Created By: rjung on February 27, 2011 Last Edited By: rjung on March 1, 2011
Nuked

God Guise

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Do We Have This, Needs a Better Title, Needs a Better Description, Needs More Examples, and Rolling Updates

A God Guise is the situation where a character pretends to be God (or any other sufficiently-advanced being). This is almost always done to influence someone else's actions, using the divinity to give the instructions extra weight; after all, who would dare to refuse a directive from the Almighty?

The God Guise can be done in a variety of ways, from enigmatic clues placed with no obvious human means to a full-blown getup with costumes, special effects, and an awe-inspiring voice.

Also see Cargo Cult and Engineered Heroics. Contrast with God in Human Form and A God Am I.


Examples:

Comic Books

Film
  • In Real Genius, Chris Knight and his friends implant a radio transceiver in Kent's braces, whereupon Mitch pretends to be Jesus to learn what Hathaway plans to do with the laser.
    Mitch: "And from now on, stop playing with yourself."
    Kent: "It is God!"
  • In Back to the Future, Marty uses his radiation suit and Walkman stereo to dress up as "Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan". He frightens George McFly and threatens to melt his brain if he doesn't take Elaine to the school dance.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. A powerful alien trapped on a planet pretends to be God to trick the protagonists into carrying it to freedom aboard the Enterprise.
    Kirk: "What does God need with a starship?"
  • Honey We Shrunk Ourselves: Gordon, at three-quarters of an inch tall, rigs up the stereo to become a loudspeaker and chews out the Hormone Addled Teenagers hitting on his daughter, telling them "This is the voice of... GOD.", scaring them out of the house.

Literature
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars novel The Master Mind of Mars. In the Martian city of Phundahl, the idol of the god Tur has a system of controls that allow the operator inside to control the idol's eyes and speak through its mouth. The protagonists use this to their advantage by pretending to be Tur and giving the Phundahlians instructions.
  • Called the "God Gambit" in Larry Niven's Ringworld series. Played very straight in the first book by four characters; continued by one, in later books, and implied to be played elsewhere/ elsewhen by others, as well.

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Devil's Due''. A high-tech Con Artist pretends to be Ardra, Ventax II's equivalent of the Devil. She takes advantage of a contract the Ventaxians signed with Ardra a thousand years earlier to turn their planet over to her if she solved their social problems.
  • Happens frequently on Stargate SG-1.

Tabletop RPG
  • Classic Traveller Double Adventure 6 Divine Intervention. The PCs must get a device into the chambers of Orobid, the High Priest of the Church of Stellar Divinity. The device will appear to be a manifestation of Orobid's deity and give him orders that will benefit the PCs' patron.

Video Games

Western Animation
  • In the episode of The Simpsons where Apu's married, Homer tried to put a stop to the wedding by dressing as Ganesha. No one is fooled (indeed, anyone with a passing familiarity with Hindu mythology would know he got the characterisation all wrong).
    • In another episode, Bart plays with his Mr. Microphone by telling Rod and Todd next door (who were listening to the radio) that he's God, and tells Rod to walk through a wall which he will make vanish. So Rod walks into the wall.
  • Crosses over with Cargo Cult in the Jonny Quest episode "Pursuit of the Po-Ho", when the tribe takes the Quests' plane to be their Sky God after they hear an amplified voice coming from it and speaking their native tongue.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • February 27, 2011
    dotchan
    • Star Gate: aliens pretend to be God for...uh...I haven't seen enough of the series to know why, sorry.
    • Happens several times in Star Trek, most infamously, "why does God need a starship?"
  • February 27, 2011
    Bisected8
    In the episode of The Simpsons where Apu's married, Homer tried to put a stop to the wedding by dressing as Ganesha. No one is fooled (indeed anyone with a passing familiarity with Hindu mythology would know he got the characterisation all wrong).
  • February 27, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • In another Simpsons Bart plays with his Mr. Microphone by telling Rod & Todd next door (who were listening to the radio) that he's God, and tells Rod to walk through a wall which he will make vanish. So Rod walks into the wall.
    • on Star Trek The Next Generation a woman pretended to be a devil-god that the people of a planet had sold their descendants to 1,000 years earlier. Clarkes Third Law Invoked.
  • February 27, 2011
    LordLaharlsVassal
    In Disgaea Vulcanus does this to Flonne in Etna mode.
  • February 28, 2011
    Chabal2
    HoneyWeShrunkOurselves: Gordon, at three-quarters of an inch tall, rigs up the stereo to become a loudspeaker and chews out the Hormone Addled Teenagers hitting on his daughter, telling them "This is the voice of... GOD.", scaring them out of the house.
  • February 28, 2011
    Arivne
    Compare Cargo Cult, where natives consider outsiders to be gods entirely on their own. Some of the examples on that page would fit better here, such as the Ringworld example under Literature and the Jonny Quest example under Western Animation.

    Fleshing out a couple of the examples above:

    Film
    • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. A powerful alien trapped on a planet pretends to be God to trick the protagonists into carrying it to freedom aboard the Enterprise.
    Captain Kirk: What does God need with a starship?

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Next Generation episode "Devil's Due''. A high-tech Con Artist pretends to be Ardra, Ventax II's equivalent of the Devil. She takes advantage of a contract the Ventaxians signed with Ardra a thousand years earlier to turn their planet over to her if she solved their social problems.

    And a couple of my own:

    Literature
    • Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter Of Mars novel The Master Mind of Mars. In the Martian city of Phundahl, the idol of the god Tur has a system of controls that allow the operator inside to control the idol's eyes and speak through its mouth. The protagonists use this to their advantage by pretending to be Tur and giving the Phundahlians instructions.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Classic Traveller Double Adventure 6 Divine Intervention. The PCs must get a device into the chambers of Orobid, the High Priest of the Church of Stellar Divinity. The device will appear to be a manifestation of Orobid's deity and give him orders that will benefit the PCs' patron.
  • February 28, 2011
    Euodiachloris
    Called the God Gambit in Larry Niven's Ringworld series. Played very straight in the first book by four characters; continued by one, in later books, and implied to be played elsewhere/ elsewhen by others, as well.
  • February 28, 2011
    rjung
    After reading up more on Cargo Cult, I'm worried about excessive overlap with it, as the two are closely related. Currently considering either closing this YKTTW, or launching it as a Sister Trope with the distinction that a God Guise only tricks a handful of people, whereas a Cargo Cult requires deceiving an entire tribe/civilization/species.

    Thoughts?
  • February 28, 2011
    RainyDayNinja
    ^It looks like the description and examples under Cargo Cult actually refer to this trope, rather than actual cargo cults. So if we need a new article, it's for cargo cults.
  • February 28, 2011
    LuxExterior
    Okay, for film:

    • Subverted in Ghostbusters:
      Winston: Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say yes!
  • February 28, 2011
    rjung
  • February 28, 2011
    DAN004
    This is different from A God Am I, right? You have to make a distinction.
  • February 28, 2011
    rjung
    I thought the distinction is rather obvious -- a charade god vs. a character acquiring God-like powers -- but it's worth noting.
  • March 1, 2011
    Medinoc
    One guy in Highlander The Series had this as his modus operandi.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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