zar offers too many examples of this trope to count (including, potentially, evil player characters who ascend to godhood), but the prize for most jerkassness goes to the Eternals, the only type of gods who actually gain (even more) power for being complete jackasses.
  • In the Forgotten Realms, the Time of Troubles led to all of the gods banished to the material plane in avatar form, screwing up the Realms pretty much wherever they went. Many of them used this as an opportunity to expand their power base, using human armies as pawns to take down other gods. The kicker is that the whole thing started because they upset the overgod, Ao, by stealing the Tablets of Fate. However, the fancy-looking Tablets of Fate with every god's name inscribed on it don't actually do anything! And somehow, because we have a new Mystra and Cyric, the "balance is restored". To his credit, Ao does require that deities actually be worshipped to get their power in the future. And hey, we got a new edition out of it.
    • At least according to some sources, Ao was getting tired of the gods goofing off to play power games against each other instead of doing their actual jobs, anyway. The theft of the Tablets was simply the straw that broke the camel's back (and made for conveniently collectable Plot Coupons at the same time).
    • You don't know even half the story on how Jerkass some of the gods were until you've played Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer and gotten the scoop on Myrkul.
  • Playing Gods get this trope right. You play as one of the five major gods from the major religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism) or you can use the sixth stand and insert a sticker or a photo of yourself or use a key ring or action figure or whatever as a god too. You convert other gods sects, spread believers or massacre every other deities sects. It's Played for Laughs though, and it's really a satire of fundamentalism and religious warfare and how it's better to be at peace with your fellow religions rather than attack them.
  • Scion makes use of this trope. In general, if the mythology portrays a god/dess as a jerkass, then he/she is the same in Scion. The Values Dissonance between modern culture and mythology is also given a few subtle nods. The most obvious of which is that, by the "God" sourcebook, the official sample Aztec character is depicted as disgusted by and disdainful of his native pantheon.
  • In Iron Kingdoms, Menoth, creator god of the human race, is such a massive jerk that two humans became gods just to overthrow him. Its not hard to see why as he's supposts All Crimes Are Equal (most having something to do with fire) and the fact that if you're too awesome he will kill you Why? So you can fight for him in his heavenly army because he's attacking the other gods cities, why? Because he's a jerk. The few followers he has left veiw him more as a Stern Farther, like the time wend he refused to help the humans out wend the Orgoth invaded because of the above overthrowing.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The Gods in Once On This Island are completely cruel to the humans for no apparent reason, except Asaka. Agwe likes to lash them with storms for the hell of it, Papa Ge is, well, a demon of death who also happens to be a complete Jerkass, and Erzulie manipulates Ti Moune and Daniel solely so that she can prove that she's right. They were even worse in the original book - the musical tries to make them a bit more sympathetic, whereas in the book Agwe delivers a speech about how much humans deserve to die, and Erzulie kills a completely innocent woman.
  • Athena (see Greek Mythology above) is one in Ajax, causing the main character to go mad and slaughter sheep, resulting in his utter humiliation and downfall. The play opens with her gloating to Odysseus about it. Odysseus is put off.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Occuria of Final Fantasy XII fit the bill perfectly. Most of the plot of the game turns out to be an attempt to overthrow them and return control over Ivalice to humanity. To put it in perspective: Venat, one third of the game's Big Bad Triad is the fallen angel figure among them, who they try to convince you to kill at one point, and he acts completely in line (ie, getting others to help him as he himself cannot act in the human realm directly)... and he still is the primary Anti-Villain of the game, because you can tell he had very good reasons for wanting to rebel. Beyond his motivations, he's made more sympathetic by default by Gerun (the Occuria's leader/spokesperson) being an utter bastard.
  • The fal'Cie of Final Fantasy XIII also fall under this trope, being basically giant elementals who subjugate humans into fighting their civil war for them. And that's just scratching the surface. It turns out that Every Fal'Cie from Cocoon wants their creator The Maker to return, and believe that this demands no less than the sacrifice of Cocoon's entire human population. They don't even mind that The Maker's return would likely lead to their destruction as well. Since the Cocoon Fal'Cie are bound to their duties to Cocoon and cannot directly destroy it, they turn humans into L'Cie in the hopes that they can do it for them. The Cocoon Fal'Cie see humans as nothing more than cattle to be sacrificed to their god.
  • The entire human race is created by "God" to be replacement organic components for a malevolent interstellar weapon in Xenogears.
  • In the game Black and White, you play a god who can be benevolent and giving, or this.
  • Zeus in God of War, particularly the second game. In fact, every other Olympian is a Jerkass of some sorts save for Athena until the end of the third game, Hephaestus and perhaps Hades (who by the third game has plenty of reasons to hate Kratos).
    • Kratos himself when he's the god of war, who goes to do all the things Ares had been before he killed him.
      • Then Ghost of Sparta reveals the reason of said acquired jerkassery: The gods imprisoned his brother in the Realm of Death till adulthood, out of fear he was the Marked One destined to kill the Gods(Actually Kratos). Then Thanatos kill his brother, all under the order of the Gods, particularly Zeus. In fact, if Gods just never messed with Kratos, he probably wouldn't even be so destructive, but when you combine Badass Spartan attitude with being a Cosmic Plaything and a Demigod, shit tends to hit the fan.
  • Like his Norse counterpart, Odin in Valkyrie Profile is kinda a dick too.
  • Wisitarnea, both versions, definitely mean(s) well. Unfortunately, this tends to involve killing lots of people, binding souls into eternity for the hell of it, causing natural disasters by fighting and manipulating everyone into wars.
  • Daedric Princes are close to gods in the The Elder Scrolls and most of them view humanity as nothing more than amusement. This contributes to Hircine fighting the Nerevarine in Bloodmoon (Although he does give plenty of warnings, prophecies, signs and such, and the fight is set up to be a fair fight when he could crush you in a second). Molag Bal is the embodiment of this trope, though Mehrunes Dagon is more active. Azura,[2] Meridia,[3] Peryite,[4] and Sheogorath [5] are probably the most benign of the Princes (and yes, we mean "most". As in, relative. Check the hottips). See God Is Evil.
    • Hence why the Daedra are typically stated to be the Elder Scrolls version of demons. Most inhabitants of Tamriel worship the Aedra, who are "usually" much less jerkassish.
  • The King of All Cosmos of Katamari Damacy gets his very own subtrope!
  • In Touhou: Kanako not only waged a war to usurp another god and was introduced attempting to have all of Gensokyo worship her, her machinations were the initiator for two subsequent games.
    • But she's not as bad as most examples in this page, and her aim was to gather faith.
      • At the expense of possibly destroying Gensokyo, since she was trying to take it from the Hakurei Shrine, who maintain the boundary that protects the last sanctuary of magic from the real world where magic is dead... (admittedly, Kanako being a goddess from said outside world, she might not have realized the importance of the Hakurei Border)
  • The Sinistrals in the Lufia series of games fit this trope to a T.
  • The AI Director of Left 4 Dead conjures up health kits and ammunition whenever you really need it, and a million zombies whenever he's bored. Which is all the time.
  • Xom in Dungeon Crawl. To a lesser extent, Xom's fellow chaos god Makhleb also qualifies. He not only awards power and favor to his worshipers for killing everything under the sun (thus making life more miserable for non-worshipers), but he also grants the ability to summon demons (up to and including the most powerful non-unique demons in the game)... which have a chance of spawning hostile to the summoner!
  • The Elder Gods of Lusternia each follow their own agenda. Some, like Elostian, are relatively benign; others, like Eventru, less so; still others, like Fain, veer into God of Evil territory. And that's not even getting into the Soulless Gods...
  • Unsurprisingly (if you're versed in Classical Mythology) Zeus is the Big Bad of Will Rock: He resurrected all the monsters and undeads of Greece in order to take over the world and want to marry (or have as a sacrifice) Will's girlfriend.
  • Mother of mercy, Zanza from Xenoblade Chronicles. Basically, he's a Generic Doomsday Villain who constantly destroys and rebuilds the universe... why? He's a god! Why the hell not!? Needless to say, he gets called out on this a lot.
  • Used as a gameplay mechanic in Bastion: there are ten Gods; choosing to pray to one will make enemies tougher to defeat, but increase the experience and money you get from beating them. The narrative suggests that the Gods don't look too kindly on humanity since they stopped being worshipped.
  • Ashera from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. While she isn't exactly an immature jerk like most examples, she proves to have an extreme view of how the world should be and ends up turning almost everyone to stone when she awakens and sees the world doesn't match her vision. Ironically, she was considered a benevolent goddess before that event, while her other half, Yune was considered evil, but ends up being much nicer and less extreme, though also a lot more emotional and childish.
  • Most of the Eastern Gods from the Izuna duology (especially their leader, Takushiki) are none too happy with Izuna and her clan trespassing on the sacred Kamiari Shrine, and take their frustrations out on the villagers by placing them under various curses.
  • The gods in RuneScape, for the most part, see their followers as little more than tools they can use to gain an advantage over the other gods. Even Saradomin, who is worshipped by most of the characters in-game, doesn't really seem to care much about his worshippers, and was actively participating in the God Wars without a second thought. The closest thing there is to a 'good' god is Guthix, the god of nature and balance, who created Gielinor and was powerful enough to stop the God Wars.
  • One of the structures you can build in Bastion is a shrine containing idols representing the gods. You can invoke as many of them as you like, which makes your journey harder (but you get better rewards in turn; invoking all of them nearly doubles your spoils). Although in this case it's justified; before the cataclysm that kicked off the plot, your culture had lost most of its reverence for the gods, and turned them into toys and architectural decorations, so they're a little hacked off at you right now. On the other hand, if you should decide to reject them, they won't begrudge you that, because they think you're just pussing out.
  • Dark Sun Gwyndolin from Dark Souls is the only god in the setting who managed to avoid suffering a horrible fate, and is in the best position to help fix the Crapsack World. Instead, he selfishly manipulates everyone else in a bid to increase his own power.
  • Every single god and goddess in Kid Icarus: Uprising. Even Palutena isn't immune. Dark Pit calls them all out on their selfish nature when they comment about how bad the humans are. Justified as all of the Gods are based on Greek Mythology listed above.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Order of the Stick: the Gods created the world it seems for their own amusement as much as anything. Their squabbles the first time created the Snarl and ended up killing 1/4 of them and unmaking reality before they locked it up in the current world. When they remade it they made Clerics and a lot of cool monsters for them to help fight, but needed Cannon Fodder for them to kill for experience. All goblin races were created to be nothing more than easy experience points and defined as Exclusively Evil for the purposes of alignment and spells, no matter their actions. (Well, according to Redcloak anyway.) As a result, killing a Goblin child unable to comprehend good and evil is not an evil act. The motivation of the aforementioned Redcloak stems from him trying to give his people an equal footing.
    • It's never stated that goblins are Exclusively Evil; it goes by the Monster Manual, which says they are Usually Chaotic Evil. Likewise, the paladin killing kids example should be noted to take place from the POV of an Unreliable Narrator, and the author has hinted that it's not quite as bad as Redcloak makes it seem. This trope still applies in spades, of course.
    • The Dark One (the previously-mortal god of the goblins) averts this, sending a message back with one of his resurrected clerics:

Jirix: "Don't screw this up."
Red Cloak: Well, as theological revelations go, I guess that's refreshingly direct.
Jirix: But then he added "no pressure though," which I thought was nice.

  • The Gods of Arr-Kelaan can sometimes slide into this, but there's a general consensus that as bad as the Traveler Gods could be they are still better than the old gods. The old Gods being Jerkasses is what kicks off the "God War".


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, all the gods that humanity has ever worshipped (yes, even the God of Christianity/Judaism/Islam, before you ask) are actually the products of humanity's collective unconscious via the same psionic effect that caused several of the Anthropomorphic Personifications (such as Uncle Sam, the incarnation of American liberty, and the Blood Red King, the incarnation suffering) to come into existence. As such, their behavior and attitudes reflect human behavior and attitudes. This means that the reason so many of the gods complete ass-hats is because humanity expects them to be.
  • Zod from Open Blue is a drunken bastard who would rather fart up hurricanes, go on beer parties, and armwrestle with an expy of Cthulhu rather than answer the hundreds of millions of prayers directed at him.
  • The Whateley Universe has these in spades. There are, of course, all the various Lovecraftian "gods". There's the Tao with its shamelessly invoked Omniscient Morality License. The Christian Heaven and Hell (or good facsimiles thereof) apparently exist and are locked in a carefully balanced stalemate with neither side actually trying to win too much, which works okay for the entity claiming to be Satan but casts a dim light on his counterpart. (Let's not even go into their respective treatment of Merry, later Petra, who by this point is a fully appointed knight of the Catholic church... even if she does also carry Sara's demon mark.) And the New Olympians school clique? Are some of the old Greek gods in new human host bodies, with at least some of them already up to their old tricks and none too happy that nobody worships them anymore.
  • Parodied by this recent College Humor video.
  • Although Zero Punctuation does not contain examples of the trope, it does have a rather appropriate summary of it:

"The root problem with Christianity is that their god is supposed to be all-powerful and benevolent. It sounds like an easy sell but when life turns completely to shit you have to come up with all kinds of whacked-out reasons for why kindly old Jehovah saw fit to run over little Timmy with a combine harvester and leave him in a state of vegetative limbless agony for eighteen years. Ancient cultures didn't have that problem; they knew their gods were a bunch of drunken lunatics who ran around boning their close relatives and turning their goolies into fruit-bearing trees. Consequently they tend to make for much more interesting stories."

  • Used here towards the end. The main character renounces his god and the first thing that god does is try to kill him and over fifty thousand of his people, succeeding in the latter case.
  • From various profile in Monster Girl Encyclopedia, we can conclude that while the Chief God really loves humans, she hates monsters. It's possible that she created them with the intent of having an enemy for mankind to fight. On the other end, we have the Fallen God who believes in pleasure above all other things, and forcefully converts both human women and angels into its followers the same way as a succubus, causing them to desire the ultimate "reward" of being locked in eternal coitus with their mate in Pandemonium. Finally, the cyclopes were once deities, but fellow deities cursed them into monsters simply because they have only one eye.
    • Translations of the official background material have also shown that Poseidon (who is a goddess in this setting) turned against the other gods and sided with the demon lord in part at least because the other gods were forcing her to make storms to reduce human populations and make them fear the sea.
    • Also from the settings material, it turns out that the monsters are living creatures the Chief God created so that the population of humans could be easily controlled. The previous Demon Lords were control devices so that the gods could control the monsters. Whenever the population of humans got too high, the monsters would become incredibly vicious and begin killing large numbers of humans. Then when humans started to die out and the monsters became too numerous, the Chief God would grant humans incredible power, creating “heroes”, and send them to slay the Demon Lord. With the Demon Lord slain, the monsters would kill each other to decide the next Demon Lord, causing a rapid decrease in the monster population. This would go on until humans again became too prosperous, at which point a new Demon Lord would be born and take control of the Monsters. This process ran for several cycles until a Succubus fought her way to becoming the current Demon Lord, and started messing with the system.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The telling of the Pandora's Box story in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy fits the trope and the original story rather well.
    • And, of course, there are plenty of gods that make guest appearances, such as Eris, the goddess of discord and strife.
  • Neptune of SpongeBob SquarePants acts this way.
    • His son Triton in "Spongebob and The Clash of Triton" on the other hand actually did care about mortals and their affairs before his father locked him in a cage because he felt that trying to improve the lives of mortals was not befitting of a god. The thousands of years he spent locked away eventually turned Triton into a jerkass god as well.
  • In The Simpsons, near the end of "Mr. Plow" Homer and Barney decide to join forces in their snow plowing business. Homer declares that their friendship is so powerful that even God himself can't stop them, so just to prove him wrong God melts all the snow and puts them out of business.
  • God is pretty much of a jerk in Family Guy too, pressuring women for sexual favors, neglecting his son, starting fires, and what not.
  • Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. He's an all powerful Reality Warper who can do pretty much anything he pleases. And just what does he use this power to do? Turn Equestria into a World Gone Mad and drive everypony insane for his own amusement. Though he's a bit more straight up evil than just a Jerkass.
    • The fandom usually enjoys turning Princess Celestia, the resident Big Good into this, though she's really just a Trickster Mentor with a sense of humor.
  1. that season's zords and the source of the rangers' powers
  2. Is claimed to have turned the Chimer (shining elfs) into the Dunmer (dark elves) as a curse, and it is implied that the player character of Morrowind was not actually the reincarnation of Nerevar, but rather a pawn used by Azura to destroy the Tribunal, who betrayed her in the backstory
  3. all that is really known is that she hates the undead
  4. little is known about him; most significant thing is the apparently just quest to rescue his worshippers' souls
  5. called the Lord of Madness