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This is a character who is godlike, yet dislikes the comparison and firmly identifies themself as a mortal. They may be a godlike Flying Brick a la Superman, a Reality Warper like Doctor Manhattan, a Physical God like Tom Bombadil, or someone who somehow got the powers and duties of an actual god. The crux of their rationale is usually that they are still mortal, human, and terrestrial in enough ways that they don't want to make the claim. Maybe they still think in mortal terms about time and morality, and aren't a Time Abyss or Above Good and Evil. Maybe they don't want the responsibility all that power entails. Then again, it may just be the thought of being actively worshipped that's squicky to them.
Where this gets interesting is when a character who fits all the criteria for a god (and may even be one in the setting's cosmology) still chooses not to think of themselves that way because it would drive them mad. With all that power Samaritan Syndrome could make them take responsibility for EVERY bad thing that happens. On the other end, power corrupts, and the Pride in claiming godhood might make them evil. Then again, they could develop a Blue and Orange Morality from the sheer alien experience of it and grow divorced from their mortal roots, which they adamantly oppose.
Generally, this character is someone who can be trusted not to let omnipotence go to their head, and may even actively seek to get Depowered or pass on the mantle because it's too much of a hassle. Usually this character was at one point a mortal who got Super Empowered into the job, though an actual god may take this position out of disdain for their peers'Jerkass God behavior.
A heckuva lot of Mary Sue characters fit this bill. See also Humble Hero. See also Unwanted False Faith, when a regular Joe becomes the target of religious adoration and is firmly opposed to it. Not quite the Opposite Trope of A God Am I; the latter only requires a god complex and not genuine god-like powers.
Compare Stop Worshipping Me, which is specifically about anyone who discourages being worshipped for any of a number of reasons.
Not to be confused with The Anti-God.
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Anime And Manga
Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena is the Rose Bride: the immortal or possibly undying holder of the all powerful Sword of Dios. She just wants to be a normal girl and is generally depressed about being the Rose Bride. In truth, her pain runs far deeper than that. And it's up to Utena to actually help her get free... and ultimately succeeds.
Inverted by her power-mad and also immortal or possibly undying brother Akio, who wants the power of Dios for himself after he fell in despair and selfishness, abandoned the people whom he used to protect, and became the Big Bad and the person behind poor Anthy's painful, cruel situation.
Medaka from Medaka Box. Numerous characters including her siblings remark on her being the pinnacle of perfection. Yet she sees herself as just another flawed being (which admittedly is true) though this may be through a desire to convince herself of that rather than anyone else.
Zig-zagged in Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack. On the one hand, people often refer to Black Jack as 'the surgeon with the hands of God'; but on the other many of this series' stories revolve around how doctors can't fix everything, and that even the most brilliant surgeon in the world can occasionally lose patients to arbitrary causes.
Yurie from Kamichu! is completely unassuming and seems vaguely uncomfortable about the obligations of her new divine status.
The Lyrical Nanoha franchise has the clone of the last Sankt Kaiser, Vivio Takamachi, who is quite insistent about being a normal little girl despite her origins (or at least, as normal as a girl in a setting where Everyone Is a Super could be). For their part, the Saint Church officially treats her as the descendant of their Christ figure and not the Christ figure herself, though there are those who don't see it that way.
Downplayed in Angel Beats!. Tenshi/Angel says she's not an angel. It's true, Kanade Tachibana is a human just like protagonists.
In Dragon Ball, during his time as a Super Saiyan God, Goku admits to Bills that he is dissatisfied with godhood. However, this may be more his disappointment at being unable to reach godhood by himself rather than disliking the prospect of it.
Downplayed in Rosario + Vampire. Tsukune Aono has been beaten to a pulp multiple times, injected with enough vampire blood to make Alucard cry, chained with a holy lock post-ghouldom, stabbed in the vitals three times, trained by Inner Moka until even Koko admits his kata is getting good, partially vampirized, infused with Instant Runes, and sent to attack Fairy Tale. Physical feats include shielding his friends from monstrel appendicies of various sizes (ranging from elastic human to draconian), holding back an Inner-Moka doppelganger with his bare hands, grabbing a phoenix by the beak, and ording a yoko "Out of my way, Kuyo. Or I'll slay you where you stand." And yet he refuses to call himself a vampire. He is human, and he will always acknowledge himself as human.
During the final battle of Soul Eater, Asura (who considers humans weak insignificant scums) comments on Black☆Star's incredible strength, saying he could well be considered a 'warrior god'. Black☆Star however refuses the god title, saying that he is a human that surpasses gods. Kid comes to this conclusion and sides with humanity out of a desire to compromise with mortals rather than rule over/terrorise/otherwise abuse them as several of his fellowshaddone.
In Haruhi Suzumiya, Haruhi herself is theorized to be God and the creator of the universe by at least one of the espers she empowered. That's not the trope (she's completely unaware of her powers), that's the context. This trope comes up when another esper thinks a completely different person (Kyon's old friend Sasaki) is God. Unlike Haruhi, this person is perfectly aware of how others see her, but doesn't see herself as particularly divine. She's very easy-going though, so she doesn't really make a fuss about it one way or another.
The Marvel 1602 counterpart of Thor is quite adamant about not being a god, because his human form, Donal, is the Grand Master of the Knights Templar.
Superman has been the recipient of worship, and even the odd church or two set up in his name. He's been described as an angel on a number of occasions. This makes him very uncomfortable, though his discouragement has often times only increased the faith of his followers.
Green Lantern Kyle Rayner dealt with this when he absorbed the power of the Green Lantern Corps and his dead girlfriend Jade. He decided to return the power to a new power battery and restart the corps rather than be all powerful.
During The Clone Saga, in one encounter with Judas Traveler, Spider-Man goes postal on him and shouts that he's "not God"; Traveler quickly responds by saying that he is not. As Spider-Man eventually learns, Traveler doesn't have godlike powers, or even come close; he simply has the power to alter people's perceptions so that they believe he does.
Galactus doesn't seem to consider himself a god, despite his ego. He even told Sphinx in no uncertain terms that he isn't a god and criticized the mortal belief that power makes you one.
"Sphinx! You share the folly of all your lowly species. You believe that power itself makes one a God! But even Galactus, to whom all is possible, even Galactus whose every passing whim becomes reality — even Galactus is no God."
In one X-Men annual, Wolverine acquires godlike power by touching the Macguffin of the story. Though he spends a moment Drunk with Power, he quickly comes to the realization that he has no right to use that power on anyone, even with the "noblest" of motives/justifications, and gives it up by destroying the item. (See the quotes page.)
Link feels this way after reclaiming his godhood in The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13, preferring to retain his mortal mindset (and family). He hates the flippancy of the other gods, especially his three aunts, and refuses to behave the way they do.
Much later in the story he finally embraces the orderly, precise mindset of a god - but makes it clear that he can go back and forth between the two at will.
In the Nobody Dies side story Six AI's, One Continent, the Reego (or at the very least Una) are not entirely pleased with the humans they've been rescuing and looking after forming a cult and worshipping them. Except for Tres, who milks this for all its worth with a race of sapient arachnids who mistook her for a god.
Pops up near the end of The Immortal Game: Twilight taps into the full power of the Elements of Harmony during the Battle of Canterlot, and acknowledges to herself that she's become a Physical God... and she's horrified by the concept, stating that nopony should have that much power.
In Savage Skies, The Cult Solar worships Celestia as a god. Celestia isn't very happy about it, especially since they demonize Luna at the same time.
The Wanderer Of The North: When Evergreen told Nikóleva of her and the Gods' alike appearances, Nikóleva insisted that she isn't.
In fact, earlier on from the previous chapter, Celestia (who used to be Nikoleva) felt that the fact that ponies see and worship her as any form of deity is blasphemous for her.
In the Triptych Continuum, the Alicorn Princesses know that they aren't gods and try (and fail) to convince other ponies of the same. Every time ponies pray to them, it's like a punch in the gut. Heartbreakingly demonstrated in "Blessing".
In Thor: The Dark World, Loki declares that he deserved to rule the humans as he is a god. Odin declares that while the Asgardians are powerful, they are not gods.
Odin: We are born, we live, and we die, just as humans do.
In the 2005 Hercules movie, Hercules was very arrogant as a child when he was told he was Zeus' son. As an adult, he has become mature enough to be a humble hero, and tells his enemy, "We are not gods, Antaeus, only men. Only really strong men!"
The Eschaton, from Charles Stross's The Eschaton Series, is an AI that is distinctly god-like, but is definitely not a god. It even says that it is not god. (It would probably help if it didn't choose to say this by engraving "I am not your God" in big letters on a series of giant monuments that magically appeared on planets throughout the galaxy, though).
Lightsong from Warbreaker is a Returned, a person who died and got raised from the dead by some unknown force, the Returned are worshiped as gods by people in the country of Hallandren, where the story takes place, but Lightsong doesn't see things that way. (Until the end of the story, at least, when he discovers the truth about himself.)
And on the third hand, it is explained in the same passage that you "worship" Harmony by doing good deeds and improving the world, and traditional worship is banned in part because it is a waste of time that could be better spent.
Borderline example in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, where Percy is offered godhood as thanks for saving Olympus from the Titans, but turns it down, instead asking that the Gods recognise all of their Half-Blood children.
Ardneh denied being a god at the end of the Empire of the East trilogy by Fred Saberhagen, and instructed Rolf that humanity must cease to worship limited beings. It didn't really help, because thousands of years later, at the time of the Books Of Swords series, he was still being worshiped, despite having been dead for thousands of years.
Arthur Penhaligon from Keys to the Kingdom keeps insisting he's not planning on acting as the Heir to the Architect (that 'verse's God) but no one believes him, and he keeps having to conquer more and more of The House in self-defense.
Eventually after the Keys' magic contamination continues to grow, his Denizen side urges him to act as superior as he is (he is the Heir) over people. He does his best to reign it in as best he can, with mixed success, getting worse as time goes on. Finally at the end of book 7, when he actually becomes the new god, he is both acknowledging his godhood and not due to his creating a new Old One, who is himself as mortal (or so he wants himself to believe), but without asthma.
Invoked several times with angels in The Bible—humans tend to jump to conclusions pretty quickly when they see shining transcendent beings materialize in front of them, and loyal angels are quick to correct their misconceptions that there is only one God, and they are not it.
Death from Discworld is arguably the closest thing the Disc has to a benevolent deity, but he has never sought worship or believed himself to be above mortals. In Reaper Man, his superiors sack him and force him to live as a mortal because they believe he is growing too close to mortals. Death eventually grows to like living as "Bill Door." He ultimately fights to reclaim his title when he sees that his replacement New Death does believe that he is a god that rules over mortals and wears a crown. Death argues that he needs to feel compassion for mortals because:
What can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man?
Lord of Light has characters with godlike powers, styling themselves as the Hindu gods. The main character prefers to drop this pretense, live a mortal life and call himself Sam (despite the efforts of the locals to name him the Buddha).
Live Action TV
The Ancients from Stargate SG-1 do this. Making them a direct contrast to just about every sufficiently advanced race (except the Nox, who are more like Space Elves). Due to their use of the stargate, the inhabitants of current and former Goa'uld planets frequently think the SG units that visit are godsnote Think about it: whoelse uses the stargates?, and with one known exception ("The First Commandment") the SG unit immediately tries to disabuse them of that notion.
Played with in various ways in Doctor Who in regards to the Doctor:
His personal powers are nowhere near the level normally required for this trope, but many times he has used his TV Genius nature to come up with Technobabble-laden plans to topple empires, rewrite history or defeat entities that do have that level of power, and consequently he gets called a god by various characters. His attitude towards being thought of in this way varies depending on the situation; several times he's made some sort of Badass Boast to remind the Monster of the Week who he is and why they should be very afraid, but by the Eleventh Doctor era has come back to bite him, as his enemies are so terrified that they keep going further past the Moral Event Horizon to try and gain an advantage, and he's realised that it would be better if he made himself less conspicuous.
Despite this attempt to keep himself in check, even on his best days he's an Attention Whore who enjoys showing off how awesome he is to both his friends and random people he meets on his adventures, and even though he genuinely loves and cares for his mortal companions, in one heartbreaking scene in "The God Complex," he admits to himself and his long-time companion the real reason he brings them with him: "I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored," fully aware that he would probably end up "lead[ing] you by the hand to your death" because "this always happens."
The mysterious (and unseen) boss of the "Angels" from Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) is apparently very serious about not liking it when someone refers to him/her/it as "God." And that is the only definite thing revealed to the audience about this being who has probably been guiding humanity's destiny for millions of years and a half-dozen near extinctions of the entire species.
In the Smallville, Clark Kent adamantly tells Chloe that he cannot alter time when he chooses, as he's not a god and doesn't have the right to mess with other people's lives and/or fate. This occurred in 9x01 "Savior" when she asked him to use the Legion ring to save Jimmy from Davis killing him.
In the Star Trek: TNG episode "Who Watches the Watchers" because of a misunderstanding the Captain is mistaken for a god called "the Picard" by primitive aliens. Their worshipful behavior deeply disturbs him and he goes to great lengths to correct it, up to and including a direct violation of the Prime Directive (which in this case has already been violated by the accidental exposure) by bringing the aliens' local leader up to the Enterprise for a guided tour. He makes a valiant attempt to explain that humans are more like Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (and far from omnipotent or perfect). It takes the leader to see them try and fail to save the life of an injured crewman to realize this. Later Picard was willing to be shot by an arrow from the one who first believed him to be a god to finally dissuade his belief.
Picard: You must not kneel to me. Nuria: You do not wish it? Picard: I do not deserve it.
Mardon: I didn't think there was anyone else like me. Barry: I'm not like you. You're a murderer.
In Person of Interestthe self-aware Machine, designed to protect everyone and watch for acts of terror holds true to this trope despite the being's incredible power and reach. Just how far the being could go is demonstrated by Samaritain, the Machine's evil counterpart. The counterpart stopped all traffic in New York City, crashed wall street, and several other acts to draw out the Machine to talk, believes itself to be a god to be worshiped.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas perform a miracle in a Greek city, which backfires when the locals conclude that they are incarnations of Zeus and Hermes and prepare to offer sacrifices to them. The apostles protest "Stop Worshipping Me!," but it's a near thing.
Also in Acts, Cornelius meets Peter and bows down at his feet to worship him, but Peter immediately responds, "Stand up; I'm just a man!"
In The Book Of Revelation, the author falls on his knees at the sight of an angelic being, believing him to be God. The angel replies, "Don't do that. I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!" That doesn't stop John from making the same mistake in a later chapter, with the same response, although with a different angelic being.
A common Christian argument for the deity of Jesus is that He didn't respond this way when people worshiped Him. Since it would be sinful for anyone but God to accept worship, Jesus can be considered a holy man only if He is God in Human Form. Similarly, this is a common rebuttal to the Non-Christian claims that Christ was a wise teacher but not divine, as he was either divine or crazy enough to think he was.
Rastafarian deity Emperor Haile Selassie I refused to claim himself as a Messianic figure, which Rastas saw as extremely humble and interpreted it as proof of his divinity. Emperor Selassie was himself Orthodox Christian.
More specifically, he tried to construct the Imperium on complete atheism, despite the fact that he knew full well about Chaos. Of course, since Chaos gets stronger withdirectworship he had good reason. There's speculation that he didn't want the temptation of being the object of so much affection, though that didn't turn out to be the case for the Imperium.
Fortunately, it turns out faith—in, say, the God Emperor—is a potent weapon against Chaos. Unfortunately, Chaos also gets stronger with suffering. And since the Imperium is almost institutionally dystopian as well as being at constant war with...everyone, Chaos has still gotten stronger.
The Lady of Pain from Planescape has apparently limitless powers within the city of Sigil in the center of the multiverse and can even keep all the gods from entering it. She never actually interferes with the politics and the administration of the city and only seems to have two (unwritten) rules she enforces: Do not threaten the existence of the city, and do not worship her!!! People who violate these two rules either just disappear from the face of the world forever, or their remains require magic to be identified.
The geth in Mass Effect worship Sovereign as a god, but Sovereign is kind of insulted by the comparison. Possibly subverted, however, considering that he's more disgusted by the Geth themselves, seeing them as nothing more than pawns.
Despite how legends portray her, and despite the fact that she, and the Divine Dragons as a whole have immense powers, Naga, the Divine Dragon King of Fire Emblem insists that she is not a god of any sort. Fire Emblem Awakening takes note of this - despite saying that she is no creator at both those who carry her bloodline and their allies, Lucina in particular protests. It also doesn't stop the fact that she's worshiped as a deity in many regions of the Akaneian (now Ylissean) continent, and on the continent of Valm, her own daughter Tiki is also worshipped and in another world, she does become the new Naga.
Advent Rising: Even though humans are worshiped as gods by some of the alien races (for a darn good reason too), Gideon (MC) always denies it whenever he is called one. However, much later he comes to realization what this image still entails some consequences. Also, one of the surviving humans jokes that he "[is]n't the only demigod around here" when she demonstrates her powers for the first time.
Asura from Asura's Wrath is openly disgusted when humans begin bowing and scraping to him, and is infuriated when he learns that his former comrades are using their "divine" status to harvest souls for Mantra, declaring that there is no need for gods "that only take." But the pinnacle of this attitude comes about when Chakravartin tries to convince him to become an all powerful god. His answer is succinct and pointed: "I refuse."
In Fallout: New Vegas, while he's an Insufferable GeniusEmperor Scientist with the ultimate goal of seizing control of what's left of organized society, Mr. House states he has no interest in declaring himself a god or forcing people to treat him as such, wanting his position because he considers it best for humanity's prosperity and nothing more. This also puts him at odds with Caesar, one of the other faction leaders who cultivates the image of him as a Physical God.
In Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk, in the scene for the true ending, Sage's Hermitage, Ayesha is worshiped as a goddess by adoring townsfolk, but she doesn't like the attention, feeling that she is still just a normal apothecary.
In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superman tells his evil Regime counterpart, "We're not gods! We can't decide who lives and dies!"
Borderlands 2: Lilith may be enamored with her own power as a Siren, but she does not appreciate the murderous cult that worships her, or want to be worshiped at all.
This is Venat's motivation in Final Fantasy XII. She (it?) believes that the Occuria (including herself) have no right to interfere in mortal affairs and so helps the games villains overthrow her former pantheon.
Vivec in Morrowind kind of is a god, but doesn't want to be (he didn't really want to be one to begin with but was talked into it, and by the events of the game he's good and tired of it) and actively conspires with the player to overthrow both himself and the Ax-Crazy Almalexia, who had murdered Sotha Sil, the third member of the divine Tribunal.
Possibly the case with Solas/Fen'Harel in Dragon Age: Inquisition. He's quite adamant that he doesn't consider the Elven Pantheon to be true gods, despite being a member himself. Whether or not he's actually divine is left unclear, but many elves do believe in the Dread Wolf, and legends certainly paint him as something more than mortal.
The Titan revealed to be Colin From Two Keys Says this to the Seraphim while they were trying to convince him to help cure their horrific, albeit self inflicted, disease. It came in the form of a short Badass Boast:
He says this while making the petrified, but still living Seraphim crumble into dust around him. As if to prove his point.
In Homestuck, Doc Scratch states that he has powers and wisdom far surpassing a god, but is not one. He's only the herald, after all.
There seem to be two types of Gods in Homestuck. First Sburb/Sgrub players, previously mortal, who have risen up to the God Tiers (they can be killed only if their death is either righteous or just). Second the "Dark Gods" (aka Horrorterrors), Eldritch Abominations who live in the Furthest Ring, and also can be killed, though how this is accomplished is unknown. Doc Scratch is a First Guardian, which is neither of these, but is nevertheless one of the most powerful beings in the comic. His master, Lord English, is even more powerful than him, and more powerful than Jack Noir as well (who had First Guardian powers plus a bit more); what English is is unknown. He is a cherub named Caliborn, but how Caliborn gained such powers isn't entirely clear at this point in time, as when we've seen him as an adolescent, all he has is the god complex without the powers.
In the Whateley Universe, Tennyo has been missing from the planet Medhas for over five thousand years, and returns discovering she has been worshiped all that time. After passing the God Test, she disabuses them of her divinity and returns home.
After Jeannette's classmates learn of her Reality Warper powers in Funny Business, one of them asks her if she is God. She denies it. Her reasoning is that she is too pathetic and self-loathing to be a deity.
The author agrees with her, even in the context of the story. One of the reasons he wrote it was because he thought that merely being omnipotent, and nothing else, is an insufficient criterion for godhood.
It should be further noted the Avatar is meant to be this trope in all incarnations. The Avatar is meant to know what it means to be human and be compassionate to all people. To do this, the Avatar must know the joys and pains of a human life, to understand how precious it is and so do anything to protect it, including becoming an all powerful entity to do so.
Avatar Yangchen: If you were an all-powerful spirit living on the top of some mountain.... you wouldn't have much in common with an ordinary person.
In The Legend of Korra, we learn about the origin of the Avatar Cycle, and see Raava, the spirit of light and peace, who fused with Wan to become the first Avatar, and she's a major case of Good Is Not Nice, showing significant Fantastic Racism towards humans, only warming up to Wan after they learn they need to work together to stop the Ultimate Evil of the Avatar-verse, Vaatu, who escaped because Raava dismissed Wan. They eventually fuse together during Harmonic Convergence, and work together to defeat Vaatu and turn him into Sealed Evil in a Can. Thus, the idea that the Avatar must know a human life, to prevent such an event from reoccurring.
In the Grand Finale of Generator Rex, Rex gains the full power of the Meta-Nanites as his family always intended and he becomes a Physical God. He only uses that power once to initiate a global Cure event before deciding that he doesn't want godhood and orders the Meta-Nanites to shut down so that no one, including himself, can access such power ever again.
In Transformers Prime, Optimus is the last Prime, The Chosen One of Primus himself. He's still the humble data clerk Orion Pax at heart. In "Alpha, Omega," Megatron claims that he and Optimus have ascended to godhood since they both wield a Star Saber. Optimus retorts that he is merely a soldier, and Megatron is merely delusional.
On King of the Hill,Peggy believes that some Mexicans are praying to her and tells them "Don't worship me, worship my actions!" Of course, she fails to realize they're forming an Angry Mob under the (sort of) false impression that she kidnapped their child.