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Abstract Apotheosis
"You see, hidden within the unconscious is an insatiable desire for conflict. So you're not fighting me, so much as you are the human condition."
Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A character becomes an abstract concept like hope or love, whether literally or in a metaphorical sense.

There are many ways this could happen. For example:

Often overlaps with:

This trope is different from God Job because the ascended character doesn't hold a cosmic office, but becomes a cosmic principle in itself. Sometimes this can mean that the character is no longer sentient by human standards.

This trope is as Old As Mythology itself. Every religion/myth gives some form to a radical concept that cannot be described in simple words. As an example, Satan is often considered the embodiment of hate, despair, etc., after he fell from the heavens. The hate itself transformed him from angel of good into a devil of pure evil.

Quite often invokes "I Am the Noun." Contrast Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, Omnicidal Maniac, and Straw Nihilist. Contrast or compare Pure Is Not Good and Made of Evil, the latter of which can overlap depending on the context.

As this trope can and will involve scenes that happen after a Death trope, beware of spoilers.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Princess Tutu: The eponymous Magical Girl is (presumably) a manifestation of the Prince's feeling of Hope, and Duck herself becomes, at the very least, a symbol of it by the end.
  • The concept of La Persona Superiore a Dio (The Person Higher Than God) in A Certain Magical Index is temporarily achieved by Fiamma of the Right in Volume 22.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the former Trope Namer and gave us the Alternative Title: Becoming Hope. Explanation is a spoiler for all the series: Madoka's wish turns her into a Goddess, and then a witch (a creature that radiates despair) - but she uses her immense power to destroy said witch and lives on as the abstract concept of hope, existing beyond time and space. Her influence allows all the magical girls who have ever existed to fight without despair and die without regret.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (the 2003 anime) has the people who Came Back Wrong from human transmutation as embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos was defeated when he abandoned his body and became/replaced Eternity at the head of the Cosmic Beings... and failed to realize that the Gauntlet itself, which sustained his new existence, was still on his lifeless body's hand and within easy reach of vengeful relatives.
  • In The Sandman, there is an... odd version of this trope. Morpheus challenges a demon to a duel, and the demon chooses the weapon/setting as "reality", meaning that each doesn't quite become the thing they describe, but it's close. One line:
    Morpheus: I am hope.
    • Morpheus is also the brother of Despair (who, according to Destiny, should encompass Hope).
    • A more straightforward example occurs at the end of The Kindly Ones, when Morpheus dies and Daniel becomes the new Dream.
    • It is mentioned that Despair was killed at some point a long time ago, and replaced by a new Despair, but there are no details whether or not the new one was a person who turned into Despair or something else completely.
  • Wonder Woman became the goddess of truth for a while, but gave it up. She seems to be an avatar for it even in mortal form, however; for example, some stories says her Lasso of Truth simply channels her inborn powers, and her very presence makes it difficult for people to lie.
  • In the backstory for the DC Universe's Emotional Spectrum, this is apparently the origin of the Lantern entities. The first creature to experience a given emotion (for example, a bug in fear of a predator, or an enraged bull) became a kind of Anthropomorphic Personification of that emotion.

    Fan Fiction 
  • An example (or six) is demonstrated in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction 'The Light Never Goes Out'. After a couple of decadesnote  it becomes clear what bonding to concepts such as laughter, honesty, loyalty, generosity, kindness, and magic would actually do to mortal ponies. Now it is the bicentennial of Luna's return....
  • Dragon Ball Z fanfiction Honor Trip does this to Goku, not surprisingly. He personifies hope & relinquishes his soul to Future Trunks.
  • The Abundance, the sequel to Faith and Doubt, has this as one of its main plot points. Half of the Elements of Harmony are revealed to have been mortal ponies that, during the reign of Discord, ascended to become Abstracts. Honesty, Kindness, Faith (who was only a few months old at the time) and now Scootaloo (the new Element of Loyalty after the previous was killed) are examples of this.
  • In the Pony POV Series, while the Major Arcana Alicorns (like Celestia and Luna) are born/created as Concepts, the Minor Arcana are all ponies who were born mortal, but eventually gained enough power and came to personify an idea so well that they ascended. The Magician Alicorn (Dark World Twilight) and the Draconequus of Cruelty (Dark World Fluttercruel) are also examples, with the former being the only Major Arcana born mortal, and the latter being the only known example of a mortal becoming a Draconequus.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Kamen Rider Decade the movie All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker, it is hinted that at one point all Kamen Rider would become this kind of existence.
    Garagaranda: Didn't you guys die?
    Kamen Rider #1: As long as Riders are needed, we will never die.
    Kamen Rider #2: And as long as Riders exist, we will never let Dai Shocker have their way!
    • This is further explored in the Let's Go Kamen Riders movie.
      Owner: Even if Rider history changes, it seemed the memories people have of Riders don't change. People's memories create time. In other word, as long as people's memory exist... Kamen Riders will endlessly revive.
    • Cue all the Kamen Riders appearing to deliver a huge beatdown to the Shocker Alliance.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Skin of Evil", after Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence, an alien race left behind Armus, a personification of the evil of their former existence.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The Thaw, a Monster Clown that is a personification of fear.

    Mythology 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Kamigawa cycle in Magic: The Gathering, Michiko Konda fuses with her spirit world counterpart to become a living embodiment of the barrier between the mortal world and the spirit world, ending the spirit war in the process.
  • In Planescape, the souls of the dead can be reborn as the Always Chaotic Evil Tanar'ri, the always lawful evil Baatezu, etc.
    • Further, when such a being dies in its native plane, they merge with the plane itself. The Abyss is pure chaotic evil because it's forged from the countless evils of every soul that has ever gone there, while Mount Celestia is built, stone by stone, from the lawful goodness of every soul that ended up there, and so on.
  • The most powerful of the gods in Scion are unique in their ability to assume "Purview Avatars", temporarily becoming intelligent manifestations of a certain aspect of reality with unlimited power. A god can literally turn into The Glory, The Abyss, or The Reaper.
  • This is the whole point of Nobilis - one day, a being of cosmic power sticks Hope in your soul. What are you going to do about it?
  • Exalted: this is the nature of Primordials - they're an embodiment of a concept, such as Hierarchy and the Rules (She Who Lives In Her Name) or Backstabbing Dickery (the Ebon Dragon). Which means that when an Infernal takes (Yozi) Cosmic Principle, this happens to him. (He can also create his own embodied concept, but he can't truly become it in the same way due to the Charms required to do so.)
    • Ironically, it's by averting this trope that the Devil Tiger path allows the Infernals to become more than their predecessors. By remaining an embodiment of themselves, rather than a concept, they avoid the Primordial's Crippling Overspecialization.
  • Unknown Armies This is the point of cosmic bumfight. You want to have a seat in the Invisible Clergy so you will be immortalized as a concept in the world that is to be reborn. And yes, you can do it Madoka-style.. You Did It.
  • Mage: The Awakening subverts this trope. In Imperial Mysteries, it's explained that a Mage can go to the Supernal and merge with it, subsumed into one of the many Symbols that define the world. The challenge for a Mage seeking Imperium is going to the Supernal, gaining the ability to manipulate Symbols, all while still being herself. And the Exarchs did it before you.
  • 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons lets the player do this through several Epic Destinies.

    Video Games 
  • Hazama in BlazBlue is really Terumi, the Big Bad of the series. Who died roughly 100 years before after failing to doublecross his "companions" and seems to have become a being of pure hate (and the poster child for As Long as There Is Evil). He basically feeds on his own Kick the Dog moments.
  • In God of War Ares wanted Kratos to become death itself by becoming the ultimate warrior. To accomplish this, Ares tried to remove his humanity by tricking Kratos into killing his family. Unfortunately for Ares, all this did was piss Kratos off.
    • In 3 it's hinted that Athena has become something higher that a god, following the explanation of why the gods became evil between 1 and 2 it can be guessed that Athena has become Greed itself
  • In Persona 3, the Main Character sacrifices his/her life to become the Great Seal, the final barrier between Nyx, Death itself, and Erebus, the Anthropomorphic Personification of humanity's self-destructive unconscious desires, thus becoming the ultimate representation of hope in the ''Persona'' universe, and visualized as a massive golden gate with the protagonist's soul keeping it closed.
    • Persona 4 has a metaphorical example: Goddess Izanami wants to test mankind's potential, so she gives three people power and names them embodiments of a concept - Hope, Despair, and Emptiness - with the intention of acting based on which representative has the most success.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, Zeromus (the trope namer for As Long as There Is Evil) ends up the living embodiment of hate, born from the sheer hate of the slain Zemus.
  • In AdventureQuest, the player character literally becomes the avatar of Hope during the last chapter of the Devourer Saga.
  • Live-A-Live has Odio's various incarnations, all embodiments of hatred.
  • In MOTHER 1, Giygas was originally an alien that was going to destroy the earth, but in the sequel, EarthBound, he becomes evil itself, as stated by Porky Minch.
  • The Archangels of the Angiris Council in the Diablo game series represent and act as embodiments of Valor, Justice, Wisdom, Fate, and Hope. At the end of Diablo III', Tyrael, formerly the Archangel of Justice, takes on the mantle of Wisdom, as its previous holder, Malthael, is out wandering the void.
  • In his own words, Javik in Mass Effect 3 is "Vengeance". Not in a metaphysical sense, but he completely identifies himself, and regards his entire existence, as the medium of revenge for the extinction of the Protheans by the Reapers. Nothing else in his life matters or will ever matter but wreaking that vengeance.
  • In Fate EXTRA, the playable Archer is distinct from his counterpart in Fate/stay night in that he, instead of becoming a Counter Guardian upon death, became the avatar and shape representing the abstract concept of the "ally of justice". His abstract nature is evident in his true name - "No Name".

    Webcomics 
  • At the end of book six of Fans!, Lord Feral becomes the alphabet itself, succeeding the inventor of phonetic writing.
  • Lord Kyran of EmergencyExit, also known as Lord Hate. The idea is never fully explained, but he seems to personify and subsist on the hate of all beings.
  • From 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage, after being killed by Lich, descended into hell, took it over and became the embodiment of all mortal evils. Then his (former) demonic minions resurrected him so they could kick him out of hell.
  • In Questionable Content, Pintsize the robot hoards porn in hopes that when The Singularity hits, he will BECOME PORN.

     Web Original 

Hope IndexMotivation IndexBecause Destiny Says So
Above Good and EvilCharacterization TropesActor-Inspired Element
    Older Than DirtAction Girl
Abridged Arena ArrayAdded Alliterative AppealAbsurd Altitude

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