[[quoteright:250:[[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Calvin-worship-TV_3852.jpg]]]]

->''"All hail the UsefulNotes/VirtualBoy!"''
-->-- '''Various {{Mii}}s,''' '''''VideoGame/TomodachiLife'''''

Cargo Cult is the trope when a group of people worship an object as a god or deity. This usually happens either because of its [[ClarkesThirdLaw advanced technology]], or a coincidental resemblance to figures in the local religion.

The trope name comes from the documented effect that UsefulNotes/WorldWarII military forces had upon natives of various South Pacific islands. Sixty years after the war, some tribes in Vanuatu are still building elaborate fake airfields and praying to idols shaped like DC-3 cargo planes.

There is a mythical character they call "John Frum", who they believe to be the source or harbinger of their prosperity (some anthropologists think this may have been the result of American soldiers introducing themselves as "John, from [America]"). Interestingly, it has helped prevent many older traditions of the islanders being wiped out by conversion to Christianity.

Many Cargo Cults are distinguished by a mixture of native spiritual systems with elaborate economic rituals, as capitalism has come to replace military power as the force of the developed world that is most heavily felt and appreciated in daily life. Such rituals similarly have the aim of appropriating what the natives perceive as the westerner's "power" from his symbols, such as money or materials in addition to technology.

Nowadays the term "cargo cult" is often used as a metaphor for superficial imitation of a certain process without even basic understanding of its mechanism. Those South Pacific natives weren't worshiping cargo for nothing. They observed how military forces were constantly getting food and supplies without doing any actual (by their standards) work. The only explanation that made sense was "military activity is some kind of religious ritual rewarded by spiritual deities with all the goods". So, with the military forces gone, natives have tried to reproduce the rituals - that includes imitation landing strips, wooden radio towers, coconut headphones and body paintings in the form of military insignias. The metaphor originally was coined by UsefulNotes/RichardFeynman, who used it in the phrase "cargo cult science".

Compare MightyWhitey and InsufficientlyAdvancedAlien. Contrast with SufficientlyAdvancedAlien. If the society worshiping the religion is [[AfterTheEnd post-apocalyptic]], try AllHailTheGreatGodMickey If the religion worships technology itself rather than as a means to an end, you have a case of MachineWorship.

Unrelated to CargoShip.

'''Note:''' This trope is for ''objects'' being worshiped. If ''characters'' pretend to be, or are just mistaken for gods, the trope is GodGuise.



* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' had an underground village that worshiped a "face-God", a [[HumongousMecha Ganmen]] that had fallen into the village long ago. At the end of the episode, [[spoiler:it was revealed that the high priest knew what it really was, and only used the religion to help enact the harsh rules that were vital for the village to survive]].
* In ''Manga/NausicaaOfTheValleyOfTheWind'', the atomic-powered, biomechanical HumongousMecha are refered to as "God Warriors", and the MasterComputer that's been running things behind the scenes has a cult that worships it.
* In one of the episodes of the first season of ''Anime/{{Vandread}}'', the Nirvana crew descends upon an aquatic planet who [[GodGuise mistakes them for their "God"]]. They don't mind when the crew mentioned that they weren't Gods, but they do mind when the aforementioned crew was "hurting their true Gods". The Gods that they refer to? The machinelike Harvesters, the same ones that the Nirvana crew have been fighting for at least 5 episodes, who came there for the people's spinal cords (which they knew and willingly offered as part of the religion).
* [[LightNovel/KinosJourney One of Kino's journeys]] takes her to a country [[CozyCatastrophe calmly awaiting the imminent apocalypse]], as foretold in their [[SacredScripture holy book of prophecies]], which is revealed later in the same episode to actually be the stream-of-consciousness work of a great but grief-stricken poet whose mind snapped when his wife died in childbirth.
* In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'', Setsuna takes his devotion to Gundams to almost AveMachina levels, shown by his complete and utter awe when he first saw the 0 Gundam in action right after he declared there is no God, as well as his repeated declarations of "I am Gundam", meaning the complete submission to Celestial Being's ideals by becoming the very symbol of the eradication of conflict (that is, a Gundam). Based on his reaction to the works of [[BloodKnight Ali]] and the [[KnightTemplar Trinity team]], using a mobile suit even remotely similar in appearance to a Gundam to shed blood [[ForTheLulz just for the hell of it]] [[BerserkButton borders on blasphemy to him]] - seeing that Setsuna is Kurdish and spent an unknown amount of time as a [[TheFundamentalist fanatical]] ChildSoldier who killed his own parents in the name of God, he's capable of one hell of a devotion.
* In ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', it is explicitly stated that humans built the three enormous walls keeping the titans out, yet there is still a religion worshipping the walls as gods and/or the work of gods. [[spoiler:However, there is increasing evidence that the walls were in fact built by someone else, and the Wall Cult seems to know a lot more than they are letting on.]]
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' has shades of this, especially SEELE. They refer to the creatures and events of the series in religious terms but their so-called "Angels" are actually pieces of alien biotechnology used to terraform planets (although since life on Earth was created by them they could be said to be gods of a sort). Their "Dead Sea Scrolls" are actually a poorly translated ''instruction manual''.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ComicBook/CaptainAmerica was worshiped by a tribe of Eskimos after WWII while he was still frozen in a block of Arctic ice. Part of why he eventually thawed was because Namor, furious at what he perceived to be the Eskimo's idiocy in their choice of religion, hurled Cap's ice block into the ocean, and the currents pulled it into warmer climes. A much later story had a young man of the tribe utterly bewildered that his grandfather ''still'' worshipped Captain America.
* ''The Tower King'', a strip that ran in the British comic book ''Eagle'', was set on an Earth that had collapsed into anarchy when a malfunctioning solar-powered satellite somehow bathed the Earth in radiation that made the production of electricity in any form impossible. A cult worshiping electricity set itself inside a power station, carefully maintaining the generators and pretending that electricity still existed.
* The citizens of the "Expanding Tiger Empire" in ''ComicBook/{{Kamandi}}'' worship a deactivated nuclear missile, referred to simply as the Warhead. They utter such oaths as [[OhMyGods "by the mighty Warhead!"]], etc.
* A nuclear weapons worshipping civilisation turned up in one issue of the Dutch comic ''[[ComicBook/StormDonLawrence Storm]]''.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/ReimaginedEnterprise'': In "Ex Machina" the crew encounter a group who formed a cult around the Borg after their psychics intercepted a Borg transmission.
* A weird pseudo-following surfaced sometime in the Naruto universe over the NinjaLog, all stemming from [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6473185/1/The-Log one]] CrackFic that fashioned an entire LOG RELIGION centering over "The Log". Originating on Fanfiction.net, it has since gone viral, with many, many different works either mentioning "The Log", hinting at the log, or even directly referencing the log.
* In the ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' fanfic [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10600928/1/Highway-Don-t-Care Highway Don't Care]] the crazed inhabitants of the ruins of the Cedar Point amusement park worship 'The Great Coaster' and use the slogans of the park 'Ride On!' and 'Thrills Connect' as religious mantras. The [[StraightMan dour hero of the piece]], Judge John Cornelius, appears as the anti-messiah 'The One Without Fun' who heralds the coasterpocalypse via the destruction of the tea-cup ride.


* In ''Film/MenInBlackII'' a race of tiny aliens living in a rental locker worship a watch that K left behind. When K retrieves this watch, J replaces it with his own, becoming a new deity for the locker people.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Rango}}'', the animals treat human artifacts like pipes this way for their 'divine' ability to provide water in a desert. Verges on HumansAreCthulhu at points.
* In ''Film/BeneathThePlanetOfTheApes'', Taylor uncovers a group of humans survived the apocalypse but had been turned into disfigured mutants. They worship an intact, unexploded bomb which they keep enshrined in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
* Depending on [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman your interpretation of "object"]], the Ewoks bowing down to worship C-3PO in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'' counts as this.
* The Nibiruans in the opening sequence of ''Film/StarTrekIntoDarkness'' begin worshipping the starship Enterprise after seeing it rise out of the water. In keeping with the Prime Directive, a big deal is made out of keeping the starship out of the view of the primitive Nibiruans who have "barely invented the wheel".
** As they start worshipping the Enterprise, you can see one of them casually toss aside the scroll they had been worshipping.
** Funnily enough, the name of the the primitive human-visitor-worshiping aliens seems to be a tongue-in-cheek nod to Nibiru, the planet that some [[AncientAstronauts Ancient Astronaut]] Theorists believe the alien visitors worshiped by primitive humans came from.
* ''Film/TheGodsMustBeCrazy'' revolves around a Coke bottle thrown from an airplane into an African tribe, who see the bottle as this. Later becomes subverted when the elders see the bottle as an ill omen because everyone is fighting to use it, but they think their gods sent it to them by mistake (hence the title).
* ''Mad Max''
** ''Film/MadMaxBeyondThunderdome'' features an isolated tribe AfterTheEnd who worships a jet airliner as their personal Mecca and its pilot, Captain Walker, as a God who will guide them to "Tomorrow-morrow Land"--that is, the world of skyscrapers and urban life that no longer exists.
** The fetishisation of V8 engines in ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad'', seen when War Boys gather their steering wheels from an altar-like pile (Immortan Joe of course plays right into this, due to his GodGuise).
-->'''Slit:''' By my deeds I honor him, V8.

[[folder:Let's Play]]
* The LetsPlay/TwitchPlaysPokemon community memetically considers the Helix Fossil a deity.
** Later runs would add to this, creating an entire pantheon of fossil gods.

* In Will Self's novel ''The Book of Dave'', a [[DriverOfABlackCab contemporary London cab driver's]] diary has become a HolyBook five hundred years in the future, with savagely satiric results.
* Outright subverted in the Literature/{{Discworld}} book ''The Colour Of Magic'', when a CargoCult ''works''.
** Cargo cults are also considered by Ponder when he reflects that 'he didn't build Hex, he just put it together'.
* ''Literature/DreamPark'', by Creator/LarryNiven and Steven Barnes, features a virtual reality-enhanced [[TabletopGames live-action roleplaying]] session based around the real-world Cargo Cult.
** In the time travel mini-Game which the Sands brothers and Eviane play early in ''The Barsoom Project'', the cave-dwelling young savages are actually the offspring of time travelers who got stranded as children. They grew up thinking of the chamber where their parents' non-functional time machine is located as "church", and go there to pray.
* Creator/ChristopherMoore's ''Literature/IslandOfTheSequinedLoveNun'' uses the WWII setup of cargo cults, with a tribe of natives who worship the pilot Vincent and his plane, the ''Sky Priestess''.
* The Store-living Nomes in Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/NomesTrilogy'' worship Arnold Bros (Est 1905), who built the Store. The Floridian Nomes in ''Wings'' worship Nassa, the god who makes clouds. The Nomes living on the streets of Blackbury seem to have been too busy trying to survive to come up with a religion, although the way they treat the Thing comes close.
* Alfred Bester's ''Literature/TheStarsMyDestination'' has the Scientific People, the descendants of a research team that crashed in the asteroid belt, and whose rituals are built around the scientific paraphernalia of the ship.
* One book in Isaac Asimov's ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' series mentions a temple on a planet built to house one old videotape.
* The Mystery of Death, AKA the [[MagiTek Technologists]] of ''Literature/TheDarkswordTrilogy'', fetishized technology into a spiritual belief system.
* ''Literature/HanSoloAndTheLostLegacy'' featured a group of cargo cultists who were the descendants of the crew of the treasure-laden starship of an ancient warlord; they lived on a backwater planet for generations, maintaining sacred "landing fields" complete with mock-ups of spaceships and ritualized "communications procedures".
* In the third ''Literature/EmpireFromTheAshes'' book, the people of Pardal worship an ancient defense computer as the voice of God, using the "Holy Tongue" (the language of the former Fourth Imperium) to speak with it in such holy rituals as... "System Test"... and "High Fire Test". That same religion also condemns developing technology as heresy. [[GodGuise Sean and crew get mistaken for Demons by the entire population and later for Angels (and their champions) by the rebels]].
* The short story [[http://theopinionguy.com/OG25.pdf "Assumption" (scroll down)]] by Desmond Warzel features a ''literal'' CargoCult (in that they worship an actual piece of cargo), but eventually becomes a GodGuise -- a person becomes an object of religious awe because of her advanced technology (she descends from the sky).
* The 1984 book ''Literature/InterstellarPig'' by Creator/WilliamSleator featured a small spherical object with a face -- referred to as the "Pig" -- which was highly sought-after by several species. At least one, an all-consuming HiveMind ooze called the "lichen", believed it was a god of some sort that would bestow upon them eternal wisdom. Of course it turns out that it's more like [[MacGuffin the Winslow]] than anything else -- an incredibly annoying embodiment of ADHD that uses its reputation as an object of great power (religious or otherwise) to planet-hop like some kind of obnoxious freeloading tourist.
* Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs' Literature/JohnCarterOfMars 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.
* OlderThanFeudalism: The infamous Golden Calf in ''Literature/TheBible''. The Israelites wanted a tangible god, so they melted down some gold and sculpted a calf and worshiped the statue ... and were severely punished.
** If ''that'' counts, then it's OlderThanDirt, since it basically applies to any and all tutelary deities (objects or fetishes venerated as household "gods"), which have existed since prehistoric times. The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf Venus of Willendorf,]] made around 30,000 years ago, is thought to be an example.
* Creator/HarryHarrison has a story where a man is sent to repair an ancient, [[RagnarokProofing Ragnarok Proof]] hyperspace beacon on a distant planet. It turns out the builders failed to notice a few stone age reptiles. Since then, the natives found the beacon (a huge tower), and made it a holy shrine (it produced an endless spring of water as part of its coolant system). One of the priests, while cleaning inside, hit the emergency shutdown switch. The protagonist pretends to be a sentry of heaven, sent to restore the spring. After he finishes the repairs, the reptiles attempt to keep him in as a permanent caretaker -- in response, he claims the heaven is angry enough to forbid entry into the tower altogether (reinforced by him welding the door shut).
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' [[Franchise/DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]]:
** In the novel ''Night of the Humans'', the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond find themselves on a giant space junkyard in the year 250,339. One of the first pieces found by the doctor is the ''Pioneer 10'' probe launched back in 1972 with the plaque showing naked humans still intact. And no, despite the potential, the plaque is not the object of worship (in fact, the probe is run over by a vehicle in the first chapter). They find a primitive group of humans living in the shadow of the Tower of Gobo, the hulk of a spaceship of the Gobo Corporation (or [[WeWillUseWikiWordsInTheFuture Gobocorp]]) that crashed there thousands of years ago. The humans are the descendants of the surviving crewmembers, having regressed into savagery. They worship Gobo, the clown mascot of Gobocorp proudly painted on the side of the ship, as their deity, believing him to have created them on Earth (yes, they believe they're on Earth) and who will eventually take ahem away to the mythical land of El Paso. The latter they got from a broken projector showing westerns with no sound, or as they call them "Stories". It helps that Westerns usually have clearly-defined good guys and bad guys, allowing the humans to interpret the good guys as Gobo's children/apostles and the bad guys as the Bad, the enemy of Gobo. Anyone who disagrees with the teachings or claiming that the junkyard is not Earth is considered a heretic and put to death, as they must be the servants of the Bad.
*** Being a holy shrine to them, the Tower is off-limits to all. Only once does the current leader send a "word-slinger" (the only person per generation who knows how to read) inside. The latter quickly loses his faith after discovering the ship logs.
** The novel ''The Silent Stars Go By'' has a fairly sensible cargo cult; the Not-Quite-LostColony view their terraforming manual (the "Guide Emanual") as holy writ, which in a sense it actually is. Thinking of ''anything'' that isn't in the manual as "unguidely" and therefore an abomination is maybe taking it a bit far, though.
* Creator/JackLondon's short story 'The Red One' is about a terminally ill European explorer who discovers a Melanesian tribe that worships a gigantic [[spoiler:and seemingly extraterrestrial red sphere embedded in a hidden crater]].
* Played with in the science-fiction short story 'Hinterlands' by Creator/WilliamGibson; this time, it's humanity who are on the receiving end, and by the end of the book [[spoiler:we're still no wiser as to how the whole thing works or why. The rule is that you must travel to a set point in space and release a radio-flare; if you do, you 'disappear' and come back after a lengthy period of time, either dead or insane, but carrying a random alien object that might be valuable]]. More than a little unsettling.
* Creator/RobertSheckley has a short story about a primitive civilization, which remembers that in the past (over five thousand years ago), they used to be visited by gods all the time. Now there is a religion based around a system of elaborate rituals which are supposed to be performed for the [[AncientAstronauts arriving "gods"]]. However, for the past three thousand years, there has been a debate about whether all the rituals must be performed as always, or perhaps a feast for the gods must be prepared first. The story is centered on the debate continuing in front of [[HumansAreCthulhu two starving "gods"]] [[spoiler:The newer point of "feast first" wins out in the end, and seems to win completely once the "gods'" behavior shows how pleased they are with the food and drink offered]].
* In Donald Kingsbury's ''Literature/CourtshipRite'', the ship that brought the original colonists is still orbiting Geta, a bright light in the sky. The Getans don't know what it is, but they know their ancestors said it brought them to Geta, so they worship it as a God.
* In TaylorAnderson's ''Literature/{{Destroyermen}}'', the [[CatFolk Lemurians]] have Sky Priests who guide their massive home-ships through the sea by using sacred scrolls handed down to them for many generations. The Sky Priests don't let anybody else see the scrolls, as they're the only ones who can read their holy tongue. When the men from the USS ''Walker'' arrive on one of the home-ships, they quickly find out that the sacred scrolls are [[spoiler:old charts written in Latin, left there by a man who came over centuries ago on an East Indiaman]]. While the Lemurians accept the truth when told, the Sky Priests still bristle whenever they see a [[spoiler:chart]] openly displayed for anyone to see, especially since [[spoiler:those charts are in English]].
* HG Wells had a short story "Lord of the Dynamos" in which an African tribesman transplanted to England ends up a slave in a power-generating plant. His poor English and his boss's enthusiasm for machinery result in the tribesman worshipping the main dynamo. [[spoiler: He ends up throwing his boss into it as an offering, and later martyring himself across a high-voltage cable.]]
* The Creator/CliveCussler book ''The Storm'' features a cargo cult in the climax of the book, one formed when a damaged, out of control American cargo ship fleeing Japanese attack ran aground on the island. Not only that, but the natives still had in their possession the ''top secret superweapon'' entrusted to them by the injured American sailors, which the main character uses to rescue a hijacked artificial island.
* Erich von Däniken's ''Chariots of the Gods'' postulates at great length that every religion on earth is a cargo cult based around aliens possessing [[{{Narm}} hilariously]] [[{{Zeerust}} outdated]] [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien sufficiently advanced technology]] who visited earth once, taught humans how to do civilization for reasons that are never adequately explained, [[NeglectfulPrecursors and then left]]. Von Däniken's even mentions the John Frum cult as an [[PhlebotinumAnalogy easier-to-swallow example]] of a similar thing happening... and then proceeds to [[ComicallyMissingThePoint miss the point of the analogy entirely]] by implying that ''the effigies'' must have been left by the aliens because the natives were too backwards and stupid to have built them themselves. Coincidentally, the book is the TropeMaker and TropeNamer for AncientAstronauts.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The ''Series/RedDwarf'' episode "Waiting For God" reveals that the race of humanoids that evolved from Lister's pet cat discovered his plan to move to Fiji (which they called Fuschal) and open a hot dog and donut stand, and built an entire religion around it. They near-obliterated themselves in a holy war over what color the [[BurgerFool silly hats for the wait staff]] would be, and then the survivors left to search for Fuschal using star charts left behind by "Cloister" -- the old laundry list used by Lister to line the original cat's bed. (The colors fought over were red and blue. Lister, however, intended them to be ''green''.)
** In the novelization, the cats are waiting for "Cloister", who has been frozen in time, but will one day re-emerge to lead them to "Bearth". The other cats believe exactly the same thing, except he was called "Clister". Naturally, they nearly wipe out their own species in religious war, then leave to find the promised land.
* An episode of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' has Chakotay and Seven crash land on a planet inhabited by primitive humans. Their women begin to wear bones and salvaged electrical equipment on their faces to match Seven's Borg implants, while the men begin to copy Chakotay's tribal tattoo.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E4TheFaceOfEvil The Face of Evil]]'' both the Tesh and the Sevateem do this, to different extents. Played with a bit in that they're worshiping their own technology, just from a different point in time.
** In "The Doctor's Daughter", the humans and Hath have both convinced themselves that reclaiming "the Source" and denying it to the other race is a holy mission, having long since forgotten it's just [[spoiler: a terraforming device both sides were intended to activate together]].
* Original [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Star Trek]] episode "A Piece of the Action" has the natives of a planet building their entire society in mimicry of a book "Chicago Mobs of the 1920's" left behind accidentally by an earlier starship. At the end of the episode Bones suspects he may have left some Federation tech behind, and wonders aloud if the locals might trade up from being gangster fanboys to being... well, Trekkies.
** An incredibly info-dense book, too, as the locals even copy the fashions, automotive styling, architecture, and firearm designs of 1920's America.
* In the third episode of ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'' the crew comes across a group of children/descendants of the Commonwealth who have survived the past 300 in isolation. They can't read so all information has been pasted down orally making military orders into a religion. When Dylan turns up he's mistaken for a God and struggles to stop the children from destroying their enemies with solar-system destroying bombs he inadvertently unlocked for them.

* Referenced by name in a few songs by My Friend The Chocolate Cake. A prime example is an antagonistic variation in "The Weather Coast":
--> I tell you there's been rumblings of a cargo cult
--> High up in the hills
--> They lost their bearings months ago
--> Now they're searching for them still

[[folder:Stand Up Comedy]]
* During his Dandelion Mind tour, comedian Music/BillBailey gets the crowd worshiping an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oud oud.]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'' {{Sourcebook}} "Summoners" has strange, otherworldly beings which resemble an UncannyValley version of planes and can be summoned to drop powerful items down on the summoners.
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'' adventure ''Glozel Est Authentique!'' by Theater of the Mind Enterprises. In the distant past the people who lived in Glozel, France interacted with Phoenician traders. When the traders stopped coming the people created tablets with Phoenician characters on them to try to bring them back.
* ''Sufficiently Advanced'' includes Cargo Cults as one of the types of civilizations [=PCs=] can come from. Due to the hectic far flung nature of the diaspora, and the insanely advanced science of most of the cultures cargo cults are incredibly common, and the [=PCs=] can end up dealing with them fairly often.
** Interestingly, the original premise for the game was entirely based around cargo cults, until the creator had a better idea.
* The ''Tabletopgame/DungeonsAndDragons'' 3rd Edition ''[[ForgottenRealms Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting]]'' mentions a Cult of Entropy in the nation of Chessenta. This cult worshiped a giant, explicitly nonsentient ''sphere of annihilation'' (basically an artifact that disintegrates anything that touches it). A 4th edition issue of ''Magazine/{{Dragon}}'' magazine [[RetCon retconned]] this cult into worshiping a [[EldritchAbomination primordial embodiment of chaos]] that had been [[SealedEvilInACan trapped in the form of a]] ''[[SealedEvilInACan sphere of annihilation]]''.
* A variation occurs in ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}''; before the rise of the Guild, there were many people who worshiped the Order Conferring Trade Pattern (an ancient series of magical financial networks) based on the mistaken view that the Pattern functioned by directly converting prayer into fiscal prosperity. Most of those cults are long since defunct, having proven easy marks for [[MagnificentBastard Brem Marst]] when he needed the funds to start the Guild.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', man's comprehension of technology has fallen so sharply that humans believe that all technological devices have spirits that have to be appeased through prayer and worship before they will work properly. Although this is something of a subversion, since it actually works. While parts of the rituals are implied to be unnecessary and can be skipped over in an emergency, they also include everything needed to actually build and maintain all of humanity's advanced technology. In the case of Titans and Land Raiders, which are at least partly sentient, even the worship can be necessary since it isn't a good idea to upset a [[GiantMecha 100 metre tall robot]] with enough firepower to wipe out entire armies.
** A non-Imperial example: the Orks of Bloodaxe Clan imitate Human uniforms and military paraphernalia, believing them to be extremely powerful magic charms. This includes Nobs sporting looted [[NiceHat Commissar caps]] to increase their leadership skills, Stormboyz ordering [[AttackPatternAlpha attack patterns]] nobody but the Nob is actually familiar with (and [[AttackAttackAttack generally just boil down to "yell and charge" anyway]]), and any number of Orks adorning their guns with off-center targeting sights that [[ATeamFiring they don't actually use anyway]].
* ''TabletopGame/HollowEarthExpedition'', supplement ''Mysteries of the Hollow Earth''. Cargo cultist tribes live by collecting items from the surface world that reach the Hollow Earth as flotsam and jetsam or inside beached ships or crashed airplanes. They worship the gods that they believe send them the items and even create "landing fields" to encourage them to send more.
* In ''TabletopGame/RocketAge'' some of the natives of Io, a ruined wasteland of a moon, have taken to worshiping the detritus left behind by Earthling explorers, who looked very much like gods to them with their gleaming RetroRocket.
* A few are known to exist in the ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' universe: one short story shows a group of people living on a Periphery planet who, after being stranded there long enough to lose written language and all metalworking ability and thus reverting to Stone Age technology level start a new religion after one of their members sees a pair of Battlemechs fighting. There's also the infamous novel Far Country, in which a jumpship malfunction strands the passengers on a distant planet where they discover a species of primitive, bird-like aliens who worship the wreck of an old, abandoned mech.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' series features the Brotherhood Of Steel, a post-apocalyptic military order with shades of a technology-worshiping cult. Their goal is to prevent the mistakes of the past and stop anyone from abusing advanced technology, but how they go about this depends on the location and time period. Some chapters work to prevent the misuse of technology while defending and developing communities as pseudo-feudal overlords, while other branches have become paranoid isolationists who hoard technology, will forcibly confiscate anything more sophisticated than a pipe rifle from any wastelanders they encounter, and are even willing to kill anyone that might share their knowledge with outsiders.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' introduces the Children of Atom, a cult that worships the unexploded atomic bomb laying at the heart of the settlement of Megaton. The group is initially more of a pest than anything, since its preacher continuously rambles about Atom's holy Glow, but the ''Broken Steel'' add-on reveals a darker side to the group when a member starts tainting purified water with radiation in her efforts to bring Enlightenment to the rest of the Capital Wasteland. They get worse in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}'', where most cult members are hostile enemies who attack anyone they see with Gamma Guns and Nuke Grenades, while one group even attempted to get into a pre-War missile silo to grab its warheads. The branch encountered in the ''Far Harbor'' DLC is so eager to experience the glory of Division that they're willing to commit mass suicide by detonating a nuclear missile in the sub pen they're based at.
** ''Fallout 3'' also has Sudden Death Overtime, a hockey-themed GangOfHats. They have a rather misguided idea of what ice hockey was actually like, and are convinced it was about "icegangs" like them [[HockeyFight duking it out]] in massive arenas.
** In the Old World Blues DLC for ''VideoGame/{{Fallout New Vegas}}'', the [[{{Mooks}} lobotomites]] of the Big Empty have created a shrine dedicated to toasters, of all things.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout Tactics|BrotherhoodOfSteel}}'' also featured a cult of Ghouls worshiping a nuclear weapon as a God, which they named Plutonius.
** In ''VideoGame/Fallout4'', the denizens of Diamond City, constructed in the ruins of Fenway Park, have a nearly religious appreciation for "The Wall" that protects them from outside attacks. This was actually the name of the ballpark's [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Monster "Green Monster"]] before it got its signature paint job in 1947.
* ''VideoGame/HorizonZeroDawn'' has it revealed that the basis for the Nora Tribe's Mother is actually the door to a vault that only responded to Aloy's presence.
* ''VideoGame/ProjectEden'' has the earth people, who live on the ground (everybody else lives in a really tall skyscraper) and mentioned they would be scared to live so high up, in case they fell down like the rubbish they collect.
* The Covenant from ''Franchise/{{Halo}}''. In addition to worshiping the [[{{Precursors}} Forerunners]] as literal gods, the Covenant hold all technology created by them as holy, to the point where any attempt to even just try to better understand, much less improve or modify, any technology reverse-engineered from Forerunner ruins runs a big risk of being seen as heresy[[note]]In ''Literature/HaloFirstStrike'', Cortana improves the Covenant carrier ''Ascendant Justice's'' slipspace drive and plasma weapons by ''modifying the settings''[[/note]].
* The native Nali in ''VideoGame/{{Unreal}}'' are a simple, agricultural race with at best medieval Earth-level of technology, believe the extraterrestrial artifacts are sacred relics for instance, they call the Skaarj rocket launcher "the Stick of Six Fires", which "came from the Nali water god when the star fell from the sky", and put it on a holy pedestal.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Avernum}} 3'' you encounter a CargoCult that seems to worship random junk they've collected or stolen from various places. They do worship some valuable artifacts as well, but that doesn't make them any less deranged.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** The Imga, a race of intelligent "[[EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys ape folk]]" native to Valenwood, revere the [[OurElvesAreBetter Altmer (High Elves)]] as the portrait of their ideal and seek to emulate the Altmer in any way they can. This includes shaving off their fur, powdering their skin, and [[FantasticRacism acting condescending and haughty towards humans and non-elves]]. In-game literature describes the attempts as pitiful.
** The Rieklings, a race of diminutive blue-skinned humanoids native to [[GrimUpNorth Solstheim]] who somewhat resemble "[[OurGoblinsAreDifferent ice goblins]]", are known to scavenge and [[TrashOfTheTitans hoard detritus]] from the more civilized races which they then "form a strange attachments" to and have even been witnessed worshiping these relics. These items include all manner of VendorTrash, to weapons and armor, to the remains of a crashed experimental airship.
* ''VideoGame/WildStar'' has the Ascendancy, a cult of augmented beings obsessed with turning everyone else into cybernetic horrors like them. They see omniplasm and augmentation as a means to AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence they assume the Eldan had gone to.
* The Monolith faction from the ''VideoGame/{{STALKER}}'' series takes its name from the object that is burrowed deep in the middle of the wrecked Chernobyl Power Plant in the Zone of Alienation. It is actually a mind-controlling apparatus conceived by the C-Consciousness that converts would-be hunters and seekers into brainwashed agents that serve the will of the C-Consciousness without any abandon, in order to preserve the deepest secrets of the Zone, which is in fact a code-locked door that reveals the pathway to the real center of the Zone. Namely, this means [[spoiler: the central laboratory where the C-Consciousness is located and whose key members confined themselves in stasis pods to control the noosphere, thus directly making them responsible for the creation of the Zone and for manifesting events within its boundaries]]. The Monolith faction ensures that they devote themselves to protecting those secrets by fanatically attacking anyone who isn't a member of their faction. [[spoiler: After the C-Consciousness has been eliminated for good by Strelok, a partial rift in the Monolith faction caused some of the members to break free from their nightmares and formed a rogue group of lost former members. However, those that are not affected by the rift still adamantly cling on to their beliefs as insanely as ever, despite the loss of their central entity.]]
* ''VideoGame/TomodachiLife'': a dream one of your island's residents can have involves them and their neighbors marching around a massive random item and praising it like a god.
--> "''All hail the Virtual Boy!''"
* ''VideoGame/AfterTheEndACrusaderKingsIIMod'' features several religions with cargo cult-like traits. The Rust Cultists and the Atomicists are the clearest, with the Rust Cult holding reverence for the technology of old and the Atomicists worshipping the power of the atom (as represented by, amongst other things, old nuclear reactors). The Americanists are mainly AllHailTheGreatGodMickey, but aspects of this trope creep in in their veneration for the surviving 'holy' texts and monuments of the Founding Fathers. The Consumerists raise consumerism to a religion inspired by the remnants of old shopping malls, but don't actually exist until several years into the game.
* When information about an upcoming Splatfest is announced in ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}'', it is represented as a message "from on-high" coming through an old 1990s fax machine with candles ceremonially placed around it. In the single-player campaign, the Sunken Scroll depicting the fax machine even has a vague metaphysical blurb on it. WordOfGod states the fax machine is [[spoiler: [[AliensStealCable receiving and printing out various mundane arguments were transmitted into space thousands of years ago]], and [[AfterTheEnd reflected back to Earth.]]]]
* In ''Videogame/{{Destiny}}'', the Vex, an already advanced and incomprehensible race of robots, came across the Black Heart - a fragment of the Darkness ''even more advanced and incomprehensible they they were''. They saw no other option than to worship it. This was later explained in the ''Book of Sorrows'' to be a subversion; after they encountered the Hive and their ReligionIsMagic powers they tried it themselves, then kept doing it because ''it worked''.
* ''VideoGame/PlanetSide'' has the Vanu Sovereignty, a cult of scientists, cyborgs and other weirdos who have been "touched" by the technology of the lost {{Precursor|s}} who once dwelt on Auraxis and now wage war with the goal of [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence "enlightening"]] the rest of humanity, [[TranshumanTreachery whether they want to be enlightened or not]]. It's heavily implied that the artifacts themselves have [[BrainwashedAndCrazy brainwashed the cultists]] [[ScaryDogmaticAliens and are driving them to spread their creed to the other humans on the planet]].

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Done in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', when [[SpoonyBard Elan]] visits an island filled with primitive orcs. At first, they treat him like any other human... until he brings out Banjo, when they start bowing in supplication. That's right: the orcs thought that Elan's kooky hand-puppet was a God. Of course, Elan also thinks Banjo's a God. He's actually pretty stoked that someone else is acknowledging it, although he's not so happy that the orcs won't give Banjo back. Technically, Banjo probably ''is'' a God. Possibly [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0080.html the weakest god imaginable]], but, somehow, [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0137.html divine nonetheless]]. This is due to ''[=OotS=]'' using the GodsNeedPrayerBadly rules.
* ''Webcomic/DemonFist'': The "Holy Relics" turn out to be high-powered technology. Examples include a semiautomatic pistol, a sniper rifle, and a nanomachine-encoded Pandora's Spear. No word on whether or not magic is just Pandoran technology as well.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* A few {{Wiki/SCP|Foundation}} objects are considered parts of a god worshiped by the Church of the Broken God. One in particular, [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-882 SCP-882]] has had at least one known cult worship it due to its effects.
** In the [[http://www.scp-wiki.net/doctors-of-the-church-hub Doctors of the Church]] hub, the foundation itself becomes one AfterTheEnd.
* Google now has a [[http://www.churchofgoogle.org church]].
* In ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', some of the Battle Creek Grunts, most notably the Red Zealot, appear to worship their respectively colored flags.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the original ''{{Transformers}}'' cartoon, the second-season episode 'The God Gambit' has a tribe of RubberForeheadAliens on the moon Titan worshipping a statue that looked vaguely Transformer-like.
** Then Cosmos crash-lands on the planet, and they start worshipping ''him'' instead (this counts since he is deactivated at the time).
*** Then ''Astrotrain'' arrives, and [[GodGuise starts taking advantage of all this nonsense.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ChipNDaleRescueRangers'':
** In "Kiwi's Big Adventure", a tribe of Kiwis worship the Ranger Plane as a deity and expect it to give them back their ability to fly.
** In "The Case of the Cola Cult", a large group of mice in tunics worship a soda brand.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuest'' episode "A Small Matter of Pygmies", a tribe of pygmies worships airplanes: they have have small statuettes of airplanes in the place where they perform human sacrifices.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'': All hail the Magic Conch!
* Given a quick jab in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', which references the ''Franchise/PlanetOfTheApes'' films (see above).
-->'''Fry:''' You guys worship an unexploded nuclear bomb?!\\
'''Vyolet:''' Yeah, but nobody's that observant. It's mainly a Christmas and Easter thing.
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'' the Book of Omens is a AncientArtifact, the singular source of history, mythology and theology for the [[{{Catfolk}} Cats]] of the kingdom of Thundera. Lost for generations, ShroudedInMyth, FamedInStory and dogged by [[OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions skepticism]], its reputed as a GreatBigBookOfEverything, the source by which its kings orate their history, a TomeOfFate to the [[TheOrder order]] of [[ChurchMilitant Clerics]] who maintain its {{Ancient Tradition}}s, and a source of fascination to those who believe its tales of LostTechnology. Two of Thundera's best generals were sent questing for it for years, but when Thundera is invaded by ancient OutsideContextProblem Mumm-Ra, head Cleric Jaga reveals that its definitely real, and sends young Prince Lion-O racing to find it before Mumm-Ra can. Once discovered it [[spoiler: appears to be a BlankBook, but is actually a {{Magitek}} computer that]] will reveal the key to defeating Mumm-Ra.
* In ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife'' Heffer joins a cult that worships sausage.
* ''WesternAnimation/TazMania'': In "The Bushrats Must Be Crazy", the Bushrats start worshiping Jake's rubber duck.
* Similar to the example mentioned under Comics, in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'' features a group of humanoid tigers that worship a still-active nuclear warhead, referring to it by the letters painted on the side; "ICBM". The Joker, when traveling to said future, invoked the old "What does this button do?" gag, promptly blowing the planet to smithereens.
* In the episode "What Goes Down Must Come Up" of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', a group of orphans forgotten in a fallout shelter base a society and religion on a learning bed that plays fragments of educational videos about hygiene made by Jonas Venture for his son Rusty (and also on [[AllHailTheGreatGodMickey VH1 Classic]]). This gets complicated when the real, grown-up Rusty stumbles upon them and unplugs the bed. For bonus points, they also worship a nuke, but... [[DisgustingPublicToilet oddly]]...
-->'''Cultist:''' He tuned Father out!
-->'''Rusty:''' Yes, I killed your God. Oooooo!
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Catdog}}'' features this. When the titular conjoined duo get stranded on an island surrounded by constantly speeding cars that inexplicably keep racing in a circle around the island, Cat crafts a God out of an old tire and some planks of wood. He prays to be told what to do and begins to hallucinate. The face that appears is that of a demonic looking panther with [[GlowingEyes glowing]] [[RedEyesTakeWarning red eyes]]. Its advice?:[[{{Autocannibalism}} "eat each other."]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Doing the "Act 1, Scene 1" scissor clap in front of the Camera before a take when filming. Used to be done so you could sync the sound of the clap to the frame where it clapped from where the two were different physical media. In the age of digital filming it serves no purpose whatsoever, but amateurs who film on their iPhone still do it since they recognize the ritual from countless documentaries and films that they learned the craft from.
* As mentioned in the description, the John Frum cults. Frum himself is a sort of amalgamation of Uncle Sam, Santa Claus, and John the Baptist; the name is believed to be a corruption of "John from America", though another theory holds that it's based on a letter "from John". They believe he will return on a February 15th, celebrated each year as John Frum day. In some circles, John Frum is considered to be Prince Phillip's brother. A ''National Geographic'' reporter asked a John Frum cult leader how he could still keep a cargo cult going despite the modernizations that have come to his island. The leader replied "We've only been waiting for our prophet for 60 years. [[TakeThat You've been waiting for]] [[UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} 2,000]]."
* There's a (thankfully small) cult in Russia that worships [[RescueRangers Gadget Hackwrench]]. [[http://www.odditycentral.com/news/russian-cult-worships-female-cartoon-character.html Seriously.]] So the next time you encounter a bit of FanDumb, just think of this group and realize that it could be worse.
* In pagan Europe occasionally thunderstones were unearthed: peculiar looking stones that were thought to be literally fallen thunder. They were believed to have magical properties due to being associated with the thunder god, and were used in amulets and other magic. In Scandinavia they might even be worshipped as household gods. As it turns out, these weird stones were indeed not natural: they were neolithic stone tools.
* Among the Waghi tribe of Papau New Guinea, warriors paint their shields with the symbols of animals whose traits they wish to emulate in battle. When they first made contact with Western civilization during World War II, some American soldiers introduced them to the stories of ComicStrip/ThePhantom. The jungle-dwelling, BadassNormal masked hero [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff became so popular]] among the Waghi that some warriors began painting the Phantom's face on their shields as a symbol of good luck.
* The Kastom people of Tanna, Vanuatu, had a myth about a deity who had traveled to a distant land and married a powerful woman. So, when Queen Elizabeth II visited with her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in tow, they took him to be that deity and to this day consider him to be a divine being.
* According to the Raelians Judaism and Christianity are this. Raelians believe that an alien race called the Elohim created life on earth, but over time, the species name was mistaken for the name of a deity, and assigned to the God of the Old Testament.
* [[http://churchofspongebob.tripod.com/ The First Reformed Church of]] ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants''.