Sufficiently Advanced Alien

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Now all it needs is some water.[1]

"Any sufficiently advanced alien is indistinguishable from God."

—Paraphrase of Shermer's Last Law

You know the type. Sooner or later one shows up on every Space Opera or Wagon Train to the Stars. They're the alien being that can do anything with the wave of a hand (or tentacle, or tendril of energy). Sometimes they're hostile, sometimes they're benevolent, sometimes above it all or just... different, but regardless they can really cramp the style of a young, expanding race looking to make a name for itself on the galactic scene. Usually, though, they tend to just be omnipotent jackasses, looking for a cheap laugh. Sometimes you can exploit their sense of honor or fair play, or their desire for solitude, to make them go away. Or maybe you just have to wait for their parents to come and take them home. Unfortunately, you can't always get rid of them—just ask Jean-Luc Picard (and don't even get his colleague Capt. Janeway started).

If you have to use something that's recognizable to the viewer as a machine, you're not Sufficiently Advanced. If you can just wave your hand and things happen, you probably are (visual machines are allowed for really big effects, like making galaxies explode or transporting a planet from one side of the galaxy to another). If you are a machine, there's some wiggle room (and some overlap with Deus Est Machina).

What actually separates Sufficiently Advanced Aliens from genuine gods can get a little vague, especially with the likes of the Ori, or for that matter Q, who do claim to be deities, or, for that matter, Juraian royalty, who don't, but are. Usually, being found in space and/or opposing the heroes' lack of belief is considered enough reason to reject their claims. One possible distinction between the two is that gods are believed by their followers to actually be above the laws of physics (though there are plenty that aren't), whereas sufficiently advanced aliens have just figured them out enough to manipulate them to their favor.

Unfortunately for mere mortals, these type of beings rarely have an Alien Non-Interference Clause, and the ones who do always have Black Sheep members who defy it. Sometimes, they'll show up to put Humanity on Trial. Occasionally, a human or humanoid alien will be assumed into their ranks. Often these beings will claim to be "more highly evolved" than humans, and that someday, if we're good little corporeals and eat all our vegetables and overcome our stupidity and bratty ways, we might grow up to be like them. Similarly, many sufficiently advanced alien species are also Perfect Pacifist People.

See also Great Gazoo and Energy Beings. When humans are treated like this, it's Humans Are Cthulhu or Thank the Maker. Conversely, if these beings are far enough removed from human understanding, they can be considered Eldritch Abominations, in which case they at least have the decency to take on A Form You Are Comfortable With.

Compare to Higher-Tech Species, when the aliens are more advanced, but not quite Sufficiently Advanced enough to count as this. Contrast with God Guise and Ancient Astronauts. See also Physical God, for an approach from the other side of the spectrum. Naturally, they are nothing like the Insufficiently Advanced Alien.

Very frequently they are builders/users of Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology.

If you want to go and try to compare these alien heavyweights, then you are Abusing the Kardashev Scale For Fun and Profit.

Examples of Sufficiently Advanced Alien include:


Anime and Manga

  • The Anti-Spirals of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. They live "in the space between the tenth and eleventh dimensions", can accurately count the exact number of people living on a given planet instantly, hide the moon in a dimensional pocket, and insert genetic programming into individuals of other races to use them as messengers. Furthermore, they can create virtual spaces in which they control all the laws of physics, even directly modifying the probabilities of events occurring, and they can trap their opponents within these spaces. To say nothing of their cruder abilities: physically tossing entire galaxies as weapons.
  • The enemies of a Mazinger Z spin-off were aliens so powerful and so technologically advanced they were mistaken by gods in the past.
  • The Earthlings from Vandread. They grow humans like crops, have giant, self sustaining battleships, can copy the shape and powers of the Vandreads, and live by replacing their body parts with the body parts of the aforementioned humans. Their Enfante Terrible leader can communicate telepathically and crush things/people with telekinetic powers.
  • Nagato Yuki of Suzumiya Haruhi is a prime example of this. By chanting computer code, she can manipulate matter and space with great precision and scope.
    • Yuki also has a superior, the mysterious Kimidori Emiri, and two Evil Counterparts: Asakura Ryouko, a superpowered, really, really freaking scary Uncanny Valley Girl who tries to kill Kyon without even losing her cool and nice attitude, and Kuyou Suou, an Emotionless Girl whose alien race is at war with Yuki's.
    • Also includes a bit of a Starfish Aliens touch, in that they had to create humans in order to try to understand them (the "alien" characters would be more accurately described as artificial humans) and are rather interested in the fact that mere matter can apparently have intelligence.
  • In Tenchi Muyo!, the Juraian royalty are semi-divine Sufficiently Advanced Aliens through the pact struck with Tsunami, one of their universe's three Physical Gods (before that they were and still are just Space Pirates). The Word of God (and third OAV series) also has it that their universe has a real, transcendental God who created said Physical God and her two Sisters, and that this God's avatar is Tenchi.
  • The Golden Tribe of Heroic Age. They were reputed to be able to create planets and predict the future (though whether these tasks required the use of machines or not is never explained), and are treated as gods by the Silver Tribe.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the giant monsters attacking Tokyo-3 are called Angels and seem akin to gods, but are actually (according to one of the supplementary sources) expressions of one of a pair of competing "world seeds" launched eons ago by unknown Precursors. What Shinji does at the end also seems to lean towards religion, although it may be interpreted as just science, putting the right objects in the right place and having the desired reaction.
    • One interpretation. This Universe itself is fundamentally a mirror of Hideaki Anno's Pysche, and the Unknown Precursors themselves are not guaranteed to be part of his Canon.
    • We refer you to Clarke's third law for debate.
  • It turns out that this is the backstory of Kyuubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Kyuubey is otherwise a Magical Girl mascot character, and is capable of teleportation, telepathy, some form of Invisible to Normals,[2] and turning people into Magical Girls, among other things.

Comic Books

  • The Marvel Universe has tons of these; probably the most famous is Galactus, planet-eating antagonist of the Fantastic Four.
    • Runners-up would be the Watchers and the Celestials, who hate each other's guts, interestingly.
      • The Watchers believe it's best not to interfere with the development of other worlds and races (the actions of The Watcher that frequently bend these rules not withstanding). The Celestials (pictured above) are all about interfering—they guide the evolution of planets and destroy those that don't satisfy their standards. It's not a surprise that these two don't get along—not that it really bothers the Celestials, since the Watchers' actions against them are limited to disapproving stares.
    • The Impossible Man is quite powerful, but mostly just spends his time annoying people.
    • Even the more traditional gods like the Asgardians, Olympians and Heliopolitans are close to being this—especially the latter.
      • In the Earth X trilogy (Earth X, Universe X, Paradise X), all the gods are sufficiently advanced aliens (evolution wise), it's a long story.
    • Subverted in the Ultimate Galactus trilogy of books in the Ultimate Marvel continuity. The Ultimate Version of Galactus is a consciousness spread over a colony of ships spread thousands of miles across.
    • The Beyonder is God-like to the point where Nightcrawler had a crisis of faith simply because he'd come to Earth. It was subsequently retconned that he'd just been fooling everybody (including the likes of Galactus) that he was omnipotent, but even that's clearly God-like power.
  • The DCU has its own fair share. Darkseid and the New Gods are perhaps the most well known, and perhaps falls under a different trope entirely.
    • The Guardians of the Universe, who created the Green Lantern Corps, are immortal aliens with vastly powerful personal super-abilities.
      • However, this is both played straight and subverted in that the Guardians, for all of their power, are extremely naive, arrogant, and foolish when viewing those who are lesser than them (i.e. nearly everyone in the universe). Their ineptitude has led to the War of Light and the rise of the Black Lantern Corps.
    • The Zamarrons and the Controllers, cousins of the Guardians, are perhaps a bit more well-meaning but ultimately even worse.
    • The inhabitants of the Fifth Dimension, like Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, whose reality-warping powers put them five tiers above everything else. Their interest in DCU is mainly limited to mischief.
  • Jack Kirby personally created the Celestials and the New Gods and had a hand in creating the Watchers and Galactus. This trope seems to really have appealed to him.
    • The Celestials and the Watchers both answer to the same boss, the Fulcrum, who runs the universe (the Celestials created life, The Horde destroys life and the Watchers record it all).
  • In the most controversial Tintin comic, Tintin in the Congo (rife with Unfortunate Implications and Values Dissonance), the Congolese natives end up worshiping idols of Tintin and Snowy because of the extreme Mighty Whitey factor in Tintin's visit.

Fan Works

  • Shag and Varx in With Strings Attached are of some “lizardy, birdy” race with technology sufficiently advanced to shuffle people from one dimension to another for an undergraduate class project, to bestow people with considerable power, and to maneuver those people into annoying situations. Jeft, who is a Grey, pretends he's a god, but the others are quick to distance themselves from that definition.
  • The Council of Angels in Final Stand of Death have the abilities transform those in the afterlife into Archangels. This happens to the Spice Girls into the latter.


  • In Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal, there are the the Urskeks, in a rather interesting case of Literal Split Personality, they split apart into the Skeksis and the Uru/Mystics.
  • In John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness it is revealed that the Church has hidden the truth for 2,000 years -- that Jesus was an alien.
    • And there are apparently some who believe this to be Truth in Television.
      • The author of the Bastard of Kosigan Neverwinter Nights module series even cast Jesus as a puppet of the minor "free will" faction of the aliens used to defeat the "control" faction's efforts to conquer the world with Judaism.
  • The moon Pandora in Avatar is actually one large neural network of electrically-communicating plants. The intelligence which emerged is perceived by the natives as the god Eywa.
    • Humans would be Sufficiently Advanced to the Na'vi, if they cared enough about our toys to be impressed by them.
  • The Asgardians in Thor, though their power actually seems to be a mix of this and genuine Magitek.
  • In Contact, a central theme is science versus religion. The main character is an atheist who looks down on her lover's blind faith, and in the end she is the one who has an essentially religious experience with an advanced alien that everyone else can only take on faith. Makes you wonder, if there really is a God, is he perhaps just a really advanced alien?
  • In the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu can do anything with his (electric?) powers: from interrogation to seeing through security cameras to bringing people back to life to saving the day. You name it, he can pull it off.
    • In the original, Klaatu claims the awkward, lumbering robot Gort could "destroy the universe", and he likewise brought Klaatu back to life (with the help of some technology).
  • This trope even applies to Yoda from the Star Wars series. While he is not the first or only person to use The Force, he is clearly much more powerful than anyone else who does. He claims others can become as powerful as him, but since it took him most of his over nine-hundred-year life span to get that powerful and since he seems to be one of the only members (in canon) of his mysteriously long-lived race,[3] his powers are effectively unique to him and set him apart from the rest of the galaxy.
    • In the Expanded Universe the Rakata use to be this, back then they were the first intergalactic power, and their technology runs on the Force, and have made profound changes on planets in making Tatooine and Kashyyyk what they are now.
  • Jeff Bridges's species in Starman might count—there seems to be nothing his magic balls couldn't do.
  • The Strangers (who even resemble angels in their true form!) in Knowing;


  • This is the central conflict of Contact, both the novel and the movie based on it, by Carl Sagan. The main character is an atheist and believes in rational explanations for everything, but at the end her journey to the center of the galaxy is revealed to be in every respect a religious experience.
    • The book is even more explicit; the journey is to an artificial world where the aliens are researching physical constants looking for messages written into reality itself -- a church the size of a planet. And once they return, the main character is able to find one of these messages herself (in pi). Thus, Sufficiently Advanced Science is indistinguishable from religion. Or, rather, Science and Religion reach the same conclusions via different routes.
  • In Dan Simmons' Hyperion saga, we have various examples:
    • The Shrike. The thing can travel through time, kill all of its enemies in a blink (by freezing time around them) and impale them in a metal tree designed to torture them for centuries.
    • The Techno core: They created an exact replica of the Earth. Later it's revealed that the Earth was actually teleported instead of being swallowed by the black hole on its core. Also, they created the Death rods, the farcasting system, and a device to give immortality to humans. The cruciform parasite.
    • The "others" (the ones who actually teleported Earth when the Techno core entities were freaking out in fear).
  • Arthur C. Clarke's novels feature this as a constant theme—not surprising given that he's the Trope Namers.
    • 2001, 2010, and their sequels explore this in great detail, starting with the aliens' Uplifted Animal of proto-humans in the African savannah, and progressing to the modern era when it's discovered that they've seeded the solar system with monoliths designed to alert them when humans start to venture into space. They then deliberately capture one (David Bowman) and forcibly ascend him in order to create an intermediary. In 2010, they turn Jupiter into a star to protect the evolution of life on Europa, and allow HAL to join Bowman.
    • In the Rendezvous With Rama series by Clarke and Gentry Lee, the unseen beings responsible for the construction of Rama and its sister vessels are compared to God by the characters; this point is driven home rather anviliciously in the final novel.
    • Also the Overmind of his Childhood's End.
  • The idea of the Christian God being a Sufficiently Advanced Alien appears in probably more SF stories than can be easily enumerated, but this verges more upon the territory covered by Ancient Astronauts.
  • Most of H.P. Lovecraft's aliens fall into this category: Cthulhu and his ilk do not even have hidden technology. They just are. In fact, Lovecraftian characters' tendency to consider the aliens gods extends to the fans as well. Ask a general Lovecraft fan, and he will very likely tell you, "Cthulhu is a god."
    • Lovecraft did write several stories involving gods like Nodens, Bokrug and ones from established mythology like Hypnos and Bast, who conform better to traditional ideas of godhood, but there's a very good reason for that. Since they're all set in Dream Land, they actually are traditional ideas of godhood.
    • There are Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth who approach Yahweh in terms of power, even if one is an idiot and the other is locked out of the universe.
  • The Ellimist from Animorphs, as well as his Evil Counterpart Crayak.
    • Though in a sense, they actually became gods.
    • Also the briefly mentioned being who drove Crayak from his home galaxy (and is implied to be even worse than he is!).
      • This may have suffered from Continuity Drift—when the Ellimist said that (in book 26), it was implied that Crayak was just as powerful when he got kicked out of his home galaxy as he is now. When The Ellimist Chronicles gives the full story, however, we find out that Crayak wasn't yet at this trope's level when he entered our galaxy, though he was certainly a force to be reckoned with.
  • Uriel from Clive Barker's Weaveworld is probably one of these, although it's bought into its own hype and thinks it's an angel.
  • The title character of Isaac Asimov's "Azazel" series of short stories is either this, or an actual demon—and possibly both. The stories can't seem to make up their mind, which fits in with the Unreliable Narrator who may just be making them all up.
  • The Culture. And more than the vastly-advanced Culture themselves are the Sublimed.
  • The Humanx Commonwealth series by Alan Dean Foster features a vast array of alien species of varying technology levels, but this particular trope belongs solely to the Xunca. Living a billion years ago, they dominated the entire galaxy and regularly converted entire planets into machines for various projects. They fled to Another Dimension after encountering an unstoppable galaxy-devouring horror, but not before leaving behind a superweapon built out of the Great Attractor, to which the main protagonist, Flinx, is the key. That's galactic-scale engineering for you.
  • In Design for Great-Day, Alan Dean Foster features humanity (or to be more specific, the Solarian Combine), as a super-advanced multi-species who are on the brink of transcending matter itself and becoming Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • The Gods (or "Ymirian Guards") in Nerh ûn are actually highly advanced aliens from the nearby planet Ymir who used En ôr as an experimental location for genetic modification. It got slightly out of hand, though...
  • The eponymous aliens of S. M. Stirling's The Lords of Creation series alter environments on a planetary scale and create interdimensional gateways with ease.
  • The eponymous AI of Charles Stross' Eschaton universe has the power to have scooped up a large chunk of humanity and scattered it both across lightyears of space and centuries of time. It's also been known to wipe out entire solar systems that mess with time travel.
  • The Priest-Kings of Gor, who for some reason, kidnap human from Earth, remove any type of firearm, dump them on the eponymous planet and have them create a society that would make the Dark Ages look feminist. Their reasons are unknown, maybe they're just really bored, or just that into human porn.
    • It's implied in Priest-Kings of Gor that they're motivated by a largely by intense boredom (Misk has to be physically restrained from committing suicide when the opportunity arises) and that they just think people are interesting.
  • The Strugatsky Brothers play with this trope on two different occasions. Their main mythos includes a hypothetical (known only through archeological evidence) race called Stranniki ("Wanderers") who are suspected of messing with human civilization in unclear ways. Roadside Picnic is based on the premise that sufficiently advanced aliens visit Earth, leaving a bunch of (again) confusing artifacts.
  • Palmer Eldritch in The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch is an example of this trope.
  • The Leatherfaces in Under the Dome are the children of a sufficiently advanced alien race. They exist outside of normal time and space, don't even seem to remember what corporeal bodies are, and play with humans the same way that human children might "play" with ants using a magnifying glass. Although they do use machinery, an invincible box the size of a Tivo set that can project a five mile high dome capable of stopping a cruise missile is definitely pretty advanced.
  • The ancient Arisians and Eddorians of the Lensman universe.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space stories, the Outsiders have technology that the other species... even the Puppeteers, who are at least ten thousand years ahead of humanity... cannot even begin to comprehend much less replicate.
  • The Jenoine of Dragaera. It takes the full attention and utmost efforts of Sethra Lavode, the most powerful sorcerer on the planet due to being a two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-year-old vampire to kill a single Jenoine scout. They are so powerful that the gods of this world, who are actually former slaves of the Jenoine who rebelled with magic learned from their masters, are scared of them.
  • In Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad, a scientist called Klapaucius theorizes that there must exist a civilization that is on the highest possible level of development. He eventually finds it, but he's shocked to see that they do absolutely nothing. This is because they think doing anything when you're perfect is pointless; "You climb to reach the sum­mit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down!"
  • Rather common in Perry Rhodan. Perhaps the most iconic type of Sufficiently Advanced Alien in the setting is the "super-intelligence", typically (but not necessarily always—more exotic origins have been described) the collective disembodied minds of one or more entire precursor species making up one distinct entity that usually claims one or more galaxies (with all their 'lesser' inhabitants) as its personal territory. (And yes, our galaxy along with a bunch of others is nominally governed by such a being as well; it's the original source of the protagonists' immortality phlebotinum, for one. Thankfully, IT is usually content to remain a bit more obscure and less actively interventionist than a lot of its colleagues.) At least two more Evolutionary Levels above these are known to exist...
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogy, you get the Silfen, who are elves that can travel between planets by walking the Silfen Paths. Even though humans are pretty sure the paths are actually disguised wormholes, they aren't able to understand how they work, or even to detect the paths. In the Void Trilogy some of their "magic" was reverse-engineered by Ozzie Fernandez Isaacs to create the gaïafield, which allow humans equipped with gaïamotes to share emotions and dreams. The Firstlifes who built the void could also qualify, as no one understand its purpose or how it works.
  • Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time are reality warping sufficiently advanced humans. They reached godhood one million years before the beginning of the story, which, ironically, caused humanity to fall into decadence by boredom (omnipotence can do that apparently) and by the beginning of the first book, only a few hundreds of them still exist on earth, yet, even diminished as they are, they are still by far the most powerful race in the universe (well, the fact that their technology is so costly in energy that it is dramatically speeding up the heath death of the universe means that there are not that many potential rivals anymore) and are still able to understand their own technology, the problem is that they use it to built pink suns on a whim or tinker with the space-time continuum to pass time instead of trying to fix the mess they created. It is even implied that some of them actually go to other universes and start insanely destructive wars against gods because they have nothing better to do.
  • Tuffy in John Ringo's Into the Looking Glass series. Unless, as hinted, he's something even stranger.
  • Titular Xeelee of Xeelee Sequence. The closest you can get to this trope while still trying to operate within something resembling constraints of Hard Sci-Fi. Mastery of time? Check. Using whole galactic clusters as building bricks? Check. Basic construction materials that are beyond comprehension of even the hyper-advanced human civilization of the far future? Check. Star-destroying handguns? Check. Crossing the boundaries between universes? Check.
    • It's actually a bit debatable whether they're truly Sufficiently Advanced, because while they're even more godlike in achievement than many others on this list, they do use recognizable tech... With the exception of the Anti-Xelee's Deus Est Machina schtick, at any rate. Thus they shade between this and being more a hyper-extreme case of Higher-Tech Species.
  • Langhorne and the other founders of Safehold are this to the unwitting colonists. Shan-Wei, a founder who resists the idea of setting themselves up as "Archangels" is defeated and becomes the planetary religion's equivalent of Satan.
  • In the Remembrance of Earth's Past series (probably better known by the title of the first book, The Three-Body Problem), it is revealed that there are unnamed, never directly met elder beings that use things like collapsing of dimensions, altering the speed of light, and other exotic workings on the laws of physics as weapons in a vast universal war.

Live-Action TV

  • It seems like Star Trek had dozens of these buggers running around the edges of the Federation: The Cytherians; Trelane, the so-called "Squire of Gothos"; the Organians; the Q; the Thasians, who reared Charlie "Charlie X" Evans; The Companion; Nagilum; the Caretaker; the Douwd (one of whom wiped out an expansionist empire in a fit of anger); Bajor's "Prophets" (even though they never came out of the wormhole); Apollo and the other Olympians; even Quetzalcoatl (in an episode of the animated series). It's implied that Wesley Crusher became one when he was Put on a Bus, as did Kes from Star Trek: Voyager.
    • What does God need with a starship?
    • The Metrons, from the famous TOS episode where Kirk fought the Gorn.
    • Also the Guardian of Forever (or alternately, the ancient race that created said Guardian).
    • One Next Generation episode played with the trope, with the antagonist claiming to be a mythological figure (or several, from different worlds and cultures, claiming they are all one in the same—we "know" her as Satan) that a low-tech civilisation made a literal Deal with the Devil with a few thousand years earlier. She turned out to be a con-artist whose technology was Sufficiently Advanced that it almost fooled the crew of the Enterprise-D into thinking she was the genuine article, and it wasn't until near the end that they managed to conclusively prove she wasn't.
      • That was an interesting case because her technology wasn't actually that advanced by the standards of either the Federation or even the lower-tech planet she was messing with, since all of it was based off an ordinary spaceship the Enterprise could have easily annihilated. She got away with it mostly because she had a "bad copy" of a Romulan cloaking device that hid her ship, and because she was just skilled enough to use it properly. More like a Sufficiently Advanced Magician, using 24th century science for more elaborate tricks. Once they figured out how it was done, taking her down was easy.
  • Babylon 5 had the First Ones. The Vorlons and the Shadows were almost but not quite Sufficiently Advanced. (If you have to travel through space in a ship, you're probably not Sufficiently Advanced. After all, what does a God need with a starship?)
    • Somewhat lampshaded by the fact that despite being looked upon as technologically transcendent beings the Vorlons are often treated as if they were ordinary schmoes. A couple of miscellaneous aliens accost him with a medical ethics quandary in "Believers" only for an (irritated?) Kosh to dismiss them, saying "the avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to vote."
    • And then there's Lorien, the first one, and who can essentially become his own spaceship.
    • Lorien and the rest of the First Ones aren't in the same league as the other Sufficiently Advanced Aliens listed here. The B5 heavies can conjure matter using their own thoughts, but this is a parlor trick compared to the kind of universe-wide reality bending abilities demonstrated by the truly Sufficiently Advanced.
      • Actually the Vorlons are capable of traveling through space without the use of their ships. They just find it more practical to use them for much the same reason that people use cars; it's safer and far faster then trying on their own.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodied this trope for everything it was worth in the Sci-Fi era with the Observers, a race of disembodied brains carried around in bowls by bodies that they claimed didn't exist. Despite claims that they were possessed of all knowledge in the universe, they are an omnipotent race of morons—assuming that Tom Servo was one of them because he did well on an IQ test and he started carrying an olive in a dish and pretending it was his brain, and finding chili dogs an incredibly fascinating concept, to name just two instances.
  • Stargate SG-1 has the Goa'uld, who are Sufficiently Advanced over most of their slave populations, mostly by virtue of nifty gadgetry rather than inherent powers, but current Earth-born humans—and some limited number of the dispersed humanity—are themselves advanced enough to remain unconvinced.
    • The Ori fit more closely: they are immaterial, pretty close to all-knowing, and have near absolute control over natural forces. Their followers point out that there's really a fair argument to be made that the Ori are gods. To which SG-1 usually retorts that even if their power and knowledge are real, their actions make them unworthy of devotion.
  • In the Stargate Verse, the Ancients, the "good guy" counterpart to the Ori, are also "ascended" human-like beings. Though they have a strict policy of not interfering in mortal matters, the Ancients left all sorts of neat tech lying around when they ascended (including the eponymous stargates and city of Atlantis). The Ancients are often said to have re-created human life across the galaxy when they started ascending.
  • Farscape featured these occasionally, and they ranged from the humanoid to the utterly otherworldly. By far the most extraordinary were the True Ancients, who had power to control minds, open wormholes, and in the case of at least one, "wrap time around his little finger."
  • Doctor Who is a rare example of a show that works with a Sufficiently Advanced Alien as the main character, primarily because of the liberal use of The Watson.
    • Although other aliens are more advanced than that. The Eternals, for instance, who dismiss the Time Lords with "Are there Lords of such a small domain?" In the Expanded Universe novels, a group of Eternals are the seldom-mentioned gods of Gallifrey. And then it turns out that The Eternals themselves greatly respect creatures known as the Black and White Guardians, who are as far above them as they are above Time Lords.
    • Also highly advanced, perhaps around the same level as the Time Lords, were the Carrionites. They used words much as humans used numbers. They were considered a serious threat by the aforementioned Eternals, who locked them away in the deep darkness. From some dialogue it seems to be that even the Eternals had trouble banishing the Carrionites, until they managed to find the right words to do so.
  • In Stargate Universe, when the Destiny comes across a planet that shouldn't be there that looks as if it was built for them, they theorize all-powerful aliens must've built it, especially because of a huge monolith with strange writing. A theory that gains more credence when a group of people left behind on that planet suddenly and inexplicably show up a galaxy away... after freezing to death. Also the "all-powerful aliens" bit is not too outlandish in the Stargate verse, what with the Ascended (it would be well within the power of the Ascended to create a perfectly habitable planet).
  • In Smallville, a Kryptonian man visited Earth about 500 years ago, where he was worshiped by a Native American tribe.

Tabletop Games

  • The C'tan of Warhammer 40,000. They fall somewhere between Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and Energy Beings, given that they had no physical form and little power to influence the world until their followers gave them bodies.
    • The Necrons themselves also would fall into the category of being Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Necron technology is capable of the following:
      • Lasting over 60 million years buried and neglected all over the galaxy, yet still capable of being reactivated without a hitch.
      • Starships, along with their immense offensive and defensive superiority over all other factions, posses an "Inertia-less Drive". giving them instant and infinite acceleration and freeing the Necrons from the dangers and limitations of the universes "Warp Travel" technology.
      • Merely looking at complex Necron circuitry has caused epileptic fits.
      • Immortality via patterning of a biological brain into a machine, though with an admittedly variable success rate (Necron Lord self awareness vs your average Warrior or Flayed One).
        • Mechanicus has a taboo specifically for this ("Proteus Protocol"), and lesser personality imprints in Brain-Computer Interface are given about as much attention as soot around XIX century railroad. Tau have some Brain Uploading too. The Halo Devices in Dark Heresy are implied to be a somewhat buggy alien version of this plus body reconstruction. So, bot too unusual in the 'verse.
      • Handheld weapons of the necron army have been seen penetrating both faces of opposing factions' heaviest supervehicles.
    • The Old Ones were Sufficiently Advanced Aliens long before the C'tan decided to stop ignoring sentient races and start eating them. They seeded worlds with life, created safe realms within the Warp, and created the Eldar (who later ascended to this position themselves) and the Orks.
      • Eldar were this during their peak. They would move the stars for the view.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the mer and kor on the plane of Zendikar each worship a triplet of gods, the legends of which are based on the horrific Eldrazi (Eldritch Abominations). The mer gods Cosi and Ula are based on the Eldrazi monstrosities Kozilek and Ulamog.
    • Karn the Silver Golem was a sufficiently advanced robot, an assembly of artifacts indistinguishable from an old-style Planeswalker. He even created his own world.
  • A variant occurs with the demon lords and arch-devils from Dungeons & Dragons. Although these evil beings are not actually deities, they have enough power to have begun attracting actual worshippers and grant spells in the same way as the genuine gods.
    • There are Elemental Lords, that is, the rulers of the various Elemental Planes - Akadi, Grumbar, Kossuth and Istishia. Their priesthoods are much smaller than you'd expect for greater gods, because they are much more aloof - less communicative to their priests, and not interested in the affairs of mortals in general: the elemental lords don't need the worship like gods normally do. That's right, these powers aren't gods proper... they have a second job as gods "because why not?"
  • The ETI from Eclipse Phase, for a more Eldritch Abomination style advanced alien, there's.
  • Demon: The Descent: The God-Machine is some kind of supercomputer cum ecosystem permeating the New World of Darkness. No one knows where it came from or what its creator was, if any at all. No one knows what its real goal is. It has such a superlative grasp of how the world works that its Angels (and the Demons/Unchained that Fall from them) imbued with just a sliver of its power can do seemingly supernatural deeds like creating things out of thin air or manipulating souls.

Video Games

  • In MARDEK, every other race, especially the Annunaki. However, they are weak enough that they can be defeated outnumbered and forced into a situation where they are forced to fight out of their element. Moric, the first you fight is a necromancer, and is forced to fight himself, first drained of energy after being interrupted in the middle of casting a massive necromantic spell, and then again in a place where he didn't have any dead to raise. Qualna, the second, had powers mainly based around manipulation, deception, and, if necessary, combat from a great distance away. He never expected to be in a real fight at all.
  • Forerunners and their forerunners, The Precursors fit the bill neatly. A list of the Forerunner's works include:
    • The Halo Array: 7 (originally 12) ring habitats that act as fortresses and weapons of a kill-all-life-in-the-Galaxy-bigger-than-a-microbe scale. Had the original 12 been activated all at once, the kill-effect would have gone far out into the Local Cluster. The rings themselves have almost the radius of the Earth.
    • The Ark: C&C for the Halo Array, as well as a Halo-factory and a refuge from the destruction. Positioned 3 galactic diameters out from the Galaxy's core. Scale is... considerably larger than a Halo. Comparison.
      • The Ark itself comes with its own small star that moves around it.
    • Shield Worlds are essentially hollow planet-sized artificial structures, comparable to what we might call a "small Dyson Sphere". They might serve as shipyards. One of them, the "Sharpened Shield", is actually housed in a Pocket Dimension, the gateway to which is inside another Shield World built out of Sentinel robots (i.e small UCAV units). The Sharpened Shield itself has multiple Pocket Dimensions of its own, to store a big starfleet.
    • Halo Cryptum describes other structures as well. Fortress-Class warships, and The Capital station, just to name a few.
      • The way they're described, it's highly probable that the Covenant capitol High Charity was a Fortress-class. The Forerunners had fleets of the things.
    • Precursors, on the other hand, are regarded by the Forerunner as Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Their structures are all but indestructible for them, and only a Halo pulse can frag them. Why? Because the Precursors used sentience itself as a building material. Or, something.
  • Some theories have the G-Man in the Half-Life series be one of these. He clearly fits the description as he is able to manipulate reality, stop time and teleport people into bizarre alien realms, all without twitching a muscle. He also appears completely unconcerned by the carnage going on around him.
    • At one point in the series, the Vortigaunts are shown to at least have some kind of power over the G-Man when they manage to successfully hold him off and keep him away from Gordon for some stretch of time. But what exact implications this has on the limits of the G-Man's power is never explained.
  • The Val-Fasq in the Galaxy Angel Gameverse.
  • MOTHER 1 has Giygas, who is a sufficiently advanced alien—advanced enough to where the form of his attacks are incomprehensible, even to psychics. The sequel, EarthBound, upgrades Giygas to Cosmic Horror status.
  • The Mother of La-Mulana, who descended to our planet aeons ago and begat all mortal life as helpers to aid her in returning to the stars. She cannot return; the human Player Character has to Mercy Kill her as the Final Boss.
  • The final boss of the first Shadow Hearts, Meta-God, is explicitly described as an alien so powerful humanity is on the level of ants compared to it. The purpose of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is to call it to Earth so that it will lay waste to the planet.
  • The Ancients from Might and Magic; they create worlds for fun.
    • Well, For Science!. Rather oddly, the Kreegan manages to be a major threat to the Ancients, to the point that they brought down the overarching Ancient civilization throughout a Galactic arm, while simultaneously being defeatable by a Lost Colony fallen deep into barbarism and witchcraft without said colony having to resort to scavenged Lost Technology or some new-found Achilles' Heel, if only on the planetary scale (the Kreegan are Planet Looters, and as far as can be told from the games, act independently from Kreegan forces on other worlds).
  • The Cuotl from the game Rise of Legends appear Sufficiently Advanced, since their alien technology is light years ahead of the steampunk Vinci and the magical Alin.
  • The Reapers from Mass Effect. They built the Mass Relays and the Citadel.
    • Averted and subverted with every other race. In Revelations, the turians just before the First Contact War described as being on roughly the same technological level as us. Most other races also dance on that line, and then there are some races like the krogan, vorcha, and drell that "hitchhiked" into space for one reason or another.
  • The Xel'Naga from StarCraft. They tried to create the perfect race by seeding other galaxies with life and steering the evolution of certain races.
  • The Entity from Nexus the Jupiter Incident, an ancient AI capable of reshaping reality.
  • The Wave Existence from Xenogears, an energy being from another dimension that somehow created our own. It believes it is what the inhabitants of this dimension would regard as "God" but doesn't think of itself as such. Probably because it spent billions of years trapped in the Zohar Modifier.
  • The player in Spore can be this, from creating life on barren planets, painting crop circles to incite wonder and worship from primitives, uplifting civilizations to bringing nuclear fire from the sky upon hapless tribes.
  • Lavos from Chrono Trigger.
  • The Titans from World of Warcraft. They travel across the universe, shaping worlds to fit their idea of order.
    • And to a certain degree, the Draenei.
  • Tuatha De Dunaan from Metal Slug 3D.
  • Tezkhra and the Watchers in The Reconstruction turn out to be this, as part of a Doing In the Wizard reveal.
  • In Assassin's Creed the surviving members of the First Civilization were the basis for the deities of most religions, both due to their technology and the fact that they ruled over humanity before humankind rebelled. The Pieces of Eden have effects considered explicitly to be "magic" by those who witness them, though Altair concludes that it is simply sufficiently advanced - and supremely dangerous—technology. Among the noted abilities of the Pieces of Eden are mind control and immense amounts of technical knowledge (the Apples); telekinesis and mind control (the Staff); resurrection of the dead (the Ankh); healing severe wounds, disease, and genetic disorders (the Shroud); and telepathy (the Crystal Skulls). Some of the artifacts are capable of temporal distortion (the device responsible for the Philadelphia Event) or outright seeing into the future; one of the "senses" of the First Civilization was "knowledge" which apparently allowed them to know things that would be impossible to understand otherwise, and this apparently included the ability to see the future.
  • In the Marathon series of games, the S'pht'Kr probably qualify, the Jjaro definitely do, and Durandal achieves it by the end of Marathon 2.
  • Asura's Wrath has the Shinkoku Trastrium civilization, which are actually super-powered human cyborgs descended from Genetically altered humans, have a lot in common with this trope, with a Hinduism and Buddhism twist.
  • Galactic Civilizations has the Mythralar, who existed long before any other sentient life and one of whom created the Precursors: Arnor and Dread Lords. One of them is also indirectly responsible for the Altarians being Human Aliens. What happened to them is not known. Two different Victory Conditions result in your species becoming Sufficiently Advanced: either by absorbing enough Ascension Crystal energy or by doing so much research that you learn the secrets of the universe and ascend naturally.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Subverted in The Salvation War. The demons and angel are very much insufficiently advanced to deal with modern weaponry. However played straight in that this is what they were when they first showed up in the Bronze Age.
    • Inverted for a period of time as well. Once humanity organizes a counterstrike against the demons and absolutely slaughters them, some of the demons begin to believe that humans have figured out how to use impossibly powerful magic and cannot be defeated.
  • Some of the most advanced technology in Orion's Arm is referred to as "clarktech" or "clarketech" in reference to this. Although it's not created by aliens, but by Sufficiently Advanced Terragens—the Archai and the higher Transapients.
  • Inverted in Land Games. The humans seem this way towards the indigenous natives. Some even worship Jayle as a goddess.

Western Animation

  • Primus, and by extension his polar opposite Unicron, from Transformers. Primus created the Transformers, and his physical form is their homeworld, Cybertron. Unicron has altered a number of Transformers to his own liking, goes around eating planets, and transforms into a planet himself. Whether or not they're actually gods is entirely dependent on what segment of the mythos you're in.
    • Beast Wars has the Vok, the mysterious, skull-shaped aliens who police the space-time continuum and may have created the Earth as an elaborate experiment (and then tried to blow it up with a moon-sized Death Ray). According to some Word of God (their origins are never explained and the writers never really made up their minds on it) they might actually be hyperevolved humans.
      • Or they might be sentient robo-cancer post-Mind Hug.
    • And that's to say nothing of the Transformers themselves? Come on, they're Mechanical Lifeforms capable of altering their very bodily structure that occasionally come back from the dead. In one episode of the G1 cartoon, they were actually mistaken for gods by an alien race.
      • Members of the First Thirteen, such as Vector Prime and the Fallen, have powers far beyond the abilities of other transformers. Vector Prime, for example, has the ability to manipulate time and space.
  • Sul, the Avatar Satis and Canaletto on Oban Star Racers. The Creators, on the other hand, may actually be gods.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series
    • "Bem" has probably the only instance in the entire franchise of a powerful alien looking after a planet of primitives, who appears to be genuinely wise and benevolent enough that Kirk doesn't automatically object to the situation on principle. Bonus points because the alien was voiced by Nichelle Nichols (Uhura).
    • Also the zookeeping Lactrans in "The Eye of the Beholder", who aren't exactly godlike, but are still an order of magnitude beyond Federation tech.
      • Ditto for the Vedala in "Jihad", described as the oldest known space-faring race.
  • Kim Possible had the Lorwardians, a race of aliens who were not only giant, superstrong creatures, but they also possessed an arsenal of powerful world-destroying weapons. They were so advanced that it only took two of them to unleash an army of tripods and conquer the earth 'in the time it takes to order a pizza'. They were only brought down by Drakken's new mutant plant powers destroying the army of walkers while Ron used his Mystical Monkey Powers to take down the invaders.

Real Life

  • Cargo Cults prove that people are already sufficiently advanced.
  • 10th Century cleric Gerbert D'Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II) was one of the first Europeans to learn and to understand the implications of Arabic numerals. The comparatively advanced inventions and skills he derived from his knowledge (wonderfully precise models of the earth, an improved version of the abacus, a sweetly-tuned hydraulic organ, the ability to calculate restaurant gratuity in his head) led to a contemporary reputation as a necromancer.
    • Just to make sure you fully understand the implications, before the Arabic numerals (which actually were invented in India, but never mind) came along, the Europeans had no concept of zero or positional notation.
  • A recent[when?] BBC program took a group of aboriginals on holiday to the UK. These people had never seen electric lighting before, and on being shown such landmarks as Westminster Abbey, they exclaimed that the structures could have only been made by Gods.
    • This is also, funnily enough, the origin of some of the ideas concerning the Ancient Astronauts trope. I.e. supposely "advanced" Western people who can't figure how something sometimes as simple as a stone pyramid was built come with the "obvious" explanation that it had to be the work of superior beings from outer space rather than, say, fellow humans with Bronze Age tools. While we could make something like the pyramids today, it wasn't always known how the builders did it at their generally lower technology level. For example, rather than bringing in surveying equipment to get the foundation level, they flooded the foundation and then moved dirt around until the depth was consistent; rather than using cranes to lift multi-ton stone blocks to the higher levels, they dragged them up earth ramps which were dismantled after construction finished.
  • Physicist Frank J. Tipler advocates Omega Point theory, in which it is necessary that Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (or Sufficiently Advanced Humans) are not merely indistinguishable from gods, but become/create (it's complicated) God.
  • Stephen Hawking himself has suggested that aliens may have already become immortal, live in fast spaceship colonies and suck up entire suns for fuel.


  • Mormonism teaches that God at one time existed in a mortal form similar to that of humans but was eventually "exalted" and now possesses a physical body similar to that of humans, but immortal and invulnerable to injury or disease. In the Book of Abraham, Kolob is described as a star that is "near unto [God]" and that has been set to govern all celestial bodies similar to Earth. (See Abraham 3:3) God is the literal father of our spirits and of those on all the other worlds that he created, which are described as being "without number" (Moses 1:33,35). After the second coming of Jesus Christ, everyone who has ever lived or died will be resurrected with perfect, immortal physical bodies similar to God's, but only those who have fulfilled all of the requirements of the Gospel and faithfully endured to the end will obtain "exaltation", entering into the highest degree of Celestial Glory (i.e., the kingdom of God, or "the glory of the sun") and in effect become "gods" themselves, possessing all of God's wisdom and power and becoming able to create their own worlds. (D&C 76:50-70, 92-96) This doctrine, known as "eternal progression", was summarized by former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow as: "As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become."
  1. See that small figure with flaming hands defying the Celestials? That's Doctor Doom!
  2. it's unclear if it's actually tied to magical potential, or if Kyuubey just doesn't want to be seen by them
  3. The only other adult member seen onscreen, Yaddle, was also powerful enough to be on the Jedi Council; meanwhile the Child from The Mandalorian is obviously too young to even compete.