[[quoteright:250:[[Webcomic/{{Bug|Martini}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/BugComic-The-God-Couple_9750.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250:[[http://www.bugcomic.com/comics/the-god-couple/ God stinks as a roommate.]]]]

-> ''"If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. The worst you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever."''
-->-- '''Boris''', ''Film/LoveAndDeath''

In a setting where there are demons and angels or the equivalent forces of cosmic evil and good, evil will go out into the world and raze villages, kill people and destroy the countryside. {{God}}, meanwhile, will be impotent and only exist as a symbolic force to inspire the heroes. Either that or you'll have the PowersThatBe, incapable or unwilling to stop the rogue GodOfEvil. Either way, they won't have a hands-on approach.

This is to prevent the feeling of DeusExMachina, but in-story it doesn't work well. The message seeming to be that [[GoodIsImpotent good deities are entirely useless]] but [[EvilIsCool evil deities can do whatever they want]]. The explanation for this is usually that {{God}} solving people's problems would prevent free will... but if you think about it, demons coming from another world to wreak havoc on all mankind sure is screwing around with free will and the least the angels could do is get off their bums and [[BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil keep a %*!& balance]].

Another explanation is that good "plays by the rules" and both sides "promised" not to interfere on Earth... but in practice, evil can lie, and figures losing a few demons to humans is a cheap price for the unopposed demons everywhere else. Inevitably, the angels only come help once the mortals have done in the bad guys, or when the bad guys have grown so powerful that only a DeusExMachina could possibly stop them. Any celestial good-aligned being that's proactive will inevitably be eviler than the basest villain [[WellIntentionedExtremist in practice if not intent]], [[KnightTemplar intent as well as practice]], or simply quickly done away with.

It may also be that, for some reason, it's more acceptable to show the forces of evil than the forces of good. For instance, you have shows like ''Series/{{Reaper}}'' where TheDevil is a main character. Conversely, there was [[Series/JoanOfArcadia a short-lived show where the main character talked to God]]. Guess which one the MoralGuardians really brought the hammer down on? This goes hand-in-hand with some religions not wanting to display images of their deities. It might also be more about the fact that if you have good-mortals-plus-angels vs. evil-mortals-plus-demons then the battle is too even, so to have the good mortals fighting against impossible odds the angels have to sit it out because [[UnderdogsNeverLose The Underdogs]] are always who the audience is supposed to root for.

This also may be partly rooted in the different strategies adopted by the East and West during the UsefulNotes/ColdWar. The Soviet backed forces were more apt to take overt actions such as the Berlin Blockade, Invasion of Hungary, Invasion of Czechoslovakia, Invasion of Afghanistan, Invasion of South Korea, Invasion of South Vietnam, etc, while the United States was more inclined to adopt covert actions and the use of "Soft Power" to further its goals of containment. Direct confrontation would have resulted in a [[ApocalypseWow global apocalypse]] and was thus needed to be avoided and even indirect confrontations (such as those in Korea and Vietnam) were seen as highly costly. It was more effective to allow the BigBad to be seen as the aggressor and counter them with low cost covert actions. This was especially true as the UsefulNotes/ColdWar was a war of ideology where perception and public relations played a significant factor for victory.

Because so many modern writers were exposed to this and the pre-[=WW2=] paradigm of using covert action to overcome isolationism and apathy in opposing Fascist Evil it would be natural for them to adopt the trope of "Good" working through indigenous forces instead of direct intervention.

See Also: GodsHandsAreTied, GoodIsImpotent, PowersThatBe, LowestCosmicDenominator, HaveYouSeenMyGod.

The trope-name comes from the film ''Film/TheGodsMustBeCrazy''. If this trope is averted (i.e. the Gods take a very active role in fighting evil), see HeavenAndHell and GodIsGood.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''LightNovel/TheSlayers'': There's the Shinzoku (the gods) and the Mazoku (the demons); the Mazoku often [[AlwaysChaoticEvil cause destruction at the most convenient time they can,]] while the Shinzoku often do absolutely nothing about it unless the balance between good and evil is severely tipped. One manga reveals the Shinzoku's discerning nature; this is never truly addressed in the anime or novels.
** Averted, actually, with Cepheid as the Supreme God of Good in the ''Slayers'' world is ''dead.'' He sacrificed himself to save the universe from the Mazoku and his ghost is now hanging around with Lina's sister.
* ''Franchise/DragonBall'':
** Beings like [[GalacticConqueror Freeza]] (who had conquered/destroyed hundreds of planets) are apparently beneath the notice of the gods, but if there's a threat to multiple galaxies, or the universe (such as Buu), they'll take direct action. In ''Anime/DragonBallSuper'', Gowasu, U10's Supreme Kai, states that the Kais are not allowed to interfere with mortal affairs. Their job is to create life, watch over the mortals, and give them guidance. The only gods who are allowed to interact in the mortal realm are the Gods of Destruction. The situation with Buu was presumably an exception, since he attacked the Kais first. His apprentice [[DarkMessiah Zamasu]], who [[HumansAreFlawed who looks down on the mortal races with disdain for never seeming to learn their lessons]], disagrees and believes this non-intervention policy actually hurts the multiverse. [[spoiler:Eventually, Zamasu decides to stop being lazy and goes about doing what he feels is necessary for protecting the universe...by killing all the mortals and all the gods who get in his way.]]
** The Universe Survival Saga takes this trope to its logical conclusion: Zen'oh, the [[TopGod King of Everything]] who rules over the multiverse, decides that he's tired of keeping track of 12 separate universes and wants to clean house. The universes are rated by "mortal level", a measure of how developed its mortal inhabitants are, which is also a reflection on each universe's Gods and how well they've been doing their jobs. The top four are safe, while the bottom eight have to participate in a 10-man free-for-all martial arts tournament with only the last universe standing being spared. Universe 7, the setting of the ''Dragon Ball'' franchise, has the second-lowest mortal level because its God of Destruction Beerus is the very definition of this trope, while there's only been one Kaioshin for the last five million years or so[[note]]technically two once the Old Kai (the Eastern Kaioshin from 15 generations ago) is freed from the Z Sword, but it's unclear if he plays an active role in the CelestialBureaucracy since the current Kaioshin fills his former position[[/note]], meaning the universe has mostly been left to its own devices and at the mercy of people like Freeza.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* While acting as the Avatar of God's Vengeance, ComicBook/TheSpectre can do [[KillEmAll %*!& near anything]]. However, he's been noticeably sparing about using his gifts against people like, say, actual supervillains. Apparently, there are rules. Somewhere.
** The trope is lampshaded, and explored, in ''Final Crisis: Revelations''. The Spectre and his fellow avatar, the Radiant, find themselves powerless against the forces of evil who have taken over the Earth - and not even ''they'' know why they can't do anything about it.
** The Ostrander/Mandrake ongoing Spectre series cleared up many facts about the Spectre-force: while it is the literal embodiment of God's wrath, it is not allowed to roam free, but must be bound to a mortal soul, who in turn decides how to use its power. But most of this seems to have been forgotten in recent years; for example during the ComicBook/InfiniteCrisis miniseries the Spectre, now without a host, sought to ironically kill anyone he could find [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking regardless of their crimes severity]] (i.e a kid stealing $6 from his mother is drowned in change). He then caused mass destruction (being an unwitting pawn of some villains) and God only stopped it after it caused the end of the 9th Age of Magic (by killing off the Lords of Order and Chaos.)
* The Franchise/DCUniverse in general suffers badly from this: God (The Presence) is known to exist, but only acts when he feels like it. Meanwhile numerous demon lords come and go from hell almost freely.
** Lucifer left hell because he felt like it, a far cry from his imprisonment back in Dante Alghieri's day. In ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', all God does about this is %*!& two more angels to look after the place.
*** The implication was that Lucifer was imprisoned in hell, not by the power of God but his own pride that wouldn't allow him to admit that he wasn't there of his own free will. In ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' continuity this applies to everyone in hell; anyone, damned or demon can leave the place at any time if they really want to, but most are too tied up with their guilt or hate to realize this. This also applies to Remiel, one of the two angels sent down in Lucifer's replacement, but not Duma who knows exactly what the deal with hell is, but stays there anyway.
* Just take a look at some ComicBook/ChickTracts. {{Satan}} is all over the place, ready to corrupt the nonbeliever (i.e., anyone who doesn't subscribe to Jack Chick's particular interpretation of Christianity), occasionally in a [[LouisCypher very thin disguise]], while {{God}} is basically sitting on his throne waiting for them to say the prayer at the end of the tract. Sure, occasionally he sends some angels around to try to save the hapless heathens, but they're not very good at it. To the extent that the most useful tool in their bag of tricks appears to be tripping old ladies.
** Sometimes God is not quite so subtle in the Chick Tracts. There is one where Jesus punches the Anti-Christ through an upheld Bible. This instantly [[DefeatMeansFriendship makes the Anti-Christ convert to Christianity]].
* Taken literally in ''ComicBook/JohnnyTheHomicidalManiac'', after [[spoiler:Johnny dies. He ends up in heaven and meets God, depicted as a balding fat apathetic little gnome in a recliner, who explains that he created the universe and now needs some downtime.]]
-->'''[[spoiler:Nny]]:''' Don't you think you should get up and pay attention to what's happening in the world?!\\
'''God:''' [[SarcasmMode Ooooh,]] '''[[SarcasmMode sorreeee]]'''! [[SarcasmMode I only created]] '''[[SarcasmMode the universe]]'''! [[SarcasmMode You're right, I should be out running]] '''[[SarcasmMode laps]]'''.
* This trope motivates the entire plot of ComicBook/{{Preacher}}. When Jessie Custer is given the power of The Word, a combined demonic/angelic force, he learns that God has abandoned his post in heaven and left humanity to fend for itself. He's slumming somewhere on Earth, so Jessie rounds up some friends and begins a quest to find the Almighty and tell him to get back to work.
* ComicBook/{{Valhalla}}: Odin frequently qualifies as this. In "The Golden Apples", Odin and Loki knowingly hang back and let Thor go through the hassle of capturing their meal by himself. When Roskva asks Tjalfe why Odin doesn't help, Tjalfe says that Odin's a king and kings don't have to work. Roskva then asks if [[BrilliantButLazy Loki]] is a king, too.
* Zigzagged with Creator/MarvelComics. Many gods (most famously ComicBook/TheMightyThor) are either active on Earth or have empowered champions to fight evil, but the vast majority of them are no-shows about 99% of the time and in many cases the "Council of Godheads", the coalition of the {{Top God}}s of most world religions, is shown to be a NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering. Sometimes they'll put in an appearance when the world is threatened, like when the Celestials showed up for the first time, but considering TheWorldIsAlwaysDoomed, usually they won't. And often when they do show up, something happens that suddenly renders them unable to actually do anything.
* In ''ComicBook/MightyMorphinPowerRangersShatteredGrid'', Zordon begs for an audience with the Morphing Masters, the creators of the Morphing Grid, afraid of the threat Lord Drakkon poses after his army captures [[Series/PowerRangersSamurai the Samurai Rangers]]. The beings he confronts who would decide if he could or not decide that it's not worth it and sends Zordon back, telling him that the Rangers are more than capable of handling Drakkon's threat. It's implied, though, that they just don't think Drakkon is that bad a threat and that they think the balance of good and evil will even out soon enough, completely underestimating Drakkon's threat.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* A weird variation in ''Fanfic/WithStringsAttached''. Although the Dalns gods will do minor things like look into whether they can send the four home, they repeatedly refuse to restore the skahs paradise by restocking Baravada with monsters—the one thing the skahs really want.
** The reason for this is that [[spoiler: the Dalns gods have finished running the continent into the ground and are not interested in doing anything big (i.e., costly) any more. In fact, they've been wanting to abandon C'hou but can't because they would then have to pay a big penalty. Luckily for them, restoring the Vasyn means C'hou passes into the hands of the Pyar gods]].
** Then, in the sequel ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone: The Soft World'', an inversion: the Pyar gods gave the skahs their combat utopia and ignored them thereafter. The skahs, perfectly happy now, could care less.
* ''FanFic/RosarioVampireBrightestDarkness'': For all of their claims that they want to protect humanity, the Almighty and the angels typically just sit back and watch as Tsukune and his pals fight for their lives against such threats as [[AntiHumanAlliance Fairy Tale]] and [[EldritchAbomination Alucard]]. Rason even calls them on it in Act IV chapter 16, where they blatantly refuse to intervene against Hokuto's plan to revive Alucard.
* In the ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' fic ''[[FanFic/BoundDestiniesTrilogy Wisdom and Courage]]'', Din, Nayru, and Farore essentially just sit back and watch as [[BigBad Veran]] steals their [[MacGuffin Triforce]] and uses it to commit all manner of atrocities ForTheEvulz. At one point, Link and Zelda, the Goddesses' [[TheChosenOne chosen ones]], even outright wonder ''why'' the Goddesses aren't doing anything about Veran; they only strip Veran of the Triforce when she's been fatally impaled on the Master Sword, ''after'' she's used its power to completely destroy both Hyrule ''and'' Termina and killed hundreds of innocent people in cold blood.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut'': Satan and Saddam Hussein rise up from hell and take over earth. Only the fact that Saddam is such a {{Jerkass}} and Satan is a JerkWithAHeartOfGold saved Earth from being plunged into a 1000 years of darkness, and yet God does not seem to be doing anything to stop him. It's especially jarring considering that Jesus and God are both recurring characters, and you can actually briefly see Jesus in the background of one of the shots in the movie (when the soldiers are marching in front of Kyle's house).
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSpongeBobSquarePantsMovie'': Throughout the movie, King Neptune is far more concerned with covering up his receding hairline than the fact that [[BigBad Plankton]] has enslaved all of Bikini Bottom.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/{{Constantine}}'', God and the Devil have made a bargain to not interfere directly in the mortal world (the "Balance"). Lucifer's half-demons are constantly breaking this rule, but they aren't punished by God, angels or even half-angels -- they're deported back to hell by [[PunyHumans John Constantine]].
* Invoked repeatedly in the ''Film/OhGod'' movies. Whenever God is asked why He doesn't simply solve the world's problems with his omnipotence, He simply handwaves it as something people must do for themselves.
* In the end of ''Film/TimeBandits'', it's revealed that Evil is as much a part of the Supreme Being's plan as anything else in creation. When Kevin asks the Supreme Being why evil and suffering must exist, He replies vaguely, "Ah... I think it has something to do with free will."

* Apparently there's an old Chinese tale about how the lesser gods demanded some human be punished for an outrageous act of blasphemy. The Boss God points out that if he interferes in this case, he'll be expected to interfere in others or everyone will think he's losing his grip. But when something bad happens to the human (as it does to everyone eventually) people will say "Well the gods might take their time about it, but they always get their revenge!"
* The whole point of Deism. Basically, an almighty figure created the universe, and after that either went away or just stopped interfering in the fabric of reality.
** This became popular in European Enlightenment thinking, which wanted a way to acknowledge both God and science. Deism allows for the existence of God without the necessity of miracles or the problem of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodicy theodicy]], and means that since "God works in mysterious ways" is actually not the answer, scientists can get on with their business without fear of committing blasphemy. This religious view is often ascribed to by those who think mankind should be able to stand on its own without interference from the divine.

* John Milton's ''Literature/ParadiseLost'' was written to explain why this isn't the case in the Bible, stating that he will "justify the ways of God to men." In the story, God explains that all of his creations are "fit to stand but free to fall," and that therefore they have only their own free will to blame if they should sin. Satan throws himself out of heaven after warring with heaven, and Adam and Eve have only themselves to blame for being corrupted by Satan's temptation.
* Subverted in the ''Franchise/TolkiensLegendarium''. For most of the story, the Valar - depicted as essentially good and well-meaning - barely do anything as the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth fight the Dark Lords. That is actually justified since even their helpful, beneficent interventions tend to destroy continents.
** In the very first version (''Literature/TheBookOfLostTales'') this was intended to be seen as a failing of the Valar. As ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'' evolved and the Valar became less like morally ambiguous Greek gods and more like archangels, this was changed.
** ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'': Their first wars with Morgoth did so much damage (shattering continents, lifting up mountain ranges) that they could not release their full powers against him without causing an EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt , which would have been rather counterproductive. They had to wait till he squandered his powers sufficiently that he could be defeated with less extreme means. (Even so, that battle - the War of Wrath - * still* sank Beleriand, an enormous area of land larger than all the countries in Lord of the Rings put together).
*** This is at least in part punishment for Fëanor in particular and the Noldor elves in general. When Feanor rebelled and the Noldor committed genocide, they essentially told the Valar "We do not need your help, we never wanted it at first place, so leave us alone and go to hell". The Valar simply took them at their word.
*** Their being lazy is defied in the story itself, which claims they ''are'' active. They did after all create the sun and the moon, after the two trees had been poisoned. Manwë would also send the Great Eagles when he wished to intervene, and Ulmo intervened on multiple occasions (but wasn't listened to, because elves and humans were arrogant).
*** Eventually, faced with the corruption of the Númenóreans in ''Akallabêth'' by Sauron, they call on ''their'' creator to save the world from Sauron and Ar-Pharazôn, as they could not defeat them without destroying the world. Eru intervenes, moving Valinor away from the rest of the world (possibly limiting their influence to a significant degree) and sinking Númenor, a country perhaps as big as France, beneath the waves.
** ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''; This time around, the Valar pitch in just enough help to bring down Sauron, most notably sending five wizards (Gandalf being one of them) to Middle-Earth.
*** While some people have criticized Gandalf and the other wizards for not doing enough (ie If Gandalf can kill a Balrog why can't he defeat whole armies on his own?). However if pays careful attention it becomes clear that to avoid interfering with mortal free will they are only allowed to use their abilities in opposition to other supernatural forces.
* This is the base argument for the ''Literature/InheritanceCycle'''s Elves' atheism.
--> '''Oromis''': Ask yourself this Eragon: If gods exist, have they been good custodians of Alagaesia? Death, sickness, poverty, tyranny and countless other miseries stalk the land. If this is the handiwork of divine beings, then they are to be rebelled against and overthrown, not given obeisance, obedience, and reverence.
* Creator/MercedesLackey's ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'' novels have expanded to the point where the Shin'a'in Goddess and the Karsite God (along with a bajillion other names for them) are the two world deities, who refrain from direct action in the world unless absolutely necessary. The argument is that humans wouldn't have freedom if the gods were too active.
* Even animal gods are subject to this one. In Mary Stanton's novel, ''The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West'', the horse god Equus and his heavenly court must respect a Balance with the Dark Horse and his minions. Neither can interfere in the world unless the other has broken the Balance first.
* In ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', The Dark One mostly is a Jerkass who encourages in-fighting between his top followers over who gets to be his right-hand minion. But he does occasionally have their back, such as [[spoiler:resurrecting some of his followers from the dead, though when it comes to Balthamel's [[ManIFeelLikeAWoman resurrection]], he's still a jerkass]]. The Creator (a.k.a God), on the other hand, never interacts with any of the characters directly, and while it's possible that he may be responsible for some of the actions of the plot (e.g. resurrecting the Dragon and the Heroes of the Horn), this is never actually proven.
* This was a specific agreement-breaker in Creator/EoinColfer's ''Literature/TheWishList'': an angel and devil both promised not to interfere with goings-on on Earth. The angel kept his end of the bargain; Beelzebub not so much.
* This is the main theme of many of the ''Literature/IncarnationsOfImmortality'' books. The characters assume {{God}} isn't acting because he's following the rules, except it turns out that God is not acting because he's busy admiring his own magnificence, and that all of {{Satan}}'s [[EvilPlan Evil Plans]] are part of a BatmanGambit trying to get him to act (hence SatanIsGood). [[spoiler:Eventually the mortal governments of the world impeach God and boot Him out of office]]. No, really.
* The two fairly benevolent faiths of ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', even the one with [[PsychicDreamsForEveryone actual power]], never seem to do anything for their followers. Meanwhile, the faiths with a high emphasis on human sacrifice, particularly the church of R'hllor, are out destroying wombs, toppling kings, reversing death, and otherwise shoveling extra manure into the CrapsackWorld that is Westeros.
** Although given how most of R'hllor's miracles work, it is possible that a lot of it is [[BlackMagic blood magic]]. It's also worth pointing out that the faith of R'hllor claims that it is the only thing standing between humanity and complete annihilation, and given how little most of humanity seems to care about the {{Eldritch Abomination}}s amassing north of the Wall, they may even be ''[[TheExtremistWasRight right]]''.
* In the ''Literature/EaCycle'' series, all of the planetfuls of powers of goodness stay out of Ea, even though the fate of the entire universe is at stake.
* Creator/DavidEddings:
** ''Literature/TheRedemptionOfAlthalus'' inverts this. Althalus' live-in goddess [[spoiler:and lover]] Emmy might not be busting out the orbital smite-rays on his enemies, but she does provide him with immortality, powerful magic, team mates, and resources (such as a house that can open doors to anywhere) to defeat any enemy. Oh, and she even lets him keep armies in the house, marching around so they can be deployed at a moment's notice. Meanwhile, the god supporting the bad guys prefers to just terrify them and be a jerk.
** ''Literature/TheBelgariad'' and its sequels and prequels, however, justify playing it dead straight by having the gods actually leave the friggin' planet because TheChosenOne will need it to finish TheProphecy, and if they fight Torak they'll go and destroy the world.
** In ''Literature/TheElenium'', while the less powerful Styric and Trollish gods both actively help out, with many characters being granted magical powers by a Styric goddess, the Elenian god, who is acknowledged as being real and incredibly powerful by the other gods, never does anything at all. To such a degree that some of his worshipers also pray to a Styric goddess for the aforementioned magical abilities. Lampshaded in ''Literature/TheTamuli'', where one of the high-ranking members of the church of the Elenian god muses to himself that they might not have had to go outside their faith to other gods to begin with if they had just thought to ask their own god if he could grant similar powers in the first place.
* In ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfThomasCovenant'', the universe of The Land is within the "Arch of Time" which [[BigBad Lord Foul]] is intent on destroying so he can be free of the Land and wreak havoc on the cosmos. The Creator can't directly interfere in The Land without breaking the Arch and setting the Lord Foul free. However, the Creator find a loophole when Lord Foul goes outside the Land (to the "real world") to obtain white gold (which doesn't exist in the Land and contains the magic necessary to break the Arch) and is able to tweak fate so the protagonist is brought to the Land (with their white gold ring).
* ''Literature/DragonLance''. The gods of evil are always up to something, while the gods of good are strangely non-active and non-vigilant. They're apparently not asleep or distracted from the state of the world or anything, but they curiously do absolutely nothing to stop the forces of evil or alert the good races that something's up before TheEmpire has nearly conquered the world. Heck, they don't even step in to tell the elves to stop being racist pricks -- maybe even the ''gods'' CantArgueWithElves.
** One particularly painful example of this from the original trilogy: At one point, Paladine, arguably the most prominent god of good in the setting, who has in fact been quietly helping the protagonists along in disguise, shows up to sternly lecture a silver dragon for... well... basically trying to do much the same thing. Never mind that the oath she broke in the process was made by the good dragons a) under duress b) to the forces of evil who c) had just stolen all their ''eggs'' to blackmail them into staying out of the fight and d) never actually bothered to ''return'' said eggs afterwards. (Which, as we find out not too long after, was because e) [[spoiler:they were too busy using those eggs to breed new minion monsters for their own armies]]...) Thus, this probably also makes a fine example of LawfulStupid behavior on Paladine's part.
* In nearly all of Creator/StephenKing's novels that have supernatural elements, "The White"/"Purpose"/God has a strong DIY ethic when it comes to fighting evil. It will assist the human protagonists, occasionally giving them special power in the process, but does not appear to have any equivalents to [[spoiler:Randall Flagg, The Crimson King, It, Dandelo, etc]] who actually ''do'' anything to fight evil directly. For example:
** ''Literature/{{IT}}'': [[spoiler:the Turtle is implied to be stronger than It, but openly says he'll take no part.]]
** ''Literature/{{Insomnia}}'': [[spoiler:One of the Bald Men actually says that "Purpose" prefers to have people deal with the problems instead of taking care of them itself.]]
* The gods of ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', with occasional exceptions [[spoiler:(like Offler and post-''Small Gods'' Om, who've acquired some wisdom)]], aren't lazy so much as clueless. Gods don't need to think, they have worshippers to do that stuff for them. Playing dice with the universe -- or the life of some poor sap they picked at random from their set of game pieces -- is ''loads'' more entertaining than answering prayers and so on.
-->"But if you've been down here as a tortoise, who's been answering the prayers? Who has been accepting the sacrifices? Who has been judging the dead?''
-->"I don't know. Who did it before?"
-->"You did!"
* In ''Between the Rivers'' by Creator/HarryTurtledove, every city is ruled by its own god, and the city of Gibil is ruled by a god whose main characteristic is his laziness. This means that the men of Gibil have much more freedom, and have to do much more thinking and working for themselves, than all the surrounding cities, which are ruled by gods who are more interventionist.
* In ''Literature/{{Everworld}},'' the Egyptian gods no longer ''do'' anything, because [[spoiler:they are so obsessed with ritual that they literally just stand around like statues as their priests pray to them]]. Because of this and the Pharaoh's mental retardation, the country has become so weak that it's easily blockaded by the dwarves and conquered by the Amazons, until [[spoiler:Sobek, the one god unaffected, comes out of exile]].
** The other gods tend to be pretty lazy too, though to varying degrees. The Greek gods, for example, are one of the most powerful pantheons, but most of them just lounge around or bicker like house cats, even when [[EldritchAbomination Ka Anor's]] army is at the foot of Mt. Olympus. It takes Athena and the protagonists quite a while to convince them that they need to ''do'' something other than "show favor" to mortal heroes. The only other two willing to fight were [[PsychopathicManchild Ares]] and [[BoisterousBruiser Heracles]], and even they wound up abandoning their army after a fight with Zeus.
** [[BigGood Merlin]] notes that while [[GodOfEvil Huitzilpoctli]] is terrifyingly powerful when he's hungry for [[HumanSacrifice human hearts]], once he's full all he can do is sit there and wait until he's hungry again. War gods tend to be pretty dull, apparently.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'' stories, Conan knows perfectly well not to expect anything from Crom, even though he regularly swears by him. Crom isn't precisely ''lazy'', per se -- he "breathes the power to strive and slay into a man's soul" at birth according to Cimmerian myth (as related by Conan in "Queen of the Black Coast") --, but he hates to be bothered by mortals asking for even ''more'' than what he's already given them and so generally leaves them alone to succeed or fail on their own merits. [[spoiler: And in one story, Conan actually ''gets'' help from Crom, precisely for asking nothing from him, and being the badass.]]
* Zeus/Jupiter of ''Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians'' is like this mainly due to pride. He prefers to sit on his throne and ignore a problem until left with no choice but to act. The others are more mixed. Some have the sense to fully act at least when their own interests are on the line by aiding heroes and others like Hades have full time jobs. Its been stated that the Fates and various rules prevent the gods from necessarily intervening more.
* In the ''Literature/StarTrekMillennium'' trilogy, the pah-wraiths are far more proactive than the Prophets. This is actually justified - the Prophets' best bet for protecting the universe is to keep their distance and remain apart from the mortal/temporal realm, while the pah-wraiths want to bridge the distance and reunite the two celestial temples, even though it means destroying creation.
* According to the Great Book in ''Literature/WhoFearsDeath'', the goddess Ani is this, having half-created the world (but not the sun), and then gone to sleep for centuries before finishing the job.
* In Creator/TanithLee's ''Literature/TalesFromTheFlatEarth'', the Gods are NeglectfulPrecursors who created the universe, got bored with it, and now do nothing but stand around contemplating their own greatness. They've intervened in the world approximately three times, all of which were to deliver smack-downs on anyone who dared to challenge them: the first is when they flooded the earth because people were acquiring too much magical power (mentioned in the second book), the second when a mad king tried to build a tower to heaven and storm it, and the third when they send robot-angels to destroy a new emerging religion. The primary protagonists of the series are chief demons/personifications of dark forces named the "Lords of Darkness," particularly Azhrarn, the Lord of Evil, who has a BlueAndOrangeMorality, and is probably as old as the Gods themselves. Much of the series is devoted to showing how he manipulates humanity for his own pleasure, but is still (arguably) a friendlier force to humanity than the Gods. In the first book, after inadvertently beginning a chain of events leading to the Apocalypse, he enters Heaven to ask the Gods to do something, which they point-blank refuse, after which he proceeds to save the world himself.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' and ''Series/{{Angel}}'' are notorious examples. The planet is filled with multitudes of incredibly dangerous demons (to the point where a [[OurVampiresAreDifferent superpowered demonic virus in human form]] is considered mundane), rampant evil deeds and potential apocalypses are common, hell dimensions have frequent recruiting and even their deities are known to take a stroll on Earth with impunity, yet representatives of The Side of Good are almost nowhere to be seen. The best the PowersThatBe do is send infrequent, frustratingly vague visions to a single person and even the Slayer [[spoiler:was eventually revealed as an entirely human invention that used demonic powers]]. Angel and his crew even lampshade this, outright calling the Powers That Be such names as "The Powers That Screw You" and "The Powers That Sit on Their Behinds."
** And as noted in the trope description, the one divine being who decided to come and try to fix the world for humanity (Jasmine) did so by very... questionable means. She's not really one of the Powers That Be, [[TheOldGods claiming to pre-date them]]. She's a being of Order that could have brought unity and peace to the world, at the expense of free-will and individuality.
* This seems to be the case as of Season 4 of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'', according to [[spoiler:Castiel, the resident angel]].
** As it turns out [[spoiler: God was there the whole time in the form of Chuck. The reason he didn't directly interfere more than once was because he wanted the "story" to be interesting, and a DeusExMachina is not the greatest storytelling technique out there.]]
* This also appears to be the role of the Time Lords on ''Series/DoctorWho''. They see the Doctor as something of a rebel because he interferes in history to save people. (It's eventually explained that they've learned the hard way that they're not perfect and that [[NiceJobBreakingItHero trying to help out can make things much worse]]: an excuse that's not available to God.)
* While not gods exactly, the Ancients of ''Series/StargateSG1'' and ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' are a good example, as they have AscendedToAHigherPlaneOfExistence. Their belief in free will, coupled with their higher understanding of the universe making earth's troubles seem insignificant results in them enforcing a law of non interference, even if the fate of an entire galaxy is at stake. Notably, not all Ancients feel this way, such as Oma Desala, Merlin and Morgan Le Fay, but most of those who want to help are kept in check by the rest.
** They do earn credit for (passively) holding the Ori [[note]]another group of super-powered ascended beings with the exact opposite opinion, i.e. "We are powerful, worship us or die!"[[/note]] in check, having kept them from finding out about the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. We just never actually see that.
* On ''Series/BabylonFive'', while the Shadows are quite active the Vorlons seem more interested in being mysterious. Then again in the end the Vorlons turn out to not exactly be good.
** And then there was Lorien, who basically sat for a million odd years at the bottom of a pit, twiddling his non-corporeal thumbs....
* In ''Series/{{Bibleman}}'' they show the villains doing things like actually having a cell phone conversation with "The Master" and repeatedly coming back from the dead, but there appears to be only one time God steps in to help his champion (the Rage movie).
* In the original ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|1978}}'', the "angels" on the Ship of Light explain why they don't stop Count Iblis, a renegade member of their order. "Because we cannot interfere with freedom of choice. Yours, his, anybody's." However, they did tend to abduct several Galactica viper pilots for whatever reason. They also later recruited Apollo to save an Earthlike world from destroying itself. So, obviously, they're not above using agents to interfere since the agents would have to be acting out of their own choice. And with Ibis, they prevent him from using his powers on anyone who rejects him. He can only use his powers for people who freely accept him. If they refuse he is not allowed to kill them or anything else.
* In the ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' episode "The Well", Coulson complains about the lack of the Norse god of "cleaning up after yourself" when dealing with the aftermath of ''Film/ThorTheDarkWorld'''s climax.
* in the ''[[Series/Lucifer2016 Lucifer]]'' TV series Lucifer Morningstar, former King of hell turned Hollywood nightclub owner and part-time "Handsome Devil Cop" sidekick to a female homicide detective, gets to play around and do whatever he likes. But sometimes he sulks because "Dad" is not talking to him or doing much of anything except sending an angel to try to get him to go back to hell. [[spoiler:Until the last episode of the first series.]]
* In the ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' episode "Sacrifice of Angels," Sisko calls out the Prophets for pretending they can't get involved in the Dominion War (after cheerfully interfering in other matters):
-->'''Prophet:''' Corporeal matters do not concern us.
-->'''Sisko:''' The hell they don't. What about Bajor? You can't tell me that Bajor doesn't concern you. You've sent the Bajorans orbs and Emissaries -- you've encouraged them to create an entire religion around you. You even told me once that you were "of Bajor!" So don't tell me you're not "concerned" with corporeal matters. I don't want to see Bajor destroyed and neither do you. And we all know that's exactly what's going to happen if the Dominion takes over the Alpha Quadrant. You say you don't want me to sacrifice my life -- fine, neither do I. You want to be gods -- then be gods. I need a miracle. ''Bajor'' needs a miracle. '''''Stop those ships!'''''

* ''Music/KnightsOfCydonia'' by Music/{{Muse}}: "I'll show you a god who falls asleep on the job."
* ''God Was Never On Your Side'' by Music/{{Motorhead}}: "If God is wise, why is he still, When these false prophets, call him friend, Why is he silent, is he blind!? Are we abandoned in the end?"

* In the apostle Peter's second epistle from ''Literature/TheBible'', he refutes the idea that God is slow in bringing His coming judgment upon the world by saying that instead of being slow as some would count slowness, He is being patient, desiring for none to perish and for all to come to repentance.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' averts, subverts and plays this trope straight. Creation and Heaven are populated by numerous, constantly busy deities of varied levels of power, all of which are interested in both protecting their portfolio and defending their worshipers, which is part of their jobs. However, they are constrained by the rules of the Heavenly Bureaucracy as well as the agendas and actions of other deities. And then you have the Incarnae, the Lords of Heaven and the Mightiest of Deities, who are so engrossed with the Games of Divinity they can no longer be bothered to do anything else, leaving their most basic tasks to their own avatars.
** Of course, among the multitudes of gods (both Celestial and Terrestrial), there are quite a few who really ''are'' just lazy (or terribly corrupt). Quite a few gods are more active in messing around with Creation than the actual demons are.
** The {{Sourcebook}} ''Glories of the Most High'' goes into detail on the character and motives of the Incarnae, including sections detailing how they continue to deal with their duties and their responses to prayer.
* The Chaos Gods of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' versus any other possible deity in the setting.
** It seems like the 'good' gods are just more subtle; even characters in the setting have noted that ridiculously powerful heroes are always born at exactly the right time to be around to barely beat Chaos again. The Chaos Gods are supposedly at the brink of winning, but they have been for THOUSANDS of years. They aren't exactly shirking, either.
** The black library book ''Liber Chaotica'' gives a fairly reasonable explanation for why the regular Gods and Goddeses are so less apparent than those of Chaos; unlike the Chaos gods who tend to favor individuals and have the obvious advantage of control of the chaos gates at the poles, the other Gods have countered this by dispensing their favor upon their followers as a gestalt whole. Therefore while Chaos has singular champions who can slaughter hundreds, the forces of Sigmar, Ulric the Lady etc give out favor in smaller amounts to all those who fight for them, thus giving the armies of the Old World the courage and strength to hold back the hordes of the North. Singular champions appear vary rarely, i.e. Valten, but when they do they're %*!& powerful.
** 40k invented concept of the Great Game, essentially eternal struggle within the Warp between the Chaos Gods themselves. It is treated as being more important than anything happening in the material universe meaning that all powerful gods and their servants don't really have much reason to extort much pressure on crumbling Imperium. When they do put their act together, galaxy-wide disasters like Horus Heresy or Fall of Eldar tend to happen.
* In ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'', the Wyld has done little or nothing to counter the destructive actions of the Weaver and the Wyrm. The narrator of the Corax tribebook snarks that the Wyld was off "picking his toes" when the Weaver imprisoned the Wyrm in her web. However, some source material suggests that the Wyld has insufficient sentience to act, unlike the Weaver and the Wyrm.
* A non-divine parallel is found in ''TabletopGame/WraithTheOblivion'': after death, the negative and self-destructive parts of the wraith's psyche is separated (though this does not affect the rest of the wraith's personality in any appreciable way) and becomes the Shadow, an EnemyWithin trying to push the character into oblivion. The counterpart to the Shadow is the Eidolon, representing a higher ideal... except it never does anything active beyond providing bonus dice to survive Harrowings, and isn't even available unless you spend background points to buy one in the first place.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' plays with this depending on setting. In the original TabletopGame/{{Greyhawk}} setting, the gods were bound by a mutual non-aggression pact, as the last time they got active in the world and fought among themselves, nearly everything was destroyed. As a result, any time a god takes direct action in the world, they're granting a major enemy permission to do exactly the same - and most often what happens is a more powerful god on the other side intervenes to put a stop to the first god. Other settings have since assumed similar justifications or made up their own:
** The TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms has an overgod who forces the other gods to stay hands-off on the world, preventing mass destruction from constant divine meddling.
** In TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}, gods on the Outer Planes are masters of reality in their home realms, but lose a lot of power outside of their realms or planes and even more when they step into another god's realm. Even for gods, going where you're not wanted is almost asking to get slapped around. Instead, gods employ proxies, previously-mortal servants imbued with a spark of divine power who act as their representatives. As well, the city of Sigil is barred to all gods by the mysterious Lady of Pain. This once was not the case, but then she killed the only god permitted in the city after one of her servants began to worship him.
** In TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}, the gods of the Sovereign Host and the Dark Six may not even exist. Clerics gain spells from devotion to the gods, but then again clerics can gain spells from devotion to an impersonal principle such as Justice. The other faiths aren't really focused around gods, but are cults to impersonal forces and powerful non-divine beings, such as dragons or undead ancestors; or are more philosophies about bringing change to the world. Not even angels nor fiends can honestly claim to have met the gods.
** On TabletopGame/{{Mystara}}, the Immortals have agreed to a limited non-intervention pact so as not to inadvertantly wreck a world that many of them come from and that keeps providing new candidates in the form competent adventurers questing to earn Immortal status themselves on a somewhat regular basis. Showing up in an effectively mortal cover identity is a-ok, going down in one's full Immortal glory to whomp on somebody is not -- and there's a watch with members drawn from all factions in place to ensure any such unsubtle intervention is quickly noticed.
* In ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'', two factions of {{Atlant|is}}ean mages got to AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence before their efforts broke reality: the Exarchs, who promptly started trying to enact DespotismJustifiesTheMeans on a cosmic scale, and the Oracles, who erected the Supernal Watchtowers that allow later generations to Awaken to magic. Since then, the Exarchs bend the treaty that binds cosmic-level entities as {{All Powerful Bystander}}s whenever they can, while the Oracles have vanished entirely. Whether they're playing a very subtle game InMysteriousWays or are actually inactive is unknown.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Videogame/GrimFandango: The only rule that the Powers That Be actually enforce is "you can't buy your way into heaven." The people who try that get what's coming to them, but you don't get any sympathy if your ticket is stolen.
* Philemon, from ''VideoGame/{{Persona}}'' series, is the ultimate mass of all positive and benevolent emotions and acts in humanity. He's locked in an eternal war with Nyarlathotep, his EvilCounterpart, who's born of all evil acts and thoughts of humanity. Likes to empower kids and send them to do the job.
** Philemon and Nyarlathotep [[BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil have rules limiting their power use, to keep one or the other from kicking over the table in a full-power ambush]]. Nyarlathotep invests his allotment in a single agent, who uses the power as a crutch and barely develops it further. Philemon [[FridgeBrilliance built a cosmic vending machine to give a little power to any who ask]], then offers incentives to [[LevelGrinding grow that power on their own]], [[GoodIsNotDumb multiplying his investment]] with ThePowerOfFriendship. No one death can ruin his plans, barring [[VideoGame/{{Persona 3}} exceptional]] [[VideoGame/{{Persona 4}} circumstances]]. The one time Philemon does act directly at the end of ''[[VideoGame/{{Persona 2}} Innocent Sin]]'', he's so drained afterward that he's ''still'' recovering as of ''VideoGame/{{Persona 5}}'', set seemingly decades later.
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 5}}'': While the GreaterScopeVillain creator of the Palace seems to be spreading access to his EldritchLocation to multiple individuals and filling an entire underground labyrinth with monsters, the BigGood Igor just sits in his room and fuses new {{Guardian Entit|y}}ies for you. [[spoiler:Subverted when it turns out: a) the Greater Scope Villain has been impersonating Igor, explaining his general disinterest. b) The real Igor created MrExposition Morgana to help you, and his assistant Lavenza has been appearing to you as a ButterflyOfDeathAndRebirth throughout the game.]]
* The latter case was used in ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}} II'', where Archangel Tyrael is considered somewhat of a rogue by the rest of the CouncilOfAngels for meddling in mortal matters an unseemly amount of the time, including once engaging both Diablo and Baal by himself.
** However, given how the whole long history of the soulstones tends towards NiceJobBreakingItHero, the other angels may have a point.
** We also have Trag'oul, the closest thing to a god that's been introduced in the franchise. In the Sin War trilogy, a series of prequel novels, Trag'oul limits his involvement because he doesn't want the angels and demons to learn of his existence. By the time he decides that the situation has deteriorated enough for him to step in, he's forbidden from doing so by other entities apparently similar to him.
** The tendency continued in VideoGame/DiabloIII - the divine Angiris Council refuse to get involved in the war between human and demons at all until [[spoiler: the heavens themselves are invaded by Diablo]]. Once again, only Tyrael, the Archangel of Justice, is interested in lending a hand - and he is [[spoiler: put on trial for 'breaking the rules' and chooses to discard his immortality and become human]] rather than be forced to sit on his hands like the rest of the angels. And while there's quite a bit of NiceJobBreakingItHero involved in the ending, one cannot help but imagine that things would've never gone that far if the angels had been willing to lend a hand instead of forcing the humans to adopt untested and risky methods of demon-slaying in a desperate bid for survival...
*** The third game also reveals that humans are the offspring of angels and demons. Many angels, Imperius among them, would prefer humanity to cease to exist entirely because of the role of demons in their creation and the propensity many humans have toward evil, which definitely explains why the angels don't help humans. In addition, there was a pact between the forces of Heaven and hell not to interfere in Sanctuary following the Sin War, which the demons broke. Tyrael was forbidden to act directly because it would draw the Council's attention to the demons' activities there and endanger humanity.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** Throughout the series and in the {{backstory}}, the influence of the Daedric Princes (who are, very loosely, demonic deities who are not always "evil" as we understand it) is usually much more apparent than that of the Nine Divines (or Aedra, who are, again very loosely, angelic deities). Due to their sacrifices during creation, the Aedra have been left significantly weakened and no longer possess CompleteImmortality. While they are still recognized and often worshiped throughout Tamriel, many, especially Daedra worshipers, consider them either [[GodIsInept inept]], lazy, [[HaveYouSeenMyGod nonexistent]], or some combination thereof. The Aedra prefer [[InMysteriousWays a lighter touch]] when influencing mortal affairs, at most [[MissionFromGod acting through mortal agents]]. The rare instances in which they have [[DivineIntervention intervened directly]] have typically been [[GodzillaThreshold as the last resort]] to stave off TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt. Even with their immortality in-tact, the Daedra prefer working through mortal agents as well, though for a different reason - metaphysical barriers prevent them from setting foot on Mundus at full power unless they've been specially ritually summoned, they take a [[GodInHumanForm much-weaker mortal avatar form]], or some other special specific circumstance.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'', The Tribunal, a trio of Dunmeri {{Physical God}}s who gained their power by tapping into the still-beating [[CosmicKeystone Heart of Lorkhan]], the [[GodIsDead "dead" creator god of the mortal world]], initially averted it. For their first several millennia of reign, they, particularly Vivec and Almalexia, regularly lived and worked among their people, offering guidance and protection while performing miracles. However, a re-awakened [[BigBad Dagoth Ur]] (a former ally of theirs who gained divine powers in the same fashion) ambushed them on one of their annual pilgrimages to the Heart to recharge their divinity. He stole two of the tools necessary to tap into the Heart, cutting the Tribunal off from the source of their divine power. Channeling what was left of their waning divine power into the [[TheGreatWall Ghostfence]], which ([[LeakingCanOfEvil mostly]]) sealed Dagoth Ur's influence within Red Mountain, forced the Tribunal to withdraw almost completely from the affairs of mortals, playing this straight. (To give an idea how much their power had waned: Originally the Ghostfence was a complete dome over the Red Mountain. By the time of the game, it's a twenty-foot fence. This is despite the fact that the Ghostfence has gone from being strengthened by just a few honoured Dunmer dead (Dunmer have a connection to their ancestors -- it's why it's the ''Ghost''fence and not the Godfence) to almost ''all'' dead going to keeping the Ghostfence up.)
** This is [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' with two god-hating {{NPC}}s: Else God-Hater, a Nord in Skingrad who declares that 'The gods don't do a %*!& thing. Do they even exist? How could anyone tell? Daedra Lords, sure. They exist. They do things. Bad things, mostly, but things you can see.', and Ulene Hlervu, a Dunmer in Cheydinhal who asks you 'You worship the Nine Divines, perhaps? Have they ever helped or harmed you? Of course not. Now, worship a Daedra Lord, and you get effects... bad ones, of course, but clear and measurable effects.' The Nine Divines get their own back in the ''Knights of the Nine'' expansion, though. In the end quest, [[spoiler:you die fighting the BigBad and the gods are good enough to [[BackFromTheDead resurrect you]].]] A friendly NPC declares this 'undeniable proof of the strength and the might of the gods we serve!'
** In ''[[Videogame/TheElderscrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'', Akatosh (and possibly Talos) do take steps to protect Nirn, by arranging for [[TheChosenOne the Dragonborn]] to arrive in Skyrim at the same time as Alduin returns to the world.
* In ''MortalKombat'', while the Elder Gods give each realm a "protector god" to watch over their charges and defend them against supernatural threats, in reality they're powerless to do their job; most of the threats that the protector gods are ''supposed'' to help defend against are from out of realm eager to conquer the little piece of reality they're supposed to be watching over, and they have no jurisdiction - or powers - once that happens. Plus, the Elder Gods are more likely to yank the gods from the front lines than to, y'know, let them do their jobs, thanks to their overdeveloped ObstructiveCodeOfConduct of non-interference. The most any god can do, without outright rebelling, is to train mortal warriors to deal with the oncoming threats, themselves.
** Taken to ridiculous extremes in ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9''. [[spoiler: When Raiden and Liu Kang ask them to stop Shao Kahn's blatant rule breaking and Earthrealm invasion, the Elder Gods refuse to act, since he hasn't ''technically'' broken the rules. The only way to get them to act is for Raiden to ''surrender'' to Shao Kahn; when Kahn nearly kills Raiden anyway, the Elder Gods '''FINALLY''' step in, superpowering the thunder god so he can finish Kahn once and for all.]]
** Goes even further during the main story in ''VideoGame/MortalKombatX''. Shinnok, a former Elder God, acquires an amulet created by the Elder Gods that has the ability to destroy the fabrics of reality itself. The Elder Gods do not stop him and it takes the heroes Johnny Cage and Raiden to stop Shinnok and seal him in the amulet. Later on [[spoiler: Quan Chi manages to release Shinnok at the last minute before being killed by Scorpion. Shinnok proceeds to lay the smackdown on the heroes, go to the Sky Temple, and the infect the life force of Earthrealm with his corrupt power as he bathes in it to gain an incredible amount of power. The entire world is in danger, yet the Elder Gods still stand by and do nothing at all. Shinnok even lampshades how spineless the Elder Gods have become. Shinnok is stopped not by the Elder Gods, but by [[BadassNormal Cassie Cage]]. The inactions of the Elder Gods affect Raiden who, after using his own lifeforce to cleanse Earthrealm's corrupted lifeforce, becomes extremely disillusioned and declares to use his powers to protect Earthrealm any cost.]]
* Thoroughly averted by Palkia in ''Videogame/PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers''. As soon as space begins distorting he attempts to halt it with his powers, and when pointed towards the ones responsible, he seeks them out personally. When it's revealed that he'd been deceived, he once again personally goes after the ''real'' culprit and wrecks him. Dialga also averts it to a lesser degree; using his temporal powers to [[spoiler:revive the player after they're erased by a paradox]], and as [[spoiler:Primal Dialga]] he personally attempts to stop the group from returning to the past. Played straight by [[spoiler:Arceus]] until the end of Grovyle's story though.
* Inverted in ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta}}''. The forces of Paradisio (Heaven) are actually more active than the forces of Inferno, to the point where the only demon-characters we see have to be painstakingly summoned by our heroine. However, the trope's basic spirit -- antagonistic divine forces are everywhere while helpful ones are only rarely seen -- remains: the angels of Paradisio [[LightIsNotGood are the game's main enemies and present a far greater threat to humanity than the demons of the Inferno]]. ([[GodAndSatanAreBothJerks Not that the demons are much better]].)
* In ''VideoGame/GrimGrimoire'', the LegionsOfHell have a unofficial representative in the school's Sorcery teacher, the devil Advocat. The school is also threatened by the return of the mighty devil Grimlet, who intends to conquer the whole kingdom and has the power to do it. The only Heavenly presence in the story is a homunculus created with an angel serving as her core ([[OurSoulsAreDifferent ie: soul]]), and she doesn't even remember being an angel in the first place; she even doubted whether or not she really was an angel. This disparity gets even worse if one considers the possibility that the angel didn't willingly ''consent'' to become the homunculus in the first place -- and there's been been no apparent response or reprisal from Heaven, one way or the other. Last but not least: Should this homunculus commit HeroicSacrifice to defeat Grimlet with the angel within, the angel is never actually seen or heard from -- there's just an impressive devil-roasting lightshow. All traces of the homunculus or angel vanish immediately after the job is done, without so much as a "See ya, later." By contrast, both devils get multiple appearances and speaking parts.
* Taken to its slightly illogical conclusion in ''VideoGame/BlackAndWhite''; good-aligned Gods ''can't'' launch apocalyptic fireballs or armies [[KarmaMeter without becoming evil]]. Even zapping an enemy creature while he's trying to eat your citizens, a clear case of self-defense, is evil, never mind something as aggressive as stopping an evil army preemptively. While evil-aligned Gods can just kill the populace and take over enemy cities, Good ones are supposed to simply make converts and keep the populace of his or her cities in good shape. [[StayInTheKitchen Good apparently stays home and minds the kitchen]].
** Being [[GoodIsNotNice lawful nice]] ''sucks''.
** Good civilizations can become a paradise of eternal summer, which does make everything and everyone super productive. This is amazingly useful, but so mindbogglingly difficult to achieve it's enough to make anyone drop white-hot boulders onto the villages of the unbelievers in near-terminal impatience.
* In ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersia2008'', evil god Ahriman is able to corrupt an entire kingdom despite being imprisoned for most of the game. The good god Ormazd on the other hand is never explicitly shown to do anything, although Elika does believe that Ormazd was responsible for the Prince showing up.
** The Prince [[RageAgainstTheHeavens explicitly calls Ormazd out over this many times over the course of the game.]]
* This trope motivates a NecessarilyEvil villain in ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'', and he is taking steps to rectify it. [[spoiler:Trias the Betrayer believes that the forces of Good allowing the [[ForeverWar Blood War]] to continue without getting involved is slowly tainting the universe and making it more and more evil (and he may very well be right). It inspired him to attempt to [[RageAgainstTheHeavens assault Mount Celestia]] with an army of devils in the hope that the forces of Good would counter-attack and start involving themselves in the war.]]
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVII'': [[spoiler:God decided that after sealing the Demon Lord that humanity and the elemental spirits could fix the sealed world while he just sat backed and watched, even as the Demon Lord came back and pretended to be him. Made even worse by him showing you just how much stronger then the Demon Lord he actually is.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' has Yukari Yakumo, who's not actually a god (she's a {{youkai}} instead), but [[RealityWarper stronger than]] [[OddJobGod most actual gods]] and is the creator of Gensokyo (the pocket dimension that the games take place in), who takes this trope to an artform. Not only does she tend to sleep for twelve hours a day, only awakening at night, but she's also known to sleep through the entirety of winter (her subordinates even say she's "hibernating"). And when she ''is'' awake she much prefers to use the local {{miko}} to do things for her while annoying/flirting with her.
** To explain: as of 2013, there's been seven main-series games since her debut and a large number of spinoffs. She's been actively involved in events twice, acted as support as many times, and made a small handful of appearances to provide advice.
** The actual gods aren't lazy-- [[GodsNeedPrayerBadly they need faith to survive]], and can't afford to laze around.
* ''Franchise/JakAndDaxter'' has the {{Precursors}}, a godlike race purported to be "the most powerful beings in the universe," relying on poor Jak to do ''everything'', including saving their ''entire race from destruction'' [[spoiler: though this is revealed to be a RedHerring by the Precursors to protect themselves, so...]]. And it's very likely, though not outright confirmed, that Jak somehow got his powers from the Precursors, either through being TheChosenOne or [[InTheBlood having his ancestor given powers]].
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Zork}} Beyond Zork]]'' featured the Implementors, obvious {{Author Avatar}}s for the game's creators, who created the world but now spend all their time having lunch on the Ethereal Plane of Atrii.
* ''VideoGame/UnwrittenLegends'': So many times everybody's lost count. The gods won't usually help you unless the bad guys [[BerserkButton destroy their temple]], no matter what's plaguing you, their loyal followers. Don't want to distract from their cosmic game of boggle, I suppose.
* At the start of ''VideoGame/HyperdimensionNeptuniaV'', the four CPU goddesses ([[Creator/{{Sega}} Neptune]], [[UsefulNotes/{{Wii}} Blanc]], [[UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 Noire]], and [[UsefulNotes/XBox360 Vert]]) have slacked off from their work because there is no more threat from any piracy group. Histoire kicks them out to do some work in which, Neptune finds herself [[BadassDecay going from level 99]] [[RestartAtLevelOne back to level one]]. Oh and thanks to them slacking off, someone started a group to ''actually kick the gods out'' and become independent from their rule (which is one of the main plots of the game).
* Inverted in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2'' where Etro causes problems by being too ''active''. [[spoiler: Saving the heroes from their crystalized fate and reuniting them with their loved ones at the end of the last game distorts the 'true' timeline which directly leads to the death of Yeul. She is a seeress whose visions shorten her life span and the distortions in time increase the frequency of her visioons which leads to a premature death. This motivates Cauis to become the game's BigBad. The power to see visions was given to her by Etro to better govern her city. The only thing she did that did NOT backfire was choose Lightning to be her [[TheChampion champion]].]]
* In ''Franchise/DragonAge'', all of the gods are either absent, never existed in the first place, were never really gods, or dead. The Maker is the most mysterious one of them all. It's never made clear if he has abandoned Thedas, is just lazy, or just never existed at all. This does not stop people praying to him in the DarkestHour. There are hints that the timely coincidences that help save the day are The Maker's work, but nothing is ever confirmed. Solas of ''Videogame/DragonAgeInquisition'' claims that this is a positive trait, since no true god needs to prove its power to anyone. "Gods" that do flaunt their power inevitably are nothing but trouble. Since the creators of the franchise have stated that The Maker represents "faith", we will likely never get a clear answer. [[spoiler: Solas turns out to actually be a god himself; although he insists he's not one his actual power level is so far above anyone else active in the setting the difference is fairly academic.]]
* ''VideoGame/ZeusMasterOfOlympus'': Gods will only help if you build a sanctuary to them, and evene then their involvement is limited to (sometimes) showing up when a rival god or army invades and fighting them. The only god who will fight against monsters is Apollo.

* ''WebComic/ExterminatusNow'' features both light and dark gods. While the Dark Gods seem to treat their followers with [[BadBoss suspicion, contempt and outright mocking]], the light gods are more apathetic, even to the Mobian Inquisition that serves them. At one point, an angel comes down to tell the main characters that the gods are having a disagreement that is "beyond (their) reckoning," which turns out to be [[LostHimInACardGame a poker bet gone wrong]].
* [[Webcomic/AxeCop Ethan Nicolle]] drew a webcomic featuring Jesus and Ernest Hemingway fighting ThoseWackyNazis, using this trope as a jumping-off point. God is ultimately benevolent, but he only swings by this particular universe every once in a while, and only watches what's going on like a big cosmic game of The Sims while he's here. Jesus, on the other hand, is here watching ''all the time'', and thinks something oughta be done; so, choosing World War II as the highest concentration of evil, he incarnates in time to blow shnike up.
* This is evidently the case with the Dream Oracle of ''Webcomic/CucumberQuest''. That and incompetence.
* The whole plot of ''{{Webcomic/Misfile}}'' came about because an angel was slacking off at his desk and left some files strewn around when his boss kicked him out, causing a GenderBender for one character and a CosmicRetcon for another. [[HaveYouSeenMyGod Nobody has any idea what God himself is up to, if anything.]]
* Played with in [[http://partiallyclips.com/comic/canoe-in-storm/ this]] ''Partially Clips'' strip, depicting the gods as [[OddJobGods taking on so many different jurisdictions]] that requests for aid tend to fall between the cracks.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Near the end of the third season of ''Film/PressStart Adventures'', Count Vile, who had defeated Satan in combat and taken the reigns of hell, is told by God to pick up his slack with punishing the eternally damned or else the BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil will be off and reality will fall apart. [[spoiler:Vile fails to do so, but before everything is wiped out, Vile realizes through God's actions that God is just as lazy and irritable as he is. He then convinces God that he can be lazier and restore the balance by not rewarding the people in Heaven, pointing out that it evens out if there are no punishments or rewards. God agrees and reality is restored.]]
* In the Literature/WhateleyUniverse, one of the main characters has been to what seemed like hell, and was confronted by a being who claimed to be {{Satan}}. He tells the character while he's torturing her that God does exist, and that he and God play by these rules to keep ''things worse than Satan'' from invading our reality. He could have been lying about being Satan, or about the arrangement, or about pretty much anything... except that he ''does'' give her information that stops something [[EldritchAbomination horrific]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': Bender meets a godlike being (who may be the actual God). God explains that if you do too much, people [[HoldingOutForAHero become dependent on you]], and if you do too little, they lose faith. However, if you do your job right, [[InMysteriousWays then nobody will be sure whether you've done anything at all]].
* ''WesternAnimation/GodTheDevilAndBob'': It's a HumanityOnTrial show, but God and Satan are mostly kicking around with Bob at his place, waiting for him to vindicate or doom humanity.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "Mysterion Rises", God and Jesus don't seem to care that Cartman and the evil god Cthulhu are taking over the world.
* At the end of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' episode The Painted Lady, the actual Painted Lady thanks Katara for protecting her people. At least it proves Katara did nothing wrong pretending to be a spirit to help people. But when her people needed help, the spirit… waited for an human who would do her job?