Created By: ThePope on February 20, 2012 Last Edited By: DRCEQ on August 8, 2016

Divine Judgment

When a divine being casts judgment on a character.

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Trope
Maybe a character refuses to kill his enemy. Or maybe the Big Bad is so evil that death isn't good enough for them, and they need something far worse. What's the solution?

Have God himself strike the villain down, that's what.

Whether it's the big guy himself, Crystal Dragon Jesus, or anyone (or ones, in the case of a Pantheon) in between, some divine being has seen fit to come down and deal with the villain themselves. While this can be often played to see fit that the villain is punished while allowing the hero to keep a clean conscience of not having to kill him, this can also come into play after a villain's death, to add an extra twist of deliciousness to his demise. It will often involve the villain being dragged off to an Ironic Hell, to fit the crimes they committed in life. And if it turns out that this is the only means with which a villain can be truly destroyed, then it is a complete and literal Deus ex Machina.

Can, and often will, result in a Bolt of Divine Retribution.

Compare Disney Villain Death, when a villain dies in a convenient and not-too violent manner.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • In Bleach, one hollow early on isn't purified of his sins (since he was an evil person in life as well), and is instead Dragged Off to Hell. Oddly enough, it is the first and only mention of hell in a series based on the afterlife.
  • Death Note plays with this a lot. Ryuk is a god of death, and decides that, instead of watching Light rot in prison, he'd rather just kill him himself. However, while in the context of the story Light is indeed being smitten by a god due to his heinous actions, Ryuk himself isn't doing it to judge him, but just because Light no longer amuses him.
  • The climax of Fullmetal Alchemist has the Big Bad, Father judged by Truth, a being that is ostensibly God, and is then dragged back into the Gate from whence he came.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Panty and Stocking's mother is summoned heaven to squish Mayor Corset and stomp his monster into the bowels of the Earth. All you see is a giant leg dressed in lingerie and a high heel.
  • In Slayers, the main villain interrupts Lina while she's casting a powerful, potentially world ending spell and this gets her possessed by what's essentially god. He gets his arse handed to him.

Fan Works

Film
It's all very well to laugh at the military, but when one considers the meaning of life, it is a struggle between alternative viewpoints of life itself. And without the ability to defend one's own viewpoint against other perhaps more aggressive ideologies, then reasonableness and moderation could, quite simply, disappear. That is why we'll always need an army, and may God strike me down were it to be otherwise.
A lightning bolt destroys the general. Cut to outside, where the Hand of God rises into the clouds.
  • The Supreme Being in Time Bandits descends into the underworld where He reduces the Evil One to a large charcoal briquette. The Supreme Being then orders the thieving dwarves to clean up the underworld as punishment, because it's "messy, messy."

Literature

Live-Action Television
  • God reaches down with his divine hand and sets off a nuke in the miniseries version of The Stand.
  • Happens quite literally on an episode of Supernatural where Osiris is judging people for their crimes and sins and executes them if he finds them guilty.

Tabletop Games
  • The Magic: The Gathering cards Wrath of God and Day of Judgment summarize this trope in three words well-known to players: Destroy all creatures. Often these represent a major turning point when used by a player who would otherwise be overwhelmed.
  • Lots of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards involve this, such as Solemn Judgment, Solemn Warning, and Divine Punishment.

Theater
  • The classic Polish drama Nie-Boska Komedia (The Un-Divine Comedy) ends with the triumphant evil leader of socialist workers, having defeated the last remaining nobility, suddenly having a vision of Jesus and dying with his last words being "Galilae, vicisti!"

Video Games

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • February 20, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Featured (unintentionally) hilariously in the Pakistani movie International Guerillas, in which a demonized charicature of Salman Rushdie is at the end struck down by the power of the Quran itself.
  • February 20, 2012
    ArsThaumaturgis
    Hmm... Am I correct in understanding that this only covers cases of smiting in which the cause is particularly great evil, and the subject is an individual? What about cases in which only the deity has the power to make the strike, or the subject is a group, landmass, building, etc.?

    For example, looking at The Silmarillion, would the downfall of Numenor count? If I recall correctly, it involves a landmass (and those on it) being sunk beneath the ocean as a result of a presumptuous attack on the land of the Valar. While degree of evil may have played a role, I seem to think that the scale of intervention involved was part of the reason that the smiting in question fell to the deity in question.
  • February 20, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    ^smiting Numenor was the least of it. Iluvatar then proceeded to alter the structure of space itself so that no one from Middle Earth (except the elves) could ever reach the Undying Lands by physical travel.
  • February 20, 2012
    ArsThaumaturgis
    Indeed; as I recall, I omitted that since it didn't seem to really be "smiting" as such, which is what I interpret this to be about.

    [edit] *notices that he used the wrong spoiler tags in his previous post, and fixes that* >_<
  • February 20, 2012
    aurora369
    If the deity in question fails to smite and gets their ass handed to them by the Big Bad is a subversion I've seen but can't exactly remember where. It surely does happen in my homemade JRPG, Legend of Terra Firma, but I suppose this doesn't count.
  • February 21, 2012
    ThePope
    ^^^^I'm afraid I don't understand the question for the most part, but I suppose a group would count, as long as it's a divine something casting judgment on something that deserves punishment.
  • February 27, 2012
    JobanGrayskull
    • The Magic The Gathering cards Wrath of God and Day of Judgment summarize this trope in three words well-known to players: Destroy all creatures. Often these represent a major turning point when used by a player who would otherwise be overwhelmed.
  • February 27, 2012
    stupac85
    The ending of Marvel Ultimate Alliance has Odin deliver this to Dr Doom.
  • February 28, 2012
    Arivne
    Since this trope appears to include examples of a deity acting indirectly (e.g. through an object) to punish someone:

    Film
  • February 28, 2012
    Koveras
    Does The Silmarillion count? After Elves and Men fail to defeat (or considerably hinder) Morgoth, Earendil pleads with the Valar, who come to Middle-Earth in person and hand Morgoth's ass to him.
  • February 28, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • God reaches down with his divine hand and sets off a nuke in the miniseries version of The Stand.

    The miniseries should go under Live Action TV rather than Film, I believe.
  • February 29, 2012
    chimel23
    ^It's in the novel too, a description of the cloud looking like a hand.

    Probably a number of Religion examples too...Pharoah in the Exodus story would be a big one. Satan in Revelation.
  • March 2, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Slayers, the main villain interupts Lina while she's casting a powerful, potentially world ending spell and this gets her possessed by what's essentially god. He gets his arse handed to him.
  • March 13, 2012
    MorganWick
  • March 13, 2012
    MrTom
    Probably should have a spoiler alert?

    [[folder: Literature]]
  • March 28, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Literature

    EDIT: Added links for the cards in the Magic The Gathering example.

    EDIT2: If that The Stand example is about the miniseries version only, shouldn't it be moved in the Live Action TV section?
  • May 6, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    I think this should be connected to Deus Ex Machina.
  • May 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Fan Works:
  • May 6, 2013
    LordGro
    Related to Bolt Of Divine Retribution. There may be overlap.
  • May 6, 2013
    Korodzik
    Theatre

    The classic Polish drama Nie-Boska Komedia (The Un-Divine Comedy) ends with the triumphant evil leader of socialist workers, having defeated the last remaining nobility, suddenly having a vision of Jesus and dying with his last words being "Galilae, vicisti!"
  • May 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Monty Pythons The Meaning Of Life a General gives a lecture.
    It's all very well to laugh at the military, but when one considers the meaning of life, it is a struggle between alternative viewpoints of life itself. And without the ability to defend one's own viewpoint against other perhaps more aggressive ideologies, then reasonableness and moderation could, quite simply, disappear. That is why we'll always need an army, and may God strike me down were it to be otherwise.
    A lightning bolt destroys the general. Cut to outside, where the Hand of God rises into the clouds.
  • May 7, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Anime and Manga

    Film
    • The Supreme Being in Time Bandits descends into the underworld where He reduces the Evil One to a large charcoal briquette. The Supreme Being then orders the thieving dwarves to clean up the underworld as punishment, because it's "messy, messy."
  • November 16, 2014
    DAN004
    Do we need 2 Anime and Manga sections?

    I also am suprised that we don't have Mythology entry yet. I believe Zeus and Hera does this a lot.

    Btw compare Kar Ma.

    • One Piece: In Skypiea, if someone so much as think ill of God Enel, he often proceeds to give the "blasphemer" a giant column of lightning.
  • November 16, 2014
    Daefaroth
    Live Action TV:
    • Happens quite literally on an episode of Supernatural where Osiris is judging people for their crimes and sins and executes them if he finds them guilty.
  • November 16, 2014
    ThePope
    ^^ Enel isn't an actual god.
  • November 16, 2014
    DRCEQ
    That Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt example isn't correct. It's never stated that the giant woman who stomps down in the final episode is God. It's confirmed to be the Anarchy sister's mother, but whether or not she is also God is not clarified, and the notion that she might be is not addressed. The example still counts though.

    Also, the entire example is a huge spoiler of the climax of the final episode of the series.
  • November 16, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ I don't think it has to be Capital G God. Just someone who is, in effect, godly. (Which Enel is - he ruled over Skypiea as its omniscient god, and in particular, he's a Jerkass God).

    And when God Is Evil, Divine Judgment would taste differently, wouldn't it?
  • November 17, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank lines for readability.
    • Examples section
      • Deleted unnecessary blank lines.
      • Blue Linked media section titles.
      • Namespaced and italicized work names.
      • Corrected spelling (interupts).
      • Added a space between asterisks and the first word following them.
  • November 18, 2014
    DRCEQ
    Corrected the Panty and Stocking example.
  • April 13, 2015
    ThePope
    Is this about good to go?
  • April 13, 2015
    DAN004
    Add One Piece example and add the case where God Is Evil. And compare Kar Ma and Deus Ex Machina.
  • April 14, 2015
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Books
    • In the DC Universe, this is The Spectre's raison d'etre - his job is to decide who deserves punishment and mete it out on God's behalf.

    Film Live Action
    • In one of the most terrifying sequences in The Fourth Kind, Dr. Abbey Tyler is possessed by the aliens she's been trying to contact, who declare that they are God and that Abbey has meddled in things she should not have, and thus, as punishment, she will never see her missing daughter ever again.

    Literature
    • In Journey To The West, Sun Wukong was imprisoned for five centuries for pissing off (and in some versions, pissing on) the Buddha.
  • April 15, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Occurs thrice in Cecil B De Mille's biblical epic The Ten Commandments. The first occurs when an eerie fog descends upon Egypt, killing every firstborn male child therein. The second occurs at the Red Sea, which has been parted to allow the Hebrews to retreat from the advancing Egyptian army. Once the Hebrews attain the opposite shore, the waters converge, eradicating the Egyptians. The third occurs at the Hebrew camp, wherein a golden calf has been forged. All of the idolators are killed by an earthquake, and the survivors are compelled to wander the Sinai desert for forty years.
  • April 15, 2015
    DAN004
  • August 8, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump, maybe taking this over (if nobody beats me to it)
  • August 16, 2016
    TheWanderer
    • In The Order Of The Stick after the highly paranoid paladin Miko Miyazaki strikes down Lord Shojo based on a delusional conspiracy theory, the Twelve Gods of her pantheon respond by removing their blessings that allow her to use the powers of a paladin.
    • Parodied in Dragon Ball Z Abridged during the fight between Goku and Freeza. Goku is in the middle of being beaten, but starts trying to will himself to victory because of how evil Freeza is. Freeza overhears and invites divine judgement, which comes in the form of a Divine Bolt Of Retribution. Sadly, Freeza No Sells it.
      Freeza: Oh come now. If I'm truly as evil as you say, then may God strike me down where I stand. [Lightning bolt immediately strikes him, but Freeza stands completely unaffected] Ha! Nice try, jackass! Next time, give it your "A-game!"
  • August 8, 2016
    StarSword
    Tabletop Games:
    • Dungeons And Dragons: Divine spellcasters usually derive their powers from their obedience to a code of conduct, usually the dogma of a deity. Violate the code and lose your powers.
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