Trope Workshop:The Unknowing Almighty

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So, isn't this terrifying? I'm terrified too... Giygas cannot think rationally any more, and he isn't even aware of what he is doing now. His own mind was destroyed by his incredible power...What an all-mighty idiot!
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A (usually) mortal being falls to the temptations of attaining significant and often god-like power and eventually succeeds; but where temptation proved too great for them, the power proves ten times more so, and they begin to literally lose their mind. Sapience, sentience, individual will, sense of self—at least one of more of these will end up buried or destroyed, possibly completely, from sheer force of intake. Alternately, someone who is already a deity (or at least strong enough to be one) undergoes a further enhancement that pushes them beyond their bounds, eroding their mind and/or soul - often until they're an empty shell of their former self. Finally, some deity-like beings... simply turn out to not be all that smart to begin with.

In summary, With Great Power Comes Great Insanity and the potential to create an Unknowing Almighty. The name is derived from the phrase "all-knowing, all-mighty", often used in reference to the Christian God.

The Unknowing Almighty is a being with god-tier power or better, but at the cost of severely diminished or nonexistent capacity for cognition - bonus points if obtaining that power was exactly what turned the new deity's mind into a George Forman grill. Unknowning Almighties are often effectively omnipotent vessels, driven by nothing but the most instinctual impulses - aggression, rage, simple curiosities, and hunger are some of the most common ones. This state often draws comparisons to that of a wild animal or a child... at least by human standards, anyway.

Many animals display their own form of understanding and self-awareness in ways we humans have yet to fully understand - but even the most "intelligent" animals are still incredibly dangerous if they go feral. The idea of such a ravaged mind being likened to that of a child is technically more accurate: in psychoanalytic theory, the mind of a newborn child is regarded as the purest form of id. If the deity is a literal child, that's Goo-Goo Godlike.

Becoming an Unknowing Almighty may also transform the victim into an Eldritch Abomination if they weren't one already. Cosmic Horror Stories employ this trope frequently, as monsters like some of the Elder Gods can be far more frightening when they're not acting out of malice - any morality or intelligence they possess (if any at all) might be completely alien to us, and the concept of our own existence might not even occur to them.

Compare:

Contrast:

  • King of All Cosmos, where the deity is more highly eccentric or outright weird than anything else, though it's still possible that their mind is fried besides that.
  • Goo-Goo Godlike, when a being with god-like power is still in the actual stages of infancy and hasn't developed their intelligence to begin with.
  • A God I Am Not, for characters who are fully aware of their godlike powerm but still have the humility (and thus 'sanity') to refuse to think of themselves as such.

Laconic: The result of cramming phenomenal divine power into an itty-bitty mental space.

Examples of The Unknowing Almighty include:

Anime and Manga

  • An Incarnation of the Radius from Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is a demon-goddess meant to serve as the Final Boss and main villain of the titular Fictional Video Game in the original Sword Art Online - but after Big Bad Kayaba Akihikoturned the MMO into a deathtrap, the plot no longer mattered and it went unused. Tetsuhiro Shigemura, the villain of Ordinal Scale, uncovered it while data-mining and downloaded it into the game to use against the heroes. While it clearly had the raw power worthy of a game’s main antagonist, it entirely lacked personality and seemed to be guided mostly by programmed AI patterns. (VS Battles Wiki has more on this here.) Tetsuhiro may have chosen it for this reason, as he wanted a vessel to reincarnate his deceased daughter in the virtual world.

Comic Books

  • In the Preacher comics, Genesis is revealed to be an example of this once Jesse learns more about the being and why it came to choose him as a vessel.

Literature

  • A classic example is Azathoth from the Cthulhu Mythos, literally referred to as the "Blind Idiot God". Where Nyarlathotep was actively malicious towards humanity to a degree, and Cthulhu even had aspirations to bring back the Old Gods, Azathoth is far beyond either of them in power, but comparatively is utterly lacking in motive of any kind. H. P. Lovecraft conceived it as "The Nuclear Chaos" that mindlessly drives the forces of physics and may have created our universe - and as such, it embodies this quite literally.
    • Later writers made it so that this wasn't always the case, and instead became that way upon losing its mind; August Derleth in particular portrays this as divine punishment from the Elder Gods.
    • Azathoth also reproduces by fission, as does its offspring - it's not uncommon at all to liken ol' Azzy to the universe's most powerful amoeba.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons:
    • Banghtu, the orcish god of strength, has almost limitless physical might, but he's known for being woefully stupid - one source[context?] gives him an Intelligence Score of only 3 (putting him below most mortal children, orc or otherwise). Naturally, he values strength and little else besides - he's also completely loyal to his father Gruumsh, the head of the orc pantheon.
    • Leviathan, one of the Eldritch Abominations detailed in Elder Evils, is an entity that took form from a leftover aspect of Chaos after it combined with Law during Creation. Best described as “mindless”, it is driven by little except raw instinct.
    • Jubilex is a grey area here. A powerful demon lord, it supposedly has an intellect and mindset that is alien and incomprehensible even to other demons. Some sources rate its INT at 1 or even zero, portraying it as mindless, while others give it genius-level or even godlike Intelligence, stating it even knows the true names of the most powerful obyriths, using this knowledge to manipulate the Abyss itself. Whatever the case, Jubilex seems to have the simplistic mindset of the oozes and slimes it holds dominance over - it is concerned only with devouring, consuming, and destroying everything, barely even acknowledging mortal races. In fact, certain sources claim that evil cultists who worship Jubilex actually gain their divine magic from either Tharizdun or Ghaunadaur, with some even suggesting that Jubilex is a lesser aspect of one of them. Possibly the most likely theory is that Jubilex does indeed have intelligence bordering on godlike, but only in regards to the Abyss and its history and denizens, and has no interest in anything beyond it.

Video Games

  • The final boss of EarthBound is described as such by his Dragon Pokey Minch, who released Giygas from the Devil's Machine (which was likely keeping him tethered to his sanity in the first place). His attacks are preceded by completely random statements in this form, and the attacks themselves are the Trope Namer for You Cannot Grasp the True Form. (Though depending on your party's loadout, you might recognize them as actual PSI attacks - particularly PSI Flash and PSI Thunder, which can be blocked or reflected by certain items.)

Other Media